Advent at St. Paul

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Hope! Joy! Peace! Advent is the season in the Christian year when we hear and participate in the time of waiting for the birth of the Messiah. Today we lit the 2nd candle of Advent. We look with hope for the second coming of Christ. We pray for the light of Christ to fill “us with joy and peace in believing.” We hear the voice of God in scripture. We hear the voices of God’s people around the earth as we pray together for the joy and peace of Christ’s love to warm the hearts and lives of all humankind.

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We use the colors of purple and blue in worship as visual reminders of the season. One of the primary symbols of the season has become the Advent Wreath. A quick search on the Internet will find several articles on the history and tradition of the Advent Wreath. The wreath itself is a symbol of life without end. The lighting of a candle each week marks our journey through the four weeks of Advent. Advent begins on December 1 and culminates with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Advent Wreath and Celebrating Birth at St. Paul East

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There are four candles on the wreath: three are usually purple and one is pink. The first purple candle is lit on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and represents hope. The following Sunday another purple candle is lit to represent love. On the second Sunday before Christmas the final purple candle is lit for joy, and on the final Sunday before Christmas the pink candle is lit as a prayer for peace. On Christmas Day a final candle is introduced into the wreath. It is usually white and set in the middle of the wreath and is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

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The sanctuary and altar are beautifully decorated by Pastor Russ. The little vase of pink flowers at the altar were placed there by Shirley Hatcher in recognition of the birth of ANOTHER new granddaughter. The baby’s name is Berkley Ann.

Everyone is welcome at St. Paul United Methodist. Come celebrate this blessed season for every Sunday throughout #Advent and beyond.

New Members and Baptism

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Today we welcomed Michelle & Mike into the St. Paul family. Michelle comes by profession of faith and baptism. Mike comes by profession of faith. Their granddaughters Hannah, Jailen, and Chloe were also baptized and became provisional members. We welcome them to the family of God and the United Methodist Church.

In baptism, the candidate makes a public confession of her/his faith in Christ, is formally received into the fellowship of believers, and pledges to respond in faithful and loving service to the grace given them by God. United Methodists believe and confess that God pours out the Holy Spirit on the candidate during baptism, washing away their sins and empowering them to live according to the Gospel. This outpouring of forgiveness and empowerment is alluded to in the symbolism of washing by water. The candidate is empowered through the grace of God to begin and to sustain a life of Christian discipleship.

When an infant is baptized, the parents speak for the child in the taking of the baptismal vows, promising, along with the congregation, to provide spiritual guidance as the child grows to be able to honor the vows in the future. When the child becomes old enough to openly profess those baptismal vows, he/she undergoes the process of confirmation: being educated in the meaning of being a professing member of the body of Christ, subsequently making a profession of faith before the congregation.

Older children/adolescents, as well as adults who are of sound mind, do not require the same mediation of the vows that infants do; therefore, they take the vows themselves at baptism. Baptism, as practiced in The United Methodist Church, has commemorative, celebratory, and anticipatory aspects: it commemorates what God’s grace has already accomplished in the believer’s life, it celebrates the forgiveness of sins and the initiation into the Church that are emphasized during the ritual, and it anticipates a future of growing in grace and in closeness to God as one honors the baptismal vows.

Celebrating New Life

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These adorable roses were placed at the altar this past Sunday to celebrate the birth of Shirley Hatcher’s newborn great granddaughter.

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Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Sharing Our Faith

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We can share our faith with others in many different ways. The first
and most important way is through our lifestyles. We must live a life
that is reflective of our convictions in such a way that it attracts others.
Jesus said the 2nd greatest Commandment was to love others and
Ephesians 5:2 tells us to “Live a life filled with love, following the
example of Christ.” Paul says “I always try to please others instead of
myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved. You must follow
my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:33 f).
We become ineffective when our lives are out of sync with God’s will.
Living a healthy, holy and attractive life is always compelling. When
others notice your life they will often be curious and want to know
more about it. Peter tells us “if someone asks about your Christian
hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and
respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15-16). It doesn’t take a Bible College
degree or years of Bible study to be able to answer the questions of
others about our faith. Yet, the phrase “always be ready” means that
we’ll have to spend some time preparing. Every Christian should think
through their personal testimony of God’s faithfulness to them and how
that has given them a new perspective on life and a hope for eternity.
Not all of us have dramatic conversion stories but we all have stories of
how God has impacted our lives positively. Every believer has a story
to share and every believer must be ready to share it.
Your story should contain three parts. The first part is what your life
was like before God acted in his marvelous way to bless you. For those
who came to faith in Christ later in life, that is normally our salvation
experience. I was in the midst of a divorce and faced the prospect of
losing my family and other precious things in life. But for others it’s a
personal testing; the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a stage of
sheer disillusionment with life as a whole, or many other issues that
drive us to take a more serious look at our life and very often drives us
to our knees and opens our hearts to hear from God. We should not
spend too much time on this part of the story, but use it to set the stage
for giving God the glory for His wonderful work. The 2nd part of the
story is about what God did to resolve my life crisis issue or personal
struggle. This part takes some deep reflection because God’s ways are
usually mysterious and we need to work at understanding what and
how God worked in our hearts during that period. The last part of my
story is about how I changed after God’s work in my heart. The
difference.

Welcome Home

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New Doors to Sanctuary

New sanctuary entrance doors recently installed at St. Paul East United Methodist.

Who is coming to Homecoming on Sunday, September 14th at 10:30 am? Check out the new entrance doors to St. Paul East. The slogan of the United Methodist Church is “Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors.” However, in order to showcase the beauty of the new wood and glass details, we decided photograph the doors while closed. Doors will be wide open and welcoming everyone for the annual Homecoming service this coming Sunday, September 14, 2014. Mark your calendar and make plans to attend. The service will be followed by a covered dish meal in the basement fellowship hall. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend this wonderful service and meal.

Homecoming 2014

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Mark your calendar, and make plans to attend Homecoming
September 14, 2014
10:30 am

Guest Speaker: Tom Ballard
Special Music: Harmony Ladies Trio
Homecoming Meal: Everyone brings a covered dish and enjoys food, friends, and fellowship downstairs in the church basement following worship service.

We encourage everyone to worship at St. Paul at every Sunday. Our annual Homecoming service is an especially great time with a guest speaker and special music. If you ever visited or once attended St. Paul, please come back and see the great things God is doing.

Questions? e-mail Pastor Russ: contactus@stpauleast.org

Near the Cross

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After services on Sunday was a good time for friends and fellowship with Pat Luttrell (left) and Cathy Young (right) at the door of the sanctuary. Check out Cathy’s shirt that she got at annual conference at Lake Junaluska. It has the symbolic Methodist cross and flame. The image relates The United Methodist church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw “tongues, as of fire” (Acts 2:3).
>> more in-depth information about the Methodist cross and flame symbol

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Near the Cross

Hear the St. Paul congregation sing “Near the Cross”

Spiritual Climate Change

At church on Sunday, the congregation prayed together John Wesley’s “Covenant Prayer.” This prayer is great for believers who need to be reminded of their Covenant with God. Sometimes the prayer is recited in special worship services, but it is just a nice and simple expression for anyone who wants to affirm their commitment to God….
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

Mason, one of the youngest members in the congregation, presented a birthday gift…a cross…to Pastor Russ, which he displayed at the altar on the Bible.

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Pastor Russ’ sermon was entitled “Spiritual Climate Change.”

The congregation sang the following hymns:

Rescue the Perishing – United Methodist Hymnal #569

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms – United Methodist Hymnal #133

Soon and Very Soon – United Methodist Hymnal #706

Below is audio of the congregation of St. Paul East singing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” If you would like a CD of the entire service, please e-mail contact Pastor Russ: knoxvilleruss@yahoo.com (865) 522-7451

 

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