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This Week at St. Paul's
St. Paul's United Methodist Church  •  7740 Lackman, Lenexa KS  66217  •  913-268-9551
In this issue:
• Message from Pastor Lora
• Worship this week
• Luminary Night Nov. 29
• Coffee & Reflections this Sunday
• Join a small group
• Advent Studies & Devotionals for 2020
• Read the Bible Daily
• Estimate your 2021 giving
• Clothing & Food Drive - thank you!
• Sing Silent Night with us!
• Cross-Lines Christmas Store
• Ten Thousand Villages Holiday Event
• Veronica's Voice Celebration
• Request a Black Lives Matter sign

• Youth programs - join any time!
• Kids' Connection programs

Message from Pastor Lora

November 20, 2020

“Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

Each night before we head to bed, Carter and I take time to reflect and add to our Thankful Pumpkin. As you might remember, we passed out pumpkins to invite you to write down what you are thankful for each day. Looking at that sharpie drawn symbol of gratitude on our dining room table makes me smile. Partly because you can see where this left-handed pastor wrote because it’s smudged, but partly because it reminds me of the simplicity of what is good in my life: a meal together, a TV show, our dog, our work, our porch.

Somehow this pumpkin and a sharpie have reminded me of the “foreverness” of God’s love. I have a lot to be thankful for—some of that has to do with my privilege and the abundance surrounding me. That makes gratitude a little more complicated—I’m not grateful that I have money and others don’t. I’m grateful for my relationship with God that leads me to generosity, that helps me through a pandemic, that persists with hope in my life.

God is so good—and God’s love is enduring. Do you feel that in your thanks giving?

This fall we did a deep dive into our Discipleship Pathway at St. Pauls—those intentional habits and values we have as a way of living out our faith and God’s mission for us to Love, Seek, and Serve. This Sunday, we focus on “Giving Generously” and the gift it is to invest in this mission and God’s work in the world.

One special way to be a part of that right now—and to give thanks to God—is to offer your financial commitment for 2021. It’s exciting to me to think about what we can do together—even in a pandemic. Folks are looking for meaning, for hope, and for help right now, and I think St. Paul’s can help people find what they are looking for. Your giving makes a difference—truly. If you didn’t get a chance to read my letter, please do.

Be sure to check out next week’s special Advent & Christmas newsletter. You will find activities like Luminary Night (see below), a special Hanging of the Greens video from the staff, chances to make your season more meaningful, and all you will need to know to make the season bright.

Giving thanks for each of you and praying for your safety this Thanksgiving season,

Pastor Lora

Worship this Week

Worship this Week

Sunday, November 22

10:00am Livestream on Facebook

In preparation for this week, we're reading Luke Luke 21:1-4 to learn how generosity brings us closer to Jesus. Find a related daily scripture reading and reflection here on our website. We'll also begin worship with Kid's Time, so be sure they're tuned in for that!

Participate in the livestream on Facebook or watch later on St. Paul's YouTube channel. Here's a link to last week's service in case you missed it. Check out the online worship guide to find the bulletin and suggestions on how to feel more connected in worship while we're apart.
Online Worship Guide
Luminary Night


You're invited to a drive-thru time of prayer and remembering as we honor those in the United States who have died from COVID-19. There will be one luminary in our parking lot for every 1,000 COVID-19 deaths and you will receive a prayer guide to use as you drive through with stops along the way to pray. You will also have a chance to receive an Advent Bag that includes candles to make your own wreath and some prayers to help guide the season. This will be a poignant and meaningful beginning to our 2020 Advent season, being true to the reality we are living and believing that “our hopes and fears of all the years” are met in God’s love for us this season.
Coffee & Reflections

Join us this Sunday!

We'll meet right after worship via Zoom to connect, reflect on the morning's sermon, share what resonated within us, and discuss any thoughts or questions that came up. Can't wait to "see" you then!

Zoom link
Contact: Pam Draper

Presence Worship

Presence is a neurodiverse worship community. We welcome and celebrate the different ways in which we all interact with God, each other, and our environment.

Presence small group worship meets on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m., currently on Zoom; contact Mike Marcus for the link. Advance notice of the discussion question for the week is available by request. Contact Pastor Mike Marcus for more information.

Pastoral Care

If you have need of pastoral care (going to the hospital, a death or injury in your family, a prayer request) please email Pastor Sandra. For emergencies, you can reach Pastor Sandra by phone at 913-579-1298.

Join a Small Group

Being part of a small group working through questions about faith and life is an important part of spiritual growth. If you aren’t already part of one, this is your time! Check out the offerings on our website and sign up. Contact Pastor Sandra if you have questions. 

Read on for a list of new Advent Study groups forming now!

Advent Studies for 2020

We're excited to offer four Advent studies this year to help you prepare your heart and your life for the coming of Christ into the world. Each of the studies will meet via Zoom and information for joining each one is listed in the descriptions below.

We encourage you to make time in your Christmas preparations to pause and reflect and connect with others doing the same. We believe it will lead you to a more meaningful celebration of the season.

Read through the descriptions below and choose one to become part of your tradition this year.

Light of the World by Amy-Jill Levine
Led by Marilyn and Jack Gregory
Starting 11/22, 8:45am

This study traces the Christmas narrative through the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, the journey to Bethlehem, and the visit from the Magi. These stories open conversations around connections of the Gospel stories to the Old Testament, the role of women in first-century Jewish culture, the importance of Mary’s visitation and the revolutionary implications of Mary’s Magnificat, the census and the stable, and the star of Bethlehem and the flight to Egypt.
How to join: Contact Marilyn & Jack Gregory
Purchase book

All I Really Want by Quinn Caldwell
Led by Pastor Lora Andrews and Carter Ellis 
Mondays, 11/30, 12/7, 12/14, 12/21, 12/28; 7pm

Join Pastor Lora and Carter for a weekly Advent discussion using this daily Advent devotional. Some of you might remember Pastor Lora read a passage about tinsel last Advent from this study! These daily readings offer the skeptic, the over-committed the opportunity to make room-perhaps just enough room for God to show up. Caldwell addresses the challenges and realities of the season by offering a simple action, ritual or meditation each day designed to gently steer you toward the deeper meaning that underlies the season. Priority given to folks not already in another Advent study.
How to join: Contact Pastor Lora 
Purchase book

Christmas in the Four Gospel Homes by Dr. Cynthia Campbell
Led by Pastor Sandra 
Wednesdays, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 12/30; 1pm

The custom of decorating your house for Christmas led Dr. Campbell to wonder, “How might a house look for Christmas based on what each Gospel says about it?” In this study we will look at the treatment of Jesus’ birth by each of the Gospel writers (Wait, what do you mean only two of the Gospel writers even mention that part of the story?) and consider what kind of “home” they are preparing for Christmas. Architect Kevin Burns shares beautiful illustrations of Dr. Campbell’s descriptions. Join us as we visit the beginning of each of the Gospel stories and share some thought provoking conversation about them.
How to join: Contact Pastor Sandra
Purchase book

Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas by Jorge Acevedo
Led by Seekers Small Group
Thursdays beginning 12/3

“Jesus’ birth was not a one-time occurrence. Every Christmas has the possibility of Jesus being born again in our lives and in our world.” In this study, Acevedo explores the ways that Christ sends us out into the world. Through story, art, and Bible study discover what it means to be Christ’s hands, feet, head, and heart. “What happens when a church starts believing that God has given them gifts that they need to share with the community and the world? New life happens!”
How to join: Contact: Sharry Lockhart
Purchase book  

Advent Devotionals for 2020

We invite you, this Advent, to make space in every day to read and reflect on what it means for God to be with us in real and living ways. The good news of Christmas is that Christ comes to bring us hope. Christ comes to bring us joy. How will you hear that message this year, in all that has happened in 2020? How will you believe in the nearness of Christ and feel his peace and his love?

Advent devotionals are a good resource for daily reading and reflection. Below is a list we have compiled of materials that we find especially meaningful and helpful. The title of each devotional is a link that you can use to order a copy. The description highlights what you will find within their pages.

Take time to look through this list and select one that you find most appropriate for you. Share that time with your family and grow together in the hope of God-with-us.

All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas by Quinn G. Caldwell
You may remember this devotional that Pastor Lora referred to in a sermon last year (“Is there anybody else out there who hates tasteful Christmas decorations? Who, when faced with a color-coordinated Christmas tree covered in matching ornaments, has to fight off the urge to set it on fire…”). Caldwell is real about the stress and anxiety the Christmas season provokes. For each day in December and the twelve days following Christmas, Caldwell provides a separate reading and a prayer for both morning and evening. Plus there is a weekly calendar of things for you to do to help create “a holy breathing space.”

Expecting the Unexpected by Blair Meeks
In addition to scripture, meditation, and prayer, Meeks incorporates hymns that add another dimension to hearing the story of God become human. Advent, Meeks says, “offers an invitation to reflect on our own relationship with Jesus and prepare to receive him into our lives again. Advent also invites us to remember the urgent reasons for Jesus’ coming and God’s desire to make a new beginning for the earth and all its peoples.”

Keep Watch with Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers by Claire Brown and Michael T. McRay
For each day of Advent, the authors provide a scripture, reflection, prayer, and action to take as “spiritual resources folks need to prompt and sustain social action.” Yearning to lay foundations for peace and peacemaking, the authors offer “daily practices accompanying each reflection [that] are designed to give suggestions for integrating the reflections in your life and push you to think creatively about the ‘so what’ of the Keep Watch with Me journey.” Each day features a different contributor such as Becca Stevens, Pádraig Ó Tuama, Shane Claiborne, and J. J. Warren, commanding contemporary voices of theological reflection.

Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems
A book of poetry reflecting on the mystery of Christmas. “What do I want for Christmas? I want to kneel in Bethlehem, the air thick with alleluias, the angels singing that god is born among us. In the light of the Star, I want to see them come, the wise ones and the humble…What do I want for Christmas? To see in that stable the whole world kneeling in thanks for a promise kept: new life. For in his nativity we find ours.”

Meeting the Messiah by Kara Lassen Oliver
Oliver extends her devotional into the season of Epiphany with an encouragement to slow down and focus on the Christ child. Each week focuses on a character in the nativity story: The Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, Mary, the shepherds, the magi, and Jesus himself. Oliver offers a reading for each day and invites you to create a space to reflect each day by offering questions for you to ponder and journal about.

Prepare the Way: Cultivating a Heart for God in Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins
Each week of Advent revolves around a theme word: peace; justice; fearlessness; and faithfulness. Each day of the week has its own way of reflecting upon that word that includes prayer, scripture, journaling, and guided reflection questions. Laying readings from the prophets alongside the Gospels, Hawkins believes we will find “a redemptive future of joy, kindness, and peace- all made possible by God’s steadfast love born into the world.”

Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro
Using the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth from the Gospel of Luke, Okoro provides a  scripture reading, a reflection and a prayer for each day in Advent. In the preface, Okoro describes Advent as a time for “cultivating stillness and attentiveness” and an invitation to “be patient and to be still…In Advent we receive four weeks to dwell on what God’s vision might be for us and for those whose lives we touch. Four weeks to dwell on how the courage of expanding our imagination might feed into the growing kingdom of God. Four weeks to gather our wits about us for another year; preparing our bodies, minds and spirits to receive the Christ child and take him out into the world for others to see and praise, worship and obey; the Christ with whom we dream big and imagine wildly.”

The Wondrous Mystery: An Advent Reader compiled by Benjamin Howard
Compiler Ben Howard writes, "The glory of the Advent season is that it's irrational. It shows us a glimpse of the way that God turns the world and our expectations upside down. . . In a season filled with the longest, darkest nights, we are told to wait for the coming of the most beautiful light." Including works by Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri J. Nouwen, Sue Monk Kidd are readings grouped by themes (Light and Darkness, Peace and Strife, Solitude and Community, Simplicity and Complexity) that include a reading, a reflection question, and a prayer for each day of Advent.

Read the Bible Daily

Prepare during the week for worship with daily readings and questions for reflection here on our website. Join (or begin!) a discussion in the comments below the readings. We’d love to hear from you about how reading the Bible daily is bringing you closer to God and one another.
Read the Bible Daily

Upper Room Devotionals

Find the current issue of the Upper Room devotional in the black mailbox by the church front entrance. As a constituent of St. Paul's, you also may download a digital copy at no charge here.
Get your copy of the Upper Room devotional

2021 Estimate of Giving

You should have received a special email from Pastor Lora this week inviting you to prayerfully consider your giving in the coming year. In case you missed it, here's a link!

Make your estimate of giving by December 1 online here. If you prefer, a printable version is available here.
Estimate your 2021 giving online

Winter Clothing & Food Collection - thank you!

Catholic Charities' Refugee Resettlement Program and The Hub Argentine were overwhelmed by your generosity this month. You donated three carloads - well over 300 men's, women's and children's coats, sweaters and jackets, plus abundant hats, scarves, and gloves, and uncounted miscellaneous warm clothing. A big shout out to all the St. Paul's knitters and crocheters, too! You also donated two carloads of canned food for The Hub's food pantry. 

Half was donated to Catholic Charities for newly arriving refugee families. Half was donated to The Hub Argentine, operating out of the old Metropolitan Avenue UMC in KCK, with some going to the African Ushindi population worshiping at the Hub, and the remainder going to Project Warmth

Your generosity is overwhelming to witness! The Serve Team thanks everyone who donated and helped collect and deliver the goods to our neighbors.
Silent Night

Special Invitation to sing Silent Night

Even if you've never participated in choral music before at St. Paul's, we're excited to involve you (and as many people as possible) in our video of “Silent Night!” Jackson Thomas, St. Paul's Director of Choral Music, will provide specific instructions, practice tracks, and a support system at every turn. Find out how it works and get ready to submit your video by December 14. Jackson will compile everyone’s videos together to create something really special for our Christmas Eve service. Read all about Jackson's plans and how you can be part of this very special Silent Night.
Find out more here and email Jackson with any questions or hesitations - he will put your mind at rest! We hope you will join us!

Cross-Lines Christmas Store

These are such busy times at Cross-Lines. The Christmas Store has been cancelled this year due to COVID restrictions, limited volunteers, and the current workload of staff. Cross-Lines is stretched beyond belief right now to serve food in the Kitchen, provide showers for the homeless, bring commodity food boxes to the elderly, and provide rent/utility assistance so people can remain in their homes. Many of these tasks were performed with the help of volunteers before the pandemic. Now the staff is bearing much of the load on their own.

To help with the ongoing needs of clients, Cross-Lines is providing $20 Walmart gift certificates to those currently receiving assistance at their offices. This year, St. Paul's is stepping up to help provide these gift certificates instead of collecting clothing donations. Cross-Lines will use the money we donate to purchase the Walmart gift certificates. Families can use these to purchase clothing, food and a few gifts for their families. Please donate online or by check to St. Paul’s special collection for the Christmas store.
Ten Thousand Villages holiday


It's time for our annual Holiday Event to support the fair-trade artisans of Ten Thousand Villages Overland Park and St. Paul’s Peace and Justice causes. There won’t be a holiday party this year, but you will be able to shop for two weeks, from November 22 - December 5, either in person at the Overland Park store (7947 Santa Fe Dr.) or online. When you check out, use the code SPUMC20 and St. Paul’s Peace and Justice causes will receive 15% of the sale price.  
Veronica's Voice event
Join St. Paul's virtual table! Veronica's Voice will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a very special event called In the Words of Survivors. This virtual event, led by survivors of commercial sex trafficking, will feature a variety of speakers, special documentaries, and performances. Learn more about the event.

For information about tickets and St. Paul's virtual table, please contact Suzette Mack or Jea Castrop-May.
Black Lives Matter
Over 80 St. Paul's families are expressing their commitment to antiracism and loving our neighbors with Black Lives Matter signs in their yards. Join us!
Request a Black Lives Matter sign
Give to the Antiracism fund

Youth: Middle School/High School

Check out our activities for youth and join us any time! Programs are open to all youth grades 7-12. Contact Allison for Zoom links, and be sure to join our Facebook group for updates.

Sunday School
Sundays, 11–12pm via Zoom
Topic: Faith & Justice
 Open to all youth grade levels.  

Small Groups
Sundays, 3-4pm via Zoom 
Who Am I? A look into our identities as God each uniquely created us. Open to all youth grade levels.  

Sundays, 6-7pm via Zoom
Relationships and the Bible. Open to all youth grade levels.

Youth groups and activities
Youth Facebook Group
Contact Allison Marcus

Kids' Connection: PreK - Grade 6

Celebrate Wonder
Check out our multimedia opportunities for kids to connect with God and each other! There's a place for you here.

We begin worship this Sunday with Kid's Time! so be sure and gather round for that, 10am on Facebook Live.

Kids' Connection & KIDS456 weekly meetups
• Wednesdays, 6:45pm
via Zoom
• Sundays, 11:15am in St. Paul's parking lot

Follow the links below to learn more and join us!
Learn more and get this week's Parent Guide
Kids' Connection Facebook Group
Contact Jamie Turk
Great Plains Gratitude Menugratitude menu
Check out the interactive Great Plains Gratitude Menu for fun and meaningful activities to do with your family this season!
Share photos and tell us what you’re writing on your pumpkin or doing from your gratitude menu on our website or on social media, #spumcgratitude
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