Pastor Matthew Finney
Pastor Matthew Finney was unanimously installed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Sassamansville on Aug. 7 as the 21st pastor. Before receiving the call at St. Paul’s, Pastor Finney served a two-point parish in Western Pennsylvania known as Holy Shepherd Lutheran Parish which was a combination of Holy Trinity Parish in Lanse and Shepherd of the Hills Parish in Karthaus.
Pastor Finney brings many gifts to St. Paul’s. He received his master of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2010. He also has a master of science degree in 2003 from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of science degree in 2000 from Purdue University both in agricultural science.
Pastor’s February Message
In October we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with special worship services in the month of October, a look at Martin Luther and the history of the Reformation in Sunday school, and an Octoberfest celebration. This Lent we will continue to celebrate and focus on the Reformation. At our Wednesday Lenten services we will look at Luther’s small catechism. Each week we will focus on one section of the catechism in a prayer service and study. In the first week (Feb. 21) we will look at the Ten Commandments and Luther’s instruction on them. In subsequent weeks we will examine the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the sacrament of Baptism, and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Bring along your copy of the Small Catechism if you have one at home and join us on Wednesday evenings in Lent. We begin with a Soup supper at 6:30pm.
Lent Begins on February 14 with Ash Wednesday. We will hold a service of imposition of ashes and Holy Communion at 7:30pm. Lent is traditionally a time of preparation for baptism. Candidates entered into this forty day period, recalling Jesus’ forty days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness. Even for those who have already received baptism this time became a period of refocus and renewal. The practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving became the traditional way to return one’s attention and life to the promises of baptism in anticipation of remembering the joy of the resurrection at Easter.
One way to practice this period of Lent has been the practice of “giving something up for Lent.” This is a form of fasting, where we voluntarily abstain from something we enjoy, often certain foods (meat, chocolate, ice cream, etc.). Fasting of this sort is not done to make us uncomfortable or because Lent should be unpleasant, but to remind us that we do not need all the things we think we need, and what is truly necessary is the bread of life, Jesus Christ our Lord.
In addition to “giving up” for Lent there is “taking on” for Lent. Here we add something to our life, practices that point us to Jesus. This can be undertaking a daily period of scripture reading and prayer, if that is something you are not already doing on a daily basis, or it can be taking time to serve the church or community in a new way.
No matter what you choose, whether “giving up” or “taking on” the practices of Lent are about living out your faith in a new way. Any practice chosen should be a chance to step out in faith and turn that much more of your life and self over to God. These Lenten practices also can become habits, new patterns for life that we carry with us into Easter and beyond.
As we look ahead to Holy Week and Easter there are also some schedule changes. During the Sunday school hour on Palm Sunday we will hold example of a Passover Seder meal as we will be studying the story of the Passover in Sunday school, there will also be a luncheon after worship on Palm Sunday. On Easter Sunday we are not holding an early service this year. We would like to have everyone together for one Easter celebration at our regular time of 10:15am rather than splitting the congregation into multiple services.
Take advantage of the opportunities for spiritual growth and devotion this Lent and Easter. By doing so you not only allow God to strengthen your faith, you build up the congregation of St. Paul’s as well.