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 Summer Message
As we move into the month of June we are at the beginning of the time in the Church year known by various names: the season after Pentecost, Ordinary time, or formerly as Trinitytide. This half of the year lacks the two great feasts of the Church, Christmas and Easter, and those feasts and seasons associated with them, Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Pentecost. The season after Pentecost is no “time off” or vacation time, though (even though most of it occurs during summer in the Northern half of the globe). This time is properly thought of as the “season of the Church.” At Pentecost through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit the Church was born, and now during this long season after Pentecost we are focused on the work of the Church. Yes, the Church (the whole Church throughout the world) has work to do. That work has been has been given to us by Jesus himself in the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) The task of the Church is to make disciples, disciples of Jesus. Jesus knows this will not be easy work, which is why he promises to be with the Apostles (and us) “always even to the end of the age.”
So while the world is thinking about vacations, the Church is at work. Yes, the schedule for the congregation slows down during this “ordinary” time, but the activities of the Church (you and me) in the world are as important as ever. There may be fewer scheduled activities inside the church building, but the people of the Church are hard at work proclaiming Christ and his message of hope, peace, and forgiveness to a world in need of that message. So where is the assembly of believers known as St. Paul’ at work in the world during this “season of the Church?” With whom are we sharing this message of good news? Do you see places where we need to be at work and are not? Talk to your brothers and sisters within the congregation about it. Talk to your Pastor about it. Come to worship on Sundays at 9 am to have fellowship with your sisters and brothers in Christ, and to be strengthened for the work Jesus has called his Church to do. Because it is nearly impossible to do the work of the Church without gathering as Church.
In Baptism we are all made a part of the body of Christ, the Church, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Coming together to be nourished, strengthened, and empowered brings God’s Church into closer and deeper fellowship with each other and with God. It is a time to use and discover our “varieties of gifts” in the Holy Spirit. These diverse gifts that God gives to each of us are incomplete without the gifts of others in the Church. The Holy Spirit calls us all together. The Church is not just an assembly of individuals who claim Jesus as Lord, but the body of Christ, a body that is incomplete without all of its parts.
Summer can be a busy time and it is easy to put Church on the back-burner, but remember the Church needs you in order to be complete. Your presence at worship is not only a benefit to you but to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and together as Church the Holy Spirit calls us together to bless God and bless the world. I look forward to seeing you throughout this “season of the Church.”