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.
December 2019 Newsletter
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The Epistle Archives
The “holiday season” is now upon us. It is no surprise that the season of Advent gets overlooked in the excitement of Christmastime. Advent is about watching and waiting. Waiting is not the focus of the “holiday season”. In the secular season Christmas is over on the morning of December 26th; turn off the Christmas carols, take down the decorations, put the tree out by the road. Once we are past Thanksgiving (and increasingly before Thanksgiving) it is time to celebrate Christmas in the wider culture.
That celebration is marked by feeling “merry and bright” through the days of December. There are parties and gatherings, gifts and feasts throughout this time. As wonderful as it is to celebrate the true joy of Christmas, Christ’s coming into our world, the celebrations of the “season” can feel overwhelming. In fact these celebrations can obscure the truth at the heart of Christmas.
It is also the case that not everyone feels “merry and bright” through this season. Often we can feel the opposite. This year in cooperation with New Hanover Lutheran and St. Luke’s, Gilbertsville we are offering a new opportunity to mark the hope that Christ’s birth brings into our world. Similar services have been done in other congregations and these services go by various names. Regardless of the name, these services are designed to offer a time of quiet and reflection in the midst of what can be a busy and overwhelming time. It is also designed for those who are feeling a particular sense of loss or pain during this time of year. The following is from a description of the service from another congregation:
Christmas can be a painful time for some. It may be the first Christmas without a loved family member who has recently died; it may be a time that has always been difficult.
The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or have never had. The anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation – all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.
Our spirits sink, as the days grow shorter. We feel the darkness growing deeper around us. We need encouragement to live the days ahead of us.
Come out, and join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle – and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness. Everyone, regardless of church background (or lack of it) is welcome.
This service will be held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Gilbertsville on Thursday December 19th at 7PM. Please take this opportunity to gather with other members of our community to remember the true hope, joy, and peace that Christ’s birth brings into our world and our lives.