Pastor’s Page

Pastor Finney | St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Sassamansville

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.

Note from Pastor Matt

st pauls September newsletter 1“And now we return to our regular programming;” on Sunday September 8 we return to our “regular” Sunday schedule at St. Paul’s.  Our worship service begins at 10:15 AM preceded by our time for faith formation at 9 AM. We have been making some changes over the past few years to this 9 o’clock hour.  Folks of all ages meet together in the fellowship hall.  There we learn some of the key stories from the Bible; we sing; we pray; we share; we eat.  In short, we practice our faith.  That is what this time together is all about, forming and shaping us in the Christian faith.  We practice following Jesus in our lives.

This year we have some new aspects to that time together.  The first you will notice is the name, FaithWorks.  I believe this name best expresses what we are pursuing during this time.  It is about forming us in our faith.  In that sense it is a faith “works,” like a factory where raw materials are formed and shaped into something new.  It is also about faith and works as we talk about it in scripture.  This year we will be adding some new service projects to our time together to help us better put our faith into practice.  Finally, I hope the new name conveys that faith indeed “works” in our lives.  That a well formed, solid faith enables us to face the challenges of life with a strong foundation and helps us to make better sense of the world around us.

st pauls september newsletterYou will also notice a motto associated with the new name.  It is “learning…sharing…serving”.   I hope this also shines a light on what we are doing with this time.  We learn about our faith by hearing and responding to the stories from the Bible.  As we read the Bible we discuss it with each other, learning more about what this story has to say about life.  We also take time to share with the people around us about our week with our Faith5 time.  Faith5 is part of our Bible curriculum consisting of five simple steps for a daily household faith practice.  The steps are: share, read, talk, pray, and bless.  Share is sharing our “highs and lows” for the day.  Read is to read a Bible verse or passage. Talk is to talk with each other about the day and the bible verse. Pray is to pray for each other’s “highs and lows”.  Finally, to bless is for each person to offer a short blessing to another person gathered.  Each week we hand out Faith5 sheets to take home with the verse of the week, prayer starters, and a blessing for the week.  We try to practice Faith5 each night in our home, and we have found that it is an important way to build up our faith and build up our family.

There is a tendency, especially in this country, to think of one’s faith as an aspect of a person’s individual life.  Faith becomes a private thing, practiced individually.  For most of human history, however, faith has been something that makes you part of a community.  Any faith, but especially the Christian faith is meant to be practiced with others.  It is something that binds us to each other, not an individual, self-improvement project.  By joining all ages together for faith formation we are emphasizing this aspect of faith.  We are practicing building up the community of faith at St. Paul’s.  By intentionally focusing on the communal aspect of faith, it serves a constant reminder to each of us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  It shows us that the community of faith is the place where we are known and loved; that in this community we experience God’s love for us through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is something we all need to know and experience.

This year we are also adding a FaithWorks group page on our Facebook page.  If you join the group you will have access to the weekly Faith5 sheet, plus I will be posting other short devotions, reminders, and other items of interest throughout the week.  I encourage everyone to come and join us for FaithWorks because faith is for everyone!

st pauls september newsletter 3Attention parents of students in the 7th grade and above: Confirmation instruction resumes this fall. Please e-mail or call Pr. Matt for details on our Confirmation program.  Thanks.