WHO WE ARE
Founded in 1866, St. Paul Berea, ELCA is a place where you will always be welcomed. By serving through relationships and love, St. Paul Berea is a space where everyone can grow spiritually.
WHAT WE DO
Our mission is “To know and serve Christ by reaching out in love to all” and we believe in the importance of involving and experiencing God in all areas of your life. There are countless ways to grow in your involvement and your faith at St. Paul; regardless of where you are in your journey, there is a place for you here.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Members and first time guests alike, we invite you to get connected to the community. Whether you're attending service on a Sunday, dropping in on a small group meeting, or stopping by to chat with Pastor Dan, you can anticipate a positive, encouraging experience.
"We love the God we cannot see by loving and serving our neighbor, who we can see."
Historical Time & Biographical Time
Daniel Skillman, Pastor
As we approach the end of one church year and the start of another, my thoughts turn to the nature and passage of time, the way we order our time, and the things that we give our attention to during the short time we have.
There is the time of history, and there is the time of biography.
We do not live in the time of history, the time of the grand narrative; the time of the streams, rivers, mountains, and glaciers; the time of the sun, the moon, and the stars. We live in the time of biography. We live our life times, our 70 years (some more, some tragically less). Historical time is measured in centuries. We are not given historical time. We are given only biographical time. We have but one life to live, and it is short.
We will almost surely not make even a small dent in history. We will live. We will die. And we will be forgotten. Quickly. But even if we made some mark, like Julius Caesar, or Adolf Hitler, not even that would last very long. The mountains look on the lives of even the most significant of men, and they laugh, “We were here before you, and we will be here long after your memory and the memory of your entire species has been long forgotten.” And the stars laugh at the mountains.
This should teach us several lessons. The first I would like to highlight is this: We should lay down our messianic aspirations. That is to say, we should acknowledge, on a deep level, that we will not and can not save the world. It is impossible. The world belongs to historical time, and that is a time that we can scarcely touch, let alone handle and shape. We should forsake every ambition of shaping the course of history. It just isn’t going to happen, and all we’ll do trying to make it happen is waste our lives, and make those around us miserable as we treat them like pawns in our game of shaping the future so as to “leave a lasting legacy.”
Messiahs come to save the world, and to buy the future telling of history. That is outside of our power. The most we can hope for is to redeem this present moment, the moment of our brief biography. We can live in this time. That is all. And that is enough.
You do not know what your life will mean to history. You will never know. You can never know. It is not given to us to know the whole of the story and our place in it. All that we can do is write our chapter, our paragraph, our sentence.
When we keep our eye on historical time, the time of our biography slips away from us. Faced with the immensity of historical time, we are paralyzed by our minuteness. What is the book of a single author compared to the oceans of books in the libraries of the world? What are the actions of your life when compared to the countless actions of the countless number of lives that have been lived up to this point? We are simply too small to play on so grand a stage as historical time. Nihilism becomes not only the reasonable, but the sensible response. “Nothing I do matters.” When we try to live in historical time, we can not live fully; we can not live abundantly. We die before we die.
Here is my advice. Forget trying to affect historical time. Accept your infinitesimally small role in a far grander narrative that you could possibly hope to fully comprehend, let alone substantially alter. See yourself as a single tile in a mosaic of billions of such tiles, that when you pull back, looks like Jesus.
What I’m suggesting is this: think of historical time as a portrait that has already been drawn by the artistic finger of God, and that it looks like the person of Jesus Christ.
The grand narrative of historical time is a story of grace overcoming greed, mercy overcoming cruelty, peace overcoming war, forgiveness overcoming condemnation, and love overcoming hate.
The story has already been written. The trajectory has already been set. What is left for us (and it is quite important) is to reflect in the microcosm of our biographical time the macrocosmic work of Jesus Christ in historical time.
We cannot save the world. But we can save a hungry person from their hunger, an impoverished person from their poverty, or a lonely person from their solitude.
Our words will not be remembered by the masses. But they might be remembered by the one we spoke kindly to when they needed a kind word.
We cannot raise up a nation. But we can raise our children.
We cannot stamp out racism. But we can refuse to be racist, and we can work against systems that uphold racism.
We cannot save the world. But if our love can stop someone from committing suicide, then we can save the world for them.
The front cover of this edition of Highlights nods in the direction of the Church Year, and inside, I’ve included a fuller outline of the Church Year calendar for you to consider. The Church Year is a good way to picture historical time as the time of Jesus and the time of the Church. Referencing the touchstone of the historical time of the Church year is an antidote to both the pride that would see us neglect the people present to us in this moment in favor of “making our mark,” and the despair that tells us that our lives don’t really matter.
Your life matters. No, they will not carve your face into the side of a mountain. And, even if they did, the mountain will crumble, and your carved face along with it, in the time of history anyway. But the grace you give, the mercy you show, the peace you make, the forgiveness you offer, and the love you live can carve your face into the soul of another human being right now in the time of your biography. And that is what truly matters.
Rev. Daniel Skillman - Senior Pastor
Dale Hukill - Director of Music Ministry
Richard Shirey - Assistant Organist
Susan Moore - Director of Children's Ministry
Barbara Tibbitts - Worship Leader
Linda Forster - Children/Cherub Choirs
Sherrill Crawford and Dean Firing
Lynnette Ozanich - Bookkeeper
Gail Brandt - Nursery Care Provider