Wisps of Straw

St. James Lutheran Church Newsletter

March 2008          Pastor: Rev. Dr. Jane Gaeta

Church Office Phone:  908-454-2864    E-mail:  strawchurch@verizon.net


The Pastor’s Letter

Dear People of St. James,

Blessed, Holy Lent!

On solemn Ash Wednesday we began the season of Lent with penitence and reflection on the quality of our faith and life.  By focusing on the mystery of redemption, we prayed for strength and discipline to be brought anew to the gift of our Baptism.

We had the opportunity to have ashes placed on our foreheads with the words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”  In that simple act we were reminded of our sin and our total dependence on God for our very lives.  Ashes also suggest cleansing and renewal.  They were once used as a cleansing agent in the absence of soap.  Ashes are sometimes also used as a penitential substitute for water - and Baptism is a primary emphasis of Lent.

    Lent may be an opportunity for you to make time for daily prayer and/or Bible reading.

    Lent may be a time for you make changes in your stewardship of time, talent and treasure.

    Lent may be a time for you to reach out to those in need - those you rarely think about.

My prayer for the people of St. James is that each one be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life.

The worship schedule during Holy Week appears elsewhere in Wisps of Straw.

Finally, a word about worship at The Easter Vigil on Saturday March 22nd at 6:00 pm.  The climax of the sacred Triduum (the three services that began on Maundy Thursday) is celebrated with images of darkness and light, chaos and order, slavery and freedom.  We begin with the fire of creation and enter the church in darkness following in procession the Paschal, or Christ Candle.  The darkness gradually gives way to the light of creation and celebration of our redemption through the death and Resurrection of our Lord!

May the Holy spirit lead you to reflect, study and worship this Lent and Easter!


Pastor Gaeta


God calls us to worship.  God is the focus of worship.


The Paschal or Christ Candle

The Paschal Candle is a large, white candle used at worship. The flame of the paschal candle directs us to the light of Christ, and his presence in our midst. The Paschal Candle is sometimes referred to as the "Easter Candle" or the "Christ Candle." The term "paschal" comes from the word pesach, which in Hebrew means Passover.

On Maundy Thursday, the entire church will be darkened, calling to mind the darkness of a world without Christ.

Then, at the opening of the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Candle is the first candle to be lit with a flame from fire, representing the light of Christ coming into the world.

Worshipers then process into the church, led by the paschal candle.  The candle is raised three times during the procession, accompanied by the chant, "The light of Christ" to which the assembly responds, "Thanks be to God".  Following the procession, the Exultet is sung (Easter Hymn of Praise intoned by a deacon or assisting minister).

This candle is traditionally the one from which all other lights are taken for the Easter service.

The candle remains lit at all worship services throughout the Easter Season, during which time it is located in the sanctuary close to the altar.  After the Easter season, it is placed near the baptismal font.

The Paschal Candle is lit during services that include the Sacrament of Baptism as well as Burial of the Dead, a visible sign of Our Lord's nearer presence as well the hope of the resurrection into which Christians are baptized.


Many thanks to the children of Luther and Lillian Henry for their lasting gift of the Paschal Candle and stand in memory of their parents!



Our Mission
As members of St. James Lutheran Church, we have joined together as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ to praise and serve God; to hear the word of God and share in His supper; to encourage, guide, comfort, and pray for one another; to make disciples of those who have not heard the Gospel; and to serve those in need.

Holy Week Worship Schedule

Saturday March 15th at 6:00 pm & Sunday March 16th at 8:45 am:
The Passion of Our Lord - Palm Sunday 
(While adults sing the first hymn, Pastor & the Assisting Minister will process with the children)

Thursday March 20th at 7:00 pm:
Maundy Thursday 
(Celebration of First Communions with reception following worship)

Friday March 21st at 7:00 pm: Good Friday  (reflection, intercession and adoration of our Lord)

Saturday March 22nd at 6:00 pm:
Easter Vigil  (candlelight procession, renewal of Baptismal vows, Holy Communion and celebration of Our Lord's Resurrection!)

Sunday March 23rd at 8:45 am:
The Resurrection of our Lord  (Holy Communion and special music)

For Music Lovers

Verdi's powerful Requiem will be performed by the Lehigh University Choral Arts Program on Friday April 25th and Saturday April 26th at 8:00 pm at the Zoellner Arts Center, 420 E. Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA.  (Pastor now sings in the chorus as an alto.)

Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or by calling 610-758-2787.

Saturday Evening Worship

If you can't make it to Worship some Sunday morning, consider coming to Worship on Saturday evening.  Worship is upbeat, informal and a joy!  If your neighbors can't come on Sunday, tell them about Saturday worship!

Adult Sunday School / Forum

Informal discussions on The Lord's Prayer continue following worship on most Sundays. There will be no classes on Palm Sunday (March 16th) and Easter (March 23rd).

Please join us.  If you can't join us, you may want to purchase the book Rediscovering the Lord's Prayer by Art Simon.

Pajama Drive

The Senior League is sponsoring a pajama drive for children and women who are victims of domestic violence.  These pajamas will give some comfort to these vulnerable people in their time of need.  We will be collecting pajamas through April 4th.

Please contact Carol Meixsell if you have any questions (908-454-6734).

Attention Parents!
A nursery room with toys is available at the bottom of the annex stairs for parents with children, should the need arise. The Service can be heard over the speaker system.

The Joseph T. Quinlan Bereavement Center is hosting a Living with Grief lecture series as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the effects grief has on our lives, our loved ones, and our relationships.  It is offered to anyone who has experienced a loss through death, who is helping another cope with loss, or who would like to learn more about the grieving process.

The lectures will take place on Tuesday evenings, April 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at:

Hackettstown Regional Medical Center

651 Willow Grove Street

Hackettstown, NJ

Guest Presenter will be the Executive Director of the Karen Ann Quinlan Memorial Foundation, Cecelia T. Clayton, MPH.


Prayer Request

Please continue to pray for the members of the Call Committee and the Church Council as they persevere in our search for a new Pastor.


What is Hospice?

What are our fears about death and dying?

How can we support others and ourselves when faced with a terminal illness?

What is Hospice and how did it start?

What are the social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the dying person and his/her family?

The answers to these and other related questions will be found in a series of four-week classes on Hospice Volunteer Training being offered by the Joseph T. Quinlan Bereavement Center.

The classes begin on Mondays and Wednesdays, march 3rd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 17th, 19th, 31st, and April 2nd and run from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at:

Joseph T. Quinlan Bereavement Center

214 Washington Street

Hackettstown, NJ

Upon completion, participants are Certified Hospice Volunteers.  Hospice Volunteers have the option of working in their communities and establishing their own schedules with allowable services they are willing to provide for the organization.

For information and registration, call the Volunteer Coordinator, Sue Morrow, at either 973-383-0115 or 800-882-1117.

Benevolence Project
Links of Love and Heifer International

The Sunday School children will sell “Links of Love” beginning on Palm Sunday, March 16th, in the Fellowship Hall following Worship.  The proceeds will go to Heifer International.  Our goal this year is to purchase the Gift Ark at $5,000 with the help of matching funds from Thrivent.  This goal is an ambitious one, therefore we are modifying the Links of Love - each link color available will represent a different monetary value.

Our benevolence project will run until the end of May.  With God’s help and yours, we can achieve our goal.

What does VBS Mean to You?

v  Very Big Shoe                               v  Volunteers Being Silly

v  Valentine Bear’s Socks                  v  Vision Beyond Self

v  Virtually Blue Sea                         v  Vivacious Bold Step

For children in our area, VBS is the week-long program (9:00 am to 12:00 noon) called Vacation Bible School.  We can’t make this wonderful, educational program happen without volunteers (station leaders, registrar, group guides, program coordinators, food preparers, game organizers, floating assistants, end of week celebration planner, more).

Eager to help and have fun, enjoy working with children, willing to help kids learn about God and Jesus, and want to see children’s excitement as they learn about God’s love.  Attend four or five planning meetings and participate in the week of the event.

We are in the early stages of planning (picking date and program materials, etc.).  For more information about how you can help, please contact the church office or Diann Porto at 908-454-8361 or diann1@ptd.net.

Last year we almost had to cancel the program due to insufficient volunteers.  If you are willing to help in any way, please let Diann know before Easter to ensure that we will be able to provide this terrific program for our congregation and community again.

------A little of your time will go a long way for the kids.------