Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pleasant Prayer

Just want to share these lines from my prayers on Friday, from Psalm 147:

How good it is to sing praises to our God!
how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!

It reminds me of the joy and pleasure we share together every time we gather for worship. Thanks for coming with hearts open, with gratitude, with expectation. "Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst." We've got a few more than two or three, and God - as promised - shows up. And it is very good.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Legacy: To a Young Leader (1)

August 25, 2013
2 Timothy 1:1 through 2:7
A message by Mark Dodson. Thanks Mark!

J P decided that for the next few weeks we would be taking an in-depth look at the second letter of Paul to Timothy. Timothy is the leader of a church in Ephesus, and according to the way Paul writes, Timothy is a young man, especially young for a leader of the church.

At the time of writing this letter, Paul is in prison in Rome and possibly facing execution. Second Timothy, then, is considered to be something like Paul's last will and testament. In the beginning of the letter, Paul focuses on the idea of legacy. The first half of our scripture for today deals with a sort of personal legacy. Paul reminds Timothy of the history of the holy spirit in his personal life. Paul begins with Timothy's mother and grandmother. When Timothy was a child, It was these women who most directly influenced young Timothy's faith. They were the ones who prayed over him, who praised God with him, and who encouraged him to live out his own faith.

Paul focuses on Timothy's mother and Grandmother specifically, going so far as to name them both. In Acts, Timothy's mother had been named as a faithful person. Paul extends this line back another generation to express more definitely to Timothy the depth of the legacy that stands behind him. Usually, especially in the historical tradition, it was usually the faith of the mother that is instilled upon the child. That's not to say that fathers aren't involved in the spiritual life of their children.

Paul also explains that the holy spirit didn't enter Timothy's life at the moment Paul laid hands on him and blessed him. It didn't enter when Timothy started his work in the Ephesian church. Paul tells Timothy that the holy spirit has been at work since the beginning of time, that it came through Christ Jesus, moved through Timothy's grandmother and mother and Paul before him. At the time Paul was writing, he understood that this letter would not just be read by Timothy, or the members of Timothy's church. Paul understood that a lot of people may read the letter, Christians and non-Christians alike. Being in prison for his beliefs, it's understandable that Paul would want to make the Christian faith stronger and convince non-believers of the faith's legitimacy. Culturally, the Greeks were distrustful of novelty. New movements, new churches, new ideas were eyed with suspicion in Greek society. But they revered what they perceived to be traditional. Long-established movements, ancient churches were well respected. To reflect this, Paul shows the reader that the legacy of the Christian movement extends long into the past. The Christian church both in Ephasus and elsewhere at the time of writing didn't begin with Timothy's generation, nor Paul's, nor even with Christ Jesus' death and resurrection. Paul shows that the holy spirit had been moving since the dawn of time. Even here, in what would seem to be Paul's last will and testament before his execution he still makes an effort to appeal to the sensibilities of the culture of the time for the sake of the church.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Youth Mission Vid (3)

Again, thanks! So glad that our young people - and us through them - are making a tangible difference in our world!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

In the News

Check out the full article in the current issue of Mountain Peaks. Thanks to photographer and writer Claudia Fazzino.

Christ United Methodist Church in Mountain Top is very excited about the arrival of its new pastor. Reverend JP Bohanan.  Pastor Bohanan’s official start date was July 1 and he preached his first sermon to the congregation on Sunday, July 7.  Pastor, his wife Robin of 23 years and sons Jesse, 21 and Caleb, 19 received a warm welcome from the congregation and community including freshly planted flowers around the parsonage.  Bishop Jeremiah Park assigned Pastor Bohanan to CUMC after the previous pastor moved on to another assignment.

The congregation at CUMC is a very upbeat, family and community oriented group and Pastor JP and his family fit in perfectly and will play an active role in all day to day church affairs, activities and programs such as the pre-school, community events, dinners and more.

Friday, August 23, 2013

David Davis Award

Congrats to Ari, who received the David Davis Award this past Sunday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kenneth Hawk Award

Congrats to Danny on being recognized by the United Methodist Men as this year's recipient of the Kenneth Hawk Award!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Finishing the Deck

Thanks to the team that restored the deck. It is beautiful. Please be sure to notice the supervisor of the team!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Faith Completed (FaithWorks 6)

FaithWorks (6): Faith Completed 
2013/08/18 Christ Church
Prayer, Psalm 115.1-11
Children, Genesis 18.1-15 (Abraham & the three visitors; Rublev’s icon)
Message, Hebrews 13.1-25

            Extended sermon, though he concludes: “written briefly” (13.22)
            Faith Commended
                        Risks (Abraham)
                        Abused (Moses)
                        Endures (the race set before us)
                        Connects (in peace and holiness)
            Today, faith completed:

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (13.20-21)

Faith completed ... sounds majestic and glorious.  Why the potpourri of advice in the final chapter?  Show hospitality.  Remember those in prison.  Honor marriage.  Obey your leaders.  Pray for us.  It sounds less like faith completed and more like the parting advice of moms and dads: drive safely, always use protection, respect your teachers, brush your teeth, don’t forget to call home at least once a week.

Faith completed IS majestic and glorious.  It’s also practical.  Did you catch the phrase: “make you complete in EVERYTHING GOOD”?  And, while the catch-all series of exhortations is a typical way to close the letters in the New Testament, each letter has its own context.  For Hebrews, the context is FAITH.  And the exhortations are given with the understanding that living by faith makes us into faith-ful people.  Faith fills and saturates every part of our life.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Christmas in July

Running a bit behind in publishing our stories... Thanks to Gerri for organizing such a wonderful event!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Youth Mission Vid (2)

Thanks again to Joanne and the young folks for extending our service and love in Jesus' name, the week of July 14-20.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Faith Connects (FaithWorks 5)

Hebrews 12.14-29, with Genesis 25.29-34 and Psalm 99

            extended sermon
            faith endures
            lest we think this is a private endurance event (Craddock), the “American” story, Faith CONNECTS

Two directions for our connection, encapsulated by the first verse in this section: “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (12.14).  In the passage as a whole, there is more language about connecting with God in holiness and worship.  Yet, there is an understanding that this connection with God does not occur without a healthy connection with God’s people. 

Jesus said, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5.23-24).  And, Hebrews says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble” (12.15).  Being in the grace of God and being free of bitterness – at peace with everyone – are intimately connected.

So, when we say, “The peace of Christ be with you”, we are making a powerful statement: “I forgive you.  Please forgive me.  Let there be nothing to separate us.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We actually progress by means of trial. We do not know ourselves except through trial, or receive a crown except after victory.

St Augustine, cited in Common Prayer, Aug 7, p 391

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Youth Mission Trip Vid

Thanks again to our young people and their fearless leader! A great opportunity July 14-20.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Faith Endures: FaithWorks (4)

Hebrews 12.1-3, with Isaiah 40.28-31

Review: Hebrews 11
“God’s classified” “Wanted: Someone to dream big, dare big, risk and give everything, just like the heroes and saints of ages past”.
Faith commended to us, faith commending us to God
Faith risks – Abraham
Faith abused – Moses

To a people experiencing renewed persecution and urged to ENDURE.
Today’s theme: Faith endures.

Open: 1992 Barcelona summer Olympic Games
            400 meter semis
            Derek Redmond takes the lead, blow hamstring on backstretch
            crumbles to the track as all others run past him
            medics with stretcher, gets up and hobbles/hops
            dad, Jim, in the top of the stands, runs through security and joins him

Difficulty: Endure hardship as discipline
            we hear “punishment” and put this into the “fault” category
                        what did I do to deserve?
                        This happened because of my sin/mistake

Monday, August 5, 2013

Derek Redmond's Olympic Finish

A fantastic story that we shared in worship on Sunday. "Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . . run with perseverance the race that is set before us."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chaplain tackles Mount Kilimanjaro

A story about a member of our own Susquehanna Annual (regional) conference:

The Rev. Karen Meeker is between peaks in her career. Really, really tall peaks. Lt. Col. Meeker, an Army chaplain and United Methodist ordained elder, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa which, in case you are wondering, is 19,330 feet.

“Why choose a retreat that includes meds for malaria, altitude and diarrhea? The extreme challenge of going from sea level with minimal training will require a singular focus to push through the altitude and weather. Sounds perfect to me!” she said.

Before embarking on her journey, she told United Methodist News Service, “I go to the mountain confessing my sins, praying God’s forgiveness and asking all things not Christ like would be purged from my life. I go to the mountain to receive vision and a renewed desire to serve. I pray God will strengthen me in body, mind and spirit for the next assignment.”

Meeker enlisted in the Army in 1986 and has served in many locations since becoming an Army chaplain, including serving with the Joint Task Force 101 in Afghanistan as well as other overseas assignments. She has received numerous awards and badges for distinguished service over the years, and was the first female chaplain assigned to the Army Special Operations Command. She is also a master parachutist, one of the few female chaplain jumpmasters. It is nothing for her to get up and run several miles before she preaches on Sunday morning. She just shrugs and says she has always wanted to be active.

Full story
By Kathy Gilbert, United Methodist Communications

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Faith Abused (FaithWorks 3)

Prayer, Psalm 9.11-20
Children, Acts 5.23-42 (apostles imprisoned)
Message, Hebrews 11.23-31

            extended sermon
            endurance in a time of trial – faith that is future-directed
            Abraham ... Faith Risks – departure, descendants, death
            today ... Moses

Moses’ Choice - The “Royal” Treatment
Obsession with British royalty, particularly the BABY!
            Kate & William
            baby George
            “International Obsession with Duchess Kate’s post-baby bump”

Pope Francis washed the feet of inmates at an Italian youth prison for Maundy Thursday ... a tradition that has been for priests only.  But he washed the feet of youth offenders, including two young women and spoke with a larger group that included Muslim and Orthodox young people.  And he said, “This is a symbol.  Washing your feet means that I am at your service.”

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh's daughter,  25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.