Monday, September 30, 2013

Bells of Mountain Top

Thanks to Jack and the Bells for their beautiful music! Join the fun on Thursdays at 8:15 pm.

Youth Bells

Our youth bells are a fantastic group of musicians, and they are gearing up for another strong season under Michele's leadership. Ya'all come!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Worship at Smith Health Care

Thanks to Jean, one of our 12 members who lives at Smith's, for accompanying the hymns on piano, and to the team of folks who came in to greet, welcome, serve communion, and take pictures! It was a beautiful time! (Sept 19 - next date is Oct 17).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Guitar with Two Necks: Mark Kroos

A total delight to welcome Mark Kroos (newly wed to lovely Nora and winner of Guitar Player Magazine's 2011 Superstar Competition) in worship on Sunday 22 September, as he travels between concerts. I have enjoyed his latest CD, Down Along the Lines of Joy. Check out his website for video and downloadable content.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Justifying Grace (diagram)

Justifying Grace: Movements of Grace (2)

Romans 3.19-31, with Luke 7.36-50, and Psalm 32

Blaise Pascal:
‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,’
not of philosophers and scholars.
Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
            I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him.
            Let me never be cut off from him!
            Sweet and total renunciation.
Everlasting joy in return for one day’s effort on earth.
Memorial, in Pensées, 309-310.

            3 movements of grace
            central movement (justifying grace) a “singularity”
            hourglass figure
            prevenient: God’s pursuit, either romance or hunt
            first thing: in the narrative of grace, “I” am not the subject of the story
            second: God is gracious, grace is always active

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Solidarity with Christians in Pakistan

By the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches:

23 September 2013

"Jesus said… 'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die'…" John 11:25-26 (NRSV)

On behalf of the WCC, I wish to express our heart-felt sorrow at the heavy loss of life from the bombing at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.

This deliberate targeting of a vulnerable Christian community came at the end of divine worship on Sunday, 22 September and is the single worst loss of life among Christians in Pakistan.
It is particularly tragic given that All Saints Church, Peshawar, one of the oldest Christian churches in Pakistan, witnesses by the building’s very resemblance to traditional Islamic architecture to the desire of the Christians of Pakistan to live peacefully with their Muslim neighbours and fellow citizens.

Last week in the World Council of Churches we organized a consultation on the “Politicization of Religion and the Rights of Religious Minorities” during which we heard a speaker from Pakistan describe the on-going difficulties of the Christian community there.

It has deeply saddened us to receive the news of this terrible attack. We express our sympathy for all who have been bereaved, our prayers for those who have been injured, and we commemorate in prayer those whose lives have been lost.

We commit ourselves anew to working for the wellbeing of the Christian community in Pakistan, and express our solidarity with the community at this time of grief.  We call for an end to the wanton violence that has been perpetrated and ask the government of Pakistan to protect all of its citizens from those who are bent on dividing the country and causing suffering to the innocent.

In the name of Christ,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC General Secretary

Sunday School

Thanks again to all our teachers! Such an excellent opportunity for young folks to make friends and learn to follow Jesus.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Our Cherub Choir has begun to practice! Thursdays, 7:00 to 7:15 pm. Thanks Michele!

Church Picnic

Thanks to the men for the burgers and dogs, to the Christian Education team for ice cream sundaes, to the youth for kids games, and to all who came with covered dishes and enjoyed an afternoon in our back yard!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Heard a talk by Brené Brown at the Global Leadership Summit (at a satellite site at Faith UM Church in Montoursville). Fantastic presentation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Labor for the Lord (2)

From the pancake breakfast, to washing windows and screens, to digging a dry well for gutter drainage - thanks to all who helped out and to Ike and the Trustees for making all the arrangements for the day!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Worship with the Ark

Pastor JP led singing and Maureen (Ark director) shared the Creation story from Genesis on Sept 12 and 13. Delightful worship!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Member

Welcome to Vivian (left), introduced by Molly (right) on this past Sunday! "Do you claim Jesus Christ as your Savior and promise to serve him as your Lord?"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Labor for the Lord (1)

Thanks to the almost 20 folks who came out and worked hard last Saturday morning - cleaning fans, clearing junk out of the basement ... and eating pancakes!

Prevenient Grace: Movements of Grace (1)

Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1.4-10, John 1.40-51

I love to hear our personal stories, particularly the stories that include or focus on the spiritual dimension of life.  Folks call that story by many names – a testimony, a spiritual journey, a witness.  I’ve heard people tell stories about being born across the street from the church and carried there the Sunday after they were born.  I’ve heard others talk about a life of atheism, only to be encountered by Jesus in a dream.  Some folks have been rescued from addiction; others – religious and observant all their lives – suddenly realize that they’ve been missing something and reach out for Jesus as if for the first time.
            Today we begin a series of messages on the movements of grace in our lives, a series that dives into our roots, into the richness of our specifically Methodist and Wesleyan tradition, to explore this theme.  It is a gift to the broader Christian tradition that comes from our heritage.  It is unique in its language and perspective, and entirely consistent with Scripture and older tradition.  Grace is a central theme of the biblical story, and grace remains a consistent theme in Christian theology.

First thing about the narrative of grace is that “I” am not the subject of the story – God is.  When I hear a personal faith story that centers on the human subject – on how I taught Sunday School or served on church councils or committees, how I got sober, how I help people – I am not hearing a grace story.  And, if I am not hearing a grace story, then I am not hearing about God, and something essential is missing.  Perhaps when you think about your spiritual journey, you realize that you are missing or overlooking God at work in you.  Perhaps you struggle to see the consistent theme of the grace of Jesus Christ woven throughout your story.  Perhaps you hear the story of others and feel you don’t have one of your own.  This series is for you.

First thing ... I am not the subject of the story.  Second thing ... God is always gracious, and grace is always active.  God sends rain and sunlight, and it doesn’t matter whether you are innocent or criminal (Matthew 5.45).  The theological term for this is “common grace”, because all human beings have this in common, whether we realize it or not.  Our focus in this series, however, begins with common grace and moves forward from there in three movements described by John Wesley – Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying Grace.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Pakistani schoolgirl speaks to the United Nations

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has addressed the United Nations as part of her campaign to ensure free compulsory education for every child.

She marked her 16th birthday by delivering the speech on Friday at the UN headquarters in New York.

Taliban gunmen shot Malala on her school bus last October following her campaign for girls' rights.

"I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child," she said.

Video and full article

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


More from the youth back to school picnic a couple weeks back. Thanks, Beth, for the pics!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Food Bank

We are blessed to partner with the Mountaintop Community Food Bank. Please bring your gifts for our special "Pounding the Pastor" food drive. In the last year, the Food Bank gave out 902 boxes of food (like the one in the final photo), serving an average of 75 families per month.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flood Recovery - Celebration

Calvary Church in West Nanticoke celebrated its flood recovery with an open house on Saturday 7 September. Thanks again to the folks from Christ Church (including Joe, above) who helped out with clean up in 2011. Pics show the fellowship space, sanctuary, and Sunday School room.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Youth & Confirmation Classes

The fall season is upon us, and our Confirmation and Youth classes have begun. So exciting to see them gather, learn, and laugh together.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pounding the Pastor

I weighed in during worship at 184 pounds! Our goal for the Mountaintop Community Food Bank is at least three times my weight - 552 pounds. Bring in your gifts through Sunday October 6. Thanks to Lee and Shirley for serving on the Food Bank board and regularly working in the Food Bank to provide meals for our neighbors.

Scripture: To a Young Leader (3)

2 Timothy 3.10-17, with Psalm 19 as a prayer
My friend: “JP, can I meet with you in your professional capacity?”
The past couple weeks we’ve been looking at 2 Timothy, and today we conclude our focus on this letter, perhaps the final letter of the apostle Paul before his execution.  We’ve examined the theme of legacy.  We’ve looked at Paul’s instruction on conflict for this young leader.  We hear in this section both of those themes once more.
            Legacy: “Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions....”  And, in a charge to continue in what he has learned, Paul reminds Timothy, “[you know] from whom you learned it”.  From his mother and grandmother, from Paul and other teachers in the first generation of leadership in the church.  And the mantle is being passed to Timothy and others in his generation.
            Conflict: Paul’s persecutions.  “All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (3.12).  And, in addition to persecution from powerful outsiders, false teachers in the church itself, “progressing from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (3.13).
From this context, Paul introduces the theme of Scripture – what Scripture is and what Scripture does.  That’s our focus today.  You’ll see in your note sheet a table for the two things Scripture is and the two things Scripture does.  They correlate, and we’ll look at how we make the move from “is” to “does” in our lives, how we allow it to do its work so that it can be all God wants it to be in the practicality of daily life.
1a.        What Scripture is (3.16): “God-breathed”
            also translated “inspired”, but an unusual word choice (Bassler, 168)
            echoes Genesis 2, “breathed into the man the breath of life” (Bassler)
Psalm 104:29-30  When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.  30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
Not about the HOW, simply the IS.  Oden (25): The Christian community at prayer trusts in inspired Scripture more than in theologians’ theories of how Scripture is inspired.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Congrats to David, the newest Eagle Scout from our Troop! (Pictured here with other Eagles.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ark Open House

The Ark Open House (Aug 29) brought a bunch of young families into the building - including a couple families on the soccer team I coach! I've enjoyed getting to know the kids, parents, and Ark staff. This is a wonderful opportunity for making more disciples for Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Keefer Award

Congrats to Jillian on being this year's recipient of the Keefer Award, for participation in the life and ministry of Christ Church! Blessings on your college career! (From last Sunday, Sept 1.)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Youth Picnic

The youth at their end-of-summer, back-to-school picnic on our own grounds. Thanks to Joanne for her leadership in our youth ministry!