Thursday, October 31, 2013

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

I gird myself today with the
might of heaven:
The rays of the sun,
The beams of the moon,
The glory of fire,
The speed of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The hardness of rock.

I gird myself today with the
power of God:
God's strength to comfort me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to lead me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's angels to save me
From the snares of the Devil,
From temptations to sin,
From all who wish me ill,
Both far and near,
Alone and with others.

May Christ guard me today
From poison and fire,
From drowning and wounding,
So my mission may bear
Fruit in abundance.

Christ behind and before me,
Christ beneath and above me,
Christ with me and in me,
Christ around and about me,
Christ on my left and my right,
Christ when I rise in the morning,
Christ when I lie down at night,
Christ in each heart
that thinks of me,
Christ in each mouth
that speaks of me,
Christ in each eye that sees me,
Christ in each ear
that hears me.

I arise today
Through the power
of the Trinity,
Through faith in the threeness,
Through trust in the oneness,
Of the Maker of earth,
And the Maker of heaven.

Trunk or Treat, 2


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trunk or Treat, 1

Thanks to the team that put together this excellent event! Lots of fun, lots of guests!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hymn Story: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

By C. Michael Hawn on the General Board of Discipleship (The United Methodist Church) website.

A native of the small Kentucky town of Franklin, Thomas Obediah Chisholm (1866-1960) was born in a log cabin. He lacked formal education. Nevertheless, he became a teacher at age sixteen and the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, the Franklin Advocate, at age twenty-one.

In 1893 Chisholm became a Christian through the ministry of Henry Clay Morrison, the founder of Asbury College and Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Morrison persuaded Chisholm to move to Louisville where he became editor of the Pentecostal Herald. Though he was ordained a Methodist minister in 1903, he served only a single, brief appointment at Scottsville, Kentucky, due to ill health. Chisholm relocated his family to Winona Lake, Indiana, to recover, and then to Vineland, New Jersey, in 1916 where he sold insurance. He retired in 1953 and spent his remaining years in a Methodist retirement community in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
By the time of his retirement, he had written more than 1200 poems, 800 of which were published. Read the full story!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fun and Games

First the confirmation class, and then all the youth, fun and games on Oct 13.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Worship at Smith Health Care

Thanks to our team of folks who came to Smith Health Care on Thurs Oct 17 to share in worship, Holy Communion, and fellowship with the folks gathered there. A beautiful opportunity!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Idolatry & Doxology: Perfect Love for Imperfect People (2)

Hosea 13.1-8, 14.1-10 with Luke 17.11-19 (ten lepers) and Psalm 116

We are “imperfect” people.  Yet, God loves us perfectly.  Last week, we heard from the prophet Hosea, listened in on his personal story, on a story that is in so many ways God’s story – loving the unfaithful one, his prostitute wife Gomer.  Like Gomer, we are “prone to wander”.  Like Hosea, God does not give up on us.  God keeps the light on, holds the door open, and actually steps into our worst mess to redeem us.

We hear the words of a prophet like Hosea, describing the idolatry of ancient Israel, and we cringe.  Grotesque images of calf gods and pillars, promiscuity with temple prostitutes, offering human sacrifice (13.2 - differing translations, but the literal translation).  It’s all a bit disturbing, very primitive, certainly not like us, is it?  It is like a Conan the Barbarian or Serpent King flick.  And the prescription of the movies – a violent revolution – is not much different from God’s prescription of exile to cleanse Israel of idolatry.  And what does this have to do with me?

Exodus 20:2-5  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;  3 you shall have no other gods before me.  4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God
            “No other gods before me” (lit, “in my face”)

– what we have made
            “Do not make for yourself an idol”
            Hebrew idol, “peser” from “pasar” for “hew or carve” (making process)
            “made in our image”, the soap opera of Greek mythology
            beneath us - under our control - but we cede it

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Syrian Refugees - Friendly Space for Children

Children in Kilis, Turkey benefit from a new UMCOR-supported Child Friendly Space that serves children ages 5 to 12. The children will receive psychosocial care and education to help them deal with the anxieties of war.
Children in Kilis, Turkey benefit from a new UMCOR-supported Child Friendly Space that serves children ages 5 to 12. The children will receive psychosocial care and education to help them deal with the anxieties of war.
By David Tereshchuk
October 17, 2013—Amid all the turbulence of the Middle East, the continuing violence in Syria increasingly sends waves of displaced people from their homes. They seek shelter within their own country, but more and more so, in neighboring countries.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is undertaking vital initiatives in support of Syria’s battered population. Among these is UMCOR’s work with implementing partner International Blue Crescent (IBC) to ease the plight of Syrian refugee children in Turkey.
In the two years of Syria’s vicious fighting, some 600,000 refugees have fled across that border, about three fourths of them being women and children. IBC is focusing its efforts on children in the refugee “city” of Kilis, technically a temporary reception center built mainly of steel shipping containers and located just three miles inside Turkey’s border with Syria.
Throughout the conflict, the harm inflicted on children’s education has been enormous—some 3,000 Syrian schools have been destroyed, and two million children have been robbed of their schooling—but, of course, every element of their upbringing has suffered too. The UMCOR/IBC efforts are designed to bring some remedy to that widespread damage.
Read the whole story.

Consecration and Prayer

When asked by Mike Traficante to be on the Stewardship Team, I quickly agreed.  Then I had to miss the first meeting at which the plan for delivery and content of speeches was made.  My lesson to learn: Never miss a meeting!   My assignment was to be the first speaker and the content was to be prayer.     Okay, how do I relate prayer to stewardship?!   The first course of action that I knew was to turn to the Bible.   So here goes:

There are two parables in the New Testament that I would like to draw upon and paraphrase.  The first is from Luke Chapter 18: verses 1 thru 6.   The story is about a godless judge and a widow.  The widow came to the judge repeatedly to seek justice, but he ignores her.  This goes on for days and days.   Finally the judge says “This woman is driving me crazy.  I will see she gets justice because she is wearing me down!”   Even as this judge rendered a just decision, surely our God will grant petitions by people that plead with him frequently. 

The second is not so much a parable but a lesson from Jesus.  It is found in Mark Chapter 9: verses 19 thru 29.   After giving the disciples the instructions to go forward and heal in his name, there was one child they could not heal.   The boy was having what we call convulsions in today’s world, causing him to fall into fires or into water that could cause his death.   The child’s father brought him to Jesus, and Jesus prayed and healed the child.  When asked by the disciples why they could not heal the child, Jesus referred to the power of prayer.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pounding the Pastor

Lee & Shirley and their team picked up 808 pounds of food (Mon Oct 7) from our Pounding the Pastor food drive, over 250 pounds above our goal! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Perfect Love for Imperfect People (#1): Bible Cosplay

Message, Hosea 1.1-9, 2.1-3, 3.1-5, with John 8.2-11 and Psalm 50

How did you become a prophet?
The word of the LORD came to me, and I listened.  And, then I spoke.

Why did you marry a prostitute?
Yes, I married a sex worker, and she has a name.  Her name is Gomer.  And I love her.  I didn’t expect to.  I married her because God told me to, and I never had a clearer word from God than that word.
            As I look back, I see that God wanted me to feel and experience, through the pain and disgrace of Gomer’s unfaithfulness, the same kind of thing that God is experiencing through the unfaithfulness of God’s people.

Hosea 8:11 Though [Israel] built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning. (NIV)
Hosea 4:1 There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land.

We have a God who loves us, and our God is a jealous God.  We say we are God’s people, but we worship Baal, calling him “master”.  It’s idolatry, and it’s adultery, especially when we lie with sex workers at the altar to get close to Baal and to his goddess consort.  In the wilderness with Moses, we made a golden calf idol, and we have repeated that – and gone much further – angering our jealous God.

I know jealousy.  I married Gomer, but – even as I grew to love her – her past haunted us both.  She had confused love and power, wanting to dominate or be dominated.  She confused love and gifts, and wanted to give herself to anyone who made her feel special in that moment.  She thought she was in control, but I watched her self-destruct and could do nothing to stop it.

Fun Serving

After the leaf and gutter work - and in the middle of it - the youth enjoyed the fruit of their labor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Youth Serve

Gutters and leaves all cleaned up! Thanks to Joanne, the youth, and the adult helpers on Oct 6.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sponsoring Hope

A study in the Journal of Political Economy evaluated the effectiveness of child sponsorship programs in the developing world in terms of "adult life outcomes". The only child sponsorship organization that was willing to participate was Compassion International, a Christian organization, and the results were outstanding. Our family has sponsored Compassion children for years, and it was wonderful to read the report of this study in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Jessica Ruvinsky writes:

A young couple in Uganda, when asked if they would like to enter their newborn into a child sponsorship program—a program similar to the one that helped both of them get through school and into good jobs—said no. “Poverty ended with us,” they explained.

International child sponsorship programs collectively raise more than $3 billion per year. Those photos of developing world kids that get pasted to so many refrigerator doors in the developed world clearly help large aid organizations to raise funds. But do the kids benefit from the money donated on their behalf? Researchers have now tracked many of these children into adulthood, and the answer—at least for one child sponsorship organization—is yes. “The impacts that we find on secondary school completion and on employment are fairly remarkable,” says Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco. “We did the study in six countries, and in all six countries we find positive impacts from sponsorship.”

Check out the full story!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jennifer's Grace Story

Thanks to Jennifer for sharing her story on Sunday 6 October! The text of her remarks is below.

A few weeks ago, when Pastor JP spoke about grace for the first time, he asked the congregation about when our personal moment was that we accepted Jesus.  I sat in the pew and I asked myself the same question.  I have to say that needed to think about it.  Before I go any further, I have to let you know that I’ve grown up in the United Methodist Church.  I grew up going to Mt. Pocono United Methodist Church.  I participated in all the activities: cherub and youth choir, youth group, bell choir, summer music camps, Sunday school from a toddler to senior in high school and was confirmed in the faith.  So, I did it all and I feel I learned a lot in the process.  However, I don’t think I knew everything was truly real until 11 years ago when my father passed away.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Our parking lot turned into a sea of red, black, and white as Crestwood staged its Homecoming Parade (last Saturday 5 Oct).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

And there was . . .

2013/10/06 Christ Church, Communion
Children, Genesis 1
Message, Luke 8.22-26

Intro: Sleeping through the twister
            I sleep like Jesus!

Appeal of this story:
                        sleeping Jesus, who may just want to get back to sleep asap
            Story as metaphor
                        the storms of our lives
            Echo: Detail in the text
                        “And there was ... a calm”
                        Echo of Genesis 1
                                    “And there was ... light”
                                    “And there was ... evening; and there was ... morning”
                        Identifies Jesus with Creation, as the Creator
                        Identifies Jesus’ word as Word of God that commands, calls ...

            wishful thinking for our words
                        the kids clean their room
                                    (All you kids who are in a hurry to become adults...)
                        Republicans and Democrats work together
                        our selves: it will never happen again

Isaiah 55:10-11: For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of God (Scripture) has power to transform us in ways that our own powers cannot.

            “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (8.24, Ha!)
                        For the disciples, this was an emergency. 
                        For Jesus, it was a good time for a nap.           
            Creation cycle
                        humans the pinnacle?
                        But it was the 7th day that was blessed: rest the pinnacle
                        Rest is a fruit of trust ... cannot rest when worried, sleep - anxious
            from night terrors to spilt milk, teaching children re emergency
                        Jesus teaching: “where is your faith?”  Rest a fruit of TRUST.

Safe Sanctuaries

Thanks to Kim & Jim for leading our training - for our volunteers and staff as well as folks from other churches in the region - on "Safe Sanctuaries", an effort to prevent child abuse and protect vulnerable adults and church volunteers. (Last Saturday Oct 5)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Youth Group

From their 9/29 gathering, with study led by one of our own young people, a flash light tag game, and weighing the food donated to the Mountain Top Community Food Bank.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Choir Consecration

Consecrated on Sunday 29 September, and applauding for Lib and her many years of singing God's praise with the choir. Thanks to Jack for leading this wonderful group!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


As you think about the new year, here's a prayer worth memorizing. It's author, Sir Francis Drake, an adventurer, wrote it as he departed to the west coast of South America.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
With thanks to Jeff Hirt, for sharing this with the Church Council in September, borrowed from the site of Seth Barnes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

History: Church Expands

From the Times Leader in 1950s, after the construction of the first phase of our current building.

Youth Bells Open

Opening their season on Sunday 29 September. Thanks to Michele for the leadership and to our young people for their excellence. "Make a joyful noise to the Lord."  We enjoyed it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chicken BBQ

Our inaugural event, Saturday 28 September. Thanks to Gary, Les, and the United Methodist Men for a fun public event!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What we prize

In my prayers on Wednesday, I read Psalm 12 and was struck by the end of verse 8:
That which is worthless is highly prized by everyone.

How often are my priorities shaped by "everyone" rather than by the love of God? I want to renew my focus on what matters most.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Team Works

I LOVE playing on and working in teams!  And I have really enjoyed the team work I have experienced over the past month.  From the Labor for the Lord work day to the youth back-to-school party, the soccer game at the church picnic, visiting our homebound partnered with members of the church, the Confirmation kick off dinner, the beginning of the choir season, the newsletter prep team, and the worship service at Smith Health Care (with a team of 5 plus our members who live there).  I am also enjoying the privilege of coaching a team of 6 year old soccer phenoms!  Today, as I polish off my part of the newsletter, I am in York visiting with Mom and Dad Grimm (Robin’s folks) while Robin is in Ghana.  After my departure, Suzanne received a call in the office that one of our members was actively dying.  She was able to call upon two of our members who have gone visiting with me and both were able to visit the family and bring the prayers and presence of Jesus and our church with them.  Team works!  It is the body of Christ in action! (From Sept 24)

Give Blood

Our best blood drive ever - 50 units given! Thanks to members of the church and our Scout troop that helped make the day great. Our Apple Dumpling Gang (aka Friendship Circle) had a sale at the same time.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sanctifying Grace: Movements of Grace (3)

Children, The Caterpillar and the Polliwog (Jack Kent)
Romans 8.28-39

Review: I’m a perfectionist.  (My justifying grace story.)
            My joke: JP stands for “just perfect”
            Tell your grace stories

Perfection (sanctification):
Jesus: “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5.48)
Peter: “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1Pt 1.15)

Perfect in LOVE:
not absolute, not in knowledge, not mistake free, not free from weakness or temptation, not sinless (see Wesley, “Christian Perfection” in Outler) ... living in obedience to the two greatest commands:
            Love the LORD your God with all your ...
            Love one another as I love you

Youth Ministry Intro

Introduction to youth ministry for parents of confirmands and others new to our youth group. Thanks to Joanne and Ric (especially to Joanne for the pies in our kitchen)!  (Sunday 22 Sept)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Children's Choir

Children's Choir at practice, with Michele at the helm.

Comedy: The Road Less Traveled

Saw Michael Jr perform at the Global Leadership Summit. (I was at the satellite site at Faith UM Church in Montoursville.) Fantastic story, and great comedy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I dream of a church . . .

From the interview of Pope Francis with Jesuit publications, printed in the journal America:

How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind……In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.

Read the full interview.

Choir Practice

Enjoying making music together, every Thursday at 7:00 pm. Thanks to Jack, our fearless leader!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Confirmation Kick-Off

A wonderful covered dish dinner for confirmands and their families, along with the confirmation and youth leadership team. Looking forward to a fabulous year of learning and growing together toward holy vows.