Saturday, May 31, 2014

Military Caregivers

Article by Kathy Gilbert.
They are the “hidden heroes” ––1.1 million parents, spouses and friends serving as caregivers for post-9/11 military veterans.
They are overwhelmed, under-trained and mostly unsupported in their unexpected lifelong roles as caregivers.
The RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution, just released the largest-ever study of military caregivers and found that those taking care of veterans who served after 9/11 are younger, usually employed outside the home and are more likely to care for someone who has a behavioral health problem. ...
The Rev. Myron Wingfield, an executive at the higher education and ministry board, said the report reminded him of a couple he knows who are caring for a wounded son.
“I was struck as I listened to a father tell of the extraordinary measures he and his wife have undertaken to care for their wounded and recovering son.  He will never recover fully — his wounds were too severe — but I could see where he had acquired a soldier’s courage and resolve. 
“His parents were uncommon in their abilities to care but, now into their second year of providing round-the-clock primary care, the father and mother are coming to terms with the fact that they cannot sustain the effort without additional assistance. Their only time alone with each other is one date night a week. The whole story was a reminder of the network of wounds created by soldier’s wounds.” 
Check out the full article!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Beijing Pastors at Wesley Seminary

By Amy Shelton* & Erik Alsgaard
A typical Sunday for the Rev. Wang Xuan includes preaching to more than 10,000 people, leading a choir practice, visiting home-bound parishioners, handling administrative tasks, and preparing  for her next sermon. She is one of six pastors serving this church and they hold multiple worship services every Sunday, with an attendance of 3,000-4,000 every service.
Xuan is one of the leading Christian pastors in Beijing, China, and she’s spending the semester at Wesley Theological Seminary to complete an intensive study – the first of its kind in the United States. Recently, she and her classmates shared details of their ministries and their lives in the People’s Republic of China.
“I hope to gain more knowledge and spiritually and to improve my pastoral skills this semester at Wesley,” said Xuan.
“It is an unusual decision for the Beijing Christian Council to send five top pastors to us for such a long time because there is such a significant lack of pastors throughout China,” says Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson. “The absence of these pastors will be felt greatly in their home churches.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Being Christ Church (4): Spirituality

2014/05/25 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 6
Children, 2 Samuel 23.13-17
Message, 1 John 2.12-17, Jeremiah 9.23-24

Wealth, Sex, Power (human struggles)
Poverty, chastity, obedience (monastic vows)
Monastic spirituality: no wealth, no sex, no power
Domestic spirituality? For ordinary disciples?

Wealth, Sex, Power (human struggles)
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life (1 John 2.16, traditional lang)

Lust of the eyes – Wealth
      Expensive car, “he deserves it”
      College debt
      Mortgages without down payment

      Slavery to debt

      Slavery to work, work like a slave
Deut 5.12 – Sabbath given to Israel because they had been slaves

Value in Practice: Giving … our practice and situation
      Secondary: Sabbath

Lust of the flesh – Sex
“Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” James 1.15

      Porn, objectify ourselves and others
      Intimate moment: No one else on your mind, not the past, not a fantasy

Value in Practice: Faithful
      Song of Songs 8.9-10, be either a door or a wall

Song of Solomon 8:6, Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Confirmation Retreat, 2

Thanks again to Tim and Kim for their leadership of this ministry. Our 2014 confirmation class will make their vows on Pentecost, June 1!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Passion to Be Right

It can be a deadly passion, especially for those we love. The amazing lyrics from Charlie Peacock's song "Sacrifice of Love" from his Kingdom Come project:

in the light of your tears
I’m wondering
what I look like in your eyes
as your spirit is crushed
beneath the weight
of my passion to be right

well I know we could reach an understanding
but a superficial kiss won’t be enough
for the only bridge across our canyon
is built upon the sacrifice of love

seems like every month or two
we hit a wall
rising somewhere in my pride
close my eyes to the pain
I bring to you
as you close your heart inside

I know we can reach some understanding
but a superficial kiss won’t be enough
for the only bridge across our canyon
is built upon the sacrifice of love

will I be the one who’s broken
will I be the first to bend
will I lay down and surrender
draw you back again

Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering our Fallen

An article by Chaplain Ray Bailey, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, USA:

Recently I was asked by a widow to lead a simple service of remembrance at the grave of her husband buried in Arlington Cemetery. It was the one year anniversary of his death. As I walked to the grave site, I noticed several family members at various graves paying honors and grieving at their loss.

Walking by one grave was a young woman and several other family members and friends placing a blanket on the grave so the wife could sit. A wheelchair was there with a young Marine who had no legs. He slowly lifted himself up by his arms and sat down on the blanket. The wife gently stroked the tombstone and wept. I positioned myself by the tombstone where I was to conduct the service. The family gathered and we began. There were tears, smiles of memory, and solemn looks as I shared love, hope, and faith.

After I concluded I turned back toward the other graves and to my surprise, every eye of multiple families in the area was watching me and had been listening to my words. There were tears, smiles, and silent mouthing of “thank you.”

I was so moved by the moment. I slowly went back to my car and noticed the Marine slowly lift himself up back into his wheelchair while the young wife slowly folded the blanket to depart. When I came close, she reached out and took my hand and through her tears, she smiled and thanked me for my words that meant so much in her pain.

As I drove away tears streamed down my face as I prayed, “Dear Lord, hold them in your hands.”

Prayer for all the fallen: Master, Help me to never forget the price that is beyond imagination paid by our warriors and their families. Humble me so that I always feel their pain, joy, and sacrifice. I pray they rest with honor silently on guard for You. Help me to be worthy. Protect and heal the hearts of their families and comrades. Amen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Worship at Smith's

Thanks to Cheryl for taking the pics. A wonderful group gathered at Smith Health Care for worship on Thursday 15 May.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Youth Sunday, more

From Mother's Day. Thanks to the youth for their hard work, excellence, and prayerful leadership!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Keeping African Mothers Healthy in Sierra Leone

The first lady of Sierra Leone, a nurse and United Methodist Christian, campaigns to end malaria and protect young women in her country, in partnership with The United Methodist Church.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being Christ Church (3): PURPOSE - Mission

Being Christ Church (3): PURPOSE – Mission
2014/05/18 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, BCP (below)
Children, Acts 26 (esp. 26.29)
Message, Matthew 28.16-20

Worship, Community, Mission
Friends, Purpose, Life

Christ United Methodist Church exists to honor God and to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.

1.     Authority
2.     Nations
3.     Things, as many as I have commanded
4.     Days

      Total Obedience (1,3)
      Total World – no matter how different we are (2)
      Total Time

Disciple (verb)
      Transitive (make) – the object is “all nations”
      Intransitive (be/become) – become what we are becoming
      Invitational, not Industrial
            Invite to become what we are becoming
      Acts 26.29, “become such as I am, except for these chains”

3 movements, with stories of Francis Xavier and the Apostle Paul

1. Going – Definition: depart, set out
      Jesuits living with one foot raised (Lowney)
      Francis Xavier, less than 24 hour notice, heading to India (Tucker)
      Paul, “forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward toward what lies ahead” (Philippians 3.13)

      Xavier: wanted to reach “out and out pagans” (Tucker, 60)
      Paul: “not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15.20)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Band Debuts

The Living Room Sessions band debuts, Sunday 18 May at our 10:45 service.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Youth Sunday

The youth led worship - music, children's time, and preaching - on Mother's Day! Thanks to Ric and Joanne for their leadership of the group.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"He Lives" Hymn Story

From Bruce Dodson. Thanks Bruce!

My uncle was very active in the Memorial Presbyterian Church which used to hold services in the beautiful church in Wilkes Barre situated on the hill above the Luzerne County Courthouse.  At one time it had a  large congregation but unfortunately that dwindled through the years and the church went out of existence several years ago, selling the building to Kings College.  At the time of my uncle’s funeral (2002) the church was still going (barely)and his funeral service was held there.  An elderly member of their congregation with a beautiful voice was often called upon to sing during church services.  He chose “He lives”  to sing at the funeral.  Before singing he announced that when he was a young boy Alfred Ackley served as minister at Memorial Presbyterian.  As they were close in age, the soloist became friends with Rev. Ackley’s son and spent a good deal of time in their house.  He remembers Rev. Ackley often being holed up in his study with the sliding doors closed.  When these doors were closed the young boys were under strict orders to be quiet as they were told Rev. Ackley was working on a hymn, of which he composed 1500 or so during his life time (1887-1960).  After his time at Memorial Presbyterian Rev. Ackley served at several other churches throughout the country, and it was at one of these latter churches where he wrote “He lives”. 

After hearing the soloist story I researched this song and composer.

As Rev. Ackley was preparing for his Easter message in 1932 he became upset at the comments he heard on the radio from a well-known liberal preacher, and also those of young Jewish man he spoke with just a few weeks prior.   This Jewish man asked Rev. Ackley why he should be expected to worship a dead Jew.   Rev. Ackley replied that was the whole point, He isn’t dead; He’s alive!  Rev. Ackley pondered this and gave his Easter Message.   Afterwards he mentioned to his wife that he did not think the message fully delivered what he had intended it to say.  His wife persuaded him to write a song about it, and that night he composed the words to  “He lives”  and wrote the melody soon after. 

Although this hymn was not written here, I find it interesting that this noted composer served locally and probably wrote some of his other selections while he was here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Garden of God - Youth Sunday 2014

Youth Sunday (and Mother's Day) 2014 - Nikki and Grace share the message.

Amen and amen. First off I would just like to wish everyone a happy Mother's Day, whether you are a mother, a mother to be , or are honoring a mother figure in your life. Today we all have something to celebrate, memories to commemorate, and someone to honor and cherish. Like little seeds being planted into the ground we all need nurture to grow. Such as, love, advice, teachings, and wisdom. Without these we wouldn’t be able to stand on our own.
Now today we read Romans 12:9-13.
1) and in Romans, Paul tells us to:
(Romans 12:9-13)
Let love be genuine
Hate what is evil,
Hold fast to what is good;
However I for one can attest to the difficulty of embracing this ideal. At times it can be so confusing to know what is good and what is bad. Not everything is black and white, or cut and dry. Sometimes we stray from the right path. While some of the decisions  we make may still go awry, they should not slow us down. There is this one phrase that all of the ten commandments fall under, love God and love everyone. This may be hard to do at sometimes, but if we do get off the path we can always learn from it.  
He also tells us to:
love one another with mutual affection;
      (and to)
Outdo one another in showing honor.
I can remember when I was younger, my father used to take me and my brother out to the park to play soccer. We both had joined a team and we wanted to impress him with our soccer abilities. Both of us wanted to be the best in his eyes, and so we would push ourselves to new limits to make him proud. Every time my brother demonstrated a new skill, i would counter with another. We became each others friendly competition and began to improve alongside each other. By going up against each, and learning from each other, we began to become better players. In the same way Paul wants us to continue to outdo one another in demonstrating christian values. Not necessarily to be the “best” or to compete with each other, like my brother and i, but to improve and grow from each other. He wants us to make better disciples of ourselves by learning from others examples and striving to outdo ourselves. In the same way I and my brother wanted to make our father proud, he wants us to want to desire to make god proud.  Paul also says,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Confirmation Retreat, 1

A wonderful weekend (May 9-10) at the Kirby House with our 2014 confirmation class, along with family and mentor guests. Thanks to Tim and Kim for their leadership in this ministry, and to Rob - member of the second confirmation class in Christ Church history - for sharing the history and future of Christ Church!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Terri on Caring

An introduction by Mike Case, leader of our congregational care team:

Early in 2014 a group of Christ United Methodist Church members organized and trained for permanent, sustained congregational care ministry.  The foundation of this ministry is providing Christian acceptance, unconditional love and comfort to members of our congregation and their extended family connections.  By doing this we reduce loneliness, fear and uncertainty in the lives of people enduring the stresses of hospitalization, hospice, being homebound, or living in nursing homes.  Our visits, calls, and letters build bridges and connections with those in need and through Christ’s presence promote the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our members.

From February through April 2014, a dedicated team of people have made 220 contacts!  122 of those were visits to people in need; 39 were phone calls; and 59 were letters and notes.   We praise God for this joyous Christian discipleship.  If you would like to be part of the Care Team at Christ Church of Mountaintop, please contact either Pastor JP or Mike Case.  On May 13th at 7 PM the Care Team is meeting to reflect upon the work so far and to engage in some additional training. 

At this time, I am pleased to introduce you to Terri, a Care Team member, who will speak about her experiences visiting in nursing homes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Celebrate Jesus!

Children (and Carrie) join Pastor JP in leading a fun resurrection song in worship (27 April).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Being Christ Church (2): FRIENDS - Community

2014/05/04 Christ Church, Mountain Top; Holy Communion
Children, John 20.19-31
Message, Acts 2.41-47

Family portraits 
Luke captures a “portrait” of the ideal church
      Not just ideal for Luke
      Everyone wants to get in on it!
            “Added to their number daily”
            Our season at Christ Church

Worship, Community, Mission
Friends (Community), Purpose (Mission), Life (Worship)

      Apostles’ teaching
      “Spent much time together in the temple”
      “Praising God”
      Last week’s theme, worship as LIFE
            Chosen obedience
            Fresh thinking
            Genuine love
      Awe – wonders and signs
      “The goodwill of all the people”
      “The Lord added”
      Breaking bread
      Caring for those in need
      Were together
      Gathering in homes
      Eating together
      Learning together

Koinonia “fellowship” – to have something in common or
                  To have a share in something (the business definition)
      California Chrome
            Offered $6 mill for 51%
            For a horse bred from a 8000 mare and 2500 stallion
            Wins the 2014 Derby

Fit – being One
      Shared devotion, spiritual practice
            “devoted” = “persevere, sustain focus” (not an emotion)
      Yet, significant differences, culture, language, privilege
      Yet, pain and offense
      “Life is too short”
      Jesus is too important, and his body (the church) is too important

      Soccer team – passing to score

Fun – being Together
      Eating together
      Learning together
      Serving together

      HS Bible study group

Friends – being Known and being Loved
      Not just friendly
      Purple People Greeters – but I was not their friend
      Know and be known
      Caring for each other

      Compression underwear

Friday, May 9, 2014

Blood Drive

Thanks to our Blood Drive hospitality team - over 30 units donated (saving up to 90 lives!) - and lots of goodies shared. (I loved the oat-jelly things and had two wimpies.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Legacy of a Missionary Doctor

Dr. Tendai Manyeza examines a patient at the Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe. Photo: Courtesy Old Mutare Mission Hospital
Dr. Tendai Manyeza examines a patient at the Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe. Photo: Courtesy Old Mutare Mission Hospital.

This article was first published in the March-April 2014 issue of New World Outlookmagazine. Also read about past Zimbabwe missionaries Dr. Marvin & Carolyn Piburn.
Christie R. House: Dr. Tendai Manyeza, I know that you serve Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe. In what capacity do you serve?
Tendai Manyeza: I am a doctor there. I do a lot of work in the maternity ward, the outpatient ward, and the inpatient units. I am also involved in outreach work.
What kind of outreach work?
T. Manyeza: We have six United Methodist rural health centers (clinics), and three non-United Methodist clinics that use our hospital as a referral center. The six United Methodist clinics are located in various other areas of the province, each being staffed by two nurses and two nurses’ aides. We schedule support and treatment visits to each of the UMC clinics. The clinic nurses usually book patients for the doctor.
What do people come to the clinics for?

T. Manyeza: Each clinic is a first-level primary-care center. Patients of all ages arrive there with all kinds of conditions. Most common are children with upper respiratory conditions, diarrhea, and skin conditions. We see adults with chronic conditions, such as asthma, hypertension, heart disease, HIV/AIDS-related diseases, and musculoskeletal conditions.
Tell me a little more about the hospital.
T. Manyeza: Old Mutare Hospital is a 70-bed unit, meant to serve a catchment area of 5,000. Though the catchment area has grown to about 12,000, our infrastructure has not grown to cope with the increasing population. We provide mainly curative work in both outpatient and inpatient facilities. Another busy unit is the maternity ward, where we deliver 50 to 60 babies a month. We see 60 to 70 outpatients a day. I’m currently the only doctor. We have 13 nurses and 30 support staff.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Soup's Up!

The Friendship Circle sold soups during the Blood Drive. Thanks to the wonderful chefs!

Monday, May 5, 2014


Eric and Alexis look on as their daughter is baptized. Carrie presented and assisted in the baptism. What a joyous day as the people of God! (Sun 27 April)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Good Friday cantata (2)

Good Friday cantata, with "tenebrae", extinguishing the candles one at a time until we are left in darkness.

Mark 15:33-34   When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  34 At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thanks: To our supporters

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of the ministry of Christ Church in the first quarter of this year. We are growing in our generosity, carefully managing expenses, maintaining a healthy margin, and making regular payments of our Shares of Ministry. Thank you!

Enclosed with this note is information on our capital appeal for 2014. Please give it prayerful consideration.

Your support and your prayers are making a practical difference as we grow together as disciples of Jesus and invite others to follow Jesus with us. We continue to welcome new faces in worship. We had four small groups for adults sharing The Prodigal God journey together through Lent. Our congregational care team continues to grow. (We’ll hear a personal story from congregational care in worship on May 4). It is truly a delight to share in this ministry together.

For me, the huge highlight was our Easter Egg hunt. We had 130 children – not counting adults – celebrate the gift of Resurrection with us in the egg hunt, cup cake decorating, and singing. They came through the Ark and the Scouts, through personal invitation, and through posters in various community businesses. Our ministry team on that day included the whole range of generations here at Christ Church, from our youth to our great-grandparents. (One of our great strengths is our intergenerational faith community, with deep roots and a spirit of adventure.) For many families, it represents the opportunity to respond to Jesus and connect with his church in a fresh way. In the words of the famous song: “That’s what it’s all about!”

Thanks again for your generous support, your prayers, and for inviting your friends to connect with us as we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Pastor JP

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Being Christ Church (1): LIFE – Worship

2014/04/27 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 16
Children, John 21 (the risen Jesus asks for our love/worship)
Message, Romans 11.33 – 12.21 (especially 12.1-2)

Today we begin a new series of messages exploring the language we are using to describe discipleship here at Christ Church, language that is incorporated into the new and expanded membership vows and covenant. You may have noticed the tagline, “Friends. Purpose. Life.” in some of our graphics. Those themes translate into three overlapping spheres for discipleship: Worship (Life), Community (Friends), and Mission (Purpose). A copy of the membership vows, including the new questions and description, will be handed out to everyone as you exit.

Worship. There is so much we could talk about – and we are only taking one Sunday with this dimension of our theme! We could talk about the power of praise to shape the world, to accomplish victory, to bring the new age of resurrection to bear on the old age of death. I love the story of King Jehoshaphat, who puts the choir at the front of the army as Judah heads off to battle, and when they arrive at the battleground, their enemies have killed each other (2 Chronicles 20). We could talk about the imperative of gathering as the Christian community (which overlaps with next week’s theme). “I can worship anywhere, alone in the woods”. Good, but that is not adequate for our souls: “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10.25). We could talk about the so-called “worship wars”, which so often boil down to what constitutes “good music” rather than “bad music”, and end up focused on everything except what matters to the mission of Jesus and the formation of souls.

But today we are going to talk about worship as a way of life, with a focus on the first two verses of Romans 12. Some context: In Romans, Paul has been describing the story of salvation, how Jews and Gentiles together are united in a new people of God, and how Jesus in his death and resurrection inaugurates God’s new age – the resurrection age – in the midst of the old one (Wright). Chapter 11 closes with worship: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (11.33-36).