Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Opening Day

Scenes from the opening day of the Little League season. I really enjoyed participating in the parade and in the Opening Day Ceremony. And, the lemonade stand was a real treat!

VBS Monday (2 of 3)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Habitat Team (3 of 3)

Vacation Bible School, Monday (1 of 3)

From our first night of Vacation Bible School fun! Thanks to everyone who made this possible, and to all the parents and other adults who are sharing their children with us this week!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Young People Together

Top: A combined children and youth class for Holy Week. Below: Youth serving at the spaghetti supper.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Refugees in Jordan

According to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated nine million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011. Jordan is among the countries most affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Nearly 10 percent of the country’s population are refugees from Syria. 

Nearly 81 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan are living outside of camps, in local communities, and 86 percent of the refugees are living below the Jordanian poverty line, according to UNHCR. The number of food-insecure Syrian refugee families has also increased from six percent in 2014 to 22 percent in early 2015. As a result, refugee and host communities resort to negative coping strategies such as early marriage, child labor, and survival sex.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Left Alone: The Elijah Cycle (4), 2016-0619

Call to Worship, Psalm 42 & 43
Children, 1 Kings 19.1-8
Message, 1 Kings 19.9-18
Annual Conference report by Tim and Jane

On the heels of a fantastic victory, with fire falling from heaven, people falling on their faces, a dramatic end to a drought, and a 17 mile run – leading the horses and chariots of the king from Carmel to Jezreel – the great prophet flees for his life, is utterly alone, and prays for death. Happy Father’s Day. Of course, some of our children could rival the drama in the story, so maybe we have some entre to the human experience reported here. And, many of us have experienced burnout and even depression, often enough on the heels of our greatest success.
      Commentators struggle with this passage
            A different Elijah, fit elsewhere in story?
                  So easily intimidated?
            A reading that Elijah is not fleeing and not venting (Leithart)
                  Based on textual variants of verb (see/fear, 19.3)
                  Based on echoes of other stories (Egypt to Sinai)

Four factors that contribute to his burnout/depression:
1.     He is exhausted, emotionally and physically
      Stress of the great victory
2.     He is not prepared for rejection
      Proof is irrelevant to someone whose mind is made up
      Proclamation of the gospel involves conflict
            “I did not come to bring peace but a sword”
            (Matthew 10.34, Leithart)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Children and the Conference

Children at the altar, followed by Tim and Jane's report from annual conference 2016.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Silence and the Band (2016-0619)

Opening the 10:45 service on Sunday, with a moment of silence after the recent Orlando mass shooting and a couple songs led by the Open Table band.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Little Church ... Big Ambition

From mailers to meals and magic shows, Liberty UMC in Quitman [Texas] is acting large and in charge by building relationships in the community.
Early in the year, a group of leaders at Liberty UMC in Quitman felt the need to do some kind of community outreach or event. Much to the evangelism team’s delight, church leaders budgeted $800-$1,000 and they got to work.
“We began devising a plan to host a fellowship dinner and invite the community,” John explains. “ Jerry Price and I scouted a local magician nearby and lo and behold, when we met him, we discovered he was even an ordained minister so we knew he could provide family-friendly entertainment,” says John. “We needed to promote it somehow so I went to the post office and investigated the process of sending it to five of the mail routes in our vicinity.”
In creating a simple postcard, the team then strategically decided to feature several events, beginning with the Easter Sunrise service and breakfast. They hoped the fellowship dinner, planned several weeks later would beckon Easter visitors to come back and inspire other residents out to enjoy a fun weeknight meal complete with a magician. After the plans were set, Liberty UMC had 4,000 postcards printed and dropped in the mail the week of Easter.

The rest of the story....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Habitat Team (1 of 3)

Thanks to Steve for organizing the team. Looking forward to the next time!

Pain and Hope

By a friend of the Christ Church family, Jessie Larkins:

Eternal God, lead me now out of the familiar setting of my doubts and fears, beyond my pride and my need to be secure, into a strange and graceful ease with my true proportions and with yours; that in boundless silence I may grow strong enough to endure and flexible enough to share your grace. Amen.
–Guerillas of Grace, 28
These are tough days for those who mount pulpits to proclaim the Word of God. Sitting, as I am, on this Monday before Sunday, wondering how to write faithfully about these appointed texts for the week, I find my thoughts repeatedly drifting to my newsfeed. These stories cry out for the preacher to say a word about them, too.
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston. Is there a word from the Lord for those who yet grieve the daily violence and injustice perpetrated against the black community in this country? Is there a word from the Lord for young women in the pews who watch these same newsfeeds in fear and disgust as a rapist walks away from his crimes with not much more than a slap on the wrist and we are all reminded of the power of privilege–or is it the privilege of power? Is there a word from the Lord for members of the LGBTQ community whose fragile (if they had it at all) sense of security was shattered yesterday when a gunman walked into a nightclub and perpetrated the largest mass shooting in US history? A word for those who might use this tragedy to pit this one vulnerable population against an equally vulnerable Muslim population? Is there a word from the Lord on days when the demons that threaten to break us are Legion and their names are racism, misogyny, homophobia, and religious extremism? Is there a word from the Lord on days like these when there are simply no words at all?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hearing Things, Seeing Things: The Elijah Cycle (3)

Call to Worship, Psalm 5
Children, Matthew 6.9-13 (Lord’s Prayer)
Message, 1 Kings 18.41-46

      Drought declared (Baal’s death)
      Showdown of the gods/prophets
      Prayer for rain … not Baal’s new life, but God’s grace

Elijah prays and acts on things that he hears, things he sees – that no one else hears or sees. It is what distinguishes the “prayer of faith” and what ushers in the gift of the Spirit.

Future things:
            Eat now, rain is coming
            Leave now, ahead of the storm
Jacques Ellul: Understand and dominate the present by means of the future
      Our call:
      Act with confidence
      Pray with expectation
      Stand on the promise
      So often, however, we live in fear, often afraid of failure
2 Timothy 1:7  God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
      College search fraught with rejection anxiety – rain is coming!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ukelele Choir

By Sam Hodges
June 8, 2016 | DALLAS (UMNS)
Watch out, all you hand bell choirs. There’s a ukulele choir at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco, Texas. And it’s growing fast.
This Hawaiian shirt-clad cloud of witnesses played at General Conference in Portland, Oregon, wowing an exhibit hall audience on the last day.
The choir members, ages early elementary to AARP plus, played a 30-minute set that ranged from gospel to folk songs to U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
At the strumming and singing center of everything was the Rev. Joe Stobaugh, the group’s founder and leader, and executive minister of worship and arts at Grace Avenue United Methodist.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dream Car

Kim shows off her dream car before leaving worship for Mary Kay's Pink in the Park with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. Keep dreaming Kim!

Bishop Park on the Orlando shootings: How Long?

June 13, 2016

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?...
But I trust in your unfailing love."
(Psalm 13:2, 5a)

Dear United Methodists of Susquehanna Conference,

It was only a few days ago that we met as an Annual Conference for a time of holy conferencing only to return to once again hear about a mass shooting. During the Friday morning session of the conference we had a time of a prayer; "O God, we lift up those places and conditions within our communities, our nation and around the world for which we have great concern. There are so many people who are in harm's way. Every day, O God, we are confronted by senseless acts of violence... So hear our prayers for those places, people, and situations for which we are especially grieving..." Less than 24 hours after we offered the prayer, another horrific act of violence, terror and hatred erupted in Orlando, Florida. Now Orlando joins that long list of places identified by a mass shooting - Newtown, Fort Hood, Aurora, Binghamton, Virginia Tech, and the list goes on and on. This time it is the largest mass shooting ever in our country.

In solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims, our hearts go out to them with prayers for comfort and strength in their unimaginable pain and suffering. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers in these national and global days of mourning.

It is hard for any of us to fathom how anyone could find such an act of terror acceptable and tolerable. We are left wondering and questioning how such violence continues. In this newest instance the motivation appears to be one of radical Islam along with a deeply rooted hatred directed towards the LGBT community. No matter what a person's opinion and belief is in regards to homosexuality, there is certainly no place for such an act of terror and hatred. This act against the gay community is an act against all of us. There is no room for prejudice and intolerance of this nature. All those involved are beloved children of God, created in God's image. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones. And we weep with those whose lives will never be the same.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Baptism celebrated

One of our confirmands was baptized in a pool immediately after worship. Congrats!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Blue and Gold

From the annual Blue and Gold banquet. Our scouting groups do some really awesome stuff! And, thanks for the personal gift.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Phileas and Daisy, from Sierra Leone

Limping Along: The Elijah Cycle (2)

2016/06/05 Christ Church, Mountain Top,
      Lord’s Table, Confirmation
Children, 1 Kings 18.1-19
Message, 1 Kings 18.20-40

Three notes on themes we will NOT focus on today:
Responding to confrontation:
      “Troubler of Israel”
      “Designed to render us impotent by dissolving energy in guilt”
            (Leithart, 133)
      Why do bad things happen to good people?
      Why does God do good to evil people? (Leithart, 134-136)
      Prevenient grace!
      “Perhaps he is relieving himself” – truly mocking Baal (18.27)

Confirmation motto:
      Love God, love everyone
This passage develops the first side of that theme rather extensively. The love for God to which we are called is an exclusive love. Like the love of a marriage partnership, there is no room for anyone or anything else to intrude on that relationship.

      Working “under cover”, subverting the queen as chief of staff
      Time to be “out”, take greater risk, proclaim “The LORD is God”
      Elijah repeatedly calls King Ahab Obadiah’s “lord”
      Raising the insight of Jesus: “No one can serve two masters”

Monday, June 6, 2016

Leadership Retreat (2)

More pics from our leadership retreat, including the view outside and Jeff leading a discussion.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Community "Runners" Save a Pregnant Woman

By Mary Randall Zigbuo

The United Methodist Church’s John Dean Town Clinic and Camphor Mission in Liberia are the only health facilities serving remote communities in Grand Bassa County. With funding and technical support from Global Health, the clinic organized educational sessions for the community on recognizing the danger signs of ill health and seeking health care, while also promoting the community-clinic relationship through the engagement of traditional birth attendants. 

Following the sessions, a pregnant woman from Gbuenxnea was brought to John Dean Town Clinic in a hammock by “runners,” who had traveled by foot for one hour in order to save her life. The woman was very weak from prolonged diarrhea and vomiting. Without the “runners” she would not have made it to the clinic. She received immediate treatment that saved her life and the life of her unborn child.

The rest of the story ...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

29 New Missionaries

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung commissions Leo Garcia as a missionary May 19 at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. In the background are Catherine Whitlatch and Thomas Kemper from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS
By Elliott Wright
May 19, 2016 | PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS)
“We commission you to take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into all the world.” Twenty-nine times the ancient phrase was intoned as The United Methodist Church sent new missionaries from 11 countries to serve in 16 lands.
The liturgy of commissioning, both solemn and joyful at the Oregon Convention Center, was believed to be the first as part of a United Methodist General Conference, the church’s policy-making assembly that meets every four years.
The new missionaries will serve as church developers, chaplains, teachers, health practitioners or administrators, agricultural specialists and youth workers. Six of the 29 will work in the health field. Four will engage in ministries with migrants.
Twenty-five are “global missionaries;” four are Church and Community Worker missionaries who will work in economically marginalized urban and rural communities in the United States. They serve through the denomination’s United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, which currently has some 350 missionaries in 60 countries, and projects and partners in 60 more.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Leadership Retreat

The council and staff gathered together for a Friday evening and Saturday through lunch at Stairville Chuch's social hall. We learned about our community through demographic analysis, learned how we respond to change, and discussed some of the opportunities we have for making disciples. We also shared in worship, the Lord's table, and meals together.