Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mexico's first earthquake

The Sept. 19 earthquake in Mexico damaged tile roofs and plaster walls at the Tree of Life Center, in the village of Tlancualpican. The center is part of the United Methodist-supported Give Ye Them to Eat ministry. Photo courtesy Muriel Henderson.
Photo courtesy Muriel Henderson
The Sept. 19 earthquake in Mexico damaged tile roofs and plaster walls at the Tree of Life Center, in the village of Tlancualpican. The center is part of the United Methodist-supported Give Ye Them to Eat ministry.
By Sam Hodges
Sept. 21, 2017 | UMNS

Methodists are among those affected by and responding to the earthquake that struck south central Mexico on Sept. 19, killing at least 245 people.
The Rev. Raquel Balbuena, a superintendent in the Methodist Church of Mexico’s Southeast Annual Conference, said she has had reports from pastors of deaths among Methodist church families in the state of Morelos, near the earthquake’s epicenter.
Some church buildings of the Methodist Church of Mexico were damaged, as were some parsonages and homes of church members and ministry staff.
The Give Ye Them to Eat ministry, founded by longtime United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionaries Terry and Muriel Henderson, saw damage to its Tree of Life Training Center in the village of Tlancualpican, in Mexico’s state of Puebla.
The rest of the story of Methodists and this earthquake in southern Mexico. NOTE: A friend of mine, Rev. Marian Hartman, the DS of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District, has pioneered the connection between the Susquehanna Conference and Give Ye Them to Eat.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Marks of the Church (2): Holy (2017-0917)

16-17 Sept 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 130, p 848
Children, 1 John 1.5-10
Message, John 17.1-26, Romans 5.1-11
Creed, Nicene # 880 (after Scripture, prior to message)
Mission Moment: Angela McNally, shoes

Asking for and receiving God’s forgiveness

Nicene Creed
      4 marks of the church
1.     ONE, Unity … in freedom (Moltmann)
2.     HOLY
                  … the church
                  … the communion of saints (individuals) – Apostle’s C.

Ro 5.1-11
      Justification of the ungodly
      Boasting in our suffering

“in the truth; your word”
      John’s gospel: “in the beginning was the Word” (1.1)
            “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14.6)
      On the personal side,
            this word is the gospel word of pardon (justify)
                  “faithful and just to forgive us” (1Jn 1.9)
            not about us being “right” because we know THE truth
                  about us being righteous (justify) and holy (sanctify)
      On the global side,
            this word is the gospel word to which we are consecrated –
            as what Paul calls “ministers of reconciliation” (2Co 5)
            as Jesus declares here,
“exactly as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (Bruner trans 17.18, 1003)
      Sanctified not for our own sake but for the world

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Disaster Response: "When the Storms of Life are Raging"

September 22, 2017
"I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy."
(Psalm 142:1)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness and Hope of the World!

The great Afro-American Methodist pastor and gospel hymn writer, Charles Albert Tindley was revered for his preaching and musical gifts. Recently, because of the extent of the natural disasters experienced in Mexico, the Caribbean, the United States, and throughout the world, I have found myself thinking of his hymn, "Stand by Me." The words of the first and second stanza read: 

"When the storms of life are raging, stand by me; when the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea, thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.

In the midst of tribulation, stand by me; in the midst of tribulation, stand by me. When the host of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail, thou who never lost a battle, stand by me."

Rev. Dr. Tindley's hymn is uplifting the desperate necessity of the presence of God in the storms of life. Too many people in too many places, have experienced overwhelming destruction from the recent natural disasters. Homes have been destroyed, property has been ruined, and most tragically a number of people have perished in these monstrous storms and earthquakes. Our hearts and prayers go to those who are directly affected by the catastrophes, their families, and communities.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Marks of the Church: One (2017-0910)

9-10 Sept 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 133
Children, Matthew 5.23-24
Message, John 17.1-26, Ephesians 4.1-7
Creed, Nicene # 880
Mission Moment: Hurricane relief

Practicing reconciliation

Nicene Creed
      Share together

Childhood friendship – refusing to share friendship
      Define ourselves by the group we are in
      Define our groups by their borders, not their center

Nicene Creed
      Marks of the church
      Ephesians 4
      Psalm 133
John 17:20-23  I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,  21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,  23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Unity in Burundi
      Hutu vs Tutsi, civil war ended in 2006
      New violence brewing – disappearances, mass graves, 250K refugees
      Church divided since 2005 – rival bishops, different factions
      Aug 29 resolution to reconcile

Demolition Derby

More from the demolition work. The full photo album of the project, from discovery of the water problem forward.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Manna House

One of the groups that meets in our space, the Women's Club of Mountain Top, is partnering with Manna House to make a difference in our community!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Back to School Hospitality

Part of the hospitality team on back-to-school night for the Ark.

Demolition Daze

Thanks to the teams of folks who have come out to tear out the upstairs bathroom, getting it ready for renovation after water damage, and to rip out a downstairs bedroom (and eventually the bathroom too) to make the space wheelchair accessible. There's still room for help in demolition and painting.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cleaning Buckets for Hurricane relief

Collecting cleaning kits and kit ingredients now through Nov 19. These completed kits will hit the road on Sept 24. Thanks to everyone for these concrete expressions of love and compassion. Click for the complete kit directions and other hurricane responses.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ark Meet the Teachers

Lots of fun at the back-to-school meet-the-teachers night at Christ Church!

Exodus and the Sacraments: Font (2)

Sorry, no video for this week.

Exodus and the Sacraments: Font (2) 
2-3 Sept 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 78, selections (Open Table only)
Children, John 19.18-37 (especially 33-34)
Message, Exodus 17.1-7
Mission Moment: Hurricane relief


Intro to this series of messages:
      4 passages in Exodus that are the basis for extensive NT reflection on the sacraments – Table, Font, Table, Font
      2 are part of the exodus proper (deliverance from Egypt)
      2 are part of the wilderness experience
Admittedly, we will be reading these Exodus passages through the lens of the NT, not the way our Jewish friends read these passages.

      This is “Font 2”
      Paul puts this as part of the Lord’s Table
1 Corinthians 10:1-4  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,  2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,  3 and all ate the same spiritual food,  4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
      Rabbinic tradition: Miriam – a mobile well that followed Israel
            Water (of life) from a woman
            Birth? Water breaking? John 3, “born of water & Spirit”

However, clearly read by Paul in sacramental way
Focus today is not on what we learn about baptism from this passage, but how we live a sacramental life

Israel doesn’t look very good here
But neither do the Corinthians, and often neither do we
1 Corinthians 10:12  So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Returning Remains of Carlisle Children

Mark Soldier Wolf (left) and Nelson White Eagle are part of the visiting Northern Arapaho delegation at the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

At the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., hidden behind the tall chain-link fences draped with black cloth and the signs that read, “Cemetery closed, please respect Native American privacy,” history was being made over the past week, and long-deferred dreams were coming true.
Two leaders ­of the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CoNAM) were involved in unprecedented Army efforts to dig up and repatriate buried remains of renamed Native children who died there over 130 years ago as students of the infamous, former Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
The burial there of Little Plume (aka Hayes Vanderbilt Friday), Little Chief (aka Dickens Nor), and Horse (aka Horace Washington), among nearly 200 others, is part of a dark, painful ongoing legacy of abduction, forced assimilation and reported abuse of more than 10,000 Native children and youth from nearly 50 tribes. Many of them were taken from their homes and brought to the former school from its opening in 1879 until its closing in 1918.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

After party

One of the last days possible at Mountain Freeze. Getting a special snack after the 6:00 pm Open Table contemporary service.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Time Travelers at Historic St. George's

The Confirmation class will be at St. George's for this event on October 14. Contact Kim Hirt to sign up!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Prison Church

Bessie “Doll” Dodd was released from prison on June 27, 2016.

While she said she was “glad to get out of there” after 35 years of confinement, she added it was “the hardest thing to walk out of those gates and leave my church behind.”

The church Dodd is referring to is Grace Place United Methodist Church, one of two United Methodist Churches located inside U.S. prisons.

... Grace Place is pastored by Rev. Diane Harrison, who started the congregation in the face of many obstacles and setbacks, but has persevered and followed her congregation to its new location.

Dodd told the celebration crowd how "Pastor Diane" came into her life and “turned it upside down” by bringing her to Jesus Christ.

Even though she was physically in prison, Dodd said Grace Place and her new-found faith provided her another kind of “freedom” inside the walls of her prison home.

Dodd was baptized by Memphis Conference Bishop Bill McAlilly when he visited the prison in February, 2013. Click here to read story about McAlilly's visit.

Dodd said Grace Place became a place for her and other imprisoned women to go for worship, Bible study, exercise, craft classes and more. She called it her “home” and said, while choking with emotion, it “transformed” her life.

Pounding Up

The treasure chest filling up and overflowing. So far, 620 pounds of food and $280 given to our food pantry partner!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lighthouse Team

From the Lighthouse carnival and back to school event at Sherman Hills. Thanks to Chris for being our connection in this creative and beautiful ministry, and to Kim for coordinating the photo booth and youth team.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Exodus and the Sacraments: Table (2) (2017-0827)

26-27 August 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 105.1-6, 37-45 (insert)
Children, John 6.1-13
Message, Exodus 16.2-30
Mission Moment: Inmates in Zimbabwe, learning to grow food

Message: (from hand-written notes)

Intro: reading through the NT lens
      4 stories

Review: Passover/Table
      Equal (implication of the blood)

Eating has social and ethical implications
      Social – holidays at grandma’s
            Granddad’s “napkin”
            Dairy farmers
            Land, sprawl, more chemicals

New Testament context of the sacrament is a communal meal in homes.
      Corinthians eating without “recognizing the body”

1. Eating together binds us in a circle/covenant of responsibility and care
      Practice: Give
      Boy in Lesotho
      Hoarding food
      John Howard Yoder, “shared poverty”

2. Daily bread comes with an expiration date
      Practice: Trust
      Weighing our plates
      Enough is enough (rather than “more” is enough)

      Practice: Thank
      God-given, to slaves

Eucharist = “give thanks”

Real Presence of Jesus in the Table
      Not just in the bread and cup but in the extended table to the poor (Yoder)


      John Howard Yoder, Body Politic

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bikes and Bibles

Clergy and lay leaders display their certificates and bikes after a Bikes and Bibles training session at the Child Rescue Center in Bo, southern Sierra Leone. Members of the Anglican Church, United Brethren in Christ and United Methodist Church took part in the training. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS.
Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS
Clergy and lay leaders display their certificates and bikes after a Bikes and Bibles training session at the Child Rescue Center in Bo, southern Sierra Leone. Members of the Anglican Church, United Brethren in Christ and United Methodist Church took part in the training.
By Phileas Jusu
July 24, 2017 | BO, Sierra Leone (UMNS)
Since the Bikes & Bibles program began three years ago in Sierra Leone, churches have been planted in communities that previously were Muslim or practiced traditional African religions.
In Kortumahun, a new congregation of 70 members worship where there were previously no Christians. In Sembehun, a new congregation of 92 has grown out of a community that had only practiced traditional religion. Gbanahun, which was predominantly Muslim and had a few African traditionalists, now has a Christian congregation of 92. The New York Section of rural Bo City, which started with just 10 members, now has a congregation of 145, said the Rev. Francis Charley, Bo district superintendent.
Steven Senesie, circuit minister for the Mongere Circuit in Bo, received a motorbike from the Bikes & Bibles program in 2015 and said his experience has been great.
“I work in a very difficult terrain where mobility is a huge challenge,” he said. “The commercial motorbikes are so expensive that a pastor cannot afford paying on a regular basis, and pastors have to reach out to congregations in remote communities all the time.”