Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Week Away

Just want to be sure to share a connection that we have through Christ Church, and which has been a blessing in our own context.

The A Week Away Foundation is a 501(c)3 non profit organization based out of Lancaster County whose mission is to fund and coordinate respites for individuals who are battling a life threatening illness.  AWA's goal is to provide a time of relaxation, enjoyment and hope to those whose lives are filled with stress and uncertainty due to their illness.  The organization is run entirely by volunteers, ensuring that all funds raised directly support the mission and families served.  Applicants are able to select destination categories such as beach, rustic/outdoor, urban or traveling to AWA's hometown of Lancaster County.  No flights are provided and the requested destination must be within a comfortable driving range of the applicant's medical care team. Since 2014, AWA has assisted nearly 100 individuals and their families, including an attendee of Christ United Methodist Church.  

If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more or to complete an application, you can visit the AWA website at www.aweekaway.org.  

| Vice President

Monday, January 29, 2018

70 Years of The ADVANCE

The Advance
Celebrating 70 years of The Advance: God's love at work in visionary ideas

Imagine No Malaria is one of the health initiatives that is supported by The Advance. It is also the kind of visionary, world-changing thinking that The Advance has supported for 70 years: Malaria has been eradicated in the United States since the 1950s; why shouldn't it be eradicated in the rest of the world as well?

An Imagine No Malaria mobile clinic program funded by The Advance (Advance #3021190) goes from village to village in Mozambique to provide not only malaria testing and education, but also other medical services, such as general screening, HIV testing, eye consultation, weighing and vaccination of children, and family planning.

Imagine No Malaria is just one of more than 600 mission projects supported through The Advance. The areas of impact for Advance projects extend to the whole of the human experience:
  1. Food & Agriculture
  2. Evangelism and Church Growth
  3. Disaster Response & Recovery
  4. Education
  5. Health
  6. Economic Empowerment
  7. Social Justice
  8. Water & Sanitation
  9. Women & Children
  10. Mission Personnel
  11. Migration
Since 1948, The Advance has been connecting the generosity of United Methodists with the needs of people throughout the world. Thanks for being a part of God's love at work.
Rev. Russell Pierce
Executive Director for Mission Engagement
General Board of Global Ministries

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Receive the Holy Spirit

13-14 Jan 2018, Christ Mountain Top
      Baptism of our Lord, Covenant Renewal
Call to Worship, Psalm 29
Children, Genesis 1.1-5
Message, Acts 19.1-7

John and Charles Wesley, our founding figures
      Theology students
      Holy Club
      Missionaries in Georgia
Yet, a struggle
      For something more than faith in name only
            Vs something with power to transform life & society
      For a warmed heart to go along with
            Works of piety and mercy
At one point, a spiritual director counseled,
      “preach faith until you have it”

Quote (Joe Iovino):
      In May 1738, Charles fell ill and was concerned for his survival. Lying in bed day after day, he focused on his spiritual well-being. If this illness were to take his life, was he ready to die? He prayed, studied, and spoke to friends who prayed for him to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. …
      On Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1738, something amazing happened. Between visits from his brother, his doctor, and those who were taking care of him, Charles had a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit.
      In his journal entry for that day, he reports experiencing “a strange palpitation of heart” that caused him to exclaim, “I believe, I believe!” Several sentences later he continues, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ.”
      When John visited the next day, Charles shared what had happened for him and together they prayed for John to have a similar experience. Charles writes, “I almost believed the Holy Ghost was coming upon him.”
Joe Iovino. Retrieved 2018 Jan 13.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


06-07 Jan 2018, Christ Mountain Top
      Epiphany, The Lord’s Table
Call to Worship, Psalm 148, 6:00 pm only
Children, Matthew 2.1-12
Message, Isaiah 60.1-6

Archimedes and Eureka (literally, I found it!)

Epiphany : literally, “appearance” or “appearing”
      Like the story of Archimedes, a revolutionary insight

Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Human Relations

Every year, on the Sunday prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The United Methodist Church observes Human Relations Day. It is a celebration of our mission with the least, from those struggling with opioid addiction to refugees who are fleeing violence and hatred in their homelands. It is a celebration of our identification with the least: Like the Holy Family fleeing the wrath of Herod for refuge in Africa, we too are misfits, addicts, immigrants, poor, alone, homeless, in prison. And it is a celebration of the church universal and global.

Four and a half years ago our District Superintendent introduced us to the personnel team of Christ Church. From that first moment, we learned how you have sent many members in mission and welcomed the stranger among you. You have put food on the tables of our hungry neighbors, built homes for first-time homeowners, installed ramps for the elderly and disabled, nurtured partnerships in Haiti, hosted the homeless in this building, and welcomed brothers and sisters from Sierra Leone, Africa. As someone who was born and raised overseas; as a friend and colleague of United Methodist clergy from Africa, Chile, and India; and as someone who has visited in prisons and eaten with the homeless, I rejoice.

These days, the rhetoric of race, America’s original sin, is dominating our news cycles. I am grateful that here at Christ Church, we are committed to welcome everyone with the same welcome we have received from Jesus Christ (Romans 15.7). I am blessed by the way we have treasured the Revelator’s vision of a great multitude of every tribe, language, people and nation worshiping together (Revelation 7.8). And I give thanks to God for our faithful practice of the baptismal vow:
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,
put your whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as your Lord,
in union with the church
which Christ has opened to people
of all ages, nations, and races?

May we all continue to witness to this truth with our words and actions, and with grace and hope.

Christmas Eve Bells

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Fullness of Time

The Fullness of Time                                                  \Gal 04 04-07
30-31 Dec 2017, Christ Mountain Top
      Christmas 1, New Year’s
Call to Worship, Psalm 148, with sung response
Lighting the Advent wreath: Isaiah 61.10 – 62.3
Children, Luke 2.22-40
Message, Galatians 4.4-7

Fullness of time
      Both a reference to stepping out of eternity, filling time
      And to a pregnant moment in history, full of potential

“God’s time” – Kairos, kronos
      Special times and seasons, pregnant with possibility
            Sabbath as God’ time
            Solstice, equinox
            Christmas, Easter
            New year’s
                  Resolutions – spiritual practices
                  Goodbye 2017, glad to see you go

Love Has Come

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Christmas Eve pics

No Room (Christmas Eve message)

24 Dec 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Luke 2.1-20

[Simple costume: an apron]
Business is fantastic. I know it won’t last. I know the census isn’t just to count people, but to tax us. BUT, this is one time that it really pays to live in Bethlehem. There are more people from Bethlehem than in Bethlehem, so every home has turned into an inn. And, our home, while not a mansion, has four rooms! It’s big, and that means more guests. Business is fantastic, did I tell you?
      My wife’s sister and her family are staying with us, like they do from time to time. Anna and Zeke and their four kids are in one room. Me and my Marta, and our five in another. It’s tight, but it means we can make money on the outsiders. Marta and Anna are spending all their time cooking over the fire to feed the four other families that are camping out on our floor. They won’t be here long, but by the time they’re gone we will have made enough to get another leg up in the world. “Joshua,” I say to myself, “Business is fantastic, and life is good.”

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cowboy Church, Morning Manna, Holy Grounds

From The United Methodist Church in Arkansas:
If you want to see a cowboy or girl in church, you best hold your service on Tuesday evening. Why? Because those folks travel and work on the weekends, moving from town to town on the rodeo, county and state fair circuit. So when Cowboy Church gathers, it’s Tuesday evenings at John and Pat Poole’s place, Adonai Tsuri, in Van Buren, Arkansas. Poole and his wife, and members of their Heritage UMC life group, had a vision of reaching people in the cowboy culture. According to Kip James, a member of the life group, the Poole’s vision was to offer a place where someone could come straight from feeding cattle or work, and experience welcome and belonging. That vision became reality with the construction of Adonai Tsuri, Hebrew for “God Our Rock.” The building is nestled in a bucolic setting overlooking a lake. Women and men—most of them laity—share the responsibility of delivering the message, and music leans toward bluegrass, country and hymns.
“The Poole’s wanted to offer a service where everyone was welcome,” James wrote in an email. “There are no expectations about your background in the Christian body, if you have been to a church or never been to a church.” The relaxed, come-as-you-are atmosphere has appeal for all ages, and it’s not unusual to see multiple generations worshipping together. “You always want to come to see how the Lord has worked in people’s lives,” James wrote. “To understand that God still is at work in this world and how much he truly loves us.”
Read the story of alternative worship experiences.

Ark Christmas Social

Monday, January 1, 2018

Jesus' Family Album (4): The Beginning

23-24 Dec 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Canticle of Zechariah (call to worship)
Isaiah 52.10 – 53.5 (advent wreath)
John 1.19-28 (kids)
John 1.1-18 (message focus)

Audi ad (video), “Baseball” (unrecognized greatness)

My dad, in the CIA, disguises ... (Argo, story).  Small things, low-tech things, were the easiest way to conceal your identity, to make yourself unrecognizable.  Here in John’s gospel, Jesus has a recognition problem.  “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not recognize him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him” (John 1.10-11).  John tells us that everyone, Gentile – “the world” – and Jew – “his own” – did not recognize Jesus.  Was he undercover?  If so, Maverick said, “Everyone has a tell.”  Was this a “Where’s Waldo?” visual puzzle?  Or, is it plain as day, like the food we can’t find in the fridge, like the Audi Baseball ad, but we’re missing it?
      One would think that for Jesus to go from being fully God, and God alone, to also being fully human . . . one would think that some “tell” would remain, that something would be held in reserve, that Jesus would pull out his “ID” and say “ta-da” and we would all ohh and ahh with reverence and amazement.  But, no, he is so ordinary, so unremarkable, so normal.

Sunday School!