Friday, August 31, 2018

Flooding at Benton UMC

You can give to support flood recovery in your Sunday offering or through the church office.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Youth Mission Trip pics (3)

Actual work in progress, the safety award (the helmet), one team clowning for the camera, relaxing evening

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Trusting Mercy (2018-0729)

28-29 July 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 130
Children, Mark 10.46-52
Message, 2 Samuel 24.1-25
Mission Moment, UMC Global Health, medical mission in Nepal

Trusting Mercy. Not that easy, especially when we deal with so many persons who are not at all merciful.

Some fascinating background questions…

Why is God angry at Israel?
Why does God instigate David to evil?
·       1 Chronicles 21.1, not the LORD but the Satan
·       What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! (Romans 9.14)
·       No answer in the text, no consideration given in the least
·       Live in ambiguity, live without answers
·       David is ignorant of the back story… he just TRUSTS, and he trusts mercy! (The mercy of a God who is behind the whole thing!)

What’s wrong with a census?
Twice in the wilderness (book of Numbers), a census is taken of all Israel. How is this different?
·       The only census of Israel by Israel recorded in the Scripture took place in Numbers and under David
·       When you take a census of the Israelites to register them, at registration all of them shall give a ransom for their lives to the LORD, so that no plague may come upon them for being registered (Exodus 30.12).
Critical reading, looking at the subtext… (see Bruce Birch, NIB, 1380)
·       The ARMY conducts the census, under the assumption that people don’t want to be counted.
·       This census becomes the basis for a future military draft, forced labor, and taxation (1 Kings 4 and 5).

Ferdinand and the Bullfight

More fun from the youth mission trip.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bishop Park on the abuse and protection of children

"Don't push the children away.
Don't ever get between them and me.
These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom."
(Mark 10:14 The Message)

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Susquehanna Conference,

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

Our eyes read and our ears heard the most disturbing report that came out this week from the Attorney General of Pennsylvania regarding the findings of child abuse in six of the eight Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania. The news that more than 1,000 children and youth were sexually abused at the hands of about 300 priests for several decades tore at the hearts of us all. It is suspected that there are probably thousands more victims unreported. We weep as God weeps. One abuse is too many. The emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual abuse that those victims have had to live with is unimaginable. Abuse of all persons is not only sinful but devastating. We know that the victims, especially at the hands of clergy, have difficulty ever having a loving relationship with God again. When the trust is broken in this way, it is often nearly impossible to see a loving God.

I invite you and your congregation to be praying for the victims of sexual abuse. As individuals and as a congregation, may you pray together especially this Sunday for those who have suffered abuse. Allow God to hear our spoken prayers for comfort, strength, healing, and hope and for support of those who were harmed.

As your Bishop, I want to express a word of witness as to how important and serious we in the Susquehanna Conference take our responsibility of providing Safe Sanctuaries for our children, youth and vulnerable adults. I want to assure you that the Cabinet and I take most seriously the implementation of our policies regarding Safe Sanctuaries. The ministry of Safe Sanctuary is not simply a form to be filled out for Charge Conference. It is a way of being The Church of Jesus Christ that assures all people that we are doing all we can to create and maintain safe places for all God's beloved. We take it as imperative in our ministry that with every ministry, every program, we are preventing the risk of potential abuse for children, youth, and the vulnerable as much as we can.
We understand the role that all of the clergy, as well as responsible others, have as mandated reporters. I would be remiss if I didn't remind our clergy of the paragraph 340.5 of The Book of Discipline. It says, "All clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences, except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law." There is absolutely no reason to ever keep suspected child abuse or neglect a secret. The statute of Pennsylvania is clear as is The Discipline that regardless of where we are told about child abuse, we must report it. The silence, hiding, and mishandling of the abuse by the hierarchy of the church is a betrayal at its worst and is never to be tolerated.

I would invite us to ask for God's forgiveness for anytime when we have neglected or pushed children away from God's love and from the care of our church. We are to ask for forgiveness when we have not seen children as the very center of life in the church. Our prayers should also reflect our resolve to end all kinds of abuse and neglect of our children and our commitment to offering a secured environment and wholesome ministries for our children to flourish.

Indeed, this past week has been a difficult time for those children and youth who have suffered at the hands of clergy and the Church of Jesus Christ, and the adults who are burdened by childhood memories created by those who were meant to protect them. However, our God is a God of hope and healing. God can turn pain, hurt and devastation around. We are to do whatever we can to let people know that our God is a loving God who cares for even the least of the harmed for such a time as this. I ask that you join your heart with mine as we pray that nothing ever again gets between children and their God.

O God, help us to see our children as "the very center of life in the kingdom." May it be so!

In Christ,

Jeremiah J. Park

Crime and Punishment (2018-0722)

21-22 July 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 51.1-17
Children, Luke 7.36-50
Message, 2 Samuel 11.1-27 and 12.1-14
Mission Moment, UM ARMY video

Since I first began reading political news – and I started early – I’ve seen stories of power, corruption, and sex. But David’s story takes the cake. To this point in the stories, we have been presented with David the hero. Now we encounter David the tragic figure.
      In the ancient Near East, kings were gods, or sons of the gods, and they had absolute power. David forgets that for Israel, the LORD is King and that he himself is under that authority. Instead of serving God and serving God’s people, David serves his own selfish desires, compels Bathsheba to come to him, and eventually adds her to his already large harem.
      In addition to this essential failure, this idolatry, of David’s, he also fails to do the work that he should be doing as king. The story tells us, up front, that this is the season when the king should be at war. But he is not. Instead of readiness for battle and for victory, he is bored, lacking focus, perhaps even looking to make his own trouble. There’s a lesson in this for us: Be about your own business – most of us have more to do than we can get around to doing.  If we’re busy with it, we’ll be less likely to have the “idle hands” or the roaming eyes that get us into trouble.
      Then, David does what many of us do when we find ourselves in trouble. He tries to cover it up. First, by getting Uriah home to lie with his wife. But Uriah has too much honor. He knows it is the season for war, so, unlike the king, he camps out. Then David has “no choice” but to murder him, so he sends a note to his favorite “fixer”, Joab. The lesson: Cover-ups only lead to bigger problems. “O, what a deadly web we weave/When once we practice to deceive.”  The way to freedom and forgiveness is to confess sin.

Nathan is the most courageous figure in the story! He confronts a king who has already committed murder to keep his secret safe.  Nathan is a “court prophet”, a prophet who is paid by the king. And we all know that purse strings can turn into puppet strings. But Nathan chose to fear no one, to be a truly independent agent.
      Another lesson for us in our struggle with sin: Respect, nurture, and promote persons who will hold you accountable. Being surrounded by “yes men” who “rubber stamp” your every whim only serves to enlarge the ego, fuel our fantasies, and design our destruction. The lack of independent, honest assessment and accountability has doomed many good ideas and good people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From Bishop Park, on the anniversary of Charlottesville racist protests

"And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God"
(Micah 6:8)

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!

It was a year ago on August 11-12 that the eyes of the world turned toward Charlottesville, VA. It was on those two days that our country and the world witnessed the sinfulness of hatred and violence of racism. Racism that was, and still is prevalent.

How will we as Christians on the anniversary of Charlottesville proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I would invite you and your congregation to engage in worship, prayer, reflection and action that would give God glory and witness to our commitment to the Kingdom so that all may see there is no room in human family for racism, bigotry and hatred.

As we prepare to remember the anniversary of Charlottesville, I invite you and your congregation to consider doing one or more of the things that would address the sin of hatred, combat racism, and lift up the vision of the Beloved Community of Christ such as: