Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Thanks to Khris for putting together the worship center for Pentecost, a celebration of the gifts of the Spirit manifested here at Bethany.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inspiring H.O.P.E. (2)

Some more pics from the Inspiring H.O.P.E. work team.

Ripple Effect

I enjoy the ripple effect ad video (in a post below) because of its parallel to a theological concept: that our history, our story, is contained in Jesus. The Scriptures speak repeatedly of being "in Christ", "crucified with Christ", "raised with Christ". Pope John Paul II wrote in some of his early poetry (while still serving in Poland) of Jesus as "the Man who is the body of our history". Our death and resurrection are already accomplished in Jesus. Our deliverance in and through final judgment is "a done deal" in Jesus who took our judgment upon himself. "It is finished" Jesus declared from the cross, and the "ripple effect" moves through history. More than a ripple, indeed, a singularity, a point that defines all that goes after as well as all that goes before. (That's why Jesus' coming was described in Luke as being "in the fullness of time".)

Why the soccer video? No need to ask . . .

AT&T Rethink Possible - Ripple Effect


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost, Babel, Gift

Genesis 11:1-9
Acts 2:1-21

Sonic word play in a story about language:
tower built by the sons of Adam, “banu banae” (built - sons)
lest we be scattered upon the face “pen na-putz al-penae”
(like “Peter Piper picked a peck”)
“Make a name” but the only “name” they make is at the end of the story, the name for the city - confusion, Babel.  Babel (bbl) and “mix” “confuse” (bll)

Sidebar: Pride spends a lot of time trying not to be embarrassed, trying to “make a name”. But all that defensive posturing is often pride’s undoing. They build a city and tower so that they will never be scattered, but their very exercise in futility leads precisely to the unintended consequence they worked so hard to avoid! Have you ever been there?

Reading the Pentecost story (Acts) in the light of Babel:
Instead of constructing a connection from earth to heaven (the empty hope of the tower), heaven has come to earth. The Lord has “come down”. At Babel, that was to check us out, to see what we were up to. In the Exodus deliverance story, the LORD says, “I have come down to rescue” (Exodus 3:8). At Pentecost, the Spirit is given as a seal of salvation, manifestation of that promise in the present time. To further the connection to our recent study in the Revelation, Babel is Babylon, the unholy city full of false worship, taking advantage of the innocent and the vulnerable, falling under God’s judgment. The church is the expression of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the bride of Christ come from heaven to earth with the tree of life for the healing of the nations.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inspiring H.O.P.E.

Thanks to the youth, to Sharon, and to the others who helped out at Inspiring H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Play Equally) - constructing the first accessible playground in York!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hands-on Serving

On Saturday, our youth, under Sharon's coordination, will be participating in the building project for the first accessible playground in York, at Cousler Park in Manchester Township.  (If any one else from the congregation has or is participating on any other days, please let us know.  Beth is serving for three days.)  For more information, check out yesterday's newspaper article or the playground website.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Friday night's vocal recital (and ice cream party) for Ms. Marsha's students ... a wonderful evening!

Nursery Construction

Sunlight filters through the stained glass and plastic sheet, lighting ladders and the new ceiling - in the process of being finished this week.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I read these lines yesterday, from Psalm 73:21-22 (The Book of Common Prayer), and they really emphasize what happens when we allow ourselves to nurture bitterness:
When my mind became embittered,
I was sorely wounded in my heart.
I was stupid and had no understanding;
I was like a brute beast in your presence.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother-Child Banquet

Thanks to all the guys who prepared the meal, to the dancers who provided our entertainment, to all who came and made it a great evening!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Holy City: The End of Life as We Know It (5)

We’ve been working through the Revelation, and . . . it’s Mother’s Day. I was tempted to do the vision of the cosmic mother – a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars – about to give birth. It is the Revelation’s version of the Christmas story, only without the animals, the fresh manure, the carols, or the chubby-cheeked angels. (And, you can’t find a single chubby-cheeked angel in the Revelation. They all seem quite beyond description, terrible in power, mighty in voice.) The cosmic mother and her child are in danger from a great red dragon, who sweeps a third of the stars from the sky and waits to devour the child at the moment of birth. That part doesn’t typically show up in children’s Christmas plays.

Well, it’s the best explicitly “mother material” in the Revelation, and I was tempted. But since this is our last Sunday in this remarkable book, I thought we needed to end with the climax of the book, the climax of our salvation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Learning Center breakfast

Pics from Friday April 30. Thanks to the cooks and the hosts for a wonderful morning!

Reading notes

Jurgen Moltmann, citing Johann Baptist Metz, in A Broad Place (125):
The world is not a waiting room where we can sit about bored until the door to God's consulting room opens.

Eugene Peterson, in Reversed Thunder (174):
Many people want to go to heaven the way they want to go to Florida - they think the weather will be an improvement and the people decent.

Augustine, in his Confessions (11.2.4), a prayer to find the treasures in the Scriptures:
I beseech you by your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, "the man of your right hand, whom you have confirmed for yourself," as your mediator and ours, through whom you have sought us when we did not seek you, and sought us so that we might seek you, your Word, through whom you have made all things, among them myself also, through whom you have called to adoption a people of believers, among them me also. I beseech you by him who "sits at your right hand, and makes intercession with you for us," "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." These same treasures I seek in your books.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Marriage Supper and the Armageddon War: The End of Life as We Know It (4)

Revelation 19 (Sunday message May 2)

Some of us really struggle with the imagery of this book. The technicolor, the extremes, the violence, the cacophony, the dissonance, the resonance. In this passage itself, we move from worship, to a wedding supper, to war, to a victory supper. And, the wedding supper and the victory supper sound like the same meal. John’s vision marries – to intentionally pun – the grotesque and the glorious, the bloody and the beautiful, the Wedding of the Lamb and the Armageddon Battle.

But we must not give up. We must not shield our eyes or cover our ears. We are dealing with Holy Scripture, no matter how difficult or distasteful. I believe that part of the reason John gives us such disturbing vision is that we really live in a mad world. There’s a song by that title, "Mad World" (Gary Jules with Michael Andrews, album Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets):

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very mad world, mad world