Monday, October 31, 2011

Winter Fall

Thanks to all who made it out on Sunday to help our homebound and neighbors with limb and snow removal.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow and the Schedule

Tomorrow, Sunday October 30, we will cancel the 9:00 service and the 10:15 Sunday School hour. Our expectation is that the parking lot, to be plowed tonight, will harden and freeze in the early morning cold. With the sun up, it should be safer by 11:15.

We are inviting everyone who is able to join us at 11:15 for a brief song service followed by going out as teams to help with snow and limb removal in our neighborhood. Bring your shovels and saws. Eat a hearty breakfast. Curvin Snyder will coordinate an initial list of persons nearby who could use some help. Please contact him if you have any suggestions. We’ll do whatever work we can with whomever is able to come.

This Sunday, we’ll not just have a service. We’ll DO A SERVICE!

The Bethany Christian Learning Center program is postponed to next week, Nov 6. We will also be recognizing our 50 year plus members on that day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Susquehanna Conference receives gift from Mississippi Conference

Bishop Middleton has received a letter from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference. It includes the following message:

Grace and peace to you today.

Here in Mississippi we continue to keep you and your conference in our thoughts and prayers as you recover from the devastating floods last month. We are placing in the mail today a check for $50,000 in the hope that people in your episcopal area will be comforted and helped through the recovery.

Just as we have been helped by the overflowing generosity of the Susquehanna Conference in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, we want to be engaged with you in this time of need. Pennsylvania has been the number one state in volunteers in the long recovery here.

With gratitude for your partnership in the ministry of Christ,

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward,
Mississippi Conference,
The United Methodist Church
A photo of Bishop Middleton and Mike Bealla in grateful recepit of the the check is posted in the showcase section of the conference website.

Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communication
Susquehanna Conference, The United Methodist Church

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Consecration Sunday meal


Thanks to Khris and her team for the wonderful celebration meal, and to everyone who made fresh commitments in generous discipleship. It was a great day!


Aaron and Tina, married this past Sunday. Congrats!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Women's Group Banquet

The United Methodist Women met for a covered dish meal, including several gentlemen, and a presentation on Chile and the World Day of Prayer. Thanks to our guest presenter, Judy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pick a Caption

Some pics from the wedding/reception venue for my neice Renee (west of Nashville, TN - not local). Peacocks and the mill wheel gears. Beautiful place and a fun day ... create a caption!

All, Jesus' Spirituality of Wealth (2): First, More

Psalm 37:1-11 (call to worship)

Matthew 13:44-45 (kids)
Matthew 6:1-4, 19-34 (message focus)

Last week as we examined this Scripture, we focused primarily on the themes in the first section, the section preceding the Lord’s Prayer. We looked at the strings attached, so often, to issues of wealth and giving. And, we see that Jesus acknowledges those strings, urges us to cut the strings that bind us, and urges us instead to bind ourselves to God by our giving. Giving, godly giving, unites us with our Father God.

I told the story of the young person in our church who prepared their offering envelope. On the “name” line they wrote “Dear Father God” – because it is not about us but about our Father who sees in secret. For “amount” they wrote, “25¢”. For “what special offering” they wrote, “Monies”. Because where their treasure is, there their heart will be also. “Lead with your treasure”; let it unite you to “Dear Father God”.

Today, we continue exploring this section, with more of a focus on the second half of this teaching, the section following the teaching on prayer and fasting.

These messages consider Jesus’ spirituality of wealth, a tremendously important aspect of his teaching. As I mentioned last week, Jesus spoke about work, business, and money more than he talked about heaven or hell. Jesus is concerned that all of our lives be fully devoted to God.

These messages also prepare us for Consecration Sunday, next week, with our District Superintendent, Rev. Mark Webb. As part of worship next week, Rev. Webb will lead us a prayerful and worshipful devotion of our wealth – whatever stuff we have – to God. Later in the worship service today, Ray Sandy, a member of our council, will provide a report on our giving, from the perspective of our discipleship, our following Jesus. Each week in worship, we give back to God. We do this in worship because we believe that this is part of our discipleship and part of our worship. If it was just about funding programs of a non-profit organization, we could charge membership fees or do a hundred other things that organizations do to raise money. But it is not just about funding. It is about giving back to God as an act of worship.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All, Jesus' Spirituality of Wealth (1): Pulling Strings

Luke 17:11-19 (children at the altar)

Matthew 6:1-4, 19-34 (message focus)

The Scripture we selected today is focused on the spirituality of giving. But it is interrupted, right in the middle, by Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Most of the time when we think about money, we think about it as solely a worldly thing, as having nothing to do with our spirituality. But Jesus teaches on money, takes a break to talk about prayer, and then goes back to money, or, more properly, generosity.

Here at Bethany, in our membership vows, we ask each person, “Do you commit yourself to consistent growth in a spirituality characterized as giving, faithful, and real?” Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring what Jesus says about wealth from a spiritual perspective. It is a spiritual thing. If it has nothing to do with God, then why would we want it at all? But we persist in a schizophrenic spirituality, keeping spiritual things in their appropriate box while we deal with the real life of work, paying the bills (or not), all completely separate from our faith.

Jesus talked about work, business, and money more than he talked about heaven. Jesus is concerned that all of our lives become fully devoted to God. We hear this, but mostly ignore it, because it seems so impractical.

So, let’s take this passage for starters. And, let’s look at one of the themes that Jesus teaches about wealth. He teaches us – and it should be obvious – that the exchange of wealth often comes with strings attached. Did anyone ever offer you a gift, but it really wasn’t free? They wanted something from you, something in exchange.

The old Latin expression quid pro quo describes this kind of exchange, meaning literally, “this for that”. I give you this. You give me that. A Non Sequitur comic (July 24, 2004, by Wiley Miller) showed a giant squid and a chef sitting at a booth in a seafood restaurant. The squid says, “So it’s a deal then .... I’ll provide the ink for your menus and you’ll take calamari off it.” The title: “Squid pro quo”.

This past week I heard a friend comment that politicians should be forced to wear their endorsements just like NASCAR drivers. Why? Because we all assume that the obscene amounts of money raised in presidential and other campaigns comes with certain strings attached. We become a bit cynical, and the campaign cycle is just getting started.

And, this past Wednesday in the men’s lunch group, we read Proverbs 22:7 – “The borrower is the slave of the lender.” Talk about a string – the borrower responds like a puppet on a string, the borrower feels like a person at the end of his rope. Ever been there?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Flood Recovery at Ray & Nan's

Michael led the Praise Team in serving our neighbors through Servants Inc. - this time one of our own - in flood recovery work. Thanks to Laura for joining us. The pics (taken with phone) show material removed from the basement. David and Julie not pictured.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nobel Prize to a United Methodist Leader

From the QuickLink of the Susquehanna Conference, The United Methodist Church:


By Sam Hodges
Managing Editor, United Methodist Reporter

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist who spoke at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, has won the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women leaders. She was honored with women's rights activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen-the first Arab woman to win the prize.

Ms. Sirleaf, 72 and nicknamed "Iron Lady," was elected president in 2005, becoming the first democratically elected female leader of an African nation. Liberia had been ravaged by civil war in the years before her election, and Ms. Sirleaf ran as a reformer and peacemaker.

Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu was among those cheering her Nobel recognition, and crediting her with leading the country to greater peace and stability.

"She deserves it many times over. She's brought stability to a place that was going to hell," said Archbishop Tutu, according to an Associated Press report.

Ms. Sirleaf said Friday from Monrovia: "This [award] gives me a stronger commitment to work for reconciliation. Liberians should be proud." When she spoke to the 2008 General Conference, Ms. Sirleaf emphasized her religious heritage. "I feel at home with you, members of my United Methodist family," she said.

Ms. Gbowee won for organizing women "across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections."

Ms. Gbowee has a long record of championing women's rights, with an emphasis on fighting the crime of rape.

Ms. Karman is a journalist and longtime advocate for human rights and freedom of expression in Yemen, and has worked to oust the regime there.