Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The angel Alandro, stationed in Bermuda, stopped by our first Advent Luncheon to share his fascination with kings. Luncheons are Mondays at noon.

Hanging of the Greens

A wonderful worship experience last Sunday evening, featuring the meaning and story behind various symbols of the season. That's Michael and Sara under the mistletoe and JoAnn and Brooke placing the creche. Thanks to Ruth for coordinating everything!

Jesus' Family Album: Father Joseph

Isaiah 64:1-9 (call to worship)

Mark 13:24-37 (kids)
Matthew 1:18-25 (message focus)

A few weeks ago, I was on fall study retreat. We – me, Jim, Steve, and our dog Spooky – were at Steve’s farmhouse, a home that has been in the family for generations. He found the old photos of his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents in the attic and put them up in the dining room. It’s a mini-portrait gallery that tells the family story, that reveals a little bit about who Steve is.

The opening of each of the four gospels is a little like that family album. We have portraits of Jesus’ family; we get a sense of who he is by who he comes from. Matthew and Luke have extended openings, a series of stories that takes place before Jesus grows up and begins his active ministry. Matthew focuses on Joseph; Luke focuses on Mary. Mark and John leap right into Jesus as adult. Mark dives into the story of Jesus’ cousin John, who baptizes Jesus. John (the gospel) also refers to cousin John, but opens the gospel by zooming out to get a perspective on Jesus in the world from the beginning.

Today, we look at Matthew’s gospel and Father Joseph. Interestingly, there is almost nothing about the pregnancy and birth. All we have are a couple lines:
“His mother Mary was found to be with child” (1.18)
“She had borne a son” (1.25)
The next story, the story of the visiting Wise Men or Magi or “three kings” appears to have taken place when Jesus is a young toddler (2.16, “two years old and younger”), rather than a newborn. And, in that story, the parent on whom Matthew focuses is Joseph.

This particular passage has puzzled readers with its language around marriage and divorce, so we need to take a few moments to clarify that. English lacks the appropriate language for the ancient Jewish customs, and New Testament Greek does as well, for that matter. “When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together” (1.18) and “He planned to dismiss/divorce her quietly” (1.19).

Decoration Day

Last Saturday, a great team turned out to "deck the halls". Thanks to all, especially Bob and Marc for coming in early with the trees!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The United Methodist Women, coordinated by Kitchen Ministry director Josie, prepared 31 Thanksgiving baskets, including turkeys, for local families including several of our own Bethany families. Blessings to all!


Eight young people were confirmed and/or baptized this past Sunday! Thanks to all the mentors, and to Sharon, our Youth Ministries Director! Check out the full photo album!

First pic (9:00 Traditions worship): Caleb, with mentor Casey; Brooke with Linda; Brad with Gary; Derek with Danny; Zach with Jim; Sharon.

Second pic (11:15 Celebrations worship): mentor Crist with Austin, Shanelle with Danna, Brittany with Sharon, Pastor JP

Third and fourth pics: Baptism of Shanelle and Austin

Fifth pic: "Derek, remember your baptism and be thankful. The Holy Spirit work within you that, being born of water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ."

The young people then served Holy Communion and baptismal remembrance to the church.

All in All

1 Kings 18:21 (children)
Ephesians 1:15-23 (message)
Confirmation and Baptism of young people

Message in notation form only

Structure of English translation/Greek:

Prayer, part 1, Thanks (1.15-16)
Thanks for
your faith in Jesus
your love for the saints
Prayer, part 2, Request (1.17-19)
Pray that God
give you spirit of wisdom & revelation = eyes of heart enlightened
so that you may know
the hope to which he has called you (1.12, 1.18, 4.1, 4.4)
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (1.11, 1.14, 1.18)
the greatness of his power-power-power-power (4 synonyms)

Mission recognition

The United Methodist Women recognized JoAnn for her years of service as church secretary and honored her with a mission gift in her name! Congrats JoAnn!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Confirmation Banquet at Victor's

We had our final confirmation group study, on Spiritual Leadership, today, followed by a banquet for confirmands and mentors at Victor's, the location where we worshiped from 1905-1925. Thanks to Sharon, our youth ministries director, for making arrangements, to all the mentors who have given so much to these young people, and to these young people who are offering so much to our congregation and community! And thanks to the folks at Victor's for a fabulous meal, great service, and making the whole process easy. Check out the calamari in banana pepper cream sauce when you go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Haiti report

We were privileged to have Jodi, Barb, and Nancy from the Haiti Partnership with us this past Sunday. Great to hear the story, and an exciting ministry to connect with!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Baskets

Food is being collected for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, given out to neighbors in need. Please check the list - twice! - and share in this outreach.

Team Day

Today's team day featured teaching by District Superintendent Rev. Mark Webb on "The Heart of a Leader". Teams, including folks from our partner Salvar El Alma, also had time to pray and plan together. We closed with a light lunch. Thanks to all who came!

Wedding Bells!

Congrats to David and Bri, seen dancing with the ring bearer and flower girl. And, thanks to Gregg for the pic!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bethany Christian Learning Center Sunday!

The BCLC kids sang in both services this past Sunday. Thanks to Wanda, the BCLC director, and to her staff. Thanks as well to all the families who rearranged their schedule when the original date was postponed due to snow.

Vocal Ensemble

Students from Marsha's vocal studio sang in worship this past Sunday!  Thanks to them and their families for making our All Saints and Learning Center Sunday so special!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feel the Love

Notes only for this past Sunday's message:

1 John 3:1-3

Declaration: We are God’s children
Jesus’ baptism, “my son, the beloved” (Mark 1.9-11)
Spirit of the Son teaches us to call God “Abba” (Galatians 4.4-7)

Anticipation: We shall be like him for we shall see him as he is
Creation: Human as God designed us to be (“image”)

Transformation: Purify themselves as Christ is pure
Not driven by dread but by hope
Robin coming home

Not driven by rules but by love of the one we behold
Story of son caring for father in his final illness ... staying awake
Tattoos on the Heart

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Retreat Nugget

One phrase from Zechariah the prophet that I chewed on during my study retreat:

"Prisoners of Hope"

Amazing expression! Check out Zechariah 9:12.


Thanks to those who helped remove limbs at the parsonage. And, you didn't spook the dog!

Fall Fling!

Great fun and great food! Thanks to all who helped out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Study Retreat

At Steve's farm for a wonderful week of study and renewal. These pics, including one showing Jim, Steve, and Spooky, is from Monday's walk. Thanks for your prayers and your feedback as I prepare message themes for the coming 6 months!