Monday, July 23, 2012

Carpe Diem, theme video

We kicked off our new message series, Carpe Diem, the Extraordinary Life, this past Sunday. Check out the clip from the film, The Dead Poets' Society. The upcoming message titles:

Telling Time & Punching the Clock
One Thing
I've Got Rhythm
When Time Stands Still

Carpe Diem, The Extraordinary Life (1): The Fullness of Time

The audio file is from the abbreviated version during the Operation Overboard Vacation Bible School program. Focus text: Galatians 4.4-7

The Dead Poets Society, "carpe diem", "seize the day"
"Make your lives extraordinary" (Mr. Keating/Robin Williams)

Carpe Diem, The Extraordinary Life, our relationship with Time, series, message titles:
Telling Time & Punching the Clock
One Thing
I’ve Got Rhythm
When Time Stands Still

Vacation Bible School stories:
Noah built an ark
a slave girl dared to care and led her master on the journey of healing
John became a wilderness saint and baptizer
the disciples went fishing with Jesus and discovered that he is Lord of all
the apostle Paul lived and taught trust in the storm

Galatians 4.4-7, structural outline:
But when (hote de) the fullness of time had come,
God sent (exapesteilen ho theos) his Son
(a) born of a woman

(b) born under the law (hupo nomon)
(b’) in order (hina) to redeem those who were hupo nomon
(a’) in order that (hina) we might receive adoption as sons (children)

Because (hoti de, slightly different from above) you are sons (children)
God sent (exapesteilen ho theos) the Spirit of his Son
(a) into our hearts crying "Abba! Father!"
(b’) so you are no longer a slave but a child
(b) and if a child, then also an heir through God.
Note: By using the Greek word "sons" rather than "children", the apostle Paul included both female and male under the family role and inheritance rights that were – in the legal tradition of his time – only for sons. A remarkable statement of gender equality in the church, long before the movements of the modern era!

New Bishops

Our District Superintendent, Mark Webb, was elected Bishop last week at the Northeast Jurisdictional Conference. He will serve the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, beginning Sept 1. Our current bishop, Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, is retiring. Our new bishop will be Bishop Jeremiah Park, who served the last 8 years as Bishop of New York.

Mark Webb and our delegation, immediately upon his election
Mark Webb's words upon being introduced as bishop-elect
Bishop Jeremiah Park meeting our own Susquehanna Conference delegation after his appointment to our region.

Operation Overboard, Day 5

Thanks again to Ron for taking the pics this week, and to Laura, the VBS team, and all the families that donated, drove, invited, and prayed!

Operation Overboard, Day 4

(Technical issues with the day 3 pics, hopefully to be resolved soon.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Operation Overboard, Day 2

From day 2. Thanks again to Ron for taking the pics, and to Laura, Bob and the entire team!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Operation Overboard, day 1

From the first day of Vacation Bible School! Thanks to Ron for taking the pics.

Mission Practicum

Message, Mark 6.7-13, with Genesis 12.1-4, on July 15Listen or download the audio file.
Enter with my standard daily baggage ... computer bag, document case, water bottle, book
"Are you moving in?"
The twelve are sent out 2 x 2 to practice the missional life
but take no bread, no bag, no money, no extra shirt
3 Reflections . . .
the resources for the mission are in the mission field itself
the most important resources are PEOPLE (leadership devel)
become dependent ... find yourself dependent on God – that’s faith
become insecure ... your securities have become your limitations
become empty ... the better to offer Jesus alone
become poor ... and find yourself truly resource-ful
not simply in terms of being creative, but also in terms of GRACE

Youth - Fashion!

Gals in the youth group had a crazy fashion show last weekend, karaoke, cooking, movies, and more. The guys sleepover is coming up soon!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Go Fish!

Last Sunday in our 11:15 Traditions service, David Snyder, our Council Chair and an environmental biologist with a focus on waters and fish, shared one of the fish stories from Luke's gospel. Check out the audio!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vacation Bible School

Our annual Vacation Bible School is coming up next week, every evening beginning at 6:00 pm. It is the "don't miss" event of the summer! Some pics from a couple years ago. Check out our VBS page to get more info and complete the registration in advance.


Sally and I at the yard sale!

Mission = Prayer

Laura Hulsey's message at our 9:00 Traditions service on July 8, with a focus on 1 Timothy 2:1-8. (Check with Jim for audio cassette of her message; no digital audio available.)

       Today’s infomercials continually market multiple things that can change our lives.  Makeup, to make us more beautiful.  Exercise equipment that can give us an incredible body.  Pills, food, clothing, product after product which will change our lives for the better and it only will cost us $19.95 plus shipping and handling costs and if we call right now we will get the deal of the year, a second one free, of course shipping and handing costs will apply.  It is hard not to get sucked into the hype or just out of curiosity wonder, what in the world can that thing do.  Infomercials are mega marketing, with a shot of caffeine.  Sometimes we probably wonder who buys this stuff.  And every now and then one of the products may come our way and we are pleasantly surprised that it does actually do what it is suppose to do. 

Several Christmases ago I was given Invisible Glass as a gift.  Now I love to wash windows and I am pretty picky about what I use to wash them.  I actually mix up my own recipe of clear ammonia, vinegar and water.  So when I saw this bottle of “only sold on TV stuff, no streaks, etc.” I thought well we’ll see.  Surprisingly, the stuff really worked.  No steaks on windows or mirrors.        

            Well the folks that market Invisible Glass just loved me, because I did just what they wanted me to do.  I told everyone about it and I bought it for others.  I helped continue this lovely chain reaction to sell some window cleaner.  The marketing mission equals a product sold.

Over the summer months  I usually set out on the mission of reorganizing all those areas in my house where I have been dumping everything during the school year that I just didn’t have the time to find space for or simply had no space for.  My mission sounds easy.  Sort through the stacks, pack it away and clean. The equipment I am going to need is a trash can, to get rid of anything that I really don’t need. Maybe a plastic container or two, because I am a pack rat, and the adorable story that JoJo wrote about me this year, among  the other treasures I may find is not going into that trash can. While I’m at it I might as well scrub or dust the closet, so a bucket or vacuum cleaner might come in handy.  My guides for this mission were probably my parents.  Mom, because living with four children she knew how to put a lot of stuff into small spaces and my Dad because he really knew how box up those treasures.  When I am finished I can breath a sigh of relief, all of that stuff is reorganized and put away… for another year.  Mission accomplished.

Anniversary #65

Congrats to Lucy and Palmer!

Friend or Foe

Listen or download audio (podcast).

Message from July 1, 2012

Focus Scripture: Mark 3:20-35, along with Isaiah 9.2-7 and Exodus 6-15

Today’s passage has two overlapping conversations, one inside the other, both springing from the same starting point. He has a conversation with his family, because the crowds are so great and his personal space so diminished that they think he has lost his mind. Apparently, plenty of people think Jesus is just a bit off his rocker, and the family has been listening. He has a conversation with the scribes – the religious experts – who accuse him of channeling Satan in his public ministry. Perhaps they are honestly concerned about the irregularities of Jesus’ ministry, but maybe they are just jealous.

To both concerns, Jesus responds with parables in an aggressive tone. Conflict, escalating conflict between Jesus and the leadership of his culture, both religious and political, is a major feature of Mark’s gospel. And, in so doing, he provides some fresh definition to membership in his kingdom, in God’s family.

We’re headed toward Independence Day, the 236th birthday of our nation. And, it’s a presidential election year. The rhetoric gets pretty heated, not unlike the conflict we have in Mark 3. Opposition makes a candidate out to be the worst thing possible. They might as well be using the power of Satan to cast out Satan. And, your own party tries to control your identity. If you don’t vote with us, we’ll make life really difficult on you. With the prevalence of social media, the cycles of accusation and control are accelerated. We become increasingly polarized, and the virtues of practical problem-solving and common sense are pushed to the margin.

Now, you’ll be glad to know, we’ll not be talking politics today. I do encourage you, as Paul wrote to Timothy, to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2.1-2). Pray for President Obama, for Governor Romney, for Republicans and Democrats in Congress, for the leaders of our state, county, and municipalities. And, please do not give in to cynicism. Find a way to look past the nonsense of electioneering and pray over your vote. We live in a great nation with the benefit, privilege, and duty to contribute to and shape our future together by voting.

And, the experience of conflict is not limited to election year politics or the life and ministry of Jesus. We all face it. It is tough, it rips you apart, it exposes all your insecurities, it hurts. Our adversaries make all kinds of ridiculous accusations – and maybe we’ve made a few ridiculous accusations of our own. And, those closest to us surprise us with demands for loyalty or conformity that simply do not respect who we are. If you really value our friendship, if you really think this is important . . . then you’ll behave differently, you’ll do what I want you to do, you’ll feel the way I feel. Ever put this pressure on someone else? Ever felt it yourself? That’s the situation in which Jesus finds himself in this chapter – getting it from all sides, both friend and foe. Note that he does not lose sight of who he is. He is remarkably clear. He responds with a directness and aggression that we do not expect to find in "gentle Jesus, meek and mild". He is direct, and he does not slam the door in their face. He is aggressive, and he does not force them to submit. Such a difficult balance to strike.

Yard Sale

Thanks to Lucy for coordinating this fun day for our entire community!

Penny for Your Thoughts

We didn’t get a recording of the June 24 message from Mark 3:7-19, and I didn’t use a full text. So, here’s a summary. And, everyone there received a penny when they arrived.

Jesus appoints twelve as apostles, with two purposes: (1) to be WITH him and (2) to be SENT. Being sent has two dimensions, proclaiming the message and authority to cast out demons. (See 3.14-15).

We talked about two directions or dimension of discipleship, the interior and exterior, the being and the doing, the with and the sent, piety and mission. For the practice of piety, "be WITH him", we used a phrase from Psalm 27: "Seek his face". We looked at the face of the penny and held that up as a reminder to be seeking God’s face, to make simply being WITH Jesus the priority in our lives. For the practice of mission, "be SENT", we talked about telling the story – the story that features Jesus – and about exercising authority over evil of all kinds. We looked at the back of the penny and the words "ONE CENT" and held that up as a reminder to live in the missional practices of story-telling and evil-conquering.

Pick up a penny today!

Flower Power

More pics from the planting day!

Flower Children

Our BCLC summer school-age camp added top soil, planted flowers, and spread mulch around the new fence for the new play yard. Thanks to them, to their teachers Kyle and Danielle, and to Laura and Blanca for pitching in on the fun - but hot! - day. Because of the planting date, some of the flowers will "die back", but since they are hardy perennials they should all be back this fall or next year.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mission - Australia

At Michael & Sarah's wedding, I met one of their friends and photographers, Naomi Elliott, who is headed to Australia for three months (or more, depending on financial support) to work with Word of Life in their ministry particularly with youth. Her most recent letter is below. To be in touch with Naomi, contact her by email: naomi.elliott5 at hotmail dot com (edit the "at" and "dot").

This summer has been very full. I have been taking summer courses, through Liberty University.  They have proven to be very intense and hard. I have finished two of them and am now focusing the rest of the summer on two more classes. This past Sunday was my last day with the media team at my church. I only have one more week with the Youth group, which is sad; I will miss all of the teens! I have loved working with both groups and look forward to hearing about how God is working while I am in Australia.

As for Australia plans, they are coming along nicely. I will be returning to Australia on July 17, 2012. Right now I will only be able to stay 3 months, but I am hoping that the rest of my support will come in and I will be able to stay longer. Right now the staff in Australia is in Melbourne ministering in public schools. There have already been teens that have given their lives to Christ! Pray that they will continue to hear and respond to the gospel.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and also for investing in this ministry. I am so excited to see what God is going to do through me in Australia. You are each a part of that, so thank you again for your support.

Because they haven't heard,

                                    Naomi Elliott

Bolivia Mission - report with pics

Report #3
Monday Evening, July 2
This is the third report of the 12-member VIM Bolivia 2012 Team, having completed our work in Cochabamba and preparing for our "Excursion". Pics first, then the project summary. 

Brick Brigade at Luz de Vida
Final Cleanup at Luz de Vida
VBS Finale at Luz de Vida

Bolivia Mission - and earthquakes!

These reports are passed along by Mission Central, one of our mission partners, and reflect one of the many mission partnerships of our Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church.
The 2012 Encounter with Christ in Bolivia VIM Team, operating as part of the Bolivia Mission partnership between the Susquehanna Annual Conference and the New York Annual Conference, is departed for Cochabamba Thursday June 21, and will return on Saturday July 7. It consists of 12 VIM's--9 of whom have been members of previous teams and 3 who are experiencing this adventure for the first time. Marking a significant milestone in the history of this mission, these 3 "rookies" bring to 150 the number of different individuals (from New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and scattered other locations) who have traveled to Cochabamba as Encounter with Christ VIM's since Bishop (then District Superintendent) Jane Allan Middleton led the first such team in 2002.