Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baby Shower

A bit belated in posting a pic ... but this is our "haul" for the Christmas Baby Shower for Jesus.

Friday, February 22, 2013

From Homeless to Hopeful (UMTV)

The personal story of a man now full of hope, through the ministry of a local United Methodist Church.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent Dinner-Discussion

We had a great opening night last Thursday. This week we begin our video series, Who Is This Man?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Today in Paradise: 7 Last Words on Life (2)

Listen online or download Sunday messages, and here!
Luke 23.39-43, with Luke 19.1-10 and Psalm 25.1-10
17 Feb 2013

Near death experiences - visions of people we love

7 Last Words on Lifenot about a future or about death, but LIFE 1. Father Forgive
2. Today in Paradise


1. Today [immediately]

Today, as in NOW ... not in the future (20x in Luke-Acts)
even when re salvation
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born" (Luke 2.11)
"Today salvation has come to this house" (Luke 19.9)
The temple curtain is torn in two, Luke 23.45 – access is granted

Kingdomand TIME

Now and Not Yet, Today and Tomorrow
"The kingdom of God has come near to you" (Luke 10.9)
"The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; ... for, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17.20-21)
"I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22.18)

Future-focused thinking: by the criminal and by us

"Faith is ... the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11.1)
"Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6.2)



Monday, February 18, 2013

A Holy Fast

Here at Bethany, we have no standard fasting recommendation for the Lenten season.  Fasting, traditionally abstaining from food and drinking only water, has been a spiritual practice in the church and Israel to the earliest biblical record, and is a practice shared by many other religious traditions.  In our tradition, fasting is not simply about abstinence.  We go empty so that we can be filled, filled with God’s Spirit and with God’s Word.  For example, to skip lunch because we have a busy day is not the same as fasting.  But to skip lunch and spend the time in prayer or reading the Bible is fasting.  In addition, fasting and other spiritual practices that are “personal” cannot be separated from basic biblical ethics, from doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God (Micah 6.8).  In fact, Isaiah says that a fast that does not change our behavior toward the weak and vulnerable is no true fast (Isaiah 58).  John Wesley, the founding figure of the Methodist tradition, wrote, “There is no personal holiness without social holiness.”

The traditional fast days for Lent are Friday and Wednesday.  You may be familiar with fish being served on Fridays, year-round; that comes from the Catholic tradition and is a way of recognizing Good Friday, the death of Jesus on the cross.  During Lent, this Friday tradition is especially highlighted.  Wednesday is chosen as well, since we begin Lent with Ash Wednesday.  But, the entire Lenten season is considered a time to fast, as our Muslim friends fast for the entire month of Ramadan.  If you have any special health needs (such as blood sugar or blood pressure), please take that into account when making plans to fast.

Some people create their own alternate fast.  For some, it involves specific food or drink – no chocolate or no alcoholic beverages.  For others, it may be no television (to focus on other ways for the family to gather).  And, more and more, people are focusing on positive changes or giving back.  Volunteer to clean the home of someone who needs help.  Volunteer to serve in a ministry or outreach.  Read through the New Testament, or listen through the audio New Testament (check our audio Bible resources on the “resource” page of the church web site).  In only 28 minutes a day, you can listen through the entire New Testament in the 40 days of Lent.

In this Lenten season, while I do not have a standard recommendation for fasting, I do encourage us all to find a new way to make more room for Jesus in our lives.  Blessings!

Music in the Learning Center

Music is just one of the ways our lives are enriched, and it is an important part of the work of our Learning Center!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Check out this wonderful Feb 05 article from the York Dispatch. Building Solid Foundations is one of Bethany's mission partners, and Pastor JP has been asked to serve on the board.

Sara and Eldred Atkinson looked into each other's eyes. They knew it was meant to be.

The Spring Garden Township couple found a new passion -- mission trips to Ghana.

"It's the fulfillment of a passion I never dreamed of," said Sara Atkinson, 72. "I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to do anything like this in my lifetime. I just fell in love with this."

Sara Atkinson is an education team leader with Building Solid Foundations, a York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to working with Ghanaians to enhance their quality of life in rural Ghana through water, sanitation, health and education improvements and economic development.

Sara Atkinson led a team of two Elizabethtown College professors and five students from the college and from American University on a 10-day mission trip to Apam, Ghana, in early January. They taught math, reading and English lessons to elementary and high school students.

Jump to the full article! Check out the BSF website and like "Building Solid Foundations" on Facebook.

Friday, February 15, 2013


From United Methodists at American University, check out this saint story.

At our first Lenten dinner discussion (Thursday nights, 6:00 pm), Pastor JP shared some of the Valentine stories. Next week, we'll begin our 5 week video series Who Is This Man?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Father, Forgive: 7 Last Words on Life (1)

Listen online or download Sunday messages, and here!
Luke 23.32-38, with Matthew 18.21-35
10 Feb 2013, notes/outline below

Seminary course on death and grief:
We die as we live

Last words:
they are words for life, for living, as much as (or more) for dying

Visiting with granddad in ICU, on his death bed
"Jesus loves me"

Intro the series
Intro today: Jesus loves me – Jesus forgives me

1. Forgiveness takes initiative
No one there was apologizing

2. Forgiveness is unilateral (not mutual)
Because of that, forgiveness – on its own – does not repair relationship
What it does is repair the one who forgives; it makes us whole

Desmond Tutu, "To forgive is not just to be altruistic"
"Forgiveness gives us the capacity to make a new start ... and forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew"

Not obliged to continue to receive abuse

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Kathy in Guatemala

Our friend Kathy is in Guatemala on mission with Servants, Inc. out of York, PA! You too can be a part of a wonderful mission experience like this. (Servants also organizes many trips for United Methodists.) Check out their team blog, full of great pics like this one.

Ashes, Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday. This evening, at our 7:00 pm Ash Wednesday service, we will observe the "imposition of ashes" and Holy Communion. I made the ashes earlier this week by burning palms from last year's Palm Sunday. It is a wonderful tradition, bringing the story full circle and reflecting on what it means to be "dust and ashes" - both glorious and humbling. This year, we will use Scripture from the book of Job to guide our reflection.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kenya Youth Leader

The personal story of a youth leader in Kenya with The United Methodist Church.

Monday, February 11, 2013

7 Last Words on Life

From the cross Jesus speaks seven "last words", the last words of our Savior as he faces death, his last words on LIFE. We will focus on one of these sayings each week as we lead up to Easter. Join us on this journey into the mind and heart of Jesus as he gives himself up for us.

Feb 10, "Father, Forgive" (Luke 23.34)
Feb 17, "Today in Paradise" (Luke 23.43)
Feb 24, "Your son, your mother" (John 19.26-27)
Mar 3, "Why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27.46 and Mark 15.34)
Mar 10, "I thirst" (John 19.28)
Mar 17, "Finished" (John 19.30)
Mar 24, "Into your hands" (Luke 23.46)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Da Youth!

Youth Sunday School class in action (or inaction - they are youth!).

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lego Churches

A tiki-torch steeple. A church without walls, and an outdoor soccer field. A fantasy church with pastor with camera on  zip line, transport by dragon, a soccer pitch ... and a separate chapel. Get your imagination in gear!

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett on The Bible

Wonderful interview on what looks to be a great miniseries coming up on the History Channel. The Bible produced by husband-wife couple Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel). Check out the entire interview.

She captured America’s heart every week as the divine messenger with the lilting and soothing Irish accent on Touched by an Angel. He is the creative genius behind Survivor, The Apprentice, and The Voice. Together, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are one of Hollywood’s most uniquely equipped married power couples.

Beginning March 3, you will be able to catch their latest ambitious venture on the History Channel. The Bible is a fabulously scripted five-part docudrama produced by Downey and Burnett after a 4 month location shoot in Morocco.

The 10-hour version of this Biblical epic was conceived after the husband and wife team watched the spectacular Ten Commandments by legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) for the first time since childhood. “Give me two pages of the Bible and I’ll give you a picture,” DeMille once said. With this new venture, Downey and Burnett have produced an entire photo album.

Good News editor Steve Beard spoke with Roma Downey and Mark Burnett about their new project.

How did this become a project that you both wanted to do?
Roma Downey: Well, that was a God thing. I believe we were called to do this, for such a time as this. We are at the fortunate place in our careers where we can choose projects that honor and are pleasing to God. And we joined forces, bringing our talents together and our faith and our love and it has been the most exciting and thrilling and humbling few years of our lives as we’ve brought this to light. And we are so excited because it’s within inches of being finally finished.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Build a Church

A fun project on our Leadership Retreat - build a church out of Legos! And, one of our themes was expanding our capacity in both leadership and hospitality. Pics of the completed churches will be posted tomorrow!

Leadership Lunch

Quite a smorgasbord! Including a Haitian dish!
One of our main leadership themes on the retreat was momentum: Understanding momentum, keeping momentum, gaining momentum.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Leadership Retreat

Our Council and Lead Staff had our first ever Leadership Retreat this past Saturday. Thanks to Fourth Church for hosting us. We had a great time - prayer, worship, learning, planning. It was a refreshing time to connect to God, each other, and our mission: To glorify God by making more disciples for Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Souper Bowl of Caring

Thanks to everyone who contributed in our winter food drive, the Souper Bowl of Caring. With 69 items weighing 126 pounds, the Ravens won our internal competition. The 49ers were second with 58 pounds, followed by the Falcons and the Patriots. Our total collection was 199 items weighing 254 pounds. And, thanks to Joe and Jerry for coordinating and delivering!

Children's Sunday School

Just lovin' it! Sunday School is the place for stories, fun, songs - and practice for our Kids' Praise vocal group.

Love: Unwrapping the Gift (5)

Listen online or download Sunday messages, and here!

Love: inexact use of the word (various Greek terms for the one Eng word)
Samson led astray by "love" (Judges 14.16, 16.4, 16.15)
"I know what love is" (and a trail of failed relationships)
1 Co 13 not written for romance
Passage context:
1 Co 12.1, "now concerning spiritual gifts/things"
Addresses nature of spiritual gifts, and the excesses in Corinth
Paying attention to broader, more fundamental concern
What constitutes "spirituality" with the Holy Spirit?
1 Co 12.31
"Strive for the greater gifts [tongues is a minor gift]. And I will show you a still more excellent way [love]."
Not a denial of the gifts, but the more fundamental issue
A "spiritual person" who has the "gift of the Spirit" is "Holy" not by their gifts but by the practice of love.
1 Co 14.1
"Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts"
Passage structure:
InDispensable (13.1-3)
In Description (13.4-7)
EnDures (13.8-13)
InDispensable (13.1-3)
Recently read or heard a story told of a National Prayer Breakfast some years ago. The President at the time and many other national leaders in politics, the marketplace, and religion, were in attendance. And all of them were in awe of one old woman who rose to speak: Mother Teresa. Living in poverty, with no power in the conventional sense, she was the greatest person in the room. "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." And, that is what changes the world.
John Wesley’s favorite Scripture verse: "The only thing that counts is faith working through love" (Galatians 5.6)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

KP Duty

Thanks to Lucy and Donna for tackling the kitchen during our "Labor for the Lord" (Sat 26 Jan). They got a lot done and it looks great. If you want to help in this ongoing work, contact them!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Who Is This Man?

Check out the video clip from our Lent series by John Ortberg, starting Thurs Feb 14 at 6:00 pm. Dinner and discussion every week!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Practically Empty

Today we finished our "Unwrapping the Gift" series. On our first week, I spoke about the practice of emptiness - we need to make "room at the inn" for Jesus, for God's gift, in our lives. And, I have been practicing emptiness over the month, clearing out junk in the basement. My first project was to get rid of "vintage hardware", including early 90's "notebook computers" (wonderful DOS machines). I took them to the county recycling site. (They are pictured below in the back of my car.) Hope you have integrated some emptiness into your life as well and experienced new connection to the gifts of God - particularly the "spiritual gifts", the gift of the Spirit (filling/baptizing), and today's theme: Love.

Next week, we begin a new series that will take us up to Easter, "Seven Last Words on Life: Jesus' words from the cross".

Fan Day

Worn with pride by a fan and proud member of the Smith family!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Electric

Kevin & Crist replaced outlets in the Social Hall and installed two new outlets. The new piano (courtesy of the Craft Guild) is now plugged in. (Yes, a fine piano is equipped with humidity controls that need electric power - and that keep the instrument in tune and extend its life.) One more success from last week's "Labor for the Lord".

Expansion of Gambling in Pennsylvania

For more info on taking action on this and other social issues, check out United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Corbett is seeking to expand gambling in Pennsylvania by bringing Keno to bars, restaurants and other places that now sell lottery products.

Keno is a fast-paced, addictive game playePA Lottery Logod on terminals similar to the video poker terminals his predecessor, Gov. Ed Rendell wanted, but failed to bring to restaurants and taverns across the Commonwealth.

Join the effort to block expansion of the Lottery.

Click here to tell your legislator you oppose more gambling in Pennsylvania.

Click here to tell Gov. Corbett that expanding the lottery in any way is a bad bet for Pennsylvania.

The chance to Ontario Teachers Pension Fundbring Keno to Pennsylvania is a driving force behind the governor's recent agreement to transfer operation of the lottery to a Camelot Global Services, a British company owned by the Ontario Public Teachers Pension Plan.

Under that agreement - negotiated in private and signed with minimal input from outside the Administration - Camelot would run the lottery for 20 years.

As United Methodists we believe this contract - giving Camelot the opportunity to expand gambling in Pennsylvania - is a bad idea. The United Methodist Church has long opposed gambling, including the lottery, in Pennsylvania.

Friday, February 1, 2013

New and Improved Foyer

More from our "Labor for the Lord" last Saturday. A fresh coat of paint for the ceiling and walls of one of our entrance foyers. Thanks to Quincy for doing all the spackling prep and to Dick for getting the ceiling done in advance. It looks great!