December 2020

Whatever We Face, God is Near

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.- Matthew 1:18-25 ESV 

I love the Advent and Christmas season! God’s Savior come to earth is truly cause for celebration! This year, as I write, cases of the pandemic are rising daily as our local hospitals are cramped for space. We as a church have opted to worship virtually for now. This is not news any of us want to hear. I realize I am writing to people whose views on such precautions are all across the spectrum. It was into the midst of such a world that God chose to enter time and space to not simply speak to us, but to literally be with us: Immanuel.


Even His coming was not without controversy. Imagine trying to convince your sexually chaste fiancé that your pregnancy is a miracle of the Holy Spirit. God moves in ways we would least expect, often in ponderous ways that are best understood in hindsight. What is so clear to us looking back 2,000 years ago was a genuine crisis of faith for Joseph at the time.


The fact that the eternal God allowed Himself to be implanted in a virgin’s womb, and at full gestation be born as the incarnate Son of God is Good News of seismic proportions. Such Good News of great joy offers real hope, but often does not translate into immediate safety, comfort or even relief. Mary and Joseph were caught up in holiday travel when flying or even driving were not options. They improvised when confronted with “No Vacancy”, and then fled for their lives when a local official put a bounty on their child’s head.


God chose to not only redeem us and His fallen world; He chose to enter into life as we know it Himself. That is the uniquely Christian message. Whatever we face: God is near. God cares. God knows - first hand, what we’re up against. He bled and died and rose again to redeem us to live for Him in whatever circumstances we face. As believers, we now live in the power and fruit of His Holy Spirit as we work through each day’s challenges, not in our strength but in His; not for our benefit but for His glory. Therein we experience the joy of the Lord - which this world cannot give, or take away.


Abiding with you in Immanuel, 

Dave Meckley, Pastor

Communion, Greeting Card Exchange Dec. 20 (if?)


If an in-person worship service is possible on Dec. 20, Holy Communion will be offered and the annual exchange of greeting cards among church families will be carried out.


St. John’s Women’s Guild devised a plan to assist Chris Kurtz and youth to distribute the Christmas cards. Cards may be placed in the box which will be on Chris Kurtz's Sunday School table inside the basement door from now until the week of Dec. 13 – no later than Friday evening please.


The ladies will assist in compiling cards in personal stacks on Saturday morning, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. to hand out Sunday, Dec. 20, at the morning worship service. In the event the church is not open for worship on the 20th, volunteers will personally deliver all cards to our church family in the days between the 20th and Christmas. Please help the ladies spread Christmas cheer! They will also decorate the sanctuary on the 19th (on a lesser scale than usual) if we are having services Dec. 20 and Christmas Eve.

Facing Christmas with Lots of Uncertainty


Consistory met on Nov. 10 amid a local surge of coronavirus.


The primary topic of the meeting, as it is everywhere, was the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Bedford County and the Cove. Based on the numbers provided by the Department of Health, it was decided to have virtual church services for the near future. The vote was unanimous. We continue to monitor the virus and hope to reopen for services on Dec. 13.


Sometimes it seems like one of the worst things about this virus is how it affects everyone’s ability to make plans. As with the reopening of the church, Christmas services are also on hold. These include Christmas Eve service, communion and the children’s program.


The consistory is ordering calendars again for Christmas. Also, the pastor is off on Dec. 6 but has graciously agreed to have a sermon ready to stream on that Sunday.


The consistory will next meet at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10. We will update everyone on the reopening of the church on Friday, Dec. 11, by posting on the church’s Facebook page or through the prayer chain.


We thank you for your patience and ask you to please pray for us and for all who are affected by the virus. And remember, this is a season of gratitude. Please take a minute, look to our God and count the blessings he has generously bestowed upon us all.

--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President



St. John’s Folks to Appear in Christmas Show


The Cove Community Theater will be presenting Christmas Town in early December outside its theater, which is the former Loysburg Methodist church. The show will run the weekend of December 4, 5, and 6, and weekend of 11, 12, and 13. There are two different showing times on Saturdays and Sundays with limited attendance at each performance to preserve social distancing. Admission is $8 per person with children 5 and under admitted free. Call Janet Sell for reservations at 793-2695 or 327-2515. For more information go to the Cove Community Theater's Facebook page.


Church members Amy Gable and her three children, Bella, Blaire, and Cannon, and Kim Rodgers with her son, Grayson, are participating in the show. Kim and Grayson will appear as Ralphie and the mother from the film “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie wants a Red Rider gun.


If you go, dress warmly, this will be an outside event.

Guild Back in Business after Shutdown


President Peggy Ritchey welcomed ladies to their first meeting since the church closing in March. Peg Wachter presented a program on the Pilgrims (see separate story).


Peggy opened the business meeting with the offering and a song. Secretary Barb Thomas read the minutes of the Feb. 22 meting, which were recorded in the March newsletter. She read the treasurer’s report in the absence of Beth Clark and Beverly Smith. The guild has $1,667.67 in checking.


Peggy brought a request from Homewood Martinsburg to participate in the annual Operation Santa program. Kim Ritchey made a motion and Kim Rodgers seconded to give $100 for staff to purchase personal care items for residents at Homewood for Christmas.


Peggy relayed that the consistory is open for names/families in our community who could use help with food for a Christmas meal. See a consistory member if you have a suggestion.


We are contributing to Hoffman Homes to purchase Christmas gifts for residents. The money needs to be sent no later than Dec. 6 to ensure time for staff to purchase gifts. The Hoffman Home box will be inside the back basement door until that date. Persons also may mail a gift to Treasurer Beth Clark, making a notation that it is for Hoffman Homes. The guild will round up the amount to the nearest $50.


We are not participating with a mitten tree this year. Deb Bowser said it is difficult to safely hand out mittens and hats due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Present were; Kim Ritchey, Sandy Styer, Kim Rodgers, Peggy Ritchey, Deb Bower, Peg Wachter and Barb Thomas. We were blessed with guest Reva Schulman. Deb was our hostess. Our next meeting is Jan 15 at 6:30. Deb Bowser has the program and the hostesses are the officers.

--Respectfully Submitted, Barb Thomas, secretary

Guild Learns What Pilgrims Faced in 1620


Peg Wachter presented the program at the November meeting of St. John’s Women’s Guild. She read a summary from Peter Marshall's book, “The Light and the Glory”, much from Chapter 9, “God Our Maker Doth Provide.”


Once Peg explained the unchartered path the Mayflower took from North America's southern coast to Cape Cod, she told those present the account of the 16 men who went ashore to find firewood and explore the possibilities as strangers in a strange land. They found an abandoned cache of corn buried in a large iron pot. The Pilgrims vowed to repay them if and when they met their benefactors. (Thanksgiving!) They were involved in a skirmish with Indians. Bradford and Winslow both wrote that by the providence of God, no arrows hit nor hurt them. God took them to an open hillside with 20 acres already cleared and ready to plant. It was called Plymouth (spelled Plimoth) because Plymouth in Old England was the last town they left in their native country and the Christians had been kind there.


The Pilgrims implored Captain Jones to stay on to help them. He agreed because the hearts of the humble settlers touched him deeply, saying “they had borne everything cheerfully”. Many died that first winter, but their hearts remained soft toward God. Friendly Indians came to them in March. Samoset, a chief of the Algonquins, loved to travel, spoke flawless English and described the nature of the Indian neighbors around them. Next came Squanto who led to a peace treaty of mutual aid and assistance that lasted 40 years until Massasoit's death, probably the only chief on the northeast coast who would welcome the Pilgrims as friends. Coincidence? We think not. Rather the divine providence of God our Maker. He does provide!

Who We Are

This month’s Jottings features Bradley and Berneta Gable of Snider Homestead Farm, Brumbaugh Road, west of New Enterprise. Each month one family, couple or individual from St. John’s is asked to write about themselves in the newsletter so that we all may get to know each other better.

First a little history lesson. In May of 1836 my (Berneta’s) great-greatgrandfather, John Dittmar, traveled at the age of 17 from Germany on the same ship as Adam Haderman, and both eventually settled in this area. You will notice the Dittmar and Haderman names on our stained glass windows in the church. They both prospered and became very progressive citizens. Besides establishing schools and organizations in the area, they were part of a group that organized the first Sunday School in Loysburg. They were among the founders of this church and helped erect the first church building in 1848. They lived to help build the current structure in 1882.


Fast forward to Feb. 17, 1979. Brad and I were married in this church by Rev. A.M. Gordon on what is on record as the second coldest day in Pennsylvania recorded history (-21° F). I have attended this church since birth, and Brad became a member shortly after we were married. He grew up attending the Woodbury Church of the Brethren.


We have two children. Our son Aaron is married to Amy and they have three children, Bella, Blaire and Cannon. Aaron is an integral part of our farm — Snider Homestead Farm. Our daughter Kendy lives in Berlin, Germany, with her husband Claudio Donzelli and son Leo. They are heavily involved in the music scene in Europe.


I graduated from NB in 1972 and was a member of the band, chorus and first women’s basketball team, which began my senior year. My dream was to become a veterinarian, but my school guidance counselor said “women don’t do such things,” so I went to Penn State and graduated in 1976 with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education. After graduation, forgoing a teaching job, I started working for my father, Bernard, at our farm. I credit my father for giving me and my brothers and sisters (Tweet, Birch, Beth and Bobbie) a strong work ethic.

I enjoy showing cows, reading, baking and especially spending time with our grandchildren.


Brad is the son of Kenneth and Rosemary Gable and grew up near Woodbury. Ken, who is deceased, was a wonderful appliance repairman. Rosemary, who now lives in Martinsburg, enjoys visiting St. John’s when her son and/or grandchildren are participating in worship services or special programs. Brad also graduated from NB in 1972. He was a four-year letterman in football and baseball. He graduated from Penn State in 1976 with a degree in forestry. He worked as a surveyor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission for 33 years. He retired and became a full-time farmer. As a surveyor he surveyed gamelands all over Pennsylvania. Now in his “spare” time Brad loves to hunt, fish, sing in the choir and spend time with his grandchildren.


Brad and I bought our farm in 1991 from my father. This farm was homesteaded in 1892 by my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Snider, also a pioneer to the Cove. Our connections to this land and our church run deep, and we are fortunate to do our small part to preserve both for future generations. My mother was a pillar in the church. She loved her church and saw to it that we attended church and Sunday School each week — except when the boys hid in the straw mow. We are all close and respect what each of us has chosen to do in life. On Sundays that all five of us are in church, I feel mother is looking down, smiling.


We appreciate our close church family and Pastor Meckley and his family. St. John’s Reformed Church has played a significant role in our lives.

Bedford Forge Church Plans Live Nativity


Bedford Forge United Methodist Church will be presenting a drive-thru live nativity on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. The church is located in Yellow Creek near the southern end of Jacks Corner Road.


Rain date will be Sunday, Dec. 20.


A spokesman for the church said “We feel this is a wonderful way to reach out to our community.”


A live nativity was to be held Saturday, Nov. 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. by Love INC at its location, 80 State St., Everett.

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.

Banks Deal in Money; Humans Deal in Time


If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400, carried over no balance from day to day, allowing you to keep no cash in your account, canceling all unused funds at the end of each day, what would you do?


You have such a bank. It’s called time.


Every morning, each person’s account is credited with 86,400 seconds. Every night each second not put toward a good purpose is canceled. Time carries no balance forward. Nor does time allow us to borrow against future allocations.


We can only live on today’s deposit and invest our time toward the utmost health, happiness and success. 

Leadership When the Heat’s On McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Winter’s Return

Seasons come and seasons go–

Autumn leaves must fall.

The splendor of the earth gives way

To winter’s chilling call.

Birds flock to now-empty fields

And gather in bare trees

To leave the northern shores behind

Before the coming freeze.

The earth grows still,

The earth grows cold,

Unyielding, wild winds roam.

Through the lingering twilight haze

Lights shine from every home.

Wood smoke from the chimneys drift

Across the brown terrain,

And suddenly, without a sound

Snowflakes fall again.

Regina Wiencek

The greatest achievements are those that benefit others.

–Denis Waitley

Buying Happiness


A fashionable little girl, clutching a wad of money, carefully surveyed the aisles of a toy store. Her search ended as she stopped in front of a magnificent doll with a heart-shaped face and a velvet dress.


“Do I have enough?” she asked her father.

He nodded yes. As she walked down the aisle with her new doll, she noticed another child and father going through the same decision-making process.


The little boy held only a few dollars, in his hand. His pants were too short and the sleeves of his jacket were frayed. He grew excited when he spotted a game on the shelf. “This is what I want!” he cried to his father. “Do I have enough?”


But his father lowered his eyes and shook his head no. The little boy looked at the money in his hand and then placed the game back on the shelf. He took his father’s hand and they continued down the aisle toward a display of coloring books.


The little girl studied the doll she had chosen and then looked over atthe game the little boy had wanted. She put the doll back on the shelf and picked up the game. “Do I have enough?” she asked her father again.


When he nodded yes, she ran to the cashier with her purchase. After paying for the game, the little girl whispered something to the cashier — who quickly wrapped the game and stuck it under the counter.


The girl and her father stood near the exit until the boy and his father checked out. “Congratulations, you have been selected to win a prize!” the cashier said to the boy, presenting him with the gift-wrapped game.

“Wow!” cried the boy as he opened the package. “This is just what I wanted!” “That was very generous of you, sweetie,” said the girl’s father as they left the store. “What made you decide to do it?”


“Daddy, didn’t Nana and PawPaw want me to buy something that would make me happy?”

“Of course they did, honey.”


“Well, I just did.”

Adapted from “Toothless Grin”


Stories for a Cheerful Heart

Multnomah Publishers