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January 2023

The Magi Fell Down and Worshiped Jesus

Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his

star when it rose and have come to worship him
.” – Matthew 2:2


In this season of Epiphany (appearing), we typically focus on the Magi. These "out of towners" came from "the east" in search of "the one born King of the Jews." I find it sadly ironic that these strangers from another country, with another religion, are the ones who bring to King Herod's attention that the Jewish Messiah has been born. Their study of ancient Scriptures – not their own – led them on this extensive quest, following this exceptionally prominent star.


When Herod consults his religious authorities, they recite the key Biblical texts. But to them it seems like so much ancient history. Apparently, the possibility that these ancient prophecies have recently been fulfilled is news to them. None of them have any clue where this Messiah is – except that Scripture says He would be born in Bethlehem. So Herod instructs the Magi to make a diligent search for the child, then to report back to him. Surely they all noticed the star these Magi followed all this time. Makes me wonder how these religious scholars in the heart of the Promised Land missed this greatest of prophetic fulfillments!


When the Magi found the Christ Child, the Scripture says "they fell down and worshipped Him". These foreigners from another faith tradition recognized this was no ordinary child, but one worthy of nothing less than their humble worship, which included presenting to Him lavish gifts. Sadly, Herod, who fancied himself the "King of the Jews", was threatened by this newborn King. He chose to recognize Messiah's coming with a murderous rage.


May God give us hearts to recognize Christ's coming, not only as ancient history, but as life-transforming Good News. May His teaching, miracles and death-in-our-place lead us to an end of ourselves as we find true and everlasting life in Christ our Redeemer.


In His light,

Dave Meckley, Pastor

                               Help Sought on Deciding New Mission to Support

The Consistory met on Dec 8 in the copy room. The meeting was primarily a preliminary budget meeting in preparation for the Congregational meeting at the end of January. We will finalize a budget recommendation at our next meeting on Jan. 12. We need your help. Jim and Angela May of Send Missionaries are completing their term. We have sponsored them in the past and are now looking for a new mission to replace them. Although we have discussed several organizations, we feel are solid, we want your input. Please, think of missions you may like us to support and we can discuss them at our annual meeting.

The Consistory approved paying Baker’s Waterproofing 25% down on the new drainage system and Joel met with their representative on Dec. 21, paid the deposit and signed the contract, which, locks in the quoted price you approved at our special meeting on Dec. 4. Baker’s should be calling in the next few days with a proposed start date.

ALERT, ALERT, ALERT!!!! The annual Congregational Meeting will be Jan. 29, 2023. As in the past years, the schedule for worship and Sunday School that day will be flipped with Sunday School starting at 9:30 and church at 10:45. There will be a covered dish meal following the church service (always delicious) with the meeting following the meal. We are usually ready to begin by 1 p.m. We know meetings can be tedious at times, but we encourage everyone to please attend. It is your time to offer input and insight into the direction of our church. And, the Consistory considers your voice a valuable guide that we can follow.

We who serve you on the Consistory pray you all have a holiday season filled with the blessings, peace and joy that only our Beloved Father can provide. It truly is a time of wonderment and truly a time to celebrate. God is Good, all the time….

                                                              --Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory president

Confirmation class will meet Jan. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. in the copy room.

Sunday, Jan. 22 is pulpit exchange through the Southern Cove Ministerium.

A new member's class is planned to start in January. Persons interested are asked to speak with Pastor Dave.

Taking part in a musical, “Looking for Christmas,” on the evening of Dec. 18 were family members gathered around “Grandma” as she explains the real meaning of Christmas. The actors (left to right) are Deegan Wertz as Grandma’s son; Blaire Gable and Ella Snyder, grandchildren; Bella Gable, daughter; Cindy Johnson, Grandma; Kim Rodgers, a neighbor, and Grayson, her son (front).

                                          Christmas Program Features Choir, Actors

This year’s Christmas program at St. John’s consisted of both music and drama. The show was put together by Barb Thomas, choir director, who selected music to enhance the play, which she wrote, based on the title song, “Looking for Christmas.”

The program on Sunday evening, Dec. 18, included much more.

Lorie LaSala played prelude music on the piano and accompanied one choir number with a violin descant. She also played and sang “Peace on Earth Good Will to Men” with help from the choir as an offertory. Lorie’s husband Bruce offered the welcome and read scripture. Ryan Salyards offered the opening prayer.

Grayson Rodgers sang “All I Want for Christmas” to open the drama.

Four of the other actors joined the choir for one of the musical numbers,“When I Kneel at the Manger Tonight.”

Ryan Salyards opened Act. II by singing “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child, accompanied by Ethan Hess on the cornet.

The choir sang five numbers with Barb Thomas, director, at the piano. Singers are Peg Wachter (front right); standing (left to right, first row) Peggy Ritchey, Sandy Styer, Beverly Smith, Tina Holderbaum, and Marsie Albright; (second row) Lorie LaSala, violin soloist, Joel Ritchey, Dennis Holderbaum, Beth Clark and Deb Bowser; (rear) Brad Gable, Jack Styer and Dave Meckley. [Photos by Kim Rodgers]

To open Act IV, the church bell choir played “The Bell Carol and ”The First Noel.” Act V concluded the musical with two numbers, “Merry Christmas, Mary” and “Join the Angels” with Ethan Hess accompanying the choir on drums and Barb Thomas on piano. Pastor David Meckley gave a short meditation preceding the last number, which included the pastor and Beverly Smith as soloist.

The youth class, led by Deb Bowser, conducted the candlelighting that closed the service.

All were invited to the fellowship hall for refreshments. The serving committee consisted of Kim Rodgers, Josephine Garman, Molly Shirk, Cindy Johnson and Linda Henderhan

                                    Children ’s Program Held during SS Hour Dec. 18

While middle school children participated in the evening service on Dec. 18, preschoolers and K-5 elementary children gave a Christmas performance during the 10:45 a.m. Sunday School hour the same day with many parents, grandparents and friends in attendance.

The program consisted of a skit by the older children, songs by all ages, and recitations by a number of youngsters. They concluded with the manger scene pictured above. Teachers who organized the program and helped with the presentation were Pergamene Meckley, Joy Nelson, Sarah Gunnett and Katrina Howe.

                                       Food Pantry List Requests for January

The Northern Bedford Food Pantry in the Woodbury Community Center has suggested the following items persons may donate: Knoors packets, spaghetti sauce, instant potatoes (mashed, scalloped, au gratin).

Also tooth paste, shaving cream, shampoo, Q-tips and cosmetics.

                                        Choir Sings for Shut-ins Dec. 21

Three members of the choir visited shut-ins in Martinsburg during the afternoon of Dec. 21. Beverly Smith, Deb Bowser and Dave Snyder sang for Gloria Baker and Judy Carper at Homewood, and Rosemary Gable and Minerva Gordon at their homes. In the evening a group of choir members visited and sang for shut-ins in the New Enterprise-Loysburg area

Card Sorters Hundreds of Christmas greeting cards for fellow church members were stuffed into the postage-free mailbox prior to Dec. 18. These folks assembled Saturday morning, Dec. 17, to sort the mail for distribution to church members the following day. They are (front row, left to right) Barb Thomas, Grayson Rodgers, Linda Henderhan and PeggyAnne Meckley; (back row) Beverly Smith, Pastor Dave Meckley, Steve Rodgers, Kim Rodgers and Deb Bowser.

                                            Pro-Life Meeting January 9

Bedford County Citizens Concerned for Human Life will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at Homewood at Spring House Estates, off Rt. 30 near UPMC Bedford. For more information call Doug Braendel at 814-623-688

                                           A Note from Choir Director

Thank you to all who participated in our annual Christmas Program Dec. 18 (whether singing, acting, baking cookies, decorating, serving food or cleaning up) — and to those who attended. It was a great evening of music, dialogue and inspiring messages that led us to what we are looking for — Baby Jesus, Born to Save!

The choir will resume practices on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. sharp. We will sing one special music anthem each month and special services as the need arises.

New voices are welcome to join us, either in the choir or filling the open slots for music ministry available each month. All are welcome – solos, duets, instrumentals, quartets, readings accompanied by instrumentals, etc. Please see Barb Thomas or the sign-up calendar in the back of the sanctuary to schedule a time for you!
                                                                                               --Barb Thomas, choir director

                         1 Goat, 1 Sheep, 1 Pig, Bees, Ducks, 2 Flocks of Chickens
                         Bought for Heifer International to Ship to Nations Abroad

Throughout this Christmas season the Sunday school collected donations for Heifer International, and the church also had a special offering during a service to receive donations. Between Sunday school donations and the special offering, we collected $431, and the Sunday school voted to use its funds to bump it up to $450.

The Sunday school decided to use the $450 to purchase a goat, a sheep, a pig, honeybees, ducks, and two flocks of chicks. Heifer International will then provide these to families in various countries to help them earn an income and be more self-sufficient.

We are pleased with the outcome of our second year of doing this project and hope to be able to purchase even more animals next year. If you would like to become a regular supporter or learn more about Heifer International, the website is Thanks to all who donated—God is impacting lives through this project!
                                                                                                     --Submitted by Joy Nelson

                       Kim Rodgers Again to Take Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

Kim Rodgers will once again be participating in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. It will take place on Jan. 28, 2023, at Canoe Creek State Park.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, go to and click on the "Donate" box on her page. Any amount is greatly appreciated. You may also give her cash or check by Jan. 22 and she will put it in electronically for you.

Special Olympics gives those individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities a chance to be a part of a team and it gives those parents the honor, we at times take for granted, to watch their children reach limits they never dreamed were possible. It also teaches the participants skills they need to be productive adults, such as job readiness skills and self-confidence.

                                     Cove Lions to Sunday Host Brunch & Wing Night

The Cove Lions Club will hosts a brunch on Sunday, Jan. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their building in Loysburg. The all-you-can eat menu for $12 for adults and $6 for children under 11 includeds ham, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, home fries, sausage gravy on biscuits, puddings, toast, fresh fruit, juices, hot chocolate, tea and coffee. The Lions will also hold a Wing Night from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, for eat-in or take-out. Persons may call 766-9912 for more Informaton.

St. John’s Bell Choir Performed for both morning and evening services on Dec. 18. The ringers are (left to right) Lorie LaSala, Beverly Smith, Marsie Albright, Barb Thomas, Leah Salyards and Lauren Sell. They played a number of Christmas carol tunes under the direction of Mrs. LaSala.

                                12-Hand Bell Choir Makes Debut at St. John ’ s

Many people have commented to me that they are enjoying hearing the bell choir at church. But their comments are often followed by a question or two. David Snyder has asked me to give you an article with a little explanation regarding the bells so hopefully it can answer some questions.

I’m sure you’ve all see a “real” bell choir with the shiny, brass bells. I had the privilege to be part of a bell choir in high school and again later at a church I attended as a young adult. I loved it. But those bells are both extremely expensive and super fragile. You must wear gloves when handling them to keep your finger grease off the brass. They are played on tables with very thick padding which keeps the bells from any possible dings while playing. A dented bell is an out-of-tune bell and it is pricey to get it fixed.

The bells we play here at St. John’s are actually called “hand chimes”. I purchased them for my students shortly after I started my music academy in Lancaster. I really wanted to start a bell choir, but I had many young students and I could just imagine the number of dropped or banged-together bells I’d be needing to have fixed. Plus, there was no way I could begin to afford a set of real, brass bells. (Currently a three octave set of brass bells runs more than $15,000.) So at about 1/10th the cost, I purchased the chimes.

The chimes are played similarly to the bells, though there are some techniques you can do with bells which are not possible with the chimes. They have a different but still lovely sound. The chimes were a fun way to teach music reading to children, but were still quite enjoyed by more advanced musicians.

A bell or chime choir is very different from any other kind of choir. Since each person is responsible for their own group of notes, one member missing a rehearsal makes it very hard for the rest to rehearse. It would be like trying to practice piano but removing a few of the keys. Often I would have a swing player when I was teaching. This was someone advanced enough to be able to sight read anything, who could fill in if someone was missing. Since I don’t have that here at St. John’s, we pretty regularly move rehearsals each week to find a time that everyone can attend. I’m very thankful to each of our players for their commitment to see that rehearsals take place!!

I, along with the others who have been playing the chimes at church, hope you have enjoyed what you’ve heard. We’d be happy to have more join or I can start a beginner group if that is of interest. Just ask.                                                                                                                                                                                           --Submitted by Lorie LaSala

                                            40 Attend Guild Christmas Party

Approximately 40 guild members and guests attended the annual Ladies Christmas Party in December.

Committee members Barb Thomas, Beverly Smith, Tina Holderbaum, and Sandy Styer prepared and served the ham dinner. Volunteers Cindy Johnson, Beth Clark, Mava Cottle and Barb Thomas donated desserts.

Beverly led the group in singing several carols throughout the evening. Grayson Rodgers, along with Harper and Bristol Howe portrayed Joseph, Mary and the Angel as the scripture from Luke was read. Beverly, Tina and Sandy sang “Jesus Came” and the evening concluded as the adults singing Silent Night while the children in the manger formed the perfect backdrop.

The committee thanks all for joining in a very Merry Christmas party!

                                 Ice, Cold Wind Cut Christmas Eve Attendance to 50

Ice and a cold wind was responsible for a lower than usual attendance at St. John’s annual Christmas Eve candle-lighting service. Approximately 50 braved the weather to attend the service of lessons and carols, concluding with the singing of “Silent Night” a capella as a circle was formed around the sanctuary and the flame from the Christ candle was shared with all.

                                      Altar Flower Calendar Filled for New Year

The calendar for altar flowers has been filled for the new year, according to Beverly Smith, who chairs that program. It will be posted on a calendar at the back of the sanctuary. Volunteer donors will be mentioned each month in the newsletter and in the weekly bulletins.

                                         ‘Beauty for Ashes’ Retreat Here Feb 18

Carol Deremer from the Chestnut Ridge Fellowship Independent Church of Fishertown will lead a “Beauty for Ashes” Retreat at St. John’s Reformed Church on Saturday, Feb. 18. (Approximately 8:30 a.m.– 3:30 p.m.).

The curriculum is designed for women, interacting with Scripture truth and inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to them as they seek God’s restoration, hope and healing. Many women are carrying burdens of hurt, abuse, rejection, pain, loss and loneliness. You may know some. You may be one. Carol will lead us in scripture lessons, self-reflection, prayer and small group sharing. There will be a small cost for materials.

The Women’s Guild will provide coffee, tea, a light breakfast and lunch. Please come if you are seeking restoration or if you would like to learn more about how to minister to others. Bring family and friends. Other area churches will be invited to join us.

                                           Guild Prepares for Busy New Year

The Women’s Guild officers met on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the home of Barb Thomas, to plan 2023’s regular meetings, special events, program coordinators, hostesses and special committees. Women’s Guild schedules were included in our Christmas card deliveries to ensure each lady is informed as to the dates, purpose and plans of our lady’s group. See Barb if you need another one!

The first meeting of 2023 will be held on Friday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. in the church fellowship hall. Molly Shirk will present a short program and the officers will provide refreshments. We welcome all ladies of all ages to join us! Our vision is to unite all women in Christian fellowship, to understand better the work of the church, to deepen spiritual life and to love and support one another with prayer and encouragement.

Two programs will renew this month. The Secret Sister program is a fun way to brighten another’s day with secret cards and small gifts (not required). A birthday and Christmas gift, valued at $5 - $10, are encouraged. The Prayer Mentor program is similar but without the gift-giving. The only requirement is to pray daily for the lady and the family of the person you draw. You may send cards, revealing your identity or choosing to stay secret. Both forms were included in the guild schedule. You may do one or both programs. Please submit your completed forms to Barb Thomas by Jan. 8. (Originally Jan. 1, but with inclement weather we are extending the date). We will draw new Secret Sisters at the Jan. 13 meeting and new Prayer Mentors on Jan. 15. We hope everyone will choose to participate in one or both programs!

                                     Weekly Bible Study for Ladies to Begin Feb. 2

A Ladies Bible study is being planned for Thursday mornings, 9:45 – 11:15 for all St. John’s Reformed ladies and friends. Child care will be provided. Volunteers are needed. The tentative start date is Thursday, Feb. 2 – Ground Hog day!

Please see Barb Thomas or Leah Salyards ASAP if you plan to attend or are willing to volunteer to help with Bible Study or child care. It will help greatly in their planning

                                             HOMEWOOD AUXILIARY NEWSLETTER

October & November were exciting months for our Auxiliary.

The Fall Bazaar was held Oct. 6 & 7. Twenty-two craft vendors were featured, 3 delicious homemade soups were served and two sandwiches. The community was invited with approximately 200 people attending. Approx. $ 3,700 was raised. After a 2 ½ -year hiatus, it was great seeing faces that we have not seen for a long time, and continuing this Homewood tradition.

The Garage Sale was postponed until the next Saturday, Oct. 15th, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for this event. Our community is learning that Homewood’s garage sales are extraordinary. We have received many compliments. One of the residents passed on comments from an off-campus friend that attended: “I arrived early at the Garage Sale and was so pleased to be able to get in before the starting time. I was astounded at the quantity and the quality of the merchandise. It was all in good condition, clean, very reasonable prices. I will never miss a sale again.” We heard comments like this over and over again. Over $8,000 was raised at this sale! Great job chairpersons, Fred & Nancy Marschak and Chuck & Kay Patterson, and all the volunteers that work so hard. We can’t thank you enough!

Day at Traditions, Oct. 19th – Once again our friends at Traditions held a fundraiser. For everyone producing a coupon at both the Restaurant and Gift Shop – Traditions gave Homewood 15% of the amount of the purchase. Over $600 was raised that day.Thank you to Betty Moudy, who organized this event, and to all who visited Traditions that day.

Memory Care Donations: Our Activities Dept. asked if we would consider donating some dolls and electronic pets to the residents of Countryside. Many of the residents love their dolls, but some have been used a long time and are looking worn. Auxiliary to the rescue! We purchased 10 lifesize dolls, along with doll blankets, and a change of clothes for each. Also purchased was a robotic cat that meowed and purred, and a robotic dog that barks and wags his tail. We delivered them to the residents that gathered in the Sensory Lounge. The residents’ eyes lit up and they happily welcomed their new babies and pets. It was a heartwarming sight to see. The Auxiliary also purchased 6 new Christmas trees to be used in the Dining Rooms at Health Care.

Our Auxiliary’s mission is to raise funds to purchase items that enhance the lives of our residents. We are currently in our membershipcampaign. Won’t you please send your membership dues ($ 3) to Debbie Pierce or give it to Linda Henderhan.
    --Submitted by Debbie Pierce, Homewood Volunteer Director, Auxiliary Contac

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