Does Your Heart Burn for Jesus?
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. - Joel 2:12-13
Lent is a season set aside by the church to call us to seek the Lord in repentance and faith – to live out these verses in Joel 2. For some, Lent has become a tradition that you “put up with,” as in, “give up something for Lent.” Some give up meat, or chocolate, or coffee, or fast for some or all of Lent.
As I read on in Joel, I realize God isn’t as enamored with such practices as He is with whether or not our heart is really in it. First God says, “return to me with all your heart”. Only after that does he mention fasting, weeping, and mourning. God comes back to the main idea as He finishes the sentence, saying, “rend your hearts – and not your garments.” Clearly, the outward practices can become rote disciplines we endure rather than an expression of what is truly going on deep within us.
Return to the Lord – because you recognize attitudes and behaviors in yourself that have strayed from the holy life Jesus died to give you. It’s one thing to regret that in a passing way.
That twinge of guilt is rarely enough to turn us around. Sometimes we are happy to do something religious simply to ease our conscience.
If I give up something for Lent, for instance, just to feel better about myself – well, do you see how that utterly misses the point? I question what good is easing my conscience if my heart is unchanged and remains set on rebellion against God. “Rebellion against God” sounds so harsh – like something no good church-going person, like those of us reading this, could ever be guilty of. But understand that when I neglect to draw near to God in worship, or prayer, choose to do it my way over His way, live life with my faith in Christ compartmentalized off in some spiritual category that safely insulates Jesus’ Lordship from my everyday choices – is an act of rebellion.
Repentance is a good thing. It is a start – to see ourselves clearly for who we are – and our desperate need for the Savior. That honest assessment is God’s opportunity to surprise us again with His mercy, enfold us with His forgiving love, and bless us beyond measure.
A. W. Tozer said, “Coming to Christ is not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin. But where we stop – no man has yet discovered. For there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end. To have found God – and still to pursue Him – is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.”
May our hearts burn for Jesus.
Because He lives,
Lenten Devotional Booklet Available for All
If you haven’t picked up your Lenten devotional booklet, please do so. If you can’t get to church, asked a friend to bring you a copy.
“This Is Love/Acts of the Savior” is provided by the Women’s Guild. Couples may take one book to follow together or one per person if individual devotions are preferred. Christians have used the time before Easter for many centuries to reflect on Christ’s suffering and the significance of His resurrection.
Easter Egg Hunt Again on Spring Calendar
Again this year St. John’s will host an Easter egg hunt for church children and other youngsters in the community. It will be held on the church and parsonage grounds at 1 p.m. on March 31, the Saturday before Easter. Our high school students are also asked to attend to hide the eggs and to stay after the hunt to practice for the Easter Sunrise Service.
Church members are asked to donate plastic eggs and candy for in them. At lease 30 dozen are needed by Saturday morning, March 31.
The sunrise service will begin at 8 a.m. April 1 and will be led by high school students, Breakfast will be provided for all between the sunrise service and the traditional 9:30 a.m. Easter worship. Sunday School will follow at 10:45 a.m. All are welcome.
Sub Sale to Benefit Sunday School
St. John’s Women’s Guild is planning a church-made submarine sandwich sale for the first week in March.
The women will be making and selling 12-inch ham and cheese subs. Orders must be in by Friday, March 2. There is a sign-up sheet for orders on the welcome table in the sanctuary, or persons my call Mava Cottle at 766- 3314 to place an order. The cost is $6 each.
The subs will be assembled, starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, in the church kitchen and will be delivered the same day in time for lunch.
Plans Made for Good Friday, Easter Services
Plans are under way for a Good Friday service on March 30 and for two Easter Sunday services on April 1.
St. John’s has been alternating from year to year with a Maundy Thursday service one year and a Good Friday service the next. This year it will be a Good Friday service at 7 p.m. The choir will have special music, and Pastor Dave will lead the service.
On Easter Sunday, a sunrise service will be held at 8 a.m. in the pavilion and/or the fellowship hall, depending on the weather. High School students will be in charge of the service.
The Women’s Guild will prepare breakfast for all following the sunrise service. Resurrection Sunday worship with Holy Communion (at the chancel rail) will begin a 9:30 a.m. with Sunday School at 10:45 a.m. Again this year the Lenten Cross will be covered with lilies to form a Resurrection Cross for Easter. The lilies can be purchased by members and friends in honor or in memory of individuals. Forms will be distributed several weeks in advance with space to write in names and listing the cost and method of payment.
The Lenten Cross itself was made several decades ago, using the trunks of two red cedar trees that had stood in the church throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons on two succeeding years.
Woodbury CoB Hosts Ash Wednesday Service
People from the Southern Cove gathered at the Woodbury Church of the Brethren on Wednesday, Feb. 14 to observe the beginning of Lent. The Ash Wednesday service opened with a welcome from host Pastor David Ulm, followed by a prayer of invocation by Pastor Larry Graybill. After reading Scripture from Psalm 103, Pastor Ulm preached briefly on "Frailty, Life and Death." Youth Director David Scott led a responsive reading. Pastor Michael Dawes shared a brief meditation on "Repentance." Later, Pastor Dave Meckley spoke on "Drawing Near to God," based on Joel 2:12-13.
The service closed with each worshiper coming forward to have ashes applied to their forehead in the pattern of the cross, with the words, "Remember you are dust. Repent and receive God's grace." Worshipers left quietly, with a benediction offered to each one individually as they left.
Religious Release Time Session to Begin Apr. 12
Religious Release Time will be held on five Thursday afternoons from 1:30 to 2:30 beginning April 12 and ending May 10. Spring sessions are for students in Grades 3- 5 at Northern Bedford Elementary School. Rev. Meckley coordinates the program for the Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Ministerium and the NB Schools.
Children whose parents give consent are picked up at the school and taken by bus to the New Enterprise Church of the Brethren. After an opening worship, scripture story and prayer, they go to classrooms for Bible study. New volunteers are always welcome.
“Spring is a good time to come alongside a leader to learn more about this important outreach in our community,” said Pastor Dave. “Please contact me.”
Congregation OKs Committee Plan
At its annual congregational meeting on Feb. 11, the congregation of St. John’s Reformed church voted to approve the formation of three committees to assist the Consistory in preparing our church for the future.
The decision also allows us all to draw from the talents and gifts God has so generously blessed each of us with. The three committees are the Maintenance Committee, which will be responsible for the overall maintenance of the church; Public Relations, which will be responsible for the public image of the church, through publicity/promotion and the media such as the “Jottings from St. John’s,” and the church’s website; and Spiritual Health which will provide mentoring to new members, supportive services to those in need, and visits to our members and others who are not able to attend church services. It should be noted that the responsibilities listed are part of an evolving process.
The key to these committees and their success is the strength of our congregation. St. John’s has been blessed with a congregation that is multi-talented and multi-gifted. Many of us have gifts and talents not yet recognized. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts and though its parts are many, they form one body.” We are a body perfectly formed by God to fulfill His will for St. John’s. The Consistory asks each of you to please pray hard that God may enlighten you to the talents you have been given to help further God’s plan for our church. We also ask you to keep the Consistory in prayer as we go forth with this project and others in the coming year.
There will be sign up sheets posted for volunteers to serve on various committees on March 11, 2018.
Thank you for your help.
Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
Congregation Puts Youth in Budget; Agrees to Fund OMF, CEF, COM
The Congregation of St. John’s Reformed Church held its annual meeting following a covered dish meal on Feb. 11.
The meeting was called to order by Consistory President Joel Ritchey with the invocation by Pastor Meckley. Following reports from Pastor Dave, Consistory, Sunday School and Women’s Guild, the congregation voted to have the Consistory add a line item to the budget to support the Youth Group with expenses it incurs. Chris and Chelsea Kurtz explained that until now they had been receiving donations to support the activities in which they led the youth group. They said they would be very satisfied with the $500 added to the budget for youth.
This was followed with the approval of the budget for 2018, totaling over $91,000, up $7,000 from 2017.
Bradley Gable and Charles Mountain were reelected to four-year terms as elder and deacon, respectively.
Because of the generosity of the congregation, the consistory can increase our missions giving. Earlier this year the consistory voted to add Love INC. to our missions at $1,000 a year. During the meeting it was voted to fulfill our commitment to Overseas Missionary Fellowship (Scot & Sheryl Myhr) for $1,000 and in addition to give $500 to the Child Evangelism Fellowship and $1,000 to China Outreach Ministries (State College).
The congregation was informed that the consistory was taking on the project of updating our membership rolls to make them more current. Joel Ritchey and Pastor Meckley will head the project and will be requesting several volunteers from the church to assist in the endeavor. Finally, the congregation approved the restructuring of the consistory to add committees consisting of a Maintenance Committee, Public Relations Committee, and Spiritual Health Committee. These committees will play a primary role in the functioning of the church. Please see a separate story (above for details.
Consistory will meet on March 8, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the copy room.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
Guild Reviews Famous Couples of the Bible
The Women's Guild met at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in the fellowship room. Barb Thomas began her program with a short prayer. All participated in “Famous Couples of the Bible” as the ladies reviewed the many ways God brought couples together, worked His plan in their lives and redeemed and restored them when they confessed and repented of their sins, just as He does today.
Scripture verses were read as we identified the famous couples. Barb continued her program on a theme of “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” Sometimes our days are smooth and creamy like a caramel. Sometimes they contain a sweet surprise like a fudge filled chocolate. Sometimes we have sticky, icky days like a maple cream, when tragedy strikes and we want to return it to the box. Loved ones die or become seriously ill. People hurt our feelings or break promises. Things break, like the washer or dryer, the car, our heart. Praise God — He doesn't stay in the box waiting for us to guess what He is. He is our protector, Saviour, friend, provider, redeemer, restorer, healer, guide, etc. We read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, the love chapter — our Valentine from God. Barb gave each lady a small box of chocolates and encouraged all to ponder this question as they ponder which chocolate to eat first: “How can we show God's love to our family, friends, church family, co-workers, neighbors, etc.?” She closed in prayer. Brenda Colyer opened the business meeting with the treasurer's report. There was no secretary's report. Members discussed the details of the congregation meal on the 11th and prepared the fellowship room for it after the meeting.
Brenda reminded the ladies of the Ash Wednesday service to be held at the Woodbury Church of the Brethren on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. PeggyAnne Meckley told the ladies there would be a Good Friday service at St. John's Reformed but nothing would be needed from the guild. Brenda reported that we would be serving breakfast again for the Easter sunrise service on April 1. Deb Bowser volunteered to chair the breakfast solicitation and preparation.
Alaina Gates and Connie Ochoa were our hostesses for the evening, serving a “love”ly lasagna meal with salad, garlic bread and angel food cake/strawberries.
The next guild meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. March 9 in the church fellowship hall. PeggyAnne Meckley and Kim Ritchey will lead the program. Brenda Colyer and Linda Henderhan will be hostesses.
Women Invited to Chestnut Ridge IF Retreat
Women from St. John’s have been invited to a one-day retreat, “Joy for the Journey,” March 17 at the Chestnut Ridge Independent Fellowship, Fishertown.
Local women will carpool, leaving the church at 7:45 a.m. Please see Barb Thomas or Brenda Colyer for carpool information and registration forms, which are due by March 3. The cost is $15 to cover the breakfast and lunch expense. It will cost $20 to register at the door. The event will run from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Speakers are Carol Horner and Gail Hamilton. Music will be provided by Julie Nevel and Matthew Steele. See the flyers on the welcome table for more information. All women are encouraged to attend!
Sanctuary Lighting Being Upgraded
Wayne Kagarise reported at the congregational meeting that ceiling lights in the sanctuary are being upgraded with LED (light emitting diode) bulbs. Not only will they be brighter, but they will use much less electricity and last longer, according to Wayne. The first attempt to use the LED bulbs interferric with the sound system, but that has been corrected. Basement light were converted several years ago.
Encounter to Hear Mary Southerland Apr.14
Barb Thomas is accepting reservations/payments for the Ladies Spring Encounter with Mary Southerland on Saturday, April 14, at the Blair County Convention Center, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Event tickets are $26. Lunch tickets are $16 for a total cost of $42. Persons may attend the event for $26 and go out for lunch nearby. Mary Southerland is founder of Journey Ministry and co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a non-denominational ministry that crosses many boundaries to bring the Body of Christ to empower women with God's purpose. Mary will help those attending to discover how to deal with difficult relationships in our lives as she has survived a road of depression, infertility, adoption, sexual abuse, chronic pain and full-time ministry. “You don't want to miss this, ladies,” said Barb Thomas, St. John’s representative with Encounter.
Connie Ochoa has volunteered to make lunch table favors and represent St. John's Reformed Church as a table hostess.
Cove Community Chorus Concerts Mar. 24, 25
The Cove Community Chorus will present its spring concert on Saturday, March 24, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m. at the Spring Cove Middle School auditorium in Roaring Spring.
St. John’s members singing with the chorus are Beverly Smith. Birch Snider and Peg Wachter.
The concert will feature sacred music, tributes to Walt Disney and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and patriotic numbers. In addition there will be a number of solos, duets and small groups performing.
The chorus is directed by Tom Kunkle, and the practice pianists are Marian Grassmyer and Sandy Harteis.
Tickets are available from the chorus members and also at the Roaring Spring Department Store.
Kimberly Rodgers (center), a member of the Bedford County Transition Council, was one of the members who formed the TC Icy’s to participate in the Polar Plunge Feb. 3 at Canoe Creek State Park to raise money for Special Olympics. It was a chilly 26-degree day with winds of 12 mph and water temperature of 35 degrees when she and her team took the plunge, along with many others. The little team of only five members raised $1,241 for Special Olympics. Team members are (left to right) Beverly Landis from the Bedford County Workshop; Stacey Wyles from the Center for Community Action; Kim Rodgers, Transition Coordinator for Tussey Mountain School District; Dan Herman, Transition Coordinator for Chestnut Ridge School District; and Karen Eppley, Transistion Coordinator for Bedford and Everett School Districts.
NE Church Hosts Ministerium’s Musical Night
An evening of music sponsored by the Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Ministerium was held Jan. 28 at the New Enterprise Church of the Brethren. St. John’s was represented by the adult choir. Other churches in the area whose choirs performed were the host church, the Woodbury Church of the Brethren and Faith United Methodist Church of Woodbury.
Other groups included the children’s choir from the Holsinger Church of the Brethren; Pastor and Mrs. Mark Lingenfelter from the Hopewell Grace Brethren Church; the Three Js (Reighard sisters, Janet Snyder, Juli Bratton and Joanne Stiffler); and the Hall Family Trio, Matthew and Mariah (twins) and Makayla (children of Shawn and Stephanie, grandchildren of Paul D. and Megan Turner and great-grandchildren of Jennie Turner. In closing, the members of the clergy who were present gathered at the front of the sanctuary to sing “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” joined by the congregation. Marian Grassmyer was organist for the congregational singing of three hymns and provided prelude and offertory music. The offering will be used to address needs in the community. The sanctuary was nearly filled for the service.NE Church Hosts Ministerium’s Musical Night An evening of music sponsored by the Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Ministerium was held Jan. 28 at the New Enterprise Church of the Brethren. St. John’s was represented by the adult choir. Other churches in the area whose choirs performed were the host church, the Woodbury Church of the Brethren and Faith United Methodist Church of Woodbury. Other groups included the children’s choir from the Holsinger Church of the Brethren; Pastor and Mrs. Mark Lingenfelter from the Hopewell Grace Brethren Church; the Three Js (Reighard sisters, Janet Snyder, Juli Bratton and Joanne Stiffler); and the Hall Family Trio, Matthew and Mariah (twins) and Makayla (children of Shawn and Stephanie, grandchildren of Paul D. and Megan Turner and great-grandchildren of Jennie Turner.
In closing, the members of the clergy who were present gathered at the front of the sanctuary to sing “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” joined by the congregation. Marian Grassmyer was organist for the congregational singing of three hymns and provided prelude and offertory music. The offering will be used to address needs in the community. The sanctuary was nearly filled for the service.
Read to Feed Book Store
The “Read to Feed” used book store at the Woodbury Community Center is open the same hours as the monthly food distribution in the same building. You can buy books between 9 and 11:30 a.m. on the third Friday of each month. Proceeds go to the NB Food Pantry
GUILD OFFERS ‘OUR DAILY BREAD’ FOR DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Copies of ‘Our Daily Bread” are available for folks to pick up on the welcome table. There is a one-page daily devotional for each day, beginning March 1 and concluding May 31 with scriptures taken from the New King James Version
Food Pantry Suggests Fruits, Baking Mixes
The Northern Bedford Food Pantry at the Woodbury Community Center is requesting canned fruits and baking mixes for the month of March. Donations can be left in the food bank box on the back pew in the sanctuary.
The next Food Pantry distribution will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. March 16. The clothing bank is open during the same hours, as is the used book store, which supports the food pantry.
Financial donations are always welcome. Checks should be made out to NB Food Pantry and mailed to Janis Slick, treasurer, 131 Hipples Cave Rd., Woodbury, PA 16695.
Next Recycle Date: Mar. 10
On March 10 (and the second Saturday of every month) the Bedford County Conservation District will have its mobile recycle collection bins at the South Woodbury Township Building on the corner of Brumbaugh and North Roads between Loysburg and New Enterprise. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. help is available to unload your recyclables.
Pastor’s 2017 Annual Report
February 11, 2018
St John’s Reformed Church of Loysburg
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” - Habakkuk 2:2 ESV
The vision God has for us, Church, is what Jesus summarized as the entire mandate of God’s Word in two commands: Love God. Love others (Mark 12:30-31). When we truly love God above everything else, we will be so thoroughly transformed within that all our thoughts, attitudes and actions will be motivated to pure obedience and convey that love to others naturally.
In addition to the Greatest Commandment, Jesus gave us The Great Commission: As you go through life, make disciples (Matthew 28:19). These commands should be the focal point of every ministry in our church. Anything we do that is not moving us in these ways should be modified to do so more effectively. Realizing we “can’t do everything”, we are here as a church to do what God has prepared for us to do: Love God, love others, make disciples of Jesus.
I am reading Daniel Henderson’s book, Old Paths New Power. I will be leading the ministerium in a study of this book over Lent. Daniel shared at out CCCC Annual Meeting last summer that what the church needs to share with our increasingly secular society is believers living out the truth of God’s Word in their daily lives. This is not a new program, but a return to the essence of our faith: Loving God fully, loving others, and making disciples as we go through life. This requires a profound reliance upon God, including a deepening prayer life. As I incorporate these truths into my life personally, it has led me, beginning in January, 2018, to preach a series on “Transformation” in an effort to equip us individually and as a church.
Bible Study met weekly through the academic year, studying the books of Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians. We plan to start Colossians in February.
God has been working in our midst. Our worship attendance grew another 3.6% over last year with 57 on a given Sunday. Sunday school experienced a 19% increase in attendance with 38 on average. This suggests to me that we are growing deeper, seeking God in deliberate ways. He is honored by our faithfulness. The Sunday school class I teach on parenting also grew this year. I appreciate these young parents’ commitment to Christ and their families. As parents take their faith seriously, in attendance as well as in all of life, our children will pick up on our example.
We welcomed four new members into our fellowship on June 11: Chris and Chelsea Kurtz and Matt and Joy Nelson. Janelle Nelson, Maebree Barnwell and Henry Kurtz were each dedicated to the Lord in 2017. Our oldest member, Helen Imler, went to her eternal rest on February 18. In addition to Helen’s service, I officiated at 3 other funerals. I officiated three weddings, including Chris Foor and Heather Kline in June. In addition to hospital and nursing home visitation, I am a chaplain at Conemaugh Nason Hospital and chaplain to the Southern Cove Volunteer Fire Department. I coordinate Religious Release Time for the Southern Cove Ministerium and Northern Bedford Elementary School. We have committed volunteers who lead sessions for grades 3-5 in the spring, and K-2 in the fall. 80 students participated in the fall, about 50 in the spring.
I support and equip leaders here at St John’s as I work with committees and individuals. It is encouraging to see people use their gifts for ministry in fruitful ways. After Vacation Bible School, we hosted a Child Evangelism Fellowship 5 Day Club in July. Sixteen students participated. Thanks to Connie Ochoa and her team for making that possible! I am delighted with the good work Chris and Chelsea Kurtz are doing with our youth each month. I was happy to have Gavin Gilbert speak at our Easter Sunrise service.
On Maundy Thursday we held a Messianic Seder with many members participating. Our All Saints Service of Remembrance included some visitors in church that day. Our sister CCCC congregation, Christ Church in Roaring Spring invited us to an outdoor worship service and picnic. I played guitar to accompany our singing. Some of the Christ Church members expressed interest in doing more of that together.
I appreciate our congregation’s sense of humor, as people sat in different seats as an April Fools prank. I have also been impressed with the fellowship of the congregation lingering after church. Sharing life together is a source of joy that is to be celebrated. The many fellowship activities sponsored by the Women’s Guild and Sunday School enrich our fellowship. Our choir is a joy and means of fellowship as well as outreach as we minister in and beyond our church.
We hosted several missions presentations. One featured Scot Myhr and his transition from Pittsburgh to doing similar work with Chinese scholars in California. Mark Meckley shared his reflections on his mission trip to Uganda. There are so many communities all over this globe who need to hear and experience the Good News of Jesus.
I continue to serve as CCCC area representative. We have several new pastors seeking ordination in the CCCC. Our regional pastors meet quarterly. I am grateful to Barb Thomas who facilitates the women’s ministry of the CCCC Allegheny Fellowship so effectively.
Our Saint John’s Reformed Church Loysburg website, www.sjrcl.org features upcoming events, recordings of my weekly sermon message, our monthly newsletter, and photos of various activities. Many today will not visit a church until they have first checked it out online. A personal invitation, though, is still the most effective way to draw people into the church. While society is increasingly secular and skeptical, people are also disillusioned, thirsting for a better way. We have welcome Good News to offer! Your faithfulness and prayerful outreach are a real encouragement to me as together we seek to grow to be more like Christ.
Because He lives,
Bible Study in Colossians
Join us Sunday Evenings at 6:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall as we study the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Colossians. We meet weekly for one hour.