December Newsletter

We Can Be Reinstated as Children of God

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” - Genesis 3:15

 

This verse, spoken by God to the serpent after sin entered Paradise, is the first prophecy promising the Advent, or coming of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who would ultimately destroy the work of Satan.

 

Charles Wesley in his wonderful Christmas hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, in verse 4 expresses these truths in the language of his time:

 “Come, Desire of Nations, come, fix in us Thy humble home.
Rise the woman’s conquering Seed, bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp Thine image in its place,
Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love,
Hark, the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King
.”

 

Wesley calls for Christ, the Desire of Nations, to live in our hearts, or to “fix in us Thy humble home.” Christ our Lord, the woman’s conquering Seed, will bruise in us the serpent’s head as we surrender our wills to the indwelling Christ. He will purge us from all sin, and free us from Satan’s influence.


Adam’s likeness now efface – we as fallen people are children of Adam, taking after his fallen nature. Our prayer is to leave behind our Old Sin Nature, our Adamic nature, and take on the likeness of Christ our Redeemer: Stamp Thine image in its place – we want to be more like Jesus! Jesus is The Second Adam. The first Adam fell into sin. God gave us a "re-do" in Jesus, who lived a sinless life. He was obedient even to His atoning death on the cross to cover the sin of everyone descended from the first Adam – which is all of us. Through the blood of Christ and His love expressed on Calvary’s cross, we, by grace, through faith, can be reinstated as children of God through Jesus, who covers our sin with His own blood. That is the true meaning of Christmas!

 

What encourages me is that as soon as we had a need – God was there. When Paradise was lost, when the first human beings were exiled from that fruitful garden to eek out a living amidst thorns and weeds, bugs and blight, due to the curse of sin, we see God not only had a plan, but God had a remedy. Trust Him. Turn to Him. Believe on Him in your heart by faith.

 

I invite each of you to join your voice with the chorus of heaven and sing from the depth of your being, with an irrepressible joy, Hark the Herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!

 

With unspeakable joy,

Dave Meckley, Pastor



                          Christmas Eve Service at 7 p.m. This Year
A Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be held in Sanctuary on Friday, Dec. 24 7 p.m. A service of lessons and carols, with a brief message on the meaning of Christmas will be followed by candle lighting and singing together Silent Night.



                            Guild Christmas Party to Be Held Dec. 3

St. John’s Women’s Guild will hold its Christmas Party Friday, Dec. 3, in the fellowship hall, starting with a social time at 5:30 p.m., followed by a chicken dinner at 6 p.m. There will be a small gift exchange.

The committee chairman is Beth Clark, No information was available by press time regarding a program.

                       Christmas Concert Dec. 5 at Everett Church
Pastor Melvin Van Orman of the Everett Grace Brethren Church in Everett will be conducting his annual All Christmas Music Program on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. Our own St. John's member Ethan Hess will be participating. This will be the third year Ethan has played his cornet in Pastor Van Orman’s concert.

The program will consist of band music and various vocal and instrumental solos and small group selections.


   Confirmation Class to Meet Sundays Except Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 Confirmation class members will meet with Pastor Dave each Sunday in December at 2 p.m. in the copy room, except Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.


                      Sunday School Christmas Program at 10:45
The Sunday School classes will be presenting a Christmas Program on Sunday, Dec. 19, at 10:45, following the morning worship service.

The adult classes will organize the opening and closing scriptures, prayers and carols.

The children’s classes, from nursery to Grades 2-4, will present The Christmas Story with verses and songs.

The Middle School class will take part, led by teacher Deb Bowser.

All are encouraged to attend — parents, grandparents and everyone in our church family — as we share the joy and wonder of Christmas through the eyes of our Sunday school classes! What a wonderful way to support our children by being interested in what they have to share! Please come!



                          Choir to Present Cantata at 7 p.m. Dec. 19

The Choir will present a worship celebration for Christmas, His Name Is Jesus, Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m.

“Jesus,” the name above all other names. What does the name of JESUS really mean to you? This cantata, arranged by Mosie Lister, celebrates Jesus – Our Redeemer, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tidings of joy will be sung by choir members: Mava Cottle, Beverly Smith, Peggy Ritchey, Deb Bowser, Beth Clark, Marsie Albright, Tina Gojeski, Peg Wachter, Pastor Dave Meckley, David Snyder, Brad Gable, Dennis Holderbaum, and Joel Ritchey. Berneta Gable and Cindy Johnson will narrate the musical. Barb Thomas is the pianist.

The Women’s Guild will serve light refreshments following the cantata in the fellowship room, led by Molly Shirk, Kim Rodgers, Josephine Garman and Cindy Johnson.

Please plan to attend. Bring family, friends, and neighbors to share in this message of hope, love and joy.


                    Let’s Go Caroling: Monday, Dec. 20 in Loysburg

All are invited to meet at the church Monday evening, Dec. 20, for caroling. Due to the pandemic last year, we exchanged our regular caroling/visitation to area retirement communities for a traditional walk through Loysburg.

Because there is still an element of uncertainty in 2021, we will again walk house to house throughout the village singing carols and wishing all a very merry Christmas. Please join us at 4:30 p.m. in the church parking lot. When caroling is completed, we will enjoy cookies and hot chocolate in the church fellowship room. All welcome, all ages. (See Barb Thomas if you would like to go.)


                         Consistory to Replace Drape Behind Altar

St. John’s Consistory met Nov. 4 in the copyroom of the church. Due to illnesses and other situations it had been a while since the consistory met. 

During the meeting it was decided to replace the drape behind the altar instead of putting some other type of symbol there. That project is moving forward.

In case you did not know, we have a propane tank we use for the gas stove in the kitchen. It has rusted to the point that Suburban Gas will replace it this month.

The maintenance committee will clean the bat droppings in the attic. Over the course of several years the build up has become problematic. The committee will also replace the two shrubs that have died.

Our new chairman of the public relations committee, Julie Russell, is gathering new and updated information for the church directory. There is a yellow legal tablet at the back of the church and she is requesting families fill in their information. Hopefully this can be done by the Christmas holiday. There will be no pictures in this directory.

The progress on improving the sound and monitoring systems for the church and live feeds is on a slow but steady progression.

The consistory will meet again on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in the copy room. This is an open meeting and all are invited.
                             —Submitted by Joel Ritchey, consistory president



            CHRISTMAS CARD EXCHANGE DEADLINE DEC. 18
Everyone is invited to send Christmas cards (free postage) via our Christmas card box found in the back pew of the sanctuary. Place cards in the box for church family members BEFORE Dec. 18.

Anyone who would like to help youth sort cards for delivery on Dec. 19 may come Saturday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m. (Cards need to be here before that time to be sorted into correct piles.) Volunteers are also invited to stay after the card sorting to help fill the Sunday School Christmas treat bags to be given on Dec. 19.


                                   Hoss's day DEC. 5 AT BEDFORD
Hoss’s Steak & Sea House in Bedford is teaming up with Love INC. on Sunday, Dec. 5 for a fund raiser. Anyone who eats at Hoss’s that day and shows a Cash Cow card will be donating a percentage of their meal price to Love INC. Cards are on welcome table.



                        Live Nativity Dec. 12 at Bedford Forge 
Bedford Forge United Methodists Church will be holding a drive-through Live Nativity on Sunday, Dec. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the church grounds. The Bedford Forge choir will present a Christmas Cantata, “Good News from Home” at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.


                          NEED OFFERING ENVELOPES ?
If anyone needs offering envelopes going into the new year, please see Cathy Snider, deacon/treasurer


        SS Classes Selling Gardners Peanut Butter Meltaways

Middle and high school Sunday School classes are selling Gardner’s Peanut Butter Meltaway bars as a fund-raiser. Anyone who can sell a box of 48 will be appreciated; see Deb Bowser.

Those who are interested in buying one or few bars can find them on Deb’s classroom table in the basement with a container in which you can put what you owe. The bars cost $1.00 each


        Guild’s Next Meeting Jan. 14; New Officers to Be Seated
The Women’s Guild will be transitioning to a new slate of officers as current terms end this month.

Officers will meet to schedule meeting dates, program providers, hostesses, and special events, such as the Mother/Daughter Banquet, Salad Supper, Harvest Home Service and Ladies Christmas Party.

The purpose of the Women’s Guild is to unite all women of the church in Christian Fellowship. We ask God’s direction to help us develop an understanding of the work of the church, to deepen our spiritual life, and to promote Christian service in our homes, the church, the 4Cs Fellowship and the world.

The first meeting of 2022 is tentatively scheduled for Friday evening, Jan. 14, at 6:30. The 2021 Secret Sisters will be revealed, and new ones drawn for another year of fun and surprises.
                                                              —Submitted by Barb Thomas


                  UPDATE ON SJRC COMMUNITY GROUPS
Community groups started early this fall in order to establish a place and time where our church family could gather together in small-ish groups to discuss the past week’s scripture and message. During this gathering our goals have been to build and deepen relationships (particularly between different generations), dig deeper into what we are learning on Sunday mornings, provide a place for the exchange of ideas and questions, and (most importantly) to point one another to Jesus and His amazing grace. It is a Bible study based on the past week’s scripture and message in a laid back and informal setting.

Currently we have anywhere from four to six family groups meeting on Sunday evenings at 5:30 at the Kurtz’s house. These times of gathering have been very encouraging. Our discussions begin with the scripture and message and go many different ways and places from there. It has been great to hear perspectives from so many different. Community groups started early this fall in order to establish a place and time where our church family could gather together in small-ish groups to discuss the past week’s scripture and message. During this gathering our goals have been to build and deepen relationships (particularly between different generations), dig deeper into what we are learning on Sunday mornings, provide a place for the exchange of ideas and questions, and (most importantly) to point one another to Jesus and His amazing grace. It is a Bible study based on the past week’s scripture and message in a laid back and informal setting.

Our goal has always been to grow and multiply these groups throughout our church family. Our group has grown in number since we started. We are almost at the point that we will be ready to split and form two groups instead of one. The reason for this is to continue to make sure that these groups remain small in number in order to allow time and space for each member to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. If anyone is interested in joining a group, please talk with Chris Kurtz. Feel free to call or text him at 814-934-7161 if you can’t get in touch with him at church.
                                                                    --Submitted by Chris Kurtz


           Socks, Gloves, Hats, Scarves Needed for Mitten Tree
The Mitten tree has made its entrance in the fellowship room downstairs to be decorated in hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, and socks for area children. We will collect throughout December. Thank you for your help!
                                                                --Submitted by Barb Thomas



                                              Who We Are

This month’s Jottings features Jack and Sandy Styer of 1374 Ridge Rd., New Enterprise. Jack formerly served St. John’s as a supply and interim pastor, and Sandy has been active in the Women’s Guild and sing in the choir.

Sandy was born in November 1944 in Morgantown WV. Her parents divorced and she was taken as a baby by her mother to various places in Pennsylvania. She ended up living in the eastern part of Pennsylvania north of Philadelphia. Sandy was not exposed to church very much and when she was exposed, it was often not a good experience. She became hostile toward God and church. Sandy graduated from Council Rock High School in 1964.

Jack was born March 1948 in Sellersville, Pa., a town north of Philadelphia. I (Jack) grew up in a Christian environment, which means we never missed a church service growing up. That doesn’t mean I wanted to go, but my complaining was always ignored.

In 1961 I attended a Billy Graham crusade in Philadelphia. I literally sat on my hands when the altar call was given, so I could not respond. But I could not resist and went forward. I completed a Bible course by Billy Graham. You would think I was on a path of following Christ, and I was at this point. But the pressures and desires for things of this world drew me away from God, I fell away from the walk I started.

I graduated from Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. in 1966. After high school I worked with my dad in construction for a year or so. Then I went to work in a electronics factory in the receiving department (counting parts). I worked there from 1968 to 1983. When I quit the electronics factory in 1983, I was manager of production control and shipping. It is during this time that I met Sandy. We worked for the same electronics factory but not in the same building. We met at the company bowling league. (Side note: Sandy has not allowed me in a bowling league since then). We married Oct.23, 1971.

I don’t recall when the showdown happened, but it was after we were married. I was coming under conviction to change my life and start going to church again. The problem was Sandy was hostile to God and church. I truly thought it was going to destroy our marriage and I was afraid to tell her what was happening to me.

Finally the conviction to get back to church got too strong to ignore. I had to tell her what was happening with me. To my shock and relief she said she felt the same way. Unknown to both of us, God was working in both of us at the same time.

My mom’s prayers and discussions with Sandy opened Sandy’s eyes and God showed himself to her on a horse back ride.

Sandy and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Many of you sent us cards, thank you very much.

The journey continues but at a different location. I always had an interest in dairy farming. I went to work on a dairy farm in Port Matilda, Pa. and after a few years I learned of a farm in Bedford I could buy with the farmer’s help. The timing was not good and after a few years and dropping milk prices, we decided to have a sale and get out of farming. This was a very trying time for us on the farm. There were times when we didn’t know where we were going to get the money for bills. Of course we had to deal with all the normal issues and problems that go with farming. We were attending Schellsburg Mennonite church, and they helped us many times as did my parent’s Sunday school class. While this was a difficult time, Sandy and I agree this was a time of great spiritual growth for both of us.

We were not able to pay all the farm debt after the sale. I could not find a job making enough to pay our leftover debt. We decided I would go to truck driving school.

In 1986 I began trucking cross country, in all 48 states. I hauled van, flatbed and oversized loads. This also was a difficult time for Sandy and I going from always being together on the farm, to never being at home. When I left home it was usually 3-5 weeks until I would get back home. Sandy would ride along sometimes. I did this to pay off the farm debt as quick as I could.

During this time we became involved in trying to establish a Mennonite church in Bedford. This failed. So we were looking for a church to attend. We got to know Pastor Doc Dawson and became part of a prison ministry at Bedford County Jail. We played music (bluegrass gospel) and had bible study in jail for 15 years. Pastor Doc encouraged us to attend Canan Station Mennonite in Altoona, which he was pastoring at the time. We began attending Canan Station. I was still driving truck. I was teaching Sunday school occasionally, but doing very little else when it came to ministry. 

The Holy Spirit began urging me to do more. I didn’t know what the “more” was, but the feeling was unmistakable. This feeling continued for a while. Maybe a year or so. I couldn’t shake it, nor could I deny it, and I couldn’t define it into something concrete.

Then one morning out of the blue Pastor Doc came to me on a Sunday morning in the early 2000's. He asked if I would be interested in becoming associate pastor. He needed me to preach at least one time per month or more. Of course I needed to pray, talk to Sandy and think about what my response should be. But the bottom line is — I could have given him a “yes” right away.

This was the answer to what I had been looking for. This was what the “more” was.

A little later I was licensed for ministry. I served for some time as Doc’s assistant when out of the blue Wayne Kagarise (my mailman) contacted me. I don’t remember whether He called me or if He visited me, either way he wondered if I would fill in as a supply pastor for St. John’s. This was not your normal way of getting a pastor. This will never work. How can a Mennonite pastor become a preacher in a Reformed church?

I think Pastor Doc said it right. If God calls you through the mailman you answer the call.

I don’t remember the year but I got a call from David Snyder. He wanted to know if I would preach every Sunday until St. John’s could find a pastor. I don’t know why I said yes but I did. A year and one month later tragedy struck. Pastor Doc Dawson of Canan Station Mennonite was on a train in Texas visiting family and he had a fatal heart attack. I was called by Canan Station to be their pastor.

I was ordained for ministry in 2006. In 2016 I was able to retire from truck driving but I kept ministering until this past July 20, 2021.

You probably noticed Sandy and I are hanging around a lot more. That is because you are caring, loving and supportive. You welcomed us with open arms. Thank you. God bless you