Some Bible Lessons on Waiting
Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! – Psalm 31:23-24
"Wait" is a word that sums up this season we are in. Waiting tends to not be among our preferred pastimes. But Psalm 31 teaches us how to wait during this extended time of anticipation.
Scripture abounds with examples of those who misused their time of waiting. I think of the Hebrews in the desert who complained relentlessly. While they were at times punished for their lack of trust in God, I continue to marvel how God supplied their need time after time.
King Saul lost his dynasty when he failed to wait on God's timing or follow God's instruction when he made a burnt offering in 1 Samuel 13. He reasoned that further delay would cause more of his troops to desert, and the enemy was looming closer. However, Samuel rebuked him for failing to trust God and follow His ways.
Positively, Joseph remained steadfast in faith even though unjustly imprisoned for years. Noah steadfastly built the ark, even though the earth had never seen a drop of rain. After the flood subsided, he and his family waited on God until it was safe to disembark. Moses spent most of his life waiting on the Lord: 40 years tending his father-in-law's sheep awaiting his calling to lead God's people to the Promised Land; then another 40 years wandering in the wilderness. All the while, Moses deepened his relationship with God and led the people faithfully – for the most part.
The Psalmist calls God's people to love the Lord and continue to live in faithful obedience – even in stressful times, when, like Saul, we may think we know better. Circumstances may or may not get better, but we are instructed to wait on the Lord who will give us the strength and the courage to persevere. Christ alone lived in perfect obedience. But as we yield ourselves to Christ and live – not by our human nature, but walk by the Holy Spirit, we experience God's sanctifying work in us that teaches us to say "no" to what the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 calls the "works of the flesh". These include strife, fits of anger and divisions. In contrast, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." We need to abide in Christ and surrender to God to allow His good Spiritual fruit to flow though us.
May God strengthen and encourage you and make you a blessing to others.
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Abby Jasper Lone Graduate
Abby Jasper is the only high school graduate from St. John’s Reformed Church this year. She is the granddaughter of Peggy and Joel Ritchey and is graduating from Everett Area High School. She will be honored at a church service when the congregation is able to gather for worship again.
Ministerium Provides Baccalaureate Online
The Southern Cove/Yellow Creek Ministerium is providing a virtual baccalaureate service for the seniors at Northern Bedford High School. The on-line service includes messages from five pastors of local churches, including Pastor Meckley of St. John’s Reformed.
Since an in-person gathering of graduates cannot be held at the usual time of graduation, the ministers have placed messages online and are encouraging the graduates to tune in to their baccalaureate messages. Here are two different YouTube sites where the video messages can be found: https://youtu.be/f6wP9uMWX00 and https://youtu.be/5baeXGWLswc
Speaking on the first site are Pastor Nancy Goff of the Bedford Forge United Methodist; Pastor David Meckley of St. John’s Reformed; Pastor Mindy Hillegass of the Woodbury Church of God; and Pastor Michael Dawes of the Woodbury United Methodist. Speaking on the second site is Pastor Mark “Cappy” Lingenfelter of the Hopewell Grace Brethren Church.
NB Graduation Postponed; Video Available on May 28
Due to the continued restrictions that Gov. Wolf has placed on businesses and schools Northern Bedford High School will not be able to have its in-person graduation ceremony as planned on Thursday, May 28.
In place of the ceremony a graduation video will be available beginning at 7 p.m. on the district website, the High School Facebook page and the Only In The Cove Facebook page. Pictures of the seniors receiving their diploma along with prerecorded speeches will make up the graduation video. “We hope this video will serve as an excellent keepsake for the senior families,” said a school spokesperson.
Administration has tentatively re-scheduled graduation for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, in Panther Community Stadium with the rain date of Wednesday, July 1.
Tune in Sunday May 31 For Pentecost Message
Pastor David Meckley will be preaching online the last Sunday of May, which is Pentecost Sunday. Look up Acts 2 for the Scripture. The pastor plans to teach on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, using a variety of additional Scriptures.
PANTRY REQUEST: PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY
The Northern Bedford Food Pantry is requesting donations of peanut butter, jelly and other spreads for June. Any other donations of non-perishable food are gladly accepted (please check the expiration date). Donations can be left in the box on the back pew in the sanctuary. Monetary donations can be mailed to Janis Slick, treasurer, 131 Hipples Cave Rd., Woodbury, PA 16695. Checks should be made payable to Northern Bedford Food Pantry
‘Shutdown Keeping Us Humble’ --Joel Ritchey
The consistory has met twice in the past six weeks, on April 10 and May 14. The primary focus of both meetings was the effect the pandemic has had on the church and our members and the reopening of the church. We have been trying to tell folks what steps we are taking to reopen through the prayer chain and the church’s Facebook page. Our first hurdle is a thorough cleaning of the church. Once we have determined what needs to be cleaned and/or sanitized we will be putting out a request for volunteers to help. We will work in small groups and abide by the suggestions of the governor and the Center for Disease Control. In fact, after the posting on Facebook we began to receive comments from church family members willing to volunteer.
This is a difficult time for all. People are social creatures and the interaction with others keeps our hearts filled with joy, especially those of us who walk in faith. Fellowship with each other is a keystone for our faith. To see the pure joy of children is to see the miracle of life. To walk into the church and worship with like minded members brings us each closer to God. I miss it tremendously. Yet, when God challenges us like He is now, He provides an opportunity for us to rely on Him more completely, and in doing so provides us a path to strengthen our faith. And, it keeps us humble. Remain faithful. Remain grateful. His blessings are all around us. We will worship together again, soon.
We want to thank everyone who during this time of virtual services kept tithing. Giving has not slowed up. Cathy reported the treasury is still strong.
Because of the generosity of an anonymous donor we are able to purchase a camera and have it professionally installed in order to continue the virtual church services after the restrictions are relaxed. This way, when one of us cannot make it to church because of illness, work, vacation, etc., we can still join the congregation for service.
As most of you probably figured, the building renovations have been on hold and will remain so for the near future. Once we get our services going again, we can slowly begin to return to full normalcy.
Thank you all for your patience and your prayers. Not just for the consistory but for each other. Prayer is a powerful weapon and it should not be used sparingly. The consistory will meet again on June 4 and I will send a note by June 5 with information from that meeting. Please, remember we will need some volunteers in the coming weeks. Pray about what gifts you will be able to give. God bless each and every one of you.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
WHO WE ARE
This month’s Jottings features Birch and Cathy Snider of New Enterprise.
Birch is the son of the late Bernard Snider and Betty Dittmar Snider. He has attended St. John’s all his life. His sisters are Beth Clark, Berneta Gable and Barbara Yoder, and his brother is Bernard “Tweet” Snider.
Birch was raised on the Snider Homestead Farm and graduated from Northern Bedford School District. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, including combat duty in Vietnam. He worked for New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. for 45 years, retiring in 2014.
Birch enjoys walking daily and hunting with his sons and grandsons. Prior to suffering a stroke in February 2016, Birch enjoyed singing and spoke publicly a high school Veterans’ Day programs and at the dedication of the South Woodbury Township Veterans Memorial. He is limited in these activities now but remains a very determined and active person. He is active in the Bedford County Vietnam Veterans Association and he sings with the Cove Community Chorus. He also serves on the board of the New Enterprise water supply service.
Birch has a great love for the Lord, his country and his family.
Cathy is the daughter of the late Charles and Jean Taylor. She was born in Philipsburg, Pa., and has four brothers and two sisters. She attended Glendale School District and graduated from Northern Bedford County School District. She retired from the NBC schools in 2016 as transportation director.
Cathy started attending St. John’s at the age of 12 when her family moved to Loysburg. She also attended youth group gatherings. In her own words, she says, “I love the Lord and love being a mother and grandmother.” She also loves to read and belongs to the Everett Book Club, which she enjoys very much. Cathy is a deacon at St. John’s and has served as church treasurer since 1995.
Birch and Cathy were married on May 29, 1971. They are parents of four children — Julie Cessna, Brandon (Colleen), Kristi Musselman (Nathan), and Jan (Lainie). They have 10 grandchildren — Chase Cessna; Allie, Brooks, Eion and Nolin Snider; Andrea, Mason and Greyson Musselman; and Alexandra and Maddox Snider.
Birch and Cathy keep busy helping with their grandchildren and attending all their various activities. The couple enjoys taking their family on beach trips, and to Deep Creek and the Outer Banks. They have traveled with Birch’s work friends and other friends to Alaska, Yosemite, Utah, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Key West, Myrtle Beach and other destinations.
Cathy concludes: “We feel very blessed to be a part of St. John’s family.”
NO DATE YET FOR RECYCLING RESUMPTION
The Bedford County Conservation District suspended its recycling collection program in South Woodbury Township and elsewhere in the county in mid-March. No date has been set for the program to re-start, but a spokesman at the Bedford office said “probably some time in June.” The collection bins have been removed from the township office area and will be brought back when the program resumes. Folks driving by the township office will be able to see the bins.
Fierce Contagion Not to be Taken Lightly
Our Consistory is prayerfully considering when and how to reopen our church safely.
When that time comes, we will need to be vigilant, doing all we can to not spread this virus.
Wearing a facemask is a gift we give to others so we don't spread the virus if we have it and don't know it. Those who for medical reasons cannot wear a mask are exempt.
In a recent message I cited information from an article by Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D. in epidemiology, Professor of Biology at U Mass Dartmouth: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them
His very informative article explains how infection is the sum of exposure to the virus plus time. One example: if you are in a room where an infected person sneezes – without a mask – as many as 200 Million viral particles go everywhere. Some virus hangs in the air, some falls onto surfaces, most falls to the ground. So if you are face-to-face with a person, having a conversation, and that person sneezes or coughs straight at you, your risk of infection is very high. But even if that cough or sneeze was not directed at you, some infected droplets--the smallest of small--can hang in the air for a few minutes. All you have to do is enter that room within a few minutes of the cough/sneeze and take a few breaths.
But if we all dutifully wear masks, don't cough or sneeze, breathing itself releases respiratory droplets that over time, say 50 minutes, could reach the level where one could be infected. Again, infection is the sum of exposure to the virus plus time.
Speaking increases the spread tenfold. Anyone you spend 5-10 minutes or more talking face to face is potentially infected. Singing spreads even more. This is why anyone with any symptoms needs to stay home.
Dr. Bromage says at least 44% of spread is from asymptomatic persons – who have no indication they have been infected.
This virus typically takes 14 days to run its course. Cases of severe symptoms running much longer – in otherwise healthy, younger persons are now being studied. On the other hand, others test positive but the virus has little to no adverse effect. I am sobered by how complex is this reality.
Doctors I know personally who are dealing with infected patients where the spread is happening describe a fierce contagion that is not to be taken lightly. Corona Virus Task Force members at the White House exposed to the virus, while testing negative, are self-quarantining. Their abundance of caution says more to me than anything else.
Here in Bedford County, we've been rather insulated from the virus' spread.
I understand how urgent that is for people's businesses and livelihoods – as well as our emotional health. But I am sobered by the realization that when this virus does come our way – we must be vigilant. We need to be smart, take the necessary precautions seriously, go the second mile to support local small businesses and protect the most vulnerable from this very serious virus. That may sound like a "both-and" – because it is. We must always hold those two realities in tension, thinking more about the well-being of others over ourselves is how we will get through this situation. Think of others over self [Phil 2:3]. We turn to God – in prayer, not as a cop out, but because He is the source of true wisdom, He knows what we don't know. He is able to lead us through this pandemic, give us peace and assurance as social distancing takes a very real emotional toll on every human being – we were not made to be apart like this.
Unlike a flood or hurricane that we anticipate, it comes, then you clean up afterward. As bad as that may be, we face this crisis that we are still waiting to hit – 8+ weeks later. Our nervous systems are poised to respond to a crisis that doesn't come, doesn't come, and it takes a real toll on us in so many ways.
Consider this: one description of trauma is simply too much or too little for too long.
Our nervous system's readiness to face this crisis wears us out after awhile. All that impacts our thoughts and sense of well-being, leading to any number of conditions: the most common being low mood, (not depression, but low mood) and irritability.
You may have noticed that in yourself or someone close by. Be kind. We need to help each other through this ordeal. We need to humbly and prayerfully look to God to guide us and show us the way forward.