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January 2024 Newsletter

The Mystery: God Himself Lives in Us

To make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:25b-27 ESV


The apostle Paul describes his ministry to the church as the work of a servant, committing himself fully to caring for the church’s welfare. Paul is a servant of the church, but more to the point, a steward of God. His purpose was to make the word of God fully known – to make clear the true nature of the Gospel as God’s provision of salvation and reconciliation through Jesus Christ.

Paul refers to the "word of God" as a "mystery", using a religious word of the day that refers to truth undiscoverable except by divine revelation. Paul uses this word, "mystery" numerous times. In 1 Corinthians 2:7 he refers to a secret and hidden wisdom of God that is distinct from the sic wisdom of this age, which won't endure. He goes on to describe the essential work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers to spiritually discern God's ways amidst the ways of this world that can lead us astray. In any case, this "mystery" is actually an “open secret”, in that what once was hidden has now been fully revealed in the Gospel of our crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

What is cause for celebration is that God freely shares the riches of the glory of this mystery with anyone open to receive it by faith – even the most unlikely (Gentile heathens). These are glorious riches, inexhaustible treasures of goodness, wisdom and grace. As we consider what all we have in Christ, we will continue to discover something more that will take our breath away! The very fact that we, Gentile believers, previously excluded from God’s covenant promise, are actually recipients of God’s redeeming love and new life in Christ! We are adopted into God's family! The Triune God Himself lives in us! The indwelling Holy Spirit assures us of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 2:13-14).

The start of the New Year is an opportunity to plan ways to listen to God's Word, read Scripture and study our Bibles to discover more of the glorious riches that are ours in Christ. My prayer is that our lives will bear more fruit for His glory, be a blessing to our neighbors and give compelling evidence to the world that we are Christ's followers by the love we share with others.

Because He lives,

Dave Meckley, Pastor

Five Jolly Carolers Sing for 11 Shut-ins

Five jolly carolers enjoyed singing Tuesday evening, Dec. 19, for 11
shut-ins. The carolers were: Deb Bowser, Pastor Dave and Pergamene
Meckley, Beverly Smith and Barb Thomas. 

The shut-ins, who were invited to sing-along, were Dave and Amy
Snyder, Joanne Hall, Mavra Cottle, Dr. Paul and Linda Manuel, Charlie
Mountain, Peg Wachter, Wayne Karaites, Patty Clapper and Peg Crawford.

Cookie plates were distributed, along with Christmas cards and calendars for those who hadn’t already received theirs. A nice time was had by




Calling All Women — Secret Sisters to Be Revealed

All women are encouraged to attend the first Women’s Guild meeting of
2024 on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

Outgoing president Barb Thomas will install the newly elected 2024 officers in their two- year terms with a brief but symbolic candlelight service.

Donna Smeltzer has the program. Secret Sisters for last year will be
revealed and new ones drawn for 2024. Secret Sister forms are available
on welcome table. The rules are simple—encouraging prayers and cards
throughout the year and a birthday and Christmas present valued at $5-
10. Anything more is generous abundance!

If you are unable to attend the Jan. 12 meeting but would like to participate, please fill out a form and submit it to Barb Thomas or Kim Rodgers

before the meeting date. It is such a fun way to bless a sister-in-Christ!

The guild officers will hostess the first meeting of the new year. We look
forward to all God has in store for us in service, worship and fellowship.
Please join us, ladies!

Soloists in the choir’s presentation of “Luke the Musical” on the evening of
Dec. 17 included (left to right) Lauren Sell, singing Mary; Beverly Smith, singing Elizabeth; Mark Sell, singing Joseph; David Snyder, singing Simeon; Brad Gable, singing Gabriel; and Dennis Hold
erbaum, singing Zachariah.

Many Hear New Christmas Musical

St. John’s sanctuary on the evening of Dec. 17 was filled with new music based on the description of Christ’s birth in the Book of Luke. The cantata was composed and directed by Lorie LaSala, who also accompanied the 15-voice choir with violin. Barb Thomas played the piano and Ethan Hess,
played the trumpet.

Bruce LaSala served as narrator, and other spoken parts were by
Kimberly Rodgers and Cindy Johnson (in left photo above). Children served as 
shepherds while the choir sang of shepherds and angels.

The program concluded with a message by Pastor David Mark
Meckley based on the musical. (next page)

Pastor’s Message at Conclusion of Cantata

As I scan the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story, Simeon is the only one I see who was actually looking for the Christ child to come. He is an inspiring figure who was anointed with the Holy Spirit – at a time when that was still quite unusual, although the Holy Spirit and the Angel
Gabriel have been especially active (here) the last year or so – among this most unsuspecting cast of characters. Simeon was told, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.

While Conventional Wisdom held this Son of David would be a warrior king who would restore the nation of Israel to its former civic and military glory and supremacy, Simeon recognizes in this newborn child God's salvation – not only for the nation, but also as a light to the Gentiles. This

Christ child's coming is truly "Joy to the World!"

His coming will shake things up. Brace yourself. Your heart will not only be broken, but the hearts of everyone will in fact be revealed. For God's Messiah to truly bring salvation – to you, to me, to anyone – we need to take an honest inventory of our hearts, and see, no matter how much
"better" we think we are than others, we still need a Savior – I need a Savior.

It is that openness, humility that allows God's Savior to come through these other unsuspecting individuals:

Zechariah, even as a priest in the Most Holy Place in God's temple was not prepared for the divine encounter he experienced there – he was slow to appreciate the power of God to do the impossible.

Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised – and relieved of her disgrace of being childless in that culture. She was such an encouragement to Mary – who was also surprised, and a bit mystified about being the virgin mother of God's Messiah. When Mary said "Yes" to God, it was a costly yes.

Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy relieved her disgrace, but for Mary it was just the opposite.

Then we have Joseph who was utterly blindsided by all this. Again, we see his integrity and humility – even when he thinks the worst. By faith he believes God, and accepts the public disgrace this will cost him.

Charles Spurgeon, that brilliant British preacher, offers the lesson here for all of us, "Oh, how we ought to rejoice in Him, whatever our union with Him may cost us!"

God's Word to us, as we reflect on Christ's coming afresh this Advent and Christmas season, is the angel's repeated instruction to each: "Do not be afraid." As we mingle with various people in the days and weeks ahead, be aware that

God is still pursuing those He created in His image. While so many are "post-Christian" in their thinking and lifestyle, there remains this God-shaped void in every human heart. Thomas Merton said it so well,

"Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all,
Christ comes – uninvited."

                                                       —Pastor David Mark Meckley

Volunteers who sorted Christmas cards from the church postage-free box for distribution to folks on Dec. 17 met in the church basement Dec. 16 and also filled treat bags for distribution the next day. The volunteers are (front, left to right) Kim Rodgers, Janie Russell, Barb Thomas, Josephine Garman, and Linda Henderhan; (back row) PeggyAnne and Dave Meckley, Grayson and Steve Rodgers, Cathy Snider, Berneta Gable and Julie Russell with son Greg III.

Annual Congregational Meeting To Be Held Sunday, Jan. 28

St. John’s will hold its annual congregational meeting on Sunday, Jan. 28. Worship and Sunday School times will be reversed that morning, and a fellowship carry-in meal will be served at noon.


The meeting will take place following the meal in the fellowship hall.
All members are encouraged to attend.

Election of an elder and a deacon will take place, and a 2024 budget will be adopted.


St. John’s Children Present Christmas Program

Children in the Sunday School classes at St. John’s presented a pro-
gram of songs and recitations to the adult Sunday School members and

visitors during the Sunday School hour on Dec. 17.

The sanctuary was filled with parents, grandparents, friends and other
relatives of the youngsters, who were led by their teachers and Lorie
LaSala, song leader.


Following the 20-minute program, the children met in their classrooms

for a short lesson and received a bag of treats to take home. Each bag contained an orange, a popcorn ball, a candy cane and miscellaneous candies.

Teachers include Beth Clark, Joy Nelson, PeggyAnne Meckley, Sarah
Gunnett and assistants.


Many of the children attend worship with their parents before the
Sunday School hour and sit up front for a “Children’s Moment.” Often
there are 15-20 children in church for the “Moment” and hear a story

Guild Enjoyed Many Dec. Events; Ready for New Year

The Women’s Guild closed out 2023 with many wonderful events.
We had a beautiful evening at our ladies Christmas Party on Dec. 1. We are very grateful to Cindy Johnson, Marsie Albright, her daughter and their niece for a delicious meal and a wonderful program about bells and the legacy of love and faith given to them by their mother and grandmother, Miriam Mellott. We were sorry the third lady on the committee, Peg Wachter, was ill and couldn’t attend, and deeply missed the fourth, Peggy Ritchey. The gifts exchanged were shown to all, adding to our sweet fellowship.

Women’s Guild 2024 schedules were distributed to all ladies with the
Church Family Christmas cards. All ladies are members of the guild by association as part of our church family. We invite you to come when and if you can, supporting the efforts of our new officers, Beverly, Tina, Julie, Lauren, Beth and Marsie, with your prayers. Our regular programs are led by designated ladies to offer spiritual encouragement, personal help, and to help us grow in faith and confidence for all God calls us to do in our homes, church, jobs and careers, and throughout our communities.

Hostesses take turns providing food with fellowship time. We received $230 in donations to Hoffman Homes to purchase gifts for those residents unable to leave the facility for Christmas. We gathered a great variety of items on our downstairs tree to be divided between the Veterans Home in Hollidaysburg and the NB Food Bank for local families.


We provided a beautiful buffet of refreshments following the Dec. 17
Christmas program. Many thanks to all who donated and helped. Best wishes to our entire church family in 2024.


–—Respectfully submitted, outgoing pres. Barb Thomas

Volunteers Needed for Greeters

Before the COVID-19 pandemic our church had no shortage of volunteers for greeter each Sunday. However, no one has been volunteering lately and Elder Joel

Ritchey has faithfully filled the gap. 

It is time for others to sign up for this duty. We take pride in being a welcoming church, but we need someone to come early each Sunday to welcome those who
arrive, offer them a bulletin and, if any visitors arrive, get their names and addresses, write this down and turn it in to the consistory so that they may be contacted later and thanked for coming. If we had four or five sign-up in advance,
that would cover us for a month.


Grayson Rodgers, Janie Russell, and Sole Rhoat

Jan. 14 — Beth Clark
Jan. 28 — Laurie Stiless


Jan. 7 – Choir
Jan. 14 – Jordan Rhoat
Jan. 21 – Mark and Lauren Sell

Jan. 28 – Laurie Stiles

Need a Directory Update?

If you have changes to your contact information for our Church Directory or need a copy, please reach out to Julie Russell in person; via cell

814-414-1100; or email her at:

Food Pantry January Requests
Gravy Mixes
Personal Care Items
Cleaning Items
Paper Products

Lions Set Brunch, Pizza

The Cove Lions Club will hold Sunday Brunch Jan . 7, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. or sold out at the Lions Building in Loysburg.
Cost for the all-you-can-eat brunch is $13 for ham, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries, sausage gravy, biscuits, pork puddings, pancakes, buckwheat cakes, toast, fresh fruits, juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and milk.

The club’s Wing Night will be Friday, Jan 13, from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
at the same location. Cost will be $15 for all-you-can-eat from nine
flavors of wings, fresh cut fries, baked beans and apple sauce.


The club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

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