"Unbind Him and Let Him Go!"
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” – John 11:43-44
Perhaps the second-most climactic of all Jesus' miracles was when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus' own resurrection from the dead is the most significant. Jesus raising Lazarus marks a deliberate transition in Jesus' mission.
Jesus knows that His "hour" is drawing near, as He delays in coming to visit his friend Lazarus. Unlike His earlier miracles, Jesus wants this to be witnessed by as many people as possible. Previously, when He raised Jairus' daughter (Mark 5, Luke 8), He sent the crowds away. With only a select few He brought the child back to life – then ordered them to tell no one about it. But here Jesus comes after Lazarus is in the tomb, yet while many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother (vs. 19). Instead of sending the crowds away, Jesus prays out loud for the benefit of the people standing around. He prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (vs. 41-42).
Because Lazarus was already dead four days when Jesus arrived, all hope had dissipated. Martha and Mary each greeted their friend Jesus with the touching words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). Jesus loved Martha, and Mary and Lazarus (vs. 5) and does for them more than they imagined possible.
Jesus' public display of His power over death reminds me of a pattern of Old Testament duels between YHWH and foreign gods. In Egypt, Moses and Aaron demonstrated superior miracles before Pharaoh and his priests. Elijah on Mt Carmel called down the fire of God to the dismay of the prophets of Baal as all Israel watched. Jesus entered Bethany and approached Lazarus' tomb to reveal His Messianic power and identity to the world.
But notice, while Jesus restoring Lazarus back to life again is beyond amazing, Jesus gave instructions to those nearby, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Lazarus was alive, thanks to Jesus' miracle-working power. But he still needed help getting unbound by his grave clothes. This is a word for believers today. Jesus is our Savior, our life is in Him. Yet, we need those around us – the church – to help unbind us from the residue of our past. We need each other in practical ways as we struggle with temptation. Through encouragement, prayer, spiritual disciplines and mutual fellowship we can help each other to live more fully the new life Christ gives. Christ raises us to new life. Our ability to experience that new life is supplied by the gifts of Christ's Body – the church.
Growing with you in Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Bible Study meets the first and third Sundays of the month.
In February we meet February 4 and 18 at 6 pm.
We will resume our study in John 12:16ff.
Sunday School Plans for Valentines, Souper Bowl St.
John’s Sunday School kids will once again be celebrating Valentines Day with their classes. Each class will be having its own party, and be sharing valentines with one another. It’s always a fun event for the kids and teachers alike as we take the time to celebrate and show each other that we care. It’s a great time to remember that “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The parties will be held during the Sunday School hour on Feb. 11. Lists of names for the valentines will be sent home with the children in the weeks prior. We always encourage everyone to keep it simple and not let it be a burden. It’s up to each family if they want to pass valentines out for each child listed or just for their child’s classmates. If for some reason you did not receive the list of names, or if there is a correction needed for it, please reach out to Sarah Gunnett ASAP. (email@example.com)
Souper Bowl, Chili Cookoff Feb. 11
Again this year the Sunday School will be collecting cans of soup from Feb. 4 until Feb. 11, which has been designated as Souper Bowl Sunday.
There will be a competition among all Sunday School classes to see which class can bring in the most cans of soup. All of it will be given to the Northern Food Pantry, and the class that wins the competition will be rewarded with a prize.
That same day, Feb. 11, all who are able are invited to remain after Sunday School to sample home-made soups and chilis. This will be our third annual chili cook off. Individuals and couples are invited to prepare a pot of chili or home-made soup to share and be judged for a prize.
––Information submitted by Sarah Gunnett and Deborah Bowser
Community Group will defer to the Feb 11 Chili Cook-off
Cove Lions Club Sets Sun. Brunch, Wing Night
The Cove Lions Club will hold Sunday Brunch on Feb. 4 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, Feb. 9, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the same location. Cost will be $16 for all-you-can-eat of nine flavors of wings, fresh cut fries, baked beans and apple sauce. For take-outs, a full meal costs $16 or a dozen wings only for $1.
Lenten Communion February 18
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14. The first Sunday in Lent is February 18. We will celebrate communion during our 9:30 am worship service.
Parsonage Roof, Furnace Problems Faced By Consistory;
Matt Nelson Named Elder
The Consistory met on Jan. 11, 2024, in the copy room of the church. The first order of business was the passing a proposed budget to present at the Congregational Meeting on Jan. 28.
Which reminds me, our annual Congregational Meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Jan. 28 in the fellowship hall of the church. Sunday School we be held at 9:30 and the church service at 10:45. As we have done in the past we will share a meal together at noon in celebration of our church family. We have much to discuss and some decisions to make so we are encouraging everyone to attend.
The consistory has heard of the plight of two young people in our school district. Quinton Morrow is an 8th grader at NBC and has been diagnosed swith Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumors. After an MRI on Dec. 9 he was rushed to Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his spinal cord which was causing weakness when walking. He and his mother, Jen remain in Pittsburgh at the Ronald McDonald House while he is receiving radiation treatment through early February. Jen is asking for suggestions about devotionals they can use to help them through these difficult times. Quinton lives with his parents, Jen and Josh and has two brothers, Malachi and Isaiah. The family is very involved in various school activities and organizations.
TJ Helsel is a 7th grader at Northern Bedford and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this past fall. He is currently receiving outpatient chemotherapy and is able to be at home between treatments. He lives with his mother Kim and sister Livi.
The Consistory voted to donate $500.00 to each family but more importantly we are requesting fervent prayers that each child is healed and the Lord’s comfort and peace be with the families. Addresses for cards are as follows:
c/o Ronald McDonald House Home Address:
451 44th St. Room 603 333 North Snyder Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15201 Hopewell PA 16650
5634 Churchview Rd
Loysburg PA 16659
Christmas season has wound down and well, don’t relax too much because Ash Wednesday this year is on February 14 which means Easter is early this year and is March 31. Last year we celebrated Maundy Thursday which means this year we will have a Good Friday service. Details will follow in the upcoming months.
The parsonage is beginning to show it’s age. We are replacing the roof on the house and fixing the hole that is in the current roof. The writing of this story was delayed after we discovered we also need to replace the furnace and the oil tank in the house. It has been temporarily fixed so the Meckley’s can have some heat but that is only a quick fix to tide us over. We have received a bid from Waltower and will be pursuing a bid from Martin Oil as soon as possible.
When you see Matt Nelson this week extend a hand of congratulations. The Consistory appointed Matt to fill the Elder vacancy on the board that has been open for the past year. Matt is a faithful follower of our Lord and very deserving of the position.
Some of the items to discuss at the annual meeting include but are not limited to the shelving in the basement, feedback on a proposed weekend retreat this coming fall at Camp Mantowagon, an increase of our support for the CCCC, and the election of new officers to the Consistory. The Consistory will next meet on March 14, 2024.
--Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
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 cell814-414-1100;or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guild Installs New Officers; Hears Program on Weeds
St. John’s Women’s Guild met on Friday Jan. 12, for a pleasant evening of fellowship, 13 in attendance. Barb Thomas performed the new officer installation with a brief description of their positions and lit a candle for each. Lorie LaSala presented a program — “Weeds- love them or Love them”. She gave an overview of different types of weeds, their medicinal value, as well as nutritional uses. Lorie stressed ensuring the proper identification of herbs and weeds before use. Lorie challenged the group to eat 30 different types/species of plants (greens, fruits, vegetables, legumes, coffee, grains, herbs, spices) in a week, which helps to balance the body’s digestive health. Lorie brought some samples of teas, balms and syrups she created, and passed them along for the group to sample.
Beverly Smith conducted her first business meeting as the new President of the Women’s Guild. Varieties of topics were discussed including Prayer Mentors, Update to the Prayer Chain, Upcoming Chili Cook Off, and possible fundraisers for the group on 2024. Secret Sisters will continue in 2024.
The women lastly enjoyed a light meal prepared by the new officers – including ham and cheese sliders, fruit, vegetables, jello, cake and punch. The next meeting of the Women’s Guild will be on Friday Feb. 9. at 6 p.m. Beth Clark and Berneta Gable are the hostesses and PeggyAnne is leadinging the Program for February.
--Submitted by Julie Russell, secretary
Pastor’s Annual Report for 2023
Jan. 28, 2024
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. –Colossians 2:6-7
Our 175th anniversary in 2023. What a blessing to gather with over 100 people in our sanctuary in June to worship God and then share fellowship and memories together over lunch. Thanks to all who planned and prepared! David Snyder shared reflections on our history for many weeks during the Sunday school opening. I trust we all appreciate the sacrifices and devotion of those who have gone before us as we seek to maintain a faithful witness to Jesus Christ in this community and beyond until He returns.
We confirmed four young people in their Christian faith on February 19: Bella and Blaire Gable, Deegan Wertz and Ella Snyder. Ella and Deegan were also baptized. Elders Brad Gable, Joel Ritchey and Chris Kurtz participated in that service. Each confirmand received a Student Reformed Study Bible. I also conducted a study of the Heidelberg Catechism with Hunter and Chase Kagarise using Kevin DeYoung's book, “The Good News We Almost Forgot.”
Bible study resumed in the fall, meeting twice a month. I also meet with the Community Group. I facilitated a Lenten study with the Ministerium on Dale Ortlund's book, “Gentle and Lowly.”
We welcomed Jordan Rhoat into membership in our fellowship on May 7. Jordan completed the new member's class and Chris Kurtz stood with him as his Discipleship Partner. Consistory approved a letter of transfer requested by Neal and Cheryl Salyards.
We grieve the loss of Peggy Ritchey, who went home to the Lord on Sept. 26. Her warm smile and graceful leadership are fondly remembered.
We completed our preaching study in the book of Isaiah in July. I am now preaching through the Old Testament with an eye to an overview of God's Plan of Redemption. Our average worship attendance increased from 60 to 64. Sunday school average attendance grew from 43 to 47.
We held a Messianic Seder on Maundy Thursday, April 6. Easter Sunrise Service was also well attended. Vacation Bible School was a good experience for 50 students plus leaders and helpers, including an outreach to Rebecca's Personal Care Home in Everett and a tour of In One Accord Ministries.
I officiated the wedding of Shane and Jennie Thomas on Sept. 9. I sang with our choir at the Thanksgiving/praise service on Nov. 12. I also shared a brief message – and the congregation actually applauded!
I serve on the CCCC Board of Directors. The CCCC celebrated its 75th Anniversary at its Annual Gathering in July. Regional Pastor Tim Dubeau preached here on Oct. 1 and met with the Consistory to discuss strategic planning. As CCCC Area Pastor, I was privileged to preach for the installation of Pastor Tim McNutt at St John's Reformed Church (CCCC) Hollidaysburg. Their search committee is a testimony to taking the time necessary when looking for a pastor.
I continue to coordinate Religious Release Time for students at NBC Elementary School. Many of these children have no church; in fact, some of them enthusiastically call Religious Release Time their church! A number of high school students are now assisting with this. Our prayer is that the Gospel we share, the songs we sing, the love we model will stick with these children as they grow and mature and make life decisions.
The Ministerium's rapport with the NBC school administration is continually enriched. The administration has asked to be included in our devotional time together and lately we have been sharing prayer concerns. Outreach to the local schools is expanding, from prayer and devotions with sports teams, to providing meals for teams before away games, and snacks for the After School program.
These are opportunities to share the love of Christ with our community. In this era when church attendance is down in this country, churches are closing, and many people don't even have church on their radar as something to even consider, God is at work in Northern Bedford County!
The Annual Prayer Walk and See You at the Pole events, that used to draw a dozen or two students, now are attended by 100 or more participants of all ages! God hears and answers prayer. There are student Bible studies in the high school and now also in the middle school that are growing, as well as several "Fifth Quarter" events after sporting events that include activities and a Gospel presentation. God is on the move – in our schools, in our community – and you are a part of that! Continue to watch, pray, encourage and celebrate. Get involved. Say "Yes!" to the next opportunity you can do something to serve someone in Jesus' Name. God is using His people to turn the tide of secularism. He is turning hearts back to the Lover of our Souls – Jesus Christ.
Growing with you, In Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Pastor Dave will be attending the CCCC Board of Directors Meetings from Monday, February 5 – Thursday, February 8.