Can We Recapture Face-to-Face Interaction?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
There is an epidemic of loneliness and lack of connection affecting about half of U.S. adults – that was before the pandemic. Serious health conditions, including a 29% increased risk of heart disease; a 32% increased risk of stroke; and in older adults, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia. These health risks have been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes per day! Over 60% of those aged 18-25 reported high levels of loneliness. The U. S. Surgeon General noted, "we live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”
This is a situation that has been decades in the making. Back in 1995 Robert Putnam published an essay discussing ways Americans had disengaged from community involvement. He noted an overall loss in membership and volunteers in civic organizations, veteran organizations, PTA, fraternal organizations like the Lions Club, and religious groups. He expanded these thoughts into a book published in 2000 entitled Bowling Alone. While bowling itself was on the increase, participation in bowling leagues dropped precipitously. This book is about more than just bowling. Putnam drew attention to a movement away from community and social interaction. Bowling Alone has become "Scrolling Alone."
Individualism is one aspect of the secularization of our society over these past decades. This has shifted people's focus from "the good of society" to “finding myself” and chasing self actualization.
Studies have shown that time spent on social media does not help people feel less lonely. I trust we've all realized posting ideas online can be met with fast and furious reactions we never anticipated. However, in-person conversations give us feedback in terms of body language, tone and personal engagement that helps us refine any exaggerated fear, distrust or prejudice. We need face-to-face interaction. Mother Teresa rightly stated that life without other people is “the worst disease any human being can ever experience.”
Our lesson in Hebrews 10 is especially relevant for us today! Evangelism may be as simple as inviting a friend, co-worker or relative to a Bible study, community group, worship or Sunday school class. This is important for all of us, as spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. It's also good for your health – and theirs!
Our Lord Jesus Christ set us an example as He lived His life on earth in relationship with others. Even before His crucifixion, He shared dinner with His rag-tag comrades who would, sadly, let Him down in His hour of trial. Yet He loved them to the end. Community isn’t idyllic; it takes effort, including patience, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Gospel is not simply a message, but also a relationship – with God, and with other believers – the Family of God. We trust Christ as our Savior. Christ is head of the church, which Scripture teaches is His Body. We are all part of the Body of Christ. While we recognize some people at church are neither relatives nor people we hang out with, we share a bond in Christ that is much deeper than other ties. We share a common hope, and have been drawn together by God's sovereign hand to "stir up one another to love and good works … encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
Growing with you in Christ,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
Missionary Couple to Visit Sept. 3
On Sunday, Sept. 3, at 10:45 a m Sunday school classes of all ages are invited to the Fellowship Hall where missionaries with Oasis Refugee Ministry will share testimonies from their mission work with refugees in Austria.
Austria is one of many European counties with mounting numbers of refugees – some escaping the war in Ukraine; others fleeing Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, still others crossing the Mediterrean Sea from northern Africa to seekabetter life.
Tina Holderbaum Becomes a Grandmother
Ashlee and Andrew McEwen of Frostburg, Md., have announced the birth of a son at 11:50 a.m. Jly 21, 2023, at UPMC Western Maryland Hospital in Cumberland. The infant weighed 7 lbs., 9 ozs. and was 19.25 inches in length.
He has been named Finnick Reid McEwen.
Grandparents are the late Michael Gojeski, Tina and Dennis Holderbaum and Sue McEwen Thompson. Ashlee McEwen grew up attending St. John’s church and Sunday School. Her mother, Tina, has been proudly showing photos of her grandson to church friends.
VBS Considered ‘Hugh Success’
Thanks to our generous volunteers, and many contributions from the congregation, this year's VBS was a huge success! We welcomed 50 children, including familiar faces and new friends from our community.
The theme was "The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross," and the children learned the four phases of the Gospel story, memorizing key lines from the book each day.
On Monday, the children learned that "God made everything, He loved everything." Then, on Tuesday, they learned, "Sin spoils things." Next, on Wednesday, they learned, "Jesus died to take my sin, so all his friends can now come in." Last, they learned, "It will be wonderful to live with him."
They also learned two songs, "All Things Bright and Beautiful," as performed by Rain for Roots, and "To God be the Glory," from Roar VBS.
On Friday, instead of presenting to our congregation and friends, we took VBS on the road. Thanks to Denny and Teresa Holderbaum, and their employer, Maxwell Transit, we were able to take all of the children and teachers on a school bus to visit the Everett community.
First, we visited Rebecca's House, a retirement facility, where the children sang their two songs and shared the phrases they had memorized throughout the week. All of the children did a wonderful job of interacting graciously and joyfully with the residents, who were all thrilled to have such energetic visitors.
Because of the church's generosity, and donations from the VBS children, we were able to donate several boxes of nonperishable snacks, men's body wash, and bedroom slippers for the residents.
Then, we went across town to In One Accord Ministries, formerly Love Inc, the recipient of the children's offering. Throughout the week, they collected $250, which we presented, in person, to Bev Patten, the executive director.
Bev gave the children a tour of the facility, explaining the ways all resources and donations are utilized to serve the local community. The children gained a necessary perspective on the direct needs in our community and the ways in which Christ followers are called to meet them.
It was the perfect end to the VBS week, during which the children were presented, in a focused setting, the complete Gospel narrative.
We look forward to continuing to learn about The Gospel throughout the coming year and to another wonderful year of VBS next year. In order to serve the number of children we expect to join us, we're asking now that additional members of the church prayerfully consider volunteering to help us next year.
With any questions, or to express interest in helping out, please contact Leah Salyards at email@example.com