An Opportunity to Turn Trial into Gold
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4
I chuckled when Andy Crouch posted: "Honestly hadn't planned on giving up quite this much for Lent." Social distancing, including not being able to gather for worship, Sunday school or Bible study, has made this a season of sacrifice, whether we planned to give up something for Lent or not. This, coupled with the cancellation of school and the closing of businesses not deemed "life-sustaining" poses real hardships for many. We have much to learn about how to best weather this pandemic as we monitor the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for reliable information. As a church, we have opportunity to turn this trial into gold to glorify God and further His Kingdom.
While I miss gathering as a church, the truth is the church is so much more than what takes place on Sunday morning at 1698 Woodbury Pike. You are the church; we are the church. Even sequestered in our homes, we have the internet, phones, texting and U. S. Mail to reach out to others with words of encouragement and hope as we share the love and Good News of Christ.
Such times of testing tend to squeeze out of us our most genuine selves. When we express ourselves in ways not consistent with the fruit of God's Holy Spirit, recognize that is an opportunity to draw near to God in repentant faith and learn of Him. God puts us through times of testing to purify us and to strengthen our faith. Faith is like a muscle. When it gets stressed to its limit, it actually grows stronger, not weaker. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 the Apostle Paul reflects on overwhelming affliction he experienced earlier. He writes, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Paul says “this happened” for a purpose, that God was in every grueling moment to work a larger, deeper purpose in his (our) growth to spiritual maturity.
As we remain vigilant, allow God to transform the deepest part of your being. Our fears and our flailings tend to provide a clue where we have misplaced our trust. Such work in one’s deep heart is neither easy nor quick. Allow God access to lead you into a place of profound healing, reconciliation and freedom. Then, reach out in Christ’s love to bless someone who needs a word of encouragement.
Because Christ is Lord of all,
Dave Meckley, Pastor
WORSHIP ON LINE
St. John’s members can keep up with Pastor Dave’s sermons if they have Internet service. Beginning March 29 the Sunday worship will be available by 9:30 a.m. on the Dave Meckley Facebook page and also on the church website (www.sjrcl.org), where he will post a video of the message/service.
This is in addition to the audio version he has posted weekly for years. To tune in on the church website, click on a newly added “Live Stream” option on the home page to find the video. This and the audio version should be available at any time after the 9:30 posting.
Look up the Scripture lesson in your own Bible in advance. The March 29 scripture will be Isaiah 32, and the pastor’s message is titled “True and Lasting Security.” If the church is still closed through April, the services -- at least the sermons, scripture readings and pastoral prayers, will be available on line.
We also have added online giving. Click the "Give" tab on the Home Page and follow the prompts. You may pay by credit card or through a bank account. Thanks for your faithful support during this time of separation!
What’s Planned for Good Friday, Easter
Despite the possibility/probability they will be canceled, Pastor Dave has made plans for a service at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 10, and Easter Sunday. For the Good Friday service the pastor is recruiting four lay readers to read the Passion Narrative from Matthew’s Gospel. Besides a message by the pastor, there will be hymns and special music marking the day that Christ was crucified.
Also planned is a sunrise service at 8 a.m. Easter Sunday in the pavilion, weather permitting, or in the fellowship hall. This will be followed by a breakfast served by the guild. The guild’s solicitation sheet for the meal has been filled. The committee consists of Peggy Ritchey, Barb Thomas, Kim Rodgers, Molly Shirk, Linda Henderhan and Cindy Johnson.
The Easter worship at 9:30 a.m. will include communion in the pews. Both the Good Friday and Easter services will be available on Facebook and the church website if the congregation is still unable to meet in the church.
Update: Due to "Social Distancing" Pastor Dave will not bring lay readers together for the Good Friday service. He will share a message focusing on how God did not remain aloof, but came near in Jesus Christ to share our suffering and sorrow - and died to free us from our greatest need.
VBS: Tracking Down One True God
This year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) will be Answers in Genesis’ “Mystery Island: Tracking Down the One True God.”
Bible school is set for June 7 through 11. The curriculum features a full schedule for five nights so at our first meeting we decided to have the closing on Sunday, June 14, so as not to have to sacrifice any of the content for time’s sake. We met for our first planning session on March 1 after Sunday school and had several volunteers, but still need many more volunteers. Some particular areas for which helpers are needed are crafts, snacks, missions, and assembly leader. For further details about what each of these areas entails, please talk to Joy Nelson, call/text her at
814-931-4543 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All areas of Bible school are clearly and thoroughly mapped out in the curriculum books, so don’t be afraid to help because you don’t feel creative or can’t come up with ideas—all the ideas and plans are already laid out for you!
I am looking forward to a great VBS this summer. May God use us to bring glory to His majestic name and draw many children to Himself. What an opportunity this can be for His kingdom!
--Submitted by Joy Nelson, Bible School Director
Baby Joins Howes, Church Family
The Andre and Katrina Howe family has welcomed a new baby into their family at Guyer Corner, New Enterprise RD.
Preston Christian Howe was born at 1:21 p.m. Saturday, March 14, 2020, at UPMC Altoona. He weighed 10 lbs., 11.5 oz. and measured 20.75 inches long.
Preston has two sisters, Harper, 4, and Bristol, 2.
Mrs. Howe expressed regret that other family members and friends cannot visit the infant due to the Coronavirus distancing requirements.
Grandparents are Fritz and Nancy Frey of Drumore, Pa., and Doug and Jenny Howe of Downingtown, Pa.
4th Boy for Edwards Family
Josiah Benjamin was born March 12 at Conemaugh Nason Medical Center, the fourth son of Heather (Rupp) and Jack Edwards of Williamsburg.
At birth Josiah weighed 6 lbs. and 15 oz. and was 19 inches long.
His brothers are Noah, 8; Isaiah, 6; and Elijah, 4.
Grandparents are Ellen Swope of Roaring Spring RD and the late John Boyd Rupp; and Patty and Melvin Edwards of Williamsburg.
Egg Hunt Set for 1 p.m. Saturday, April 11, If...
St John’s will again host an Easter Egg Hunt for church children and other youngsters in the community, provided restrictions on gatherings are lifted by April 11. It will be held at 1 p.m. on that date, the Saturday before Easter.
Our high school students are asked to come to hide the eggs.
Church members have been asked to please pick up empty plastic eggs from the church basement and fill them with candy or small toys. At least 30 dozen eggs should be available for the hunt.
There will be crafts and a short period of devotions preceding the hunt and snacks and drinks after it.
Mother-Daughter Gathering: ‘A Taste of Home’
The guild’s annual mother-daughter banquet this year will be “A Taste of Home” with those attending asked to bring a favorite dish to share. There will be no charge, but reservations must be made before April 24 to allow the committee time to order the main dish, fried chicken, and plan seating arrangements.
The dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2, in the fellowship hall. The guild will provide fried chicken, table settings and drinks. Ladies attending are asked to bring a favorite dish — casserole, vegetable, salad, fruit or dessert — to share a taste of their kitchen! “Each of us is created as part of the body of Christ. We all bring a certain ‘flavor’ to our families and church families,” said a committee member. “Please join us as we celebrate together God’s plan for families.”
Committee members are Tina Gojeski, Beverly Smith and Barb Thomas.
March Guild Canceled; April Meeting in Question
St. John’s Women’s Guild canceled its March 20 meeting due to the COVID-19 restrictions on assemblies. Peggy Ritchey and Kim Rodgers will save their portrayal of two Old Testament women for a later meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 17 but could be canceled, depending when restrictions are lifted. Scheduled to lead the program is Tina Gojeski. Hostesses are to be Sandy Styer, Peg Wachter and Molly Shirk.
A possible hoagie sale in April has been put on hold pending developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
"I preach as though Christ was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today, and was coming back tomorrow." --Martin Luther
Virus Rules Out Corporate Worship
The Coronavirus has put a hamper on many people in the country and that includes the Cove. We have had to cancel services since our leaders have instructed us to stay in our homes and not meet in groups larger than 10 people. After much prayer, thought, consideration and more prayer it was decided to cancel church services for March 22 and 29. The pastor has been able to live stream sermons on his Face Book page and as always there is an audio stream on the church’s website, sjrcl.org.
In the event that we can have holiday services (pray hard we can, please) we will have a Service of Lessons and hymns on Good Friday. Easter Sunday will begin with our annual sunrise service, followed by a breakfast and time of fellowship. Easter Communion will be held in the pews and Sunday School will be held following the Easter service. Unfortunately, this is all subject to change and we will try to keep you informed through the church’s face book page and the prayer chain.
Consistory met the evening of March 12 and again at 10 a.m. on March 20. Neal and Ryan Salyards attended the earlier meeting, presenting the idea of setting up a book table to introduce and educate those who wish on Reformed belief systems, the heritage of the Reformed Church, and what it means to be a member of the Reformed faith. A committee consisting of Neal, Pastor Dave, and David Snyder will begin the process of book selection at their earliest convenience.
The consistory met with architects from SSE (Systems & Structural Engineering) on Friday March 20 to review the progress of our possible addition. Once again, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into the process as we have to wait for various local, county and state agencies to open before the next steps are taken. Brad Gable will check on the deeds of our property to determine if surveying needs to be done because there may be a property line between the church and parsonage. Our largest potential hurdle is the state possibly requiring us to put in an elevator for accessibility. If that is the case it could be a deal breaker as the cost to put in an elevator will be a minimum of $100,000. SSE will apply for a variance for the elevator. Pictures were taken of the basement where water comes in during heavy storms. These will be presented to the contractor who will submit a proposal to correct the problem with a drainage system around the walls. At this time all planning for the addition is suspended until further notice.
As it is across the country, it was election day at the meeting! A motion was made by David Snyder and Brad Gable that the current consistory officers be retained. That motion was carried. The consistory officers for the coming year are: Joel Ritchey, president; David Snyder, vice president; Cathy Snider, treasurer; and Beth Clark, secretary. We also welcomed Chris Kurtz to his first meeting. Chris is a good addition to the church’s board.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 9 at 7 p.m. but could be postponed due to COVID-19.
Submitted by Joel Ritchey, Consistory President
Homewood Auxiliary Cancels Spring Meeting
The Homewood Auxiliary canceled its spring meeting, which was scheduled for March 20, due to the effort to stop the spread of COVID19 infection. At approximately the same time Homewood closed its doors to visitors for the duration of the danger to residents. Friends of residents are encouraged to use the telephone to keep in touch.
As a public service announcement, this graph from the CDC shows the value of our social distancing sacrifices to "flatten the curve" of the spread of this virus so cases do not exceed healthcare capacity.
The red, spiked curve is closer to what Italy and now Spain and NYC are experiencing by enacting such limitations too late.
We in the USA are still early on the curve. Time will tell how we fare. Prayer and vigilance are important to care for all of us.
The first known case in Wuhan happened on December 27.
The first known case in the U.S. occurred on January 15
when a Washington resident returned home from Wuhan.
Comparison of Ohio's early separation measures with Louisiana