This Week in Ministry

The following institutional services are arranged for and reported by United Churches of Lycoming County:

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Nippenose Valley Village, 1 p.m., the Rev. Max Furman, Antes Fort – Oriole United Methodist Charge, Jersey Shore.
County Prison, 1:45 and 3:15 p.m., Mr. Rick Douglas, Door Fellowship, Williamsport.
HCR Manor Care South, 2 p.m., Mrs. Deb Buckman, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Williamsport.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., Mrs. Phyllis Girven, Christ Episcopal Church, Williamsport.
Aristicare, 2 p.m., the Rev. David Letscher, Bethany Lutheran Church, Montoursville.
HCR Manor Care North, 2:15 p.m., Lite-Shine Ministries, Williamsport.
Rose View Center, 2:15 p.m., Ms. Janet Lawrence and Ms. Susan Shuman, New Life Wake Up Ministries, Inc., Williamsport.
Williamsport Home, 3 p.m., Mrs. Lenora Georges, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Loyalsock Township.
The Meadows, 3 p.m., the Rev. David Letscher, Bethany Lutheran Church, Montoursville.
Pre-Release Center, 3:30 p.m. Mr. Neil Smith, Door Fellowship, Williamsport, (men), Pastor Ann Runnels, Trout Run United Methodist. (women).

Services during the week include:

Presbyterian Home, 11 a.m. Thursday, the Rev. Danesta Whaley, Citychurch, Williamsport.

On the radio:

Radio Services are provided by the following congregations:
8:30 a.m. (Saturday) Jersey Shore Assembly of God, WJSA 1600 AM/96.3 FM.
8:15 a.m. (Sunday) St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, 1050 or 1600 AM 92/7 or 104.1 FM
9 a.m. (Sunday) Community Baptist Church, Montoursville, WJSA 1600 AM/96.3 FM.
11 a.m. (Sunday) Pine Street United Methodist Church, WWPA 1340 AM/101.3 FM.

Ecumenical luncheon:

United Churches Wednesday noon ecumenical lunches are held each week of the school year at Pine Street United Methodist Church, 441 Pine St. The program this Wednesday, November 20 will be presented by the Rev. Mark Brumbach, Pastor at South Williamsport United Methodist Church. Pastor Mark’s program is entitled “A Heart For Hondorus”. Each program includes a catered $6 lunch beginning at 11:45 in the church fellowship hall. Free parking is available until 1:30 in the lot north of the church. Though reservations are not needed, if you are not a regular attender it would be helpful to the caterer if you let us know you are coming by calling 570-322-1110.

Devotion line:

The United Churches telephone devotion line is available 24 hours a day by calling 570-322-5762. The devotions this week will be provided by Mrs. Gail Landers, a member of New Covenant United Church of Christ, Williamsport.

Footsteps To Follow

By The Rev. Dr. James Behrens, Pastor, Loyalsock United Methodist Charge

The Judeo-Christian faith talks about a new heaven and a new earth. Christians believe that our bodies will be made new when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and we have scriptures which foretell that God will create a new heaven and earth. One scripture that speaks about the coming of God’s kingdom on earth is Isaiah 65:17-25. It is referenced elsewhere but discussed in detail in Revelation 21:1-6. Also 2 Peter 3:13 states, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (KJV).

We are told that when the Lord creates a new heaven and earth the former will not be remembered. The Lord says he will create Jerusalem. Unlike now, in the New Jerusalem, there will be no more weeping. In Revelation 21:3, the voice on the throne says, “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death…mourning, crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.” Isaiah echoes the same thoughts. “As for the days of a tree are the days of my people.” How long does a tree live? I found that varies by many factors. Sequoias can live to be over 3,000 years of age. Trees can live many years, as will people in the New Jerusalem.

Also, we are told that prayers will be answered before we complete them. Isaiah 61:24 tells us “before they call, God will answer; And while they are still speaking, God will hear.”

During the time of the fall, it was not just humankind who was impacted. Humans were vegetarians prior to the fall. After the fall, the first blood sacrifice was the animals that gave up their skins for Adam and Eve, to cover their naked bodies. Although we are not told the flesh of the animals was eaten, God probably taught Adam and Eve to eat meat. Remember the sacrifice Able offered to God was from his flock. I realize that we could argue that he was raising the sheep for wool, but I suspect that was not the case. For these reasons, all humans have not been vegetarians since they ate of the fall and the Tree of Life was restricted. There is a good possibility that we will all become vegetarians when the Tree of Life is brought from Heaven, which also heals the earth and removes the curse (Rev 22:1-5). For many years, I preached that people were vegetarians until the flood was over, and then they began to eat meat. We are told in Genesis 9:3, “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” (NIV). However, some scholars argue that meat could be eaten prior to the flood. Therefore, the people were given food to survive until there were crops. When Heaven comes to earth, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 65:25). Animals that are natural predators and prey will live together, feeding on vegetation peacefully.

When the new heaven and earth are created, there will be more wars, but all creatures will live in harmony with one another the way God intended it to be from the beginning.

These events will not be accomplished by what humankind does, but by what God does.

Faith Matters by the Rev. Brian Van Fossen, Pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Parish, Williamsport 

A Concern For The Religious Non-Affiliated

Over the past several years, there has been great interest and concern for people who are defined as religiously non-affiliated. My interest lies in the numbers of non-affiliated people in the United States who were identified in studies by the Pew Research Center. By way of summary: in the 1970’s only three percent of the population identified as non-affiliated, in the 1990’s it increased to six percent, and in 2019 the number dramatically increased to twenty-five percent. If this trend is not curbed, it can be projected that, in the next ten to fifteen years, nearly forty-eight percent of people will identify themselves as religiously non-affiliated. Statistically, people usually stop practicing their religion at around thirteen years old, and most do not return. One final statistic is that not only is the practice of religion declining, but also those who have claimed a spirituality is also declining. The importance of people and their dignity, the knowledge of our immortal soul, the existence of a God who loves us and is intimately connected to us, all the basic spiritual truths are being forgotten. There are some who will read the above statement and rejoice, some will be quick to place blame, others will be apathetic, and still some who will be concerned. However, because the article is under the title “Faith Matters,” I have a consequent concern.

Examining statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Awareness and the American Psychological Association, we can discover the follow statistics. In the 1970’s leading to the 1990’s, suicide rates increased dramatically from 8.8 to 13.8, in our young population ages fourteen to twenty-five. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there was a stable level and slight decline in suicide attempts within this population. However, in the last several decades, this level of violence to self has again dramatically increased to thirty-three percent. Within this younger population, it is the second leading cause of death listed between unintentional injury and homicide. As we look toward the increase of drug activity in this age group as well, we can see equally staggering reports. The average beginning age of drug use in 2014 was around eleven years old with only a three-year window of progressing to addiction. A quotable line comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2014 report, “The adolescent brain is often likened to a car with a fully functioning gas pedal (the reward system) but weak brakes (the prefrontal cortex).” The prefrontal cortex is where our moral decision making, our impulse regulation, and our basic social interaction takes place. Reading this, you should see my concern.

The practice of the virtue of religion is key in the development of a person. The word religion comes from the Latin, religare, which means “to bind.” In the practice of religion, we are bound first to God and then to others. The Gospels tell of Jesus saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” The greatest commandment is to practice the virtue of religion. When we do so, we develop a moral compass, which will direct our lives toward that which is Good, Beautiful, and True. We can regulate our impulses and develop discipline to love ourselves and care for ourselves. Religion then leads us to love others as we would like to be loved and have been loved by a God who sent His Son for the expiation of our sins. This is the bond of charity, the practice of our faith. Faith does matter.