This Week in Ministry

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

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Because the COVID-19 outbreak continues to keep us from safely gathering together, few services are scheduled in area long term care facilities or prisons.  Many congregations are beginning to meet together in person for Worship, being careful to social distance and to follow all CDC guidelines. They also encourage those most at risk to continue to Worship at home and to take advantage of services that are live streamed on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, and other venues.

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

Sunday:

Lycoming County Prison, 1:45 and 3:15 p.m., None scheduled.
Williamsport South, 2 p.m., Ms. Tracey Mulcahey, First United Methodist Church.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., None scheduled
HCR Manor Care North, 2:15 p.m., None scheduled.
Rose View Center, 2:15 p.m., None scheduled.
Leighton Place, 3 p.m., None scheduled.
Williamsport Home, 3 p.m., None scheduled.
Pre-Release Center, 3:30 p.m., None scheduled.

Services during the week include:

Presbyterian Home, 11 a.m. Thursday, None scheduled.

On the radio:

Radio Services are provided by the following congregations:
8:30 a.m. (Saturday) Jersey Shore Assembly of God, WJSA 96.3 FM.
9 a.m. (Sunday) Community Baptist Church, Montoursville, WJSA 96.3 FM.
9 a.m. (Sunday) Pine Street United Methodist Church, Williamsport, WWPA 1340 AM/101.7 FM., WILQ  HD3

Ecumenical luncheon:

United Churches of Lycoming County’s Wednesday Noon Ecumenical Lunch will be held this Wednesday, September 22nd, when Heidi Mnkandhla, Dwell Orphan Care, shares what it looks like to have “More Than Enough”.  There is no cost to you to connect to this Zoom meeting. To connect go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88609741957. This link will either help you download the app or prompt you to open your app. You are also able to connect by telephone. Call 1-301-715-8592, (toll charges apply) when prompted enter the meeting number, 886-0974-1957 and the passcode is 56076370. For other arrangements contact the UCLC office at 570-322-1110.

Devotion line:

The United Churches telephone devotion line is available 24 hours a day by calling 570-322-5762. These devotions change daily and are hope filled and inspirational. The devotions this week will be provided by Rev. Ken Wagner-Pizza, Trinity Episcopal Church, Williamsport, PA.

Footsteps To Follow

Who Is Really The Greatest?

By Rev. James Behrens
Pastor at Third St., Bethel and Mill Creek United Methodist Churches

When we become a Christian, we are to give up the ways of the world. We are to quit trying to be the greatest in the eyes of the world. Jesus tried to explain and emphasize to his disciples, who knew it was wrong but still were in competition at times for the top position.

I suppose in some ways the Apostle Peter was greatest because he became the leader after Jesus’ death. He seemed to oversee the whole system of ministry. The Apostle Paul became the leader of the Gentiles in Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Colossae, Phillipi, Macedonia, and Greece, even though he was sometimes challenged by others.

The Apostle John eventually became the leader of the church. He lived in a lot of places, but in the end, he spent his final years in Ephesus. He was the oldest Apostle, living until he died of natural causes.

James was not one of the original twelve apostles. He was the half-brother to Jesus and the writer of the Epistle of James. He is talking about what we need to do to be the greatest in the eyes of God, not man.

First, we are to be wise and have understanding. James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17-18). The “works” are normally interpreted as doing good things for others, especially to those in the church and in our communities. Often these are shown through the working of food banks, helping the poor with rental and utility assistance, and in other ways that show the love of God and Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the way to show Jesus that we are serious about our faith.

But we must be careful in the process of showing that we are “for real” and showing the world that we really care. Otherwise, we may begin to slide into the trap that many churches and Christians fall into. They begin to lose sight that our salvation as Christians is not based on what we do through our labors, but through our faith in what Jesus has already done for us. Even though some faith groups promote a form of what we call “works righteousness,” that is not what James is talking about, nor what the Apostle Paul meant. We need to believe that Jesus took on the sins of the world, including ours, and that he died so that the price of sin is taken away. No other human being who ever lived can fulfill what he did. James explains that the works or labors we do for God need to be done with gentleness and wisdom. We are to get rid of envy and selfish ambition in our hearts. We are not to be boastful and false to the truth. When we are boastful, unspiritual, or devilish, we are not using wisdom from God, but from the world. This type of wisdom brings on wickedness and disorder.

Wisdom from God also is to be pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, and full of mercy and good fruits. It does not show partiality or hypocrisy. It shows mercy, not something you would kill or steal to get.

When we really desire something that is in agreement with what we know are Biblical Principles, instead of our struggling to get it, we should simply ask God to intercede, and as he returns his blessing to us for our commitment to him, we may simply be given it.

I know people who have prayed for transportation, housing, and many other physical needs and medical needs. Sometimes the Lord provides it immediately, either directly or through others. It may happen to you if you are sincerely going before the Lord in faith. How about you? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? If not, how are you planning to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Being only a good person does not cut it.



Faith Matters

A Message From The Rabbi

By Herbert Horowitz is Rabbi Emeritus of Shore Parkway Jewish Center, Brooklyn, NY
Currently serving as Rabbi of Ohev Sholom Synagogue, Williamsport

Every year, when the month of Elul begins and the shadows of fall become visible, we think of the High Holy Days. Last year at this time, as the Hebrew calendar year of 5781 was approaching, we wished our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances a “Shana Tova Umetukah,” a Happy and Sweet New Year. Little did we know that the year before, at the time of Tu B’Shvat, the monstrous pandemic of Covid-19 would strike the United States and the world with such ferocity. This pandemic has resulted in millions of positive cases and hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. Among the dead were prominent American and Israeli Rabbinic leaders. Among them are the Novaminksker Rebbe; Rabbi Levy of the OK Kashruth Organization; and Rabbi Bakshi Daron, former chief Rabbi of Sephardic of Israel. All succumbed to the Covid-19 killer.

Let us not forget the deaths this year of both prominent people and many whose lives are just as prominent without being publicized.

The Machzor lists the positives and negatives that can unfold in a new year. The Unasanah Tokef prayer starkly depicts our vulnerabilities: “Kamah Yaavrun, V’kamah yebarayun,”: “How many will pass away and how many will be born.” Then “Mee Barash Umee Bamagebah,”: “How many by storm, and how many by plague.” And then, “Mee Yeeshafale, umee yarun,”: “Who will be degraded and who will be exalted.” Is there an answer to the unknown?

The only answer we are given in prayer includes three things: “Utishuvah, Utifilah, Utzedekah.” “True repentance, profound prayer, and whole hearted charity” will mitigate the degree that could hurt us, or as my Rabbinic colleague, Chaplain/Rabbi Lehrer says: “Charity, Prayer, Repentance”…CPR.

Although 5780-81 were both a Shanna Raah (a bad year) we have hope in G-d (Ochilah La’el) that the power entrusted to humanity to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) will bring to fruition the end of the pandemic. Then we can truly say, this year will be a Shanah Tova Umetukah, a happy, “sweet and good new year for us and all humanity.”