This Week in Ministry

Services and Events for the week of May 25-31 2019

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


County Prison, 1:45 and 3:15 p.m., the Rev. Velinda Smith, New Life Wake Up Ministry Inc., Williamsport.
HCR Manor Care South, 2 p.m., the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches of Lycoming County.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., Kelly Erhard, Bethel United Methodist Church, Loyalsock Township.
Aristacare, 2 p.m., the Rev. James Bixler, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Loyalsock Township.
HCR Manor Care North, 2:15 p.m., Lite-Shine Ministry, Williamsport.
Rose View Center, 2:15 p.m., Pat Jenkins, St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, Williamsport.
Williamsport Home, 3 p.m., Pastor Diane Kinley, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Bellefonte.
The Hillside, 3:15 p.m., the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches of Lycoming County.
Pre-Release Center, 3:30 p.m., the Rev. James Bixler, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Loyalsock Township, (Men), Pastor Bernice Coaxum, Keys of the Kingdom, South Williamsport, (Women).

Services during the week include:

Presbyterian Home, 11 a.m. Thursday, the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches of Lycoming County.

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.
10:15 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 on May 29 will be presented by the Rev. Ken Elkin, a retired Lutheran Pastor. He will tell about the Building of a Cathedral. The program includes a catered $6 picnic 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 Sandy Grier, a member of Messiah Lutheran Church, South Williamsport.

Pray the Prayer      by The Rev. Velinda Webb Smith, New Life Wake Up Ministry, Inc., Williamsport

In this life, we have some rough days. We search for help. Everyone needs help, if we realize that we do. Where do we go? Which human has the answer? Well, we have counselors, teachers, and parents. But they don’t have that answer that will bring it all together for us. One day, I heard these words from the Lord: “pray the prayer”.

What! I know how to pray. But I heard “pray the prayer.” See 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says that God inspires the word, “breathed” the word on man. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful.”

Also in the New King James Version 2 Timothy 3:15-16 states “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

We don’t realize that prayer is important. However, even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. He gave them the disciple prayer. These words were the starting point of teaching us to pray. Matthew 6:9 states, “After this manner therefore pray; Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (KJV). The “Our Father” words are the prayer that we need to answer anything and everything. We need to pray this prayer.

Psalm 23 is a prayer that comforts us to know that God is there and that we belong to him, as our shepherd. Psalm 23 states, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… (NKJV) Now just say the prayer. Are you getting it? Pray this prayer.

Let’s try this again. Have you ever been afraid? Well, let’s find the prayer. Psalm 27:1 reads, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?…” (NKJV). Of whom shall I be afraid? All right, now we are on the ball. Now let’s pray this prayer.

Let’s find one more prayer. Have you ever had an emergency? It is time to call 911. We need help right now! Here it is, Psalm 91:1. The New King James Version reads, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…” Can you see 911? A prophet brother gave me this reference in a service. Sometimes we need to call on God right now! This is a supplication prayer. Lord, we are calling out 911. Everything is dark, and I am alone and have no place to go but to the secret place of the most high God.

Well, I hope that I have helped you to get started with your praying the prayer.

I know that prayer is what we need when humans can’t help. The one who created everything has given us what we need. We just need to get started. Do you have the holy word of Almighty God in Jesus’ name? Get started on your praying! Take a deep breath.“Holy Spirit, guide us in praying the prayer.”

God bless in Jesus’ name!

Faith Matters
  –  Pastor Joseph Hopkins, Avis United Methodist Church

A little while ago, I attended a wedding at a Roman Catholic church, and I witnessed a beautiful religious gesture in the middle of the service: offering a bouquet of flowers to the Holy Family and asking for a blessing for the couple’s marriage. Being United Methodist, I am generally unfamiliar with the veneration of the Virgin Mary, yet I could appreciate the value in recognizing the sacrifice and authority of the Mother of God. I hope we all so recognize the Virgin Mother this Mother’s Day!

However, upon reflecting on stories of the Holy Family in Holy Scripture, I think the picture of “traditional family values” gets more muddled. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, all but disappeared from the gospel narrative by the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, perhaps due to an untimely death. In that case, Jesus should have taken over the responsibility of his family, rather than embarking on a career as a wandering rabbi. When Jesus’ mother and brothers tried to reign in and protect Jesus from what surely seemed to them a destructive path of needlessly challenging authority, Jesus redefined his family as “whoever does the will of God” (Mark 3:35 ESV). Then when Jesus’ family’s nightmare came true in his crucifixion, Jesus commended his mother to the care of a beloved disciple, rather than the oldest brother as ancient Jewish tradition would have dictated (John 19:26-27). Given these stories, it is no wonder that many people in the Roman Empire accused Christians of violating the “traditional family values” of the time!

Jesus surely was a radical for his time, and Jesus’ teachings continue to challenge our North American culture today. We should be careful to avoid the idolatry of the nuclear family and save our worship for God alone. God makes God’s love available to all people, regardless of family structure or marital status. The price which God paid for the ultra-accessibility of God’s love—the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—is too high for anyone to place limits on it.

Perhaps we should look to the example of Mother Mary again. While she acted out of concern for the well-being of her eldest son, Mary did not stop him from fulfilling the will of God. Instead, she accompanied and cared for Jesus, even when the religious and political authorities labeled him a danger to society. Mother Mary was even present for her son’s execution, despite the shame such a death would have brought to her family.

This Mother’s Day, let us indeed honor our mothers and care for our families. Let us tear down walls of shame and suspicion, which we have built over the years. Let us leave our comfort zones to care for the orphaned and abandoned people throughout the world. And let us love boldly, unconditionally, and sacrificially—like Jesus Christ, like God the Father, like Mother Mary.