This Week in Ministry

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019:

County Prison, 1:45 and 3:15 p.m., the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches of Lycoming County.
HCR Manor Care South, 2 p.m., Pastor Dawn White, Lite-Shine Ministry, Williamsport.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., Pat Jenkins, St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, Williamsport.
Aristicare, 2 p.m., Jerry Webb, Maple Street AME Zion Church, Williamsport.
HCR Manor Care North, 2:15 p.m., Lite-Shine Ministry, Williamsport.
Rose View Center, 2:15 p.m., the Rev. David Trostle, Farragut-Fairfield United Methodist Charge, Montoursville.
Williamsport Home, 3 p.m., Lenora Georges, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, Loyalsock Township.
The Meadows, 3 p.m., Pastor Dawn White, Lite-Shine Ministry, Williamsport.
Pre-Release Center, 3:30 p.m. Neil Smith, Door Fellowship, Williamsport, (men), Pastor Kathy Burkhart, Unityville United Methodist Charge, (women).

Services during the week include:

Presbyterian Home, 11 a.m. Thursday, the Rev. Jerry Cline, retired United Methodist pastor, Williamsport District.

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, September 18 will be presented by the Rev. James West, Interim Pastor, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Williamsport. Pastor West comes to us after serving many years in the Navy, often on a submarine. His program will be “Anchors Aweigh, Life As A Navy Chaplain.” 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 Connie Couture, a member of Almond Branch Ministry, Williamsport.

Footsteps To Follow – by The Rev. Todd Baker, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Elimsport

What is success? We all want to be successful, but when you look at how you spend your time, talents, and treasure, do you feel satisfied that you have spent them well; that the outcome will be worth it? Will you look back and say that you have been successful in life?

I ask this because it has been on my mind quite a bit today. I have felt a little weary and a little discouraged. Some of the jobs planned for this summer are still not done and are unlikely to find a place in my schedule any time soon. This is also true of many of the activities I love to do in the early autumn. Things haven’t worked out as “planned.”

I also see some of the tough road that is ahead and feel worried and uninspired. You see, my family has chosen to be a foster resource home, and that has precluded the freedom to pursue some other opportunities and has brought along some real challenges. To be honest, there are times that I have questioned our decision.

I realize, though, that I need to remember the Apostle Paul’s words, inspired by God, in Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) “let us not grow weary while doing good.” I was getting weary and needed to recall that the things that are making me too busy are much better than an organized garage and a finished home improvement project. They will outlast the pleasure of the selfish dreams I had of laid-back evenings and relaxing activities filling my calendar. Investing in the lives of others pays dividends for everyone “down the road,” but that’s the struggle: the rewards are often “down the road” a ways and can be hard to see.

We all can fall prey to judging success by dreams we have built based on fantasy and faulty priorities. The fantasy is the composite of ideals we create based on the accomplishments of multiple people; we believe that we should have all the possessions and achievements of all the people we admire. The faulty priorities come from believing that possessions, experiences, and social position will bring lasting happiness and an enduring sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, enough always seems to be one item, one experience, or one advancement away.

Looking again at Paul’s writings, this time in Galatians, we are told that we reap what we sow. If we sow only earthly things, that is what we will reap, and earthly things quickly fade and pass away. If, however, we sow spiritual things, we reap things that are spiritual and thus eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18.) Jesus himself said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I am working hard on keeping that eternal perspective and daily making the choice to lay up treasures in heaven. Will you join me? There are many ways we can use our varied resources to further God’s agenda rather than our own. I think we all will be glad we did the day we stand before Christ.

Faith Matters – by The Joseph Hopkins, Pastor, Avis United Methodist Church

Did you know that Grandparents Day was on September 8 this year? I admit that I didn’t do anything special to commemorate it, and neither did my church. Shame on us! However, the month of September has long been a time to honor my grandparents because both of my grandfathers’ birthdays are this month. I’ve had the wonderful blessing of strong relationships with all four of my grandparents, two of whom are still alive well into their 90’s. May we never take such cross-generational relationships for granted!

One way that I honor my grandparents and others of their generation is to learn from the way in which they lived their lives. Their lives are the answer to the question, “What kind of world do I want to leave for future generations?” I learn so much from reflecting on their lives: managing to survive both the Great Depression and World War II, then raising children through the tumult of the 1960’s and 70’s, and eventually doting on and encouraging my Millennial siblings, cousins, and me.

Such reflection leads me to think of stewardship. Fall is a popular time for stewardship series in churches in the United States, though our stewardship must include more than what we put in an offering plate. My grandparents sacrificed an incredible amount for the well-being of future generations. We must do similarly.

Signs of catastrophic climate change are all around us, and our stewardship of the world is at the center of the changes we see. Psalm 24:1 declares to us that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it,” and the book of Genesis reminds us that God has granted humanity covenantal dominion over God’s world. (NRSV) How we practice that covenantal dominion—stewardship in relationship with God and other people—has profound consequences for both current and future generations.

At this point, I am sure that debates about the “Green New Deal” and contemporary politics flare up in our minds. We should encourage those debates because our covenantal dominion over the world is very important. However, we must avoid getting stuck in punditry and social media vitriol. Our actions have consequences right now! While we discuss and debate, we must also take the small and faithful steps of just stewardship in the here and now. One small and faithful step is to join in the effort to go “plastic foam-free.” Communities and businesses around the country and the world are kicking the plastic foam (brand name Styrofoam) habit as a step to prevent unsightly litter and toxic pollution. United Churches of Lycoming County is working to help our community join this effort and lift the standards of our stewardship.

I personally do not have children of my own yet, let alone grandchildren, yet I recognize my responsibility in stewardship for the sake of future generations. My efforts often seem paltry compared to the scope of our current issues, yet I am confident that God blesses each step of faithfulness. That is something I learned from my grandparents.