This Week in Ministry

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

Sunday, February 23, 2020

County Prison, 1:45 and 3:15 p.m., Pastor Tammey Aichner, First Church of Christ (Disciples), and the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, United Churches of Lycoming County.
HCR Manor Care South, 2 p.m., Ms. Pat Jenkins, St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, Williamsport.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., Mr. 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., Mr. Jerry Webb, Maple Street AME Zion Church, Williamsport.
Rose View Center, 2:15 p.m., Ms. Tracey Mulcahey, First United Methodist Church, Williamsport.
Williamsport Home, 3 p.m., the Rev. Danesta Whaley, Citychurch, Williamsport, and LaVon Hawley, Bethany Lutheran Church, Montoursville.
The Hillside, 3:15 p.m., Ms. Pat Jenkins, St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, Williamsport.
Pre-Release Center, 3:30 p.m., the Rev. James Bixler, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Loyalsock Township, (Men), the Rev. Danesta Whaley, CityChurch, Williamsport, Overseer Bernice Coaxum, Keys of the Kingdom Pentecostal Church, 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, 1600 AM or 104.1 FM
9 a.m. (Sunday) Community Baptist Church, Montoursville, WJSA 1600 AM/96.3 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 February 23rd will be presented by the Rev. James Wooster, Jr., Pastor, Pine Street United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Gwen Bernstine, staff, United Churches of Lycoming County. On this Ash Wednesday they will share some of the history of the day as well as providing a Service of Ashes. The 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 Ms. Patty Gohrs, a member of New Covenant United Church of Christ.

Footsteps To Follow

By The Rev. Dr. James Behrens, Pastor of the Loyalsock United Methodist Charge and a Chaplain for Geisinger Health System.

I am a pastor and a chaplain serving three churches and three Geisinger facilities. As a United Methodist pastor, I contend with the confusion happening in our congregations regarding the future of the United Methodist Church. In the chaplaincy, I deal with people from all faiths. I hear the frustrations and the anger from the feelings of being betrayed. I don’t think people feel the betrayal as much from God as they do from the leadership of the church. In some cases, it was because the leaders tried to cover up what happened. Other times they felt victimized by the other church members.

I also deal with people who, when you ask them about their faith, say, “I’m Spiritual,” which can mean many things. Sometimes, they have given up on their church and no longer want to go back. Many will say that they don’t have to be in church to worship the Lord!

The Apostle Paul did not have to deal with the identical challenges we do today. But he did address the strife, envy, and carnality of the church and how believers needed to be more focused on the spiritual side.

“Carnal” is defined as “relating to or given to crude bodily pleasures and appetites” (Merriam-Webster). When that happens, we are limited in our growth in Christ. Paul said that due to their carnality, he had to feed them milk because they could not handle solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2-3). Said a little differently in the words of Jesus, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe: how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:12).

Many people I speak to today might be called Biblically illiterate. In the book of I Corinthians Paul was dealing with that problem in the Church at Corinth. In chapter 3, the people were more focused on their carnal nature than on their spiritual nature, and they let sin get in the way of the relationships they could have had.

Some were envious of one another. One followed the teaching of Apollos while another followed the teaching of Paul. When someone was baptized, they often wanted to connect to the one who had baptized them, forgetting that all baptisms connected them to Jesus. Today, we have division over how we should take communion, how we should be baptized, and why one counts and why one does not.

Paul was trying to explain that it was not about what Paul or Apollo did that was important. It was about what God did for them through Jesus Christ. Baptism, Holy Communion, and all the blessings of God are there not because of what the pastor has done, but because of what God continues to do for us through Jesus Christ.

Faith Matters – by Ms. Brittany Halbleib, Student at Lycoming College, Member United Churches Christian Social Concerns, Member Geyers United Methodist Church, Middletown.

“Why My Faith Causes Me To Show Empathy”

In my English class the other day, we were reading a poem called “Darkness,” written by Lord Byron, about what would happen if the world no longer had sunlight. Byron describes endless horrors: humanity turning against one another and people no longer showing empathy, among countless other actions that all lead to an eventual death. My heart broken, I shut my textbook after class and thought: Is this what the world has come to? Have people lost the ability to see past their own misery and try to ease the burden of someone else. Amidst my anxious thoughts, a dear friend asked me how my life was going. When she asked, she was not trying to make casual conversation. She was genuinely seeking to know how my life was unfolding at that moment—what my fears were, what was on my mind—and suddenly, my perspective shifted. My grandmother would call this a “God moment,” which is a time when everything seems to be going wrong all at once, but with one gesture, be it small or large, God lets you know that He is there. This was one of my “God moments.”

Too often nowadays, people are almost force-fed the idea that nobody can be trusted. Kids no longer play outside, doors are no longer left open and unattended, even for short periods of time, and even the way that people look at each other is calculating and cautious, constantly wondering about the motives of the other person. Because of this, the “concept of me” is formed and solidified in individuals so that they no longer think, what can I do to help someone else, but more, what can I do to help me?

Through my faith, I am called to challenge that way of thinking. In my everyday life, I try to look past my own suffering and open my mind to the suffering of others. I think of those who have not been established as firmly in faith as I have—who are struggling to grasp meaning through the darkness that clouds their day-to-day lives. When I start thinking of others rather than myself, my heart overflows with love. I no longer view people as what others would call “moody” or “emotional,” but as human beings, just like myself, who need someone other than themselves to ask how they are doing.

I wonder what would happen if all people took time out of their everyday bustle to stop and ask—truly ask—how someone is doing. If everyone would start with just one person and that person would have another person ask—and so on—the world would become a different place. People would not feel burdened in their everyday struggles but would have someone to share that burden with them. That is what God calls us to do.