This Week in Ministry

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

Sunday, January 23, 2022

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., None scheduled.
Valley View Nursing Home, 2 p.m., None scheduled.
Embassy of Loyalsock, 2 p.m., None scheduled.
Elmcroft, 2 p.m., None scheduled.
HCR Manor Care North, 2:15 p.m., Rev. Ron Shellhamer, Lutheran Pastor, Williamsport.
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, January 26th, when Pastor Angelique Labadie-Cihanowyz, Sojourner Truth Ministries, shares the vision of “House of Hope”. There is no cost to you to connect to this Zoom meeting.  To connect, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/jj/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 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 Ms. Tiffany Haller, Director of Religious Education, St. Ann Catholic Church, Williamsport.

Footsteps To Follow

Missing The Blessing

By Rev. James Behrens, Loyalsock United Methodist Charge
Bethel of Loyalsock, Mill Creek, and Third Street United Methodist Churches

These words come from Luke 4 and speak about what our scripture is describing. We are told that Jesus was becoming more and more popular. People from his own hometown were excited because he was one of their own. They heard about his preaching, his teaching, and his healing. Then the day came for him to return home. We are told he went to the front of the synagogue, opened up the Scroll of Isaiah to where it is written that the “Spirit of the Lord is upon me” from Isaiah 61, read the first verse, and said, “‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (21 ESV). Suddenly, the excitement passed; in fact, it turned into anger. He had just created an unforgivable sin known as blasphemy. In this case, what he did was to claim that he was God. While people in other towns and villages may have believed that he was, the people who raised him knew he was special, but they were unwilling to take it as far as he did.

Try to place their shoes on your feet. You have known Jesus since he was a child. He was the one who went to your church on the Sabbath, who played with your children, you were friends with his parents. He may have been the one you taught in Sunday school, vacation Bible school, Boy Scouts or other activities. Maybe he played baseball or soccer with your kids. Now he wants you to believe that he is God’s Son, the one the scriptures talk about, the one who is going to save the world. How stupid does he think you are?

Many of us have our own interpretation of scriptures and the way it is going to be. We picture the way we see things coming together. Few of us would be accepting of one who was making the claim that he is the Messiah.

In Matthew’s account, it says, “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (13:58 ASV). Sometimes our own reasoning gets in the way of receiving the blessing. Had the people that day believed in him and who he was, the synagogue in his hometown could have really been blessed.

I believe that Jesus is coming back as a child so that what we are speaking about here is something we could experience. However, I am also saying that while we have to be on our guard for false prophets, in the process of interpreting things through our own lens, we may sometimes miss a blessing we could have received.

A scripture that I sometimes think of in situations like this is “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” or capstone, and “it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-25 NIV). Sometimes that very thing we reject may be exactly who or what we need. So how do we know? We read and study God’s word. We open our minds to the possibility that God can speak and act outside of our boundaries or limitations and still do miraculous things today.


Faith Matters

MLK, Jr.: A True Man Of Faith
By Rev. Jeff LeCrone, Pastor
St. Luke Lutheran Church, Williamsport

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday will be commemorated this month with a series of events here in Williamsport and across the country, should be remembered for many more achievements than being a great civil rights leader. For the purposes of this column, however, I will focus on the fact that he was a person of faith. His speeches, personal letters, and other writings often made reference to his Christian faith. The Bible served as his primary source of wisdom and direction.

But Dr. King’s engagement with religion reached far beyond Christianity. His work invited the world to consider the value and dignity of ALL human life, not only across racial divisions, but also across denominational and inter-religious ones. He welcomed people of all faiths into the work of the Civil Rights Movement. The most famous example of this cooperation may be the image of Dr. King marching from Selma to Montgomery arm in arm with Rabbi Abraham Heschel.

His interfaith cooperation was a two-way street, as Dr. King was also known to speak out against religious bigotry. When a fellow civil rights leader publicly made an anti-Semitic remark, King denounced the statement as not only being anti-Jewish, but also “anti-man and anti-God.”

Dr. King’s openness to people of other faiths even led to a humble willingness to learn from them. While his adherence to the principle of non-violence was directly inspired by Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), he learned ways to put that principle into action from Hindu activist Mohandas Gandhi. He wrote in his autobiography that “Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.”

As might be expected, Dr. King did not find inter-religious cooperation in every corner. There were those of other faiths (and even of the Christian faith) with whom he found himself to be philosophically and politically incompatible. Nonetheless, he remains for us a model amid the challenges of our own time. The work which he began is not done, nor is it limited to racial justice.

As we continue to work toward the realization of Dr. King’s dream, his legacy reminds us that it is possible to remain faithful to our own beliefs while reaching out in love to work on common causes with willing partners from all faith perspectives. During the week of January 17th, I encourage you to participate in some or all of the events commemorating the work of this servant of God.