Entrapped By His Words

Entrapped By His Words
   The Gospel Lesson for this week is from Mark 6, dealing with the death of John the Baptist. The opening line of the scripture is actually starting with the present and then telling the story of what happened to John. It does this by the reaction of Herod to John the Baptist and his belief that Jesus is John the Baptist come back from the dead. His remark is “John the Baptist, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead” because of what he heard about Jesus (Mark 6:16b NIV). Other people who knew what happened believed that Jesus was Elijah, whom they had been expecting to precede the Messiah based on the teachings of Malachi. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes” (Malachi 4:5). Scholars say that this idea was so prevalent that it was not uncommon for Jews who were celebrating the Seder meal to set a place for Elijah.
   Then we hear Mark tell us about the death of John the Baptist. Herod seized John and bound him in prison because Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip married Herod Antipas, who is the King Herod who put Jesus on trial. King Herod had John arrested for telling him that it was not lawful for him to be married to his brother’s wife. Herodias had wanted John dead but did not possess the authority to do it. Herod saw John as “a righteous and holy man” and kept him safe (v. 20). We are told that on Herod’s birthday he hosted a banquet and had his niece, Herodias’ daughter, dance. King Herod said to his niece, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I
will grant it” (v. 22b). The girl asked her mother what to ask for and then came back and demanded the head of John the Baptist. To save face, Herod had him beheaded, and he had the head brought to her. Sometimes we, like people before us, tend to put our foot in our own mouths; then we act when we cannot find a way out of what we said. That seems to be the case here. We are told that King Herod was sorry for what he did to John, but he made an oath in front of everyone and did not want to break it. The head of John the Baptist was given to the girl who gave it to her mother. Church tradition says that Herodias then took the head and buried it in a dung heap. We are told that the body of John the Baptist was taken by John’s disciples who “laid it in a tomb” (v. 29).
   The scripture teaches us several things. First, be careful what you say; otherwise, you may find that you too will get entrapped by your words. Second, it gives us the reason for what happened to John and the circumstances surrounding his death. Imagine what it would be like for Herod to know that you killed a righteous man of God and that he may have come back from the dead. How would you have reacted?
-Pastor Kathy Behrens, serving Picture Rocks and Tivoli United Methodist Churches

HOPE

Hope
   I was struggling with what the Lord would have me share this weekend. I work as a healthcare assistant with developmental clients. As my client and I discussed my struggle, she simply looked at me and asked why I couldn’t write on “hope.” I told her that I could indeed write about hope.
   Who would know better what it is like to hope for even the everyday things that most of us take for granted? As an adult, I can’t remember ever hoping for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nor did I hope that I could brush my teeth before bed. I didn’t hope that my laundry would get done or that my grocery shopping would get done. I simply did my laundry and shopped for my groceries.
   So, exactly, what is hope? I believe hope is the belief of possibly having something you really want or need. We know it is distinct, although joined, to faith. There is a difference because it is recorded in God’s Word; 1 Corinthians 13:13 reads, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three…” (KJV). They are stated separately.
   I think faith gives us complete confidence, whereas hope believes it is possible, but not certain. At least this is the kind of hope that I see, and I am always amazed at the precious folks, my clients, who even hope that I will show up for my shift. Nothing is taken for granted. What a blessing to watch this hope turn into faith.
   The beauty of these incredible people is hard to describe. They do not give up, and losing hope is not an option. Faith emerges strong where hope has been exercised daily. The next time we are expecting the smallest, the least significant, task to be performed, may we remember to praise God for allowing it to be accomplished without outside help. Remember, too, not to take your independence for granted because you can so easily lose it. You and I are living independently because God is allowing us to live this way. Keep those in prayer who are less fortunate, and sometimes hoping against hope. Pray also for the many angels who have come forth and chosen a career that enables others to maintain their lifestyles.
   Choose to follow Jesus’ teachings, for the only certain hope is the hope we have in the blood of the Lamb. As we see our Lord’s promises being fulfilled in our lives, the hope that it will possibly happen becomes a faith that is certain it will happen.
-Peggy Thompson, Junior Church Teacher, Victory Baptist Church Bloomsburg

God’s Banner Of Love

God’s Banner Of Love
   Last week we celebrated one of my favorite holidays: Flag Day! Though not a federal day off, each year the President delivers an address that proclaims the week of June 14th as National Flag Week and all Americans are encouraged to fly U.S. flags during that week.
   Pennsylvania has a unique role in the origins of Flag Day. According to an Associated Press article entitled “This Wisconsin Town Claims to Being Birthplace of Flag Day” by Nexstar Media, “William T. Kerr is credited with the founding of the American Flag Day Association in 1888 while still a schoolboy in Pittsburgh.” He is considered by many as the “Father of Flag Day.” The date was chosen because it was the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag.
   In the past, Betsy Ross was thought to have been its designer, but today historians debate this.
   According to Rodney C. Wakeman in his article, Bob Heft and the 50 Star Flag, “the current American flag was designed by a high school student from Lancaster, Ohio, named Bob Heft.” He only got a B- on his project for not knowing the correct number of states in the union. (He had unknowingly placed fifty stars before Hawaii and Alaska joined!) He submitted that incorrect design to President Eisenhower who called him and, as they say, the rest is history.
   I believe a flag is a very important symbol. It gives us something to look up to as a group, something to rally around, something in which to find our identity. As Americans, we may take great pride or even shed a tear as we see photos of the men struggling to raise the flag on Iwo Jima or the firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero after 9/11. Through our flag, we find connection, a shared understanding, a bond.
   The people of God also have a flag. In the Scripture, it is usually called a “banner.” In Exodus 17, the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, so Moses told Joshua to select men to fight. However, Moses went to the top of the hill with the banner of God in his hands. As the battle progressed, the Israelites were successful as the banner was raised but failed when Moses’ arms tired and the banner fell. Two men, Aaron and Hur, then came to help Moses keep his hands lifted until the Amelekites were completely defeated (Exodus 17:8-13).
   After the battle, Moses recognized that as long as they gave God the glory, He gave them the victory. So Moses built an altar and called it “The Lord is my Banner” (v. 15). This is also one of the names we have for God. “Jehovah-Nissi” means “The Lord is our Banner” in Hebrew. Again, the definition is just the same: the One we look up to, connect with, rally around. We have a shared understanding. He identifies with us in our suffering and sin so much that He died for us, and therefore, we have an eternal bond of love. In fact, Song of Solomon 2:4 says, “He brought me to His banqueting house, and His banner over me was love” (NKJV).
   When I see the flags flying throughout our nation, I feel many emotions but mostly gratitude for the men and women who are willing to die to make us free. When I think of the banner of the Lord, I feel the same. Psalm 60:4 says, “But you have raised a banner for those who fear you- a rallying point in the face of attack” (NLT).
   Because of His great love and sacrifice, we can raise our banners as Psalm 20:5 says, “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God” (NIV). Our Flag Day is not one day or one week, but a continual waving of thanks and victory in the name of Jesus.
   So the next time you see Old Glory waving from the side of your neighbor’s garage, think about the glory and honor represented by that other banner too and look up with thanks.
-Holly Pentz, New Covenant Assembly of God, 1270 Pinchtown Road, Montgomery, PA

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room
   April was eye surgery month. On two Wednesdays, two weeks apart, I had cataracts removed first from my left eye and then from my right eye. My eyes received what I consider “Bionic Woman” implants that restored vision I had not enjoyed since elementary school. These surgeries were preceded by a long appointment of measuring and testing with various machines and followed by more of the same.
   And so we come to my struggle in the waiting room. A sign in the waiting room advised me to speak to someone if I had been waiting more than fifteen minutes. But what did I do after I had left the first waiting room and entered an examining room, waiting room two, where I was tended by two young women who looked as if they couldn’t be any older than high school sophomores? After the eye charts and the eye drops and the bright lights, they left me and told me the physician’s assistant would be in soon. Define “soon.”
   This reminded me of another experience from several decades ago. Late one morning, I brought an infant and his four year old brother to the doctor’s office. We left the waiting room and entered waiting room two. We waited a long time. I nursed the infant and had to change him into the only diaper I had brought with me. I finally ran out of patience and left the exam room to tell someone I had been waiting a long time. There was no one to tell. The whole staff had left for lunch. (When they returned from lunch and realized what they had done, the boys’ examinations were free that day.)
   Returning to the present day, I tried to be patient as I waited in waiting room two with nothing to read but an eye chart. I spent time praying for everyone I could think of and even ran out of people. I finally left the room and saw the two “high school sophomores” sitting at computers, chatting with each other. “I’ve been waiting a long time,” I told them, trying to keep the whine out of my voice. “Did you forget about me?” They assured me that everyone was running behind and someone would see me soon. Define “soon.”
   Within minutes, the physician’s assistant entered waiting room two and explained she had been dealing with emergency calls all morning. She was apologetic and kind, despite the stressful morning she’d had. She did her thing with the fancy machine, updated me on my progress, and it was over.
   Do you hate to wait as much as I do, especially when you don’t know why you’re waiting? You sit in a room, and no one tells you anything. I confess that prayer sometimes feels like that to me. God knows what I need. And I have told him what I need, just in case. But I don’t know why he doesn’t act. I don’t know why I’m waiting.
   Years ago, I taught at Youth Challenge International Bible Institute, outside of Sunbury. Most of the students had come from rough, troubled backgrounds. Some had drug and alcohol addictions or were living on the streets of cities. Then they found Jesus or Jesus found them, however you want to look at it. I remember one man telling me, “My grandmother prayed for me for thirty years before I came to Christ.” At that time, as a young mother of young sons, I begged God, “Please, Lord, don’t put me on the thirty year plan!”
   The eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament reveals that many biblical characters, heroes of the faith as we church folk like to call them, were put on the thirty year plan. And worse. The epistle writer lists sixteen characters by name and also adds the categories of prophets and women without telling names. And then the chapter ends with this conclusion: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV).
   What? They never got out of the waiting room? I don’t like this, not one little bit. I have been studying, reading books, and trying to understand prayer for over half a century (In my Sunday School class, we are studying a book on prayer, which I recommend. It is the Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler.) A Scripture passage like Hebrews 11:39-40 can make me wonder why. But another Scripture encourages me to keep praying, whether I understand prayer or not, and whether my finite mind can understand what the infinite God of the universe is doing. Luke 18:1 states, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable [story] to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (You can read the parable in verses 2 through 8 of Luke 18.)
   Don’t stop praying. Join me in the waiting room. Our families need our prayers, as do our neighborhoods, our schools, our nation, our world, our enemies, and even ourselves.
-Roberta Tucker Brosius, First Baptist Church, Milton

Surviving Shipwrecks

Surviving Shipwrecks
   The Gospels end with Jesus Christ commissioning the disciples to share worldwide the “Good News” about His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Christ promised that He would be with them until the end of the age. As we learn in Acts, the disciples, emboldened by the Spirit, indeed persistently shared the gospel. We are here today because each generation strives to get the Jesus message out.
   Thankfully, Scripture provides examples of the message going worldwide, despite challenges! The Lord wanted Paul to go and share the “Good News” to the Romans. This was a 1,810 mile trip from Caesarea, Israel. Back in the fall of AD 60, this sailing journey took around 24 days.
   Luke, the objective doctor and Paul’s traveling colleague, captured the chaotic storm they encountered. Luke used dramatic words: “violently storm tossed,” being “driven” by the sea, and “all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:17-20 ESV).
   The seasoned sailors struggled with this storm for over two weeks. No sun, moon, or stars appeared (v. 20). All were in the dark with the rolling sea. Despite their best efforts, including throwing the cargo overboard, nothing was helping (v. 18). Emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually these exhausted, fearful men were wrung out.
   Let’s get ourselves into the story. Feel the fear, the drenching storm; hear the yelling as our crew fights against the furious sea. Sense the anxiety, dread, and hopelessness. See the images of our lives flash before us as we desperately try to survive another few minutes in the chaos.
   Then, in the midst of this, hear Paul saying, “‘Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.” So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island’” (Acts 27:22-26).
   These amazing words of comfort bring hope to all on board. God, the Creator, the Sustainer of the Universe, promised life through this deathlike struggle. As they lived to tell the tale, so will we! Remember shipwrecks can happen even when we are living biblically and doing what God has called us to do! And, if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. As Billy Graham once stated, “Faith points us beyond our problems to the hope we have in Christ” (The Journey).
-Rebecca Logan is a Retired UPMC Chaplain and member of Lycoming Valley Baptist Church

Keepoing The Sabbath

 

Keeping The Sabbath
   In Sunday’s Gospel Lesson, we find Jesus and the Pharisees discussing Jesus and his followers disregard of the Sabbath, in the eyes of the Pharisees. When the law of Moses was given, the Sabbath was to be a day observed forever. The law stated that you were only to rest or worship and never work on the Sabbath. This law was taken so seriously that people were stoned for gathering wood (working) on the Sabbath. When the people of Israel did not keep the law, they were punished, sometimes by being sent into captivity. The Pharisees did not want that to happen again.
   In Mark 2:23-3:6, there are basically three ways the disciples disregarded the law, but the focus was on the Sabbath and obeying the law. First, the disciples were hungry, and as they walked through a grain field, they plucked heads of grain and ate them. Second, they were eating with unwashed hands, and third, they were walking more than a Sabbath’s journey. I don’t know the distance they walked, but it was more than likely further than two thirds of a mile or about a kilometer. Imagine what people would say today who walk more than a Sabbath day’s journey or eat with unclean hands. Jesus seemed to focus on the eating because the disciples were hungry. Jesus argued the point regarding the bread that David ate when he was with his men, fleeing from King Saul. David went into the house of God and was given the bread of Presence to eat, which was only to be eaten by the priests. David told them to give him “‘five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.’” The priest answered David and said, “‘There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread’…So the priest gave him consecrated bread because there was no bread but the bread of Presence” (1 Samuel 21:3-6 NASB).
   Mark 2:27 states, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’” God told people to rest on the Sabbath because God created the world in six days and rested on the Sabbath. Therefore, it is to be hallowed or made holy. When people do not cease from laboring on the Sabbath, we find that they pay the price. It brings on heart attacks and strokes. It causes a lot of stress, and people try to find comfort by taking drugs and drinking alcohol or by eating comfort foods. God wanted it to be a time of rest or worship and a time for families. Some day it will be that way again.
   The next words Jesus said sound like blasphemy. “The Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Jesus was alluding to himself as being the Son of Man, and he was claiming his authority.
   We are told that Jesus entered the synagogue again, and “a man was there who had a withered hand.” The Pharisees were watching to see what Jesus would do since this too happened on the Sabbath, and they wanted to accuse him of breaking the law. Jesus said to the man who had the withered hand, “‘Come here.’” Then Jesus turned to the Pharisees and asked them, “‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’” The Pharisees were silent. Jesus “looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” After the man’s healing and Jesus making his point to the Pharisees, they started to join forces with the Herodians to find a way to destroy Jesus (Mark 3:1-6).
   Today, churches around the world will be praying to heal people with all kinds of ailments. Some will lay on their hands and witness healings before their eyes. Those healed will be giving glory to God for the miracles that they will witness. Other churches who do not practice healing will make up all kinds of reasons why their sick were not cured or healed. I have heard some say, it was due to a lack of faith. Others will say that God heals, but he does not always cure. Even though we are all in the same ministry, one side will discredit the other. As Christians, we need to be working together to glorify God, not seek all the ways we can prove that we alone are right in the way we worship and condemn all who do not worship and believe the same way.
-Rev. Jim Behrens, Retired Pastor – Susquehanna Conference United Methodist Church

Living Together

Living Together
   This is a great time of the year with folks out and about enjoying our surroundings. We see people we might not have seen over the winter, and we meet those new to our community.
   It is also a time of awareness as our interactions with one another are more on display. Words spoken in the privacy of our homes can now be heard through open windows, and our actions take place not just behind closed doors but in public spaces like porches, decks, yards, sidewalks, and parks.
   I hope that all our interactions will be like one I had recently while outside with my dog, Truffles. It was late, and I watched to see who was approaching with a cart that was clattering over the sidewalk. The man was still in the shadows when he said hello and told me his name. I responded from my porch where I stood, illuminated by our light. He went on to tell me that we had met when both of us had been visitors at his brother’s church. What a gift to be able to reconnect, even briefly, as family, two people created by our amazing God.
   I must confess that I never saw this man’s face as he stood in the shadows. I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids, so I didn’t understand when he told me his name, but I was blessed by his willingness to speak up that night, and I hope he was also.
   Conversation isn’t always easy, and I am lucky to have a hidden conversation starter in Truffles. Kids often come calling his name, and he loves to be petted. When he looks at them with his big, “chocolate drop” eyes, they can tell how special he thinks they are. None of the kids and few of their parents use my name, but most remember Truffles and his mom! We love it!
   You and I often get preoccupied by our needs and agendas, and we forget to look for ways to interact with others and make their day better. Our job is to share God’s love. If we would stop making such a “big deal” out of it and just look for small ways to do that all the time, then the big things might just take care of themselves.
   Begin by looking for the best in your family and those in your neighborhood. A “hello” with a smile is always a good way to start. Yesterday, a person at the grocery store moved out of the center of the aisle, so I could get by with my cart. As I went, I automatically whispered thank you. He turned with a smile and said, “You are most welcome.” When have gestures of goodwill and caring become something that people are surprised to receive? Soon you might more easily see good in strangers.
   Next, remember the good. The Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance honored four unsung heroes recently. Many groups and schools also give awards. We have many wonderful people taking care of each other every day. And when the bad haunts us, it is important to forgive the people involved, so we can move on.
   Finally, use every opportunity you get to celebrate. Life is short. Celebrate your achievements and the achievements of others. Do not be envious of what others accomplish. A win for one who is part of the family of God is a win for us all. Quit quibbling over the details and love God, and love your neighbor. The rest will take care of itself.
   May God’s Spirit inspire us all to live together well!
-Rev. Gwen Bernstine Serves as Pastor of Lycoming Presbyterian Church, Williamsport

The Door To Joy

The Door To Joy
   “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelations 3:20 KJV).
   Jesus is inviting us to have an intimate relationship with him. Knowing that Jesus wants to eat a meal and have fellowship with us should give us great feelings of joy and a lasting peace.
   The Bible tells us that joy is a gift from God. Psalm 68:3-5 says, the “godly should rejoice and be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy” (NLT).
   However, for a long time I wasn’t feeling the joy and did not know how to find it. Perhaps you struggle with this, too. Along the way, I have discovered that knowledge of Jesus’ desire to be with us and His wonderous saving grace is not enough.
   Opening the door to Jesus is not a one-time event. It requires an active and continuous effort on my part every day. I must open the door to Jesus daily. I must work at building a relationship with Him, just as I must with my friends here on earth.
   This was awkward for me at first. It was like talking to a stranger. I didn’t really “know” Jesus until I studied the Bible to learn about Him and then spent time with Him. As time went on, our morning conversations became easier. I ask for His forgiveness, strength, and guidance. We plan my day. We acknowledge our love for each other. His love is my joy.
   I admit that my personal struggles and the troubles of this present world can lead me down into feelings of despair and disillusionment. To avoid a downward spiral, I turn my attention to God’s promises. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble; but cheer up! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 WEB).
   We have troubles in this life, but “God will bless you, if you don’t give up when your faith is being tested” (James 1:12 CEV).
   It is not easy to be joyous with the troubles and hardships we all experience. Inner peace and joy are only possible through a relationship with Jesus. We have to work on it one day at a time.
   Someday, we will be with Jesus. The Bible says you will “go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12 NIV). Now that is the Joy worth pursuing!
-Marty McCormick is the program manager of the Rise Up Village Bakery, a ministry of the United Churches of Lycoming County. Marty and his wife, Wendy, are members of the Oval Church.

Living The Love Of Jesus

Living The Love Of Jesus
   On this Mother’s Day weekend, my heart and mind are drawn to one of the most amazing and loving women I have ever known: my mother. By her extraordinary expressions of love, she helped open my heart, as well as the hearts of many others, to the love of Jesus Christ.
   One of her favorite hymns was “Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down; Fix in us Thy humble dwelling; All Thy faithful mercies crown! Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart” (lyrics by Charles Wesley).
   Mom opened her heart to that great love that excels all other love. She then humbly tried as best she could to live that “Love Divine.” Some of my first and deepest experiences of the love of Jesus Christ came through my mother’s daily life of labor and service to her family and to others.
   Even when overwhelmed with raising five children and helping run a business with my father, my mother would always take time to listen to any one of us children, as well as anyone else who needed a caring heart and an empathetic ear. Such actions by my mom taught me that Jesus is like that. Jesus is always willing to take time to listen and to help us get on and stay on the right path.
   As we grew older, my mom never tried to force us into making a certain decision. Oh, she did try to make sure we were looking at all sides of an issue, and, I know, she prayed continually that her children would choose the correct path.
   Isn’t that what our loving God does for us? He listens to us, sends helpers along our path, and offers redemption to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. But our loving God leaves it to us to choose God’s Way, Truth, Life, and Love—or to stubbornly choose our own way.
   When I made dumb choices in my life, my mom would be there “when I came to my senses” and welcome me back to the right path. God does the same thing for us. If we are willing when we stumble or fall to turn back to the light and redeeming love of his Son, Jesus, God is there to welcome us Home.
   On this Mother’s Day weekend, may we take time to say, “Thank You” to all the loving women in our lives who show us glimpses of God’s “Love Divine.” And may we resolve to walk more fully in the Footsteps of Jesus, humbly sharing that gift of God’s love with others through the lives we live.
   “Thank You” again to all the women who choose to live the love of Jesus! You make this often hurting and confusing world a little more like heaven! God bless and strengthen each one of you.
-Pastor Bob Wallace, Retired United Methodist Pastor

Life Story

Life Story
   “They were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1b NKJV).
   I attended elementary school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. This September marks 65 years since I entered kindergarten. Almost everyone in my grade (Class of ’66) is turning 70 this year. My former classmates span the globe; the furthest away resides in New Zealand. Some still live in the Cleveland area and are lifelong friends.
   One of our classmates began the process of reconnection several years ago. Through Facebook, he invited us to send class pictures and contact information. Inspired by his example (and remembering a 6th grade reunion many years ago in the home of one of our classmates), I decided to host a gathering this coming summer. It has been an adventure reaching out to persons I literally haven’t seen in 50 years. I have left a couple voicemails for people whom I haven’t spoken with since the Sixties! And I have loved every moment of the process.
   I’ve laughed with long ago friends and forged new connections with people who might not even remember me. I have heard parts of a life story from a woman who has traveled the world, cooking in various countries and being a cruise ship chef. I’ve reminisced with an old friend about watching Captain Kangaroo. (Does anyone remember the Banana Man from that program? My friend does!) I have remembered sleepovers and inspiring teachers and childish pranks.
   Many of these classmates will not make it to the reunion: too many miles to travel, health concerns, or other commitments. Sadly, we have lost several of our group. And yet, persons in Colorado, Texas, Washington, and Illinois have committed to coming. Everyone has responded favorably to the idea.
   We also have an updated Facebook page and continue to share our stories. We hope to Zoom with those who can’t attend in person.
   The years have passed swiftly. When we sat in class many decades ago, we could not have imagined the mates we would choose, the careers we would pursue, the life lessons we would learn. I am grateful for the opportunity to “stop time” for an evening, to remember who we were and to celebrate where we have come. Perhaps we will also share sadness, grief, and disappointment but certainly joy, accomplishment, perseverance, and faith. And, of course, we will celebrate our 70th birthdays!
   I invite you to stop with me and consider whom you’d like to connect with, whose life’s story you’d like to hear, what memories you’d like to evoke and share. Life is precious, and shared experience is meaningful. God has given us the gift of life and fellow travelers along the way. Even if there is a half century gap between conversations, we can resume where we left off and maybe make new friends. Perhaps a 6th grade reunion isn’t the option you’ll choose, but I encourage you to remember, reconnect, and rejoice!
-Barbara Hart Yorks, First Presbyterian Church, Lewisburg