Friday, August 31, 2018

Flooding at Benton UMC

You can give to support flood recovery in your Sunday offering or through the church office.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Youth Mission Trip pics (3)

Actual work in progress, the safety award (the helmet), one team clowning for the camera, relaxing evening

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Trusting Mercy (2018-0729)

28-29 July 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 130
Children, Mark 10.46-52
Message, 2 Samuel 24.1-25
Mission Moment, UMC Global Health, medical mission in Nepal

Trusting Mercy. Not that easy, especially when we deal with so many persons who are not at all merciful.

Some fascinating background questions…

Why is God angry at Israel?
Why does God instigate David to evil?
·       1 Chronicles 21.1, not the LORD but the Satan
·       What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! (Romans 9.14)
·       No answer in the text, no consideration given in the least
·       Live in ambiguity, live without answers
·       David is ignorant of the back story… he just TRUSTS, and he trusts mercy! (The mercy of a God who is behind the whole thing!)

What’s wrong with a census?
Twice in the wilderness (book of Numbers), a census is taken of all Israel. How is this different?
·       The only census of Israel by Israel recorded in the Scripture took place in Numbers and under David
·       When you take a census of the Israelites to register them, at registration all of them shall give a ransom for their lives to the LORD, so that no plague may come upon them for being registered (Exodus 30.12).
Critical reading, looking at the subtext… (see Bruce Birch, NIB, 1380)
·       The ARMY conducts the census, under the assumption that people don’t want to be counted.
·       This census becomes the basis for a future military draft, forced labor, and taxation (1 Kings 4 and 5).

Ferdinand and the Bullfight

More fun from the youth mission trip.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bishop Park on the abuse and protection of children

"Don't push the children away.
Don't ever get between them and me.
These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom."
(Mark 10:14 The Message)

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Susquehanna Conference,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World!

Our eyes read and our ears heard the most disturbing report that came out this week from the Attorney General of Pennsylvania regarding the findings of child abuse in six of the eight Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania. The news that more than 1,000 children and youth were sexually abused at the hands of about 300 priests for several decades tore at the hearts of us all. It is suspected that there are probably thousands more victims unreported. We weep as God weeps. One abuse is too many. The emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual abuse that those victims have had to live with is unimaginable. Abuse of all persons is not only sinful but devastating. We know that the victims, especially at the hands of clergy, have difficulty ever having a loving relationship with God again. When the trust is broken in this way, it is often nearly impossible to see a loving God.

I invite you and your congregation to be praying for the victims of sexual abuse. As individuals and as a congregation, may you pray together especially this Sunday for those who have suffered abuse. Allow God to hear our spoken prayers for comfort, strength, healing, and hope and for support of those who were harmed.

As your Bishop, I want to express a word of witness as to how important and serious we in the Susquehanna Conference take our responsibility of providing Safe Sanctuaries for our children, youth and vulnerable adults. I want to assure you that the Cabinet and I take most seriously the implementation of our policies regarding Safe Sanctuaries. The ministry of Safe Sanctuary is not simply a form to be filled out for Charge Conference. It is a way of being The Church of Jesus Christ that assures all people that we are doing all we can to create and maintain safe places for all God's beloved. We take it as imperative in our ministry that with every ministry, every program, we are preventing the risk of potential abuse for children, youth, and the vulnerable as much as we can.
We understand the role that all of the clergy, as well as responsible others, have as mandated reporters. I would be remiss if I didn't remind our clergy of the paragraph 340.5 of The Book of Discipline. It says, "All clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences, except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law." There is absolutely no reason to ever keep suspected child abuse or neglect a secret. The statute of Pennsylvania is clear as is The Discipline that regardless of where we are told about child abuse, we must report it. The silence, hiding, and mishandling of the abuse by the hierarchy of the church is a betrayal at its worst and is never to be tolerated.

I would invite us to ask for God's forgiveness for anytime when we have neglected or pushed children away from God's love and from the care of our church. We are to ask for forgiveness when we have not seen children as the very center of life in the church. Our prayers should also reflect our resolve to end all kinds of abuse and neglect of our children and our commitment to offering a secured environment and wholesome ministries for our children to flourish.

Indeed, this past week has been a difficult time for those children and youth who have suffered at the hands of clergy and the Church of Jesus Christ, and the adults who are burdened by childhood memories created by those who were meant to protect them. However, our God is a God of hope and healing. God can turn pain, hurt and devastation around. We are to do whatever we can to let people know that our God is a loving God who cares for even the least of the harmed for such a time as this. I ask that you join your heart with mine as we pray that nothing ever again gets between children and their God.

O God, help us to see our children as "the very center of life in the kingdom." May it be so!

In Christ,

Jeremiah J. Park

Crime and Punishment (2018-0722)

21-22 July 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 51.1-17
Children, Luke 7.36-50
Message, 2 Samuel 11.1-27 and 12.1-14
Mission Moment, UM ARMY video

Since I first began reading political news – and I started early – I’ve seen stories of power, corruption, and sex. But David’s story takes the cake. To this point in the stories, we have been presented with David the hero. Now we encounter David the tragic figure.
      In the ancient Near East, kings were gods, or sons of the gods, and they had absolute power. David forgets that for Israel, the LORD is King and that he himself is under that authority. Instead of serving God and serving God’s people, David serves his own selfish desires, compels Bathsheba to come to him, and eventually adds her to his already large harem.
      In addition to this essential failure, this idolatry, of David’s, he also fails to do the work that he should be doing as king. The story tells us, up front, that this is the season when the king should be at war. But he is not. Instead of readiness for battle and for victory, he is bored, lacking focus, perhaps even looking to make his own trouble. There’s a lesson in this for us: Be about your own business – most of us have more to do than we can get around to doing.  If we’re busy with it, we’ll be less likely to have the “idle hands” or the roaming eyes that get us into trouble.
      Then, David does what many of us do when we find ourselves in trouble. He tries to cover it up. First, by getting Uriah home to lie with his wife. But Uriah has too much honor. He knows it is the season for war, so, unlike the king, he camps out. Then David has “no choice” but to murder him, so he sends a note to his favorite “fixer”, Joab. The lesson: Cover-ups only lead to bigger problems. “O, what a deadly web we weave/When once we practice to deceive.”  The way to freedom and forgiveness is to confess sin.

Nathan is the most courageous figure in the story! He confronts a king who has already committed murder to keep his secret safe.  Nathan is a “court prophet”, a prophet who is paid by the king. And we all know that purse strings can turn into puppet strings. But Nathan chose to fear no one, to be a truly independent agent.
      Another lesson for us in our struggle with sin: Respect, nurture, and promote persons who will hold you accountable. Being surrounded by “yes men” who “rubber stamp” your every whim only serves to enlarge the ego, fuel our fantasies, and design our destruction. The lack of independent, honest assessment and accountability has doomed many good ideas and good people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From Bishop Park, on the anniversary of Charlottesville racist protests

"And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God"
(Micah 6:8)

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!

It was a year ago on August 11-12 that the eyes of the world turned toward Charlottesville, VA. It was on those two days that our country and the world witnessed the sinfulness of hatred and violence of racism. Racism that was, and still is prevalent.

How will we as Christians on the anniversary of Charlottesville proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I would invite you and your congregation to engage in worship, prayer, reflection and action that would give God glory and witness to our commitment to the Kingdom so that all may see there is no room in human family for racism, bigotry and hatred.

As we prepare to remember the anniversary of Charlottesville, I invite you and your congregation to consider doing one or more of the things that would address the sin of hatred, combat racism, and lift up the vision of the Beloved Community of Christ such as:

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Wedding Dance!

Congrats to Callie and Scott, and their families, on their wedding day, July 7.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Chancel Railings

Thanks for the special Memorial Gift to make these railings possible!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

All Downhill from Here (2018-0708)

2 Samuel 5:1-10
Psalm 48
(2 Corinthians 12:2-10)

Christ United Methodist Church
July 8, 2018
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. David had said on that day, “Whoever would strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

In the 73 days since its release, the Marvel Studios movie “Avengers: Infinity War” has made more than two billion dollars in box office revenue. Notwithstanding those especially gaudy figures, “Infinity War” is but the latest of dozens of recent, wildly popular movies in the “superhero” genre. Even someone as out of touch with popular culture as I am knows that we inhabit a cultural moment in which superheroes are all the rage. Peculiarly dressed, extremely handsome and well-muscled men and (increasingly) women, possessed of exceptional strength, speed, acumen, and various other abilities, fight the forces of evil – and occasionally each other – on the screens of theaters and televisions across the country, while we collectively fork over billions of dollars to watch. Serious journalists pen thousands of words about them, and scholars write articles in academic journals about their characters and argue at national and even international conferences about what our affinity for them might mean.

4th of July Program at the Park

A privilege to offer prayer for this year's annual observance.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Parade on the 4th (1 of 2)

Thanks to all who showed up to offer hospitality, including cold water to those marching and baked goods for the spectators!

Food and Fellowship

Each Sunday, 9:30-10:45, through August. Indoors if the weather is inclement. Thanks to everyone who has signed up to host. One more date available!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Holy Water (July 1 message)

Holy Water                                                                 \2Sa 23 08-39
30 June – 1 July 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Glen Summit Chapel
      The Lord’s Table & National Holiday
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 42
Children, Mark 14.17-26
Message, 2 Samuel 23.8-39
Solo, “Land of My Sojourn” (Rich Mullins)

Campfire stories with dad and the boys
      Scar & the shark
      Living legend
These men, legends in their own time, all of them loyal to David

Effective formation (fruitful formation)
      Baseball, Tyler
      Eleazar son of Dodo, son of Ahohi - hand “froze” “clung” to sword
What forms us?
      Video games? Gardening?
      A knowing that is doing, spiritual practice
      Christ Church values:
·       Worship, Community, Mission
·       Giving, faithful, real
·       Reconciliation
      3 General Rules (fall series?)
Formed by what we commit to and repeat, with courage

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nutrition support in Malawi

Agness David, 4, is measured for weight and height in Malawi where many children suffer from malnutrition. She is receiving nutritional support through the help of the Malawi United Methodist Church. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UMNS.
By Francis NkhomaJune 26, 2018 | LILONGWE, Malawi (UMNS)

Agness David, 4, is measured for weight and height in Malawi where many children suffer from malnutrition. She is receiving nutritional support through the help of the Malawi United Methodist Church. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UMNS.
Malnutrition, especially among children ages 5 and younger, is an ongoing crisis in Malawi, but The United Methodist Church is helping to make a difference for both children and adults.
Agness David, 4, is an example. She was born HIV-positive. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father is not involved in her life. Agness’ aunt, who already had a large family, stepped in to care for the little girl. But because of poverty, Agness nearly died of chronic malnutrition.
Two years ago, the Malawi United Methodist Church started a nutrition program for children and adults. Thanks to that ministry, Agness is thriving today.
According to United Methodist nutrition program officer Maurice Solola, the nutrition clinic supplies food supplements such as peanut butter and soy flour. The clinic also conducts cooking demonstrations and offers nutrition presentations. Participants cite positive changes in their lives.
Selina Elijah, 40, from Manase Village, is a client. “I was bedridden for months and did not have an appetite,” she recalled. “I was about to die due to the lack of nutrition support. I’m much better now. The supplements have really helped me.”

Setting the Table

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Africa University students developing clean energy

Yollanda Washaya, innovation hub manager for Africa University, works to implement new ideas such as building a biogas digester to recycle waste, operating a 3D printer to create prototypes, and branding. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UMNS.
Yollanda Washaya, innovation hub manager for Africa University, works to implement new ideas such as building a biogas digester to recycle waste, operating a 3D printer to create prototypes, and branding. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UMNS.
Five Africa University students have completed research on building a biogas digester to produce renewable clean energy for household use in rural communities.
Monalisa Tanatsiwa Chatsama, who is studying Health Services Management, is one of the students working on the biogas digester.
“Working on this project has made me feel like I am so much capable of greatness, and at the same time realizing that I have not been using my potential to the fullest,” Chatsama said.
“I am looking forward to presenting this project on more platforms and raising funds for us to construct our first biodigesters,” she said.
Yollanda Washaya, innovation hub manager for the United Methodist university, said the digester will be good for the environment since users would recycle waste such as cow dung, human or other waste, which would then be fermented to produce heat for cooking and lighting.
The students, from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, are expected to start building the digester when they return to the institution next semester in August.


Taken during Vacation Bible School week by Carrie. Thanks!

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Not pictured ... Erik and Nathan. Thanks guys for splitting all that great firewood, from one of our trees, fallen in a winter storm!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Blind (2018-0624)

23-24 June 2018, Christ Mountain Top, VBS Sunday
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 36.5-10
Children, Mark 10.46-52
Message, 1 Samuel 16.1-13

      What we don’t see …
Perception, so often shaped by things other than our senses
·       How often we can’t find things that are right in front of us?
·       How often do we assume we’re a good judge of character only to be totally wrong?

Wordplay around “see/sight/vision/look” in the Samuel story:
      Described as a “seer” (prophet) but NEVER has a vision
      Mentor was Eli, a priest whose eyesight was dimming
      Era in which “visions were not widespread”
      Calling not with a vision but an “audition” – hearing his name

No wonder, in this special assignment, that Samuel can’t “see straight”: 1 Samuel 16:7  the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

Fail to see the future because we are focused on the past
      how long will you mope for Saul? 
      Eliab – described in the same terms as Saul was
            but God isn’t looking for the same kind of man
      So often, in our regrets, we repeat the same mistake

God’s regrets!
1 Samuel 15:35  the LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Despite God’s regret, God is not stuck in the past. God chooses to act to create a new future.
You can’t move forward if you spend all your time looking in the rearview mirror. It is always easier to see into the past than into the future; that is why it is often more comfortable to remain in the past, with all its problems, than to join God in forming the future.  God's sight is different than ours.

Fail to see the person because we are focused on the appearance
Samuel re David’s brothers and the kingly look of Saul’s height
God’s rebuke: the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

Judging by external features is inadequate and untrustworthy
      “Color of our skin” versus “content of our character” (MLK Jr.)
      Various cultural stigmas – mental illness, HIV positive status, immigrant status, sexuality – can we welcome people as people, rather than as labels?
      First impressions are powerful, and not always accurate
Learning to see by learning to hear
Hebrew: hear/obey
Kids to parents, “I hear you”
Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (sound-sight)
Samuel told Saul, "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, God has rejected you as king" (15.23).

Samuel had learned to listen to God. Saul had not. David did. One of the key aspects of this is the internal correction, the clarity of who we are and where we fail. We’ve all got blind spots, some of them pretty huge. Remaining ignorant of them sets us up for serious failures.

Pascal: “Truly it is evil to be full of faults, but a still greater evil to be full of them and unwilling to recognize them.”

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or
false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now
another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true
face. But we cannot make these choices with impunity. Causes
have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we
cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to
want them.

Thomas Merton cited in Jason Locy and Tim Willard, “Veneer: A Commentary on Culture and the Church” published by QShorts, 2009.