Sunday, March 2, 2014
Today we worshiped at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 399 State Street, Baden, PA 15005, 724.869.7635, www.lutheransonline.com/christoursaviors, Rev. Jill E. McGregor, Pastor.
Exodus 24:12-18 –
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
2 Peter 1:16-21 –
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Matthew 17:1-9 –
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
We revisited Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church today in part because it is close and to see what has changed since the last time we worshiped here. The pastor is a joy to talk to; she has a passion for Christ that barely lets her touch the ground.
Some things that come to mind from a visitor not well versed in Lutheran liturgy: the service was nearly over before I realized the hymns were not among the printed ones included in the bulletin. (I didn’t see anyone using a hymnal until the last selection.)
Directional signs to the restrooms and nursery from the sanctuary would be helpful.
The renovations are being done as the money is raised for each project. I would normally recommend against this as it seems to leave no room for Christ, but what this has done is give everyone time to refine their thinking on each project. This is a most important part of renovating an older church as this time of acceptance helps the members take ownership and makes for a smooth transition.
This cold snowy morning seemed like a good time to visit with our Lutheran friends nearby.
This lovely church (by which I mean the people) has made noticeable attempts to reach out into the local community over the last few years, and I always enjoy their bold signs in the front lawn, visible reminders of God’s presence in the area.
Some interior changes have been made since our last visit, including painting. I don’t recall if there was signage the last time we were here, but there is some now, in spite of an obvious state of transition.
Before we could even sit down some folks stopped to welcome us.
As today is Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday, the untitled sermon centered on light. However the part that touched me was the pastor’s statement about the event on the Mount of Transfiguration.
When the disciples heard the voice of God telling them to listen to Jesus, they fell prostrate in fear. That was when Christ touched them. This was her point: Jesus touches the fearful…a simple and comforting thought, that when I am afraid, Jesus will comfort me and give me courage. I must listen for and to Him and depend on Him, but “the light will always prevail.”
The final three points included: we need to ask ourselves how we can listen better and where do our fears rule us, and then let Him touch us in those fear-filled places. Amen.
Our prayer for this church:
Father, we pray You open this church to all they can be for You. Empower them to go boldly forward in Your Name. Amen.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Today we worshiped at Fountain Park Church, 8533 Peters Road, Cranberry Twp., PA 16066, 724.779.2003, www.fountainparkchurch.com, R. Mark Plumb, Pastor.
Scripture – Philippians 4:14-20 (NLT)
Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
At the moment I have all I need – and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
We were called to return to Fountain Park and I thought we wouldn’t need to blog, but Jesus had a message for me which He delivered through Pastor Mark Plumb.
The message was based on the generosity of the church at Philippi, and the personal message for me was that the things I think I need to hang on to are keeping me from God’s blessings. The overwhelming joy I have experienced when giving away the excess is a great incentive to clean out again. I don’t know what God will lead me to next; I do know that the excess of things is a burden, not a blessing.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we pray You would cleanse us of the worldly things we hold on to and make room for the blessings You wish to bestow on us. Guide us that we may store up our treasures in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Today we worshiped at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 799 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228, 412.343.8900, www.spchurch.org, Rev. Daniel B. Merry, Pastor.
We acknowledge your prayers with heartfelt thanksgiving. Jan’s shoulder surgery was successful, and she is on the mend. We never doubted the Great Healer’s Presence throughout the ordeal. We serve an awesome God, and we have felt your prayers.
We don’t know when we will be able to resume our visitations, as even note-taking is all but impossible. As my typing skill is nonexistent, our daughter agreed to type this for me.
May our Lord continue to bless you all, and we pray He will open our eyes to more of His purpose for this time in our lives.
Today we worshiped at Southminster Presbyterian Church and heard an enlightening sermon. I enjoyed the choir and the young woman on the organ. We were graciously invited to join the spaghetti luncheon which was delicious. We appreciated the hospitality and greatly enjoyed the fellowship.
This time of healing for Jan has made us more aware of the phenomenal way some disabled people handle everyday challenges.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we lift up to You the differently-abled around us and ask that You show us how best to minister to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Today we worshiped at Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, 7501 Church Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202, 412.761.1233, www.cpcba.org, Rev. Donna Giver-Johnston, Pastor.
Scripture – 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Sometime the nudge to visit a church would not be discernable except for a few different things at the same time: an email, a new installed pastor, icy roads, and here we are.
It was nice to greet some people we know in a church we are familiar with, and when the roads were really bad on the way home, I was glad we were close by.
I surely must have commented on the ornate cross before, but suspended over the chancel, perhaps it was the color scheme that reminded me of cast iron. Today, seeing the small cables by which it is hung, removed the thought of any great weight. Nonetheless I had to wonder why I only just noticed that today.
There was a distinctive guitar prelude, and the music is always exceptional. It was also good to see more of a mix of ages in the choir.
The children’s sermon explained the Passing of Christ’s Peace and was a good length and depth for children.
The Assurance of Pardon was accompanied by the pouring of water into the baptismal font, making for a good mind picture.
The message, “At the Table Together,” started with anecdotal story of using captain’s chairs for everyone at the table to keep the children from wandering during the meal.
For a while I think we also had more captain’s chairs than normal, and for a while it was thought that it would keep one of our younger granddaughters from falling off her chair. Even though she can sit at any chair now, it remains and we see the older children step over the arms to get out.
I do think it’s common to feel “I belong to Christ so you all are wrong.”
Friends had invited us to return to hear their new pastor, and we heard a call to do so today.
The service was well attended by all age groups in spite of the weather, and though it was cold outside, it was as warm as ever inside this building and a joy, as always, to see these friends again.
We were treated to a “Mini Concert Prelude” given by a member with a beautiful voice and excellent ability on the guitar.
It was a privilege to be present for the reception of new members as well.
The sermon, “At the Table Together,” was the second part of a series on 1 Corinthians with today’s part focusing on division within the Church. I agreed with her assessment that it’s the same thing today, only the issues are different. The real issue is, will we remember Whose Church it is and Whom we are to follow?
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we ask that You continue to heal and guide Your Church and encourage the whole body. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.