"Characters of Christmas: 2. Zechariah"

We all have that extended family that we are reminded of as Christmas approaches, and who play a part in our own experience of Christmas.  Jesus, too, had such a family, and they play a part in that first Christmas.  Zechariah, the father of Jesus' relative John the Baptist, is one of those characters connected to the Christmas Story. 

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for December 9, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday..  

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Hanging of the Greens"

Each holiday has its symbols.  For example, a Jack-o-Lantern—carved pumpkin—is used at Halloween, and likewise Christmas is replete with symbols, first and foremost a tree covered with ornaments called—not mysteriously—a Christmas tree.  In the church, the time of preparation for Christmas, known as Advent, has symbols too.

This Sunday is the “Hanging of the Greens” when we not only decorate for Advent and Christmas, but also dedicate those symbols and remind ourselves what they mean and why we use them. WE begin with breakfast, starting at 8:30 AM, then together decorate the Sanctuary and Welcome Center. 

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for November 25, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 11 AM (note changed time!) this Sunday. We will celebrate Holy Communion.  

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Characters of Christmas: 1. Kings"

We are at that weird time of the year when it’s no longer Thanksgiving, but not yet December—and in the “church calendar” it’s the end of a year and not yet the start of a new one.  So in looking at Christ the King, we’ll also look at the various kings associated with the Christmas story.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for November 25, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday. And Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                                          Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Enriched in Every Way"

When we live trusting in God, good stuff can happen.  People for generations can attest to this.  We will look at that Sunday, as we continue in our Stewardship series, and give thanks.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for November 18, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"An Attitude of Gratitude"

Ebenezer Scrooge’s motivation in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” was to hang on to everything he had, which might seem like a good plan.  But it made him miserable, and it made everybody in his orbit miserable. Is there an alternative to miserliness that is better?  Is there a better attitude to live life with?

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for November 4, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Knowing Where We’re Looking"

Ever mow a yard?  Ever do it by mowing forward while looking backward?  If you did, how did it turn out?  Some things in life require looking ahead of where we are to where we’re going.  Jesus actually talked about that—and did it, too.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for November 4, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday as we celebrate Holy Communion.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Blessed To Be A Blessing"

Stewardship is about using what we have responsibly--and what our stewardship looks like is guided by the understanding that all we have is a gift from God in the first place.  Therefore when we "count our blessings" we need to recognize why we have those blessings in the first place.  We'll look at that this Sunday.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for October 28, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"It’s All About Love" 1 Corinthians 13

This Sunday is Laity Sunday, and we are blessed to have our Conference Lay Leader, Sharon Gregory, as our preacher.  Sharon will pull from that classic chapter on love—which we’ve probably all heard at weddings—1 Corinthians 13—to preach a sermon titled “It’s All About Love”. 

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for October 21, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday

 

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Where Is Your Place?"

We all like to know our “place”—where we stand, especially in relation to—maybe even in comparison to—others. Jesus has some insight about that for us.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for October 14, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

 

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"All Who Set Their Hearts to Seek God"

It is World Communion Sunday again—and why can’t we manage to get together as churches from different denominations to celebrate our unity?  What if “proper practice” is interpreted differently?  We probably shouldn’t be surprised that these realities today are also experienced by the people in Bible times, and that God has a gracious answer for them.  And therefore does for us.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for October 7, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday as we indeed celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion on World Communion Sunday.

Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Not To Make a Distinction"

We keep finding ways of determining who is “in” and who is “out’.  And yet sometimes we realize that we might have it wrong, and that we need to consider a different way of looking at it.  Peter gets this in this passage from Acts 11—and challenges US about our own sense of permanent guidelines.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for September 23, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday, as we specifically welcome our preschool families.

Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Uz and Them"

In Adam Hamilton's book "Half Truths: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and Other Things the Bible Doesn't Say" we discover that we are usually able to find ways of making the Bible reinforce our own perspective, by ignoring THE OTHER THING that the Bible says.  This Sunday we’ll look at two sets of two passages that contradict each other—or perhaps better stated, correct each other.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for September 16, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Bread: 4. True Food"

How does Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" discuss what Jesus asks of us in John chapter 6, when he says " my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" and that we should eat and drink of them--"for the life of the world"?

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for September 9, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Bread: 3. Never Be Hungry Again"

There are those who are convinced that ALL politicians are crooks.  The outpouring of positive feelings about John McCain upon his recent death would seem to challenge that, however.  I haven’t done an exhaustive search, but I haven’t heard anyone who has spoken or written about him use the term “crook”—or even to suggest that.  Is it possible to see with different eyes, eyes not clouded by those usual expectations?

Is it possible for the people in this passage from John 6 to see Jesus with different eyes, with different expectations? How about us?  Can WE see Jesus with different eyes? Can WE see Jesus with different expectations?

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for September 2, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                      Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Bread: 2. Food That Endures"

How often do we miss the point when we look in the wrong place for the wrong thing?  This Sunday we'll consider this as we look at the crowd seeking Jesus in John chapter 6.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for August 26, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Bread: 1. Not Enough/More Than Enough"

This Sunday begins a four-part series titled “Bread” from John chapter 6.  It begins with Jesus feeding 5000 people with five loaves of bread (and two fish).  It continues with Jesus “riffing” on the idea of himself as bread from heaven, bread of life, bread that always satisfies.  It even considers Jesus himself as “manna” like God sent to the Hebrew children wandering in the wilderness. 

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for August 19, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"You Have This!"

The Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, the Director of Connectional Ministries for the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, will preach from Matthew 14;22-33 this Sunday, August 12, 20187, with her sermon titled "You Have This!" Come on out as we continue with our 10 AM summer worship hours. 

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for August 12, 2018 for a brief bio of Rev. Alyce Weaver-Dunn.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"What Would Jesus Do?"

"What would Jesus do?" was asked in a sermon by legendary preacher Charles Spurgeon in 1891, referring to a book by Thomas a Kempis from the 1400s.  It became a popular question--accompanied by reminder bracelets/wristbands marketed a hundred or so years later. It is clearly a simple question, but as our passage from Mark 6 shows us, not always a simple, unchanging answer.  It depends an enormous amount on the context.   

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for August 5, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday, as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"The Horns of a Dilemma"

When looking at a story in the Scriptures, it is interesting to consider what it must have been like from the perspective of one of the characters in the story—and how that translates to how WE would respond if it were us.  In this story, where we find out how John the Baptist died, we have a number of characters in the sordid tale.  And I would be surprised if any of us look at the story from the perspective of King Herod.  So we will—and look at the “pressure from both sides” that he was caught in.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for July 29, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.

                                                                           Grace and Peace, Pastor Bruce

"Deeds of Power vs. Unbelief"

Jesus was crucified, so that is one thing that it would seem didn’t work out for him.  But since he was God in human form, did he ever have any difficulties with healing those he wanted to heal?  The answer may surprise you—and this passage gives a clue to that.

Follow this link to the Pastor’s Ponderings for July 22, 2018 for further thoughts. See you in worship at 10 AM this Sunday.