Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Bev, Full Text


Comments by Pastor Bev, Gabriel's Horn, May, 2022

posted Apr 27, 2022, 11:23 AM by Lois Kerchner

It’s May! The month of graduations and celebrations of family and mothers is here. I want to congratulate us all on having made it through another winter that held on so tightly. We’ve had wonderful Holy Week and Easter worship. Christ is risen indeed! And Leola UMC is continuing to move forward as the people of God in this place and time. Hallelujah!

In this month of fields and yards showing growth all around us, I want to invite everyone to take part in continuing the growth of this congregation. There are two important ways Jesus calls us to grow: 1) loving God and 2) loving the people around us. We are still in Eastertide in the church. Loving God includes continuing to let the Easter truths of victory over death and trust in God’s promises lead us every day. We are also moving closer to welcoming a new pastor. Well, new to those who weren’t here 25 years ago. As Pastor David and Jeanette are preparing to move into Fellowship House, we need to prepare both to welcome them and to work together effectively going forward. SPRC is working to organize our welcome plans in coordination with the Ryans. Stay tuned…

Leola UMC is a wonderful church body, and I truly believe that your best years are ahead of you. God has been with you throughout the changes of recent times, and God will remain with you in the productive and joyful years ahead. I have found deep faith and a beautiful willingness to help, to care, and to work hard among this whole congregation. Young and old, male and female, first service and second service… you’re all pretty amazing. I’ve been wanting to offer some opportunities for everyone to come together since I’ve arrived. You work together very well, as the funeral lunches and Easter giveaway have evidenced.
On June 15, 6:00p.m. to 8:45p.m., I’ll be leading a workshop, to which the whole congregation is invited, Called Working Together Effectively in the Body of Christ, it will be a hybrid meeting, in person as well as on Zoom, we will focus on honing our ways of communicating and working together. As your interim pastor, I’ve noticed some areas in which we duplicate efforts or even seem to work at cross-purposes, when we’re aiming for similar goals. Misunderstandings, and hurt feelings, as well as dropped balls, can be the result. And these things sometimes deter people who have much to contribute. I’ve also noticed some areas in which some of our Methodist methods are slipping in the confusion and desire for comfort of the Covid Years. Fine tuning will mean everyone’s really ready for the next season of growth when Pastor David arrives in June. Watch for the email blast and bulletin announcements!

---Whatever you do this month, remember that you ARE a part of the risen and living Body of Christ here at Leola. YOU matter here. Have a blessed and joyous May!

 Pastor Bev

Comments by Pastor Bev, Gabriel's Horn, April, 2022

posted Apr 5, 2022, 11:23 AM by Lois Kerchner

The Month of New Life!

Welcome to April, the month of all sorts of new life. This month begins with a “Fools Day” but it quickly moves into the most vital days in the history of the world.

As we move into Holy Week, 2022, I know we will all be thinking about the current condition of our world. War in Ukraine, countries still struggling with the pandemic and unable to get access to vaccines, and general human relations in a very sad state. Conditions in the world were not so different at the first Holy Week. There was the Pax Romana, but it actually only benefited those in the ruling class of Roman citizens. For the common people of the world, things were bleak indeed.

Against this backdrop, God moved in powerful ways in the ministry, trial, death and resurrection of Jesus, God With Us. I often refer to Holy Week as a roller coaster because we go from the high of Palm Sunday’s cheering throngs to the low of a trial (actually 3 trials) filled with mockery and misunderstanding; followed by the agony of the cross; to the shocking revelation of the empty tomb. The middle of this month finds us standing with the disciples who find the risen Jesus in their midst, followed by his ascension. Wow!! That’s a lot of emotion and a lot of God at work in a few weeks. Powerful work!

I pray that in these weeks ahead you will set aside time each day to consider God’s work in this world – both then and now. God has not stopped working, you know. And Jesus is still working through the ever-present Holy Spirit. However, in our busyness it’s easy to miss this work. I try to take at least half an hour each day to simply sit and open my mind, asking God to bring to mind the works God wants me to notice. Sometimes this turns out to be noticing what’s happening in nature as flowers and trees bloom or birds make nests and sing. Other times, it’s about noticing those quiet stories of what Mr. Rogers called “The Helpers” in difficult places. Almost always, I feel God moving in my heart, speaking thoughts of encouragement and love.

You are all in my prayers as we walk through this season of losing so many of the pillars of this congregation to their heavenly home. Their legacies are an inspiration to live our faith in every part of our lives and of this world.

I look forward to seeing you in our worship this month, especially. There are so many reason to worship! Blessings,

Pastor Bev

Comments by Pastor Bev, Gabriel's Horn, March, 2022

posted Feb 26, 2022, 9:58 AM by Lois Kerchner

An Invitation to Walk with Jesus

 

It’s hard to believe, but here we are in March! Sunlight is lasting longer each day. Bulbs are poking their heads tentatively above the soil. Buds are coming on the trees. What a relief!! In the life of the Church, we are also moving toward new life. We begin the Lenten Journey with Jesus this month.

The Worship Committee and I have developed a focus for this year on looking at Jesus’ amazing combination of being truly human as well as truly divine. As we move from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, we’ll be looking at both these aspects in episodes of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death. Our challenge as the church during these days is to let more and more of Jesus shine through us.

Our human lives can also shine as we are more intentional about receiving and living the model of the mind of Jesus in us.

For some, Lent has always been a very somber season, full of breast-beating. While I believe that penitence is a vital part of our relationship with God, I also believe that Lent needs to return to its place in the early Church. That place is one of preparation for deeper discipleship, examining our hearts with an eye to moving forward in faith - closer to the heart of our Lord. For me, Lent is most of all a reminder that Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to do whatever it took to bring us into full Life with him. That’s a joyful journey for us! I hope you will enjoy the Lenten booklets we’re providing this year: Love Life, Live Lent. They include short devotional thoughts along with everyday actions we can all do to be more like Jesus in caring for all of God’s Creation.

Welcome to a joyful Lent!

 Pastor Bev

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Bev, February, 2022

posted Jan 27, 2022, 6:13 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jan 27, 2022, 6:14 PM ]

Hello, Leola UMC!

 It’s a blessing to be among you for these six months. I am so grateful for your warm welcome and the support of your leadership.

 As we work together to be the living body of Christ here in the middle of Leola, I believe that God is at work in our midst. My role in this interim period is primarily to lead worship, preach, and to care for the spiritual life of the congregation. Your Council and Committees continue to handle the mission and ministries of the church. I am doing my best to be in the office on Wednesdays, so if you have a need to meet with me, that’s a good day to try it. It is helpful if you make an appointment, so that time is set aside for you. If you can’t reach me on Wednesday, you can either leave a message with Grace in the office or email me at leolaumc@gmail.com, Attention: Pastor Bev.

 

I want to ask that you join me in daily prayer for the process of selecting your next pastor. This is handled by the Bishop and District Superintendents with input from your Staff Parish Relations Committee about what the congregation is looking for, as well as input from pastors about what kind of congregation they’re looking to serve. This whole process is bathed in prayer. We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide this process and bring together the congregation and the pastor, so that God’s will for Leola UMC will become reality. As you join in these prayers, you are fellow workers with God and the Cabinet in this process - the living body of Christ!

Blessings,

Pastor Bev

 

 

 

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, December, 2021

posted Dec 2, 2021, 1:45 PM by Lois Kerchner

Christmas Can Make Us Real!

 

“To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth.”     This is a loosely translated quote from Victor Hugo. Indeed, this is true; but love is not just wedding day euphoria. It is a journey and with it comes ups and downs and challenges; but if you stick it out you become “real.”

What is “real.”    How many of us are “real?”

When I say “real,” I’m quoting from the “Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams Bianco and the wisdom of the Skinned Horse ….

“When a child or someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and are very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real, you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.”

There it is, friends.    And Jesus’ birth can help us become “real.”

Merry Christmas!

 

Pastor Tom

 

Is there actually a war on Christmas?

 

Here’s a little piece of historical trivia to keep in mind this time of year:

 

The word holiday is a combination of the words holy and day. It comes from the Old English “haligdæg,” which is defined as a consecrated day or religious anniversary. A holy day. This word became a common Christmastime greeting in America by the 1930s. Much like how the church celebrates the season of Advent and Christmas as "holy days."

 

This is important to remember when someone wishes us "happy holidays” this time of year instead of “merry Christmas.” Between November 20th and January 14th, there are at least 14 different religious holidays. So, they may just be wishing you a happy or holy season as a sign of respect for whatever you may be celebrating. It’s wise not to assume that anyone would know what we personally believe or what we might be celebrating in this season or not.

 

So, saying “happy holidays” is actually really fitting and respectful. It should not be seen as a war or an attempt to take Jesus out of Christmas. In fact, Jesus is taken out of Christmas as soon as we respond in unholy and unloving ways to the season's greetings of others, especially those whom we do not know. Moreover, Jesus is taken out of Christianity when we Christians are seen as caring more about what someone says than we are about loving them as our neighbor.

 

May we Christians be known for taking up the responsibility of embodying Christ’s ethic of justice, peace, hope, love, and joy in our service to others, which is the true meaning of these seasons, rather than imposing the responsibility on our culture to say our preferred greetings.

 

Source Unknown,

Pastor Tom

UPDATE FROM OUR PASTOR TOM

After living in Fellowship House in recent months, I have relocated to my retirement home, which is located in East Hempfield Township. I am now close to my children and grandchildren, and within easy driving distance to Leola UMC. I made this move as I would need to be in a permanent location by next June,2022, when I will be fully retired.

            As you know, I retired from full time ministry on July 31 of this year. I was asked, and agreed, to remain with Leola UMC in a Part Time basis until next June. My formal designation is “Retired: Part Time.” In this time of transition, Leola SPRC will work with the District Superintendent to secure a full time pastor.

            My primary role is preaching on Sundays, attending administrative meetings, and trying to organize a lay led ministry of care and visitation. I will also participate, as able, in current church activities.

I no longer receive a housing allowance or full-time salary, as I am on Medicare, a pension, and social security. Leola UMC has agreed to help with some Medicare related costs.

Please keep me in prayer as I relocate and enter a new phase of life and seek to discern what the future has in store for me.

 

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Leaders,

I wanted to share some things I have done since our “Future/Align” initiative which we began approx one year ago. I hope this demonstrates my commitment to our work, as we have discussed in numerous meetings.

•          Have worked with our Care Team, empowering team members, supporting team as they revisioned how best to do their work, embracing new members, supported new ideas and approaches, expanding options for care.

•          Included For “Prayer & Reflection” items for each sermon on most Sundays.

•          Created a Prayer Page, which lifts up our mission commitments to better inform people of our projects and where the funding comes from, along with prayer for a partner church, which shows our concern for Gods work beyond our own, and conveys a mature and larger vision.

•          Have attended all administrative meetings on zoom except for Trustees. However, I communicate

regularly with Trustees when necessary.

•          Have been present at all community events.

•          Have led the Worship Team monthly meeting and empowered and supported the input of team members.

•          Submitted to monthly newsletter.

•          Have led the Nominating Team to fill open leadership positions, though our numbers of available servants continue to dwindle.

•          Have met in advance of Council meetings to review and focus agenda.

•          Spend numerous hours on the phone with people who call to talk, seek prayer, seek council and advice, or simply need to talk.

•          Embraced the Blessing of the Animals outreach as per our “Aligned” initiative.

•          I have met with a family of four who wish to become members.

•          I have conducted two weddings, one of which resulted in a 2000.00 contribution to our apportionment.

•          Have worked, in my own way, to prepare the way for my successor, that they may enter their ministry here in the most helpful and healthy fashion.

•          And, of course, participated in Conference related requests and requirements.

As you know, as of August 1, My status is Retired/Part Time. Although in clergy Terms “Part Time” is difficult to measure in hours. It has been an interesting challenge to transition to Social Security and Medicare and etc. and now I am preparing to move to what I hope to be my forever home. Your prayers and patience is requested.

I could add to this list. But my purpose in this update is to let you know that while I am part time, my heart is full time for Leola United Methodist Church.

You have become, to me, cherished friends.

Pastor Tom                                                                            November 10, 2021

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, November, 2021

posted Oct 30, 2021, 12:43 PM by Lois Kerchner

Thankfulness not Forgotten

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God . . . Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ (Excerpts from Deuteronomy 8:1-17)

Moses was afraid the Israelites would forget.

Moses was afraid they would forget all that God had done for them during the Exodus and begin to think everything they have came by their own power, and their own might, and their own wit, and their own strength.

Moses was afraid the people would forget all God had done for them.

I think it makes sense, because we do forget. It can be so easy for us to forget that all we have and all we are is a gift to us from God. It is so easy to forget.

This is why it should be the tradition for families and individuals to say some form of prayer before we eat our meals. It is good to do this because it is so easy to forget. So easy to forget that everything we eat is given to us from God our merciful Father.

But we also receive so much more than just food. Everything we have, everything that has been done for us by Christ, is a gift.

This is why Luther’s evening and morning prayers cause us to remember as we begin our daily work and close out our day’s work, that it is all given to us by God’s grace. In their own different ways those prayers have us remember this:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. (excerpt from Luther’s Morning Prayer, Small Catechism)

What is great about these prayers is that they remind us our entire days and nights rest in the hands of Christ. We definitely want to remember that, don’t we?

If not, we may forget like Deuteronomy forewarned and become arrogant and isolated and fail to rely upon Christ for all things.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, grant that we would always remember the great lengths you went to in your crucifixion to forgive our sins and that we may always remember your resurrection from the dead has become our resurrection from the dead in this world and in the world to come. Grant that we may receive, not just our daily bread with thanksgiving, but receive our entire life and salvation in thanksgiving to you.   Amen                                                               

                                                            Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, October, 2021

posted Sep 29, 2021, 6:04 PM by Lois Kerchner

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On October 3 we will celebrate World Communion with Christians all around the world from all kinds of denominations.

I am drawn to contemplate the one piece of furniture that is the most essential piece in any dwelling, be it in one’s home or the church, at least in my opinion: the table.

For me, it is the centerpiece of a home, the place of gathering, of feasting, of long conversations. It’s a place of daily communion that transpires when family and friends pull up a chair and sit across from one another, break bread, and share their lives.

I think back to all the tables I have sat around and still do, like the one in my late mother’s house. My family grew up around this table.  The varnish has worn off in places, and my mother had leaf inserts that weren’t meant for the table, that slip and slide out of place, so you had to be very careful where you placed your glass. But she needed her table to grow to accommodate the large number of people who would gather round.

What is it about the table? For one thing it gives us space apart from one another to remain individuals, and yet, it draws us ever closer to one another through storytelling, through laughter, through sharing burdens. It’s a level playing field both visually, literally and metaphorically.

I have many memories around my mother’s table, of holiday feasts, or sitting long after everyone else was excused because I refused to eat my peas, and of my brother pitching a glass of milk over my head when I teased him about a girlfriend.

Later in life, many of my friends came to that table and discussed everything under the sun.   I remember sitting around my mother’s table weeping after my father died and we were preparing his funeral. And joyous times like sharing breakfast after having a surprise 80th birthday party for my mother. So many memories!

My mother had the gift of hospitality. I will be eternally grateful that I can say yes to this question in the home I grew up in. Her arms are always open wide. Somehow or other, God has always provided enough food to go around. Every meal has been a Lord’s supper—cooked and baked with gratitude, served with love, and for those who have had the privilege of being served around that table they have been given sustenance to go forth into the world and bring the gospel of generous grace to others because in one small way, they experienced that kind of generosity around her aging table, whose joints squeak and whose surface is scratched.

As we come together to celebrate World Communion may we envision our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the globe sitting at all kinds of tables and be awakened to their plights as they continue on their faith journey through many diverse wildernesses. And may each one of us see our own tables, both in church and in our homes, as the Lord’s, where we willingly nourish one another body and soul.

The bell is ringing.   Dinner is ready!

Pastor Tom

 

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, September, 2021

posted Sep 2, 2021, 11:31 AM by Lois Kerchner

Having Hope When You feel Stepped On!

I hope you will enjoy this and be blessed by this as much as I was:

The other afternoon, I was walking on the back of a concrete porch. When all of a sudden, I felt a crunch. As I looked down at my feet, I noticed that I had accidentally stepped on a butterfly. I paused and thought a moment about how sad this butterfly’s life ended by such a tragic death.

I am so thankful for the butterfly. They are a beautiful reminder of two wonderful lessons from the Bible (resurrection, and being a new creation in Christ).

Every year we watch as the caterpillar flips themselves upside down and wraps themselves up in a chrysalis. They look dead for weeks. Then all of a sudden, we watch the change, marvel again at the miracle: how the tomb doesn’t always mean death; maybe it means resurrection. The chrysalis cracks open and there in the morning light burst forth the first butterfly. What a beautiful reminder that from death comes resurrection and beauty. The caterpillar that was once entombed now experiencing new life!

For us, the caterpillar also reminds of the ones who die to self and then gain new life in Christ.   2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” When we live for Christ, we too like the caterpillar, bury the old ugly sin nature, and we emerge a beautiful creation in Christ. The butterfly is a beautiful reminder of who we are in Christ (new creations).

Maybe you’ve been that butterfly.  Eager to fly. Excited for freedom. Hoping for beauty. Then crushed, bruised, broken. Maybe you’ve started this year with anticipation, holding your breath for that first sign of good news. And you’ve already felt like a giant foot has squashed you to the ground. Maybe it seems like nothing ever changes even though you desperately long for it to change. Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Hope isn’t a fickle whim, a fanciful impression that maybe good things will come your way. When you feel a little bruised and battered, like a butterfly crushed at that first taste of freedom, hope can feel a little shaky, a little elusive, a little hard to see in the deep of the dark.

Hope is a steadfast knowledge, an anchor of truth that without a doubt you know: God is good and He will take care of you. So, when we are weary and defeated, we can seek hope. God brings life out of death. Just like the butterfly, we can soar above.

Pastor Tom

 

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, June, 2021

posted Jun 7, 2021, 1:03 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jun 7, 2021, 1:18 PM ]

June 2021

Gabriel's Horn

SUMMER FOCUSA couple went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, the wife wakes up her husband and says, "Look up toward the sky; what do you see?"

He replies, "I see millions of stars."

"What does that tell you?" she asked.

He ponders for a minute and says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and seemingly insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.” What's it tell you?"

His wife replied, "You’re not as smart as I thought. It means someone stole our tent."

All that we do and all that we know is based upon our perspective.

Have you ever known that you were right about something only to find out that you were in fact mistaken? I have more than I care to admit.

My perspective was skewed for one reason or another and it caused me to misinterpret things that should have been obvious. It brings to mind the old expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, I’ve had times when I couldn’t see the trees for the forest! How about you?

Christ’s message about how we are to interact with one another and how we are to relate to Him can be like that.

His message is so obvious in passages like Matthew 5:43-48, Mark 9:35 -37, Luke 7: 37-38 and John 11:25, but still we have troubles. Take a moment and read them.

Sometimes we need to re-prioritize and re-think where these passages lead us, not just in the good times, but more importantly in the tough ones.

Christ came into this world for everyone! Let’s live and cherish the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus Christ and the greatness of God.

This is challenging and often convicting. And a great focus for the summer months before us.

Grace and Peace,   
Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, May, 2021

posted Apr 30, 2021, 10:38 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Apr 30, 2021, 10:39 AM ]



All Those Years

My friend Debbie's two daughters were in high school when she experienced severe flu-like symptoms. Debbie visited her family doctor, who told her the flu bug had passed her by. Instead, she had been touched by the "love bug" and was now pregnant. The birth of Tommy, a healthy, beautiful son, was an event for celebration, and as time went by, it seemed as though every day brought another reason to celebrate the gift of Tommy's life. He was sweet, thoughtful, fun-loving and a joy to be around. One day when Tommy was about five years old, he and Debbie were driving to the neighborhood mall. As is the way with children, out of nowhere, Tommy asked, "Mom, how old were you when I was born?" "Thirty-six, Tommy. Why?" Debbie asked, wondering what his little mind was contemplating. "What a shame!" Tommy responded. "What do you mean?" Debbie inquired, more than a little puzzled. Looking at her with love-filled eyes, Tommy said, “Just think of all those years we didn't know each other." Alice Collins (From Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul)

I wonder if this is how Jesus feels when years go by in a person’s life and they haven’t come to know him, I mean really know him. I think about all the opportunities afforded to each of us throughout our lives and yet for many there is a distance between them and God. That distance doesn’t need to be there and certainly God yearns for the closeness of parent and child in its most beautiful form. My mom and I were close and I thank God for that.

As we think about our moms in this month of May, let us not forget that our Creator Mother/Father knew us from the beginning of time and sewed us together cell by cell
with complete unconditional love. That God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save us from all that was keeping us apart from God and that his sacrifice and our belief in his resurrection assures us that we will be reunited with pure love in the appointed time.

I would like to wish all of the wonderful ladies I know a Happy Mother’s Day!

Grace and Peace!
Pastor Tom

Let’s All Wear Something Red! 
  Pentecost Sunday – May 23

1-10 of 27