A Hill to Die On

Good morning,

Throughout this summer series (and really every sermon series) I will often point out passages that devoted believers interpret differently and areas of our faith that folks who are steadfastly evangelical have different opinions about. I will often sum up my thoughts on such topics with the phrase “it’s not a hill that I’m going to die on.” What does that even mean, and why do I say it?

The phrase itself is very old and as you can imagine there are different theories as to its’ origin. It’s meaning is military in nature. Back when wars where primarily won by gaining the high ground on the battlefield, generals would identify the most vital hills that their soldiers needed to defend. Although every hill was important, some were not so important they were worth losing the lives of solders. These were not the “hills to die on.”

Now we use the phrase to describe issues that are important to us but aren’t so important that we are willing to fight over them. Theologically speaking, a “hill to die on” is a doctrine or area of theology that is so important to us that we would never recant it or compromise on it, even if it meant death. Tragically, many people have suffered martyrdom for just such strongly held beliefs.

I probably use the phrase a bit too flippantly, given the historical and theological context to it. So why do I mention all of this? Well, this Sunday we are going to look at Colossians 1:15-20, which is very much a theological hill that I will defend no matter what the cost. The truth that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man is the foundational truth of the Gospel.

There is great confusion in the world as to who exactly Jesus is and there are a whole host of false beliefs and doctrines that people hold about Him. We are going to explore those distorted views of Jesus and look at Paul’s great defense of the supremacy of Jesus. If you have a friend or a loved one who has expressed doubts or confusion about who Jesus is and why trusting in Him as our Savior is so important, please invite them to join you at Ebenezer on Sunday.

Here’s what’s happening:

1. Ministry Council meets on Monday, 8/26 at the church at 6:30 pm.

2. New library additions: “Breakthrough” – A Christian drama film that is inspired by a true story of a young man’s recovery from being trapped under an icy lake.

“Unplanned” – A Christian drama film that is inspired by a true story of a young woman whose life experience causes her to change her views on the sanctity of life.

“Finding the Bright Side” – A book by former Fox News anchor Shannon Bream about the lessons she has learned about faith from her experiences from the other side of the TV screen.

3. Sunday 9/8 begins a new year of Sunday School. We have three different classes that meet at 9 am at the church. Please consider joining one for the new year, I know you will be welcome!

4. A private graveside service is being held this Friday morning for Burnie Lausch. Please be in prayer for the family as they remember Burnie.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

Back to School

 Good morning,

Conestoga Valley High School is full of activity this week.  Fall sports teams have begun their preseason, the band is marching around the campus, teachers and staff are having their in-service days, and new student orientation is just on the horizon.  The new school year is certainly upon us!

Also just around the corner is the Bible Adventure program that our church hosts.  Bible Adventure is a ministry sponsored by Joy-El Ministries, which is based out near Chambersburg.  Our club is one of the largest ones in the area (and really in all of Joy El).  Bible Adventure is a one-hour club that meets during the school day on Thursday afternoons.  During that time we walk the kids down from the school, sing some songs with them, have a Bible lesson, and get them into small groups for sharing, prayer and to memorize Bible Verses.  Then we have to walk them back to the school.  All. In. One. Hour. 

We are always looking for helpers with the club.  Last year ended with over 100 kids coming Bible Adventure each week.  Time commitment is 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm on Thursdays.  If you are interested in being a part of this exciting ministry, please see me and I will connect with Janelle Martin, who leads the program. 

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      August Leadership Meetings:  Christian Education Commission on 8/19 and Ministry Council on 8/26.  Both meetings are at the church at 6:30 pm.

2.     CVCCS has the current needs:

FOOD BANK

Meal kits: Taco kits, Hamburger Helpers, Chicken Helpers, etc.
YOUTH PROGRAM

Educational games, flash cards, and learning aids needed for 2nd through 6th grade learning levels.

CLOTHING BANK

Women’s and Men’s clothing, sizes 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x. Pants and tops for summer.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Pencils, Folders, Binders, etc…They are in particular need of large backpacks.

3. Mel and Becky Imhoff’s New Addresses:

The Garden at Stevens

400 Lancaster Avenue

Stevens, PA 17578

 Becky Imhoff  Room 314

Melvin Imhoff Room 309

This week we will return to our normal teaching time, and what a passage to return with:  Exodus 21:22-25, better known as the “eye for an eye” passage.  We will be looking at why that verse is so famous and what the Bible really says about revenge and retaliation.

 

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

Be Careful What You Ask For

 Good morning,

Welp, I suppose I asked for this…

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked for questions from the congregation, but the ones I’ve gotten have led to some intense Bible Study this week!  Many of the questions centered around what the Bible says about Heaven, Hell, and the End Times, so this week we are going to focus on those topics. If you know of someone who has expressed questions about what will happen when we die, or is just interested in what the Bible has to say about it, this is a great week to invite them to join you at Ebenezer.  Should be a fun morning!

Next week will feature questions on a bit more of a variety of topics. 

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      August Leadership Meetings:  Christian Education Commission on 8/19 and Ministry Council on 8/26.  Both meetings are at the church at 6:30 pm.

2.     I can’t believe I am writing this, but back to school is around the corner.  We will be having a special time of prayer for the new school year on 8/18.

3.     Cathy Ressler and I delivered a whole cartload of toys, books, movies, and other fun stuff to the Pediatric Unit at WellSpan Ephrata Hospital on Monday!  Thanks again for everyone to contributed to our VBS Missions project.

 I will be leading the morning Bible Studies down at Rawlinsville Camp Meeting next week, as I will be sharing some of the messages from our series on Nehemiah from last fall.  I would appreciate prayer for those studies and for my speaking voice!  Although I am at Rawlinsville for most of next week, I am available by phone and email.

 Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

Got Questions?

Good morning,

I am happy to begin with this announcement – the elevator is back in service!  Please spread the word.

I trust that you have been enjoying our current sermon series on “Distorted” passages of scripture.  The series has gone in a couple of different directions that I didn’t anticipate back when I laid it out last fall, but I’ll continue to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance on it – He hasn’t let me down yet.  As I have been mentioned, I’ve carved out two Sundays in this series for a little Q&A as I have asked for you to share with me those passages of Scripture or points of faith, theology, or the Church that you’ve always had some questions about.

At this point I only have a couple of questions shared with me, and I would really like several more (perhaps everyone is hoping that a lack of questions will lead to short services).  I’ve said that all questions will get a response, even if it is by email, but I should clarify that while I would like to know who is asking a question, I won’t be sharing anyone’s name from the pulpit.  So don’t let that discourage you from submitting a question!

If at all possible, I would like questions submitted by this Sunday, either by email or using the forms located in the sanctuary.

BTW – A lack of questions definitely WON’T mean a shorter service!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Thanks to everyone who signed up to bring the snack during August and September.  We just have one Sunday left – August 18.  If you can fill that slot, please let me know.

2.     A reminder that the Summer Lunch Program rolls along here at the church, in partnership with CVCCS.  Meals are served on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm for all children who come.

3.     This coming Monday night marks the beginning of Rawlinsville Camp Meeting for my family.  This year I will once again be serving as the Children’s Evangelist during the first week of Camp and as the adult Bible Study teacher during the second week.  Despite both of those commitments, my overall responsibilities aren’t as great at Camp this year in comparison the past couple of years.  I will be in the office most of next week and am available by email, phone, etc..

This Sunday our Distorted sermon series tries to clear up some confusion at the relationship between money and evil.  Many, many people believe that the Bible says that money is root of all evil, but the Bible doesn’t actually say that.  We are going to look at how two small misquotes have led to a severe misunderstanding of 1 Timonthy 6:10.  I hope you will be able to join us!

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

Back in the Saddle

Good morning,

After a great (but very hot) week in the Smoky Mountains, I am back in the saddle this week.  On one night while we were down there we decided to go shopping for sweatshirts for the kids (each of them wear a hoodie to school virtually every day, so sweatshirts make great and practical souvenirs).  As we walked from shop to shop Mary and I both noticed a certain…inconsistency. 

Many, many shops had signs that said “Jesus Saves” and “We Love Jesus” in the windows and played Christian music in the stores.  Inside the stores, however, where racks upon racks of T-shirts and sweatshirts that had phrases and images on them that were anything but pleasing to God.  Some of the stores had “religious” products like crosses and images of Mary right next to products with profanity written on them!  Our personal favorite – the store that had a large sign that said “Jesus Saves Buy Guns Here.”

It all made us chuckle and roll our eyes a bit, but living an inconsistent Christian life is actually a serious issue, and not just in the hills of Tennessee.   Let’s strive to live consistent lives, ones that proclaim of the Gospel of Christ in word AND through our actions and our decisions.  Trust me, people notice when we don’t!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      A reminder that the Summer Lunch Program rolls along here at the church, in partnership with CVCCS.  Meals are served on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm for all children who come.

2.     Brochures for Rosedale Camp Grove are posted on the bulletin board by the side entrance to the church.  Concerts every Sunday night at 6:30, with Camp Meeting week set for 8/11-8/18.

3.     I am still looking for folks to submit questions for the first 2 Sundays in August.  Questions can be on a specific passage, the Bible, or the Church and Christianity.

 This Sunday our Distorted sermon series tackles John 14:12-14.  What did Jesus mean when He told the disciple that He would do anything that was asked in His name?  Does that mean if we just tack on “In Jesus Name” at the end of prayers it will ensure that God answers them the way we want?  And what about those TV evangelists that say that we can “name it and claim it?”  Invite a friend to join you as we take a deep dive into the purpose of prayer!

 Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

VBS Wrap Up

Good morning,

Once again here is:

VBS by the Numbers

74 – The total number of kids who came to at least one night of VBS this year! (Last year – 52)

28 – The number of kids who came all five nights of VBS.

60 – The number of kids who do not regularly attend Ebenezer. Wow!

45+ - The number of volunteers during VBS week. Thank you to everyone who helped

491 – The number of dollars given for our VBS Missions project. Thank you! The pediatric nurses at Wellspan Ephrata are so excited to restock the play room.

0 – The number of nights Pastor Scott lost his voice during the opening. I did better this year!

2 – The number of kids who refused to go on their family vacation until VBS was over (true story).

3 – The number of churches that are going to use our VBS decorations. We are passing them along to Grace Community Church in Willow Street, and they are planning to give them to another church that does VBS after them.

5 – The number of nights of with no injuries or illnesses. THANK YOU LORD!

90+ - The approximate number of “people hours” that it took to create and hang all the church decorations for VBS. Thank you to everyone who helped!

2 – The number of confused children who asked if Fred Quigley actually caught some fish from the Conestoga River to put on the pizza.

Here’s what’s happening:

1. VBS Clean Up – Thursday Night at 6:30 pm. Many hands will help make the work light!

2. Ministry Council Meeting this Monday (6/24) at 6:30 pm at the church.

3. Next Sunday (6/30) is a Communion Sunday.

4. We collected $907 at the auction during the church picnic. Thank you! We will be using those funds to paint the church belfry. It has not yet been determined if we have bats in our belfry, but we are going to find out!

5. Last Sunday we handed out official Ebenezer Church keychain carabiners for everyone. If you did not get one and would like one just see me.

This Sunday we are continuing our Distorted sermon series by studying a verse that is often quoted when someone is going through a time of trouble – Romans 8:28. What did Paul mean when he wrote that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him? We’ll discuss who that promises is meant for and just what God considers to be good.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Scott

Train A Child...

Good morning,

Sunday is Father’s Day, and as I mentioned at the church picnic last week, we are going to be looking at Proverbs 22:6.  It’s a pretty familiar one – “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not turn from it.” 

That Proverb is one of the more “marketable” verses of the Bible.  It is often put on wall hangings, coffee mugs, bracelets, t-shirts, and so on.  During those tough moments of parenting it serves as a reminder of why we are doing what we are doing as parents.

I would say, however, that in my time in ministry this verse has caused more guilt and frustration than just about any other.  After many workshops that I did for House on the Rock or sermons that I have preached on it, couples would come up to me to share their heartache over a “prodigal” child who had wandered from the Way of the Lord.  Oftentimes they would begin to share by saying “I know that the Bible is always true, but…”

At Ebenezer we believe that Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, and that it is inerrant in the original writings.  So how do we reconcile that belief with our experiences in parenting?  My hope for Sunday is that each of us can leave with just that – Hope.  I believe that much of the guilt and grief that surrounds Proverbs 22:6 is because of a misunderstanding of what proverbs are and what this particular proverb is teaching.

We’ll celebrate both VBS and Dads in a number of different ways on Sunday, and I hope that you can join us, even if Father’s Day is a complicated one for you.  If you know of a parent that is struggling…I think Sunday would be a wonderful opportunity to invite them to join you at Ebenezer.

Here’s what’s happening…

1.  Our VBS Missions project this year is a unique one…we’ve learned that the pediatric unit at Ephrata Hospital is in great need of restocking their toy closet.  So our VBS offerings will be going towards purchasing some toys, books, sticker albums, and other fun items for the nurses to offer to the kids as they receive treatment during their hospital stay.  If you would like to join in on the offering but won’t be at VBS, you can give a gift on Sunday (please use a separate envelope).  If you would like to donate items (either new or very gently used) they can be dropped off at the church starting….now!

2.  Sunday, June 30 is our next Communion Sunday.

3.  Summer Lunch Program has begun…Free hot lunches are served at the church on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm throughout the summer.

Somehow, I agreed to teach Sunday School the Sunday after VBS Week – what was I thinking?  Anyway, we’ll be tackling one of the thornier issues of the Bible – what about the dinosaurs?  Does the Bible ever mention them?

Should be a fun discussion!

Looking forward to Sunday,

 

Scott

Calm Before The VBS Storm

Good morning,

What might be the craziest week of the year is almost here!  As of this morning, we already have 24 kids preregistered for VBS.  Please be in prayer for our church family this week as final preparations are being made and of course all throughout next week as we hold VBS each night from 6:15 – 8pm.  PLEASE PREREGISTER YOUR KIDS!

But before VBS happens…our church picnic is THIS SUNDAY at Loyd Roland Park in Akron.  Please enter the park at the main entrance off North 11th Street in Akron.  Our pavilion is the one right across from the playground.  Parking isn’t exactly plentiful, so keep that in mind.  We will begin our worship service at 10 am. 

Auction Items should be dropped off at the church by Wednesday evening.  This year the proceeds from the auction will go to repainting the church belfry.  We will also once again be having Bingo, so if you would like to donate some prizes for the Bingo game bring them along.

Akron Park has a big playground, and all sorts of courts and fields to play on, so feel free to bring yard games and sports equipment along.  I believe the 9:15 class has challenged the Christian Adventure class to a dunk contest on the basketball court, although I might be wrong about that.  You may also want to bring a lawn chair or two. 

I should also note that all the slots for bringing snack food items like potato chips and dessert for the meal are filled.  In fact, the only slot open is for a healthy fruit salad.  I have never been prouder of our church. 

Forecast for Sunday morning is looking good…it should be a fun day.

Here’s what’s happening…

 1.  Final VBS Decorating - Thursday and Friday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.  If you are able, we could use a lot of help decorating the church.

2.  Sunday, June 30 is our next Communion Sunday.

3.  E.C National Conference Digests are available at the church and online at www.eccenter.com.

4.  Our VBS Missions project this year is a unique one…we’ve learned that the pediatric unit at Ephrata Hospital is in great need of restocking their toy closet.  So our VBS offerings will be going towards purchasing some toys, books, sticker albums, and other fun items for the nurses to offer to the kids as they receive treatment during their hospital stay.  If you would like to join in on the offering but won’t be at VBS, see me on Sunday.  If you would like to donate items (either new or very gently used) they can be dropped off at the church starting….now!

During our worship time on Sunday I’ll be sharing from Matthew 18:19-20.  It’s a familiar passage and is often read before prayer meetings and fellowship events…but should it be?

 Looking forward to Sunday,

Scott

National Conference Week

Good morning,

Brief update this week as I am heading to the tropical resort town of Grantham, PA for the E.C. National Conference. The highlight of the conference (at least for me) will be Bishop Bruce Hill’s “State of the Church” address tomorrow afternoon. His remarks will be printed out for all the delegates and I will be sure to make a copy of them available to everyone after the conference.

Here’s what’s happening…

1. TONIGHT – Congregational Life Commission meets at 6:30 pm at the church.

2. VBS Prep continues on Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.

3. Church Picnic Auction Items – You can drop off your items in my office.

4. T-Shirts are in…if you did not pick your order up on Sunday you can get them this week.

5. The annual church picnic is set for June 9 at Loyd Roland Park in Akron, beginning at 10 am.

6. VBS begins on June 9th! Invitation flyers are available. Please encourage folks to preregister on the church website, www.ebenezerecc.com.

7. The summer Sunday School schedule starts this week. All adults will be meeting in the church annex during the SS hour.

This week we begin our “Distorted” summer sermon series on passages of Scripture that are often misquoted, misunderstood and misused. We are starting off with Matthew 7:1 – Judge not or you will be judged. Many people believe that this verse means that Christians should never judge other’s actions or choices, but what did Jesus really mean when He taught that? If you know of someone who struggles with judging other or with being judged by others…this is a Sunday to invite them to Ebenezer!

Looking forward to Sunday,

Scott

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Good morning,

 A couple of weeks ago I borrowed a high jack from my brother-in-law to take out a small bush that was slowly dying in one of our mulch beds.  By wrapping a chain around the base of the bush and using the leverage power of the jack, the bush came out without any digging or all that much effort on my part.

Our one neighbor noticed me working and quickly walked over to see the jack.  When I explained how it worked she asked if I would be willing to help her take some bushes out over at her place.  Without really thinking about it, I quickly said “yes.”  She is a single mom and ripping out bushes is one of the few “handyman” skills that I can offer her.

Yeah…about that.

Turns out the trunks of the bushes were WAY bigger than I thought they would be.  I cut the one bush down to the stump and started the jacking process.   I cranked and cranked on the jack until I thought it would break and that stump just wouldn’t budge.  So I started digging…and digging…and digging.  I must have cut through a dozen roots, but that stump still refused to move an inch.  Defeated, I talked with her about our options and she decided that we’ll just cut the stump off at ground level and let it rot out.

Offering to help a neighbor can sometimes mean much more than we bargained for, but it is something that we should be doing as followers of Jesus.  In Matthew 22 Jesus tells the Pharisees that the second greatest commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Loving your neighbor can look very differently depending on your neighborhood.  It may mean helping with yardwork or taking them a meal, but it could also mean listening to their story and giving them some encouragement.  I don’t think there is one “right” way to love a neighbor, but rather a 1,000 different ways to show the love of Christ to those who live closest to us. 

The summer time is often the best time to reconnect with our neighbors, simply because they are outside more!  I encourage you to look for opportunities to be a great neighbor in the coming months.

In the meantime….anyone have a chainsaw I can borrow?  I still have one bush to go!

Here’s what’s happening…

 1.  TONIGHT – The church decorating crew is transitioning the sanctuary from spring to summer.  They could use some help!  Stop by the church at 6:30 pm to lend a hand.

2.  Our Prayer Concern list that we put in the bulletin each week is starting to outgrow the space we have for it.  We are reluctant to take anyone off of it, however, without hearing from them.  If you are on the list and there is an update or if we can take your name off, please let either Pat Darras or myself know.

3.  VBS Prep continues on Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.

4.  Congregational Life Commission is meeting on Tuesday, May 28 at 6:30 pm at the church.

5. Church Picnic Auction Items – You can drop off your items in my office beginning on Sunday.

6.  E.C. National Conference is set for Wednesday, May 29 through Friday May 31.  I will be out of the office during that time.

7.  The annual church picnic is set for June 9 at Loyd Roland Park in Akron, beginning at 10 am.

8.  VBS begins on June 9th!  Invitation flyers are available.  Please encourage folks to preregister on the church website, www.ebenezerecc.com.

This Sunday we will be looking at the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer – Lead us not into temptation.  Every wonder why we pray that?  Does God ever lead us into temptation?  Join us on Sunday to find out!

 Looking forward to Sunday,

 Scott

VBS Is Coming

Good morning,

 On Monday night we held our final VBS prep meeting.  Thanks to everyone who came out.  It is hard to believe but the school year is almost over and VBS week is only a month away!  During the meeting we found that we still have a need for the following helpers:

 Craft Helpers - Be available each night to help during the craft time.  Can including helping to set things up and cleanup help is always appreciated.  We will especially need help on Monday and Thursday night.  Please see Mary Phillips if you can help.

 Bible Study Helper – Be available each night to help distribute materials and work with the kids during the Bible lesson time.  No teaching experience needed or required.  See myself or Greg Phillips if you have questions and/or are interested.

Registration Helpers – We need some help each night to sign in kids before VBS and then again to have parents sign their kids out at the end of the night.  Registration takes place from 5:45-6:15 pm and then again from 7:45-8 pm.  See me if you can help.

No advanced prep work is needed for any of these positions!

Invites to VBS will be available starting this Sunday…please, please, please encourage parents to pre-register their kids by heading to our church website, www.ebenezerecc.com.

 Here’s what’s happening…

 1.  Our Prayer Concern list that we put in the bulletin each week is starting to outgrow the space we have for it.  We are reluctant to take anyone off of it, however, without hearing from them.  If you are on the list and there is an update or if we can take your name off, please let either Pat Darras or myself know.

2.  VBS Prep continues on Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.

3.  You might remember that a portion of our Christmas Eve offering was given to FOCUS, the student-led Christian group at the CVHS, to help with the costs associated with holding a Baccalaureate Service for graduating seniors.  The service will be held at Leola UMC at 2 pm this Sunday.  Please be in prayer for the service and for the Class of 2019 for a safe graduation season.

4. Church Picnic Auction Items – Please sign up your auction items on Sunday so that the planning committee can begin to plan for our annual silent auction.

7.  E.C. National Conference is set for Wednesday, May 29 through Friday May 31.  I will be out of the office during that time.

8.  The annual church picnic is set for June 9 at Loyd Roland Park in Akron, beginning at 10 am.

This Sunday we will be looking at the 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer – Forgive us our debts.  Seems like a benevolent enough request, doesn’t it?  Yet Augustine called this the "terrible petition," and Charles Spurgeon warned that praying this prayer can lead to signing your own death warrant.  John Wesley said that in praying this prayer we are "daring Him to do His worst."  What is going on?  Join us on Sunday to find out!

 Looking forward to Sunday,

 Scott

 

Looking for a job?

Good morning,

 I occasionally get emails from local churches and ministries advertising open positions that they have…recently I received a number of such emails and though I would pass the information along.  If you know of anyone in need of employment, let them know!

 Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services is looking to hire a Marketing and Communications Director.  This is a full time position and is based out of their headquarters in Lebanon.  Interested folks can learn more about the position at svps.org/employment, and I will post the job ad on our bulletin board as well.

 Water Street Mission is hiring a part time Church Ambassador.  This person works to develop relationships with local churches.  Interested people can check out the position at wsm.org.

 Garden Spot Communities is in need of a full time groundskeeper.  Check out wearegsc.org.

 Trinity E.C. Church in Lititz is seeking a part time Director of Children’s Ministry.  Their website is lititztrinity.org.

 Other news – A video of the Easter Cantata is now on our church website!  Go to ebenezerecc.com and click on the “Liston Online” tab at the top to view it.

 Here’s what’s happening…

 1.  On Sunday we will celebrate Mother’s Day by having a carnation for all the ladies.  Sorry men, better luck next time!

2.  VBS Prep continues on Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.

3.  There will be a VBS meeting on Monday, 5/13 at 6:30 pm.  PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE sign up to help on the big board in the sanctuary.  We have a lot of slots to fill.  See myself or Fred Quigley if you have any questions.

6. George Houck turns 100 on May 15.  This is the last Sunday for birthday cards to be dropped off at the church.

7.  E.C. National Conference is set for Wednesday, May 29 through Friday May 31.  I will be out of the office during that time.

8.  The annual church picnic is set for June 9 at Loyd Roland Park in Akron, beginning at 10 am.

9.  Our church library has had many recent additions to it, including the book “When God Doesn’t Fix It” by Laura Story and the DVD “Let There Be Light.”  Summer reading season is almost here…check out what we have to offer!

This Sunday is “Give Us Our Daily Bread” Sunday as we continue our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer.  To the disciples this was a very literal prayer…they often didn’t know if they would have food for the coming day.  For many of us, that just isn’t the case, so what are we to be praying for?  Join us on Sunday to find out!

 Looking forward to Sunday,

 

Scott

Come and Listen To A Story

Good morning,

 On Sunday I mentioned that it was time to start thinking about items for the silent auction at our annual church picnic.  This year the picnic will be held on June 9th, which is the day before Vacation Bible School begins.  Having the picnic right before VBS allows the various crews to get the church set up and ready to go for Monday.

 This year the picnic will be held at the Loyd Roland Park in Akron.  Why did we make the change?  Well, it’s a long story….

 You might remember that last year we ended up having the picnic at the church because of rain.  Although the bad forecast was the primary reason we moved the picnic, it wasn’t the only one…we weren’t quite sure that the pavilion at West Earl Lions Club Park would be available.  It turned out that our concerns were justified, as there was a family reunion being held at the park that day.

 So what happened?

 Well, we know that we had made the reservation for the park with the township, because they had cashed our check.  From what we understand, there was a personnel change at the township office after we made our reservation, and for whatever reason the new person in the charge of taking reservations didn’t know about ours.  So, when a family asked to reserve the pavilion on the day of our picnic, this new person saw an empty slot and gave it to them.

 Apparently that family liked the pavilion, because they requested to have a standing reservation for it on the same Sunday for 2019, which the township granted.  Then, when we contacted the township to figure out what happened, they told us there was nothing they could do since they had already said yes to this family.  They did at least refund our deposit.

 All of this was very frustrating, as you can well imagine.  The only open slots at the West Earl Park for the rest of the summer were dates that were either holidays or would not suit for other reasons.  So, we decided to look elsewhere, and thankfully Akron Park was available.

 I am sure that we will have a great time at Akron Park.  So, start thinking about those auction items and start praying for good weather for that week!

 Here’s what’s happening…

 1.  On Sunday we will have a special treat as the leaders from the Bible Adventure ministry provide our morning snacks and give a short ministry presentation during the worship service.

2.  VBS Prep continues on Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8 pm.

3.  The Christian Education Commission is meeting this Thursday night at 6:30 pm.

4.  Ministry Council meeting is set for Monday, 5/6 at 6:30 pm.

5.  There will be a VBS meeting on Monday, 5/13 at 6:30 pm.  PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE sign up to help on the big board in the sanctuary.  We have a lot of slots to fill.  See myself or Fred Quigley if you have any questions.

6. George Houck turns 100 on May 15.  Birthday cards can be dropped off at the church and I will deliver them.  Please have your cards in by Sunday, May 12.

7.  E.C. National Conference is set for Wednesday, May 29 through Friday May 31.  I will be out of the office during that time.

This Sunday we will continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer.  This week we will be looking at the 2nd and 3rd petitions of the prayer – Your kingdom come and Your will be done.  What exactly did Jesus mean when He talked about God’s kingdom and God’s will?   I hope to see everyone on Sunday…don’t forget to invite a friend!

 

Scott

Summer is Coming

Good morning,

 I trust that you had a great Easter celebration on Sunday.  We were with my extended family and had our traditional egg hunt and the slinging of the eggs.  We figured out that this is 28th year of egg slinging for our family…some of my cousins (and my kids) have never known an Easter without it.  Yes…my family is weird.

In any event, what a great day to be outside…I love spring!  With Easter being so late this year, we don’t have much time before our summer ministries are upon us.  I kept the announcements to a minimum on Sunday, so I wanted to highlight a number of big service opportunities that are coming up.

First, Thursday night starts our VBS preparations.  We have a devoted group of folks who will be giving up their Thursday evenings from now until VBS week (June 10-14) to transform the church in a fun place for the kids to come.  They could really use some help, even if you can only come for one or two nights.  VBS prep starts at 6:30 and runs till 8:00 each Thursday night.  If you have any questions, contact Mary Weimer.

 Second, Saturday morning is our annual Church Clean Up morning.  We will start at 9 am.  There are jobs for everyone, and even if you can only spare an hour of your morning it would be a big help.  Our cleaning folks do a great job throughout the year, but there are some things that they just can’t get to.  It would be wonderful to have a good turnout on Saturday, the more hands we have the sooner the work can wrap up!  See Dave Ressler if you have any questions.

A while ago I mention the need for people to staff the Summer Lunch program that the church hosts in partnership with CVCCS.  I will be putting a schedule together for that ministry soon.  If you would be willing to help, there is still time to sign up!  Commitment is from 11:15 am - 1:15 pm on a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday over the summer.

Finally, I want to give you a bit of a preview of a sermon series that we will be starting this week.  When I was growing up at Memorial Church one of the Sunday School memory projects that we did was the Lord’s Prayer.  Each week (I think it was in 3rd grade), we would devote some time to learning each of the six petitions that are contained in the Lord’s Prayer.  Pastor Jim Price also concluded the pastoral prayer by leading the congregation in saying the Lord’s Prayer during every worship service, so I got a lot of practice saying it.

Because of all that instruction and memory work, I can say the Lord’s Prayer whenever prompted.  Perhaps you had a similar experience growing up.  Now, memorizing the Lord’s Prayer is certainly a good thing, and I am thankful for the commitment of my Sunday School teachers in helping me memorize it.

But what do those words actually mean?  What are we praying when we pray the Lord’s Prayer?  What do we mean by “hallowed be your name?”  What are we asking of God when we say “Thy kingdom come?”  What does “give us this day our daily bread” mean when our freezers and pantries are stocked with food?

I’m looking forward to seeking the answers to those questions (and many others) as we look at Matthew 6:9-15 starting on Sunday and continuing through Memorial Day.  My hope is that we will see that these are More Than Words…they are the foundation of our prayer life with God.

One final note – a few weeks ago I challenged everyone to invite one person to our Easter morning service and said that if even 50% of the folks said yes it would mean 48 visitors.  We got close – we had 135 people worshipping at Ebenezer on Sunday, which is 37 more than usual!  Praise God.  As always, please continue to invite people to join us.

One final, final note – on Sunday I gave a strong invitation to receive Christ.  In my experience, that type of Gospel presentation often sparks questions for those who haven’t yet made the decision for Jesus.  If you or someone who was with you has such questions…let’s talk!

Holy Week 2019

Good morning,

As a kid I used to love it when Easter was “late,” because it meant that the weather had a better chance of being nicer AND that the end of the school year wasn’t far away.  But now as an adult….well things haven’t changed much!  It just “feels” like its Easter time!

We have a very full week of ministry and activity in front of us here at Ebenezer, both at our church and in the community.  Here is the “rundown”:

1.      Palm Sunday –Easter Cantata and Fellowship Meal

2.     Wednesday 7 pm to Thursday 7 pm – 24 Hour Prayer Vigil

3.      Maundy Thursday Service – 7 pm.  “Breads and Spreads” Fellowship time afterwards.  Bring your favorite bread (homemade or from your favorite bakery) and/or your favorite spread (jelly/jam/cream spreads/etc…) to share!

4.     Community Good Friday Service at Emmanuel United Methodist Church at 7 pm.

5.      Saturday - Community Yard Sale in Brownstown.

6.     Community Egg Hunt at West Earl Lions Club Park at 1 pm.

7.      Community Easter Morning Sunrise Service at Carpenters Community Church at 6:15 am.

8.     Easter Morning – Celebration Service at 10:15

 Here’s what’s happening:

1.      This Sunday is the last Sunday for our collection of fabric, old towels and other sewing supplies for a GAiN project at Fairmount Homes.

2.     The sample T-shirts will be in the annex again this Sunday for you to check out.  Please have your orders in by Easter.

3.      The VBS sign up sheet is posted in the sanctuary…VBS is an “All Hands On Deck” event for our church, please consider helping out.

4.     Spring Cleaning at Ebenezer – Saturday 4/27 from 9 am till ???.  The more folks that come, the less time it will take!

5.      We still have open slots for our Prayer Vigil.  If you haven’t done so please check it out on Sunday.

6.     Maundy Thursday service is on 4/18 at 7 pm.  This is a shorter service that will conclude with Communion served at the altar and is followed by our 3rd annual “Breads and Spreads” fellowship time.  You are welcome to bring a homemade baked good or one from your favorite bakery to share!

7.      Parents – We will not be having Junior Worship on 4/14 or 4/21 so the kids can enjoy the music of the Cantata and so we can all worship together on Easter morning.  I’m busy preparing a “Pastor Scott Sermon Bingo” game for them to play to help them stay engaged during the sermon.  Nursery will be available as always.

 This week is our Easter Cantata, with a fellowship meal after the service.  Enjoy the week and we will see you on Sunday.

 

Scott

 

SOS

  Good morning,

This week I have to share with you what is probably my least favorite sentence in the English language:  I need your help.  (Well, it’s my least favorite sentence right after “The Patriots win the Super Bowl.”)

 I HATE to ask for help, to the point that I can be a bit stubborn about it.  Nevertheless, I need your help here at Ebenezer.  We have a growing list of volunteer opportunities and we really need some folks to step in to some roles so that we can continue to minister and be the church that I believe God wants us to be.  Here’s a partial list of where we can use some help.

 VBS – We are still in need of volunteers for VBS week, especially an adult to help my daughter Abby lead the craft time.  Please see the sign up board in the sanctuary.  It would be great if it was filled in the next couple of weeks.  If you are not sure where you would be a best fit, see myself or Fred Quigley.

Summer Lunch Program – CVCCS is once again hoping that we can host their summer lunch program.  We are in need of 3 people to take one day a week to serve lunch from 11:15 am to 1:15 pm.  I would really prefer to also have someone else act as the coordinator/liaison to CVCCS this summer.  I’ve done it the past couple of years…it isn’t a big commitment, but it is an important one.

At Home Ministry – Our list of folks who are on the visitation list keeps growing, and we could use a few more folks to help in this ministry.  I know that each visit is greatly appreciated.

Food Bank – I have been taking the food that we collect over to CVCCS about once a month.  It would be great if someone could take over this role.

Prayer Team – At this point I have had a couple of folks express interest in praying with people at the conclusion of the Sunday morning services.  In order to launch this ministry, we really need a few more interested people.

Kitchen Team – We are planning two fellowship events during Holy Week – the Breads and Spreads time after the Maundy Thursday Service and a lunch after the Cantata.  We could use some help with setting up the Fellowship Hall, preparing some food and, of course, cleaning up.  Please see Elaine Quigley or myself if you are willing to help.

 I think that is enough for now, but don’t worry more opportunities to serve are right around the corner!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Choir Rehearsals continue Monday nights at 7 pm.

2.     Our collection of fabric, old towels and other sewing supplies for a GAiN project at Fairmount Homes continues through Palm Sunday.

3.      Easter Flower orders are due on THIS SUNDAY March 31st.

4.     I’ve had several requests to have the Easter Cantata videotaped so that our At Home members can view it via DVD.  If anyone had the equipment to do this and is willing to be the cameraperson, please let me know.

5.      The VBS sign up sheet is posted in the sanctuary…VBS is an “All Hands On Deck” event for our church, please consider helping out.

6.     Sunday 4/7 is a Holy Communion Sunday.

7.      Congregational Life Commission is meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:30 pm at the church.

8.     Spring Cleaning at Ebenezer – Saturday 4/27 from 9 am till ???.  The more folks that come, the less time it will take!

 This week is our second week looking at the life of Peter.  This week we will be examining two passages where he show his potential to become the “rock” that Jesus needs him to be. Come prepared to be encouraged and to be challenged…and bring a friend! 

 Scott

Buried Treasure

Good morning,

 This past weekend I sort of hunkered down in my office here at church to take the 1st half of an online class on theology that the E.C. is asking me to take.  Yes, it was as exciting as it sounds!  It didn’t register with me until Friday that Saturday was the big spring auction for the West Fire Company, so I arrived at church pretty early on Saturday morning to make sure that I got a parking spot near the church.  I’m glad I did, because it wasn’t long after my arrival that the fire company began to run the shuttle wagon.  It was a huge turnout for the sale.

 It is a sure sign of spring in Lancaster County to see advertisements for mud sales, benefit auctions and yard sales!  Everyone is on the lookout for a “buried treasure” as they rummage through the boxes full of clothes and walk past table after table full of items for sale.   Folks will even spend time reading through the listings in the newspaper to map out the best route to maximize their Saturday morning shopping.

 Have you have had a “buried treasure” experience as you read the Bible?  You are reading along and then all of a sudden a verse just jumps out at you and speaks directly into whatever situation you happen to be going through in life?  It’s a cool experience!  Sometimes the treasure is a familiar verse that you just have read in a while, but other times it is a verse or a passage that is unfamiliar…one that you’ve sort of skipped over 100’s of times.

 Finding a “buried treasure” at a yard sale or an auction is a fun experience, but finding one is Scripture can be a life-changing one!  The key is to get into the Word.

 Let’s be on the hunt for “buried treasure” in God’s Word this Easter season.

 Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Choir Rehearsals continue Monday nights at 7 pm.

2.     Our collection of fabric, old towels and other sewing supplies for a GAiN project at Fairmount Homes begins with Sunday.

3.      The Ministry Council is meeting this Tuesday, March 26, at 6:30 pm in the church.

4.     Decorating Committee is gathering at the church on Thursday night at 6:30 pm to put up the Easter decorations, if you have some free time that evening stop by and help out.

5.      Easter Flower orders are due on March 31st.

6.     I’ve had several requests to have the Easter Cantata videotaped so that our At Home members can view it via DVD.  If anyone had the equipment to do this and is willing to be the cameraperson, please let me know.

7.      The VBS sign up sheet is posted in the sanctuary…VBS is an “All Hands On Deck” event for our church, please consider helping out.

8.     Sunday 4/7 is a Holy Communion Sunday.

9.     Congregational Life Commission is meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:30 pm at the church.

 This week we continue our sermon series on the disciples as we begin to look at the life of Simon Peter.  Other than Jesus, no one is more of a principle character in the Gospels than Peter.  Because we are given so much information about Peter, I’m going to devote 4 different messages to him over the next month!  This week we will focus on his failings and how he often let his pride get the best of him, earning him several rebukes from Jesus. 

 Scott

Easter Giving Project

  Good morning,

 Linda Zimmerman brought to my attention a pretty cool ministry that is taking place over at Fairmount Homes.  In partnership with GAIN (Global Aid Network), a group of ladies living at Fairmount are collecting donations of fabric, yarn, and other sewing supplies to make dresses, caps, and quilts to be shipped overseas to the impoverished areas that GAIN serves.

 During the Easter season we will be helping these sisters-in-Christ by collecting the following items:

 Towels (New or gently used – they are used for padding and will not be seen in the finished sewing projects)

Yarn (Baby or 4 ply – I’m assuming you knitters know what that means!)

Flannel (they do not use camo/military patterns or dog prints)

Quilted Fabric (such as a used bedsheet or blanket)

Dress Fabric

 Although any of the above can be purchased or donated, giving used items you have at home is more than OK!

 We will have a table in the back of the sanctuary for your donations and Linda will be collecting them each week to take over to Fairmount.  Collections will start NEXT WEEK (3/24) and continue until Palm Sunday (4/14).

 Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Choir Rehearsals continue Monday nights at 7 pm.

2.     Lenten Devotional Guides are available at the usual spots in the sanctuary.  Grab one for yourself and one for a friend.

3.      The PRC is meeting this Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 pm in the church.

4.     We had a good VBS meeting…thanks to everyone who came out!  One area of need that we see is the crafts station.  We really need someone to help lead that station.  Don’t worry, my daughter Abby has all the craft ideas ready to go!

5.      I’ve had several requests to have the Easter Cantata videotaped so that our At Home members can view it via DVD.  If anyone had the equipment to do this and is willing to be the cameraperson, please let me know.

 This week we continue our sermon series on the disciples as we look at the life of John.  Although John is mentioned frequently in the Gospels, very few passages actually feature him.   The ones that do are very short! Does that mean I’ll have a shorter message?*  You’ll have to come to find out!

 Scott

 

  

 

*No

Easter Traditions

Good morning,

 Yesterday morning I got myself out of bed before the crack of dawn, got dressed and headed over to Bird-in-Hand Bakery to get Fasnachts for the family.  BIH actually has a Fasnacht Drive Through tent that they sent up to handle all the orders, but the line for that was really long, even at 6 am.  So I parked the car and walked up to the tent to make my purchase.

 The person in front of my ordered 3 dozen Fasnachts, so I ended up standing in line a bit.  It was then that it hit me – here I was standing in the freezing cold before sunrise to overpay for something that I wasn’t even going to eat!

 Why?

 Well, it’s because I love my family and my pre-dawn dash for heavy doughnuts has become an annual Phillips family tradition…and you don’t mess with tradition!  The season of Lent and especially Holy Week is full of many traditions for many families.  Whether it is going to an Easter Egg Hunt, purchasing a big piece of ham for Easter dinner, or buying an unhealthy amount of candy to give to the grandkids, many Easter traditions will happen over the next 40 days.

 Enjoy every one of them, even the weird ones that only your family does and even if it means standing in 12-degree cold just so your kids can have a fun breakfast.

 The season of Lent is here!

 Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Choir Rehearsals continue Monday nights at 7 pm.

2.     Lenten Devotional Guides are available at the usual spots in the sanctuary.  Grab one for yourself and one for a friend.

3.      VBS Meeting this Tuesday, 3/12 at 6:30pm at the church.

4.     Speaking of Easter…looking ahead to Holy Week:

a.      4/14 – Easter Cantata and Fellowship Meal

b.     4/17 – 4/18 – Prayer Vigil

c.      4/18 – Maundy Thursday Communion Service at 6:30, followed by “Breads and Spreads” fellowship time.

d.     4/19 – Community Good Friday Service hosted by Emmanuel UMC at 7 pm.

e.      4/21 – Community Sunrise Service hosted by Carpenters Community Church at 6:1 5 am.

f.       4/21 – Easter Celebration at 10:15 am!

 This week we continue our sermon series on the disciples as we look at the life of James.  While many of disciples shied away from the limelight, James seems to have relished being on the “front lines.”  His passion and zeal for Jesus was admirable, but it also got him two different rebukes from his Savior!

 Scott

 

The Beginning of Lent - Not Just About Doughnuts!

 

 Good morning,

 My goodness, this week we say goodbye to February and hello to March!  Although I think (fear) that we might have one more blast of the wintry stuff yet, subtle signs of spring are starting to appear.

 Next week begins the season of Lent.  For many of us that means that this coming Tuesday is Fasnacht Day, but of course it also means that Holy Week is coming as well.  Easter is very “late” this year, but it will be here before we know it! 

 This year we have created a very simple Lenten Devotional Guide for individuals, couples, and families to use as we anticipate Easter Sunday.    There is one devo for each week of the Lenten season.  Each devo has a passage of the Scripture to read and some brief thoughts to help guide discussion and prayer.

 We will have those guides ready on Sunday for whoever wants one…and you can feel free to take a few extra to give to your coworker or neighbor.  We can always print more up!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Choir Rehearsals continue on Monday nights at 7 pm.

2.     We are still in need of a few people who are willing to help with decorating the church.  It will soon be time for the Easter decorations.  If you are willing to give a few hours of your time to help, please see Cheryl Hornberger.

3.      Speaking of Easter…looking ahead to Holy Week:

a.      4/14 – Easter Cantata and Fellowship Meal

b.     4/17 – 4/18 – Prayer Vigil

c.      4/18 – Maundy Thursday Communion Service at 6:30, followed by “Breads and Spreads” fellowship time.

d.     4/21 – Easter Sunday!

 This week we continue our sermon series on the disciples as we look at the life of Andrew.  Unlike his brother Peter who often preached to masses, Andrew is almost always found taking someone to meet Jesus.  On Sunday we will discover why the church needs both folks like Peter AND folks like Andrew! 

 Scott