Welcome to St. John Lutheran Church in Bellefonte, PA. We look forward to welcoming you to our church family.
Message from Pastor Osman
Your Pastor’s Ponderings
Whole lotta shaking going on . And by shaking, I mean shivering. Indeed, there’s a whole lotta shaking going on. because I am watching the thermometer get ready to plunge yet again into the single digits and below. To Ice-finity and beyond, as my favorite Space Ranger might say. All that is a long way of saying, it’s COLD out.
Then I looked at the calendar and remembered it was February and thought, it’s supposed to be cold in February. While warmer temperatures would be welcome, I guess for now we will have to draw our warmth from the Light of the World, Jesus, who continues to be revealed to us in this elongated Epiphany season. Usually, at this time of year, I am writing something about Lent - but as you might have noticed, Easter and Lent are late this year. So we will have a full seven week season of Epiphany -- which means a month of looking at Jesus Sermon on the Mount.
And with this sermon, Jesus is definitely going to shake things up. Because the things that Jesus shares in this sermon aren’t meant to be moral guidelines or the keys to a successful life of faith. Rather it’s good news that’s meant to turn the world upside down - shake things up. Blessedness doesn’t come through wealth, long life, winning in competitions, or a checklist of faith to-dos. Blessedness comes thru God and God’s character. And what the Sermon on the Mount reveals is that God cares most for the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the peacemakers, etc. And Jesus point in the sermon is not simply to offer a list of people that God seeks to bless, but rather to announce that in Jesus, God is making a new promise to the world -- especially the last, the lost and the least -- that things are going to change, that the world as we know it is not the way God intends it.
The promise is this -- that the kingdom of heaven (the place where God’s desire reigns completely, where love rules all) which many think of as the beautiful afterlife, as Paradise, as heaven above, that kingdom thru Jesus is coming now, on earth, it’s happening now - through the Christ and Christ’s followers. Jesus has come to transform this present earth into the place of beauty and life that God always intended. Talk about a whole lotta shaking going on.
And guess what? We get to have a part in it too. We get to help live out that promise -- through our lives of discipleship. Which brings us to the seventh of our Seven Faith Practices that we’ve being exploring these past few months. The final practice is to Serve. It seems fitting that right before Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount, he gathers up some helpers, some servers to help in this work of ushering in God’s kingdom.
For it is by practicing justice and doing acts of service and mercy that we put flesh on God’s love for the world. That as we follow Jesus, we become God’s hands and feet. For Jesus didn’t only address the spiritual needs of the people, but also used a high-touch, hands-on ministry that addressed physical human needs for health, wholeness, and inclusion. And as people of faith growing in our discipleship we seek to do the same, to serve as Jesus served. And that work take two forms: love and service, loving God and serving the neighbor, serving God and loving the neighbor.
Now recalling the question of the lawyer before Jesus, we might ask “And who is my neighbor?” For Lutherans, all the world is our neighbor (from Bellefonte to Belgium, from Pleasant Gap to Pakistan, from State College to the Sudan). For Jesus and Luther, the neighbor is a prominent figure in our faith, both as the one whom we serve but also as the one who serves us and upon whose kindness we depend. Whether teachers or bus drives, janitors or computer techs, we become a neighbor to those around us by doing the best job possible. For God is most formally met in relationship -- in the neighbor. And as a neighbor to others, we are called to serve quite literally as God’s hands in the world so that we might help Jesus keep things shaking.
Happy Epiphany! See you around God’s house and in God’s neighborhoods.
Our worship service is at 9:30 am.
Childrens' Sunday School is an integral part of our worship service. They are in the service through the Children's sermon and then go to their classrooms and return before the end of the service.
Adult Sunday School is at 8:30 am.
Please join us in celebrating the light and blessings of Christ.
"THE LORD'S BASEBALL GAME"
Freddy and the Lord stood by to observe a baseball game. The Lord's team was playing Satan's team.
The Lord's team was at bat, the score was tied zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs. They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate named 'Love.'
Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because 'Love never fails.'
The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith works with Love.
The next batter up was named Godly Wisdom. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch.
Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it pass: Ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked because he never swings at what Satan throws.
The bases were now loaded. The Lord then turned to Freddy and told him He was now going to bring in His star player. Up to the plate stepped Grace. Freddy said, 'He sure doesn't look like much!'
Satan's whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he had won the game, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen! But Satan was not worried; his center fielder let very few get by.
He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing on the ground; the roaring crowds went wild as the ball continued over the fence.. for a home run!
The Lord's team won!
The Lord then asked Freddy if he knew why Love, Faith and Godly Wisdom could get on base but couldn't win the game. Freddy answered that he didn't know why.
The Lord explained, 'If your love, faith and wisdom had won the game, you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, Faith and Wisdom will get you on base but only My Grace can get you Home.
'For by Grace are you saved, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.' Ephesians 2:8-9
'For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.' Psalm 84:11