The Vision – November 2016

An Opportunity

How would you like to reach out to some folks who are deployed overseas? Our very own Captain Joseph Hardin is offering to distribute care packages to the Marines in his unit. He wrote that they especially like beef jerky, Dunkin’ Donuts K cups, and protein bars. You can send these items and other surprises to:

Capt Hardin, Joseph
S-3/H&S Co
FPO AE 09508

Include a card for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and let those Marines know that Grace and St. Paul Lutheran churches in Shamokin and Gowen City, PA are thinking of them!

In Christ’s service,
Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – October 2016

We are having a Book Fair!

Promotional blurb from Augsburg Fortress: “Are you looking for that perfect Christmas gift for the children in your family? Stop by our book fair and shop award-winning Bibles, books and videos for babies to twelve-year-olds. Save up to 40% PLUS free shipping on all book fair titles.

Stop by Grace Lutheran Church parlor on:

Sunday, October 23 from 11:30 to 12 noon
Sunday, October 30 from 11:30 to 12 noon
Thursday, November 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, November 6 from 11:30 to 12 noon.

Our book fair, sponsored by Sparkhouse Family, will feature a wide variety of new resources based on the beloved Spark Story Bible, including a family devotional, a collection of prayers for kids based on the Psalms, a picture book about Noah’s ark, the first-ever animated Spark video (starring Squiggles the caterpillar!) and a new line of Spark Play and Learn Books to help make family faith formation easy and fun. Other noteworthy titles included in the upcoming book fair are a new Christmas picture book from the Frolic series and a gorgeous Advent pop-up book that will make a delightful gift.

Each book and video is designed to help parents instill an open-hearted, transformational, lifelong Christian faith in their children at every age and stage.”

God’s peace,

Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – September 2016

From Summer Into Fall

Thanks be to God for our congregations and how we have been engaged in our ministries throughout the summer. We have had fruitful meetings and accomplished much in the midst of vacations and other summer activities. Our worship attendance has held steady this summer, and I give thanks for all of you as you faithfully come to worship and hear God’s Word and receive the Holy Sacrament. We have had a fun and successful Sunday School picnic and a very well attended parish picnic (even in the rain!). Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make these events meaningful and fun and delicious!

Now we are moving into our fall activities. Please continue to make an effort to attend worship regularly, even as sports and other activities can clash with our call and mandate to come and worship God and keep the Sabbath holy. We are planning many other ways to be involved in church. Here are some of what will happen: 

A book fair from Augsburg Fortress will be targeted for children ages 0 – 10.
 Sunday School on Thursday will meet on the first Thursday of the month, starting September 1.
 There will be numerous opportunities to learn more about Lutheranism as we move toward the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
 We will have a study of the proposed social statement on women and justice issues.

Stay tuned for more information as these programs are launched. See you in church!

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly Pastor

The Vision – Summer 2016

Our Partnership in Ministry

The councils of both Grace and St. Paul are in conversations about what our partnership means and how that is defined in our thinking and on paper. These are good discussions, as we are called to discern how we do the mission and ministry of Christ’s Church in our communities. As your pastor, I am also called to walk with you in our mutual ministry. It is the task of pastors to keep the places we serve focused on what is important and how we are led by God through the Holy Scriptures to be the church in our particular time and place. Our culture presents many challenges for the Church, and we trust that God will continue to equip us for ministry and provide the resources and talents we need to do what God calls us to do.

I give thanks for all of you, and for the many gifts you bring to the Lord’s table in time, talents and treasure I give thanks. On June 9 I celebrated 15 years of ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and I thank all of you for the gifts you presented to me:

St. Paul Lutheran pulled off a surprise dinner for MaryLou and me at OIP, and, at first, I wondered what all those St. Paul members were doing eating at OIP on a night when MaryLou and I decided to go out to eat!
Grace Lutheran presented a very nice card and a gift of two goats and a sheep through “God’s Global Barnyard” to be presented to farmers in developing countries. What a wonderful gift!

Thank you for your generosity and your faithfulness!
In Christ’s service,

David M. Byerly

The Vision – June 2016

The Time After Pentecost
Some thoughts from Dr. Mark Oldenburg, professor at Gettysburg Seminary:

“When the Sundays of the non-festival season are numbered ‘after Pentecost,’ that time becomes known by (among other names) the season of Pentecost… [This season] has its own fidelity and usefulness. As a time dedicated to the growth of the church (as indicated by its green color), it is indeed the ‘time of the Spirit,’ when the gifts of the Spirit are honed and put into use.”

“For us as for the disciples, Sunday remains a time to meet in the presence of the Resurrected Lord. Sunday is not a time to remember Jesus in his absence, simply calling to mind his teachings, example, and promises. Rather, Jesus’ promise is that, when we call to mind his life and his teaching, he will not be absent. He will be present in evangelism and initiation (Matthew 28:20) and in the reconciliation of Christians to one another (Matthew 18:20). And since he has bound himself so intimately with the church, he is as present in that assembly as I am in my own body (1 Corinthians 12).”

“Most clearly, if Jesus is the Word of God, God’s own self-revelation, then Jesus is present whenever God is self-revealed. Therefore, Christ is not only present and active in every interchange of faithful witness, in every inspired reading of the Scriptures, and in every act of service done in Jesus’ name (since these are all ways in which God is self-revealed). In particular, Christ is present when the church gathers for proclamation and petition, to hear and respond to God’s Word, to receive that revelation audibly and visibly.”

Do you see why it is so important to be in church every Sunday? Jesus is there!

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly

The Vision – May 2016

From Easter to Ordinary Time

First of all, ordinary time does not mean boring or routine. In the church, ordinary time is the time when the paraments are green and we focus on our life of discipleship together. It is ordered time measured out as time after Epiphany or time after Pentecost. At the end of May we will be in ordinary time.
What happens from the beginning of May until the end? We are now celebrating the weeks of Easter, which remind us that every Sunday is a little Easter. Jesus was raised from the dead on Sunday. This year we finish out our Easter season in May, then we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in a new way as we hear the stories from scripture and decorate our churches with red on Pentecost Sunday. Then, the next week we contemplate the mystery of the Holy Trinity and give thanks for the various ways God has been made known to us in our world and in our lives. In the midst of all of these celebrations is a Thursday festival – The Ascension – which we will consider during one of our Sunday worship services.

The best way to understand the rhythms of the Church Year is to attend worship regularly. In our society the meaning of regular attendance at worship has shifted to once or twice a month. This trend is quite unfortunate for a number of reasons. People who do not attend weekly worship are not fed and nourished by God’s Word and the sacrament of Holy Communion. There is also a sense of people not being literate in the scriptures when not engaged with them weekly at church and daily at home. The life of our congregations depend on your showing up! Let’s renew our zeal for for the praise and worship of God Almighty, who has given us the gifts of forgiveness and life eternal. There is no greater gift!

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly

The Vision – April 2016

The Lord is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

We are celebrating Easter for 50 days from Easter Sunday through Pentecost Sunday. Of course, we worship on Sundays because every Sunday is a little bit of Easter, as we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on a Sunday morning.

We will be reading passages from John’s Gospel through this whole season, including the scene along the lake when Jesus is grilling fish for the disciples, and they sit down together for a breakfast and teaching about how we are called to live out our faith in the midst of challenges and even persecution. Sadly, that persecution because of faith is not gone from our modern world. Our prayers on Good Friday asked for God’s help in moving past religious persecution as we model and share the unity that God desires for us all.

We also focus on The Acts of the Apostles during the Sundays of Easter. The readings from Acts remind us of how the early Church developed with the spread of the good news of the Resurrection. We are inspired by the outreach of those first witnesses to the resurrection, and we are called to continue that work in our community and in our world. We can be considered to be “Acts 29” people. If you look into your Bible, you will see that the book of Acts has 28 published chapters. It is our call to continue to do those acts in our lives that help to write the story of Christianity. Let us seek God’s guidance as we answer the call to live out our discipleship day by day.

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly

The Vision – March 2016

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb….. John 20:1

So begins the story we rely on for our very lives! So begins the story that is central to our life together in our churches. The Easter story is the reason we gather week after week on Sunday mornings (the first day of the week) to worship and give thanks to God for nurturing and sustaining us throughout our lives, from the moment we are conceived until the moment we die and enter into eternal life with God. Our life is connected with this story of how God has shown us how much we are valued and loved.

How can we live out the story in our time and place? There are countless ways we are called to share the gifts and talents we have been given as we fulfill our vocations. And we see life unfold not only in our careers but also in our families, our hobbies and travel and volunteer work and any other pursuits that show us how God has gifted us with this fascinating life we share. There is only one sure way to keep all of this complex life in perspective, and that is to focus on the One who has created us and everything around us!

Yes, we must gather to hear the stories again and again. We must pray together and sing together and learn together what it means to follow Jesus Christ, who has shown us the fullness and love of Almighty God. That means coming to worship every Sunday, not whenever it fits our busy schedules, as this culture around us has determined is okay. That means coming to Holy Week services, even if it seems like too much of an effort to attend one or the other congregation’s service. Gather and hear the promises.

The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you, and keep you in his grace!

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly

The Vision – February 2016

Many thanks for the ministries you share!

Soon we will gather in our annual congregation meetings to give thanks for your gifts of time, talent and resources that we share with our neighbors in service to God. We truly practice our ELCA motto – God’s Work, Our Hands. We will honor and thank our outgoing council members and encourage our new leaders. We will reflect on how our ministries are helping people in our community and seek new ways of reaching out as opportunities for ministry are revealed. We give thanks together for the privilege of being part of the body of Christ in these communities of Gowen City and Shamokin.

I must thank you for your prayers and the support you show me, especially during the busy times of Advent and Christmas. Your cards, your gifts, your words of encouragement and your love mean so much to me as I strive to fulfill my call as your pastor. MaryLou is very appreciative of all you do for us as well! We are truly blessed to be a part of the ministries we share with you.

We are called together to move forward in ministries in these communities where our churches are planted. Perhaps we can take a cue from Jesus as he began his ministry in his town. He read from the Isaiah scroll, and this is what is says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19

Let us strive together to do those things God calls us to do with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit!

In Christ’s service,
David M. Byerly

The Vision – December 2015

Grace Church invites you to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child on December 24.
The annual Candlelight Service of Word and Sacrament will be held at 4:00 pm Christmas Eve. The Service will feature special music and the traditional candle-lighting and “Silent Night”. There will be a special treat for the children.
In an effort to accommodate families with small children as well as those who would rather not be out late, council members voted unanimously to have one Service at an early hour.
Please join us as we celebrate the birth of Christ.