Bethany Presbyterian Church Bridgeville, PA Sun, 17 May 2015 04:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hijacked by the Holy Sun, 17 May 2015 04:00:09 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Glimpses of Grace Thu, 14 May 2015 19:08:38 +0000 Read the rest]]> “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware.”



We heard this in Scripture and in sermon on Sunday as Robbie reminded us of the strangers “entertained” by a gracious Abraham and his wife Sarah. They would discover that these strangers were directly from God, messengers who would speak God’s promise of a son in their old age.


I thought of the stories my Grandma Gray told me as a child. She and Grandpa and the family lived on a busy street corner in Lewistown, Pa, a busy railroad town. She would tell about the hobos – yes, that’s right, real hobos!- who would knock on their door for a meal during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.


She would feed them- without hesitation. No matter the color or condition or age of the traveler. She would tell me about their conversations, about the circumstances and even the weather that evening. I am sure that there was some embellishment in her tales; they had a “Hallmark” quality by the time they got told to me. But I could see and hear the pride, the joy, she took in remembering those moments and the men who came for food. Her stories were not about what she got but what she gave, not the people in high places she met but those in the depths of need she served. And yes, she knew full well that God was present in those encounter, that she was entertaining angels.


I think of Cindy and Marilyn Richards who, as we worked on the Memorial Service for their mother, described the welcome they received from the church as they came here as “strangers” about ten years ago. I think of those in our last new members class who are members and actively so because you invited them, welcomed them, included them…those who come into our halls each month for the Food Bank- to receive food and a warm welcome…those who find a place receive food, shelter and “family” for their families through Family Promise…those who walk through our doors on a Sunday morning , “strangers” to us, but hungry for God and no strangers to Him.


On Monday morning I visited my grandson’s preschool class for their “father’s day” at the school. I noticed that I looked a bit older than the rest on the fathers and a lot more clean cut. When Jamie and I sat down to eat our sundaes, I was across from the roughest looking guy in the crowd. Breaking the ice I asked him what he did. ” I fight,” he answered matter of factly. ” Ah, I mean, what is your job?”

” I’m a fighter – MMA, mixed martial arts. Been injured for a while, but I train every day, hope to get back in the ring this summer. Yeah, I’m a fighter. What do you do?”

“I’m a preacher.”

I wanted to think up something else – like mountain climber or rock star or professional wrestler  ( I do the wrestling for free- with my grandson). But my answer opened up a delightful conversation. The young father’s warmth and love for his son came through. I noticed the son’s name tattooed on his neck right there with his other son’s name. I noticed his eyes lighting up as he talked about being a father and as we both laughed about life with five year olds. The young tough looking guy and the old clean cut guy…two strangers…entertaining angels unaware.


You see, it is not that complicated. It means to see each person as a child of God and to treat them that way. It means to be alert and responsive to those who are strangers to us- at the office, the school, the factory, the neighborhood, and certainly the church. It means, as Robbie and the Scriptures reminded us, that loving the stranger is not an option for followers of Jesus; it is central. It is who we are called to be.


Do that and you will see God.


See you on Sunday,

John H


Some very important notes: this Sunday is Music Sunday when we honor those who have been a part of our ministry of music. Lots of special music will highlight the worship. The sermon: “Hijacked by the Holy”


The next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Robbie and I will begin a series of sermons on the Letter of Paul to the Philippians, “To My People with Love”.

Oh yes, and plan to wear red on that day- Mat 24.


Finally, see the notice below on the phones at the church. We are working as fast as we can to resolve the problems.


“We wanted to alert you that the church voicemail system is down at this time.  Please call during normal business hours or contact us by email if possible, and we appreciate your patience if we have not responded to your call promptly. 


If you have an emergency outside of normal business hours, please contact Beckie Price, Clerk of Session, at 412-427-5941.”

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The Inconvenient Truth Sun, 10 May 2015 04:00:34 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 A Prayer for Perspective Tue, 05 May 2015 19:51:22 +0000 Read the rest]]> After the sermon on Sunday and your comments and reflections with me, I found a prayer I had written a while back- for myself and now for you, too.



A Prayer for Perspective


Oh Lord, do I have tasks to do today!

The list is long and the day is short.

My brain is slow, and my body is tired.

I’m afraid that before I’m done with these tasks,

I’ll be done in by them.

That is why I am turning to you, Lord. I am asking for perspective.

Help me…

to accept this day as a gift, and my tasks as a calling;

to see my routines as your holy rhythm,

and my interruptions as your holy surprises;

to treat strangers as real people and loved ones as priceless gifts;

to discern the difference between the trivial

and the eternal, the shallow and deep.

In other words, as I look at the day before me,

help me to see it with your eyes, your perspective.

At the end of the day, if my tasks have not gotten done

or if some have gone poorly,

help me not to flee in panic or despair.

Instead, help me to give to You my unfinished tasks

and to find my peace, confidence and trust in You.

Help me to trust that my time and my tasks,

my loved ones and my life, are in Your hands.

In Your Son’s name. Amen




Some updates: Lois Richards will be transitioning from Shadyside Hospital to home with outpatient hospice care. Please keep Lois in prayer, and her daughters Cindy and Marilyn.


This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Make worship a priority for that special day. Taking your mother out to brunch or lunch? Take her to church first- at 8:15 ( for the “brunchers” ) and 10:45 ( for the “lunchers”). For all, including many of us who can only remember our mothers, come and give praise to the God of love and grace for all of us.



See you on Sunday,

John H.

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Happenings Around Bethany Mon, 04 May 2015 13:05:59 +0000 Read the rest]]> Dear friends in Christ,


Last Sunday was a WOW! From the joyful opening with the singing and entrance of the youth to the tender testimonies of the two speakers, we were blessed. Their testimonies spoke of how God broke through their struggles and questions and became a living, transforming presence in their lives…oh yes, and how you -we- the people called Bethany Presbyterian Church helped make it happen. A big thank you goes out to all the youth and leaders and helpers…including our Youth Director, Amanda Leavitt. And a big praise goes to our great and loving God.


After church I had a conversation with Earl Swanson about another great ministry that benefits the broad range of missions that Bethany supports- the Scrip program. After each worship service you can go to a table in the Welcome Center and purchase gift cards for just about any use- food, gasoline, lodgings travel…you name it! With each purchase a very good percentage goes back to the church for our use in mission work, including sending our own members on mission trips. My wife and I do major shopping and gift giving through Scrip. ( I have to make my purchases during the week since after worship I am focused on you J.) Stop by the table this Sunday and get the list of options for cards. You will be amazed.


Here is another cool ministry: Bethany Education Fund. Each year we give a gift of $500 to members who are graduating from high school and going on to college or to training in a trade. They submit an application which includes how Bethany has shaped their lives and prepared them for the future. As one who has read their essays, I was very touched by the impact of Bethany- you- on their lives. They will be recognized on Sunday June 7.


Did you know that the Nursery is now reopened? After the flooding from “above” the repairs and repainting and refurnishing has been completed- enough for it to be back in use as of last Sunday. Again, a huge thanks goes to all who helped in the flooding from the bursting pipes- both in the crisis and in the follow up work that ensued. And that includes the restoring of the Nursery.


Finally, here is what is coming this Sunday: a message on living the resurrection life. One thing is clear in the Bible. Christ shares his resurrection with us…beginning now! How do we live in that reality? This Sunday we discover some answers to that- in Colossians 3:1-4. Take a look; and see you Sunday.


Blessings in the name of the Lord,

John H

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Living the Resurrection Life Sun, 03 May 2015 04:00:13 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 May 2015 Newsletter Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:58:37 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Youth Sunday Sun, 26 Apr 2015 04:00:56 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0 Menus in Racine Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:42:43 +0000 Read the rest]]> I talked to one of my friends in Rochelle, Illinois, this week, and he told me some of the news in response to the recent tornadoes that ravaged the area:

-over 900 volunteers who came into the area to help

-hundreds of people “walking the fields” to search for valuables and others items scattered throughout the area

-at least 20 homes destroyed in Rochelle alone

-churches and Christian mission organizations mobilizing help and resources

-a community rising up to help one another in amazing ways

-a great sense of gratitude from everyone knowing that it could have been so much worse, including in loss of life.

– and the menu…


Among the items scattered far and wide was a menu from Grubsteakers, the restaurant just outside Rochelle demolished by the tornado. Someone found a menu in their yard in…Racine, Wisconsin…80 miles away on Lake Michigan a little south of Milwaukee. Oh yes, neighbors found someone’s clothes dryer in their field…the clean underwear scattered all over the field.


In the midst of the rubble…glimpses of grace.


Do keep our dear Janet Marlett in prayer. She suffered a broken jaw while having teeth removed. Janet is resting and recovering in the hospital and is very grateful for the prayers and love of the church. Please, no visitors and phone calls. She cannot talk and really needs the rest. Cards may be sent to their home.


Meanwhile, if you find a menu from Grubsteakers, let me know.


Blessings and see you on Sunday,

John H


This Sunday: MOPS Sunday as we recognize and pray for that wonderful ministry, the Sacrament of Baptism for five infants at the 10:45 service, and a sermon titled, ” A Little Shake and Bake”.

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A Little Shake and Bake Sun, 19 Apr 2015 04:00:54 +0000 Read the rest]]> Read the rest]]> 0