Sermon Cast – Home for Christmas: You Can Count On Me

Date: 12/7/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: Isaiah 40: 1-11, Mark 1:1-8
Description: In the second week of our Advent Sermon Series, we consider the topic of commitment. The iconic song “I’ll be Home for Christmas” brings to mind the hope of trustworthiness with the lyrics “You can count on me.” In this respect, every decision of family or friends to travel great distances during the holidays is an act of commitment. Purchasing plane tickets, driving for great lengths and hours are all evidence of our connection to and support of those we love. At Christmas time, the message of the Christ Child is one of God’s unwavering commitment to us.

Share

Sermon Cast – Home for Christmas: The Last One In

Date: November 30, 2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: Mark 13:24-37
Description: One of my favorite Christmas songs is a rendition of I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Vince Gill. Whether in grade school, college, grad school, and even now in the ministry, I always want to be home for the Christmas holiday. I know that not everyone has the same experience, but home for me is safe, nostalgic, and filled with the ones I love most.

As we begin to celebrate Advent in 2014, we remember that a central piece of the Christian story is that Jesus, who once made his home with us (John 1:14), will also one day return ‘home’ to us again. This is commonly called the Second Coming. Jesus asks us to ‘be alert’ and ‘be awake’ not out of fear but out of hope. A child waits at the window sill for mom or dad to come home from swing-shift out of the simple joy of being brought back together again.

So Jesus calls us this Advent to come home for Christmas. Our true, heavenly home. While we wait, we live in the hopeful expectation of being reunited with our great Savior, in spirit now but in the flesh on a great day to come.

Share

Sermon Cast – Collaborate with God

Date: October 19, 2014
Preacher: William Marshall

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-7
Description: Lay Preacher Jack Marshall provides the final message to the fall series “In Progress,” a look at the development of our spiritual journeys in God’s hands, under God’s guidance, and as co-laborers for God’s heavenly rule on earth.

Share

Cardboard Pumpkins

Halloween is occasionally criticized by the Christian community for a variety of reasons: the celebration is pagan, occult-ish connections abound, the holiday promotes unbiblical superstitions. While I’d rather defer to greater authorities on these subjects, I’ve written a concise piece on the Christian origins of Halloween in this month’s newsletter. My conclusion? Halloween is a natural and fitting Christian Holiday!
On October 26, 2014 at 4PM Watsontown United Methodist Church hosts a Trunk-or-Treat event for the Watsontown/Warrior Run area. This event is perfect for families and children uncomfortable with some of the conventions of Halloween, the lateness of official trick-or-treating, or the uncertainty of selecting neighborhoods to visit. The church parking lot on 1319 8th Street Drive will be lined with open trunks from which children may gather candy. Additionally, the multipurpose room will be open for social time, refreshments, and games. In several other room of the church, children may listen to a Halloween story or help out with this season’s mission project: Operation Christmas Child. Join us and tell your friends!

One week after Trunk-and-Treat, the youth group of WUMC, along with scouting organizations and other young people, will participate in a Box City simulation. This event will run from 4PM Saturday November 1 through 12:00PM Sunday November 2. Designed to raise awareness to poverty and hunger, these young people will craft a ‘town’ out of cardboard boxes on the church lawn and dwell in them for the evening. In conjunction with Box City, the young people will be receiving donations to support the local mission Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Community donations toward this cause will be accepted at the 8th Street Church during the hours of the event. For more information, click the newsletter link above.

Share

Sermon Cast – All You Need, Ever

Date: 10/12/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:1-7, 1 John 4:7-16
Description: Today was a special day in worship at WUMC. In honor, recognition, and thanks to community First-Responders, we hosted a service and luncheon, inviting many local fire fighters, police officers, emergency workers, and dispatchers to join us. Johnny Jolin offered several special music selections, and a memorial wreath was purchased in memory of those who are no longer with us.

The Scripture passage from our In Progress sermon series is apt for such a day as this. In the ‘road map’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, the pinnacle and goal of the Christian journey is sacrificial love.

The entire service for 10/12 is recorded on CD; if anyone would like a copy, please contact the church office.

Share

Sermon Cast – Undercover Glory

Date: 10/5/2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scriptures: 2 Peter 1:1-7, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

 

Share

Sermon Cast – In Progress: XXX Files

Date: September 28, 2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-7, Mark 7:14-23
Description: ‘Discipline’ and ‘self-control’ are unpleasant words. For a culture that values excess and my pleasure at the expense of others (just take a look at advertising slogans like Burger King’s “Have It Your Way”), curbing our appetites is neither stylish nor desirable. Yet, as 2 Peter 1:5-7 elaborates on the qualities of a maturing believer, self-control holds a prominent place.

In religious vocabulary, self-control seems confining. If our hearts are liable to all of the things Jesus warns about in Mark 7:21-22–sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly–is it really my responsibility to contain and resist all of those things? What dreadful and taxing tasks! I thought the life of faith was about hope and freedom (Galatians 5:1) rather than creating a new list of things I cannot do!

In reality, self-control is no via negative. Self-control is more than choosing what not to do. The athlete who spends hours training, rests well, and follows good nutrition is exercising self-control. Discipline–and consequently the life of faith–is all about instituting good and life-giving practices in ourselves. And if our hearts or full of these things, full of God (2 Peter 1:3), then we will simply have little room for damaging indulgence or excess.

Share

October 2014 Newsletter and Events

Fall is in full swing, and Watsontown United Methodist Church is taking every opportunity to live in to our mission to: know Jesus Christ, grow in Jesus Christ, and go be like Jesus Christ. The October 2014 edition of our monthly newsletter is sizzling off the press, and you may click the link –> HERE <– to read it for yourself! Each page is full chances to connect and serve with our faith community.

Perhaps you are interested in getting to know some new people or spending time with good friends on a scenic excursion? WUMC is hosting a train adventure to Jim Thorpe, PA on October 5th. Tickets cost $9 to $24 depending on which car one chooses (payable on location). A group will be car pooling from the church at 10:30AM and meet down at the train station together.October 12 will be a very special day at WUMC and in the greater Watsontown Community. On that Sunday, our 10:30AM worship service will honor and recognize the many first responders in our communities. This celebration will include a meaningful worship service followed by a light luncheon and social hour. First responders who plan to attend are asked to notify the church office so that we may prepare adequately. ALSO on October 12, the borough of Watsontown hosts the annual CROP Walk. CROP is an international movement to raise awareness for and combat hunger. This year’s CROP walk begins with registration at 1:30PM at the Watsontown Elementary School. The Walk will proceed to the Watsontown Park at 2:00PM (individuals may also arrive at the park without making this trek). No fundraising packets are required this year; instead a donation cover charge is requested of all children ($5) adults ($10) and families ($20 max). Events at the park will include a walk for kids, presentation by Kingdom Kidz Puppet Ministry, and more!

With Halloween just around the corner, Watsontown United Methodist Church invites the community to a wholesome family gathering on October 26th at 4PM. This is our annual Trunk and Treat event and provides a fun alternative and/or addition to normal trick-or-treating. Kids and families are welcome to stroll through our parking lot of decorated car trunks as volunteers hand out candy. Games, story time, refreshments, and a mission project will take place inside the WUMC class and multipurpose room. So pick out your best costume, and join the fun!

As always, we welcome you EVERY Sunday to join us for worship, prayer and study at 8:00AM (Praise Worship), 9:15AM (Sunday School), and 10:30AM (Traditional Worship). Come see what God is doing at WUMC!

 

 

Share

Sermon Cast – In Progress: Holy Know-It-All

Date: September 21, 2014
Preacher: Rev. Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-7, James 4:13-17
Description: According to the spiritual progression found in 2 Peter 1:1-7, ‘knowledge’ builds on the foundation of faith and good works (2 Peter 1:5). Business and political culture often inform us that success comes not through what someone knows but by who someone knows. The Christian life seeks a very similar ideal to know Jesus Christ in our inner being.

Share

Bible Study: It’s Good for You!

A month ago I was serving as the pastor of a summer church camp. During one of our worship services I asked the question: “Who wants to have a deeper relationship with God?” Every hand in the amphitheater shot skyward. The following week I addressed the same question to our congregation’s two worship services: “Who wants to have a deeper relationship with God?” Like a collection of compressed springs, every palm extended again. Of course, both occurrences were encouraging. Watsontown UMC’s vision is to “Know Jesus Christ, Grow in Jesus Christ, and Go be like Jesus Christ.” Motivation to attend church camp or a Sunday praise service ought to revolve around ‘drawing close to God,’ as James 4:8 puts it. God has made Godself clearly visible for all to see (Romans 1:20), and what more fulfilling connection could there be than knowing and being known personally by the gracious creator of the universe?

This ethereal inward longing aside, many of us are acutely aware that God neither feels continually present, nor do we always feel well-informed of the best means to foster our relationship with God. If I had a dime for every conversation I’ve had where someone said they hadn’t experienced God for a long time, I’d have a sizable collection. Someone I met in seminary used to talk fondly of a retreat center she went to as a teenager, then would lament how it had sometimes become difficult to experience God anywhere else. In our hearts there exists this deep longing for the living God in Jesus Christ (Ecclesiastes 3:11), yet when that longing is unfulfilled, we can be at a loss for a remedy.

More and more I grow convinced that Bible Study and regular attention to Scripture is part of the solution! The internal witness of Scripture is clear: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16). As a school student, I had a voracious propensity to read books; my parents frequently had to check my room light late night to be sure I wasn’t still awake at the wee hours devouring another novel. It was in this reading that I could enter the experiences of characters who were not even real (I was a sci-fi junkie). How much more so can the many books of the Bible, who draw from the testimonies and experiences of people who knew God face-to-face, engage us in a living connection with Jesus Christ? For those who know the feeling of divine disconnection, the Bible stands read to offer us words of hope, encouragement, moral correction, wisdom and sustenance for the journey alongside Jesus Christ.

Is God’s Word in Jesus Christ feeding you?

The gospels record an interaction between Jesus and a young man who wants to know how to experience eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus’ reply is sometimes considered a brush-off: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments,” almost as if Jesus did not think the young man was being sincere. But what if Jesus’ response actually is well-meaning? This guy asks him “how do I find eternal life; how to I know God,” and Jesus’ automatic answer is “go to the commandments.” In other words, remember the Scriptures! Jesus is the true Word of God (John 1:14), yet the Bible is a socket we can plug into in order to illuminate God’s grace and reality in our hearts.

So take advantage of that Bible laying on your end table! Read a couple (or a collection!) of words today. Or better yet, take advantage of the many Bible Study and Sunday School opportunities we have here at Watsontown UMC. If the word of God is what we live by (Matthew 4:4), then leaving the Bible where it lies is simply bad nutrition!

Share