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From Death to Life


Our deep longing for home is ultimately met only in the good news of God.

PRELUDE – Bryan O’Lone



Cornerstone Women’s Resource Center’s in Salem usually conducts its BABY BOTTLE CAMPAIGN in the month of May. This year because of COVID-19 instead of distributing “baby bottles” for the campaign we are requesting that designated be sent to Mount Pleasant during the month of May the Missions Committee will forward the amount received to Cornerstone to support the ministry upholding the sanctity of human life in every aspect and sharing the Gospel in both word and deed.Cornerstone shares the Truth with young women and teens who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. The date for the completion of this project is June 1, 2020.

LECTOR – Doris Daniloff

Doris Daniloff --- CALL TO WORSHIP

Pastor John: They spoke in the language of the Parthians, the Medes, and the Elamites.

Doris: They spoke in the language of the Germans, the Italians, the Arabs, and the Chinese.

Pastor John: They spoke in the language of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia.

Doris: They spoke in the language of the Russians, the French, the Spanish, and the Indians.

Pastor John: They spoke in the language of Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and Libya.

Doris: They spoke in our language.

Pastor John: They shouldn't have been able to.

Doris: It was amazing. But more amazing by far

Pastor John: Was what they said.

All: Thanks be to God.

OPENING HYMN “God of Grace and God of Glory” UMH #577 TWO STANZAS


We confess, our God, even as believers, to disbelieving the fullness of your good news. We affirm the holiness of your way, but don't fully lean into the wholeness of it. We celebrate your story, but don't rely on it enough to risk living it. We say our prayers, but count our money. We know the stories and we sing the hymns, but we won't risk trusting the implications of those stories and songs at the workplace or at the gym or at home. Blow away our half-heartedness, God. Breathe into us and fill our hearts with hope and possibility and commitment. We can't do it breathing for ourselves. Breathe in us, we pray. Amen.


I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Doris Daniloff --- The Epistle Reading - Introduction to the Reading.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 (NIV)

This is Paul's celebration of diversity, not for the sake of diversity, but for the sake of accomplishing the will and the work of God.

Hear now the lesson:

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 (NIV2011) 3 b No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.


Doris Daniloff --- The Gospel Reading – Introduction to the Reading.

John 7:37-39 (NIV) Today's Gospel is the Johannine (JO-AN-NEEN) record of the Great Commission and Pentecost.

Hear now the lesson:

John 7:37-39 (NIV2011) 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.


Pastor John Mitchell ---The Reading From Acts – Introduction to the Reading.

Acts 2:1-21 (NIV) The day of Pentecost text is a re-interpretation and claiming of one of Judaism's high and holy days as part of the new and unfolding story of Jesus.

Hear now the lesson:

Acts 2:1-21 (NIV2011) 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Leader: The Word of God for the people of God.


New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

MESSAGE “From Death to Life” Pastor John Mitchell

Reading: Acts 2:1-21 (NIV)


Our Christian celebration of Pentecost — remembering the Holy Spirit and the infant church — turns a harvest of death, the old way of living, into a harvest of life, an alternative way to live and love.

“From Death to Life”

There’s no question that history was changed July 1-3, 1863, when two great armies met around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War. The features of that battlefield have become legend: The Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, Seminary Ridge, the Cupola and the Peach Order are among the place names that denote blood, death and deathless heroism.

It was an historical accident that this, the greatest battle of the Civil War, took place in that sleepy meeting of highways. And if history was changed for the country and to some extent the world, the personal lives of those who owned the property on which the armies battled were also changed.

A harvest of death

The farm belonging to Joseph and Mary Sherfy is located along the Emmitsburg Pike, the route one drives today in the self-guided tour of the battlefield. Theirs is a modest house, like many who shared their faith. The Sherfys were “Dunkers,” a nickname assigned to them by outsiders because their practice of baptism required new members be fully immersed three times forward. (Civil War buffs will recall that a Dunker Meeting House was the signal landmark at the Antietam Battlefield.)

The Dunkers, though largely of German descent, were the only mixed-race congregation in the Gettysburg area. They’d stood squarely against slavery since their arrival in America during the Colonial period. They were also nonviolent, preferring that they themselves be harmed rather than harming others.

The Sherfys lived in a spot where some of the most desperate fighting of the battle took place. They fled when only when ordered out by a Union officer on the second day of the fighting. Their personal treasures were plundered, their crops destroyed and their barn, where several wounded soldiers had crawled for shelter, was set afire. Those trapped inside were burned to death.

Having lost everything, including the peaches growing in their orchard, the Sherfys could count on their fellow Dunkers to take care of them after this disaster, providing shelter, food and aid in rebuilding. Ultimately, the harvest of death became for them a harvest of life. 1

A harvest of life

For many of us who have gardens, harvest is fun. Our gardens provide fresh flavors and variety for our meals, and if we can the vegetables, they’ll grace our tables when temperatures get colder. However, that harvest is not a matter of life or death. After a summer in which the tomatoes disappoint us, we’re still able to find tomatoes in the store.

As for our farmers, a bad harvest is a tough blow, but some have crop insurance. In any event, at least for farmers in the developed nations, it won’t mean starvation for them.

But for many people in previous generations, harvesting was a matter of life or death. The Feast of Weeks, one of the three holy days that Moses commanded everyone to attend, signified that the barren earth had once more — through hard work and God’s blessing — given life and hope.

The word “Pentecost” refers to the fifty days after Passover, which was the time when the first fruits of spring planting were harvested. Part of Pentecost was the confession of faith mandated by Moses, which began, “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor….” 2 This confession gave God the credit for making them a people and leading them to freedom.

Isn’t this an important confession for us as Christians today as well? We all come from somewhere else, whether recently or hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Hope and life

The Passover celebration includes the reading of the book of Ruth in its entirety. Why Ruth? Maybe because in this book, a harvest of death becomes a harvest of life. The desperate threat of starvation caused an Israelite couple, Elimelech and Naomi, to do the unthinkable — travel to the hated land of Moab, where their sons married women from among the people that the Israelites in general had learned to hate. Death eventually claimed Elimelech and his sons, forcing Naomi to travel home to Israel with her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, in tow. Though Naomi was filled with bitterness, the outsider Ruth learned that even an alien like herself was entitled by Israel’s Mosaic law to glean the fields after the harvest. The steadfast love she showed her mother-in-law led to a marriage between Ruth and Boaz, and so this foreigner ultimately became part of the family tree that led to the birth of King David.

Though God is not overtly seen in Ruth’s story, God’s Spirit seems to have made it possible for life to spring out of death.

The book of Ruth is found between Judges and the books of Samuel and Kings. Judges ends with a horrifying spiral of violence that led to death and hopelessness. In the books that follow Ruth, the Israelites demanded to have a king, which led to even more violence, along with, eventually, the destruction of both the kingdom and the temple.

The book of Ruth, however, demonstrates that there’s an alternative to violence. It is possible to live righteously through the leading of God’s Holy Spirit and God’s law.

Death to life

The Acts of the Apostles also provides an alternative to the violence of the Roman Empire and its emperors, demonstrating that through Christ Jesus, healing, peaceful intervention, the sharing of possessions and reconciliation between enemies is not only possible but vital. To quote the apostle Paul, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” 3 And that same Spirit of Pentecost, seen and unseen, is still active among us today.

Every year the harvest is different. In the same way, the action of the Holy Spirit is different, too. Sometimes our tomatoes are more bountiful. Other years our spaghetti squash is most memorable. So too the harvest in our churches may be measured by the attendance, but the Spirit may also enrich the life force of a very small church to serve more richly and bountifully than they or their neighbors imagined.

Nor are the Holy Spirit’s blessings something to be hoarded. At harvest time, bags of zucchini are left anonymously on doorsteps because the harvest is so bountiful. The fruits of God’s Spirit should also be shared with joy.

When it comes to the harvest, let’s remember that we don’t control the Holy Spirit any more than we control things like the weather. We don’t control the Holy Spirit despite the efforts of some to rigidly define what God can or cannot do.

Giving God the credit doesn’t mean we should do nothing and simply wait for God to act. Farmers know that when rain prevents them from getting out in the field, there’s still plenty to be done preparing for that harvest. In God’s harvest we must do our part as well. We can pray. We can study the Bible. We can be faithful in attendance. We can be open to outsiders like Ruth who will demonstrate that the Bible really works! And we can find things to do.

Peaches from the Battlefield

Two years after the Battle of Gettysburg, ads in the Baltimore Sun proclaimed “Peaches from the Battlefield Orchard” for sale. These peaches came “Right from the trees on the Battle Ground of Gettysburg, Pa.” Joseph and Mary Sherfy were delighted by the crops they harvested from an orchard that had once been a killing field. People who came to buy some of those peaches on the Sherfy farm described them as “large and juicy and sweet.”

Joseph Sherfy died in 1882, and his obituary proclaimed him a pioneer when it came to drying and canning fruit. His wife, Mary, lived until the age of 87, dying in 1907. She was called “Mother Sherfy” by the many veterans who came to visit her farm when they returned to the battlefields, and she always allowed them to walk through the home that some of them had plundered, and welcomed as friends those who might have been previously considered enemies.

The Christian alternative story of peace and reconciliation won out against the story of death and destruction that had spilled over onto their property. A harvest of death gave way to a harvest of life.

We too should so live that our actions contribute to a harvest of life.

1 The Sherfy’s story is from Steve Longenecker, Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (Fordham University Press, 2014).

2 Deuteronomy 26:5.

3 Galatians 3:28.

HYMN “O Spirit of the Living God” UMH #539 TWO STANZAS


The altar is open to anyone desiring to pray or make a fresh Commitment to Christ.


OFFERTORY – Bryan O’Lone


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise him, all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.




Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen!

*Closing Hymn “Forward Through the Ages” UMH #555 TWO STANZAS



May the LORD watch between me and thee when we are absent one from the other, AMEN! Gen 31:49

POSTLUDE – Bryan O’Lone

Thought for the Day

What the ears of those with faith hear as good news, sounds like just so much absurdity to the ears of those without faith.

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