Light in the Darkness

“I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” Hosea 11:9

Some may wonder why I am writing so much about the holiness of God? Why is it so important?

Well, it is important because it is nothing less than His holiness that we need. We do not need moral perfection according to any other standard. We need God’s very Holiness within.

We human beings, even (dare I say especially?) Christians, are too often content with a simple standard of morality. Such contentment, even with the highest standard of moral behavior reveals a sad misunderstanding of what God requires.

It blinds us to true holiness and more often than not results in silly standards and behavior. When true holiness as God means it, is confused with morality…  no matter how high that standard of morality… it muddies the waters terribly.

It seems right, but it is so, so wrong. The standard is mistaken for true holiness of life.

Thus ‘holiness’ becomes associated strictly with outward behavior, resulting in prohibitions against things like drinking, dancing, playing cards, chewing tobacco, the use of makeup, attending  movies and a score of other behaviors. When such moral standards are equated with Christianity, thinking saints have questions and are often confused.

I remember well attending a church sponsored night at the roller rink and one of the women who loved to ‘dance’ on roller skates (and boy could she make those skates sing!) asked the question, why is it is OK to dance with wheels on our feet but it is prohibited otherwise?

There was also the standard that Christians did not attend the movies but nearly everyone had a television. What made the big screen sinful but the little screen OK?

Or, and this one that many struggle with, if the drinking of all alcohol is bad why did Jesus turn water into wine? Why does it say that an elder must not be a man who drinks too much? And if all alcohol is bad, why did Paul tell Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his chronic illnesses?

Questions which led to confusion and ultimately to guilt-ridden behavior when the believer secretly engaged in those practices they were told were wrong. Why? Because the focus was upon a moral standard or code without understanding that the holiness God requires is nothing less than His holiness operating in our lives.

There is no true holiness in mere morality. Though there may be much that is highly esteemed among men, there is nothing about it that is right in the sight of God. That holiness operating in us results in the best of moral behavior, of course. Do not misunderstand. But it is so very much more.

Joel Scandrett, an associate editor with Intervarsity Press, put it well when he wrote “I believe one crucial ingredient to healing our moral confusion is the recovery of the biblical idea of holiness, which, though it results in private morality is in truth, so much more. (It is) the very life of God in us. Holiness stands at the beginning and centre of God’s call on our lives: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (Lev. 11:44).

Biblical “holiness” carries a strong secondary connotation of moral purity, of course, but moral purity is not, first and foremost, what Scripture is talking about.

Instead, the most basic meaning of the words is to be “set apart” or “dedicated” to God. “I will be your God, and you will be my people,” says Yahweh (Lev. 26:12; Heb. 8:10).

Thus, prior to any consideration of morality, biblical holiness describes a unique relationship that God has established and desires with his people. This relationship has moral ramifications, true enough, but it precedes moral behavior.

Before we are ever called to be good, we are called to be holy. Unless we understand this, we fall into the inevitable trap of reducing holiness to mere morality.

How much more God is asking of us than mere morality! As long as our notions of holiness are limited to doing certain things and not doing other things, we can go through our entire lives obeying the rules (or at least maintaining the appearance of doing so) without dealing with a far more fundamental question: To whom do we give our first love and loyalty?

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ requires nothing less than death to our fallen, egocentric selves in order that we might live in and for him. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,” says Jesus, “but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36).”

Why study the holiness of God? Because the Christian life is nothing less than His Holiness in us. It is not some imitation of His life or adherence to his perceived standard. It is not simply obedience to some moral code. It is not even doing what Jesus would do.

It is His life,  his holiness within, lived out in us. As the Apostle Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.”

 

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Mr. Phoenix contest raises money for junior class

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

A group of 10 John C. Birdlebough High School students showed off their talents and interview skills as they recently battled it out for the title of Mr. Phoenix.

With a bit of swagger, junior classman Ben Bulgrien’s humor, quick wit and eloquent interview answer earned him the crown and title of Mr. Phoenix, the district’s third annual male pageant event.

Junior Wyatt Parker was the runner-up, while freshmen Zach Thompson and Conrad Karl finished tied for third place.

Rounding out the field were Joe Brennan, Chris Nicolella, Josh Margrey, Andy Padula, Mike Girard and Michael Sadoski.

The contest served as a fundraiser for the junior class and pitted freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors against one another in a variety of events. Students performed songs, comedy, skits and other talents to keep the audience entertained.

“This is always such a great event,” said JCB junior class adviser Kathy Lathrop. “These kids put so much work into the event and it really shows.”

The contestants’ efforts were judge by a five-person panel of teachers who scored each participant on a variety of factors in each category.

Judges included Jenn Epolito, Tim Fredenburg, Rick Heffernan, Michelle Lewis and Angie Neiss.

 

Phoenix a “Best Community for Music Education”

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

For the fourth consecutive year, the Phoenix Central School District has been recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants as one of the country’s Best Communities for Music Education.

The distinction acknowledges schools and districts across the United States for their commitment to and support for music education.

This year, the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation designated 376 districts as Best Communities for Music Education. More applications were received than in years prior and only 56.7 percent of those applications were selected.

New York state dominated the list, accounting for 102 of the 376 award-winning districts in 2014. Phoenix is one of three districts in Oswego County to earn the distinction (the others are Fulton and Mexico).

The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service used nine criteria to calculate the Best Community for Music Education: music for all, support from administrators, scheduling, opportunity, qualified faculty, standards, community, funding and technology.

Music programs throughout the country are extraordinarily diverse, but all of the Best Communities’ districts share a common thread. — communities that support music in their schools and offer the opportunity to take individual instruction.

In Phoenix, students have many options to grow as musicians beyond what is provided during the school day.

The district offers several extracurricular music programs, including the middle school jazz band, high school jazz band, marching band, parade band and winter drumline. The drama club also performs a fall drama production and a spring musical each and every school year.

Anthony L. “Tony” Meucci, World War II veteran

Anthony L. “Tony” Meucci, 94, of Parkrose Estates, Liverpool, NY, and formerly of Yarmouth, Maine passed away Monday, March 24 after a brief illness.

He was born June 26, 1919 in Boston, Mass. and was a graduate of Bangor High School and the University of Southern Maine.

Tony and his late wife, Mary, met while in the Army at Camp Campbell, Kentucky and were married in 1943. They both served in Europe during World War II.

Following the war, Tony worked at Great Northern Paper Co. in Millinockett, Maine from 1953 until 1963. In 1965, the Meucci family moved to Yarmouth, Maine where he lived until 2007.

He retired in 1981 from the State of Maine where he worked as the business manager at both the Pineland Hospital and Maine Correctional Center.

Tony and Mary enjoyed travelling across the U.S. and into Canada with their camping trailer; he also enjoyed saltwater fishing in Casco Bay and the Royal River.

Tony is predeceased by his wife, Mary, who died in 1995; a brother, William, who died in 2013 and by a sister, Mary MacDonald.

He is survived by a son, Tom (Karen) Meucci of Baldwinsville, NY; a sister, Lee Bond of Baldwinsville, NY; a brother, Louis Meucci of Roseville, CA; two grandchildren, Sarah and Anthony “Greg” Meucci.

Tony will be buried alongside his beloved wife, Mary, at Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, Maine.

Contributions in memory of Mr. Meucci may be made to the American Cancer Society, Memorial Processing Center, 6725 Lyons St., P.O. Box 7, East Syracuse, NY 13057 or to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 942, Augusta, ME 04332.

Foster Funeral Home, Fulton has care of arrangements.

Sharon Elizabeth Martin, owned Shannon’s Hot Dogs

Sharon Elizabeth Martin, 71, of Fulton, died Wednesday, March 26 at Maytown Manor Inc., Florida after a long illness.

She was born in Syracuse, NY to the late Francis P. and Verna May (Lyke) Fitzgerald.

Mrs. Martin has been a lifetime resident of Fulton and enjoyed traveling to Florida during the winter months.

She owned and operated Shannon’s Hot Dogs, Fulton, for 20 years. Mrs. Martin enjoyed crafting and cross stitch. She was also an avid reader and gardener.

Mrs. Martin is survived by her husband of 50 years, Frederick Stephen Martin, Sr., of Fulton; their children, Frederick Stephen Martin, Jr., of Fulton, Shannon Marie (Joel) Cordone of Hastings, NY, Stephanie Mary Czirr of Albuquerque, N.M., Sara Margaret (Peter) Pascale of Kingston, N.J.; four siblings, Patricia A. Fitzgerald of Cicero, NY, Kay M. Roemer of Naperville, IL., Barbara M. Williams of Grow City, OH, Michele F. Betts of Clay, NY; four grandchildren,  Jeffrey P. Martin, Megan M. Cordone, and twins Alexander J. and Kayla M. Cordone.

Funeral services were Monday March 31 at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc. and at Holy Trinity Church, Fulton where a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the Rev. Jerome Amaechi.

Burial will be held in the spring at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton. Calling hours were Sunday March 30 at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. Second St. S., Fulton.

The family would like to thank the Hospice workers for their loving care and gentle manner and they would encourage in lieu of flowers donations be made in Sharon’s honor to the Halifax Health Hospice,  3800 Woodbriar Trail, Port Orange, FL, 32129.

Timothy Lee Cughan, graduate of Bodley and SUNY Oswego

Timothy Lee Cughan (exited stage right) Sunday (March 16) at 3:30 p.m. after a seven-day stay at St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, OK.

Tim was born June 5, 1956 in Rochester, NY. At the age of 23 1/2 months, he was adopted by Victor and Marjorie Cughan in May of 1958.

Later, when Tim was four years old, he chose his baby sister on June 16, 1960 and Victor and Marjorie adopted her.

Tim graduated from G. Ray Bodley High School in 1975. Upon graduating, Tim attended Oswego State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art and criminal justice.

He later moved to Tulsa, OK and attended Oral Roberts University to study biblical history.

It was later when working as a security officer that he met his wife, Ann Hoppe. Time and Ann were married July 10, 2001. At that time, they made their home in Deltona, Fla., where he continued his work as a security officer.

In December of 2013, Tim and Ann moved back to Tulsa. It was then that Tim began to have more health problems, first becoming blind then having a massive stroke that lead to his leaving us to be with Jesus.

Tim is predeceased in death by his parents, Victor and Marjorie Cughan, Onia and Betty Rosson, Melonie Kay Rosson, Steve Case, Wayne Rosson and Theresa Rosson.

Tim is survived by his wife, Ann Cughan at home; one sister, Victoria (Cughan) Merkley and husband John of Fulton, NY; stepchildren David Allen Hoppe and wife Bettie of Muskogee, Deanna Hoppe of Iowa and Tim Hoppe and wife Alisha of Dewey; one niece Eileen Griffin and husband Brian of Baldwinsville, NY; one nephew Eric Merkley and wife Amanda; five grandchildren; three great grandchildren; one God daugher Haley Putman of Bixby, OK; and a host of family and friends from New York to Florida and back to Oklahoma.

Family visitation was Thursday, March 20, 2014 at Smith Funeral Chapel, 1208 S. Main St., Sapulpa, OK. Funeral services were held Friday, March 21, 2014 at Westside FW Baptist Church, 1403 S. Cheyenne Road, Sapulpa, OK 74066.

Funeral services are under the direction of Smith Funeral Home, 1208 S. Main St., Sapulpa, OK.

Louisa Parry, retired from GE

Louisa R. Parry, 91, of North Syracuse, formerly of Zephyrhills, Florida passed away Thursday, March 27 at Malta House.

She was born in Sterling, a daughter to the late John Henry and Lena Belle Switzer and lived most of her life in Sterling.

Louisa retired from General Electric where she worked for more than 20 years. After her retirement, Louisa and her husband moved to Zephyrhills, where she was a longtime volunteer at the Pasco Regional Medical Center.

In addition to her parents, she is predeceased by her husband, George Parry, Sr., who died in May 1994, and by a daughter, Bonnie Lou LeBlanc.

Louisa is survived by six children, George Parry, Jr., Brenda Smith, John Parry, Barbara Barber, Roger Parry and Michael Parry; 16 grandchildren and several great grandchildren.

There are no calling hours. Graveside services will be in the spring at Springbrook Cemetery in Sterling.

Foster Funeral Home, Fulton has care of arrangements. Contributions in memory of Mrs. Parry may be made to a charity of one’s choice.

Esther Rogers, co-owned Lower Falls Liquor Store

Esther L. Rogers, 97, of Fulton, passed away surrounded by her family on Thursday, March 27 at Michaud Residential Health Services in Fulton.

Born in Canastota, Esther lived in Oneida before moving to Fulton in 1961.

She co-owned Lower Falls Liquor Store in Fulton with her husband, Harley, in the 1960s.

She was predeceased by her husband, Harley F. Rogers in 1992 and by a sister, Doris Wishart and two brothers, Richard Wishart and Leon Reising.

Surviving are: a son, Harley “Tom” (Sue) Rogers of Leoma, TN; two daughters, Peggy  (Bob) Cushman of  Oneida and Debbie (Paul) Foster of Fulton; a brother, Don Reising of Blossvale; nine grandchildren, Mike  (Diane) Cushman, Sue  (Frederick) Stefanik, Valerie (Beth Curry) Cushman, Tim (Tina) Cushman, Chris Cushman, Kim (Neil) DiSpirito, Karen Vanderwalker, Kim (Kelly) Leroux and Dennis (Brea) Goss; 19 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews and cousins.

Calling hours were Saturday, March 29 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton with services after the calling hours.

Burial will be in Vienna Cemetery, McConnellsville, NY at a later date.

Contributions may be made to Oneida Fire Benevolent Association, 109 N. Main St., Oneida, NY 13421 or Michaud Residential Health Services, 453 Park St., Fulton, NY 13069.

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