Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thursday Thoughts


1. Sunday Worship: For worship this Sunday we will be exploring Jesus' claim from John 6:25-51: "I AM the Bread of Life" and looking at the meaning and significance of the sacrament of communion for our lives today. Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!


2. Happening This Saturday 
* Trustee Spring Cleaning Day - The Trustees will be sponsoring a Spring Cleaning Day this Saturday starting at 8am. Any and all volunteers to help with mulching, weeding, hedge clipping and timing would be appreciated!

* Chicken Dinner - Sponsored by the Men's Prayer Breakfast, this chicken dinner will be served from 3-6pm Saturday in the Family Life Center and the proceeds benefit the church's Youth Ministries. The menu is 1/2 slow-smoked chicken, bbq beans, cole slaw and bread. Carryout is also averrable. Tickets are $7 each and available now in the church office.


3. Florida Children's Home: There will be an Open House at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home on Saturday, April 9th. The church has been reserved and names are being taken now for those that wish to attend. There is no charge for this event and it a wonderful way for you to go and witness the difference our prayers and financial support make in the lives of these young people. If you are free, we hope you will prayerfully consider going to experience this sacred place.




4. Stop Hunger Now Missions Event - On Sunday April 17 we will be hosting a Stop Hunger Now Meal Packaging Event in the Family Life Center from 1:30-3:30pm. We are looking for 100 volunteers to help package 20,000 meals for needy children. Signup sheets will be available this weekend after worship.




5. Volunteers Needed: As our church family grows so does the number of volunteers we need. We are asking each of you to consider volunteering for a few areas where we need more hands. One area is in our 8am and 11am services in the role of usher, sound tech, or computer operator. The other area is in our 9:30am service with the take down of the chairs. If you are interested and able to help, on a rotating basis, in any of these areas we would sure like to hear from you. You can contact the church office at 787-1829 or email us by clicking here.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Midweek Moment

Once again, Easter has come and gone. On Sunday Pastor Daryl and I spoke of the fact that Easter is more than something that should be contained in a series of worship services on a single day. We are people of Easter - as believers we should be resurrection people all year long.

And so in the midst of a world content with putting Easter away now, let us sit with Easter just a little bit longer. Here are six prayers for us in the coming days that emerge from the account of Jesus' resurrection in Matthew 28:5-7 (adapted from Proverbs 31 Ministries):

Do Not Be Afraid - God I hand over to you those things that make me so afraid. Resurrect the parts of my faith squelched by fear.

I Know You Are Looking for Jesus - God when my soul is searching, help me to know that the answer to every longing can be found in you.

He is Risen - God the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.

Just As He Said - Jesus you keep your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust you more, resemble you more, obey you more.

Come and See - Jesus you had the angels invite the women to see for themselves that you had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for times I am rushing about and forget to come and see for myself...you, your word, your insights.

Then Go Quickly and Tell His Disciples - Jesus I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer. For You. With You. Because of You. Me, the one you loved, redeemed and wanted.

Have a blessed week and we look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Extra Holy Week Observances: We will have some special opportunities to commemorate Holy Week with special services in the next few days. We hope to see you at these special events!
  • TONIGHT - Maundy Thursday Worship Service - Thursday March 24th at 7pm in the Sanctuary
  • TOMORROW - Good Friday Worship Service - Friday, March 25th at noon at New Covenant United Methodist; a combined worship service with several UM churches and pastors participating 
  • Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic - Saturday, March 26th from 11am-2pm

2. Sunday Worship for Easter: As Lent concludes with our Sunday celebration of Easter, we will conclude our preaching series with one last parable, "The Wise and Foolish Builders" found in Matthew 7:24-27 and connect it to our Easter story (John 20:1-18). We'll be examining what kind of foundation our lives are built upon. Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first! We will be hosting a sunrise service outside at 6:45am in addition to our three regular worship services: 8am and 11am in the Sanctuary and 9:30am in the Family Life Center.




3. Easter Sunday - Living Cross: This year we are inviting everyone to bring live flowers with you to any of our 4 Easter Sunday morning worship services.

You will then have the opportunity to place them onto the cross from our Maundy Thursday service and transform it into a Living Cross symbolic of the resurrection we will celebrate. We hope you find this a moving and beautiful experience.



4. Florida Children's Home: There will be an Open House at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home on Saturday, April 9th. The church has been reserved and names are being taken now for those that wish to attend. There is no charge for this event and it a wonderful way for you to go and witness the difference our prayers and financial support make in the lives of these young people. If you are free, we hope you will prayerfully consider going to experience this sacred place.





5. Volunteers Needed: As our church family grows so does the number of volunteers we need. We are asking each of you to consider volunteering for a few areas where we need more hands. One area is in our 8am and 11am services in the role of usher, sound tech, or computer operator. The other area is in our 9:30am service with the take down of the chairs. If you are interested and able to help, on a rotating basis, in any of these areas we would sure like to hear from you. You can contact the church office at 787-1829 or email us by clicking here.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Midweek Moment

We are halfway through Holy Week now, with our wonderful celebrations of Palm Sunday behind us and moving toward Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. For Pastor Daryl and I, Lenten observances were a huge part of our heritage growing up. But what I have found in my time as a United Methodist pastor is that many people in our churches today come from denominations where Lent was not celebrated or practiced at all. And even in some United Methodist churches, the observances of Lent and Holy Week services can be hit or miss. So today I wanted to focus upon the meaning and significance of both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Maundy Thursday is known by several names depending upon the religious tradition that you come from - Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, or Sheer Thursday. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, always falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples as described in the Gospels (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 12-14). This Last Supper experience is significant because the reason for Jesus' gathering that night was to celebrate the festival of Passover, commemorating God's faithfulness in rescuing the Israelites from the last plague (death of the firstborn son) before their release from slavery in Egypt. And at the end of the regular Passover celebration, Jesus instituted what Christians now celebrate as communion, as he made reference to the coming sacrifice of his life and asked that we continue with this observance "in remembrance of me." Probably the number one question I get from people about Maundy Thursday, is what the word Maundy means. Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" - meaning "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you." This was the statement that Jesus made that evening to his disciples when he explained the significance of washing their feet before their Passover celebration.

That brings us to Good Friday, also known by several names - Holy Friday, Great Friday, or Black Friday. It is the sixth day of Holy Week, always falling on the Friday before Easter. It marks the day of Jesus trials after his arrest, his beating and subsequent death upon the cross (crucifixion) as found in the Gospels (Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 18-19). Again there is an issue with the name. Why on earth do we call the day that our Savior died as "Good Friday?" That is really only the name in the English language and many people believe it's an derivative of an old German phrase "Gottes Freitag," meaning God's Friday. Others point to the idea that while Holy Friday with Jesus' death is so terrible, it is good because it led to the resurrection of Jesus by God on Easter Sunday and brings new life to those who believe. Typically worship services on Good Friday are very subdued, in which Christ's death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centering on Christ's suffering for our sake and often communion. In many churches, the sanctuary is stripped of its paraments decorating the altar and pulpit, leaving things stark and bare for a greater contrast to the pomp and celebration tone of Easter Sunday.

Here our custom at Community is to hold a Maundy Thursday service in the evening and strip the church bare at the end of it. We will be observing Maundy Thursday tomorrow evening at 7pm in the sanctuary. Recently the United Methodist pastors in the area have begun a combined worship service for Good Friday and we will hold a worship service at noon on Friday at New Covenant UMC. 

I hope no matter what your background with Lent is that you will consider being a part of one of these observances as we continue to move through Holy Week towards the glorious celebration of Easter Sunday morning. 

Blessings, 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship: For the season of Lent our preaching focus is on the Parables of Jesus. This weekend for Palm Sunday we will explore the value all of humanity has to God as we look to the Parable of the Lost Sheep from Matthew 18:10-14. Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!





2. Looking Ahead to Holy Week: We will have some special opportunities to commemorate Holy Week with special services at the end of March. Mark your calendars now for these special events:

  • Maundy Thursday Worship Service - Thursday March 24th at 7pm in the Sanctuary
  • Good Friday Worship Service - Friday, March 25th at noon at New Covenant United Methodist; a combined worship service with several UM churches and pastors participating 
  • Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic - Saturday, March 26th from 11am-2pm 
  • Easter Sunday Sunrise Worship Service - Sunday, March 27th at 6:45am in our church parking lot

We hope to see you at these special events!




3. Easter Sunday - Living Cross: This year we are inviting everyone to bring live flowers with you to any of our 4 Easter Sunday morning worship services.

You will then have the opportunity to place them onto the cross from our Maundy Thursday service and transform it into a Living Cross symbolic of the resurrection we will celebrate. We hope you find this a moving and beautiful experience.






4. Florida Children's Home: There will be an Open House at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home on Saturday, April 9th. The church has been reserved and names are being taken now for those that wish to attend. There is no charge for this event and it a wonderful way for you to go and witness the difference our prayers and financial support make in the lives of these young people. If you are free, we hope you will prayerfully consider going to experience this sacred place.






5. Volunteers Needed: As our church family grows so does the number of volunteers we need. We are asking each of you to consider volunteering for a few areas where we need more hands. One area is in our 8am and 11am services in the role of usher, sound tech, or computer operator. The other area is in our 9:30am service with the take down of the chairs. If you are interested and able to help, on a rotating basis, in any of these areas we would sure like to hear from you. You can contact the church office at 787-1829 or email us by clicking here.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Midweek Moment

Below is a story by Glennon Doyle Melton. It was posted on her blog which you can find by clicking here. It outlines a wonderfully precious moment between her and a young boy as they discuss the importance of expecting God.

Over the last several weeks in worship we have talked about the grace and love of God, but also about the presence of God. Specifically, how we are supposed to be those ambassadors of God’s Kingdom in the here and now, making the Kingdom of God a present reality.

When the Kingdom of God abounds, beautiful experiences, divine happenings, and soul changing moments will come. I pray that as your Lenten journey comes to a close, you have exercised the practice of expecting God, and in those moments you have felt the power of the Holy Spirit transform you as God's grace changed from within.

See you soon,



(Disclaimer: grab a tissue before you read the article below. You'll need it!)


Here is my office.

My work is to talk to children about how wild and wonderful are their world, their God and other people—and how fiercely and forever and unconditionally loved they are. I teach them about grace; how grace means that they can relax because there is nothing they can do to make God love them more and nothing they can do to make God love them less. I teach them that the world will try to convince them otherwise, but the truth is that all they really have to do, their whole lives long, is bask in the light of God’s love and then reflect it onto others. I do this work because everyone should figure out what she believes to be the most important work in the world and just go do it.

So this morning I waited there, right in front of the altar while the little ones waddled in like geese—single file, squawking, looking so tiny inside the massive sanctuary. There is no way to describe how precious they were with all the heads swiveling around at the soaring ceilings and all the pinching each other and all the trying not to giggle. I’ll just say that my heart did that thing that happened to the Grinch—remember when his heart swelled so many sizes that it almost burst? That’s why I go to church—for the heart swelling. The heart swelling is the only buzz I have left. Luckily it’s the best one I’ve found: the kind of buzz that leaves me better and bigger instead of worse and smaller. Anyway—looking at those Joy Beings walk towards me, I wondered if this time my heart would swell OUT of me and I’d start floating above the pews like a Macy’s Day balloon.

At the end of the little geese line was a new student wearing a name tag that said: Ryan. Ryan was a head taller than the other children and his eyes were dark and deep, like wells you can look into but never find the bottom of. I was immediately drawn to this little man with the big, deep, sad eyes because I agree with Dr. Who: Sad is happy for deep people. I winked at Ryan. He grinned, but just a little.

My friends Nancy and Susan started the lesson and we sang and we danced and then we quieted ourselves and went into our still, small place in our hearts where we can listen for God. Then half way through our quiet minute: my big-eyed friend motioned to me in a way that said: can you come here? But can you not make a big deal about? So I went over to Ryan but I didn’t make a big deal about it. I just casually sat down next to him and kept facing forward so he could take his time telling me whatever he needed to tell me. Finally, he tapped me on the shoulder and I leaned down close. He looked around the big sanctuary and he said:

“Excuse me. Is God coming?”

Then Ryan looked around again, like he was expecting God to show up here like Ronald shows up occasionally at McDonalds. And I just stared at this little man who had just asked me the question that every single human being who has ever looked around a fancy sanctuary or a busted up family or a hurting friendship or a shocking diagnosis or a messy world is thinking: “Excuse Me. Is God Coming?”

I swallowed hard and I said: “Ryan. That is the best question I have ever heard. Just the best one. Listen, I won’t if you don’t want me to, but I gotta tell you—I think your class needs to hear your brilliant question. May I share it?”

My big-eyed friend’s eyes got even bigger and he tried to contain a proud little smile and he nodded to me.

I stood up and said, “Miss Nancy, I am so sorry to interrupt you, but this person has just asked the most honest, beautiful, important question I have ever heard anyone ask in my whole entire life. He looked around this room and he said, “Is God Coming?”

And it got really quiet and I looked at my friend and tried to respond. I babbled, really. I said, “I don’t have an answer, no one does, really. But here’s my hunch. I think God’s already here. I don’t think we wait for God to come as much as we bring God to each other. I think God is inside me and you, Ryan. It’s like… you know how cookies have sugar in them and that’s what makes them delicious? We have God in us. That’s what makes us delicious. And I think God sent US to be here for each other because God’s inside of us–so God knows that if we show up–God’s here too. God sends us to each other. Because we are all God’s family and sometimes family members send each other. You know how sometimes your daddy sends your mommy to pick you up and sometimes your mommy sends your daddy?”

And all the little ones raised their hands and nodded except for Ryan. I stopped and looked right at him. He said, “My daddy doesn’t pick me up. My daddy’s in heaven.”

And Nancy and Susan and I froze because suddenly those deep eyes made perfect sense and all the kids got really quiet in holy reverence for Ryan and his daddy and his questions—and there is no chance that in the history of the entire world there has ever been a more brutiful, silent moment.

And I let there be silence for a long minute and then when I finally pulled myself together, I walked over to Ryan and silently prayed PLEASE GOD HELP ME BE PRESENT FOR THIS AMAZING BOY YOU SENT and then I started speaking really quietly to him. I said, “Ryan, your daddy is in heaven?” And he nodded. And I said, “I see. Well my guess would be that God and your daddy are together there, and that God sent me and your teachers and these friends to be here with you today. So that we could love you for God. I think that God loves you more than you can even imagine. And I love you too, Ryan. I can’t believe how lucky I am to know you. I think that God sent you here for me, Ryan. Because you are just one of the most special people I’ve ever met. You have beautiful questions about God and you are honest and kind and I just think that you are my gift from God today, Ryan. Thank you for showing up here. I’m glad I showed up, too. Magic happens when we go where God sends us, doesn’t it? It’s like God sends us places to meet God in others. And to be God for others.”

And then I just went out on a big limb that appeared in front of me.

“Ryan, I don’t know how you can know if God is here or not. But here’s what happens to me when I notice that God is with me. My hearts starts to feel bigger. It feels like it’s swelling up. It feels like it’s getting so big it might crawl up through my throat. Like right now, next to you—my heart feels huge. Like somebody pumped it full of air. I think this heart swelling is sometimes how God reminds me that God is with me.”

And you guys. Ryan’s face—the face that had been so serious and so sad—broke into a smile that made it abundantly clear that God used the heart swelling trick on him, too. But he just didn’t know it was God doing it. And then he said quietly, “I know what you mean.” Is God coming?

I know what you mean.

Have there ever been two more perfect, two more brutiful sentences uttered?

Then I asked Ryan if I could hug him and he said yes and he squeezed me tight and then Nancy had to take over completely because I could not speak for the rest of our time together. Just not one more word.

Listen to me. You HAVE to decide what you believe to be the most important work in the world and then you have to DO THAT WORK. Because THIS is what happens. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. God shows up.

I love you.

Happy Easter.

G and Ryan

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

****** Important Public Service Announcement!
It's time to change those clocks! We would love to see you in worship this Sunday but in order to do that, everyone needs to remember to turn their clocks ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday night!!







1. Sunday Worship - For the season of Lent our preaching focus is on the Parables of Jesus. This weekend we will explore the nature of God as we look to the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11-32.

Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!



2. Lenten Studies - As the season of Lent falls upon us we are offering several opportunities for you to observe and practice our Lenten disciplines. In addition to the preaching series each week several classes will be utilizing the Parables of Jesus as their focus in small groups. You can participate in those studies on Sunday mornings at 11am with Mike Hanna and on Wednesday evenings with Pastor Daryl in the Sanctuary. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to participate in this Lenten study as we seek to draw ourselves closer to Christ.


3. #picturelent - As we journey in the season of Lent, another way you can prepare your heart and mind is with the daily devotional program entitled "#PictureLent" from our Conference's Life Enrichment Center. You can click here to sign up and receive them each day by email. There are also links there for other ways you can participate in this season of spiritual preparation on social media like Facebook and Instagram.





4. Looking Ahead to Holy Week - We will have some special opportunities to commemorate Holy Week with special services at the end of March. Mark your calendars now for these special events:
  • Maundy Thursday worship in the church sanctuary, Thursday March 24 at 7pm 
  • Good Friday worship, Friday March 25 at noon - a combined worship service with several UM churches and pastors participating to be held at New Covenant UMC 
  • Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic, Saturday March 26 from 11am-2pm 
  • Easter Sunday Sunrise Worship outside, Sunday March 27 at 6:45am

5. Easter Sunday - Living Cross 
We invite you to bring live flowers with you to worship at any of our 4 Easter Sunday morning services hat you can place onto the cross from our Maundy Thursday service and transform it into a Living Cross symbolic of the resurrection we will celebrate. 





Have a great weekend and we will see you this weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Midweek Moment

In one of the previous congregations that I served, they held an Easter Drive Thru experience every year with six scenes from the last week of Jesus’ life, concluding with the empty tomb. Our family could often be found as characters in various scenes from Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane to soldiers guarding the tomb. One year I had the distinct privilege of dressing in costume and sitting in the scene with Jesus on the cross.


There was something infinitely profound about sitting on the ground at the foot of the cross and looking up at the person portraying Jesus there. It’s the posture…humbly at the foot of the cross, back to everyone else, my head back and my face up towards the cross. It was so different from the normal posture of prayer that we typically take – head down in respect. My job was to sit in the scene for 90 minutes and it passed by almost in the blink of an eye because I was so absorbed in reflecting upon the cross.

It also brought to mind the words of a song I’ve enjoyed for many years - "At the Foot of the Cross." Ponder these lyrics for a moment.

At the foot of the cross, where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received
And You've won my heart; Yes, You've won my heart

Now I can, trade these ashes in for beauty,
And wear forgiveness like a crown.
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross, where I am made complete
You have given me life, through the death You bore for me
And you've won my heart; Yes, you've won my heart

Now I can, trade these ashes in for beauty,
And wear forgiveness like a crown.
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross


May you trade your ashes in for beauty and lay every burden down at the foot of the cross this Lent. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - For the season of Lent our preaching focus will be on the Parables of Jesus. This weekend we will explore the idea of equality as we look to the Parable of the Vineyard Workers from Matthew 20:1-16.

Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!





2. Lenten Studies - As the season of Lent falls upon us we are offering several opportunities for you to observe and practice our Lenten disciplines. In addition to the preaching series each week several classes will be utilizing the Parables of Jesus as their focus in small groups. You can participate in those studies on Sunday mornings at 11am with Mike Hanna and on Wednesday evenings with Pastor Daryl in the Sanctuary and with Nancy Perkins in the Library and with the Young Adult class in room 103. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to participate in this Lenten study as we seek to draw ourselves closer to Christ.






3. #picturelent - As we journey in the season of Lent, another way you can prepare your heart and mind is with the daily devotional program entitled "#PictureLent" from our Conference's Life Enrichment Center. You can click here to sign up and receive them each day by email. There are also links there for other ways you can participate in this season of spiritual preparation on social media like Facebook and Instagram.





4. Looking Ahead to Holy Week - We will have some special opportunities to commemorate Holy Week with special services at the end of March. Mark your calendars now for these special events:

  • Maundy Thursday worship in the church sanctuary, Thursday March 24 at 7pm 
  • Good Friday worship, Friday March 25 at noon - a combined worship service with several UM churches and pastors participating to be held at New Covenant UMC 
  • Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic, Saturday March 26 from 11am-2pm 
  • Easter Sunday Sunrise Worship outside, Sunday March 27 at 6:45am




Have a great weekend and we will see you this weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Midweek Moment

Self-examination is hard. Let’s just start with the truth and name it. Honestly looking at who you are, from an altruistic perspective, from a faith perspective, from a disciple of Jesus Christ perspective is hard. There are always things we could do better or more frequently. There are always those fruits of the Spirit we could exhibit better or more frequently. And to sit and verbalize those short comings can and is an uncomfortable and difficult exercise.

This week in worship we will look once again to the Parables of Jesus as we explore how the grace of God is for all people. We will look at our understanding of fairness and justice and examine the countercultural perspective God places on it, all with hope that we can find ways to emulate that perspective in our own lives.

Lent is all about introspection. It is about looking at who we are as Disciples of Christ and being honest about what we need to change to be more like our Messiah and Savior. It is about making those hard decisions to allow the Holy Spirit to enter in and remold us in the image of God. It is about claiming our birthright as children of God and not settling for what is culturally acceptable or easy, but allowing the love of God to continually change us as we strive to become more like Christ every day.

This Lent, I want to encourage you to continue to give yourself over to Jesus. I want to invite you to allow the Holy Spirit to show you those places where you can take down your walls and allow grace and mercy to be your guide. I want to implore you to seize this opportunity to become more like our Creator so that when others look at you, they see God in all you say and do.

Self-examination is hard, but it is necessary. Through the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and giving may each and every one of you experience the presence of God as we all seek to be all that God has created us and called us to be, this day and forevermore.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!