Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Midweek Moment

One of the great things about being part of a community is the chance to support and encourage one another. Last Sunday I shared with you all the reality that each of you have at least one spiritual gift. Each and every one of you can do at least one thing better than anyone else. Because of that, if just one person is missing from our family then we are not as strong.

This week, I had the honor of seeing that idea of family at work. In a few short weeks we will hold our annual Vacation Bible School. We will have a whole host of new friends descend upon this place as we seek to share Jesus’ message of love and grace with each of them. To make sure we do this well, to ensure these children hear what we are sharing with them, we decorate our campus.

To decorate a campus of this size takes a great amount of work and even more styrofoam! This year’s theme is Cave Quest and it centers around the image of caves. I have watched as volunteers have cut out stalactites and stalagmites, moths and butterflies, cave walls and lizards. I have seen the amazing work our family has done as we have taken those cutouts and through artistry and paint, they have been brought to life. Each person that has helped has played their part and the result is breathtaking.

I am so grateful to Faye and her team for their labor of love, for their dedication to our children, and for their faithfulness in bringing all of this about with such excellence. I want to invite you to enjoy the pictures below and as you scroll through them, say a little prayer for each piece and the role it will play in some child’s faith journey, as well as a prayer of thankfulness for the many hands that made it possible.

My friends, when we work together, when we live out our faith and this life as a family, we can truly change this world and be those advance foretastes of God’s Kingdom that we were all created to be.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!














Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - Come and join us this week as we continue our preaching series entitled Christianity 101. We are spending several weeks examining one of our most well known pieces of liturgy, the Apostles' Creed. This series will help us explore the basics of our faith as we go line by line through this Creed unpacking the wonderful mysteries and aspects of our faith. This week we will shift our focus to the "holy catholic church and the communion of saints" as Pastor Daryl looks at it through the lens of Ephesians 4:1-6. Invite a friend and hope to see you all there!


2. TONIGHT - Beyond our Tithes and Offerings - There are a multitude of ways in which we can support the missions and ministries here at Community UMC. One of those ways though planned giving. You are invited to come and find out how you can use your will, trust or life insurance to benefit your church. Join Steve Westerlund, from our Planned Giving Committee, in the Library this evening Thursday, May 19th, from 6:30-7:30pm. We hope you will make plans to attend!


3. New Associate Pastor of Adult Discipleship - It has been announced that this July we will be adding a new associate pastor of Adult Discipleship - Loida Divine. She is originally from Honduras and is bilingual. Loida graduated last week from Asbury Theological Seminary and received the Harry Hozier award for preaching. She will be commissioned as a provisional elder at Annual Conference in June. She and her husband Jim have served as missionaries in the past, and for the last three years she has served as the part-time pastor at churches in Altoona and Oxford. Her husband Jim is one of the pastors on staff at New Covenant UMC in The Villages and they have three grown children.

We want to invite you to join us in praying for Loida in these months of transition and help us extend a warm Community welcome to her by emailing her words of welcome by clicking here.


4. 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.


5. Vacation Bible School - Mark these dates on your calendar, June 13-17. That's when we will be celebrating Cave Quest VBS at Community UMC!!!! There are lots of ways you can help out before or even during VBS if you would like to volunteer and you can sign up to volunteer online. You can also register your children or grandchildren by calling the church office or by using the form online. Our VBS website can be found here.




Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - Come and join us this week as we continue our preaching series entitled Christianity 101. We are spending several weeks examining one of our most well known pieces of liturgy, the Apostles' Creed. This series will help us explore the basics of our faith as we go line by line through this Creed unpacking the wonderful mysteries and aspects of our faith. This week we will shift our focus to the Holy Spirit as Pastor Debbie looks at it through the lens of Acts 2:1-21. Invite a friend and hope to see you all there!





2. New Associate Pastor of Adult Discipleship - It has been announced that this July we will be adding a new associate pastor of Adult Discipleship - Loida Divine. She is originally from Honduras and is bilingual. Loida will be graduating this month from Asbury Theological Seminary and will be commissioned as a provisional elder at Annual Conference in June. She and her husband Jim have served as missionaries in the past, and for the last three years she has served as the part-time pastor at churches in Altoona and Oxford. Her husband Jim is one of the pastors on staff at New Covenant UMC in The Villages and they have three grown children.

We want to invite you to join us in praying for Loida in these months of transition and help us extend a warm Community welcome to her by emailing her words of welcome by clicking here.






3. Pentecost - This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost in worship. It is the bookend to the season of Easter and commemorates the arrival of the Holy Spirit upon the believers. This week I wrote a piece about Pentecost on our blog and that you can find by clicking here. We truly want to make this Pentecost Sunday a special time and we need your help. We are asking everyone to wear some type of red clothing or accessory to worship this week. Looking forward to seeing you all and seeing everyone dressed in their red.








4. Beyond our Tithes and Offerings - There are a multitude of ways in which we can support the missions and ministries here at Community UMC. One of those ways though planned giving. You are invited to come and find out how you can use your will, trust or life insurance to benefit your church. Join Steve Westerlund, from our Planned Giving Committee, in the Library on Thursday, May 19th, from 6:30-7:30pm. We hope you will make plans to attend!







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, May 11, 2016

Midweek Moment

Are you ready to celebrate? Are you ready to experience a joy that is like none other? The reason I ask is that this Sunday we will gather together to celebrate Pentecost, the “bookend” to the Easter Season.

Pentecost is the fiftieth day of Easter. On that day the earliest church had completed forty days of ongoing teaching from the Risen Lord, followed by a ten-day prayer vigil after his ascension. On this day, that early church began to move out, in, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We read about these events in Acts 2. The text is full of imagery and soundscapes: mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire, people speaking in many languages, large astounded multi-national crowds. Can you imagine the scene? It would be like nothing you had ever witnessed before! These sounds, the blowing of a violent wind; these images, tongues of fire; and the many languages being spoken all at once, in languages not previously known by those speaking; are not imagery. All of these occurrences are literal. All of these happenings are real and tangible. All of this is being witnessed by those that have gathered around, believers and non-believers alike.

This event was not meant to be forgotten, it was meant to be foundational. Those early believers were being bathed in the power of the Holy Spirit. God poured out the Spirit and everything changed. And those changes were not just for them, but for us as well.

I have been reading a book by Jurgen Moltmann, entitled The Spirit of Life. He describes the Holy Spirit like this, “The Holy Spirit is not simply the subjective side of God’s revelation of himself, and faith is not merely the echo of the Word of God in the human heart. The Holy Spirit is much more than that. It is the power that raises the dead, the power of the new creation of all things; and faith is the beginning of the rebirth of human beings to new life. But this means that the Holy Spirit is by no means merely a matter of revelation. It has to do with life and its source.”

I love the image Moltmann gives, “[The Holy Spirit] is the power that raises the dead, the power of the new creation of all things…” There is power in the Holy Spirit. Power that can and will manifest within those of us that believe and are open to it. The Holy Spirit is God continuing to work in and through humanity and through that relationship allowing us to continue to feel his presence and his power!

Pentecost is not just another Sunday. It is not just another Christian date on the calendar. It is our reminder that God is still at work. It reminds us that there is a relationship between us and our Triune God and the power of the Holy Spirit is still active in our lives. This Pentecost, remember that power, claim that power, live in that power!

Have a great week and I will see you as we celebrate Pentecost together!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - Come and join us this week as we continue our preaching series entitled Christianity 101. We are spending several weeks examining one of our most well known pieces of liturgy, the Apostles' Creed. This series will help us explore the basics of our faith as we go line by line through this Creed unpacking the wonderful mysteries and aspects of our faith. This week we continue focusing upon Jesus as Pastor Daryl looks at it through the lens of Isaiah 53:1-12. We will also be recognizing women for Mother's Day in worship and taking in new church members! Invite a friend and hope to see you all there!





2. New Associate Pastor of Adult Discipleship - On Sunday it was announced that we would be returning for another year as your senior co-pastors and that in July would be adding a new associate pastor of Adult Discipleship - Loida Divine. She is originally from Honduras and is bilingual. Loida will be graduating next month from Asbury Theological Seminary and will be commissioned as a provisional elder at Annual Conference in June. She and her husband Jim have served as missionaries in the past, and for the last three years she has served as the part-time pastor at churches in Altoona and Oxford. Her husband Jim is one of the pastors on staff at New Covenant UMC in The Villages and they have three grown children.

Please join us in praying for Loida in these months of transition and help us extend a warm Community welcome to her!





3. Community Christian School Graduation - Please keep in mind our Community Christian School as they graduate 4 year olds who will be headed to kindergarten in the fall. Graduation will take place in the Family Life Center on Thursday May 12th at 7pm.










4. Beyond our Tithes and Offerings - Find out how you can use your will, trust or life insurance to benefit your church. Join Steve Westerlund from our Planned Giving Committee in the Library on Thursday May 19th from 6:30-7:30pm.










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, May 4, 2016

Midweek Moment

Pastor Debbie and I have developed several routines over the years to help us live out our calling as pastors. One of those routines deals with how and when we plan out our sermon series. We are both wired in a way that we function so much better from a stance of being proactive, rather than being forced to be reactive. Understanding that about ourselves we started a habit many years ago of planning out our sermon series’ a year in advance.

Our view as we sermon planned last year.
Somewhere in October or November, we will go someplace quiet to plan out the entire year. We plan out every title, Scripture, and develop a brief synopsis for each message. This means when Monday morning rolls around we are not faced with having to discern what we are going to talk about, we can instead focus on listening for God and just develop the message.

Now while this routine began out of a sense of preparation, we have seen how God has worked through this process time and time again. I cannot tell you how many times people have come up to Debbie and I and shared how much a particular message meant to them. Or on how many occasions we have also been told that the message on a particular Sunday was exactly what someone needed to hear in that moment.

Over the years as I have reflected on these encounters one thing has become very clear to me. God really is a wonderfully faithful God. In those moments where we are planning out the year, we have no idea what people will face the upcoming year. But God does. We have no idea what people will need to hear, three months, seven months, eleven months out, but God does.

I share all of this with you in the hopes that you find encouragement from it. That when you begin to hear that voice in the back of your head, or when you begin to feel a “nudge” to participate in a particular ministry, that you will find the strength to respond affirmatively. Our God is a faithful God that is constantly and consistently beckoning for us participate in life together. God knows what our future holds, God knows where will be needed in the days ahead, and God will share that with us. One of my favorite passages in Scripture speaks to this truth, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

I also want to share one more thing with you. This message about God’s faithfulness in our sermon planning time to have our messages line up with the needs of others was placed on my heart last week, in the midst of running errands. I told myself to write it down because it would make for a great Midweek Moment, but was so busy with the task at hand I never got to it. Sunday morning, I woke up and remembered I had a great idea for a Midweek Moment, but for the life of me could not remember what it was. I was so disappointed!

I came to worship and when my bride began to preach she talked about how her grandmother used come to her house and play the piano in her room. She mentioned her favorite song was “There’s Something About that Name” and how much of a “Holy Spirit” thing it was that we had sung that song in worship that very day, since she and Robbie never discussed that information. Like a ton of bricks had just hit me, I remembered! When we are faithful to give ourselves to God, God can and does work thought that offering. When we trust in God, God can orchestrate things to transpire that are beyond our time and our understanding. God can and does line things up to transpire when they are needed the most and what a joy it is when we get to be a part of those workings and see the Holy Spirit moving, right in front of our very eyes!

As you all continue to walk your faith journeys, I want to encourage you to always remember that God is your ever-present companion. God has great things in store for you and when we give all that we have and all that we are over to God, incredible things can and will happen!

Have a great week and we will see you Sunday!