Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Midweek Moment

I’m sitting in the Sanctuary as I write this. It is quiet. It is dark. It is just me. But as I sit here, I am keenly aware it is not empty.

I have just walked through and touched and prayed for every row, every pew, both altar rails, the altar area, the narthex and all that has happened and will happen in those spaces. I have thanked God for every tear, laugh, and life that has been impacted in this special space. I have prayed for every person that has been here, and will ever be here, that has opened their heart to the power of the Holy Spirit. I have prayed for every person that has volunteered of themselves to help create an atmosphere that would allow for those sacred moments to happen. I have prayed for every person that has used their God-given gifts to lead those that were gathered to a fresh and new experience of our Risen Savior.

And as I said those prayers, walked this space, and envisioned those sacred moments, I knew I was not alone in that moment. I could feel that I was not alone in that moment. God was with me, the Holy Spirit was around me, and it was good.

I tell you all of this to ask a question. When was the last time you had the opportunity to walk, touch, and pray? When was the last time you set aside a moment to just be with God, laying aside all other thoughts and activities?

This season of Advent is about preparing and waiting. Preparing ourselves for what it means to live as “sold out” disciples of Jesus Christ; and waiting for the next arrival of our Risen Savior into this world. This cannot, and will not, happen without effort on our part. We need to find the time, guard the time for that work to be done.

I want to invite and encourage each of you to go to, or identify, your sacred space. That one place where you feel God the strongest, where the veil between Heaven and Earth is thinned just a bit. I want you to go and to be still. I want you to listen for God and the power of the Holy Spirit to speak to you in that moment. Don’t force it, just let it unfold; let it happen. If it does not happen the first time, go again. If it does happen the first time, go again. This life can be distracting, creating obstacles to our work of preparation and waiting. But God is always there…waiting and hoping, prepared with an experience that will change our lives. All we have to do, is show up.

Have a great first week of Advent, my friends,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will begin our Advent Series, Reel Christmas. Each week we will take to a classic Christmas Movie to see how the ideals of redemption, transformation, and incarnation are revealed. The movies we will use to examine these are It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. This week, Pastor Loida will start us off with It's a Wonderful Life, as she outlines the how the story of Advent can help keep our hope alive. It is sure to be a wonderful time of reliving a few old classics, as well as a few new ones. There should be a little something for everyone and this will be a perfect time to invite a friend, or two, to come and be a part of our Advent season as we prepare ourselves for the Christ Child. Hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!





2. 2017 Planning - This past week was Commitment Sunday, our wrap up to our annual focus on complete stewardship. This is an important time in the life of Community UMC as we plan for 2017, seeking to be everything God has called and created us to be. If you were unable to turn your forms last week, there is still time. We will always gratefully accept your volunteer form and work to get you plugged into the appropriate ministry areas. However, there is a deadline for the pledge cards and that deadline is Sunday, December 4th. Any pledge cards turned in after that will not be able to be used to create our 2017 budget, as we have to have that budget completed and approved by the end of the year. So please do not delay in getting those turned in, either to the office during the week, or in the offering plate on Sunday mornings. We received a wonderful initial response and are excited to see what these next weeks hold as the rest of the forms are submitted.






3. We Need You! - We are in need of a few people to help with the tech aspects of worship at our 8am and 11am worship services. We will provide all the training, but we need people to help with the PowerPoint and sound board operations during the services. These positions are very important to the flow and experience of worship and truly add to our time together. If you are interested, please contact the church office by clicking here or calling us at (352) 787-1829. Thank you in advance for your consideration.





4. Wednesday Night Dinners - We are having a wonderful time at our Wednesday Night Dinners this fall. The company has been fantastic and the food has been delicious. Currently we are looking for a few more hands to help with this endeavor. If you are available on Wednesday nights we need your help. You do not have to commit to a weekly slot, or even to an entire night. We will use whatever time and whatever frequency you are available. If you are interested, please contact the church office and we will get you plugged in. Thanks in advance for your help!






5. Planning Ahead for Advent! - Advent begins at the end of this month! We want to encourage your participation in one of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." 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. We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Midweek Moment

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. A day that has been marked in various ways over the years. For some of us, it is marked as a time to spend with family, near and far. For others, it is day marked by watching massive amounts of football. And for most of us, it is day to eat, rest and digest, and then eat a little more.

Here at Community we have spent that last several weeks in worship talking about the many reasons we are thankful. We have focused on the many blessings we have as a congregation, the numerous lives that have been touched by those blessings from God, and the awesome responsibility we have to continue to be good stewards for the future as we work together to establish God’s Kingdom in the here and the now.

It seems sometimes that this holiday has become more and more about fulfilling our desires, with food and shopping deals, than about remembering to be thankful for all that we have and all that we have been blessed with by God. I have seen this sentiment expressed in this little saying making its way around the internet: "Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."

I think about my life, and I am so humbled. God has blessed Pastor Debbie and I in so many ways; from being able to adopt Davis, to having two other incredible young boys as sons, the provisions we have in this life, to being able to be your Co-pastors here at Community.

I encourage you all to take time this Thanksgiving, in your prayer time or around your Thanksgiving table, or both, and thank God. Thank God for all that you have and all that God has given you, and be specific. Name your blessings. I think you will find there might be some blessings you forgot, or maybe some that were so wonderful you want to thank God again. But what I know is that in that time not only will you be thanking God, but you will be drawing closer to God. You may also find yourself drawn closer to others as well.

As United Methodists, we are called to be thankful, in all things. This year, I encourage you to discover or re-discover that heritage. Give thanks tomorrow, give thanks the next day, and remember, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NIV).

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will conclude our annual focus on complete stewardship, focusing on how we can use our time, talent, gifts, service and witness, be all in and build up the Kingdom of God. As believers we understand God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and how we can consistently call on God to help provide for us in our day to day lives. And God answers. During this series we have looked specifically at the ideas of management and investment. This week we will look to commitment as we seek to be "all in" for God. We hope you will invite a friend and make plans to join us this Sunday, at 8am, 9:30am, or 11am for worship!





2. Commitment Sunday - This Sunday is Commitment Sunday, as we wrap up our annual focus on complete stewardship. At the end of each service there will be a time for you to bring forward your volunteer form and your pledge cards and dedicate them to God. Last week, Pastor Daryl asked everyone to spend the next seven days praying over those forms and listening for God's wisdom and direction.

This is an important time in the life of Community UMC as we plan for 2017, seeking to be everything God has called and created us to be. If you need a form there will be extras at church Sunday for you to use.





3. Hanging the Holly! - Jump start your holiday celebrations by helping to decorate our Sanctuary for the Advent season. We can guarantee you a time of friendship, music, and tasty treats! Plan to join us Sunday evening, November 20th, at 5pm as get our worship ready for Advent. Invite a friend and we hope to see you there!





4. Wednesday Night Dinners - We are having a wonderful time at our Wednesday Night Dinners this fall. The company has been fantastic and the food has been delicious. Currently we are looking for a few more hands to help with this endeavor. If you are available on Wednesday nights we need your help. You do not have to commit to a weekly slot, or even to an entire night. We will use whatever time and whatever frequency you are available. If you are interested, please contact the church office and we will get you plugged in. Thanks in advance for your help!




5. Planning Ahead for Advent! - Advent begins at the end of this month! We want to encourage your participation in one of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." 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. We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Midweek Moment

In worship over the last several weeks we have been talking about our complete stewardship for 2017. At the conclusion of our State of the Church address a few weeks ago, I asked all of you to consider being “all in” as we move into next year, being totally committed to your faith and turning your entire life over to God as we seek to build bridges together.

That total giving of yourself means you give of your time to God, by reading Scripture, spending time in quiet prayer and meditation, or volunteering at church or heading up a program. It can be any opportunity where you use your time to draw closer to God. It also means you give of your talents. Let those gifts God has blessed you with come forth as you work to build God’s Kingdom on earth by getting active in missions and ministries that share God’s love and grace with others. It is also means you give of your gifts, your treasure, your finances. This means that if you are not tithing, giving 10% of your income to God, that you are working your way up to tithing. This is where most people struggle. When you can turn this part of your life over to God, then you are opening yourself to be used in ways like never before. Finally, it means you give of your witness; telling people how much God has done for you in your life.

None of this is an “or” proposition. If you are all in, then you are giving of your time, your talents, your gifts, your service and your witness. We cannot pick and choose and be all in. We cannot hold something back and be all in.

Folks, I want to encourage you to be all in. I want to encourage you to give all you have and all you are over to God and allow those blessings to pour over you. I want you to be drenched in the providence and blessing of God. I want you to feel God’s grace dripping off of you as your cup overflows. To be an effective witness, we have to be all in. When we open every part of ourselves to God and allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, then we will feel that presence within us as we live out our journeys of faith.

Now none of this is to say that God does not love you or will not bless you, where you are – as you are. What I am saying is that when we completely open ourselves up to God, the things God can do, the experiences God can create, the mountains God can move, the bridges God can build are beyond words. And those moments are what I want for each of you.

This Sunday, you will have the opportunity to express your commitment to be “all in” as there will be a time for everyone to bring forward their volunteer form and pledge cards at the end of each service. You will be invited to bring those forward, pray over them if you wish, and dedicate them to our Creator.

What happens this Sunday, will play an extremely large role in dictating all that we will be able to do and accomplish in 2017 and the bridges we will able to help build. I want to invite you to spend time in prayer this week and ask God to help you be all in. Ask God how you can turn every facet of your life over to God’s influence, so that together we can build bridges that will help everyone, everywhere know that there is hope in their future, that we love them, and that most importantly God loves them too!

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will continue our annual focus on complete stewardship, focusing on how we can use our time, talent, gifts, service and witness to build up the Kingdom of God. As believers we understand God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and how we consistently call on God to help provide for us in our day to day lives. And God answers. During this series will look specifically at the ideas of management, investment, and commitment as we seek to be "all in" for God. This whole series will culminate with Commitment Sunday on November 20th, as we consecrate our pledge cards at each of our worship services. This is a very important time in the life of the church as this is one of the cornerstones to help us plan for 2017. We hope you will invite a friend and make plans to join us this Sunday, at 8am, 9:30am, or 11am for worship!





2. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up this Sunday, November 13th, beginning at 12:30pm, in the Fellowship Hall. We will serve lunch and childcare will be provided. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 to RSVP. We hope to see you there!





3. Wednesday Night Dinners - We are having a wonderful time at our Wednesday Night Dinners this fall. The company has been fantastic and the food has been delicious. Currently we are looking for a few more hands to help with this endeavor. If you are available on Wednesday nights we need your help. You do not have to commit to a weekly slot, or even to an entire night. We will use whatever time and whatever frequency you are available. If you are interested, please contact the church office and we will get you plugged in. Thanks in advance for your help!





4. Planning Ahead for Advent! - Advent begins at the end of this month! We want to encourage your participation in one of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." 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. We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Midweek Moment

My friends, the day has come and the deed is done. The 2016 Presidential Election is finished and that means many things for us as a country. It means the phone calls at home will cease. It means the influx of fliers to our mailboxes will stop. It means all of the signs we see in our community will disappear. It means the ads on television will discontinue. In many ways our lives will return to some state of normalcy. Even with all of those activities and spectacles concluding, there is something else that is just beginning.

As I look over the results of the election, one thing I can conclude is that we are a nation divided. The top two candidates practically came to a draw with the popular vote, our country fairly evenly split between the two.

The other thing about this election is the passion it invoked, as there were people deeply devoted to their candidate of choice. In addition to those passions, were still others that exhibited feelings just as deep for neither of the top two choices.

What all of this means is that a segment of our country is happy and a segment of our country is not. Many people are overjoyed at what the next four years will hold for us and many people are scared for what could take place. While emotions were high in anticipation of how the election would unfold, they are just as high as we all deal with the results.

In this church, Community United Methodist of Fruitland Park, those same stories play out here. We have people that are happy and people that are not. But there is a difference here at Community as we are first and foremost, citizens of the Kingdom of God. That means several things for us. It means that our first priority in this season of transition is that we sow seeds of love amongst all people. It means we understand that all people feel differently about this outcome and we are not to diminish these feelings. It means that we do not gloat in our happiness and it means that we are not to disparage those that are excited.

It also means, that all of us now need to shift from campaigning for one person and all work to bring a sense of unity for everyone. We need to provide space for each and every one of us to experience any and all emotions we have with the outcome and speak love into each other’s feelings. It means that as 2017 rolls around we find a way to unite together to pray for our country and for its leaders.

And now I am calling on all of us, to use that same passion we had going into this election and now direct it to making sure all people know the love of God. Take that same energy you had in making a case for your candidate, or against both candidates, and use it to make the case for God. We are not divided by party as Christians, but we are all one in Christ Jesus. Let this season be one of unity, of togetherness, and of God’s love breaking through in this community, in this country, like never before.

Blessings and know I love each of you in the name of Jesus Christ!

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will continue our annual focus on complete stewardship, focusing on how we can use our time, talent, gifts, service and witness to build up the Kingdom of God. As believers we understand God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and how we consistently call on God to help provide for us in our day to day lives. And God answers. During this series will look specifically at the ideas of management, investment, and commitment. This whole series will culminate with Commitment Sunday on November 20th, as we consecrate our pledge cards at each of our worship services. This is a very important time in the life of the church as this is one of the cornerstones to help us plan for 2017. We hope you will invite a friend and make plans to join us this Sunday, at 8am, 9:30am, or 11am for worship!





2. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up Sunday, November 13th, beginning at 12:30pm, in the Fellowship Hall. We will serve lunch and childcare will be provided. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP. We hope to see you there!





3. Wednesday Night Dinners - We are having a wonderful time at our Wednesday Night Dinners this fall. The company has been fantastic and the food has been delicious. Currently we are looking for a few more hands to help with this endeavor. If you are available on Wednesday nights we need your help. You do not have to commit to a weekly slot, or even to an entire night. We will use whatever time and whatever frequency you are available. If you are interested, please contact the church office and we will get you plugged in. Thanks in advance for your help!




4. Planning Ahead for Advent! - Advent begins at the end of this month! We want to encourage your participation in one of the programs sponsored by our Conference's Life Enrichment Center is a daily devotional called "#PictureAdvent." 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. We pray you experience the presence of God in new and exciting ways this Advent.



Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will begin our annual focus on complete stewardship, focusing on how we can use our time, talent, gifts, service and witness to build up the Kingdom of God. As believers we understand God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and how we consistently call on God to help provide for us in our day to day lives. And God answers. During this series will look specifically at the ideas of management, investment, and commitment. This whole series will culminate with Commitment Sunday on November 20th, as we consecrate our pledge cards at each of our worship services. This is a very important time in the life of the church as this is one of the cornerstones to help us plan for 2017. We hope you will invite a friend and make plans to join us this Sunday, at 8am, 9:30am, or 11am for worship!





2. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up Sunday, November 13th, beginning at 12:30pm, in the Fellowship Hall. We will serve lunch and childcare will be provided. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP. We hope to see you there!





3. Wednesday Night Dinners - We are having a wonderful time at our Wednesday Night Dinners this fall. The company has been fantastic and the food has been delicious. Currently we are looking for a few more hands to help with this endeavor. If you are available on Wednesday nights we need your help. You do not have to commit to a weekly slot, or even to an entire night. We will use whatever time and whatever frequency you are available. If you are interested, please contact the church office and we will get you plugged in. Thanks in advance for your help!





4. Americana Concert - On Sunday November 6th, our Music Ministry will be presenting two concerts at 3:30pm and 6:00pm in the sanctuary.

It's a celebration of veterans past and present and will involve children and teenagers from local schools as well as our own Worship Choir.

No tickets necessary, but there will be a love offering taken to help local school music programs. Hope to see you there!






5. THANK YOU! - We want to extend a very heartfelt and hearty thank you to all of you that helped with our Pumpkin Patch, Trunk-n-Treat, and Operation Christmas Child ministries. Each and everyone of them were wildly successful and that happened because of you. Your prayers, your time, and your talents paved the way for lives to be changed and a true impact for the Kingdom of God to be made. Thank you again for your faithfulness and your generosity.






Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Midweek Moment

Last month Pastor Debbie and myself had the privilege and honor or participating in the installation service for our new District Superintendent, June Edwards. During the service, June spoke about the need for all churches to evaluate their ministries and missions and engage in the work of building bridges through our communities. She spoke about the need to make sure we are all being everything we can be to the neighborhoods where we are located. Churches are not meant to be closed societies, benefiting only their members, but communities of faith eager to reach out to those around them.

We have so many wonderful things to celebrate here at Community UMC. We are involved in numerous outreach ministries around Fruitland Park and in the surrounding neighborhoods. That happens because we have staff and many people in our family that know and understand that type of involvement is the life into which Christ calls all of us; to be the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus Christ to all the world. But the other side of that coin, is not to rest on our laurels. I want us to always keep asking ourselves, are we everything God is calling us to be? Are we doing everything we can to reach the people around us?

I want to encourage you to join me in constantly praying for God’s wisdom in this area. I want to ask you all to join me in consistently praying for God to open doors that we can walk through to share the love of Christ with those people that live around this church. We have a calling to be Christ’s ambassadors to this world, a calling that we have been equipped to carry out.

But in order for us to carry this out, we have to be all in. We have to be willing to turn all that we have and all that we are over to God. We have to be willing to give of our time, of ourselves, and of our gifts and finances. We have to completely turn ourselves over to God so that the Holy Spirit will flow through us with nothing to diminish its strength. And we all have to be a part of this, working together.

I am so excited about what we can do as Christ’s ambassadors for the people of Fruitland Park! I am so anxious to see what we can do as the body of Community UMC! I hope you will join me this year and be all in as we work to build the Kingdom of God together.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!