Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we are continuing our Lenten series on the "I AM Sayings of Christ" from the Gospel of John as Pastor Daryl looks at the statement, "I AM the Gate."

Jesus makes this statement about himself in John 10:1-10 as a means to express the depth of God's redemption, grace and mercy in our lives.

We will also have the opportunity to celebrate communion in all three services and a baptism at the 9:30 service. Invite a friend, or a even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!



2. Rise Against Hunger - In 2015 we participated in a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now where we packed over 20,000 meals for hungry children around the world in our Family Life Center. It was a rousing success and benefited a great number of young people. We are happy to announce that we are doing it again! The company and the mission are the same, only the name has changed.

They are now Rise Against Hunger and they are coming here THIS Sunday, April 2nd. Setup will begin at 12:45pm and we will begin packing the meals at 1:30pm. We look forward to seeing you there!



3. Holy Week Remembrances - This year we will offer several occasions for you to experience and commemorate Holy Week.
  • Palm Sunday  - During our Sunday services for Palm Sunday on April 9th, the confirmation class will be recognized as they join our church family! 
  • Maundy Thursday - We will hold a Maundy Thursday Service on Thursday, April 13th in our Sanctuary at 6:30pm. This will be a time to remember and reflect on Christ's last meal with his disciples. There will also be a time where the clergy in our congregation will be available to wash your feet.
  • Good Friday - There will be a Good Friday service at Noon, hosted by New Covenant UMC, in The Villages. All the clergy of the United Methodist Churches in the area are participating as well the combined choirs. 
  • Sunrise Service - We will also host an Easter Sunrise Service in our parking lot at 6:45am on Easter Sunday morning, with Pastor Loida preaching.
We pray you will take advantage of these many opportunities to remember our Christ and explore your faith. Invite a neighbor and we hope to see you there. All are invited, and all are welcome!



4. Easter Egg Hunt - This year we will host our annual Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic on Saturday, April 15th at 11am.

Games, crafts, and more will be happening before and after the hunt! After the Easter Egg Hunt we will have our Family Picnic! Hot dogs and drinks will be provided; we just ask that you bring a picnic side dish to share.

Bring your kids and grandkids, or even invite a neighbor to come and bring their kids! It will be a great time of fun and fellowship!



5. Grow Night Dinners and Classes - Our Wednesday Dinners and GROW Night programs are in full swing and doing great! It's never too late to join one! Here's a brief look at the classes being offered for adults:
  • Profiles in Courageous Faith - Pastor Debbie 
  • Disciple Fast Track - Pastor Loida 
  • Surprised by Hope - Pastor Daryl (Just began this study this week!) 
  • Knowing, Loving and Serving God - Don and Pat Holmes 
  • Workbook on Virtues and Fruit of the Spirit - Robbie Milam 
  • What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God - Marty Walton 
  • Young Adult Class - Kevin Milhorn 
  • First Place 4 Health - Kim Reed
We hope you will take advantage of these many varied and incredible options to grow your faith and deepen your relationships here at CUMC. See you there!
* There will not be any GROW night classes during Holy Week - on Wednesday April 12th. The last week of GROW night classes for the semester will be Wednesday May 10th. 



6. We Need You! - We are in need of volunteers to help with a few areas of the church.

One is 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.

The second is with ushers at our 11am service. We have an immediate need for ushers, during the month of April.

The third is helping to coordinate greeters for our 8am service.

If you are interested in helping with any of these opportunities, please contact the church office by clicking here or calling us at (352) 787-1829. Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Midweek Moment

This past weekend I was honored to be the worship leader for the Florida Conference Confirmation Retreat at the Warren Willis Camp. The added bonus to this opportunity was that our youth from Community UMC were part of this weekend.

My responsibility was to lead worship and give four sermons; Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday Night, and Sunday morning. Each of these messages were to revolve around the vows each youth would take as they completed their Confirmation Classes and joined their respective churches.

We talked about how even though their Confirmation Classes may have ended, their Confirmation journey would continue for the rest of their days. We looked at the importance of Baptism and Repentance and how we can all live into those understandings. We looked at how our logical response to these things was a life of service and sharing the love of Christ with all people. We gathered, we worshipped, and we felt God’s presence.

But what I really want to share with you all in this space is what happened in those in-between times; between the worship services. There were small group sessions that each youth group would hold; aimed at giving the youth a chance to process what I was sharing with them.

I sat in on the one our youth group held Sunday morning. I just wanted to hear where they were in their journeys and to offer support to them. Our Youth Minister, Sharon Quackenbush and two of our adult youth volunteers, Rev. Melissa Cooper and Tom Banks, did an outstanding job creating a space for our youth to really ask the tough questions and to wrestle with the membership commitments they were about to make to Christ’s Church and to Community UMC.

As I listened to them speak from their own experiences and understandings, I felt something wash over me. Hope. If you do not know, these young people – our Community UMC youth group – is made up of some truly remarkable people. These people have a sincere heart for others. This group is deeply curious about the makeup and structure of the United Methodist Church. This group genuinely wants to know about the vision and heart of this denomination. My friends, this group of young people – are going to change the world.

Let me say that again. This group of young people – are going to change the world! Mark my words…I am calling it now!

I was blown away at the content of their questions, the depth of their conversations, and their unrelenting pursuit of how we are called to live out our faith as Wesleyans, and as United Methodists.

It was that whole experience, the questions, the attention they gave to these topics, and how they articulated what they heard, that gives me immense hope for our future. If you have not had the chance to interact with our youth, I invite you to change that. Seek them out, spend time with them, and pay attention to the all the ways they live out their faith. They embody “love you neighbor” and they live out “welcome the stranger”.

So here is my challenge for us; we need to continue our investment in them. Pray for them and their leaders, support them and their leaders, and when you see them around the church – let them know how much they mean to us, this church, and the future of the United Methodist Church. With young people like this, to help lead us into the future, I have enormous hope that this church, and the United Methodist Church, will continue to bear fruit.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we are continuing our Lenten series on the "I AM Sayings of Christ" from the Gospel of John as Pastor Debbie looks at the statement, "I AM the Light of the World."

Jesus makes this statement about himself in John 8:12-30 as a means to express how he pushes back the blindness and darkness in the world.

This Sunday is also Pre-school Sunday as we honor the wonderful children and teachers of our very own Community Christian School! Invite a friend, or a even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!





2. Grow Night Dinners and Classes - Our Wednesday Dinners and GROW Night programs are in full swing and doing great! It's never too late to join one! Here's a brief look at the classes being offered for adults:
  • Profiles in Courageous Faith - Pastor Debbie 
  • Disciple Fast Track - Pastor Loida 
  • Surprised by Hope - Pastor Daryl (Just began this study this week!) 
  • Knowing, Loving and Serving God - Don and Pat Holmes 
  • Workbook on Virtues and Fruit of the Spirit - Robbie Milam 
  • What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God - Marty Walton 
  • Young Adult Class - Kevin Milhorn 
  • First Place 4 Health - Kim Reed
We hope you will take advantage of these many varied and incredible options to grow your faith and deepen your relationships here at CUMC. See you there!





3. We Need You! - We are in need of volunteers to help with a few areas of the church.

One is 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.

The second is with ushers at our 11am service. We have an immediate need for ushers, during the month of April.

The third is helping to coordinate greeters for our 8am service.

If you are interested in helping with any of these opportunities, please contact the church office by clicking here or calling us at (352) 787-1829. Thank you in advance for your consideration.





4. Rise Against Hunger - In 2015 we participated in a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now where we packed over 20,000 meals for hungry children around the world in our Family Life Center. It was a rousing success and benefited a great number of young people. We are happy to announce that we are doing it again! The company and the mission are the same, only the name has changed.

They are now Rise Against Hunger and they are coming here on Sunday, April 2nd. We are looking for 100 volunteers to help setup, pack meals, and take down. There will signup sheets at each service for you to mark your interest and willingness to help. Mark your calendars now as we all Rise Against Hunger.





5. Holy Week Remembrances - This year we will offer several occasions for you to experience and commemorate Holy Week.
  • Maundy Thursday - We will hold a Maundy Thursday Service on Thursday, April 13th in our Sanctuary at 6:30pm. This will be a time to remember and reflect on Christ's last meal with his disciples. There will also be a time where the clergy in our congregation will be available to wash your feet.
  • Good Friday - There will be a Good Friday service at Noon, hosted by New Covenant UMC, in The Villages. All the clergy of the United Methodist Churches in the area are participating as well the combined choirs. 
  • Sunrise Service - We will also host an Easter Sunrise Service in our parking lot at 6:45am on Easter Sunday morning, with Pastor Loida preaching.
We pray you will take advantage of these many opportunities to remember our Christ and explore your faith. Invite a neighbor and we hope to see you there. All are invited, and all are welcome!






6. Easter Egg Hunt - This year we will host our annual Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic on Saturday, April 15th at 11am.

Games, crafts, and more will be happening before and after the hunt! After the Easter Egg Hunt we will have our Family Picnic! Hot dogs and drinks will be provided; we just ask that you bring a picnic side dish to share.

Bring your kids and grandkids, or even invite a neighbor to come and bring their kids! It will be a great time of fun and fellowship!




Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship- This week we are continuing our Lenten series on the "I AM Sayings of Christ" from the Gospel of John as Pastor Debbie looks at the statement, "I AM the Vine." Jesus makes this statement about himself in John 15:1-5 as a means to express the power of connection and how we are stronger together than we are apart. This week is also Scout Sunday and we will celebrate our Pack and Troop during worship. Invite a friend, or a even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!





2. Grow Night Dinners and Classes - Our Wednesday Dinners and GROW Night programs are in full swing and doing great! Abbreviated classes will be conducted this week to provide opportunity for you to attend a concert in our Sanctuary beginning at 7:15pm. It's not too late to join one! Here's a brief look at the classes being offered for adults:
  • Profiles in Courageous Faith - Pastor Debbie 
  • Disciple Fast Track - Pastor Loida 
  • Renegade Gospel - Pastor Daryl (Will not meet this week, 3/15) 
  • Knowing, Loving and Serving God - Don and Pat Holmes 
  • Workbook on Virtues and Fruit of the Spirit - Robbie Milam 
  • What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God - Marty Walton 
  • Young Adult Class - Kevin Milhorn First Place 4 Health - Kim Reed
We hope you will take advantage of these many varied and incredible options to grow your faith and deepen your relationships here at CUMC. See you there!





3. We Need You! - We are in need of volunteers to help with a few areas of the church.

One is 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.

The second is with ushers at our 11am service. We have an immediate need for ushers, during the month of April.

The third is helping to coordinate greeters for our 8am service. If you are interested in helping with any of these opportunities, please contact the church office by clicking here or calling us at (352) 787-1829. Thank you in advance for your consideration.





4. Baptism Party - Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 26th so you can join us to celebrate the Baptisms in our youth group, as they walk through Confirmation. We will eat lunch - everyone is asked to bring a side dish - and have a pool party as part of this amazing celebration. Everyone is invited, but we do need RSVPs by March 19th, so we can plan the lunch and have the appropriate amount of lifeguards. If you would like to RSVP please contact Sharon by calling the church office at 787-1829 or you can email her by clicking here. We hope to see you all there as we celebrate some amazing young people and the grace of God in their lives.






5. Rise Against Hunger - In 2015 we participated in a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now where we packed over 20,000 meals for hungry children around the world in our Family Life Center. It was a rousing success and benefited a great number of young people. We are happy to announce that we are doing it again! The company and the mission are the same, only the name has changed. They are now Rise Against Hunger and they are coming here on Sunday, April 2nd. We are looking for 100 volunteers to help setup, pack meals, and take down. You will see sign up sheets soon to claim your spot and help change lives. Mark your calendars now and be on the lookout, as we all Rise Against Hunger.


Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Midweek Moment-Lent Retreat Reflections

Last Saturday our congregation celebrated our first ever Lent Retreat. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. The Warren Willis Camp was a great place to gather to worship, get to know one another, and have fun. We had people from all three services (8:00, 9:30 and 11). We had staff and we had congregants. We had young (Josiah Landstedt: 6 months old), and we had old (we won’t name names); and we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.

We were placed into eight different flocks and each one of us chose our name and our sheep call. We had The Fluffs, The Fluffy tails, The Wanderers, The Wooly Whites, The Lambs of the Lord, The Mutton Chops, The Ewe-nighted, and The Fab 5. We spend the day reflecting on the I Am sayings of Jesus. We laughed, walked around the camp and enjoyed the lake, the sun, and the energy of the little ones. It felt like “togetherness.”

Some sat through the scavenger hunt, some ran in a limitless flow of energy (Elsa Landstedt). We experienced the ONE-ness of the Spirit because of the Spirit of Christ among us. It is the Spirit that brings us together. It is the Spirit that reminds us of the truths of Christ: I am the gate, I am the Vine, I am the light of the world, I am the Resurrection, and I am the bread of life. It is the Spirit that makes us ONE church.

We were tired at the end, some went home and napped, but we knew we had been part of something that cannot be bought. Don’t miss out on next year’s Lent Retreat, March 3, 2018.

Have a Great Week!

Pastor Loida

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Lent Retreat - THIS SATURDAY March 4th!! - As an expansion of our GROW discipleship ministries, we are offering a church-wide intergenerational retreat to help kickoff the Lenten season. The retreat takes place this Saturday at the Warren Willis UM Camp (4990 Picciola Road, 34731) here in Fruitland Park from 9am-3pm. We will be exploring the meaning of the season of Lent and the preaching series for the season, the I AM sayings of Jesus.



2. Sunday Morning Worship- This week we are beginning our Lenten series on the "I AM Sayings of Christ" from the Gospel of John starting with "I AM the Bread of Life." Jesus makes this statement about himself in John 6:32-40 and we'll explore how our eternal nourishment comes from Christ alone. We will also be celebrating communion at all three services on Sunday. Invite a friend, or a even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!



3. Grow Night Dinners and Classes - Our Wednesday Dinners and GROW Night programs are in full swing and doing great! Classes will resume next week. It's not too late to join one! Here's a brief look at the classes being offered for adults:
  • Profiles in Courageous Faith - Pastor Debbie 
  • Disciple Fast Track - Pastor Loida 
  • Renegade Gospel - Pastor Daryl 
  • Knowing, Loving and Serving God - Don and Pat Holmes 
  • Workbook on Virtues and Fruit of the Spirit - Robbie Milam 
  • What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God - Marty Walton 
  • Young Adult Class - Kevin Milhorn 
  • First Place 4 Health - Kim Reed
We hope you will take advantage of these many varied and incredible options to grow your faith and deepen your relationships here at CUMC. See you there!



4. We Need You! - We are in need of volunteers to help with two areas of the church.
  • One is 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. 
  • The other is with Wednesday Night Dinners. We need to people to help with serving and cleanup of our dinners each week. Even if you cannot work often or for complete shifts, we can use you for whatever time you have available.
If you are interested in helping in either of these opportunities, please contact the church office by clicking here or calling us at (352) 787-1829. Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Midweek Moment

This morning Pastor Loida and I were out in the parking lot serving "Ashes to Go" for folks between 7:30-8:30am. God gifted us with a glorious morning to be in his creation and we had a meaningful time of prayer with folks who came out to receive their ashes.

Why did we do ashes this morning? Well because it's Ash Wednesday, which makes the beginning of the season of Lent in our church calendar. Many of us have some memory of Lent and for most it is usually associated with the practice of giving up something for those 40 days. But what is Lent? What is the purpose and reason for this season? Our General Conference Office put together a bit of information about Lent that I wanted to share with you. This is written by Penny Ford and very informative.


What is Lent?

Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.

When is Lent?

It’s the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays because every Sunday is like a little Easter. Basically, it’s about one-tenth of a year (like a tithe of time). Mardi Gras is the day before Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday. This year it’s from March 1 (Ash Wednesday) to April 16 (Easter), 2017.

Mardi Gras? What does that have to do with JESUS??

Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday.” It refers to the day before Lent starts. Since Lent always starts on a Wednesday, the day before is always a Tuesday. And it’s called “Fat” or “Great” because it’s associated with great food and parties.

In earlier times, people used Lent as a time of fasting and repentance. Since they didn’t want to be tempted by sweets, meat and other distractions in the house, they cleaned out their cabinets. They used up all the sugar and yeast in sweet breads before the Lent season started, and fixed meals with all the meat available. It was a great feast! Through the years Mardi Gras has evolved (in some places) into a pretty wild party with little to do with preparing for the Lenten season of repentance and simplicity. Oh well. But Christians still know it’s origin, and hang onto the true Spirit of the season.

So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday?

Yes. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with ashes.

Why ashes?

In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

Where do the ashes come from?

On what we now call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved palms and cheered him on. Less than a week later, Jesus was killed. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. We get ashes for Ash Wednesday by saving the palms from Palm Sunday, burning them, and mixing them with a little oil. It’s symbolic.

What do Christians do with ashes?

At an Ash Wednesday service, folks are invited to come forward to receive the ashes. The minister will make a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.

So what is LENT?

At Jesus’ baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased.” Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. During his time there he was tempted by Satan and found clarity and strength to resist temptation. Afterwards, he was ready to begin his ministry.

Why “DO” Lent? How do I start?

Are you searching for something more? Tired of running in circles, but not really living life with direction, purpose or passion? It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the drama of classes, relationships, family, and work. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. We try to fill the emptiness inside us with mindless TV, meaningless chatter, stimulants, alcohol, too many activities or other irrelevant stuff. We run away from life and from God.

Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. You might try one of these practices for Lent:

FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that’s not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, TV, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality TV to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do?

SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to tutor children, or work for reform and justice in your community. You can commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend everyday of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God.

PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.

This can be a great time to refocus, re-center, and repent as we draw ourselves closer to God and prepare our hearts and minds for Easter and all of the wonderful grace and mercy we receive as the righteousness of Christ is credited to each and every one of us.

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday,