Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thursday Thoughts


Special Note - the Holiday Grief Seminar is being held this Saturday in the Fellowship Hall from 10:30am to noon! 


1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will begin a continue our preaching series: Traveling the Highways of Advent. Pastor Daryl will be preaching this weekend with a focus upon "The Road to Reversal" from Luke 1:39-56 and how our perspective can influence our Advent journey.



Invite a friend or even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!





2. Pledges for 2018


We're so thankful for everyone who responded by turning in their pledge card last Sunday as we dedicated our pledge commitments. If you have not yet turned your financial pledge or volunteer survey into the church, it's not too late. You can bring them to worship with you this Sunday and put them in the offering plates or drop them by the church office during regular office hours.




3. Looking Ahead to Advent - Be sure to mark these dates on your calendar for things coming up this season of Advent -

* Christmas Grace concerts - Thursday December 7th at 6pm and Saturday December 9th at 2pm
* Many Moods of Christmas concerts - Sunday December 10th at 3:30pm and 6pm
* Blue Christmas Worship Service - Sunday December 17th at 3pm
* Christmas Eve MORNING worship - one service at 10:30am
* Christmas Eve EVENING worship - contemporary service at 5pm in the Family Life Center; traditional services at 7pm and 9pm in the sanctuary


4. GROW Night Dinner and Classes

We have just two weeks of GROW NIGHT classes left: December 6th and December 13th.

Even if you are not part of GROW NIGHT, you are invited to our closing program on Wednesday December 13th at 6:15pm in the sanctuary. There will be time to hear about the upcoming spring semester of classes and we will also be participating in a small service project together to bless some of the folks in our church's visitation ministry.

GROW Night will take a break from December 20 through January 3rd. Dinner and a new slate of classes will resume on Wednesday January 10th, 2018.


5. Christmas Eve Offering for Missions - Our Christmas Eve offering at all our evening services will ALL be going to missions this year. We will be raising money for Water is Basic, an organization that helps build new wells and repair old wells in the South Sudan in Africa. It costs approximately $7,500 for a new well and about $1,250 for a well repair. In the South Sudan, one in every four children dies before the age of 5; most because of illnesses caused by diseased water. Help make a tremendous difference in the lives of children and in whole communities this Christmas with your offering.


Blessings! See you soon!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Midweek Moment

If you look in the stores, Christmas decorations are up in full force and most of us have begun that process in some form at home. Our sanctuary and the Family Life Center have been decorated for the holiday season as well - but our decor is a little bit different. In the sanctuary for example, we have Christmas trees, but instead of a random assortment of ornaments, they are decorated with Chrismons - each ornament is a handmade symbol of Christ. And each week in worship we also light one of the Advent candles to help focus upon Christ's coming at Christmas. In our sanctuary we use a wreath and in our Family Life Center we use lanterns on a ladder. We're intentional about how we decorate, making space and creating an environment where we can focus upon Christ as the focus of the season. 

Sometimes the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be a mad rush of decorating, cooking, cleaning, purchasing presents, attending concerts, hosting holiday parties, and more. Often we can get to Christmas Day and be so exhausted we aren't able to enjoy the moments as we would like. 

The church has an antidote that helps us focus, if we take the time to embrace it. It's the season of Advent. It's a time of preparation - not of things on the outside - but of our hearts on the inside. While we count and mark these days we are invited to pause and to remember and to make space in our hearts and in our lives for the One who came seeking room so long ago. As a clergy colleague wrote me in an email many years ago, "I pray your Advent is not too busy, with moments of meaningfulness." That is still my prayer. But I recognize those moments of meaningfulness do not happen without intentionality. 

In Advent I often change up my typical devotional practices to include different reflections. Two resources that I have used in the last several years are The Advent Door and #PictureAdvent. The Advent Door is a website created by my friend Rev. Jan Richardson and features her ministry of art and words. Jan has been leading journeys through Advent for 10 years now. And #PictureAdvent is more recent addition sponsored by the Life Enrichment Center, with daily devotionals written during Advent by clergy and laity throughout our conference. Both of these websites (linked above) offer the option of subscribing so that the daily devotionals come directly to your email and you don't miss anything. 

This advent, I pray you experience that moments of meaningfulness, using these resources or others. Meaningfulness so transforming that it leaves no doubt in your soul that you have been touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will begin a new preaching series: Traveling the Highways of Advent. Pastor Loida will begin this journey with us focusing upon the "The Straight and Narrow" using Luke 3:1-14. We will begin preparing our mind and emotions to be in tune with the new thing that God is about to do.


Invite a friend or even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!




2. Pledges for 2018


We're so thankful for everyone who responded by turning in their pledge card last Sunday as we dedicated our pledge commitments. If you have not yet turned your financial pledge or volunteer survey into the church, it's not too late. You can bring them to worship with you this Sunday and put them in the offering plates or drop them by the church office during regular office hours.




3. Looking Ahead to Advent - Be sure to mark these dates on your calendar for things coming up this season of Advent -

* Holiday Grief Seminar - Saturday December 2 starting at 10:30am
* Christmas Grace concerts - Thursday December 7th at 6pm and Saturday December 9th at 2pm
* Many Moods of Christmas concerts - Sunday December 10th at 3:30pm and 6pm
* Blue Christmas Worship Service - Sunday December 17th at 3pm
* Christmas Eve MORNING worship - one service at 10:30am
* Christmas Eve EVENING worship - contemporary service at 5pm in the Family Life Center; traditional services at 7pm and 9pm in the sanctuary


4. GROW Night Dinner and Classes

Next week we will be back to our regular schedule of Wednesday night dinner and GROW Night classes. We have just three weeks left of our fall semester: November 29th, December 6th and December 13th.

GROW Night will take a break from December 20 through January 3rd. Dinner and a new slate of classes will resume on Wednesday January 10th, 2018.


5. Christmas Eve Offering for Missions - Our Christmas Eve offering at all our evening services will ALL be going to missions this year. We will be raising money for Water is Basic, an organization that helps build new wells and repair old wells in the South Sudan in Africa. It costs approximately $7,500 for a new well and about $1,250 for a well repair. In the South Sudan, one in every four children dies before the age of 5; most because of illnesses caused by diseased water. Help make a tremendous difference in the lives of children and in whole communities this Christmas with your offering.


Blessings! See you soon!




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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. I hate the fact that Thanksgiving here lately gets skipped over in favor of heading right to Christmas sales and decorations. 


But I'm thinking of Pastor Daryl's sermon from Sunday and all that we have to be thankful for this year - about cultivating an attitude of gratitude in response for all that God has done. Remember, he quoted Psalm 116: "I love the LORD because..." and then the Psalmist went on to list all the things that God had done that could be rejoiced over.

So with that in mind, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? I'll start off with a small list of things I'm thankful for in my life: 
1. for my salvation
2. for my husband Daryl and our children Parker, Wesley and Davis
3. for my calling as a pastor for the Kingdom of God
4. for getting to live out that calling here at Community among all of you, with this amazing church staff and incredible lay people 
5. for my family 
6. for dear friends
7. for my health
8. for the chance to spend Thanksgiving with family 
I hope you find joy in counting your blessings as well this Thanksgiving season.

Blessings,


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week we will conclude our annual Stewardship emphasis in worship. This year we are talking about "Blueprints for the Future." You should have already received your Stewardship packed in the mail; if not, extras are available in the Sanctuary Narthex and also in the Family Life Center. Our focus in worship this week will be "To Give Generously" as Pastor Daryl focuses upon 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 in the sermon time. There will be time at the end of each service to bring forward your pledge card and  talent surveys and dedicate them at the altar rail. It promises to be a powerful time of celebration and worship together!

Invite a friend or even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!







2. Happy Thanksgiving!!!! 

We hope that you will enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday next week. We will be hosting a Thanksgiving meal in our Family Life Center at noon on Thursday the 23rd.

Here's a few things that will NOT be meeting next week because of the holiday:
* Wonderful Wednesday and Tutoring
* Wednesday Night Dinner and GROW Night classes
* Chancel Choir and Handbell Practice
* Pastor Loida's Thursday Bible study
* Church Office will be closed on Thursday (Nov 23rd) and Friday (Nov 24th)


3. Welcome to Our Newest Staff Member! - The Rev. Malcolm Patterson will started this week on Wednesday as the new Minister of Visitation. "Mal" as he likes to be called, is a retired minister from the Evangelical Christian Church (previously an ordained deacon in the UMC) and has strong UMC roots and connection. He's spent most of his ministry as a deacon in the academic world as a school teacher, principal and superintendent of schools. In the last several years he has served as a professor training teachers most recently at Endicott College in Massachusetts, where he still serves remotely as a mentor for several Phd students. Paralleling his teaching career, Mal ministered in churches serving in a variety of roles, with preaching, visitation, teaching, leading in worship with communion, doing weddings, baptisms, funerals and more. Mal and his wife Joyce recently retired and moved from Massachusetts to Plantation in Leesburg - the two met as children in their local United Methodist Church. They have two adult children and grandchildren. Mal is very excited about this opportunity to minister and serve and get connected to Community. He is very warm and welcoming and gracious and everyone on the search committee felt that he had a presence that would fit in well with you and with the rest of the staff and the congregation. 


4. Looking Ahead to Advent - Be sure to mark these dates on your calendar for things coming up this season of Advent -

* Holiday Grief Seminar - Saturday December 2 starting at 10:30am
* Christmas Grace concerts - Thursday December 7th at 6pm and Saturday December 9th at 2pm  
* Many Moods of Christmas concerts - Sunday December 10th at 3:30pm and 6pm
* Blue Christmas Worship Service - Sunday December 17th at 3pm
* Christmas Eve MORNING worship - one service at 10:30am
* Christmas Eve EVENING worship - contemporary service at 5pm in the Family Life Center; traditional services at 7pm and 9pm in the sanctuary


5. Christmas Eve Offering for Missions - Our Christmas Eve offering at all our evening services will ALL be going to missions this year. We will be raising money for Water is Basic, an organization that helps build new wells and repair old wells in the South Sudan in Africa. It costs approximately $7,500 for a new well and about $1,250 for a well repair. In the South Sudan, one in every four children dies before the age of 5; most because of illnesses caused by diseased water. Help make a tremendous difference in the lives of children and in whole communities this Christmas with your offering.


Blessings! See you soon!



Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week begins our annual Stewardship emphasis in worship. This year we are talking about "Blueprints for the Future." You should have already received your Stewardship packed in the mail; if not, extras are available in the Sanctuary Narthex and also in the Family Life Center. Our focus in worship this week will be "To Live Responsibly" as Pastor Loida focuses upon Matthew 25:14-18 in the sermon time. We will also be recognizing All Saints Day and Veterans Day in worship and celebrating communion. It promises to be a powerful time of celebration and worship together!

Invite a friend or even a neighbor, and we hope to see you all there at either 8am, 9:30am, or 11am!







2. Missions Possible Auction - The UMW are sponsoring their Missions Possible Auction again TOMORROW -  Friday November 3rd from 5:30-8:30pm in the Family Life Center. Last year's inaugural event raised over $10,000 for missions! There will be food, fellowship, a silent auction and a live auction featuring Pastor Daryl as the auctioneer. We're looking forward to a great event and the wonderful things that can happen in missions afterwards!






3. Americana Concerts - You will have two opportunities this weekend to celebrate Veterans' Day with our Community UMC Concert Series as we present "Americana: A Celebration of Veterans Past and Present." The first concert is Saturday November 4th at 2pm in the sanctuary and the second concert is Sunday November 5th at 6pm in the sanctuary.




4. Charge Conference - Our annual Charge Conference is coming up soon. We will gather with the other United Methodist churches in the area for a time of worship and reflection on missions and ministries this past year. We will also look to the future and the ways we can impact our communities. We will go over reports and have a few votes that will need to be taken. It is open for all people to attend and all members can vote. It will be held on November 5th, at New Covenant UMC, 3470 Woodridge Dr., in The Villages, beginning at 4pm. We hope to see you there as we represent Community UMC!





5. Thank You!!!! 

Thank you so much for your generous response to Pumpkin Patch and Trunk or Treat this year! We had some wonderful volunteer coordinators from the congregation who stepped up to help with Pumpkin Patch (Serena O'Neil and Ali Lafler) and so many of you gave of your time to sit and "tend" the patch. We sold out of pumpkins on Halloween and it was a banner year in sales to help benefit our Camp Scholarship Fund. 

The response for Trunk or Treat was amazing too! We had almost 100 volunteers between the 32 trunks and other folks who served hot dogs, drinks and snowcones. We know many of you donated candy and food items as well. We had approximately 1,500 people come through the Trunk or Treat in 2.5 hours on Halloween night!! That's a new record for us in terms of attendance as well. We're so thankful for your help with both of these events and your generosity. 


**** BONUS *****

It's time for the time change!!!!
Please don't forget to set your clocks back an hour on Sunday night!!!!


Blessings! See you soon!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Midweek Moment

This weekend in worship we will celebrate All Saints Day. In the early days of the church it became customary to celebrate feast days for those who were martyred for their faith. Eventually because of persecution, there became too many to celebrate separately and so the church moved to a common day of remembrance for all of the departed saints. On Sunday in worship we will lift up the names of the faithful from our own congregation who have passed away in the last year. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on other people near and dear to you who have died, especially those who guided you in your faith. 

Already this week, my family members are on my mind - particularly my mom and dad, Ellen and Rob Keller. They certainly had a lot to do with my faith development. They tried in the best way they could everyday to live out their faith and they did it by loving other people. I know where that deep faith came from because I watched their parents as well. My dad's parents Paul and Thelma Keller for a while were both employed as public school music teachers, then later he became a college business manager/treasurer. No matter what else they were doing their lives revolved around church and music. He as a church choir director and a member of a Gospel quarter for over 50 years; she as the church organist and quartet accompanist for the same amount of time. They were more vocal about their faith and its implications for every aspect of life. My mom's mother Helen Washburn had faith that sustained her through a lot of difficult moments in life. I appreciated when she lived with us and I would catch her reading her Bible and her daily devotions every day from the recliner in the corner of the living room. And while there are many others who shared their example of faith and are saints in my life, I would be remiss if I did not mention Daryl's grandmother Emma Davis. She died of a brain tumor when I just sixteen years old. She was an incredible example of selfless Christian love and service in the church where I grew up. Everyone wanted to be like her in every way except for her height (she was so tiny - we joked that's why she always worked with kids!)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews is often called the Hall of Heroes because it lists so many of the great saints of faith from the Old Testament....Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets. And then Paul switches gears in the next chapter to talk about the life of faith as a race: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

I love picturing those who have gone before as a great cloud of witnesses lining the race of our faith, cheering us on, their examples encouraging us when we are about to lose hope. I hope you will take time to lift up the saints in our lives who have gone before us and line our race of faith. Who will be in your great cloud of witnesses?

Let us pray the prayer for All Saints Day: O almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together as one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys which You have prepared for those who sincerely love You; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen!

Blessings,