Friday, August 31, 2012

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Timothy 4:4 – Everything created by God is good. Look for the goodness in this day, and in God’s creation as you experience it where you are today. God is the author of the whole creation. May you rely on God’s grace, and seek to do God’s will. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Today God goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Matthew 21:21 Today, have faith and do not doubt. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Matthew 17:20 - Today have faith like a grain of mustard seed—nothing will be impossible for you. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

F.I.S.H. Fresh Ideas Start Here

On Saturday, Wekiva Presbyterian Church served as the host location for FISH, the Central Florida Presbytery annual workshops for church leaders.  We had a great group of participants and wonderful leaders.  Above you see the program for the Morning Prayers, which I designed based on my book on the Beatitudes.  Paul Anderson and Gary Galloway shared in leading this opening worship.  Below is a photo of the bookshop area, which was staffed by church volunteer Kathy, and presented by Candace Hill from PC(USA) headquarters in Louisville.  Candace and I are old friends, having worked together at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA.

Above is a photo of Cheryl Carson, who heads the Resource Center at Central Florida Presbytery and who planned the entire FISH event.  She is standing before a display of items she created to feature what churches can borrow from the Resource Center.  Below is a display about the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, a national organization which will be here in Orlando for their 2013 annual meeting this coming February.

We could not have done the FISH event without the help of many people both volunteers and church staff members.  Above Donna shows her Wekiva spirit by displaying the Wekiva tee shirt, and the fact that she is ready to pour the orange juice serves to remind us that we are in Central Florida, for sure!  Martha and Ted smile for the camera, below...

Above and below we see Mark Pinsky as he delivers the plenary session.  Mark is a noted author of a fine group of books about church and society.  His most recent book, from the Alban Institute and commissioned by one of the true heros of our age, the former first lady of Pennsylvania Ginny Thornburgh, is about how persons with disabilities enrich the lives of congregations.  A wonderful book.
If you missed FISH, you missed one of the best catches of the year!
By James Patrick Kinney

Six humans trapped by happenstance In dark and bitter cold
Each one possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs, The first woman held hers back.
For on the faces around the fire, She noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way, Saw one not of his church,
And couldn't bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes, He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use, To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought Of the wealth he had in store.
And how to keep what he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group Did naught except for gain
Giving only to those who gave Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands Was proof of human sin.
They didn't die from the cold without, They died from ---THE COLD WITHIN.

The poem was quoted in today's sermon and much requested by people after worship.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is your light and salvation; do not be afraid. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Joshua 1:9-11 Today, be strong and courageous. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Joshua 1:9-11 Today, be strong and courageous. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Red Shouldered Hawk in the Church Parking Lot

This is one of three Red Shouldered Hawks that have been gracing our church grounds this summer.  It was  a treat to see this one just outside the office window, perched on the handicapped parking sign.  I will say that even though the windows to the church office are darkly tinted, the hawk was very much aware of our presence.

1 Peter 4:11 Today speak, as one who speaks oracles of God. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Did you read the article in yesterday's paper about the five houses that are going to be torn down unless someone claims and moves them?

It is down by Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando. The houses have been used as offices in the past decade or so but for many decades before that they sheltered families and nurtured lives. They could still do that, if some creative and fast moving folks will claim them and have them moved to some nearby lot (the city is even providing a list of lots that are waiting for them).

An adventure to be sure...and one that could be a lot of fun as well as challenging. If you have ever wanted to save and live in an historic home, now is your time and here is your chance.

Otherwise, the houses will be torn down.

The land that will be cleared (one way or the other) will be used to make Lake Eola Park larger. Joy Dickinson also featured this in her "Florida Flashback" column not long ago. 

There are good reasons to save and reuse old houses. 

Maybe you can help it happen...
2 Timothy 4:17 Today, the Lord stands by you and builds you up. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1 Samuel 30:6 Today, strengthen yourself in the LORD your God. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Psalm 119:23 Today, meditate on God’s statutes This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday School Kick Off

Here in Florida, summer is officially over.  School has started and as of this morning, so has Sunday School.  Laurie led us through the morning's activities in which we learned about all of the upcoming classes, and had a delicious breakfast as well.  You can see some of the bounty pictured above and below... 

Looking through the window is the "J Team" as in Judith and Joy, who helped Ramona (pictured below) create all of this wonderful welcome back meal.

Laurie is so much 'in motion' that it is hard to capture her standing still; you can see I almost got it, but her arm is indicating which students are to go with what teachers for their first class of the fall season.  Below are several tables of happy learners...

Psalm 18:32-34 - Today God sets you secure on the heights. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Remembering The Rev. Mrs. Marilyn Alamsha

Marilyn L. Alamsha

"Well done, good and faithful servant..." - Matthew 25:23 

Today, I received word from Lloyd Alamsha that his wife Marilyn died yesterday.  She had been under hospice care, and the entire Alamsha family had gathered and were with her as she passed from this world to the next.  I have been keeping Lloyd in my prayers and remembering the days when they both served Wekiva Presbyterian Church with a great deal of fondness.  There will be a memorial service for Marilyn next Saturday morning, August 25, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. at the Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida. 

It was during my first year in Florida as the senior pastor of Wekiva Presbyterian Church that I first became aware of Marilyn Alamsha. The place was a meeting of Central Florida Presbytery. The occasion was Marilyn’s retirement. I listened attentively and appreciatively to the accolades that were presented in Marilyn’s honor, and then the entire room fairly leaped from their seats to offer Marilyn a heartfelt standing ovation. Even though I was quite new to the Presbytery, I could sense immediately that Marilyn was both deeply loved and highly respected for her gifts in ministry. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a chance to share in ministry with Marilyn”.

Soon thereafter, I asked Woody Brown, who was at that time the chairperson of the Committee on Ministry, what Marilyn was planning to do in retirement, and whether she might have any interest in serving a church part-time? Woody replied that he thought Marilyn was glad for a time to stop and relax, and gave me the impression that working in retirement was the last thing on Marilyn’s mind. Happily, as things turned out, I was wrong. 

Even so, for a month or two that was that, to my way of thinking. But then I was called to preach at my home church, in Pennsylvania, for an anniversary Sunday. I was the only pastor at Wekiva at the time; we were between associate ministers. When I began thinking about who I might ask to preach while I was away, Marilyn was the person who came to mind.

I called to invite her and she responded in the affirmative at once. And came and preached and was well received by the people of the congregation. I had left her a little note of welcome on my desk and when I returned, I found that she had left a note of reply, there, saying how much she had enjoyed being at Wekiva. At once, I picked up the phone and called Marilyn, to thank her. And as we talked she said that several people had commented that they wished Marilyn could be with us every Sunday. I said, “So do I; let’s talk about that…!”

Before long I proposed that Marilyn become part of our staff, and the Session agreed. And so began a collegial friendship that brought joy to my heart and I hope to Marilyn’s as well, as she worked on our staff as a minister of visitation and sharing in the leading worship each Sunday.

It is important to note that Marilyn was the first ordained woman to serve Wekiva. In the PC(USA), we may soon get to the point where we will not need to make that distinction, and it will be as routine and unremarkable that an ordained woman would serve as an ordained man. But we were not there yet, at Wekiva. Marilyn got us there, by her remarkable faith, poise, wisdom, and love that she had honed for many years and showed in everything she did in her ministry.

Marilyn found that some of our Wekiva members had been friends and members of other congregations she had served, which brought a bit of added delight to them all.

Not long thereafter, Lloyd reached the day of retirement and our sentiment at Wekiva was, “Quick! Let’s invite Lloyd to come and work with us, before someone else beats us to it!” We did, and Lloyd accepted, and we had such a grand time, Lloyd and Marilyn and Paul our associate and I, the four pastors, working side-by-side, sharing worship of a Sunday and being friends in the faith.

It is an ancient saying that all good things must come to an end, but we don’t have to like it…

When Lloyd and Marilyn departed from us to Jacksonville, not only were we sad to see them go, but we were also quite aware that Marilyn had broken new ground among us in such a way that we were the better for it. Indeed, I said to the Session, “Because of Marilyn and her ministry among us, if ever the time comes that Wekiva is seeking a new associate pastor or senior pastor and finds among the candidates women whose gifts correspond with the church’s needs, you all can be confident in considering them for those positions.”

Many, many people will have memories to share in the various chapters of their life that coincided with the chapters in Marilyn's.  Among the many lives she blessed please count mine…and our family’s. We cherish Marilyn’s friendship and are glad we shared in ministry together. Today we are thanking the Lord for Marilyn’s love and we will honor her in our memories forevermore.
Philippians 4:13 Today you can do all things you are called upon to do, through Christ who strengthens you. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Banner Day at Wekiva Presbyterian and Elsewhere!

So we are putting a new roof on the flat portions of the church, a project long anticipated and made possible because of the proceeds of the sale of the non-contiguous three acre parcel, some of which were set aside for this purpose by the Session.

All of this is quite helpful and exciting.

Wekiva's Property Manager Vic has been up on the roof many times as the work has been underway, and the last time he came down from there saying that it "sure is bright" due to the white membrane they put down and "iron" together.

A detail of the work at hand...

For safety's sake, the company who is doing the roofing has put up those yellow pennant strings of streamers one used to associate with used car lots (you know the kind). In fact, I think several church members were a tad concerned to leave their vehicles parked in the church parking lot last Sunday, for fear that someone would write a price on the windshield and sell them before the postlude was played. No, we would not do that.  Below you see photos of our parking lot and church with the roofing company's yellow pennants streaming...

But here is a funny, in the next photos, where you can see what I saw on Wekiva Springs Road this morning on my way to the church office...

One of our sister congregations has taken a cue from the yellow pennants, and has festooned their entire church parking lot with similar pennants--but these have no safety precaution associated with them.  They were hoisted to catch the eye of passers by!

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Wekiva Presbyterian Church is flattered.

Psalm 72:6 – Let God’s refreshing presence enliven you throughout this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Exodus 15:2 - Today, the Lord is your strength and song and salvation. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1 Chronicles 16:11 Today, seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Children's Sermon Time - 8:30 a.m. - Youth Sunday

On this past Sunday the senior highs of the congregation took the lead in worship and to echo a series of books:  "On Sunday, The Pastor Sat In The Congregation".  In fact, this is my vantage point from the early service that morning, during the Children's Sermon.  You can see the youth leaders in the Chancel.  The morning featured all of our senior highs leading in one way or another from being in the Chancel to greeting and ushering, and four of our graduating seniors gave the sermons. 

In the evening, we saw a "slide show" (do we still call them that?) of the work that our Senior Highs and their leaders did in Columbia, SC, this summer on the mission trip.  It was fun, especially, to see all of the individual photos of every participant, who, if my eyes did not deceive me, were posed in front of a very cooperative white crepe myrtle in bloom.  It took me a while to catch on to that, and at one point I thought that Karen and her daughter Allison were wearing flowers in their hair, but then when we got to the guys, I figured it out.  (As I say, it was the pastor's day off!)

Well done, one and all!

Tom Stahl With New Noah's Ark Mural

In an earlier post I told you about one of our Summer Funday School offerings, that of painting a mural in the Link Building.  Here is the artist and visionary behind this course / class: Tom Stahl.  He is painting to the mural (still underway at the time I took the photo) and in fact if you look closely, he is pointing to the place where some of the children who helped with the painting have signed it. 

Thanks for sharing your time and talents with the congregation in this way, Tom!
Isaiah 41:10 Today, remember that God is with you. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, August 13, 2012

1 John 5:14 - Today, ask according to God’s will. God hears you. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Today is Youth Sunday, one of several Sundays during the year when others take the lead and I am able to sit in the congregation and worship. It also means I can wear something I would not be able to wear if I were also going to put on my robe. In this case, a bow tie. 'Looking forward to hearing our Senior Highs and all that they offer us as they lead us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - Today, let Scripture be breathed out by God and into you, for every good work. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Psalm 32:8 Today, let God instruct and teach you in the way you should go. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Deuteronomy 7:9 Today, trust that God, who is faithful, surrounds you with steadfast love. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mark 2:13: You can trust Jesus to come close to you when you need Him the most. Rather than live in loneliness; live in trust. Jesus walks right up to you, bringing encouragement and hope. You are not alone. No matter how rough the waters, Jesus is there. Jesus will do the same for you. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Colossians 3:15 Today, let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, and be thankful. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Philippians 4:6-7 - Today, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

John 6:47 Today, believe and live in the assurance of eternal life.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Romans 8:6 - Today, set your mind on the Spirit, which brings life and peace. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

John 16:33 Today, take heart and remember that Jesus has overcome the world. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thirty Years Ago... Today. Sort of...

The photograph is of yours truly, in my Master of Divinity robe and academic hood, on the day of my graduation from seminary.  Ordination was exactly thirty years ago today, at my home congregation, Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, PA.  It was a great day, with all of the Lancaster Theological Seminary professors present, as well as a great gathering of family and friends. 

I am sure I have ordination photos somewhere, but the above photo would have been about two months prior.  It was made in my parents' front yard in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, and yes, they planted that dogwood tree.

While we were together today, my parents brought out some "old photos" and Anne especially enjoyed seeing them.  You may, as well.  So I will post some of them here.  The next two were taken the same day as the first, as you can see...

With me in the above photo is our dog Angel, who was an angel.  Below are two photos of me with Judy, the first was taken today and the second is our engagement photo, take in South Bend in 1983.

The final photo in this trip down memory lane (below) is my First Grade school photo.  I wish I still had that sweater!

John 14:27 Today, receive Jesus’ peace. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. This is a Wekivaword.