Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Happy Surprise

This Sunday at the eleven o'clock service, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked out over the congregation and found that among our worshipers was a former Moderator of the General Assembly.  This does not happen every day, at least, not in suburban Orlando.  I had missed the chance to say something during the announcement time (I suppose my mind was on getting through the long list of announcements) and so I added one further announcement as we began the time for the New Testament Lesson.

I told the Wekiva Presbyterian Church congregation that I sensed somewhat what Timothy might have felt, had he looked out over the congregation and found the Apostle Paul among the worshipers.  For there in the middle of the center left section of the Sanctuary was Chuck Hammond.

Although we had no chance to talk about it beforehand, I asked Chuck if he would come forward and offer the Benediction, which he most graciously did, tying together the thoughts of the Romans 5:1-5 scripture that was the text for the morning's sermon.  As it was Reformation Sunday, the message was to take and use the gifts of the Reformation, today.

Chuck served as Moderator of 192nd General Assembly of The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA), meeting in Detroit in 1981, when the two great Presbyterian denominations were on the verge of merger, and Chuck had much to do with helping the reunion come into being as the PC(USA). 

It is a joy to mention that from time to time, Chuck Hammond and I have been near neighbors as well as colleagues in ministry. When I was called to First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, Chuck was already in Indiana, serving as the Executive Presbytery of Wabash Valley Presbytery, there.  But the connection goes back to Donegal Presbytery, where early in his ordained ministry Chuck served at the Kreutz Creek Presbyterian Church in York County.  There, some years later, I had the joy of serving as a pulpit supply while in seminary, Donegal being my home Presbytery.  For many years Chuck was the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.  In "retirement" (ministers don't really retire, they just go out to pastor), Chuck  has served some very fine Presbyterian congregations, including Oceanside CA, LaJolla CA,First San Luis Obisp CA, and First in Salt Lake City.

Judy took these two photos, during the closing hymn and as Chuck pronounced the benediction.  I am glad she did; since they record a special moment for our congregation and for me personally.  Chuck has a daughter who lives in Central Florida, hence his being in our neighborhood and gracing us in worship this Sunday.

Presbyterian Women - Festival of Tables - 2012

Tuesday evening, our Presbyterian Women of Wekiva Presbyterian Church hosted a "Festival of Tables". Each of the tables were decorated by members of the congregation, using their own china and other accessories. Here is a "closer look" at some of the tables..

John 16:33 Take heart, this day, in Jesus. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Romans 8:6 Set your mind on things of the Holy Spirit; find life and peace, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

John 14:27 Find peace, this day, in Jesus This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 26, 2012

John 3:16 & 17; Just two pieces of wood, set at right angles, one to the other. A cross. Who can say what the cross is worth? A million dollars? No. A million dollars is far too cheap. Because, on the cross, Jesus died to make God’s promise real for you. As you go into this day, the message you can take with you is this: God loves you so much. So much more than words can say. In Jesus, God is giving you hope and new life. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

“God’s principles are perfect. They are entirely worthy of my trust.” Psalm 119:138 This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kissing the Penguin!

Judy and Friend at Sea World on Monday

We love Sea World. 
There is so much to enjoy there.
We had such a nice day there on Monday.
We decided to go around noon.
In fact, Judy reminded me that we have annual passes.
(Having gone earlier in the year, Florida residents get to go all year).
Judy had hers.
The question for me was...
...Where in the world was MY annual pass?

Well, I found it in the first place I looked.
How often does that happen?
So we headed down Eye-Four.
And were there most of the afternoon.
And we were home in time for supper.

Soon, I will post other photos from our excursion.
This is, by far, my favorite!

You say: 'I'm always worried’ - God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7) This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Psalm 23:4 God is with you even in the darkest valley. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, October 22, 2012

James 1:5 –Rely on the wisdom of God to guide you, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Colossians 3:15 Be thankful in Christ, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Matthew 11:28-29 Find rest, this day, in Jesus. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord today. Trust in God to sustain you. This is a Wekivaword.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord today. Trust in God to sustain you. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, October 18, 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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

JAMES 3:16 – Set aside all jealousy and rivalry, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2 Timothy 1:7 - Today, live in the spirit of God’s power and love and self-control. Be sure to include all three. This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

You say: 'It's not worth it' - God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28) This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

“I keep God’s words in my heart. They are health to my whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22 This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 12, 2012

“In God I live and move and exist.” Acts 17:28 This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

That is today.  Today, October 11, 2012 is 10-11-12.

It is one of the days that brides and grooms have hit upon as a good day to be married.  I think it has something to do with the novelty of the succession of numbers.  I have seen 10-11-12 called "cool" (as if wedding dates fit into the same catergory as Dave Brubeck, Ray-Bans and a 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto).  Oh really?  I am so sorry for all of you out there who picked an un-cool date for your wedding.  Kind of like having music by Lawrence Welk at your reception and then driving off in your pale green metalic Plymouth Reliant K car.

What a shame you did not pick a cooler wedding date!

Cool or not, I think 10-11-12 for weddings may have more to do with helping the groom keep his anniversary date firmly etched in his memory.  To make sure the day "counts"!

So today, 10-11-12, is a popular day for a wedding.  If you are the bride or groom.

Not so much if you are a pastor or church organist or one of the others who are there to see that the wedding goes smoothly and well.  It is in fact very odd and unusual for a church wedding to happen on any day but Saturday.  Why is that?  There is no great Biblical or theological reason for keeping the nuptials on Saturdays but there are plenty of practical reasons.  Mostly having to do with the busy world of the church during the rest of the week--and the fact that most churches do keep most Saturdays "in reserve" for the requests for weddings that come along.

If we were to have had a request for a Thursday wedding on, say, today, we would have had to move some important mission and ministry activities of the church. 

During the day, we are the home of the Christian Child Center, which has an enrollment of about 200 children who are in the building from the start of the day until mid afternoon.  Do they use the Sanctuary?  Yes indeed, for Chapel, led by our Director of Christian Education, Miss Laurie.  We are also the home of a 12-step support group every weekday at noontime.  The group meets in a location close to the sanctuary.  To hold a wedding on a Thursday would be to disrupt and displace these groups.

And in the evening, which presumably would have been even more popular with potential brides and grooms, Wekiva Presbyterian Church began and continues a free tutoring program for elementary aged children, staffed by church member volunteers, called Tutor House. Not to mention Chancel Choir rehersal. 

Most churches would have similar programs and activities going on, on any given weekday.  This would not have been to say that the church was not happy for the bride and groom to be.  But it would have been to say, the several hundred people who would need to be moved simply could not be moved.  Sorry about that.

Now, a potential bride or groom who goes looking for a church wedding location on a Thursday might not ever have the notion cross their mind that "the church might already be busy that day".  But more than likely, it is.

To my knowledge, we did not have any requests for a wedding on "Ten, Eleven, Twelve".  For any and all wedding couples for whom today is their big day--congratulations and best wishes to you!

And if perhaps you had trouble finding a church that could move heaven and earth to accommodate you today... now you know the rest of the story.

Vote Early?

Today, mid-day, as I was leaving the church office for an appointment, a late model silver Buick pulled up outside the receptionist's door. At first I thought it might be our Wekiva Presbyterian Church member Yvonne, who drives a very similar car. But the driver had a beard, so no, it was definitely NOT Yvonne.

From the car emerged a gentleman who came into the office. I had to keep on going, so other than saying hello and holding the door open for him, I went on my way. I did not recognize his face and wondered to myself who he was and why he was stopping by the church. Later, I had a chance to check with our volunteer receptionist.

I asked, "Who was that man and why was he here?"

The answer came back, he was from the neighborhood and was at the church wanting to vote early.

Early voting is a popular option here in Seminole County. And our church does serve as a polling place on Election Day. However, we are not an early voting location.

Martha, our afternoon receptionist, correctly told the man that the Library in the heart of the Wekiva neighborhood (West Branch Library, 245 N. Hunt Club Boulevard, Longwood, Florida 32779) is one of only a very few locations where early voting is offered.

But not yet.

I checked.

Early Voting for the November 6, 2012 General Election will be available from October 27 through November 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The man who dropped by was early. 

Even for early voting.

Well, maybe he comes from Chicago, where the slogan, or so I am told, is: "Vote Early and Vote Often!"

(The cynical phrase "Vote early - and vote often" is variously attributed to three different Chicagoans: Al Capone, the famous gangster; Richard J. Daley, mayor from 1955 to 1976; and William Hale Thompson, mayor from 1915-1923 and 1931-1935. All three were notorious for their corruption and their manipulation of the democratic process. It is most likely that Thompson invented the phrase, and Capone and Daley later repeated it).

You say: 'I'm not able'  - God says: I am able (2 Cor 9:8)  This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Revisiting Pharaoh's Dream...

You may remember this dream or may not.  It came to Pharaoh down in Egypt and had to do with cattle.  Pharaoh dreamed that seven fat cows came up out of the Nile.  Then, seven emaciated cows came up out of the Nile and ate the fat cows but did not get any fatter themselves.  What did it mean?  Pharaoh asked all of his astrologers and advisers and none of them could answer.  Then word came to Pharaoh that someone in the jailhouse was a past master at the interpretation of dreams. His name was Joseph.  Pharaoh commanded that Joseph be brought before him and then commanded Joseph to interpret the dream.

Do you remember what the interpretation was?  It had to do with the economic outlook for Egypt for the coming fourteen years.  Each cow represented a year.  The fat cows were the fat years, the years in which there would be a bumper crop and a good economy.  The lean cows were the following lean years, where the crops would fail and there would be a famine in the land and in the entire region.  Pharaoh sensed that Joseph had interpreted the dream rightly and as a result he placed Joseph in charge of -- well -- everything.  It was Joseph's job to gather in the abundance of the fat cow years so that when the lean cow years came upon them, they would be ready.   It is a charming old story about a time almost four thousand years ago and it has nothing to do with us.  Unless we pay attention.  And then, it has everything to do with us.

Florida is the land of fat years and lean years.  All you have to do is read about the big land boom in the 1920s.  And the bigger land bust in the 1920s.  Boom and bust, bust and boom, are the warp and woof or woof and warp of Florida living.  For some years now the lean cows have been in possession of the land.  Anyone who has not noticed that, has been living under a rock.  We at Wekiva are fortunate in several things. 

First of all, we, ourselves, planned for the lean years, by doing some marvelous things in the years of plenty.  We expanded the building, we beautified the property, we began exciting new programs such as Tudor House.  We also did what Joseph was commissioned by Pharaoh to do, by setting aside something for the future.  All the while we have continued a ministry of hope and caring, by our Sunday worship and Christian education, and by busy activities all through the week that have Christ as the central focus of all we do, "Serving Christ Together". 

Next, we looked deep inside and drew upon resources we may not have known we had and have shared them faithfully and well throughout the lean cow years.  Some of those resources are ones we had set aside individually and some those we had set aside as a congregation, in the form of the three acres we have so recently sold. 

Third, we put our trust in God.  Yes, that is the underlying theme of what Joseph did in Egypt and that is the underlying theme of what Wekiva does in Longwood.  And really, "third" is always first.  Trust in God is always a strategy, ever since it was John Calvin's slogan in Geneva.  His personal motto was "Do Not Worry - God will Provide." 

"God will provide..." says Calvin in his "Institutes".  Meaning that the future events are foreknown to God.  And also, "to resign the management of an unknown business to the will of Him whose province it is to bring perplexed and dubious matters to a happy result.”   Calvin is reminding us of the Biblical truth that when things look uncertain or difficult, God is very much at work for our good, no matter the circumstances. Our best course is to let God work to provide for our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. And to join in that work as much as we are able.  Will you trust Him to do that?

Recently one of our members stopped by the church on a Monday morning.  The place was amazingly busy.  The staff was dealing with everything from the "Monday Morning Routine" of following up on all that had happened the day before, to helping a family who’s loved one had died in the wee hours of the night.  The staff was glad to help the person who dropped in, but that church member realized, perhaps for the first time, that, whether the times are fat or lean, Wekiva is there, and more than there, Wekiva is actively engaged in doing the broad range of work that we call the ministry and mission of the Church.

All this takes giving - your giving.  In this month, we could call it your "Thanksgiving" and we would be correct.  May November be a month of your thanks-giving, from All Saints Sunday (November 4), when we are thankfully for our church members who have entered the Church Triumphant, through Veterans' Recognition Sunday (November 11), when we are thankful for all who serve in our armed forces, to the BIG Thanksgiving Sunday (November 21) when we remember the Pilgrims and Native Americans whose meager feast in a lean cow year was nonetheless so heartfelt that we are still doing today what they did then.  And what Joseph did in Egypt, so many epochs before.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Today, be strong and courageous. God is with you and will not forsake you. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, October 8, 2012

“Through prayer, the peace of God guards my heart & mind.” Philippians 4:7 This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A New Wall in Our Home - Thanks Nadyne!

Last Sunday was the day that the Wekiva Legacy Society met for its Second Annual Luncheon. 

The Wekiva Legacy Society was formed to say "Thank You" to members and friends of Wekiva Presbyterian Church who have let the church know that they have included the church in their estate planning.  The Endowment Trust Committee hosts the lunch to provide a way to tell the Wekiva Legacy Society members they are appreciated. 

We had a lovely lunch, prepared by Ramona Seaver, who included her incomparable Buttermilk Pie as part of the menu.  The Endowment Trust Committee served the meal and shared gifts with the WLS members, which were the lovely tiles you see above. 

Judy and I are both members of the Wekiva Legacy Society, and we were so touched by the thought and care that Nadyne Pennington took to find and wrap these tiles for each of the WLS members.  We wanted to hang them where we would see them, and decided to include them with a photo collage from our 2006 trip to Europe.  We are so pleased with how the tiles compliment the photos.

So, thanks to all of the Endowment Trust Committee and especially to Nadyne.
PHIL.2:14-15 – Do everything without complaining, today. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Judy Shares In Breast Cancer Awareness at UCF Football Game

200 survivors braved the weather last night at the UCF game to form this Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon at halftime!  Judy is somewhere near the middle line in the F of UCF.

Below is a photo of Judy's tee shirt, up close:

COLOSSIANS 3:15 – Let Christ’s peace control you, today and every day. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

PROVERBS 16:28 – Be done with any form of gossip, today and from now on. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

PSALM 37:23-24 – God is holding your hand, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jeremiah 29:1 1 – Trust and entrust your future to God, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, October 1, 2012

REVELATION 21:4 – Let God comfort you, this day. This is a Wekivaword...