Thursday, December 27, 2012

Deuteronomy 7:9 Love God and keep God’s commandments, this day. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Goodies in the Gazebo!

One of the special joys of Christmas this year at Wekiva Presbyterian Church is that we have a new gazebo, contributed by church members, which we are enjoying in a special way. During the three nights of the Live Nativity, there will be cookies and milk for the kiddies (you can define kiddies how ever you wish), served in the gazebo. Here are a few photos from tonight’s event, at which we especially encouraged the families of the church’s pre-kindergarten school, “The Christian Child Center” to come and see the Nativity scene.

Live Nativity at Wekiva Presbyterian Church

Tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday night the youth of Wekiva Presbyterian Church are presenting their Live Nativity, starting at 7 p.m.   There are three showings of the event.  These photos are from the middle performance this evening.  This is one of the ways Wekiva Presbyterian Church says “Merry Christmas!” to the entire community.

Christmas Eve – A Wonderful Time of Year at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood

Christmas Eve – A Wonderful Time of Year at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood

Everyone is invited to join Wekiva Presbyterian Church this Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, at any of our three services at 5:30, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Each service varies in its traditional, yet fresh approach to the presentation of the Christmas story. The music is spectacular and the setting in this lovely church – decorated simply with wreaths and a Christmas tree – is awe-inspiring.

The 5:30 p m service allows families with children to worship together in a family friendly atmosphere. The children’s choirs lead the service under the direction of Aloma Bratek (Music Associate) and Joan Grace (Children’s Music Accompanist).

The liturgy is told in story form and the hymns are child friendly. As the story unfolds, children portraying the characters of the nativity scene make their way to the front of the Sanctuary. One of the traditions most beloved by the youngest children is that when the scene is completed, they are able to come forward and see it up close. The chancel is like the stable of Bethlehem and there is even a real baby Jesus, with his parents portraying Mary and Joseph. There is a sense of awe on the faces of the children as they walk up to see the timeless scene. The service ends with the spreading of the light through candles as everyone sings “Silent Night” and then rousing song of “Joy to the World”, as do each of the other services on Christmas Eve. The entire service is kept to about 45 minutes, important to those with young children.

The 7:30 service is the traditional Lessons and Carols service, with nine readings interspersed with traditional carols, choral and instrumental music. The 7:30 and 10 p.m. services are led by Pastors John Dalles and Paul Anderson with music directed by Betsy Bone.

Music for the 7:30 service is provided by the Chancel Choir and Mission Faith, one of the church’s middle and high school choirs. The 10 o’clock service includes communion. The special music is provided by the church organist Gary Galloway, the Glefke Family Singers (“O Holy Night”) and “Gesu Bambino” sung by Betsy Bone.

The church grounds are illuminated throughout Christmas Eve by more than 200 luminaries; and at the conclusion of each service a brass ensemble will play traditional Christmas carols outdoors.

Wekiva Presbyterian Church is located at 211 Wekiva Springs Lane, in Longwood.

Mayan O Mayan, It's a Wonderful Day

According to the Mayan Calendar, today...

Well, today is not supposed to be. 

We were all going to perish in fire or ice or some combination thereof. 

Have you looked outside today? Here in Florida the winds are blowing and the sun is shining and it is a bit more seasonably chilly than the balmy weather we have had the past week or so, but pardon me if I say it...

We're still here!

The whole business of the Mayan Calendar has been a bugaboo for some for some time now. 

I wanted to consult the Mayans who made up that calendar, but guess what... They are no longer around. So here is the question. If the Mayans knew so much, why didn't they manage to stick around till the last dog was hung? (To use a phrase that Brantley and I do not much like but that gets the point across).

It is a cautionary tale for those who predict this or that dire event or who love to focus on a dystopian future, to say again...

We're still here!

So with apologies to Uncle Remus and his famous ditty:

"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-A!
Mayan O Mayan, it's a wonderful day!"

Take a moment to enjoy it, won't you?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Anne Receieved Her Masters Degree at the University of Central Florida Yesterday

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012



Please plan to attend - and bring a friend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

John 1:1 - This Christmas let your light shine twice as bright - match what you give to others and yourselves with what you give to God. This is a Wekivaword.

Monday, December 10, 2012

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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zephaniah 3:17 Today, the LORD your God is in your midst. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Meeting of Central Florida Presbytery

On Tuesday, the December Meeting of Central Florida Presbytery was at the Korean Presbyterian Church of Orlando, and they made us so very welcome.  We were greeted warmly and their sanctuary was filled with beautiful Christmas decorations.  At the end of the meeting I was installed as the 2013 Moderator.  Janet McCormick, who has served admirably as the 2012 Moderator and who will serve as the Chair of Council in 2013, is concluding the installation service in the photo.
Psalm 81:7 – This psalm has it right. Sometimes we wait an awfully long time before we call to God for help. Why wait? God rescues us when we call to Him. So, call to Him. This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Matthew 8:5-13: God’s message to you, via Jesus, says this, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him. He has come to meet you, where you are, right here, right now. I hope you enjoy Him; as I hope for everyone who receives Him. For you are a remarkable person. Sincerely, God.” This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

John 14:27: The peace of Jesus is a gift. You have to be open to it to receive it. The peace of Jesus comes by a word—His word. The peace of Jesus is peace of mind, of heart, both inward and outward. The peace of Jesus is for you to have and to share to share, with the world. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hanging of the Greens - Tonight! - 7 PM

For sixteen years, our church has held a service of preparation for Christ's coming, on the First Sunday in Advent, which includes hanging greenery traditionally associated with everlasting life. Advent is the first season of the Church Year, and is a hopeful season of preparation, anticipating Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and the consummation of human history when God is with us.

Wekiva Presbyterian Church's Hanging of the Greens service was the brainchild of yours truly and our then Presbyterian Women's President Emma Jean. My first September at Wekiva, Emma Jean called me and among the things we talked about that day, she said, "John have you ever considered having a Hanging of the Greens?" I said, "I have! In fact I have the service here in my files--let's do it!" So the tradition began.

The Hanging of the Greens reveals the religious significance of centuries of Christmas customs. It is based on the Olde English tradition of decorating the church or the home with wreaths, garlands, a Christmas tree, and evergreens for Advent and Christmas. In a church setting, it readies the sanctuary (and church members) for the season, and people of all ages have opportunity to participate.

Greens such as cedar for royalty, fir and pine boughs for everlasting life, holly symbolizing Jesus' death and ivy representing the resurrection are used.

I have heard a number of "origins" stories about Hanging of the Greens. One says that it dates back to the Druids in England. Several books read as follows: "The Hanging of the Greens began as an ancient English custom, as part of a pre-Christian ritual celebrating the winter solstice." Of course, what Christian churches do has a different and deeper significance than what they might have done.

Some other references credit the Welsh with beginning Hanging of the Greens, which may make sense if you think about the Christmas carol that is most associated with the action of hanging the greens,
"Deck the Halls". The tune for that carol is from a old Welsh melody.

As for here in the U.S.A., one historian talks about the Hanging of the Greens in 1861 as a time-honored custom in the Confederacy. Furman University's beloved program dates to before the merger of Greenville Women's College and Furman in the early 1930s. "The Hanging of the Greens: A Fantasy to Precede the Holiday Season" a small book by Mrs. Arthur Withington, was published in 1927 and reissued in 1932. Colorado Women's College started their Hanging of the Greens ceremony in 1930. Cottey College also has a longstanding Hanging of the Greens tradition.

I suspect that the worship service we know traces back to the YWCA. The YWCA presented a Hanging of the Greens as early as 1915, and by 1918 they were calling it "traditional". The YWCA in Wausau, Wisconsin, holds a Hanging of the Greens that dates back to 1924 and is ongoing. Their current website reads, "Held at dusk on the first Sunday in December, the original ceremony included a nativity play, candle lighting, carolers, and lighting of the Yule log. Although altered a bit in the present day, the true spirit of this longstanding YW tradition remains."

Some references credit Frances Kipps Spencer (1917-1990) at Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia (the originator of Chrismons and Chrismon Tree) as the source of the Hanging of the Greens service ( in 1957), as it is practiced in many churches today.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The New Gazebo at Wekiva Presbyterian Church

About two years ago, dear members of Wekiva Presbyterian Church gave an "above and beyond the annual budget" gift to the church, for one of the items in the church's "Wish Book". 

 The "Wish Book" has inside of it ideas for enhancing the church's ministry and the church's buildings and grounds. The family to whom I refer have been very generous in responding to ideas in the "Wish Book" and this gift is one of many they have shared with the church they love. It took very little time for us to order the gazebo, which is made by Mennonite craftspersons in New Holland, Pennsylvania. 

It is gorgeous, isn't it? 

 What did take time was getting the proper approvals from the county to erect the gazebo. In fact, the gazebo was "on site" for over a year and a half, covered by tarps, until the county gave its okay. 

 Once they did, it went up in less than a week, and is here to greet our church members tomorrow.