Thursday, January 18, 2018

01-21-18


January has just started and already things are getting very busy.  As I sit at my desk I am surrounded by papers such as attendance figures, job descriptions, calendars, procedures, budgets, proposals, and minutes.  God is in all these things, but the question comes to mind, how do I make space for God?  Not papers, programs, procedures and God.  Where do I make space just for God?

Where do you make space for God?  When are the times, where are the places in which you let God minister to you, God’s word speak to you?

What I am finding out is that I need to create margin now, so the events of 2018 do not overwhelm my spiritual life, so that God is first.  I invite you to do the same thing.  Here are some ideas of how that might happen.

First, clear out the clutter in life.  Today’s scripture is about Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem.  He quit making it a business and sought to restore it to being a house of prayer.  Likewise, God calls us to create space, to allow margin where worship of God is put first.  Creating space for the new and holy is first order.

Second, fill the space with the “big rocks” first.  What do you really need in life to grow spiritually?  Quiet time?  A Bible Study?  A place to be in the presence of God and beauty?  An accountability partner?  A service project that uses your gifts for others.  Don’t repopulate life with “clutter.”  Do something significant for God!

There is an insert in the announcements today that offers various opportunities for growth for adults.  Please read these over and think of which of these would be worth creating the space to engage in for God’s glory and for a better you.  Check these off and turn the insert in at offering time.  This is one way to ensure you don’t get caught up with the details of life to the exclusion of what is enriching and nourishing for the soul.

As we look to go into a new year of spiritual renewal, I would be remiss not to thank Julie Rogers-Martin for the growth and renewal God has brought to Eastminster through her.  Julie served for four years on staff in the area of children, youth and family ministry.  During that time the programs have grown in number and in depth and a great spirit of community has and is forming.  In addition to her duties in this respect, she is instrumental in starting ministries for young adults, spiritual formation and involvement in mission and interfaith activities beyond or church.  Julie is one of those who “get it” that churches are not buildings or programs but relationships linked by Jesus Christ.  Thanks for what you have and are doing to renew Eastminster and to create stronger disciples of Jesus!

A reception will be held for Julie following both services this weekend.  Take a moment to say thanks to Julie and to wish her well on her new endeavors.

God bless as you remove the clutter and get involved in life giving activity!
 
Pastor Tim

Thursday, January 11, 2018

01-14-18


How do you stay healthy?

We learn in Acts 2:42-47 that the early church gained health and strength from meeting and eating together “with glad and generous hearts.”  God creates us to enjoy life together in community!

It seems that as Jesus is exalted in such gatherings, the natural response is to tell friends and neighbors to “Come and See.”  I was inspired this week by the great group of believers who attended the Pastors’ Bible Study, “John in January,” and I invite you to “come and see” this Wednesday too.

At 5:45 p.m. on the next three Wednesdays all are invited to come to Fellowship Hall in Eastminster’s Christian Ministry Center for dinner, fellowship and to learn more about the Gospel of John.  Dinner is by donation and is delicious.  The study this week will unlock the seven “signs” in John that have drawn believers closer to God in Jesus.  Our Minister of Music, Robert McBride, a true Renaissance Man, will be leading this week’s teaching time.  It is sure to be enlightening!  Childcare will be provided and the event will end by 7 p.m. 

This weekend we continue the worship series on John looking at how word of Jesus spread as Jesus started his ministry.  It seems that as people came into contact with Jesus they were enriched.  He focused on them.  He looked for their best interests.  He hears the words of their mouth but also knows the concerns of their heart.  Jesus leads them deeper into relationship with God, others and the world.

Some things never change.  The church today grows as people open their eyes, ears and hearts to see what God is up to in the world, and commit to let God lead them.  They pray for God’s will to be done in their lives.  They reach out to others saying “come and see” inviting them into Christian community.

Even as word about Jesus spread quickly from friend and relative and acquaintance in Jesus’ day, it does so today. Surveys show that fully 75% of those who engage in Christian communities do so at the invitation of a Friend, Neighbor, Relative, or Acquaintance (FRAN). 

As you gain benefit from the worship, ministries and missions of the church, God will work through you naturally “as you are going” through life healthier and more in tune with the Spirit.  It’s great what happens when we gather in God’s name and gain spiritual health and wholeness.  I look forward to seeing you, and perhaps a friend or two, in church this weekend … and on Wednesday!  May God bring life and health to Eastminster’s body!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, December 14, 2017

12-17-17


Tim’s Tidings



Joy and celebration.  That’s what God experiences when we “come home.” 

Perhaps no other story illustrates this better than the parable Jesus told of the “wayward” or prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  This son insulted his father by asking for his inheritance early.  In his culture, this was a slap in the face, saying in effect, “you are dead to me.”

 

The son left the father and left the lifestyle that would bring health to the body and life to the soul.  He ended up bottoming out and resolving to return to the father as a slave.  Before he makes it even all the way home the father meets him with joy and orders a celebration for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:24).

 

For those of us who have been, far off to God, this Season is a time to “come home.”  It is a time to ask forgiveness of wrongs and resolve to live in the hope, peace, joy and love of our heavenly Father.  It is a time to forgive those who have hurt us.

 

But there is more.  For those who remain faithful, it is a time to realize the bounty that the Father offers us in all times and Seasons.  We are heirs to God’s kingdom.  We are alive to God in Christ.  We too are “found, forgiven and free” to love God and others.

 

May the world “know we are Christians by our love” as we radiate the love and light God has for us.  When the early Christian communities gathered, one of the remarks recorded in Scripture about them is “see how they love each other.”  I am gratified for the love that is in this church, and I know it spills out from here into the world.  Thanks be to God!

 

This Christmas, why not share that love by inviting others to Eastminster this afternoon at 3 p.m. for Eastminster’s Musical “O Come Let Us Adore Him?” Other wonderful times of joy include December 23 at 6 p.m. for an “EPiC Christmas” celebration in contemporary style, December 24 for lessons and Carols at 10 a.m., and December 24 at 5 p.m. (Family Christmas Eve Candlelight), 8 p.m. (Traditional Candlelight), or 11 p.m. (Candlelight Communion).  It’s time to “come home” for Christmas in worship, praise and outreach, for we too have been “lost and now are found!”  God is delighted and compassionate when we “come home!”

 

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12-10-17


You don’t hear many sermons from I Kings these days, but you will today.  I Kings begins the history of Israel as a monarchy beginning with the anointing of Samuel and ends with the fall of kings with the Babylonian captivity.  In many ways it is a retrospective history, it looks back and explains the roots of Israel’s exile, but it also looks forward to a future with hope.

 

The story of Elijah begins in I Kings 17.  Ahab has been named king.  He marries Jezebel and they begin to serve Baal and Asherah and “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger him than did all the kings of Israel before him” (I Kings 16:33).  Elijah orders a drought on the land and is led by God to a brook where he is fed by ravens.  Then he is led to the widow of Zarephath’s home where she is about to die of hunger, but she makes Elijah bread from the little flour and a jar of oil she had.  That flour and oil did not run dry throughout the years of drought.  In I Kings 18 Elijah encounters King Ahab on Mount Carmel with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah.  He ordered that two bulls be brought and put on two separate piles of unlit wood.  He told the prophets of Baal to pray for their god to light the wood.  After several hours he taunts them.  They prayed and danced and slashed themselves but nothing happens.

 

Then Elijah repairs an altar to the Lord which was in ruins.  He takes twelve stones, one from each tribe of Israel and puts them around it.  Then he places the wood in and ordered it to be drenched with water three times.  After praying the “fire of the Lord fell.”  The people proclaim the Lord God and killed the prophets of Baal.  Jezebel then vowed to kill Elijah and he ran as far south as he could go.  He slumped under a broom tree and asked God to take him. There he was fed by angels and then journeys to Horeb, the mountain of God and spent the night in a cave.

 

In that cave on the holy mountain God tells Elijah that he will encounter his presence and he did.  We will talk about encountering the presence of God today, even as sometimes it comes not in the “grand” or “awesome” moments of life, but in the presence of simple Peace.

 

May the God of Peace bless you this season.  May we each take time to listen for the “still small voice,” the “gentle whisper,” “the sound of sheer silence” that is God in our midst. There is a lot of noise, a lot of conflict, claims, posturing, lies, deceit, and wrongdoing.  Yet the voice of God may be heard even this Advent.  Listen.  Expect.  Be aware.  Rejoice!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

11-26-17


Thanks so much for letting me serve as the Visitation Pastor here at Eastminster. I am greatly encouraged by all of you with your warm welcome to me, but even more with your love for the Lord and the dedication by which you all serve using your gifts and talents in so many ways for the glory of the Lord and so the His mission is advanced in this community and to the world! Though I am part-time, I see the faithfulness of the rest of the staff as they help lead you us, especially under the leadership of Pastor Tim. So, as we go into the Christmas season, please pray for a special measure of strength for Pastor Tim, Pastor Kristy and all your staff. They want the celebration of the birth of Christ to honor Him and be meaningful for you, but it can be exhausting as well.

 

So, Thanksgiving Day is over (Black Friday, too!) and we are heading into the Christmas season. The First Sunday of Advent is not until next week, but decorations are going up, the music is being played all around us and the stores have long been getting ready. So, today we are focusing on “why” Jesus came. And, that is to fulfill God’s purpose for and in us. The following passage reminds us that God is always at work around us and in us to realize that purpose, which is that we are restored to what God always intended us to be that has been disrupted by sin. It says:

 

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…(Romans 8:28–36 [NRSV]).

 

Christmas reminds us of God’s gift to us of salvation and forgiveness through the coming of Jesus. So, this Christmas, what will be our gift of thanks to Him? Will we let Him fashion us to be more like Jesus? I love the words of the carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. Read the following selected verse: 

 

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

 

What does He want to do with and in you?

 

Blessings,
Rev. Ron Hipwell

Thursday, November 16, 2017

11-19-17


What a wonderful Consecration Weekend Eastminster celebrated!  It was meaningful to baptize Sydney Luisi and see the hope for the future, even as generations of her family have worshipped in this church before her.  It was also meaningful to engage in a wonderful Celebration Luncheon in a packed Fellowship Hall where we ate delicious food and recognized new and longtime members.  Thanks to Susan Vallette, Vicky Mitterling and a huge cast of helpers for “Sunday Dinner!”

It was also hopeful to see the faces of dedicated members and friends as you consecrated your Estimates of Giving to the Lord in worship.  It is inspiring to experience the love you have for God as you give in gratitude and praise.  May your giving bring joy and closer relationship to God and Eastminster, even as our ministry together transforms the community and world through God’s Spirit and power!

If you have not offered an Estimate of Giving for 2018, you may do so in the offering today or by contacting Michelle Toms, our Director of Operations.  There are Estimate of Giving Cards and envelopes on the Information Tables and in the pew racks.  Estimates of Giving are good faith estimates of what you intend to give to God through Eastminster.  They are not binding, as circumstances may change, yet they help our leaders establish a budget for our ministry and mission.  A Prayer of Consecration will be offered in worship for these Estimates of Giving as we collect the offering.  Thanks for your faithfulness!

Also, today you will receive two gifts to aid in spiritual formation.  First, in your bulletin are bookmarks with a Thanksgiving Prayer that were made by Eastminster preschoolers.  This prayer may be used at Thanksgiving and at other occasions.  The background of the bookmark is from artwork that the preschoolers made as they gathered on our chancel and painted their impressions of Eastminster’s stained glass windows while Director of Music Ministry, Robert McBride, played music for them to be inspired.

Finally, you will receive a “Prayer Square” from Eastminster’s Prayer Shawl ministry.  These squares have been hand knitted during many hours of prayer, fellowship and crafting spent in the parlor of our church.  They are intended as an aid to your prayers and thanksgiving over the holiday season.  May you rest assured in good times and tough times that God is present as a “Refuge and Strength.”  There are caring pastors, elders, and members trained to come alongside you in prayer as well.  Do not hesitate to contact the church office or one of the pastors with any need or opportunity for which to pray.

May all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

 Pastor Tim

Thursday, November 9, 2017

11-12-17


Today we will consecrate our “Estimates of Giving” in worship.  There are Estimate of Giving Cards and envelopes in the pew racks if you need one.  These Estimates of Giving are “good faith” estimates of what we will return to God through Eastminster Presbyterian Church in 2018.  They are private between you and God.  Our Church Business Administrator will total them and give the total to the Finance Committee so that Eastminster leaders may prayerfully and prudently budget to fulfill our mission and ministry commitments and goals.  As all giving is between the giver and God, this is not a contract but a faithful expression of intent.

As you prayerfully consider what you will return to the Lord, I encourage you to consider “taking a step up” in giving by creating “margin” in what is spent and saved so that a tithe is set aside for return to God in thanksgiving.  As we all join in, I believe we will joyfully experience God’s pleasure, mature in faith, and “let our light shine” as commanded and empowered by Jesus.

Part of giving is thanksgiving.  After Sunday worship there will be a Celebration Luncheon.  Please plan to be present.  It will be an old fashioned “Sunday Dinner” complete with roast, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies and a delicious dessert whose recipe goes back generations.  At lunch, we will celebrate God’s goodness, recognize those who have joined the church in the last year, those who are long term members, and those who are 90 years old and above.  It will be a meaningful time as all members unite to celebrate, even as we prepare to serve in significant ways in the coming year.

As my heart turns to thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for all who have served so willingly and faithfully in various capacities of church life.  Eastminster is known for its “can do” attitude and willingness of highly competent people.  The Rummage Sale last week, the Kirkin o’ th’ Tartans, Day of Hope, Vacation Bible School, special musicals, mission trips, education and spiritual formation events, children and youth activities, facilities improvements and fellowship events have been led and run by myriads of volunteers in ministry who overcome obstacles such as Hurricane Irma to shine light in our community and beyond.  Way to Go!

I am also grateful for our Church and preschool staff who dedicate heart and soul to serving and see Eastminster as a ministry and not a “job.”  Their joy and yours are contagious and inspiring!  As we consecrate our gifts and our lives, may Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:14-16 ring true:

 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
In our giving and our living, may we bear light!  
Pastor Tim