Thursday, September 20, 2018

09-23-18


Do you know the Ten Commandments? Last weekend your elders went on retreat.  Our retreat leader started off by having us name the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17.  I am happy to say that the group achieved this task, even as the leader’s point is well taken-- it is hard to remember the Ten Commandments much less live them well. 

 

The truth is we need God’s help and each other to live our best.  That is how we are made!

 

Jesus came to us in our “neighborhood” here on earth as “God in flesh,” to “get under our skin” in love, grace and mercy, and teach us clearly.  In the Gospels, Jesus illuminates what is called “The Greatest Commandment.”  We will look at it this weekend and next, as it is tied to the Parable of the Good Neighbor.

 

The “Greatest Commandment” is actually a conflation of two Old Testament scriptures and is stated as such:

 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).

 

The weekend we will look at what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.  This is a tall order and something we achieve in only our best moments.  Yet Scripture says we can do no better.  Loving God is vital to loving neighbor and self.  It is to be our priority.  Like any loving relationship it takes work, but the rewards are life changing and life giving!

 

Join me in prayer as we prepare to encounter the holiness and awesomeness of a loving God through worship.  Remember that we love because God first loved us.  Pray that God is present in our midst as a community of faith and in our lives as we take that love into all places in the world.

 

If we get the “main thing” in life down well (total devotion to God), all the other parts of life fit into place.  Invite a friend, relative or neighbor to church with you.  This is an important time in our history, and loving God and each other together will make a difference!

 

See you in Church!

 

Blessings,

 

Pastor Tim

Thursday, September 6, 2018

09-09-18

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for the opportunity for Julie and me to renew and refresh through taking a Sabbatical. It was truly the greatest experience of our lives! Through the generosity of the Lilly Foundation, Eastminster was able to “send us off” and have special programming at the church each month this summer under the theme “Living Water.” We were able to travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, Madagascar and the Western United States, and I spent some time at a monastery as well. We have lots of stories, insights and pictures that we will be relating in the coming days, even as we catch up and enjoy hearing with what’s going on in your lives.

It’s great to be back at Eastminster! Sometimes one must go away to see the fullness of the beauty and meaning of the friendships and environment that is “home.” It is truly wonderful to be “home” with you!
Coming back Tuesday was like starting the first day of school. The staff pranked my office and we laughed and had fun catching up. Pastors’ Kristy and Ron, Michelle and Melissa in the office, Trevor Garvey, Teresa and David Fleenor in the music ministry, Eleni our Preschool Director, Jill McCall in outreach, Bruce Lucas and Lynn Miller in property and kitchen kept things running smoothly. They really care about Eastminster and gave 110% this summer.
Tuesday night the elders and committees of the church met and are all moving forward in a steady and consistent direction. At one point I walked into the “wrong” meeting like a kid just finding his way around. What a blessing to see the progress being made by that team as they ensure the beauty, security and good stewardship of this beautiful facility and grounds. Eastminster is blessed with faithful, competent members who follow Jesus together, and it was joyous to share what has happened and what is being planned by all our ministry teams for the coming year!
This weekend we begin a worship series on “Neighbors.” This series will look at what it means to be a neighbor from a Biblical perspective. The theme germinated as I was on retreat at the monastery and grew as I saw the recently released Mr. Rogers documentary. It developed further as I reflect on the communities Julie and I experienced around the world. Each week will bring new facets of being a good neighbor and culminate with the celebration of Communion on October 6-7. This is a great time to invite a neighbor or two to worship with you at Eastminster!
This weekend, plan to be in church so we can worship God together and continue to focus on Jesus’ grace, teachings and desires for our lives together. At 11 a.m. Sunday there will be a brunch where we can spend some time catching up, celebrating the end of the summer, and the beginning of the next leg of our journey together in our “neighborhood.” Hope to see you!
Blessings,
Pastor Tim


Friday, May 25, 2018

05-27-18


Due to your kindness and the generosity of the Lilly Foundation for Clergy and Church Renewal, we will be on sabbatical this summer.  A sabbatical is a time to rest, renew, and focus for the future.  In my application for sabbatical I said that Eastminster has been “rowing the boat” diligently for the last 4 1/2 years, and now is a time “to let our souls catch up to our bodies.”  It is a time to let God shape us.

 

The planning process for me to leave and reenter well has been going on for some time now.  Pastors Kristy and Ron will assume some key pastoral duties.  Pastor Kristy will moderate our Session and be responsible for overseeing the teams that prepare us for worship each week.  Pastor Ron will serve as Head of Staff and oversee our pastoral and congregational care ministries.  Director of Church Operations, Michelle Toms, will continue to be the primary contact for finance, facilities and administration.  Eleni Yiapis will be leading the preschool in expanded summer programming.  The support staff has reviewed their roles and are on point.

 

The overall purpose of the sabbatical is for congregational and clergy renewal under the theme “Rivers of Living Water.” This theme comes from John 7:37-39 which I will preach on this weekend.  For the congregation, the Lilly grant provides funding for guest preachers and a special emphasis each month. Dr. Anna Florence Carter will lead workshops and preach on June 9- 10.  In July there will be a weekend of “sanctified art,” including art that will be used and even made during the act of worship.  In August, we will concentrate on our environment, particularly our “river of living water,” the Indian River Lagoon.  My hope is that Eastminster will be prayerful and creative as the church enjoys experiencing new voices as well as established ones and deepens in faith and vitality.

 

As for me, the Lilly grant provides funds for travel to some wonderful places to experience various cultures and to rest and reflect.  I will travel with family to Vietnam and Cambodia in June to experience some of the places my father served as a Naval Chaplain.  Then four of the five family members will go to Bali and experience the culture and relax in later June and early July.  In mid-late July Julie and I will be in Madagascar, where we will travel and do some mission work with Eastminster’s partners there.  When we contribute to the 2 cents a meal offering as we will today, eighteen cents of every dollar goes to fight hunger in Madagascar, the fourth poorest country in all Africa.  In August, we will return home shortly, and I will go to a monastery in New Jersey to fast, study and pray.  Finally, we will camp and houseboat in the Western USA, returning home September 2.  I’ll be back for staff and worship planning on September 4 and for Committee Night that evening and we resume life together.  Look for a story from a different sabbatical context as it applies to Scripture each week in worship beginning September 9.

 

Thanks again for this opportunity!  May this summer truly be “opportunity time” as we grow closer to God.  Know that this is only a season away.  I am firmly committed to Eastminster for the long haul.  God has great things in store for Eastminster, and God willing, this will be a refreshing summer of spiritual growth where we more fully discern God’s will and guidance for the years ahead!
 
Pastor Tim

Thursday, May 3, 2018

05-06-18


Sunday is an important day in the life of Eastminster Presbyterian Church.  At the end of worship, we will have a Congregational Meeting to elect Elders of the class of 2021 and to elect the Rev. Kristy Ray to be installed as Associate Pastor.

 

Elders are the spiritual and administrative leaders of Eastminster.  The model of electing Elders and pastors by the congregation is a democratic process that predates and informs how we elect leaders in the United States of America.  This class of elders is nominated by members and selected by a Nominating Committee.  They have agreed to serve a three-year term if elected.  The Elder-nominee class of 2021 includes Jim Earp, Scott Messel, Jim Morris, and Sara Van Driel.  Their bios are published in a bulletin insert.

 

The Rev. Kristy Ray began her service as a Designated Associate Pastor in August 2016 for a two-year term.  Kristy comes before us to be installed as Associate Pastor for an unlimited term.  Kristy’s focus is in the area of Children, Youth and Family Ministry, though she provides pastoral care to the entire congregation and also plays key roles in worship and communications.

 

Following worship, there will be a luncheon sponsored by the Planned Giving Team of Eastminster where persons may learn how to practice good stewardship in making planned gifts to Eastminster through vehicles such as stock transfers and wills.  The focus of this luncheon is informational and no requests for funds will be made.  The Planned Giving Team includes Linda Coleman, Walt Fredrickson, Claire Gibbs, Scott Messel, Jim Morris, and Pat Pruitt.  These persons recommended to Session the establishment of a Legacy Funds Ministry which creates an endowment which will ensure vital ministry at Eastminster for many years to come. I hope you will join this team and me for lunch to learn more about this exciting ministry.

 

In the May newsletter I outlined plans for a sabbatical provided by a generous grant from the Lilly Foundation for the renewal of Eastminster and pastor during June-August.  There will be special events happening on a monthly basis for the church, and Julie and I will have the opportunity to travel.  The theme of the sabbatical is “Rivers of Living Water.”  Pastors Kristy and Ron will provide pastoral leadership to the church through the period I’m traveling, and I will provide regular updates.  This will be an exciting time of growth.  Please pray for God to renew us all and to lead us to be a transforming force in the community in the coming years.

 

We have come a long way in the last five years as was evidenced in the appreciation of the many people who serve as volunteers in ministry at Eastminster last weekend.  It is clear that God has a plan and purpose for us.  As we elect leaders and appreciate those who faithfully serve, may we be ever sensitive to discerning and doing God’s will in our lives as believers and in our life as a community of faith. 

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, April 5, 2018

04-08-18


What a wonderful Holy Week Eastminster celebrated!  Thanks to all who made it such a spiritually significant experience for church and community!  Every part of Eastminster was active in ways that were upbuilding.

 

We have men whose arms are bruised from moving heavy objects and unganging and ganging chairs.  Women whose Good Friday was spent elbows deep in dough.  Preschool teachers who were busy teaming with church members to bring the Easter story to kids in concrete ways they can understand.  Youth who memorized sections of scripture to bring drama to our Easter Vigil.  Choir members who brought the Word alive in so many contexts, perhaps especially on Good Friday and Easter.  Praise teams who welcomed the sunrise with singing of God’s amazing grace.  Members humble enough to have others wash their feet.  The common denominator in all this is love.  Love for God and love for others.  And it is the cultivation of this love that will transform our church and community in Jesus’ name!

 

Today we finish the study of the Gospel of John which was begun on Christmas Eve.  It is a story of God’s deep love for the world, love deep enough for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us, mysterious enough to turn water into wine and feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish, love prophetic enough to turn over the tables of the money changers in the temple so that it might be a house of prayer for all people,  love wide enough to include a Samaritan woman Jesus met at a well and an adulterous woman Jesus spared from death, love unconventional enough to heal the lame, to wash disciples feet and to be beaten, whipped, and crucified to glorify God and to save us.

 

Jesus and his disciples bid early followers and us to “come and see,” to experience God’s love and the love of God’s people.  In the coming months we will have a focused time of renewal here at Eastminster.  After undergoing an experience of the cruelty of the cross, and the amazing grace of the resurrection to new life, we are focusing on “The Beauty of the Spirit.”

 

The Good News of Christianity is that God does not leave us alone.  God sends the Holy Spirit, “God with us today” to refresh, renew, and bind us together as the body of Christ.  In John 7:37-39 Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as of yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

 

It is the Holy Spirit that equips, guides, comforts, teaches, renews, connects, and restores us. In your worship guide is an insert which outlines the coming series.  Please look it over and pass it on to a friend inviting them to join you in the coming weeks at Eastminster or put it on your refrigerator to remind you of the Bible passages we’ll be studying.  As we go forward our sanctuary will be transformed by a beautiful work of art.  I hope that it is an outward sign of the beauty that is being cultivated in our hearts and lives by God’s Holy Spirit!

 

He is Risen!
Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 22, 2018

03-25-18


Tim’s Tidings

 

What a beautiful and poignant Season this is! 

 

Last week’s children’s musical, “Tale of Three Trees,” gave the message that in the midst of the whirlwind we call life, there is a divine thread of purpose that runs through and connects us to Christ.  Three trees had big dreams that were fulfilled in ways far different than they imagined yet beautifully and providentially by God.  One tree became the manger for Jesus, one tree became a fishing boat in which he calmed the storm and brought peace, and one tree became a cross and pointed to God’s love even in the darkest of times.  This play reminds me that God does answer our prayers, many times differently and so much more profoundly that we could ever imagine.  Praise God!

 

Today we reenact the celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Trees are involved here too. Palm branches were cut to welcome Jesus as they hoped and prayed for a King who would free the Jews from Roman occupation.  God answered the Jew’s prayers differently as well.  The Palm branches were waved not for a military hero riding into town on a large stallion, but for a servant who humbly rode on a donkey, fully prepared to give his life, not just for the Jews, but for all humanity.

 

On Maundy Thursday, which we celebrate this Thursday at 5:45 p.m. in Fellowship Hall, Jesus showed his servanthood by washing the disciple’s feet and commanding them to love one another.  Here he instituted the type of servant leadership that has changed the world.  We will commemorate this event by having a foot or hand washing liturgy and communion.  All are encouraged to come to this special time together.

 

It was after this event that Jesus prayed for God to “take this cup from me,” to come up with another plan for his life, yet he remained steadfast to God praying, “Not my will but yours be done.”  On Good Friday, this Friday March 30, our vocal and bell choirs and guest instrumentalists will bring the musical, “Hope in the Shadows,” at 7 p.m. This is a “Tenebrae” service where the dimming of lights and choral and instrumental music create the feeling that something great and significant is happening.  The journey of going from light to darkness to a glimmer of hope is the thread that holds this service together. No one has ever experienced Eastminster's sanctuary in the way we will experience it on Good Friday.  Come early for a good seat!

 

On Holy Saturday, there will be an Easter Vigil at 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall that takes us from indoor worship to outdoor vignettes of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter denying Jesus in the courtyard of the High Priest. Then we move back indoors for a wonderful close of Oly Week and preparation for

                                      Holy Week and preparation for Easter morn.

 

On Easter morning worshippers will gather outside in Eastminster's breezeway overlooking the beautiful Indian River Lagoon to celebrate the resurrection at the 6:45 a.m. Sunrise Worship.  There will be a band and a cross which will be "flowered" as worshippers bring in flowers from their homes to decorate it through the morning.  At 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. brass and strings will accompany our 35-member choir leading all in great music.  An inspirational message will be proclaimed, and the church will shout out hope for God's love to prevail now and forever.

 

It is this hope of eternal life that is the center of John’s message.  Life is abundantly different now and forever as we place our trust in God and follow Jesus.  May our church ever be vigilant to this privilege!

Blessings!
Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 8, 2018

03-11-18


Today in your bulletin you will find a “Time and Talent Inventory.” This inventory will help Eastminster use a broader swath of the time and talents of the congregation.  There will be a designated time to fill it out during worship today and submit them as an offering to God.  This neither commits one to serve nor limits one’s service.  It helps identify gifts and, with God’s help, align Eastminster to minister out of the competencies and passions Eastminster is blessed with.

 

Also, today you will receive a “Prayer Square” as you enter worship.  These Prayer Squares are hand knitted by Eastminster members and friends.  They are meant to connect receivers with the love and care of God and community.  You may keep these for yourself or pass them on to a person in need.  For more information about this ministry you may contact Joan Falconer or the church office.  During and after church each service there are times of personal prayer with others.  On Saturday nights there is a prayer station during communion for one to go for blessing or to pray for others.  On Sunday mornings there are people available in the chapel for prayer.  Scripture says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).

 

As we approach Easter there will be many special occasions to worship and to receive spiritual care. One event I want to get on your calendars now is the Good Friday Musical “Hope in the Shadows” on Friday March 30 at 7 p.m.  This is a highlight of our musical offerings and will be a moving experience worthy of bringing friends and acquaintances.  The sanctuary will be full, so come early for good seats.  Other events of Holy Week are listed in your bulletin announcements.  Please attend as often as you can as we move through this poignant season.

 

Also note that Easter morning we will have three worship services at 6:45, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.  Eastminster’s 6:45 Sunrise Service will be held in the Breezeway outside the Sanctuary.  It will be a colorful, wonderful time to affirm that death is not final, that even as a seed dies and falls into the ground, it produces fruit.  So even, the resurrection brings the fruit of new life to light.  At 8:30 and 10:30 there will be identical services with instrumental accompaniment as we proclaim “He is Risen!”  “He is Risen Indeed!”  Worshippers are encouraged to bring flowers to all services to “Flower the Cross.”

 

May God bless, heal, and nurture you during this time.  If you have need for prayer, encouragement or counsel please contact one of the pastors or the church office.  I leave you with this thought that captures the season for me: “When you are in a dark place, you sometimes feel you have been buried.  Perhaps you have been planted.  Bloom.”

Blessings,
Pastor Tim