Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter Sunday 04-16-17


Welcome to worship with Eastminster on Easter morning! A special welcome goes out to those who are visiting for the first time or returning to worship after an absence.  May you find joy, hospitality, faith, beauty and love as you encounter the risen Lord and relate with God’s community here.

Eastminster exists to glorify God, to know God more deeply and to serve God in the world. Our mission statement is “Eastminster joyously ministers as a vital, growing congregation of passionate followers of Jesus extending our reach as a missional church to transform our greater community.” It is our expectation that the web of caring relationships will continue to grow as new visitors, friends and members bring life to this community and to the world.  Let me know how Eastminster might enrich life with you.

 

The early visitors to Jesus’ tomb and his disciples were fearful and doubtful. Many of us have been the same way. We are in good company. God’s love flows to us in different times and seasons. That’s why community is important. Sometimes we give, sometimes we receive support.  All the time, we are together.

 

Amidst doubt and fear the question, “What if what they say is true?” arose with early believers. It is a legitimate question. If Jesus is God’s Son and the resurrection a validation of his divinity, what does that mean for my life? Your life? Our lives together? There are a lot of barriers to coming to Jesus Christ and a lot of power unleashed when the barriers are broken. One barrier is to simply accept God’s amazing grace.  It is a gift, rather than something earned, and that’s countercultural.

 

Relax.  Allow God’s love and grace to reach you through music, light, movement and most importantly, God’s word proclaimed in what we say and what we sing.  May you sense the mystery of a God greater and more powerful than we could ever conceive whose Spirit provides more than we could ever ask or imagine.

 

Welcome again!
Blessings!

Pastor Tim
 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

04-09-17


Sunday is Palm Sunday.  It is a day we celebrate Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and begin what is commonly referred to as “Holy Week,” which extends from today through Easter.  In one week the Good News of Jesus will be proclaimed meaningfully in many ways.  It is a week that shapes our identity and community together.  .

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem Palm Sunday, people sold him short.  They thought he would be an earthly leader of a revolt that would throw off the yoke of Roman domination.  Even though Jesus said many times that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer, die, and three days later rise, people didn’t comprehend it.  So they waved Palm branches and cheered as he entered Jerusalem hoping for what would amount in baseball terms to Jesus hitting a “single.”  Little did anyone know that Jesus came to overthrow sin and death and bring us close to the loving reign of God Almighty forever.  Jesus came to hit a “home run!”  That was just too huge for even his disciples to grasp!  It’s hard for us to fathom today! 

So today we cheer Jesus Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem, but there is much more to the story.  One needs the events during the middle of Holy Week to get the full picture.  We join together on Maundy Thursday in Fellowship Hall at 5:45 p.m. around tables shaped in a cross to hear how Jesus will become the Lamb of God that takes the sin of the world, even as he is betrayed by one of his own.  Our Sanctuary will be draped in black as we gather Friday night at 7:00 to hear the Seven Last Words of Christ ending in “Father into thy hands I commit my Spirit” as he breathes his last.  Saturday morning Eastminster hints at New Life as we tell the whole gospel story, hunt Easter eggs and do Easter crafts at 10:30 with kids of all ages from the church and community at 10:30 a.m.  That night at 6 p.m. we host a Vigil which involves drama and beauty in telling the salvation story … up to a point.  Then Easter morning at 6:30 a.m. Sunrise, 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. the story becomes complete with the shouts of “His is risen!”  “He is risen indeed!”  If all service times are convenient for you on Easter, come to the 8:30 to help balance the parking.  Don’t skip the events between Palm Sunday and Easter.  Participating through the week allows one to experience the whole story! 

Thanks to the many, many hands, hearts and voices who are contributing to a meaningful lent and Holy Week at Eastminster.  You are wonderful!

May All Have a Blessed Holy Week!
Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 30, 2017

04-02-17


Tim’s Tidings

 

As I imagine traveling down the dusty roads with Jesus, listening to his teaching, witnessing his healing, being baffled by his sayings that he must suffer, die and in three days rise again, I believe I would feel confused, ambivalent, even lost.  And perhaps that’s the point… to experience incompleteness apart from God, inability to be meaningfully whole despite my intelligence, connections and resources.

 

Just before Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when he was 17 miles away in the ancient city of Jericho, he encountered Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, who was both lost and curious, so much so that he climbed a tree just to get a better look at Jesus.  Jesus formed a relationship with him, ate with him, and changed him.  Zacchaeus become generous, he made amends to those he harmed, and Jesus welcomed him into God’s family.  To Zacchaeus, to those “sinners” in his house, and to us all, he says, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  Zacchaeus saw through the eyes of faith and was “found” by God.  He was saved from “lostness,” from the pain of separation from God.  He was made whole.

 

In our scripture text today, the outcome is not so good for the rich man who ignored others.  Being rich in that society, he would have been viewed as being blessed by God.  But in the end he was in agony, and the judgment was that he had his chance.  The Scriptures showed the way to be generous and forgiving, and he ignored them.  Even as the gates of his house and the walls of his heart separated him from others, so now he lived in separation, even agony.

 

I was speaking with a mature Christian after Wednesday Bible Study and the conclusion was these teachings are baffling.  It’s easy to feel “lost” in it all.  Perhaps the best response is that of the disciples.  As Jesus is finishing these teachings, the stunned disciples simply say, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).  May their prayer be ours, “Lord, increase our faith.  Find us and make us whole.”

  

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 23, 2017

03-26-17



Tim’s Tidings


The Rev. Ralph Bronkema will be preaching this Sunday.  Ralph has a long history with Eastminster Presbyterian Church.  As a soon to be retiring Air Force Chaplain in 1986, a hospital call to visit a young boy put Ralph and then pastor of Eastminster, Roy McCormick, in the same room.  Roy and Ralph had good chemistry and Roy asked Ralph to be on staff at Eastminster upon his retirement from the chaplaincy.  Ralph agreed and served as an interim pastor for three years, the maximum allowed.  Ralph then went to serve a church in the Midwest for several years only to be called back to Eastminster.  For many years now, Ralph has served with distinction as the Visitation Pastor here.

 

One of the enduring vignettes of Ralph’s ministry is his care for his first wife, Louise.  After Louise had a stroke, Ralph lovingly cared for her through her years of illness in a way that many members hold up as a “gold standard” example of “compassion in action.”  Later, Ralph became reacquainted with Annette, the widow of his seminary roommate, to whom he is now happily married.  God’s goodness to them in times of grief and joy is a heartwarming story of faithfulness and God’s provision.

 

Currently Ralph visits hospitals and the homebound twice per week.  He teaches the Brown Bag Bible Bunch every Wednesday at noon.  Ralph also officiates at funerals and sends condolence booklets and letters to those who are grieving.  He helps with our Stephen Ministry in training situations, assists in worship, and sings in the choir with his wife, Annette, who is an active partner in ministry with him.  Ralph and Annette are seasonal residents who spend their summers in Michigan and travel to visit relatives and friends.

 

Last fall, as the staff formed goals for the coming year, Ralph indicated that he would like Eastminster to find a replacement for him as Visitation Pastor as his “bucket list” was growing.  Eastminster’s Personnel and Administration Team reviewed the Visitation Pastor description and sent a revised version to Session which approved it.  We know we can’t replace Ralph, but we can certainly appreciate his faithful ministry and strive to continue his legacy of loving pastoral care, insightful teaching and faithfulness to God and Christ’s Church.

 

Thank you Ralph and Annette for your ministry at Eastminster and your example as a Christian couple!  We are inspired by your presence and witness!

 

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

 

 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

03-19-17


Tim’s Tidings



For the next three Wednesday nights at 5:45 p.m. Eastminster will have Lenten Soup, Salad and Study events.  Last week 57 people attended an excellent meal and enjoyed great fellowship.  Participants had a great time, and I expect many more will enjoy these times together.  Personally, I enjoyed meeting people around the table, singing some of the great hymns of the church, and studying the Gospel of Luke together.  I enjoy teaching too!  I also was gratified that we got out before sunset, as this event is timed for those who need to get home before dark to be able to do so.  The bonus is that those who linger may enjoy a beautiful sunset over the river!  Hope to see you on one or more of these Wednesdays!

 

Last Wednesday, we looked at what many consider Jesus’ mission statement.  In Luke 19:10 he says, “I came to seek and save the lost.”  Today’s scripture gives a glimpse of what that mission looks like as many people go out into the world and gather God’s children (us) to enjoy a banquet together.

Eastminster’s Mission Statement is:

Eastminster joyously ministers

as a vital, growing congregation

of passionate followers of Jesus

extending our reach as a missional church

to transform our greater community.

 

One of the ways we will “extend our reach as a missional church” is a new initiative called Compassion in Action (CIA).  Being a “missional church” involves praying for God to show us where God’s heart breaks for others and joining God there in service.  Many do this naturally as we live with “hearts open to others.”  Compassion in Action (CIA) offers us ways to do that together.  Compassion in Action is volunteers sharing their gifts of time and talent to serve God in teams to meet needs in our community.  People of similar interests will gather to reach out to senior adults, kids, poor, and others who have need in groups of 5-8.

 

Today an Interest and Talent Survey for our larger church will be distributed.  The Interest and Talent Survey will help members and friends find places of meaningful involvement in ways that bring you life and energy and that glorify God.  If you are interested in learning more about Compassion in Action (CIA), I urge you to check that box on the Time and Talent Survey.  Of course, there are scores of other ways to serve in a church Eastminster’s size.  One or more are right for you and for me.  The Bible says that we are the body of Christ, that there are a variety of gifts given to us, a variety of ways to serve, and that we all serve the same Lord in ways that bring life to the body and light to the world.  May we fulfill our mission well in the name of Jesus!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 2, 2017

03-05-17


Today is the first Sunday in Lent.  Lent is the period of forty days, not counting Sundays, before Easter.  This forty day period mirrors the time Jesus was in the desert praying and fasting while being tempted to rely on other power and provision than God’s Spirit and God’s Word.

 

For us today, Lent is a time to for our “Spiritual GPS” to be redirected where it has gotten off track from the direction of God’s will for our lives and our church.  Where we have sinned we “repent” which literally means turn around.  Where we are lost in worry, doubt, anxiety and fear, we “come home” to a loving and welcoming God.  Where we are lax in studying God’s Word and abiding with God in prayer, we create space for more of God and less of “us” in our inner and outer lives.

 

In the March newsletter I give some suggestions for practicing a Holy Lent.  Another rich source of ideas is the article “Forty Things to Give Up for Lent” found at https://www.greaterthings.today/40-things-to-give-up-for-lent-the-list/.  Some people find it helpful to go without things that they normally enjoy to bring them closer to Christ and Christ’s sufferings on our behalf.  Others add a discipline to draw them closer to God and God’s will. 

 

There are three special events here at EPC that I encourage you to consider adding to bring you closer to God and one another:

1.      Beginning Wednesday March 15 at 5:45 p.m. there will four Wednesday “Soup, Salad and Study” evenings.  Enjoy good food, fellowship and a study of the Gospel of Luke.  I will lead the Bible study in a way that will help “flesh out” what we learn during worship.  Daylight Savings time begins March 12 (“Spring Forward”) so you will be able to get home before dark.

2.      Beginning Sunday March 19 at 9:00 a.m. there will be four Sunday times of Music and Meditation.  This is a time to be still and be inspired by excellent music and to learn a spiritual discipline each week.  This period of Music and Meditation will be followed by fellowship in the courtyard and Traditional Worship at 10:30 a.m. (note time change).  Worshippers may attend one or both of these times of praise.

3.      On Saturday March 25 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. there will be a Spiritual Retreat in the Prayer Chapel behind the Sanctuary.  This retreat is led by EPC’s Spiritual Formation Team.  I plan on attending for my benefit and hope you consider it too. 

May these forty days of Lent be a time of great growth for you and for Eastminster.  God is alive here, and I pray that we remove or rebuke anything that would try to separate us from living in right relationship with God.  If you would like counsel during this season don’t hesitate to contact one of your Pastors or Elders.  Our contact information is on the back of your worship guide. May God Guide You and EPC this Season!

 

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

 

Friday, February 17, 2017

02-19-2017


Tim’s Tidings

 

On March 1 Christians around the world begin the season of Lent.  Lent is the season 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays which are feast days) where believers repent of those things that are separating us from living in the fullness of God’s abiding presence and rededicate ourselves to doing those things that bring us closer to God.  Mirroring the 40 days Jesus was in the desert tempted to sin, we model Jesus’ life through focusing on Godly living informed by scripture, prayer and worship.

 

Here are some communal ways we are observing Lent:

On Wednesday March 1 at 7 p.m. Eastminster will mark the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday Service.  This service will unite both our Saturday and Sunday worshipping community as we repent of sin and as those who desire receive a cross on our foreheads to remember, “From dust we come and to dust we return.”  It is a beautiful service of music and art which hopefully humbles us and focuses us on the road ahead, a road of introspection, fasting, service and prayer.

 

On Wednesday March 15 at 5:45 p.m. Eastminster will start a four Wednesday series of “Soup, Salad and Study of Luke.”  Our Congregational Care Committee will provide the Soup and Salad.  There will be a brief period of music and singing.  Then, I will lead a study “Unlocking the Wisdom of Luke” which will give added understanding to the “Ready … Set … Go!” series we are currently engaging in worship.

 

On Sunday March 19 for five weeks our worship schedule will change slightly for Lent and Easter to allow more opportunity for spiritual growth.  The Lent Schedule for March 19, 26, April 2 and 9 will be:

9:00 a.m.          Lenten Music and Meditation

9:45 a.m.          Fellowship

10:30 a.m.        Lenten Worship

11:30 a.m.        Fellowship

 

The addition of the Music and Meditation time on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. will bring some of the best music and spiritual practices to our church as we prepare our hearts to live as renewed Christians.  This time of worship will foster inward reflection through music meant to quiet the heart and mind, thereby preparing the soul for prayer and reflection. Children’s and Adult Christian Education will continue on their regular schedule and Fellowship will be offered after each worship event.

 

On Good Friday April 14 at 7:00 p.m. there will be a presentation of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ by the Eastminster and the Florida Institute of Technology Choir and String Orchestra.  This will be a worship highlight of the year.  Plan to arrive early and be blessed!

 

On April 16 we will celebrate Easter at 6:30 a.m. (Sunrise), 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. worship.  May these events and your personal lives of devotion and service prepare us all to mature as a Christian Community focused on Jesus Christ as “Led by the Holy Spirit Eastminster glorifies Christ by loving God and others in worship, word and deed.

 

Blessings,
Tim