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

Friday, November 3, 2017

11-05-17


“If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree.”  -- Martin Luther

 

What a wonderful weekend we just celebrated with the Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans, the 95 Theses for Today, and the excellent drama on Martin Luther written by Pastor Kristy Ray.  Thanks to the scores of members and friends who served to make it possible for well over 500 people from church and community to be inspired from “Light from the Past” that gives hope for tomorrow.

 

Christians are a people of endless hope rather than a people of a hopeless end.  Martin Luther lived in a time of plague, persecution, political change, intellectual discovery, and spiritual turmoil.  The people of his day literally thought the world was about to end.  Nevertheless, they lived by faith in God, assurance of the grace of Jesus Christ and confident in the power of the Holy Spirit.  God accomplished mighty things through them!

 

We face many challenges in the world and in the church today, just like in the Reformation.  Faced with the challenges of his time, Martin Luther affirmed his faith saying, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree.” Good thing… as the trees Luther planted 500 years ago are still bearing fruit.  May we, like Martin Luther, be hopeful and courageous in our service to God! 

 

Next weekend, November 11-12, you and I will consecrate our Estimates of Giving for 2018 to the Lord in the context of worship.  This we do in hope, faith, and generosity knowing that God does great and enduring things through faithful people.  This will be our time of planting, of investing in God’s work as you and I consecrate our money, time and talents for the ministry and mission of the kingdom.  You will receive a brochure and an Estimate of Giving Card in the mail in the next few days.  The emphasis will be to “Step Up” as able in the spiritual discipline of tithing. 

 

As giving to God is both a discipline and joy, Eastminster will have an all-church Celebration Luncheon at 11 a.m. on Sunday November 12.  This is a time to celebrate in Thanksgiving for all that God has provided and to enjoy being together in fellowship.  A “Home Cooked Sunday Dinner” will be served around tables as we celebrate God’s goodness, grace and love.  All are encouraged to attend.  No reservations are necessary.  What a joy it is to be in a congregation that has a sweet spirit and enjoys fellowship together!

It is said that humans can count the seeds in an apple, but only God knows how many trees those seeds will bear.  I am grateful for those in the past who planted so that we might enjoy fruit today, and humbled at what God will do as we “plant trees” today through obeying God’s commands and enjoying the “fruit” of generosity.

 

See you in Church,

Pastor Tim

Thursday, October 26, 2017

10-29-17


Whether a first-time guest, returning seasonal resident, or regular worshiper, welcome to Kirkin’ O’ th’ Tartans!  Today is a day where we appreciate our heritage and also look to the future with hope.  The Hebrews used to “tell time” by looking backwards and recounting God’s faithfulness and then looking ahead reassured that God’s love, grace and provision would be with them in the future.

 

Likewise, we have much to rejoice about today.  We inherit a rich tradition of faith at Eastminster, and we are open and excited about the new things God calls us to do.  God is alive here, and based on past faithfulness and grace from above, we go forward with the fruit of faithfulness, knowing God will inspire and guide. 

 

Please plan on staying a bit after the service and enjoying shortbread and a beverage out on the breezeway.  One of the hallmarks of Eastminster is that there are incredibly interesting people here to get to know and with whom to share.  Or you can speak with me… just joking, I hope!

 

Hope to see you next Sunday as we welcome confirmands and remember those “saints” that died this year. By all means plan to attend Eastminster’s Annual Celebration Luncheon on November 12 at 11 a.m. 

 

May we all “Live by the Spirit” this week!  May we be gifted, inspired and open to love those God puts in our paths!

 

 Blessings,               
Pastor Tim

Friday, October 13, 2017

10-15-17


Today we start a new Sermon Series, “Let Your Light Shine!”  It is based on Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:14-15:

 

 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 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. 16 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.”

 

When I first read these verses, I thought they leaned toward “works righteousness.” I focused on “Let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works.  Yet are we called to let our “light” … that which is brightest and best in our souls and our works … shine so others might praise us and say what good people and what a good church we are?  Tempting perhaps, but not true.

 

Jesus calls us to live for God and in so doing, “Let your light shine” so that others are led to praise God and give God glory.

 

Has anyone ever called you God’s angel when you showed them love?  Chances are they saw your light shine.  Has anyone broken down in tears of joy for assistance received and said, “Thank you Jesus!”  Chances are they saw your light shine.  Has anyone benefitted by an anonymous gift or deed and given glory to God.  Chances are your light shined.

 

We are created to shine God’s love.  It’s a good feeling and a challenge at the same time.  Over the next several weeks we will explore how Christians “Let Your Light Shine” and how Eastminster might be a “Lighthouse” in the community and world.

 

Today we start with the Old Testament book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 58:10-11 we read:

If you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    and satisfy your needs in parched places,
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters never fail.

As you hear testimony of what is going on through Eastminster at Daily Bread, praise God for shining Light through Godly members and friends.  Then pray:

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Use me today and each day to shine your Light and to bring you glory.  Amen

 

In what ways are you called to shine?

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

Thursday, September 28, 2017

10-01-17


Tim’s Tidings



The feeding of the 5000… was it a miracle of God, a miracle of sharing… or both?

In some ways, the worst of Hurricane Irma brought out the best in us.

At a recent meeting of our spiritual and administrative board, the Session, elders shared some “bright spots” they encountered recently.  Believe me there were many!  The story I shared happened as Julie and I came back from evacuating to her parents’ home and it is a story of kindness that lead to a feast.

 

 As we were coming back, her stepfather gave us a 6-gallon gas can.  It turned out we needed some of that gas to make it because of the shortages and lack of power.  Once home, I started cleaning up and cleaned my neighbor’s yard too (we live in a condo so no big deal).  The neighbor came over and said thanks.  He asked if we would like to plug our refrigerator into his generator.  That meant food!  We were very grateful and gave our neighbor the rest of our gas.  Later, the neighbor came over and said he had some steak and hamburger but no grill and asked if I could cook it.  Soon thereafter, several neighbors came together bringing their “loaves and fishes,” and we had a feast.  Grilled steak, burgers, chicken, and seafood… pasta, sides, and even cheesecake for dessert materialized.  We sat together between homes where there was a cool (for Florida in September), gentle breeze grateful and full.

 

Who could have imagined this? 

 

Likewise, who could have imagined Jesus taking 5 loaves and 2 fish and feeding the multitudes?  Somewhere I suspect, was someone who was generous and offered the Lord what he had.  Scripture hints that it was a small child.  The rest is a multiplication miracle of epic proportions—5,000 men fed, plus women and children!  I believe that God had a big part in this miracle, but I have a hunch people responded to generosity in a way that begat more generosity, just like happened in my neighborhood after Irma.

 

Today is World Communion Sunday.  It is a day that hundreds of millions of Christians will break bread and share it because God gave what God had… God’s Son Jesus Christ.  Just think of the chain reaction of “bright spots” circling the globe that is happening right now.  Bread and cup are shared, and in that sharing, Christians gain strength to let our lights shine with generosity as well.  And the miracle in this is that it is in giving, we receive!

May the Circle be Unbroken,
Pastor Tim
 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

09-24-17


Tim’s Tidings

Can Good come from Bad?  That is the hope as we clean up and make sense of the destruction of Harvey and Irma, as we adjust to life changing circumstances such as job loss, changes of location, recovery from illness and even grief.

Can Good come from Bad?

Today we look at the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37-50.  Joseph was one of the sons of Jacob who was specially loved by his father and specially gifted by God.  He had the ability to dream and interpret dreams.  His father made him a special “coat of many colors” which caused the jealousy of his brothers to mount and they plotted to kill him.  Instead they sold him into slavery, drenched his coat in animal blood and told Jacob that he was killed by a wild beast.  Joseph meanwhile rose to a high position in Egypt because of his ability to interpret dreams and his administrative skill.  He prepared the country successfully for a famine.  The famine brought his brother begging for food.  Joseph withheld his identity until he could no longer contain himself.  When the brothers found out that they, who plotted evil against him were at his mercy they were terrified.  But Joseph said, “do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…. So then it was not you who sent me here but God.”

Can Good come from Bad?

Think of a time in which a disappointment or setback in your life lead to something greater in the end? Share your story with a friend or two this week.

How might God be using the events that have happened in your life lately to benefit others?

What might you do to bring God glory this week?

Spend some time in silent prayer listening for God’s voice and direction.  God pieces us together in a puzzle where we are important to others.

Dear God,

Thank you for the grace to go on amid the storms of life.  Grant me to wisdom to discern your hand and to act according to your will in what I do and in what I don’t do this week.  May I have vision to see beyond the present to how “all things work for the glory of God in Christ Jesus.”

Be with those who suffer today from mental, spiritual, emotional or physical distress.  Use me to be an anchor during the storms of others until we experience the fair skies of your divine design.  Make me an instrument of your peace and understanding.  Amen.

May God use, guide and bless you to be a blessing,

 

Tim