Weekly News for Sunday January 10, 2016

JOYS AND CONCERNS

Pastoral Installation Service: January 17th during 5:00 Worship
Provided we have Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry’s approval for our commission, the service for pastoral installation will be part of our worship service on January 17 starting at 5:00. The committee representing the churches of Presbytery including OPC will be: Dan Williams, Maynard Pittendreigh, Erika Rembert Smith, Cheryl Carson, and Guy Neff.
Special music for this Sunday will be my friends, Etta and Bob Britt.

Bryan Harden on Sabbatical. 

For the month of January, Bryan will be on Sabbatical. Bryan, the Session, and I have worked with Sarah Moore who will fill in for Bryan while he’s away. Sarah has sung with us and led our singing on multiple occasions. Here is a letter from Sarah to you:
 
Greetings, Orlando Presbyterian Church! My name is Sarah Moore, and I’m happy that God has brought us together for this next month while Bryan Harden is on Sabbatical. Bryan and I have been friends for over 30 years. We are both studio vocalists, and have sung together on hundreds of projects over the years for Disney and many other clients. My husband, Gary, and I have been members of Church On The Drive (formerly College Park Baptist Church) since we moved to Orlando from Memphis 32 years ago. I served as Interim Minister of Music for our congregation for 3 years. Since we meet on Sunday mornings and you meet on Sunday evenings, I was able to accept your gracious invitation to lead worship for the next few weeks. I’ve already enjoyed time spent with you as an occasional choir member…and in presenting the Christmas music. I look forward to getting to know you better during the month of January.
 
Sarah
Jim Gray.
Cards and visits appreciated. Jim is staying at:
Health Central Park, 411 N Dillard St, Winter Garden, FL 34787
LEARNING OPPORTUNITY:
HOW THE PARTNERSHIP MODEL WORKS IN MISSION
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. I’m confident you know how it goes. A farmer sows his seed tossing it indiscriminately on the path, the rocky soil, thorn infest soil, and good soil.  The parable shows the power of God and the power of life as the growth from the healthy soil produces from 30 to 100 times what was sown.
Van Gogh offers a wonderful image of the partnership between the sower and the sun and soil. The power of God and life evident in the picture. The farmers faith in the power of God, the power of life, the power of sun and soil is evident in his sowing. His actions show his faith. His actions show his partnership. He doesn’t grow the crop on his own, he just participates fulfilling his role.
The Sower (Sower with Setting Sun) - Vincent van Gogh
The Partnership Model in mission works like the parable and the picture. We partner with others and with God expecting the power of God and life, like with the sower and the seed, grow not arithmetically but exponentially. Here are some recent images of our mission work in partnership with others and with God. Our partnership model looks something like this.
This group of Orlando Presbyterian Members, College Park Member (Bonnie), My Neighbors Children staff, board, and other volunteers, worked together to make this possible.
This group of staff from Florida Children’s Hospital packed 20,000 meals.
In a similar fashion, some of us worked to help this happen with the executives of Florida Hospital at their conference down in Ft Lauderdale.
This group of people committed toward helping end the suffering of many through health care packed over a quarter of a million meals. This event helped nurture the new partnership with Florida Hospital.
Now with Florida Hospital working with us and our partners in Haiti, we trust God to bring similar growth, bigger and more powerful with greater potential than we can imagine on our best days.
Last Summer, Cris, Carrie, William, and I met with Pastor Bob LaFranc (big man on left) and Pastor Yvon Pierre (not quite as big of a man on the far right).
We brainstormed how we might get their stories out to others about the children’s homes, orphanages, schools, and all the committed people who devote themselves to the lives of the children God has entrusted into their care. We dreamed of a possible video to begin telling their stories. Even our biggest dream fell short of what is happening in this new partnership.
Florida Hospital brought in bigger and better resources for storytelling. The first video will be used by Florida Hospital to help raise resources including physicians, medical equipment, and money to help provide health care for our partner orphanages and children’s home as well as the surrounding communities in Haiti including using the clinic we helped transfer to My Neighbors Children. We will also be able to use the extended hours of video footage to tell the stories of other orphanages, ministries, and to invite others to participate with My Neighbors Children and with us as we seek to continue to lead the way in developing our model of Mission Partnership and explore all the miraculous works that God might make known to us locally and abroad.
Here is the most recent cut of the Florida Hospital video. You can click this link below.
Then click on the picture. The video should play. If that link doesn’t work, be patient. There are still some technical difficulties being worked out. It is a glimpse of things to come. In the video, there is no mention of Orlando Presbyterian Church and our work. That’s not the purpose. Our part in opening the door to deeper participation in Haiti for both My Neighbors Children, Florida Hospital, and other partners is like the job of the sower. We sow the seed and watch it grow. The Mission Partnership model is one of power by partnering with the sun and The Son, with life and the Lord of Life. We are God’s partners. The growth God brings of our efforts is up to God’s will and choosing. We will just use our will to try and bring our efforts as close to the will of God as we are able. That’s what God’s partners do.
The narrator on the video is Wintley Phipps. He is known by many, including all the U.S. Presidents since Reagan. If you’re tired of my sermons, here is one of the most inspiring talks I’ve ever heard. It help sum up the power each of us has in serving God. The theme of his talk is to make your life’s goal, “Helping People Live Their Potential.” There is no clearer illustration that I’ve seen, heard, or spoken that sums up Touch, Teach, Tell, to Transform as well as this talk. Helping People Live Their Potential is Touching Lives to Transform the World.
When First Presbyterian Church of Orlando became born again in the PC(USA) as Orlando Presbyterian, the starting funding was called “Seed Money.”  From what I can see, the seeds are growing, producing life exponentially as seeds are supposed to do.
Carol Ivey’s Mission Report below will help you see our Mission Partnerships. I’ve also attached a report prepared by our Finance Team for our consultant working in the denomination’s New Beginnings Program. Click on this Picture or link for the report:

For a ‘small church’ you’ve planted over a quarter of a million dollars in mission partnership funding. The numbers, if anything like Jesus’ parable, are perhaps 1/100th of what God can do with our offerings of time, energy, prayers, emotional support, and finances  sowed in the power of our partnership with God and with one another in common mission to help transform the world into the kingdom of God for all God’s children.
As we go nowhere by accident, let us intentionally go forward partnering with others, with life, but first and foremost, let us Partner with God in God’s Mission for the world. Let us dream God’s dreams until we have to pray no longer, “Thy Kingdom Come,” for God’s kingdom will be all around us.
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Mission Report: Numbers, Numbers, Numbers  
By Carol Ivey
Have your eyes ever glazed over while pretending to be fascinated by Professor Alyndovski as his droning voice explained for the umpteenth time the seven steps in a statistical analysis?  Are you totally over those ever-changing political polls which pretend to predict who will be our next president?  NUMBERS ARE SOOO BORING!
But not if you are on the Missions Team!  Numbers are SOOO exciting!  Our numbers show that we can humbly hold up our little church, small in number, to any church in the Presbytery for our dedication to mission.  Here are the numbers along with short synopses explaining why we are so drawn to lend support to these extraordinary Christian efforts.  Straight forward.  Easy to understand.  No hidden agenda. This is how we allocated our mission dollars this year:
$4000.          OPC Homeless Ministry
Since its inception, 129 people have been assisted, and only about 40% of the funding has been provided by OPC.  The rest has come through our individual and church partners who have expressed a desire to come along side us.  The greatest needs have been for emergency housing and transportation to reunite recipients with caring family members.
 
$4700.          Music Mission Kiev
In the past, MMK served, almost exclusively, older widows.  With the current military unrest, they are increasingly serving many  younger widows of soldiers.  As a widow’s pension is very meager, the assistance they receive is sorely needed.  In the last 18 months, MMK has provided, along with grocery needs, much needed electrical, plumbing and window repair to 70 houses of pensioners.
 
$2000.          Do Good Farm
The shed we painted is being transformed into a vegetable processing building.  The aquaponic farm continues to be developed as a working model for overseas missions to create a sustainable food source.  It is projected that processing the local product will soon create jobs for the W. Orange homeless population.
 
$4000.          New Beginnings Housing Ministry for Women
Ginny Biggs has a creative vision in which she locates housing units to rent. She then sub-rents them to women who need not only housing, but             a radical turn-around in their lives.  She adds important components of             Bible study, self-esteem building, and mentoring to address the whole             person.
$1000.          Missing Peace
Katy Steinberg (daughter of Larry Kudhill) has begun a new worshipping community in Ormond Beach focusing on the unchurched and dechurched.  She creatively provides physical, spiritual, service, and academic
expression in organic worship that targets the 30-something age group.
 
$2000.          Christian Service Center:  Love Pantry Project
We have set up a food pantry at Grand Avenue School and shuttle the             week-end food needs of disadvantaged students from Second Harvest Food Bank to the school.  We will also provide clothing and shoes for disadvantaged students as needed.
Matt. 25:40  “…inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you did it unto me.”
Unlike Professor Alyndovski’s math, in God’s math numbers just multiply inexplicably.  I am so excited about our dollars’ rippling effect as they ooze through these Christ-centered ministries!  Church does indeed begin when we leave the church.
                               TOUCH – TELL – TEACH – TRANSFORM
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 Upcoming Opportunities to Partner in Mission
Do Good Farms: Saturday, January 16th 9:00 a.m.
12423 Marshall Farms Road, Winter Garden 34787. Join others for a morning of service and a fellowship luncheon. Contact Carol Ivey, 407-721-4701 if you have any questions. Can you think of a better place to sow some seed in our mission partnership than at Do Good Farms?
Haiti Mission Trip February 21st-26th 
Our mission trip in February will be going with medical personnel from Florida Hospitals. We will work together to help physicians give checkups and physicals to 500 children. This will be the first trip as part of the long term goal of providing ongoing healthcare for 2,000 children. For more information, contact me. (David Jones: 615-491-4344)
OPPORTUNITIES
Education Opportunities:
BOOK/BIBLE STUDY

The details are still being worked out, but we are looking for the right time and place for a Tuesday morning study.

We’ll be studying my book, The Psychology of Jesus.

I’ll will also be preaching from the same passages as the chapters. The order for study and worship will be a little different than the order of chapters in the book. For example, this week’s sermon will parallel chapter eight because chapter eight is on Herod and the Magi.
If you need a copy of the book and don’t have one, there will be some available at church. You can also click this book cover. It is a link for a copy of the book online.
Date
Scripture and Theme
Psychology of JesusBook Chapter
January 3
Matthew 2:1-16 Epiphany
Chapter 3
January 10
Matthew 3:13-4:3 Jesus’ Baptism
Chapter 2
January 17
TBA Pastoral Installation
TBA
January 24
Luke 15 Lost Sheep and Lost Sons
Chapter 4
January 31
Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus
Chapter 6
WALKING IN MY SHOES:
The details are still being worked out, but we’re working on a Wednesday evening time to gather with a different speaker/friend of our congregation who will come and share part of their life story. This will help us build our community as we get to see the world from our varying perspectives and take time walking in each others’ shoes.
PRESBYTERY BOOK CLUB
The Presbytery Book Club will meet CFP Resource Center to discuss the book, Thursday, January 14th at 1:00 to discuss “Simply Good News by N. T. Wright. More details and downloadable flyers are available at: http://cfpequip.weebly.com/book-club.html

DEVOTIONAL
Matthew 2:
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
In preparing for this week’s sermon, I must admit, I have a sense of pressure about the text and topic for this week. It is Epiphany, that 12th day of Christmas. Epiphany is to Christians what Enlightenment is to Buddhism.
So far, my general thoughts have begun to serve me well. There is a clear contrast between Herod ‘The Great’ and the Magi, astronomers or more clearly, astrologers, who followed the star to find the Christ.
Some of my sermon themes seem to be treasure chests that could produce gifts for both preacher and parishioner alike. Herod was governed by his anxiety, his and the whole city with him. The Magi in contrast are driven by their curiosity, their wonder at what the star might mean. Herod is afraid of losing his kingdom. The Magi are excited about what they might find. Herod holds tightly to his treasures. The Magi are ready to freely give. Herod is known throughout time and text for his title as ruler and the violence with which he would go to protect the city. The Magi aren’t known such much as by their title, their names, we aren’t even sure there were three. The assumption is three gifts for three travelers. We know them by their gifts.
A great contrast between these two, then I turn to one of my favorite and most respected writers who points out, contrary to my thesis, these Wise Ones may not have been so wise after all. Buechner writes,

THE GIFTS THAT THE three Wise Men, or Kings, or Magi, brought to the manger in Bethlehem cost them plenty but seem hardly appropriate to the occasion. Maybe they were all they could think of for the child who had everything. In any case, they set them down on the straw-the gold, the frankincense, the myrrh-worshiped briefly, and then returned to the East where they had come from. It gives you pause to consider how, for all their great wisdom, they overlooked the one gift that the child would have been genuinely pleased to have someday, and that was the gift of themselves and their love.
* * *
The foolishness of the wise is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than by the way the three Magi went to Herod the Great, King of the Jews, to find out the whereabouts of the holy child who had just been born King of the Jews to supplant him . It did not even strike them as suspicious when Herod asked them to be sure to let him know when they found him so he could hurry on down to pay his respects.
Luckily for the holy child, after the three Magi had followed their star to the manger and left him their presents, they were tipped off in a dream to avoid Herod like the plague on their way home.
Herod was fit to be tied when he realized he’d been had and ordered the murder of every male child two years old and under in the district. For all his enormous power, he knew there was somebody in diapers more powerful still. The wisdom of the foolish is perhaps nowhere better illustrated.

In reflection, feeling about my sermon perhaps the way the Magi did when they left the palace in Jerusalem without a newborn king, they did keep learning. They did bring gifts for a prince in a palace not an infant with straw and old cloth to keep him warm. What would such a child do with those gifts?
Perhaps the greatest characteristic of the Magi was not their wisdom, they did have to be warned by an angel before they became aware that Herod was not to be trusted. They did, however, in the end, according to the text, go home by another way. They were changed in orientation. Looking differently at the world and in it. After all, once God in Christ can be lying in total dependence in a manger, then power is redefined, as is a life’s purpose.
Perhaps the greatest example the Magi offer is not what they knew but instead their openness to learn. Turning to another of my favorite writers, James Taylor, I did find an example I could follow. No matter how long it takes to get the lesson, you and I, like the Magi, have the opportunity to go home by another way.
Here is the song, “Home by Another Way” and the lyrics by James Taylor offered with his hopeful line, “Maybe me and you can be wise guys, too… and go home by another way.”
Those magic men the Magi, some people call them wise 
or Oriental, even kings. Well anyway, those guys, 
they visited with Jesus, they sure enjoyed their stay.
Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme, 
they went home by another way.
Yes, they went home by another way, home by another way.
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too and go home by another way.
We can make it another way, safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high and go home another way.

Steer clear of royal welcomes, avoid a big to-do.
A king who would slaughter the innocents will not cut a deal for you.
He really, really wants those presents, he’ll comb your camel’s fur
Until his boys announce they’ve found trace amounts 
of your frankincense, gold and myrrh.
Time to go home by another way, home by another way.
You have to figure the Gods, saying play the odds, 
and go home by another way.
We can make it another way, safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high and go home another way.

Home is where they want you now,
You can more or less assume that you’ll be welcome in the end.
Mustn’t let King Herod haunt you so or fantasize his features 
when you’re looking at a friend.
Well it pleasures me to be here and to sing this song tonight,
They tell me that life is a miracle and I figured that they’re right.
But Herod’s always out there, he’s got our cards on file.
It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch, old Herod likes to take a mile.
It’s best to go home by another way, home by another way.
We got this far to a lucky star, but tomorrow is another day.
We can make it another way, safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high and go home another way.
 
James Taylor
James Taylor “Home By Another Way” from the album “Never Die Young”