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WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/26


Sunday, May 26, 2019

6th Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Second Reading: Rev. 21:10; 21:22-22:5
Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9

The liturgical color for the day is: White

The pool at Bethsaida.  This is a story of great faith.  Yet, it is about a kind of faith that does not come in an instant, a moment, or even a day.  It is a story of faith that endures and is persistent.  This man had amazing faith—to come to the pool there at Bethsaida day in and day out without even an iota of knowledge if there would be someone willing to lower him into the water.  That is faith!

We see in him a trusting and believing without clarity or roadmap—such is an amazing faith.  And then along comes Jesus.  Jesus likely singled the man out because he could see that faith in him.

All those years long he had faith, but it was now the moment when he was to see where his faith should be placed.  His faith was not to be placed in the pool, but in the person.  His faith was not to be placed in the stirring waters of the pool, but in God and in Jesus.  His faith was to be placed in the Son of Humanity standing before him.

“Take up your mat and walk.”  It is a directive.  The man could have ignored the directive.  He could have scoffed at the notion.  But he does attempt to move those legs and to prop himself up on them.  In the doing we are told that he has been made well and he does, in fact, pick up that mat and walk away.

He has found healing—yes!  But, he found the location, the place, and the focus of where his faith is to be.  It is to be in the God of this man—it is to be in the God of this man Jesus of Nazareth.  Such IS the story and continues to be the story.

Our circumstances shift, but the story is the same.  It is not about if we have faith or not—we all have faith in something.  It is about where we place our faith.  We are to place our faith in God and in God’s ability to work in our living and through us.

Our confidence is not in the pool, or our ability to get into the pool, or even our hope that one day the waters will be stirring.  Our confidence is in the one who directs us with that holy directive: “Take up your mat and walk.”

When we move out of our thinking that it is about our abilities and step into the truth that it is about God and God’s abilities—then we are living the life where we “take up (our) mat and walk.”

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/262019-05-20T09:59:42-04:00

New Life PC Celebrates 38th Year Anniversary | Rev. Dr. Arlene Gordon


“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”  Psalm 150:6

The Scripture so eloquently phrased in Psalm 150 graced the bulletin cover as we celebrated the 38th Anniversary of New Life Presbyterian Church (Iglesia Presbiteriana Nueva Vida) on Sunday, April 28, 2019 (28 de Abril de  2019).  The church located on Coral Way in Miami is pastored by the Rev. Heidi Arencibia.  I was honored to be the guest speaker for the service celebrating “38 years of life by the grace of God!” (1981-2019).

As the history of the church was read, I recalled vividly the events that had occurred during my time as the Executive Presbyter.  New Life was on life support.  An Administrative Commission had been assigned and the membership had declined to 20 members.  It was then that I was introduced to Rev. Arencibia and what a blessing that was.  She had come to the U.S. from Cuba where she was a professor at the seminary in Matanzas.  She was United Methodist and I saw the opportunity to invite her to become Presbyterian.  The COM with the help of Rev. Dr. Marin Anorga worked with her toward ordination and she was eventually called to be the pastor of New Life.  What a blessing for the congregation as the Hispanic population of Miami was continuing to grow.  Under Rev. Arencibia’s leadership, the congregation has grown and is thriving.  What a fellowship, what a joy divine we had on Sunday, April 28 at New Life!  The music, the prayers and the worship demonstrated a temple, a church strong, faithful and committed to the Gospel.

We gave thanks for the live of Rev. Samuel Ossorio, Rev. German Vega, Rev. Martin Onorga, Rev. Julio Delgado, Rev. Roberto Hernandez, CLP Jacobo Guiribitey, Rev. Gustavo Astudillo and Rev. Heidi Arencibia who in different ways and as difficent ways and at different times have left their marks of blessing in the life of the church.

I was humbled to be asked to be the speaker for the Anniversary service and was honored to be in the presence of Rev. Martin Anorga who will celebrate his 92nd birthday very soon.  Also present were:  Rev. Julio Delgado and Rev. Dr. Hector Mendez.

Rev. Arencibia says “she is proud to be a Presbyterian.”  The church is growing and the 20 member congregation had over 240 people in worship on Easter Sunday.  The elders are so committed to service and Rev. Arencibia says of the congregation “we continue to walk hand in hand with the Lord, committed to Christ and his Church, to the community around us, and to the mission we have been called to do, sharing the JOY of SALVATION as a people chosen by God.  She gives gratitude to God for New Life Presbyterian Church!

We often hear stories of how churches are declining.  Welcome to Good News of one that is thriving and growing!

Submitted by,

Rev. Dr. Arlene W. Gordon
Retired, Minister of Word and Sacrament


New Life PC Celebrates 38th Year Anniversary | Rev. Dr. Arlene Gordon2019-05-13T11:57:17-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/19


Sunday, May 19, 2019

5th Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Second Reading: Rev. 21:1-6
Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35

The liturgical color for the day is: White

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 3 on Acts 11

This is the story of the emerging church sorting through its roots and relationships.  The church, rooted in Judaism, is confronted by the reality of Gentile believers.  What will the church do?  Will it welcome these new believers by requiring that they conform to rules and regulations that guide historic members?  Will the church bend and shape itself to welcome the newcomers and thereby shift its own self-understanding of priorities and practices?  Such issues are alive and well in the emerging church today!

Framed another way, this text in Acts 11 addresses the question of who is in and who is out when it comes to being followers of Christ.  With Peter’s testimony and account of God’s revelation and actions, the circle has just been drawn in such a way that more are in than were previously.  The role and posture of the leaders in the Jerusalem church should not be overlooked.  While initially they were questioning, yet they listened, remained open, and then allowed their viewpoints to be transformed by the witness they encountered.

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 3 on John 13

The “new commandment” Jesus gives to the disciples to love brings into focus the whole of the commandments.  The centrality of love is essential in the immediate and for the long haul.  In the immediate the disciples will confront issues of fear and anxiety that will easily overshadow the centrality of love.  Fear and anxiety will pull the disciples apart at a time when they will most need the centrality of love.

The commandment to love has a beautiful facet that makes it astounding by nature.  It is simple without being simplistic.  It is simple enough for anyone to take in, and yet it has a complexity that invites infinite opportunities and challenges in living it out.  The very nature of the commandment shifts one on the axis from what one believes to how one behaves.


Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/192019-05-13T10:46:46-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/12



A special feature of Worship Together

Sunday, May 12, 2019

4th Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23:1-6
Second Reading: Rev. 7:9-17
Gospel Reading: John 10:22-30

The liturgical color for the day is: White

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 2 on Acts 9

The story resembles the raising of Jairus’ daughter (see Mark 5:21-43; Mt. 9:18-26; Lk 8:40-56).  This intentional resemblance suggests that first Jesus, and now Peter, and then other disciples along with the whole of the Church are being pulled into a new reality where death is not viewed as ultimate or final.  Dorcas’ discipleship is so needed by her community—so much so that she is raised to continue in ministry.  Her life of discipleship brings hope in the story for those who are the most vulnerable.

Peter is invited with the words: “Please come to us without delay.”  Like Jairus’ daughter, there is an urgency at hand.  Dorcas’ community is hopeful that Peter can bring about an outcome that will be of positive benefit.  The story shows us again a community that points to resurrection hope in a God who transcends death and reaches beyond earthly margins.

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 2 on John 10

In all three years of the Revised Common Lectionary, the 4th Sunday of Easter is “The Good Shepherd Sunday.”  On the 4th Sunday the Gospel Lesson always is drawn from John 10.  This text continues that theme of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  The Psalm for the day is the 23rd and the oneness indicated in verse 30 draws a rich connection between God as the Shepherd in Psalm 23 and Jesus as the Good Shepherd in John 10.

This connection extends well beyond the symbolism of a shepherd, and it points to the nature of the work of Jesus and the work of God the Parent – there is more than a symmetry to that work – there is oneness between the work/action/movement of God and the work/action/movement of Jesus.  This should be understood as a well-defined unity of purpose between the God of Creation and the Jesus of the Gospel.


Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
PTF General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/122019-05-06T14:29:11-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/5


A special feature of Worship Together

Sunday, May 5, 2019

3rd Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 9:1-6 (7-20), Psalm 30
Second Reading: Rev. 5:11-14a
Gospel Reading: John 21:1-19

The liturgical color for the day is: White

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 1 on Acts 9

The conversion of Saul requires the transformative work of Ananias and the members of the Christian faith community.  Saul was a threat.  Ananias voiced his caution, but he moved forward in obedience and faithfulness.  He was open to changing his views about Saul.  Saul remained with the disciples in the coming days (see v. 19).  Those disciples had shifted their view and helped in the formation of Saul.  Evidence of that transformation is seen in the testimony that concludes the passage: “…and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”

This key role played by the community in the conversion and formation of Saul, becomes the foundational linking for Saul between his experience on the Damascus road and his vocational identity.  Saul’s encounter with Jesus and then his encounter with the Christian community enabled him to claim and understand the new purpose of his life.  In the Christian community his past is put into perspective and his future is opened to him.

From the Clarity of Identity Bible Study – Unit 1 on John 21

The story extends the view of God as the Shepherd (Psalm 23) and Jesus as the Good Shepherd (John 10).  Here Jesus continues as the Good Shepherd who gathers his flock anew and feeds them (with both literal food and spiritual nourishment).  Part of the richness of the story is the direct encounter with the one who denied Jesus three times.  The three denials correspond to the three questions and commands of Jesus to Peter.  The question about love comes before each command.

Earlier in John’s gospel we hear Jesus connect love for him with love for one another.  Such love for Jesus is made manifest in the way the followers of Jesus feed, tend, and continue to feed the sheep of the Good Shepherd.  The final words of Jesus to Peter echo back to his first words to Peter: “Follow me.”

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter


WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 5/52019-04-29T16:10:07-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 4/28


Sunday, April 28, 2019

2nd Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150
Second Reading: Rev. 1:4-8
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

The liturgical color for the day is: White

Easter is not simply a day on the liturgical calendar, it is a season.  The season is fifty days and stretches to the Day of Pentecost.  Each Sunday in Eastertide is treated as a Sunday of Easter and is named successively, so this coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter.  While in practical terms, the Second Sunday of Easter is one of the lowest attendance Sundays of the year, the texts for preaching are rich with themes that touch the practicalities of what it means to believe and be people of faith.

Throughout the season of Easter, the first reading comes from the Book of Acts.  This is in keeping with the great tradition that focuses on readings from the New Covenant over the Hebrew Scriptures during Eastertide.

The lesson on Thomas (John 20:19-31) appears in all three cycles of the lectionary.  Thomas is so real!

When we doubt, we have nothing left but faith.  Faith is that which binds us to God.

John Calvin, that Reformed theologian we Presbyterians best love, said that every day he doubted the existence of God and that he gave thanks for that doubt.  He said that he gave thanks for that doubt because in it he could do nothing but cling to God.

It is not doubt that makes Thomas stand out.  Rather, it is his willingness to admit it and be up front with it.  Thomas was willing to own up to the reality that he just plain was not sure.  This was just too much for him to grasp.  Jesus is alive again—now that was a lot for him to wrap his mind around.  He could not believe it.  Unless, unless he put his finger in the nail marks in his hands and put his own hand in the pierced side of the Lord.

Jesus invites Thomas to do just that.  Notice the detail.  Thomas does not touch, but falls to the floor and proclaims, “My Lord and my God.”  Thomas changed his mind and changed course—he did not need to touch the wounds and his doubt was left behind.

What a vision for resurrection: That we are empowered be up front with where we are.  That we might be open to going in other directions.  Living this resurrected life is openness to God saying to us: “Stop. Change. Go the other way.”

Thomas went on to go the distance.  He was a successful apostle of the risen Lord.

With Thomas, we need to be open to the reality that this is a new day.  God will call on us to go places and ways we never imagined or even saw for ourselves.

No doubt about it, such is the resurrected life!


Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
PTF General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 4/282019-04-22T11:33:49-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 4/21


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Resurrection of the Lord

First Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Or Alternate First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm Reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Second Reading: I Corinthians 15:19-26
Or Alternate Second Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Gospel Reading: John 20:1-18
Or Alternate Gospel Reading: Luke 24:1-12

The liturgical color for the day is: White

In Luke it is these dazzlingly clothes messengers that ask the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

I recall my experience one spring morning while doing a graveside service for a departed saint:

There was something flying around my head.  It kept at me.  I had to hold myself back from swatting it away.  I did not know what it was.  It was still there as I said the final prayer and offered the final blessing.  I made the sign of the cross and stepped away.  And in that instant, it few away.

As I stepped aside, I could feel my own irritation with whatever that flying thing was that had been all around me throughout the service.  Before I could barely take a few steps away, family members were rushing in.  They were coming to me not to complement me on the splendor of my words on that spring morning.  They were asking me, “Did you see it?”

I said nothing, but in my head, I answered: “See what, that irritating thing that was flying around my head and would not leave me alone?”  Rather than saying anything I let them go on: “Did you see it?  Did you see how that butterfly flew around you the whole time you were doing the service?”

My interior thoughts continued dismissively: “Butterfly?  That classic symbol of resurrection here at the grave.  I don’t think so.  How cliché’.”  I dismissed it.  But then during the lunch it kept at me.  What if?  What if?  No.  More than what if.  It was.  It was this life flying around my head at the grave.

It was like those two dazzling white transfiguration figures asking, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”  I was so focused on the dead that I could not open myself up to the life that was around me—even flying around my head.

That life, that life flying around me—around us—it is the very presence of the resurrected Christ.  But we must look for it, open ourselves to it, and allow him to fly in on our living.

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 4/212019-04-15T12:08:05-04:00

WORSHP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Palm Sunday 4/14


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm/Passion Sunday

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: (Palms) Luke19:28-40; (Passion) Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm: (Palms) 118:1-2, 19-29; (Passion) 31:9-16
Second Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel Reading: Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and has traditionally been Palm Sunday.  In recent years the designation Passion Sunday has also been a good option depending on the worship structure and pattern of a congregation.  Palm Sunday is often celebrated if there are also Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship opportunities planned.  If the practice is that there are no Good Friday or Maundy Thursday worships, then Passion Sunday is a good option.

While Palm Sunday focuses on the great parade, Passion Sunday has in focus the whole story of the passion.  Regardless of which choice the preacher makes the worship can be structured to focus on both.  A wonderful way to begin worship is to invite the congregation to assemble outside the worship space, read the proclamation of the entrance into Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-40) and then process into the church singing, shouting, and waving palm branches.  A suggested order for such a procession is found in the Book of Common Worship (both the new and older versions).

As for Palm Sunday:

This was big stuff—it was a parade.  It was one of two parades that happened that weekend.  The other parade was a major event.  The other parade came from the west.  This parade came from the east.  But this parade was turning into a major event too.

The other parade, the one that came from the west, was the imperial parade.  This was the week of the Passover.  Pilate was making a show of his power with all those sojourners in town for the Passover.  Draped in the gaudy glory of all his imperial power there were horses and chariots.

There was also the display of the shining armor of battle.  All of it was a demonstration of power—the Roman army at his side.  It made a clear statement to those religious sojourners about where real power was located.

But Luke tells us about this other parade that came at the city from the other way.  It is in stark and direct contrast to the parade of imperial power that came from the west.  It is the commoner’s parade.  It is Jesus in an ordinary robe riding not on a mighty horse, but on a donkey.  There is no display of armaments.  There are branches of trees.  There are palm branches and cloaks waving in the air.  There are growing crowds of people.

The parade was happening.  Jesus in Jerusalem.  Coming in from the east.  Lights.  Camera.  Action.  Here we go.  And the band played on and the chorus sang song: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Daris Bultena
PTF General Presbyter

WORSHP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Palm Sunday 4/142019-04-08T10:45:49-04:00

Disaster Response Team Getting Ready!


In just over 2 months we are back in the dreaded Hurricane Season.

Although Hurricane Irma seems like a fading memory, many of our churches and congregants and neighbors are still undergoing repairs, battling with insurance and FEMA claims or just waiting for help to arrive. Are you and your church ready for June 1st?

In order for the Presbytery to better prepare a response plan in the event another storm or other disaster/emergency hits, we need to know what YOUR plans are.

The Disaster Response Taskforce/team needs information and team members to canvas and train all the churches in the Presbytery. We can’t help when we don’t know the needs.

Being part of the Disaster Response Team doesn’t mean that you need to use a chain saw, muck out buildings or do the heavy lifting…unless you want to. What we need is for each congregation to identify a point of contact to be part of the team. This person will be trained to help Sessions develop a Church Disaster Plan for the buildings, congregation and community.

Trainings will be scheduled in late April and May to prepare for the “season”. Please submit your Point of Contact and copy of existing Disaster Response plan (if you have one written) to Barbara Hassall, Chair, Disaster Response Team at barbara.hassall01@gmail.com or send it to Sandra at the Presbytery Office.

Disaster Response Team Getting Ready!2019-04-01T13:36:54-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday April 7th


Sunday, April 7, 2019

5th Sunday in Lent

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm: 126
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14
Gospel Reading: John 12:1-8

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

Mary has invited guests to dinner.  Jesus is there.  It is, as the gospel writer sets it up, the evening before Palm Sunday.  This woman takes that which is of great price.  In terms of what a laborer would earn, it is worth an entire year’s wages.

Mary takes that perfume and she pours it out over the feet of Jesus.  She anoints him with it—she then wipes his feet with her hair.

Mary was extravagant.  It was the most expensive and fragrant essence one could get their hands on—so concentrated that just the very minutest portion would have been enough to gently touch Jesus with and show him her love.

She took the whole thing—she took the whole thing and she anointed his feet with it.  The most precious thing she owned—she took it and she spent it all on Jesus.

Love is not love if it counts the cost.  She did not count the cost of love.  Love is not love if it counts the cost.

We tend to count the cost.

What do we do with our love as we approach this season of growing—this way of the cross—this march to Jerusalem?  What are we doing?

Are we being extravagant?

Mary’s extravagance did not count what it would cost her in giving up the perfume.  Her extravagance was going the distance FOR Jesus.  It works as a definition of extravagance.

Extravagance: going the distance FOR Jesus.  Going the distance FOR someone other than self…

Live out of extravagance.  Go the distance.  If we are counting the cost of love, then it is not love…

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday April 7th2019-04-01T12:50:53-04:00

WORSHP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Palm Sunday 3/31


Sunday, March 31, 2019

4th Sunday in Lent

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm: 32
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

In the story of the Prodigal Son, verse 17 can also be translated, “When he arrived at himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough to spare…’”

When we arrive…

When we arrive…when we arrive at ourselves, we realize that we are the prodigal son always trying to go it on our own and it never works out.  We are the prodigal son needing to get it and pick up and go home.  It is true—God welcomes us no matter how bad it was.

When we arrive at ourselves, we realize that here on the Plains of Jericho, life is better than some of those times in the wilderness, but it is no easy street.  Here on the Plains of Jericho we celebrate the Passover truth that God sees us and knows us and has a way for us.  God is with us here.

When we arrive…when we arrive at ourselves, we realize that the body of Christ covers us.  We realize that he was poured out on the cross for us and we are a part of him.  We are in Christ; we are the body of Christ.  When we come to that reality that other than our relationship with Christ there really is nothing else that is really real—oh, then we have arrived.  We have come home.

The real arrival—the real point at which we have arrived is when again and again we find that it is not about us.  It is not about us and it is always about the welcoming God keeping vigil waiting for us with open arms of reception.  It is not about us and it is always about the welcoming God reaching all the way out and all the way down to us claiming us as God’s own.

When our life is filled up with that reality…then we have arrived.

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Palm Sunday 3/312019-07-24T14:22:40-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/24


Sunday, March 24, 2019

3rd Sunday in Lent

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm: 63:1-8
Second Reading: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Gospel Reading: Luke 13:1-9

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

I remember my 5th grade basketball coach.  As a coach he hollered two things: “Turn it around,” and “Get it together.”

They come to Jesus.  They come to him looking for Jesus to both have mercy and to hear the injustice that has been done to their brothers and sisters.  Those Galileans who were mowed down by Pilate, there was no justice there and something had to be done about it.  Jesus pushes them.

He pushes their righteous indignation at the issue.  Where is the justice?  What was the cause?  Those background questions did not interest Jesus and he did not want them to be the primary questions they were asking.  There was no issue here—what Pilate did was wrong—absolute fact.  There was no issue here—those tragically killed when the tower of Siloam fell, it was absolutely unfair.

They want answers, they want justice.  Jesus pointes them to something else.  He points them to their own lives.  He invites them to stop looking beyond at all the injustices that are done to them and he invites them to see their own lives.  It is not just Pilate and the traumas and tragedies of this world; it is also about our role.  He tells them, and us too, about that fig tree.

It is a useless tree.  It should be cut down and the soil tilled and something else planted there.  The farmer knows it is taking up space and pulling resources out of the soil while it is bearing no fruit.  Cut it down and be done with it.

The farmer’s hired hand says, “Give me some time.”  “Let me work on it.  Let me till and fertilize and see what happens.  Give it another year.”  The hired hand does not see this as fait-a-complete’—he does not see it as finished and done.  He sees the possibilities yet to be.  He sees the capacities yet unrealized.  He envisions the fate of this tree as something that can yet be turned around.

There is patience here with the hired hand.  There is a cost to be born—the tilling and fertilizing and waiting.  Yet, he sees the possibilities as something that can yet be turned around.  It is a repentance of sorts in action.

In the encounter, the story of the tree is this holy blessing of Jesus.  He stops them there.  He wraps them in it.  Not in a shout but in a shroud of love.  He wraps them in the warm invitation: “Turn it around.”  “Get it together.”

In the cross of Christ, we see God leaning into us—leaning into our space with the confidence and grace and wrapping us in the shroud of love.  It is God wrapping us with that shroud of love that enables us to hear the call: “Get It Together.  Turn it around.”

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/242019-03-18T15:50:25-04:00

Youth Leadership Training Workshop at El Cordero PC – 3/16/19


March 16, 2019 | El Cordero Presbyterian Church

With the participation of the Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena, General Presbyter of the Tropical Presbytery Florida (PTF) and of Sandra Figueredo, Coordinator of the Office of the Presbytery, the Training Workshop for Young Leaders was held on March 16, in El Cordero Presbyterian Church.

This event, although convened by El Cordero PC, as part of its annual program, was attended by youth from the sister Presbyterian churches of First Spanish PC of Miami, Sunset PC of Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise PC of Country Club of Miami and New Life PC. Undoubtedly, this participation is due to the need shared by pastors and leaders of our congregations, that a factor of inter-ecclesial cooperation is pastoral action with a focus on young people. Therefore, aware of that need, the Presbytery guided us in the understanding of the principles that can transform the youth and the pastoral efforts towards them, in “vibrant” subjects of the renewal and the congregational growth. These principles are: Clarity of Identity, Leadership Development, Disciple Making, Vital Worship, and Reconciliation.

These principles were exposed by Darin and Sandra, and reflected in three groups and later voted with personal prioritizing.  Here are the results:

Results were calculated by Christian Herrera of First Spanish PC.


Clarity of Identity: Follow the example of Jesus Christ, be witnesses, discover / claim the call. Be willing to serve in the ministry.

Leadership development: Get to have a clear vision, confidence in ourselves, be willing to serve. Exercise a positive influence See the need and act on it. Learn from mistakes.

Make disciple: Proclaim the gospel by intentionally orienting towards a clear Christian identity. Making disciples implies that I am aware that I am a disciple. Understand what we are doing Search for spiritual development. Be open to opportunities beyond personal comfort, to build relationships and friendships with spiritual content. Maintain relationships and good use of social networks.

Vital Worship: Life Worship Adoration is delivery. It is expressed wherever we go in actions that range from reading the Bible, praying, singing, using musical instruments. It goes beyond Sunday. Worship is connection, with prayers of confession and must be transparent. Vitality in adoration means full of life and enthusiasm, to transmit it to others.

Reconciliation: Sense of identity as opposed to an individualistic culture. In reconciliation we are the voice of others. Reconciliation is a fruit of the Spirit. It forces you to move forward. Reconciliation means forgiving and remembering the reason for reconciliation, so as not to return to the causes of the conflict.

The young people of their respective churches were accompanied by Rev. José Manuel Capella Pratts (First Spanish), Rev. Yosneis Fleitas (Sunrise), Rev. Heidi Arencibia (New Life) and Rev. Angel Ortiz (El Cordero). In addition, the ruling elders Donaida Vergel (Sunset), Pablo Sosa (First Spanish) and Jorge Juarez Jr. (El Cordero). Rev. Willy Figueredo, pastor of Grace PC, of ​​our Presbytery also participated in this event.

Rev. Angel Ortiz
El Cordero Presbyterian Church

Youth Leadership Training Workshop at El Cordero PC – 3/16/192019-03-18T12:29:40-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/17


Sunday, March 17, 2019

2nd Sunday in Lent

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm: 27
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1
Gospel Reading: Luke 13:31-35

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

Jerusalem looms large on the horizon.  Jesus is headed towards Jerusalem.  It is the seat of power—it it the symbolic seat of the covenant and the very place in which all the action will take place.  The motivation of the Pharisees is unclear.  We know that in other places in the Gospels those Pharisees are not cast in a positive light.  Indeed, we usually encounter them as the ones who are trying to trap Jesus or catch him up with a legal technicality.  In their worst, we even see them attempting to do away with Jesus.

In this instance, it is the Pharisees that come to Jesus and warn him against Jerusalem.  They warn him that Herod is there and looking for him.  Herod is a dangerous sort and is a political threat.  The Pharisees are clear here; Herod not only has it out for Jesus but wants him gone.  Herod is no friend. Jesus knows full and well that he is the very one who has had John the Baptist murdered.  Herod does not play well with others.

The Jesus of the Gospels says, “Go and tell that fox, today I am casting out demons and curing…”  That “fox” Jesus says—it would probably be better if we rendered it in English, “that skunk.”  The literal translation is that “odor.”  “Go tell that odor,” that noxious fume…

Jesus is not deterred.  Jesus is not frightened off.  Jesus is not running away to hide.  Jesus is not changing his course of action.  You see, we know what Jesus is all about.  He announced it that day in Nazareth.  He announced it as he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news…to proclaim…to release.”  He rolls up the scroll, sits down, and makes a clear announcement.  “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing.”

It was the core of who Jesus was.  It was his purpose.  He was clear on that purpose.  So when he announced on this occasion to the Pharisees, “Go and tell that odor/Go tell that skunk…”—ah, there is no surprise there.  The threat of Herod does not alter his course of staying on track with his purpose.

His purpose is God’s purpose.  It is about living out that call.  When the threats come along, then what?  The purpose is still intact and it is still what forms the course of action.  It is the point of touch with us.  As we brush up against those threats in our living—as we brush up against the Herods of this world, whether they be actual people or situations, the question is will we be deterred from our purpose?  Or does that purpose of God’s mission for our life so define who we are that it alone drives us?

Jesus was clear.  Threat.  Herod.  Odor.  Run away.  No.  No way.  Casting our demons.  Curing.  Today.  On track.  Forward.  That is Jesus.  That is the call.

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/172019-03-11T15:12:19-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for this Sunday 3/10


Sunday, March 10, 2019

1st Sunday in Lent

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2,9-16
Second Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-13

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple

This Sunday marks the First Sunday in Lent.  That little preposition “in” is worthy of paying a bit of attention.  The season of lent is 40 days long from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday.  If one just sits down with a calendar and counts the days, there are 46 days.  The Sundays in the season are not traditionally counted a part of the penitential season.  The 40 days of lent become a way to marking time and helping us to remember who we are.

Lent has become a season of preparation for Christians.  It is an annual setting aside of time in order to prepare, discern, and repent.

40 days.  It is reminiscent of the 40 days of deluge of the flood.  That number 40 reminds us of the 40 years of wandering in the desert for the people in pursuit of the Promise Land.  They were wandering not because they could not find their way on the map, but because it took that long for the generation to rise and fall and form them as a people whose identity was no longer Egypt but a covenant people.

40 days of flood. 40 years in the wilderness.  40 days of temptation.  Luke tells us plainly: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”

It is that 40 days that we now rehearse – we try them on again . We do them again.  We put ourselves into the story and movement of scripture.  It is opening of our lives to what God will do among us in this time.  Lent becomes this liminal space where we have opportunity to make a deliberate choice to turn our attention towards Gods tearing open the heavens to be near us.

These three temptations should always be read from the perspective that while Israel does not act correctly in the wilderness;  Jesus does act in a way that he does not yield to those temptations.  It may be framed that Jesus is getting right and now bringing Israel back on course from where they had strayed – and doing that for us too.

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter


WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for this Sunday 3/102019-03-04T13:05:06-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/3


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Transfiguration of the Lord

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm: 99
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Gospel Reading: Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

The liturgical color for the day is: White

The Transfiguration of the Lord is a festival day on the liturgical calendar.  As such, it is appropriate to celebrate the sacraments that day.  The Transfiguration of the Lord always precedes the celebration of Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the season of Lent.  The observation of a festal Sunday, prior to entering a penitential season is understood as a true celebration that carries one forward into the journey that is Lent.

There are some who look at this story of transfiguration from the perspective of resurrection.  That view holds that this is really a post-resurrection account that the author of the gospel has placed here at the point of Jesus’ turn towards Jerusalem.  The function of doing this is that it gives the reader a memory that will hold up the reader through both the way to Jerusalem and the passion narratives.   Regardless of how one thinks about such form critical approaches to how Holy Scripture came together, the thought that we need something to boost us and bolster us before we begin the journey that takes us to the cross is a worthwhile consideration.

The story is positioned in the Gospel of Luke following Peter’s confession and Jesus’ invitation to take up the cross as disciples.  This signals a turn towards Jerusalem and the way of the cross.  The transfiguration story marks the first step in that journey.

Both the story of the transfiguration and the story of Moses and his radiant shekinah (the Exodus 34 lesson) point to the majesty of God and God’s transcendence and illustrate the Psalmists words (99): Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 3/32019-02-25T15:57:02-04:00