Weekly Bulletin

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/26

Sunday, January 26, 2020

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time; 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

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

First Reading: Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
Second Reading: I Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel Reading: Matthew 4:12-23

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

Repent!

The struggle and problem is we want all the goodies—we want faith to be a trip through the cupcake aisle.  It is not that.

Here’s the radical part—you will have to change…you will have to make those turns for God to give you what you really want and really need.  And you won’t really know what you really want and really need until you turn your life to God.

The kingdom of God…the kingdom of heaven is near.  It is not that we bring it or we usher it in—it is more that we miss it. 

It is near…it is even here.  But if all we do is wait…it won’t be.  We won’t experience it until—until we turn it around.  Until we turn around our thoughts.  Until we turn around our desires.  Until we turn around our heart.

We don’t experience that oh-so-wow incredible deep and full love of God until we turn it around.    Neither will the church. 

We won’t experience it until we turn it around…but once we even start to turn it around.

Oh, once we even start to be purposeful and make decisions and act upon the call to turn it around… Once we do that its sweeter and better than cupcakes.  It is a release from those old things that caught us. 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter & Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/262020-01-20T10:53:02-05:00

2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Update

2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Update

By Michelle Muniz
Disaster Recovery Coordinator | Presbiterio de San Juan

Dear partners, 

May the peace of God be with you all,

(As I was writing this email, an 5.4 aftershock was felt island wide)

As many of you may know, since December 28th, the south region of Puerto Rico has been registering seismic activity. It was not until last Sunday, January 6th that a 5.8 earthquake hit. The next morning, at 4:24am, a 6.4 earthquake, with an epicenter in the same south region, was felt island-wide. Aftershocks are still happening today with less intensity, however, many are felt everywhere in PR. After the 6.4 earthquake, the island went into a complete blackout. Today, there are still communities without power. Some Puerto Ricans compare this emergency to Hurricane Maria’s aftermath, others are assuring this is even worse.

Our Presbyterian Churches across Puerto Rico, alongside many other denominations, and non-profit organizations, have been getting together and collecting donations and supplies. Presbytery of San Juan and Presbytery of the Northwest are supporting the Presbytery of the Southwest, taking supplies, donations and hot meals to the affected areas. This weekend there’s a Presbytery drive at each church in the San Juan region, and donations should arrive in one of our churches in Guánica by Monday. We are currently using La Casona de Monteflores, our PDA volunteer host site in San Juan, as a distribution center, as well as the Presbyterian Church in Country Club, Carolina

Here are some numbers (updated today at 1pm):

Counting only 4 municipalities in the south:
35 homes completely destroyed
287 homes with major damage
1,100 homes with minor damage
920 homes affected

In terms of people in shelters:
4,211 people in government official shelters
3,400 people sleeping in open improvised camps at parks, plazas, parking lots
7,611 people in total lacking of housing

These numbers are extremely hard to share. We can only imagine the despair of the families still wondering how they will start all over. We continue to work alongside the Presbytery of the Southwest discerning in ways to support communities affected.

Later on, I will share details about volunteer projects regarding earthquake recovery response, however, because the seismic activity continues we still don’t have any worksite directly related to this. We continue to host volunteers to work on hurricane recovery through our all our PDA host sites in San Juan, Dorado, Añasco, San Sebastián and Aguada. (For more information about registering your group please contact PDA.CallCenter@pcusa.org)

I can’t thank you enough for the support given after Hurricane Maria through donations, volunteering, phone calls, text messages during every storm warning, and messages of love after hearing about the earthquakes. 

If you want to contribute to the recovery efforts through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (hurricane or earthquake) feel free to go to this link and/or contact me about sending donations to our host site.

You can also read an article about PDA Staff visit to affected areas after the earthquake this week, and watch an TV Newscast interview to PDA Staff, Rev. Jim Kirk, here.

Peace, 


Michelle Muñiz
Disaster Recovery Coordinator / Coordinadora de Recuperación de Desastres
Presbiterio de San Juan
2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Update2020-01-14T16:23:28-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/19

Sunday, January 19, 2020

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time; 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
Second Reading: I Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel Reading: John 1:29-42

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John is clear about who Jesus is.

We are to have such clarity about who Jesus is for us.  Jesus is not simply a teacher.  Jesus is not only one who is kind and smart and good.  Jesus is the very Christ of God.  Jesus is the perfect incarnation of the presence of God.

Are you clear about Jesus?  Are you clear with who he is in your life?  The challenge for us as Christians is, we make that a creedal issue.  We know the creed and we can recite the words: “I believe in Jesus Christ.”  We know how to claim him: “He is Lord and Savior.”

It is not about knowing the right words.  Knowing the words counts.  Knowing about Jesus is important.  Studying the scriptures and taking in all the knowledge that we possibly can have about who Jesus is—that is important.  It is, but it is not the whole of it.

To be clear about who Jesus is we also receive him into the fullness of our life.  It is not just an academic brain thing; it is also a felt deep inside of our soul thing.  Jesus doesn’t just want us to know him; Jesus wants us to love him.

Love takes it deeper.  Love is that which matters most in our lives.  To be clear about who Jesus is, that is to love him.  

What John says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  Much can be said about “Lamb of God” and how that is a vision not of the mighty warrior but as the gentle sacrifice.  And, much can also be said about “who takes away the sin of the world” and the role of Jesus and salvation through the cross.  But, first, it is that word “Behold,” that John uses. 

It is a word of attention.  It is a word that calls us to pause, stop, take a breath and realize this matters.  Jesus is our behold…Jesus is that one who causes us to stop, take a breath, and realize that all this matters.

Behold, he is in our lives.  Behold, he is what makes it all matter.  Behold, he loves us.  Behold, he is the one who has us, helps us, keeps us, sustains us. 

Behold…

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/192020-01-10T16:55:19-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Heart for Sunday

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord

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

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Gospel Reading: Matthew 3:13-17

The liturgical color for the day is: White

A silhouette is just an outline, it is a side view, it is a sketch of who one is.  We are to see in the Baptism of the Lord our own silhouette.  We are to see that we are the Body of Christ.  By the Spirit of God, we are his Body.  We are to see that us, now, in our flesh and our bone and our brokenness—us, we, now we are the ones.

We are the ones for whom the heavens open and the Spirit descends.  We are the ones who are to hear that wonderful voice proclaiming the words, “Beloved.”  “In whom I am well pleased.”

We are silhouettes of Christ.  We are that being who is touched by the grace of God.  We are the receivers and the vessels who are the “Beloved” and “In whom” God is pleased to dwell.  That swoosh of the Holy Spirit is upon us and with us.

We are silhouettes of Christ.

We are the ones who are not to take over this world by might, but are to be the incarnate reality of the Mighty One who attends to bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks.  Those people and things that the world discounts, oh, of those things we make an account.  They count.  We can be counted on. 

We are part of this surge and movement towards God (that is what John’s baptism was all about).  We are part of the surge and movement that knows a reality deeper than that which is consciously known.  We are part of the surge and movement which is cosmic, spiritual, holy, God-with-us.

This is our moment of identity as Silhouettes of Christ.  We identify ourselves with John and with those who came to him.  We are turning our lives around…we are turning towards God’s intention for love and justice and joy in the world.  We are the ones who are not in fear of being out there on the edge but are moving forward in faith of wherever God will carry us.

We are silhouettes of Christ.  Our fears are shadows.  We do not dwell in the shadow we live as silhouettes.  We are the beloved.  We are the ones on whom the Spirit descends.  We are loved.  We are those bruised reeds attending to those dimly burning wicks—never alone but with the swoosh of the descended Spirit on our backs.

We do not dwell in the shadow; we live as silhouettes of Christ.

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Heart for Sunday2020-01-06T10:36:47-05:00

New Year Dates for 2020

PRESBYTERY OF TROPICAL FLORIDA
Important Meetings for 2020

1/13 – Committee of Nominations & Representation
1/22 – Leadership Council
1/25 – Rock the Universe (YTF Event)
1/28 – Coral Gables Fund 

2/1 – PRESBYTERY ASSEMBLY (Plantation PC)
2/6 – Committee on Ministry
2/6 – Investment Committee
2/10 – Financial Management Committee
2/13 – Committee of Nominations & Representation
2/26 – Leadership Council

3/2 – Financial Management Committee
3/5 – Committee on Ministry
3/10 – Committee of Nominations & Representation
3/14 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)
3/15 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)
3/16 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)
3/25 – Leadership Council
3/31 – PASTORS PAUSE (Location: TBD)

4/2 – Committee on Ministry
4/20 – Committee of Nominations & Representation
4/21  – Coral Gables Fund
4/22 – Leadership Council
4/30 – SYNOD OF SOUTH ATLANTIC

5/1 – SYNOD OF SOUTH ATLANTIC
5/7 – Committee on Ministry
5/7 – Investment Committee
5/11 – Financial Management Committee
5/16 – PRESBYTERY ASSEMBLY (Location: TBD)

6/2 – PASTORS PAUSE (Location: TBD)
6/4 – Committee on Ministry
6/9 – Committee on Preparation on Ministry
6/20-27 – GENERAL ASSEMBLY

7/13 – Financial Management Committee
7/15 – Leadership Council
7/22 – Committee of Nominations & Representation 
7/28 – Coral Gables Fund 

8/8 – Committee on Ministry Retreat
8/22 – PRESBYTERY ASSEMBLY (Location: TBD)
8/28-30 – Youth Retreat (YTF Event)

9/10 – Investment Committee 
9/14 – Financial Management Committee
9/15 – Committee on Preparation on Ministry
9/17-19 – PASTORS CONVOCATION (Serving Pastors Only)
9/23 – Leadership Council
9/26 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)
9/27 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)
9/28 – MINISTRY TOGETHER (Location/Time: TBD)

10/1 – Committee on Ministry 
10/26 – Committee of Nominations & Representation 
10/27 – Coral Gables Fund
10/28 – Leadership Council

11/3 –  Committee on Preparation on Ministry
11/5 – Committee on Ministry
11/14 -PRESBYTERY ASSEMBLY (Location: TBD)

12/2 – Leadership Council
12/3 – Committee on Ministry
12/3 – Investment Committee 
12/7 – Financial Management Committee
12/8 – PASTORS PAUSE (Location: TBD)

YTF – Youth Task Force

New Year Dates for 20202020-01-20T10:56:48-05:00

Questions about Overtime Rules

 

SUMMARY – Stating 1/1/2020 if you have an employee who earns less than $684 per week you will need to start paying OVERTIME for hours over 40 hours per week.

Answers to 5 Questions about Overtime Rules

Small Business Administration
By  Barbara  Weltman
October 17, 2019

If you are an employer, be sure to understand that working past 40 hours triggers overtime rules for  certain employees.

 There’s no law-federal or state-that caps the number of hours a person can work (other than for minors).   But if you are an employer, be sure to understand that working past 40 hours triggers overtime rules for certain employees.  Some of these rules have been around for years, while others are new. Here’s what you need to know for 2020 and beyond.

  1. What does overtime pay mean?

 Federal overtime pay rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) come  into play when employees who are not “exempt” (explained below) work more than 40 hours in a workweek.  Once they pass this threshold, they must be paid one and one-half times their regular rate per hour (“time and a half”).

For example, if a nonexempt employee’s hourly rate is $16 and he/she work 42 hours, two hours must be paid at the rate of $24 ($16 + $8).

A workweek is the period fixed by an employer but need not start on Sunday or Monday. So, any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours is a workweek.  There is no requirement to pay double time if the extra hours are worked on nights, weekends, or holidays.

  1. Which employees are subject to overtime pay rules?

The  overtime  pay rules  apply  only   to  employees who  are  not  considered “exempt.”   Exemption is  based on  (a)  how much they’re paid, (b) how they are  paid (hourly or by salary), and (c) the type  of work they do.

Under a new final rule effective on January 1, 2020, the standard salary level  at which  employees remain nonexempt and must receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours is increased to $684 per week, up from the current $455 per week (the equivalent of $35,568 per year, which is up from $23,660). Because of the increase in the salary level, the government estimates that more than 1.3 million workers are potentially eligible for overtime pay.

Employees who are subject to a “minimal duties test” and receive certain compensation are called highly-compensated employees (HCEs) who are exempt from overtime rules. These include executives, administrators, outside salespeople and certain computer employees. To qualify for the exemption, in addition to the minimal duties test, such employees must receive salary of at least a certain amount. Under the same final rule, the HCE duties test has not changed, but the salary level is increased starting on January 1, 2020. The salary level for HCEs is $107,432 per year (up from the current $100,000 level).

Employers can take into account nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.

  1. What hours are counted?

An employee must count all hours that employees work.  But this does not include meal breaks, whether paid or unpaid, if employees are relieved of duties during that period.

  1. Can overtime rules be avoided?

If an employee is nonexempt, he or she must receive overtime pay related to hours in excess of 40 for the workweek.   This cannot be avoided in most cases by offering “comp time”, which would allow employees to work fewer than their required hours in another workweek to balance things out. This cannot be done!

  1. Do state rules take precedence over federal rules?

States can create their own overtime pay rules. If these rules are more protective for workers, they control over federal rules.

  1. Final thought

The new federal rules do not provide for automatic increases in the dollar amounts for the standard salary level and the HRE salary level.   But it indicated that it intends to update the thresholds more regularly in the future. For more information and resources, go to the DOL’s  Wage and Hour Division.

Questions about Overtime Rules2019-12-23T14:55:38-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 12/1

Sunday, December 1, 2019

1st Sunday of Advent

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

First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm: 122
Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:36-44

The liturgical color for the day is: Purple or Blue

This Lord’s Day marks the beginning of Year A.

It is the prophetic floor.  So, what are we to do? Get in bed and pull up the covers?  No, it is the prophetic floor.  We are to stand upon it.  It says: “Come let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  What does that mean?

It means that we are to live as if this has already happened.  We are to live in such a way that what we do now reflects a confidence in this coming about.  We are to live as if it has already happened.  And so, with Isaiah, we are to live right now as if we are the ones who have beaten our swords and spears into plowshares and pruning hooks.

Why do that?  Why?  Why do that when our reality is what it is?  Because our reality is not the violence of the now but the promise of the future.  Our reality is the future world and age that God is binging about.  That reality that seems unbelievable, that reality that seems impossible—that reality which at this moment does not seem real…oh, that is the very ground upon which we are to walk.

That future reality is what is really real.  It is the place of our existence.  It is the motivation for how we live and move and find our being.  That future reality that God is bringing about—it is what is really real.

And so, with a whisper, the heart dares to speak, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

— 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 12/12019-11-25T15:16:25-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/24

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Christ the King/Reign of Christ

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm – Luke 1:68-79
Second Reading: Colossians 1:11-20
Gospel Reading: Luke 23:33-34

The liturgical color for the day is: White

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 4 on Colossians 1:11-20

Good Colossians watched how the world worked, and Paul invites the church to re-align its very understanding of the world, the cosmos, and how they fit into it.  Power is not economic or political, nor is it social – power is lodged and located in Christ.  He is the source of all power.

This truth becomes that which is more real than what is seen in daily life.  Christ’s power was present in creation (verses 15 & 16, and consider John 1:1-4), holds all things together into one body (verses 17 & 18), and reconciles all things (both on earth and in heaven) through the cross (verses 19 & 20).  Such reconciliation restores the original creation that was despoiled by humanity in the Garden of Eden. 

To boldly proclaim Christ as our power is a radical move of the Church that robustly confronts all the physical structures and institutions of the day (both for us now and in the day that the Colossians gathered as a community in Christ).

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 4 on Luke 23:33-34

This is the final Sunday of the liturgical calendar.  Next Sunday begins a new liturgical year.  The story of Advent, Christmas, then on to Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and the great journey of the church in Ordinary Time—it will all begin again next Sunday.      

This Sunday is the crowning jewel on the Christian year.  It is the finish line.  It is what we have been building to in a genuine way—this Sunday is Christ the King Sunday.  It is an oddity for the main-line world of Christendom.  We have no concept of king—it is not a system with which we can identify in the same way as those of old.

The text—oh, this text.  It carries us far afield from the gaze into glory.  The text carries us to the place called The Skull.  The text carries us to the cross with our Christ in the throes of agony and death.  We are far afield from the splendor of reigning on high.

But that is the moment we get it.  It is the moment we discover, in order to see who this God of ours is, we do not only look all the way into the splendor of heaven.  Rather we look down—all the way down to the depths of the cross.  In the death of Jesus, we see who this God of ours is.  It is there in the agony of dying where we see the character of God.  Forgiving.  Promising.  Suffering.  Giving over of the self.  Sacrificing.  Not disconnected.  Not removed, but still inviting.  “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

— 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter and Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/242019-11-18T17:49:09-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/17

Sunday, November 17, 2019

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 28/23rd Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm – Isaiah 12
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:15-19

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 3 on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

What of the first in the line at the fellowship every single week?  What of those gossiping continually about what goes on?  To say that such will always be the case does not dismiss this reality as something that we must accept in the church.  To be that challenge to one another to “not grow weary in doing what is right,” is part of the fabric of our life together.  This must be done from a posture of “outdoing love for one another” and not from the stand of correcting the naughty individual. 

The fact that some will not “pull their weight” while others will do the heavy lifting, is not cause for those who are doing the heavy lifting to be resentful or scornful.  Our service to the church, as the Body of Christ, is to be a joyful response to the manifold grace of God.  Such a response does not insist on recognition or equality of giving, rather it depends on not growing “weary in doing what is right.”

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 3 on Luke 21:15-19

In the gospel of Luke, we hear the exchange between Jesus and the disciples.  As they emerge from the temple they are in amazement of the great stature and beauty of the place.  There is something about it.  It is breathtaking.

There is a permanence there that one can see.  It is the sort of place that will stand forever.  So, when Jesus says that not a stone will stand there is a perceived impossibility to what he says.  It is, as if, it cannot make sense.  Nothing can happen to the grandness of the temple.

Right there is the Lukan truth.  For the ones for whom Luke is writing, it has already happened.  The temple is no more.  The very place that had this permanence about it was in ruins and destruction was all around.  They are dealing with the reality of destruction being all around them, Jesus’ words ring true, “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Ponder…

While the Temple comes to an end, it proves not to be the end of all things.  What things may be coming to an end in our understanding of the church as an institution?  How do these things not mark the end of the church?

— 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter and Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/172019-11-11T10:14:00-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Prepping Our Hearts for Sunday 11/10

Sunday, November 10, 2019

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 27/22nd Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Haggai 1:15b-2:9 Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Gospel Reading: Luke 20:27-38

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 2 on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

In our own theological realm and context, we often read such texts with some chagrin. Our tendency is not to personify evil and speak of Satan or the devil. We would do well to consider that just because we choose not to actively personify evil in a person (as if to dismiss it from ourselves), we dare not dismiss the reality of evil in our own world. Systems of injustice, oppression, power imbalance, and economic tyranny continue as rivals to the justice God would have us welcome. Our own role and participation in such systems must be named and claimed as the evil in which we are active participants every single day.

The aim in the letter is not to paint a picture of the Parousia, or the Day of the Lord. Nor should we have this aim. The aim in the letter is to reframe and redirect the thinking and focus of the people of the church at Thessalonica. Their attention is to be focused rightly on their relationship with God in Christ Jesus, and they are to accomplish that by “holding fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.” Attentiveness to words and The Word was then, and is now, the centerpiece of a praxis of faithfulness for the Church.

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 2 on Luke 20:27-38

The Sadducees that approach Jesus have a clear point of view that must not be overlooked. They did not believe in resurrection. They believed that life is to be lived fully, and they believed that with death all is ended. Their scenario is set up to trap Jesus. “If this, then this, then this…then what…” We have all been trapped in theological debates that take this shape, and the goal is always to win and rarely to learn.

Jesus turns to their body of literature and shows how the very language of the story of the bush demonstrates resurrection. In that story, God announces to Moses that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. The tense matters. It is a present tense. God does not announce to Moses, “I was the God of Abraham,” but rather, “I am the God of Abraham.” This shows that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob continue in resurrection. In Luke’s Gospel, we also encounter Moses as one who continues in resurrection. The story of the Transfiguration has Moses as one of the dazzling white figures who is transfigured on the mountain.

Ponder…

What is the difference between theological conversation and contest? How do leaders in your church invite conversation about faithfulness while discouraging theological contest? What might be done to encourage conversation while discouraging contest?

— 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter and Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Prepping Our Hearts for Sunday 11/102019-11-04T16:01:18-05:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/3

Sunday, November 3, 2019

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 26/21st Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Gospel Reading: Luke 19:1-10

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 1 on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

A word about our own context.  We should not construe the decline in membership and position of the mainline church in North America with the suffering and persecution of the early church.  In reality, we in the church today have always enjoyed a position of privilege and comfort.  As we consider material in scripture that deals with judgement against those who would harm the church, we must read from the perspective of the original church and not impose our own circumstances that are very different. 

The movement from First Thessalonians to Second Thessalonians demonstrates a movement in our own time and experience as the church.  As the church becomes more established it must look beyond only the vantage point of internal growth and development, and it must grapple with the influences that are beyond its doors.  Grappling with influences beyond the doors of the church is a salient issue for discovering what God will do with those inside the church.

From the Leadership Development Bible Study – Unit 1 on Luke 19:1-10

Jesus calls (“you come down”) and Zacchaeus joyfully responds (“happily welcomes him” in Luke’s terminology).  The saving grace of God always invites a human response.  Zacchaeus responds in joy to the invitation of Jesus and demonstrates his commitment to the new life by pledging half of his possessions—50% is well beyond a tithe.  Additionally, he promises that he will make amends for any whom he has defrauded by repaying that one four times more than they had lost. 

Wee little man that he is, there is no question that Zacchaeus is a changed man.  There is also no doubt, as Luke makes it clear, “for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 

  • Luke makes clear the purpose of Jesus – “to seek and save the lost.”  To what extend does this purpose influence the direction of your church?  How does it direct you as a disciple?  What does it mean in terms of how you lead the people of God?
WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/32019-10-25T11:26:53-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/27

Sunday, October 27, 2019

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 25 / 20th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Joel 2:23-32
Psalm 65:1-13
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-14

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

This Sunday is Reformation Sunday.  Reformation Sunday is always the last Sunday in October, marking the 1517 event when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  The Presbyterian Historical Society provides a bulletin insert that can be used on Reformation Sunday.  You can find that link here. https://www.history.pcusa.org/history-online/presbyterian-history/reformation-sunday

The Gospel lesson for the day is the parable of Jesus about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.  One is proud.  One is humble.  Both pray.  Both depart, yet only one of them is justified.  Such justification manifests itself in humbleness.

As we consider this text on Reformation Sunday, during the season of stewardship, and in an age of shameless self-aggrandizement—there is a powerful teaching of the Savior here that we need again and afresh.  What motivates us in our prayer?  What posture will we take before The Creator?  How does our own understanding of being a sinner (and a constant one at that) meet the Holy Spirit in us that breathes into us the breath of reality for own propensity to depravity?  How does all that convict us in our Pharisee-living practices to retreat to the quiet corner and pray for mercy?

The Good News is that as we pour out our honest truth in humbleness, God’s grace fills us up.  I think the Pharisee went away from prayer filled up with himself, while the Tax Collector poured himself out allowing space to filled with mercy and grace. 

In 2 Timothy there is that wonderful view of being poured out.  Our human tendency is to view being poured out as a negative.  We take the posture that the glass of our life is only half full, and as we are poured out there is less and less and less.

In the economy of Christ, as we give ourselves away, the mercy and grace of God (who made us and claimed us in baptism) is what is filling us up.  There is never less, there is always more.  This is the continuing story of those of us in the Reformed Tradition—we can boldly be reformed and always reforming because we know God has more in store for us and the Church.  (See Book of Order F-1.0401 and F-1.0303.)

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/272019-10-21T16:51:40-04:00

Hispanic Heritage Month | A Reflection

Hispanic Family Tree

The family tree is a chart where relationships between family members are represented graphically. This painting, which can also be represented as a tree, aims to clarify the bonds that are built between the generations of a particular family.

Never before, despite coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, had I felt the need to think about my place in the Hispanic family tree. Until I arrived in the United States, I didn’t know the concept of “Hispanic family.” The thing is, that they taught me to be Cuban, with particular ways of thinking and expressing ideas, with more or less different and specific customs. It was clear that the Cuban is like that and the Peruvian is this other way, and the Spanish is the same, and let’s not start with the Portuguese.

But, in the United States we are dealing with Hispanics. And when everyone enters that category, close coexistence and politics are forcing us to take seriously our Hispanic roots, the origins of our common idiosyncrasy and the infinite possibilities that the relationship between us forces us the “American Way of Life”.

However, we still resist being “one” and do not count that we are a sum that began at the founding of the Iberian Peninsula, with the formation of Spain and Portugal. There was a culture created from many pieces of contributions from other lands and seas, which in America was organized by countries, divided by lines that have always been more mental borders than land or sea. And when it is decided to cross the mental frontier that has kept us believing that we are a specific piece of land, geographically immovable, we realize that the only thing that binds us to that “origin” is the way of cooking meat or beans and then , the best way to beat nostalgia is to cook the same thing in Manhattan, or in Detroit, Portland or Branson, Missouri. And there it is, identity problem solved.

Feeling part of the Hispanic family tree is the key to be a constructive part of the “America First” society, because I wonder, am I not American too?

Rev. Angel Ortiz
El Cordero Presbyterian Church, Pastor

Hispanic Heritage Month | A Reflection2019-10-14T11:38:43-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/20

Sunday, October 20, 2019

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 24/19th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Gospel Reading: Luke 18:1-8

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

Luke is really clear what the story is about (Luke 18:1): “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.”

It is the story Jesus tells about a woman—a widow woman.  It is a story about her and an unjust judge.  What is an unjust judge?  Dare we even talk about it now?  An unjust judge is a crooked politician. 

In the story this widow woman comes to the politician and she keeps seeking justice.  Over and over again she comes back.  She does not give up.  She is persistent.  She is consistent.  She is always there.

And what happens?  Eventually she gets what she seeks so that, as the crooked politician says, “She may not wear me out by continually coming.”

Jesus says to pay attention and listen to what that “unjust judge “of a crooked politician says.  What does that crooked one say, “I will grant her justice.”

The story was to cause a chuckle in the original hearers, and it also is to do that in us.  And as we have that chuckle, we are to be saying, “It makes sense, even he would grant her justice.”  So then, consider how our just God is with us, and we are God’s children.  Consider that.

Of course, God cares.  Of course, God sees us and hears us and knows us.  So, as Luke puts it: “Pray always and do not lose heart.”

In other words, your prayer life should have that confidence that God fully and completely sees you, hears you, cares for you, and loves you.  It is an instruction on prayer.  We are to pray not like we are dealing with a crooked politician, but like we are dealing with a God whose whole passion is for us.  Such a generous and gracious God is exactly who we are dealing with.

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

 

 

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/202019-10-14T10:33:05-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/13

Sunday, October 13, 2019

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 23 / 18th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

Psalm 66:1-12

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-15

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:11-19

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

We are to live like the Kingdom of God has already come, because indeed it has and the world has yet to embrace it, claim it, and live up to it.  We are called to see the world and claim the world that way.

There is a term for that kind of living.  It is called living in proleptically.  To live proleptically means that we will live right now according to that which is still coming in the future.

It is that idea of living proleptically that sets us apart.  Our information of how we make choices is not only based on data.  Our informed choices are based on the vision of how God has it to be.

See we are to be that one.  Not the nine, but the one.  We are to be that one that turns back to Jesus and not only says “Thank you” but lives out of that well of gratitude that gets it that all our benefits are God-given.  Such gratitude becomes the basis for how we live confidently in this world.

To live proleptically here is to step back and really look at our living.  If all we are seeing is how much work it is, then we aren’t seeing enough.  We need to step back and take a look and see that Garden of Eden intention that God has for us.  We are to live into the beauty of life that God creates for us.  We are to establish ourselves here and now with this gratitude that gives the glory to God and God alone.

So build and do. Establish and give thanks.  Be confident in the coming reality that is the reign of God.

This exile may not be fun, but be that one, not the nine.  Be that one who turns in thanks to Christ for holding us and keeping us and making our life possible.

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter / Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/132019-10-08T15:58:43-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/6

Sunday, October 6, 2019

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 22/17th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Lamentations 1:1-6
Psalm 137 or Lamentations 3:19-26
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:5-10

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

This is World Communion Sunday.  World Communion Sunday is a tradition started by a Presbyterian, Hugh Thomson Kerr, in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

It is also the Sunday that the Peace & Global Witness offering is received.

A mustard seed.  A grain of rice.  A taste of bread.  A drink of grape juice.  A sip of wine.  Could we have some more?

We want more than just a taste of Jesus.  We want the fullness.  We want more than just a morsel of Christ’s presence…we want it all. 

We want more than just a little bit of God.  We want all of God.

And we have it. 

It is not about how much faith we have.  It is about the faith that we do have that enables us to see the faithfulness of God lived out in Jesus the Christ.  In him the full weight of death was cast and God, in God’s faithfulness, raises him up to resurrected and eternal life.  God is faithful.

So, with the world, we go to the table.  Go to the table with your grain of faith—and use that faith for it is enough to see there a vision of the future.  It is not just a remembrance.  It is no funeral for Jesus.  It is a vision of that time and place that is coming where all will come from north and south, from east and west, and will sit at table in the Kingdom of God.  All of us.  All who have gone before, with all of us now and all of us who will come after—God is faithful.

God’s faith is what it is about.  And we see in the cross, that God is faithful.

That portion of faith that we have…it is enough…

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter and Stated Clerk

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 10/62019-09-30T15:46:15-04:00