Garden Time December 2017

Let me first thank my colleague and friend Rabbi Steve Goodman and his members from the Garden City Jewish Center for blessing us with a wonderful sermon and tremendous fellowship. Rabbi Goodman preached a profound message for our church and country on the blessing of a pluralistic America. The need for communities and communities of faith to come together and fellowship is a necessary one that will build strong bonds and unity for social change. I look forward to continuing the fellowship with many of our Garden City congregations and beyond in the New Year. Thank you again Rabbi Goodman!  

Garden Time November 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

As I was putting the finishing touches on this month’s Garden Time on Sunday afternoon, the breaking news alerts from Sutherland Springs, Texas bombarded my phone. That familiar feeling of angst and sorrow began to well-up inside of me. Not again, I thought. My God, not again!  Since that time I have been thinking and praying on what to write. What can I say? What can be said? What should I write? The clear answer for me at this time is to remain silent. While there is much for me to say and there is much for me to write, I need to have a talk with God. My silence is not a lack of activity. It is an affirmation of my anger and righteous indignation. It is an acknowledgement of my sincere need to sit with this in silence. It is recognition that I need to take some time to listen and talk to God about these recurring incidents in this country. I must seek inspiration from the Holy Spirit to use my platform as a microphone to trumpet words of truth, love, justice, comfort, and compassion. Please know that in due time I will have something to write. I pray, by God’s grace, that it will be a spirit-filled word that is relevant and convicting. In the meantime, while I sit and talk with the Lord, please find the original Garden Time that I penned for this month.

Garden Time October 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

First, let me thank all of you who took the time to comment on last month’s Garden Time. I count it a high honor and humbling experience that anyone would look on my words and feel compelled to respond one way or another. Thank you for your feedback.

As most of us are still trying to deal with the events of last month and their ramifications as a country, new disheartening and devastating events have unfolded. Like many of you, I find myself again outraged, angered, frustrated, and spiritually angered by this prolonged lack of urgency on the part of our government in aiding our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. It is unthinkable to me that our leaders in the federal government have dragged their feet to this extent.

Garden Time September 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

Permit me to write a longer than normal Garden Time this month. Like many of you, I witnessed the tragic events that took place in August: The domestic terrorist attack against demonstrators protesting a white supremacy rally, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and injured a host of others; and the loss of life and the awesome destruction of property left by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. These events have troubled me deeply and have left me working through various emotional stages. 

Garden Time August 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

The Love Ethic Preaching Series based on 1 John texts highlighted a wonderful month of impactful worship in July. What a wide range of topics that the Love Ethic informed. We started the series with 1 John 3:17 “Healthcare: The Hypocrisy of Christians”, 1 John 2:15 “What Not to Love”, 1 John 3:18 “Love is an Action”, 1 John 3:23 “Loving When we are Unlovable”, and concluded with 1 John 4:18 “Love Unafraid”. The common thread of this series was to reinforce the belief that love should permeate all that we say and do. The Book of 1 John teaches and illuminates the deeper understanding of love, not simply as a slogan or an ideal, but the work and activity that defines our triune God and our relationship with God and one another. Indeed, love is the power that speaks truth to the masses and those who are in positions of authority. Love is the action that condemns wrong and works to restore right relationships. Love is the navigational tool for our discernment when we are struggling with whom and what we should love. Love is the force that cancels, opposes, and eliminates our fears. I am wholeheartedly convinced that the sea-change needed in this country in our efforts of social justice, freedom, and the betterment of society is a revolutionary movement of perfected love as exampled by Jesus Christ. The challenge of this series is to daily implement this perfected love in our daily lives. I hope that we will do just that.

Garden Time July 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

As we say hello to the summer and all that the summer months hold, I want to take this opportunity to invite all who are in Nassau County to come to the Church-in-the-Garden’s Youth Ministry’s 2nd Annual Car Wash on Saturday, July 8, 2017 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Last year, our Youth Ministry experienced a wonderful turnout and raised considerable dollars for their ministry. This year the Youth Ministry hopes to surpass the number of cars they washed and the amount of money that they raised. I ask for your support. Please come out, eat and fellowship, and get your car washed!

Garden Time June 2017


Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

As our nation celebrated Memorial Day, I took some time to look back on a sermon I preached for Memorial Day in 2016 entitled, “What We Remember” taken from Josh 4:4-7. I wrote: 

Memorial Day conflicts me because it is a eulogy to those fallen soldiers. We are remembering the dead. And the entire point of a eulogy is to remember, reflect, and then show those who are present the hope of the future. The tension lies in the knowledge and the reflection of the remembrance. So the question is asked what are we remembering on Memorial Day… 

Garden Time May 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

I hope that this Resurrection season finds you reborn in the spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that you are living out your faith, not just as a spiritual exercise, but as a daily application of the message of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for our Spirit-led Holy Week services which were transformative and redemptive and for the worship that we shared all month long. I would be remiss if I did not thank my good friend the Reverend James O. Stallings, retired Regional Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro New York, for bringing an after Easter word for us! Our hearts and minds were captivated. As always, we were left with an invaluable takeaway. Thank you Rev. Stallings!

Garden Time April 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

 

♫ He is Lord, He is Lord,

He is risen from the dead and He is Lord;

Ev’ry knee shall bow, ev’ry tongue confess 

That Jesus Christ is Lord! ♫

 

Above is an old hymn that we used to sing in the church that I was raised in Albany, New York. That song has stayed with me down through the years because of its simplicity in its attestation of our faith. Christ has risen from the dead and Christ is Lord! As we embark upon summiting the ecclesiastical mountaintop of our faith this month, I am excited to share the Good News of heaven’s hero and earth’s emancipator with you all. I invite your attendance at our services this month (including our Maundy Thursday evening service April 13, 2017 at 7:30pm), solicit your prayers for our congregation and community, ask for your financial support of our mission and ministry at Church-in-the-Garden (http://www.churchinthegarden.org/support/), and encourage you to meditate on this pithy and powerful hymn that celebrates our faith. 

Garden Time March 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

God is faithful! This simple proclamation is my common refrain whenever I’m asked about my pastorate, the ministry of Christ, or the fellowship of the Church-in-the-Garden. To me, it really sums up perfectly the bold yet humble belief in what God is doing at our church. February was a month whereby I can attest of God being faithful to the fellowship of Church-in-the-Garden. Our worship continues to move to new heights. Our Praise Team has been rocking the Church-in-the-Garden. Our members are excited and engaged, the Spirit of the Lord is palpable, and the word is spreading in and around the area about the fellowship that attends our church. 

Garden Time February 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

I’m excited to share news of the wonderful worship experiences that we have witnessed these past five weeks. As most of you know, we have added new musicians and a praise team to our worship service (Thank you Jonathan, LaShawn, and Richard!) to stir up the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And what a blessing it has been! Through God’s grace, more of our young adults have joined the praise team and are lifting their melodious voices in praise and worship to the glory of the Lord. Indeed, we are transforming our worship service through the power of the Holy Spirit and making a joyful noise unto the Lord! If you have a talent and/or gifts that you would like to use in our worship service, please email me at pastor@churchinthegarden.org and we can discuss how we can incorporate your gifts into our worship.

Garden Time January 2017

Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and joyous celebration and that you all will allow God to be the ultimate guide in your lives this year and always! Now that a new year has begun, we have work to do! While 2016 was a transformative year and we accomplished much (renovations, installation, church growth, and greater media attention), our journey is by no means complete and without some future obstacles. In fact, this year will be a year of challenge and change for our country, our world, and yes, our church. 

Garden Time December 2016

Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

What a powerful series on peace we had in November! Our congregation was moved, convicted, and consoled by the Spirit of God in learning what peace (shalom) really is, and challenged to seek out and live-in to that peace that surpasses all understanding. As pastor, I am always amazed how the Lord shows up and showers us with opportunities to learn more about Christ and in turn see Christ in ourselves. Understanding the peace that our Savior gives is critical to us who try to follow Christ in spirit and in truth. Indeed, November was a month unlike any other in recent history. Now more than ever we need to perpetually vigilant to agitate for and to institute peace within ourselves and extending that peace to others!

Garden Time November 2016

Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends, 
 
Recognizing the great need to be more accessible and reach more people through social media, I am excited to announce that we have now joined Twitter and Instagram. Our Instagram handle is churchinthegarden and our Twitter handle is @CITGGardenCity. Church-in-the-Garden is now moving boldly to grasp the many possibilities to minister to a larger community of believers and introduce others to the liberating and empowering message of Jesus Christ. Through these social media mediums, we hope to have direct communication, real-time interaction, and impactful engagement with our members and friends. Showing the world our loving church and fellowship is an opportunity that our church is eager to demonstrate and I am delighted to witness. So please follow us and spread the word that we are on Twitter and Instagram! 

Garden Time October 2016

Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

As the season has changed and we are settling into our fall routines of school, work, and weekends, I want to thank everyone and welcome you all back to Church-in-the-Garden. Around this time every year, I try to articulate some themes and goals for our church for the coming year. In discernment, prayer, and reflection, I submit to where God is leading me in the shepherding of this congregation while writing the vision for the ministry of this church.

Garden Time August 2016

Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,

I write to you this month to let you know that August will be a tremendous month in the life of our church. This month we will be featuring some great and dynamic preachers in our worship service. I am delighted that the Reverends Violet L. D. Lee, Ph.D., Frank T. Fraley, and S. Raschaad Hoggard, will bless our pulpit with a revealed word from the Lord. Please come to Church-in-the-Garden and be part of our worship service! You will be glad that you did!