Holy Week! Different This Year

Remember the Story: I just spent some time with friends (in a zoom meeting) remembering the events of Holy Week.  We took a journey from the Triumphal Entry to Jesus being laid in the tomb.  It’s a like a journey from bright light into deepening darkness.  I think this season with coronavirus resonates with that.  God does powerful work in darkening times.  And the story reminds us that darkness doesn’t have the authority to claim us.  Jesus is the light that pierces the darkness. He enters into our dark places and brings us out!  What a Savior!
 
Good Friday:  I’m really going to miss our tradition of going to the beach for sunrise on Good Friday. It has become a favorite in our family.  We will miss being together with many of you, worshiping as the sun rises, remembering the greatness of Christ’s love for us!   Even though we won’t be together, I encourage you to think about how to use the day.  I am thinking of doing a Facebook Live broadcast of the sunrise.  Do you have ideas?
Easter: We have always encouraged being creative with Easter, reaching out to neighbors, or blessing a local church.  (Blessing churches is one of our values!)  Creativity is certainly needed in this season.  In the last three weeks, my family and I worshiped in a park, at a table on our patio, and at the kitchen table.  I don’t know where we’ll be this week, but we will worship as a family. What about you?  Many churches have on-line services.  Some are celebrating communion.  Be creative.  Create a beautiful setting.  Let Jesus renew your hope!  Don’t miss Easter!  Death has been swallowed up in victory!  Jesus has won!
Very often, these posts include information about our next gathering.  I’m not sure when that will be.  I know many of us are meeting, leading, and ministering on-line.  Keep it up.  May the Lord give you strength and remind you regularly of the height, width, depth, and breadth of his great love for you!    
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Unity Day JCP

Sometimes, it’s good to be stretched.   Getting to Unity Day JCP was quite a journey.   Galatians 3:26-29 tells us that “in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”   Love doesn’t make us all the same.  It leads us to be together, to share, to celebrate the differences, and to bless one another.  Jesus really does make all the difference in the world!

As I’ve stepped toward mission in my neighborhood, one of the things I prayed for was to be a part of a racially reconciled community on mission representing Jesus in Julington Creek Plantation.  The way I expected that to happen didn’t happen.  But the Lord has a way of doing things that are different – and far better – than mine.  The prayer I prayed was fully answered.  On Saturday, I was a member of a racially reconciled community on mission.

Lot’s of laughter, good food, snow cones, a wide variety of music, preaching the word, prayer.  It wasn’t all comfortable, but we were able to work together with love and kindness for one another and for the community.  It was good day!  And maybe, just maybe, it was a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here are a few pics provided by my friend Rick Smith!

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LoveFirst Coast Calendar and Updates

Worship Gathering Sunday, March 8 6-8:30 at the Alexander house (320 S. Buck Board Dr.)  We’ll be looking at obstacles to the experience of God’s grace in our life.  Hope you can join us.

We’ll be talking about obstacles to grace.  LoveFirst Coast is about encouraging and equipping people who are living life on mission and inviting others into that life.  We try to serve that purpose in all we do.  If you are living life on mission and there is a way we can support you, please let us know!

Gathering Opportunities – These are designed to encourage and equip people to live life on mission.  

  • Sunday March 8 – Dinner and Worship Gathering – 6-8pm – at the Alexanders 320-S. Buck Board Dr, 32259
  • Saturday March 14 – Unity Day Party 11am-3pm – at Davis Pond Park 875 Davis Pond Blvd, 32259
  • Wednesday March 18 – LFC Gathering for the Annual Meeting – at Norma and Andrews 10715 Michael Edward Ct.  32257
  • Sunday March 22 – Dinner and Worship w/ Young Life Leaders –  6:30-9pm – watch for more info.
  • Friday April 10 – Good Friday Sunrise Gathering at Mickler’s Landing – at Sunrise
  • Sunday April 13 – Easter – Want to host a worship gathering in your neighborhood?

Threshold Crossers – Events help you grow deeper.  There are two coming up!

  • Women’s Great Banquet – March 26-29
  • Mens’ Great Banquet – April 16-19

Spiritual Growth and Discipleship groups are gatherings on Wednesday nights and Thursday lunch.

Mission Opportunities – There’s no such thing as an unsent Christian – and there’s no such thing as a Christian sent alone.  

  • w/ Young Lives (Teen Moms, Teen Dads, and Babies) – see Lee or Rita
  • w/ Grieving Families -see Norma
  • at/ the Gables – see Brandon and Sara
  • at/ Carter Hall – See Norma or Andrew
  • at/ St. Johns Preserve – See Kent or Kris
  • w/ Young Life – see Jesse, Tom, or Nicholl
  • w/ Outreach Events (Like Unity Day) – see Nicholl or Jesse

What’s Been Happening?

Learning at the Underground Open:  It’s been said that if you want your people to catch the fire, take them where it’s burning.  What does that look like?  How about 200+ micro-churches (aka missional communities) involving some 6000 people engaged in wide-ranging mission across the Tampa Bay?   So nine of us traveled there to learn from the Tampa Underground at an event called the Underground Open.  Through inspiring worship, challenging teaching, and break-out sessions. we learned a good deal about mission by learning about the work of artists.

  • God’s an artist and we’re created in his image!
  • Mission is like art in this: You gotta start.
  • Mission is like art in this: Expect the first efforts not to be impressive.
  • Mission is like art in this: Expect to fail.  But don’t stop.
  • Mission is like art in this: Keep at it. You’ll get better.
  • Mission is like art in this: Beautiful things will unfold.

There were many, many lessons and takeaways from the weekend.  Too many to mention tonight.  But if you are a church leader with a missional mindset, learn what you can about what God is doing in the Tampa Underground.

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Retreat: The retreat was pretty amazing!  Our focus this year was on the presence of Christ.  The Lord brought us together and into a time of sweet fellowship around his table!  Of course, Jesus is present with us always, and we looked into God’s Word and considered how we are strengthened, shaped, and led into mission by him when we spend time at the Lord’s Table, in dinner fellowship, and as we go forth in mission.   The Lord who has promised, “I will not leave you or forsake you,”  keeps his word!

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Retreat 2020

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Worship Gathering Sunday

Maybe you’ve heard of identity politics. Google defines it as “a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics It makes the news.”  It’s nothing new.  People find their group, claim their tribe, and (increasingly) choose their family.  The way we do it drives us apart, and makes us suspicious and even hostile toward people who aren’t like us.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s the way of the world.
But as Paul explains in Galatians 3, following Jesus leads us in to a different way, a better way! We’ll look at what happens when our identify flows from Jesus and explore some of the hope that flows as a result.
Hope to see you Sunday night.  We’ll meet at 6:00 at Norma and Andrew’s house, (10715 Michael Edward Ct.  32257).  Let us know you are coming and we’ll add you to the food thread.
Come and find some encouragement for life on mission.
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LoveFirst Coast Update

This Sunday is the Super Bowl.  It’s pretty much an unofficial holiday around here.  If you have the chance, connect with neighbors.  You go no where by  accident!

Put These Dates on Your Calendar

  • Sunday Feb 16 – Worship gathering – 6-8pm – Place TBD
  • Fri-Sunday Feb 21-23 – LFC Retreat  – What does it mean to live sacramentally?
  • Sunday March 8 – Worship Gathering – 6-8pm – Place TBD
  • Saturday March 14 – Unity Day Party at Davis Pond Park
  • Weds March 18 – LFC Annual Meeting
  • Sunday March 22 – Dinner and Worship at the Comernisky’s w/ Young Life Leaders

What’s been happening?

January has been so full!

Hollman and Carellia Mendoza met with us on January 11.  It was wonderful to share a meal with them at Kent and Kris’s house sit and talk, ask questions, and learn what God is doing in Central America, and how the ministry of Vida Joven has been growing an expanding – even through challenging times.  Some of you know that Young Life (Vida Joven) was started when Jim Hornsby left Jacksonville to work in Nicaragua in the 1980’s.  How cool is it that they return here to bless and encourage us!  Personally, I came away encouraged to keep focusing on building relationships, loving our neighbors, and investing in anyone open to discipleship and life on mission. Thank you, Hollman and Carellia.  (And thank you, Ken Remsen for the photo, and thank you Kent and Kris for hosting us that evening!)

hollman and jesse

Sunday Brunch and Worship.  We held a Sunday morning at the Wehmeiers on January 26.  Kent and Kris have been reaching out to their neighbors, building relationships, and looking for opportunities to serve.  We can learn a lot about connecting with neighbors from their work.  They found doors were opening.  (Keep praying!)  Sunday morning was a big step.  Thanks to all who adjusted their usual Sunday morning plans to join in with  food and encouragement.  Your presence really and love for people, even people you don’t know, really helps!  Wherever LoveFirst Coast shows up, it seems like a party!  And some neighbors came, too!  Let’s do it again!

Sacramental Living Retreat at the ECO Lodge in Fargo, GA: What does it mean to live sacramentally?  In certain acts, the grace of God always seem to be present.  We tend to call those acts sacraments.   Traditionally, baptism and communion are protestant sacraments.  Roman Catholics have five more – confirmation, confession, anointing of the sick, marriage, and baptism.   Many people, through those experiences, will describe experiencing something holy.  In sacramental moments, there often seems to be an intersection of heaven and earth.  But the experience of sacraments invites us to a holy way of life.  When we say we are called to represent Jesus, when we agree with scriptures that we are “a royal priesthood”, we are being invited to live sacramentally.  What does that look like?  How do we live it out?  We’ll explore that in our time together.  (The retreat begins about 4:00pm on Friday and is over Sunday morning.  Cost of the retreat is $0.  We just ask that you help out with food.)

Unity Day Party at JCP follows on March 14 from 11am-3pm.  This is a party: good food, good music, and good company.   But its more.  It’s a party with a purpose.  We will be loving one another across the lines that divide.  We’ll be proclaiming Christ in word and song.  We’ll be inviting people to place their trust in him!  Please be in prayer for the people of Jullington Creek Plantation and for Unity Day!

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Love Your Neighbor

Love your neighbor!  But how?  The Wehmeiers are stepping opening their home this Sunday in an effort to learn more about that
Three things!
1) The prayer request: This coming Sunday morning, Kent and Kris Wehmeier are opening up their home and hoping to invite some neighbors in.  When Heather and I did that last Easter, it was a challenge for us.  Please pray for open doors for Kent and Kris, for easy conversations, and for the Lord to encourage them by moving neighbors to say yes and show up, and for discernment about how the Lord is leading them further into loving their neighbors!
2) Information about Sunday.  Gather at 10:00am at 258 Conquistador Rd, 32259.  We’ll be doing this “Good Friday Style”, patterned after our Good Friday sunrise gatherings.  So bring breakfasty/brunchy food to share. Come ready to spend time with friends while welcoming and meeting people you may not know.  We’ll sing a few worship songs and I’ll share a short message.  (No food thread this time.)
3) Your Part: Come join us if you can and Pray.  You may have to skip your regular worship service, but adjust your schedule to come to the Wehmeier’s if you can! Your being there will encourage Kent and Kris and their neighbors.
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Worship Gathering Moved to Saturday

Late notice, but we have an opportunity this Saturday evening to spend time with our friends Hollman and Carellia Mendoza.  To take advantage of the opportunity, we’re going to move our gathering to Saturday night we’ll meet at the Wehmeier’s (258 Conquistator, 32259).  We’ll enjoy a meal, fellowship, and learning more about what the Lord is doing through Vida Joven in Nicaragua.
I anticipate gathering to begin around 6:00pm, but details are still being firmed up.  Let us know If you plan to join us, and we’ll add you to the food thread and fill you in on the time.
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