fpcpastor

Welcome to the Pastor’s Corner, and welcome to the website of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn! We hope that you will find here helpful resources for your spiritual journey.
That early Christians were called the “people of the way” is a reminder to us that we have not yet reached our destination, but continue to make our way along the path of discipleship. What is true of our lives as Christians is also true of this page and site. It, like us, is “a work in progress.”
If you would like to share any comments about this site, page or the sermons here included, or if you would like to request prayer, please feel welcome to contact me at fpcgpastor@gmail.com

And “may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”
(2 Cor. 3:14)

lightshinephrase

Message From the Pastor
February 2020

They don’t teach you in seminary how to write your last Steeple Chimes article, how to preach your last sermon or how to say goodbye.  So what else is there to do but to throw oneself into the arms of our loving God?
I trust those arms carried me here in your season of life and in mine.  I trust that we were brought together for a purpose, and that this leave-taking too is for a purpose. And I trust that you will all be held forever in the arms of our loving God.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote these well-remembered words to the captives in Babylonia, exiles from the Kingdom of Judah: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah spoke in a different age and to a different context, but perhaps we too find ourselves in a place of exile, where nothing remains the same, not even change.  The old reliable world is passing away.  The sources of authority we knew growing up are diminished. Treasured symbols of meaning are mocked. 
I recently shared at Presbytery the story about the seminary professor who invited his beloved student over to his house to share with him some good news and bad news. The student asked for the bad news first, and it was bad: the professor had inoperable brain cancer. Overwrought, the student barely had it in him to ask the other question, but he did anyway.   “So what’s the good news?” he asked plaintively.  The professor looked at his prized student aghast. “What’s the good news?” the professor shouted  in disbelief.  “The good news is the good news!”
In my short time as a pastor, a shorter time than I might have hoped, it has been my conviction that among a pastor’s chief burdens is the responsibility to share the bad news for which our good news is so very good. But let us never forget our good news, or the blessing it is to share it.  For we are everyone of us gospelers, and so even in this season of great regression, in our nation and in our world, in which not only the fabric of nation has become torn, but even the whole cloth of the good creation, let us not forget the good news or ever tire of telling it.
What is the good news?  The good news is the good news!  We are not hospice workers, but midwives.  Ours is not the darkness of the tomb, but of the womb.  And however great the pain we sometimes feel, ours is the pain of something struggling to be born.  And maybe, should we dare to say it, is the rebirthing of God.
So let us trust the vision of wholeness we carry inside ourselves.  Let us trust in the One who gives us our longing for home.  Let us trust in Jesus, with whom we share our homesick tears, and in whose name we exiles offer our liquid prayers.

                                                                                    Grace and peace,
                                                                                    Pastor Fred

 

retirement

January 17, 2020

Friends,
With a heavy heart, I write to advise you of my decision to retire effective February 23rd.    A year ago I expected to continue to serve this church for so long as the church through its session wished to call me and the presbytery, through its Committee on Ministry, continued to affirm the call I first answered when I joined you twelve years ago.  But as many of you know, a lot has changed for our household over this last year as my wife Frances has not made a good recovery from the bi-lateral knee replacement she first had in May 2018.  
In the late autumn, my spiritual director helped me to see that there was no shame in acknowledging my divided attention, or my waning of energy and resilience, so important to pastoral ministry.  Yet leave-taking is especially difficult, and not only because we have accompanied each other since Advent, 2008.  As most of you know, the First Presbyterian Church of Greenlawn was also the church where my parents were members, where I was confirmed, and where I served as the Moderator of our Youth Fellowship under the guidance of Pastor Bob Duncan.  It is here, on a January Sunday 51 years ago, that I delivered my first sermon, “All You Need Is Love.”  That was also the title, of course, of the famous Beatles song which I, in my youthful enthusiasm, played in our sanctuary. 
As I look back at myself with amusement, acceptance and forgiveness, it occurs to me that I have been working out the implications of that first sermon, and of “the love that wilt not let (us) go,” my whole life long.  For how great is God’s love, and how good and sufficient is everything that flows from divine love, indeed, how very good.
Our presbytery instructs us that when the relationship between ministers and their congregations is dissolved, the ministers shall advise their congregations that they will not be available for pastoral services such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals except in the rare circumstance that an invitation is made by the present pastor or by the session with the new pastor’s consent.  Even in such circumstances, it is understood that former pastors will not conduct such services themselves, but will only assist the new pastor unless otherwise requested by the new pastor and session.  Retiring pastors are instructed not to continue worship with the congregations they once served or in any way influence them.  They are not to provide counseling or pastoral care to their former parishioners.  All of this proves difficult both for congregations and for their departing pastors.  Yet there is wisdom in these instructions, good guidance for both leave-taking and healthy welcoming, endings and new beginnings.
Over these last dozen years we have walked together and have grown together in good days and bad. Along the way you have helped me to become a better pastor and human being.  Where your good counsel proved unavailing, you graciously accepted me for all that I am and am not.  Whatever was my own capacity for change, or yours, to whatever extent we each found ourselves transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know I will never be the same for having come to know and break bread with you. And so I leave on a note of profound gratitude for each and every one of you. 
And now as I close this letter, I remind you that our hope, for ourselves and for the church,  is rooted not in ourselves- ours is a spirituality of imperfection, not perfection- but in the character of God whose love for us, whether coming or going, is always in hot pursuit.  In that love, we seek through our daily dyings to live faithfully, not perfectly. Trusting that nothing is wasted, that whatever happens is somehow meant for us, we are guided by the intention to surrender to the love of God, to the God who is love. This is the love for which we long, in which we live, by which we are transformed, and from which, I pray, we will continue to dedicate our lives in service. That divine love, implanted in our hearts by the Spirit dwelling within us, shall fail neither us nor the much-loved world God sent his Son to save.  All we need is love.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Fred

________________________________________

PASTOR FRED'S SERMONS

Pastor Fred's Sermon Archive 2010-11
Pastor Fred's Sermon Archive 2012
Pastor Fred's Sermon Archive 2013
Pastor Fred's Sermon Archive 2014

Sunday Bulletin Archive 2015
Sunday Bulletin Archive 2016
Sunday Bulletin Archive 2017
Sunday Bulletin Archive 2018

 
Sunday Bulletins - Date
 
Christmas Eve 12.24.18 Bulletin 12.30.18
Bulletin 1.6.19 Bulletin 1.13.19
Bulletin 1.20.19 Bulletin 1.27.19
Bulletin 2.3.19 Bulletin 2.10.19
Bulletin 2.17.19 Bulletin 2.24.19
Bulletin 3.3.19 Bulletin 3.10.19
Bulletin 3.17.19 Bulletin 3.24.19
Bulletin 3.31.19 Bulletin 4.7.19
Bulletin 4.14.19 GoodFriday 4.19.19
EasterSunday 4.21.19 Bulletin 4.28.19
Bulletin 5.5.19 Bulletin 5.12.19
Bulletin 5.19.19 Bulletin 5.26.19
Bulletin 6.2.19 Bulletin 6.9.19
Bulletin 6.16.19 Bulletin 6.23.19
Bulletin 6.30.19 Bulletin 7.7.19
Bulletin 7.14.19 Bulletin 7.21.19
Bulletin 7.28.19 Bulletin 8.4.19
Bulletin 8.11.19 Bulletin 8.18.19
Bulletin 8.25.19 Bulletin 9.1.19
Bulletin 9.8.19 Bulletin 9.15.19
Bulletin 9.22.19 Bulletin 9.29.19
Bulletin 10.6.19 Bulletin 10.13.19
Bulletin 10.20.19 Bulletin 10.27.19
Bulletin 11.3.19 Bulletin 11.10.19
Bulletin 11.17.19 Bulletin 11.24.19
Bulletin 12.1.19 Bulletin 12.8.19
Bulletin 12.15.19 Bulletin 12.22.19
Bulletin Christmas Eve 2019 Bulletin 12.29.19
Bulletin 1.5.20 Bulletin 1.12.20
Bulletin 1.19.20 Bulletin 1.26.20
Bulletin 2.2.20 Bulletin 2.9.20
Bulletin 2.16.20