Vision Prayer Focus #7 from Pastor Tom

You are invited to pray this week for our congregation as we gather on Sunday afternoon (September 27) for a Town Hall meeting to receive and respond to a report from the Vision Team about the purpose and vision and core values and strategic initiatives of FUMC-BR over the next several years.  Pray for a significant turnout from all sectors of our church family.  Pray for Pastor Marcus as he presents the report.  Pray for enthusiastic involvement of all in attendance and for guidance from the Holy Spirit as we dream together big dreams about how God would have us go about the work of the kingdom.  Pray a hopeful prayer that several years from now we will be able to look back on this very week as a milestone time in the life of our church and community.

Great and almighty God, save us from small dreams and little prayers.  By the power of your Holy Spirit inspire us as we meet this week to seek your will boldly and without fear.  Bless us with passionate involvement in a spirit of mutual trust.  Fill us with hope for the future.  If what we want for our church is not what you want for your Kingdom, make us aware of that and guide us in the way you would have us go. Challenge us and assure us.  Reveal to us your Kingdom call.  Speak into our hearts and lives.  We are listening.  Amen.

Vision Prayer Focus #7 from Pastor Tom

A couple of weeks ago, Marcus and I embarked on a “wild” pastor road trip (at least as “wild” as a pastor road trip is likely to be), covering over 1,300 miles in around 52 hours.  Our first stop was Columbia, SC, where we spent a 6 hour consultation with author and church futurist Reggie McNeal.  We returned to Boca with new ingredients to toss into the Vision Team’s “recipe” for the next 3 to 5 years at FUMC Boca.  The Vision Team met this past Monday night and engaged in a lively discussion stimulated by some of the new material.

We are moving closer to the church-wide Town Hall event on September 27 when we invite the entire church to come together and engage in the vision process.   Mark your calendar and plan to participate in that special event.  Pray for a big turnout and a strong spirit of involvement and ownership as we move forward together as a church family.  Pray also for the Vision Team as we continue to meet and seek God’s guidance in developing the clearest ideas to share at the Town Hall.  The team members are Sara Allen, Charlie Blose, Carl Lohmar, Joe Mannino, Ellen Martin, Kristen Oliver, Stacy Sallah, Tom Tift, Matthew Warren, and Marcus Zillman.

Creating God, we believe you created and are still creating—and calling us as individuals and a church to be part of what you are creating.  Bless our church in this time of planning for the future. Be with the members of the Vision Team as they work together on behalf of the congregation.  Prepare the church for the Town Hall meeting; guide us by the Holy Spirit to shape a vision that unifies us and stirs us to embrace the future.  Challenge us and assure us.  Reveal to us your Kingdom call.  Speak into our hearts and lives.  We are listening.  Amen.

Vision Prayer Focus #6 Pastor Tom

This Sunday, July 12th, we will be receiving new members into the FUMC family.  These are people who attended our “Coffee with the Pastors” event on June 28 to learn about who we are and who we are seeking to become and what expectations we have for those who choose to make the commitment to membership.  What we are all about, of course, is not adding members.  What we are about is encouraging and equipping disciples—followers of Jesus.

Our desire is to help everyone in our church family grow in Christ.  For those who become members, we are emphasizing five key expectations that we believe are fundamental means for developing followers of Jesus: regular worship attendance, daily time with God, growing in Christ in relationship with others (mentor, small group, spiritual “running partners,” etc.), serving in the church and/or community, and giving generously, with a goal of reaching or exceeding the biblical standard of 10 percent.  Although these are not magical behaviors that guarantee growing in Christ, we believe they are essential practices for anyone committed to follow Jesus.

Those who attended the class were Leonard Baton, Anne and Kaitlyn Boccarossa, Calan and Tyler Chandler, Dan Dohrn, Doris Kerskey, Jackie Latorre, Jamie McNamara, Charles Michelson, Mildred Rawlings, Chuck Reeder, Ana Rita Richards, and Joy Tulloch.  Let’s pray for all of them this week, that each of them will make the decision to join FUMC and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, continue to grow in Christ.  And as we pray for each of them, let’s pray for those who are already members that we might embrace with fresh passion the commitment to follow Jesus that we made when we decided to join.  Let’s pray, too, for people who are attending our services but aren’t ready yet to make a deeper commitment, that they might be led to a growing faith.  Finally, pray that God will lead us in such a way that as the months go by and we live into a new understanding of God’s call, that new people will connect with us and begin or continue their journey in Christ.

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.                                                                                                                     Acts 2:46-47

What would God have us do, individually and collectively, to grow in Jesus and add to our number those who are being saved?  Ask in prayer.  And listen.

Lord Jesus we want to grow closer to you and better at serving as you call us to serve.  We pray for those who are joining the church this week.  We pray for those throughout our communities who need to know your saving love.  Give us a vision of the plentiful harvest and send us out as faithful laborers in the field.   Amen.

 

Vision Prayer Focus #5 from Pastor Tom

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Declaration of Independence, 1776

This Saturday we mark the 139th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence and its inspiration to create a government that Abraham Lincoln famously described as “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  The task of governing this land seems to have become more and more challenging in the 21st century.  So I invite us this week to broaden our scope a bit and pray for our nation and for our leaders at every level.

Let’s begin by praying locally for the Mayors and City Councils of Boca Raton (Mayor Susan Haynie, Robert Weinroth, Scott Singer, Michael Mullaugh, and Jeremy Rodgers) and the other cities where we live in South Florida.  Let’s pray for our County Commissioners (Shelley Vana, Mary Lou Berger, Hal Valeche, Paulette Burdick, Steven Abrams, Melissa McKinlay, and Priscilla Taylor).  And let’s pray also for the employees of our city and county governments.

Pray for our State Senators and Representatives from South Florida, and for Florida Governor Rick Scott.  Pray for our Representatives in the U. S. House; for Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.  For President Obama and Vice-President Biden and the Cabinet.

And let’s not forget to pray for ourselves and how we are living out our share of the dream of a government “by” the people.  How might God want to call you to participate as a citizen in the life of the community?  How might our church partner with local officials to improve the life of our communities?

To paraphrase Mordecai, speaking to his cousin Esther, “Who knows? Perhaps you have [been chosen] for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14

Almighty God, ruler of the nations, we ask your blessing and a full measure of your wisdom for the leaders of the United States of America at all levels.  Stir up in us, Lord, a revival of desire to participate in the dream of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. We are listening, Lord Jesus.  Speak into our hearts we pray.  Amen.

 

 

Vision Prayer Focus #4 from Pastor Tom

The news this week has appropriately focused on the coverage of the mass murders that took place at the Mother Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in Charleston, SC last Wednesday night.  Here in Boca Raton, largely unnoticed, people gathered on Saturday in the neighborhood just north and west of our East Campus to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Pearl City.  Pearl City was established in 1915 as a separate community for African American citizens who made a living working on the pineapple farms that operated in this area in the early years of the 20th century.  Ten years later, the City of Boca Raton was incorporated in 1925.

Our church was also established in 1925, and when we refer to ourselves as “First Church Boca,” it’s easy to think of ourselves as the “first” church established around here.  However, the real “first churches of Boca” were the Macedonia AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church and the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, which were both organized in Pearl City in 1918.  We have shared music and preaching with the Macedonia AME congregation over the years; we have partnered with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (1949) through the years it served as the site for Boca Helping Hands; we are currently sharing ministries to our homeless population with our neighbors at Ebenezer.

So as we continue to pray for the church in Charleston and the people of Charleston and the families of the victims, let’s pray for our neighbors in Pearl City.  Listen for a word from the Spirit this week about ways we might as individuals and a church family deepen our ties with our African American neighbors throughout our neighborhoods and local communities.  How might God be calling us to be a healing agent in the racial divide that continues to afflict our great nation?

There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28, The Common English Bible

Precious Lord, send your healing Spirit throughout our land.  Bless the Emanuel AME congregation and the city of Charleston and make all things work together for good in the wake of the violence there.  Help us, as part of your body in Boca Raton, seek your guidance to live into our vows as United Methodists, “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”   We are listening, Lord Jesus.  Speak into our hearts we pray.  Amen.

Vision Prayer Focus #3 from Pastor Tom

From Pastor Tom: On a morning visit yesterday to Boca Raton Regional Hospital, I prayed with two FUMC members who were prepped for surgery and another who had been hospitalized since Sunday and was delighted to be going home that day. I ran into Dr. Scott Beede, also an FUMC member, taking care of his morning rounds. I interacted with a variety of nurses and volunteers; I passed a gurney rolling out of the emergency room taking a suffering woman presumably into surgery. I came home and checked the internet and learned that according to the City of Boca Raton’s 2013 economic statistics, Boca Regional is the second largest employer in our community.

 

So let’s pray this week for the patients and the employees and volunteers of Boca Raton Regional Hospital. And let’s don’t stop there. Let’s pray for our health care sector throughout Boca and Delray and Deerfield and Boynton. Let’s pray for the hospitals and the rehab and nursing care facilities, for the doctors’ offices and the therapy facilities; for the patients and the people caring for them—including family members—including youth caregivers.

 

Ask God to give our church a big heart for people in need of physical healing. Ask the Spirit to reveal how we might be a more effective healing presence and partner in our church family and in our communities. Listen. Listen. Listen.

Lord Jesus, you walked this earth with healing in your touch. You came as the Great Physician. Bless those health care providers in our communities; give them wisdom and patience and strength. Bless all who are in need of physical healing, Encourage us to be your hands and feet, serving those among us and around us who need your healing presence.  In your saving name, Amen. 

 

Vision Prayer Focus #2 from Pastor Tom

Our church serves so many children in so many ways!  MECE, Parents’ Morning Out, Sprouts, Sunday School, Upward sports, summer camps, Scouting … the list goes on and on.  And this week, over 300 children are on our East Campus Monday through Friday mornings for Vacation Bible School.  Our vision process so far has made it clear that we want our future to continue to impact the lives of “next generations.”  Pray this week for the children and volunteers in Bible School, and ask God to speak to you about how we might serve children and their families more and more effectively in the years to come.

 

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

Matthew 19:13-15, The Message
There is not a more precious resource, Jesus, than the lives of the children in our communities.  We want children to know your blessing, and we believe you can use us as instruments of blessing in their hearts and lives.  Give us all that we need to be a source of blessing to the little ones.  Help us hear your call.  Amen.

 

[Pray also this week for the preachers and lay people gathered in Daytona Beach for the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  May God give this larger body of the church a hope and a vision as we elect delegates for the 2016 General Conference and worship together and conduct other business of the conference.]