Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016-11-27 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2016-11-27

  • UM Student Day Special Offering, Today! - We remember our students today. Your special offering supports students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge by providing scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants.
  • Great Thanks to all those who turned in their Stewardship Response Card. You are invited to do so asap if you haven’t. We will be following up this year!
  • Charge Conference: Dec. 4th, Sunday, at 2:00 p.m., Twin Towers UMC (Alameda). For the first time, we'll be joining with our circuit brothers and sisters for this annual business meeting! Please sign up to go today!
  • Christmas Poinsettias - Bring Christmas beauty and color to the sanctuary by donating a $10 poinsettia. Today is the last day to sign up. Thank you!
  • ”Pick It Up Chinatown” - We join together with AYSC and others again on Dec. 11th for a time of hands on service in our neighborhood, 12:30—2:00 p.m. Please sign up today!
  • Let’s Go Caroling - Bring the joy and connection of the season to others by sharing your voice. We will carol for neighbors who are strangers, shut-ins, and friends. Monday, Dec. 19th, from noon to 4:00 p.m. Drivers are needed! Please sign up today!
  • Looking Ahead: We will celebrate Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 24th and then come together for a joint Christmas Worship on Dec. 25th at 10:00 a.m.

Hope: A Farmer’s Heart for the Land

This is a story about an olive farmer who finds hope and strength in the land. My name is Shareef Omar. I’m a farmer from a small village in Palestine, called Jayyous. As Palestinian people, we don’t control our own country. The Israeli government sets the rules. They decide where we can live. They tell us where we can go and what we can do. In 1988, the government took my farmland away. They said that I couldn’t use the land to grow food. It was too full of stones.

I paid for a bulldozer to clear the stones. I had to sell my sheep and goats and my wife’s jewellery to get the money. I put in plastic pipes for water. I proved that my land could grow food. Eight years later, I was lucky. I got my land back. I grow juicy guava fruit, oranges, olive trees, and many vegetables. The land is how we make a living. It is also our memories, our dreams, and our hopes. I feel alive when I am on the land.
Let me tell you a short story. It shows how farmers feel about their land. In 2002, a big fence was built. It blocked us from our farmland. The only way to get to my land was if I had a special paper, which was hard to get. Many farmers snuck through the fence. We cut a hole in it so that we could water our plants. The army arrested many of us, but some of us escaped.

During this time, I discovered a wild tree growing on a steep rock. It was dry and thirsty. I poured a bottle of water. But the rock was steep, and the water ran off. I drilled the lid with a nail, so the water came out drop by drop. The wild tree began to bloom. I did that every day for weeks.

Finally I had to travel out of the country for a meeting. I felt sad about the wild tree. I went to it and said, “Sorry, I have to leave. I will not be able to come back to take care of you, because I have no permit. I don’t want you to suffer, because you are thirsty.” Then I cut its two branches to stop it from growing anymore. When I reached the gate, the soldier asked me what I had in my hand. I felt confused. Why was I still carrying the branches?

Five months later, I got a permission to go to my land. My wife and I passed through the gate together. We were very quiet. We looked at everything as if we were seeing it for the first time. When we reached our small house, my wife cried. Everything was wrecked and dusty. I went to the place of the wild tree to see if it was still alive. I was amazed! Many of its branches were growing again. I kissed it and apologized for cutting two of its branches before. My wife heard me talking. She shouted, “Shareef! Wake up! Who are you talking to?”

I was lying beside the wild tree. A few drops of blood were on my lips, because I had kissed the thorny branches. My wife looked at the rock. She asked, “How can this tree survive? I said, “This is a Palestinian tree. A Palestinian can live without water, without food, if its roots are in its land.”

May we be reminded that we are called to seek justice and to take action to help keep hope alive.

World Council of Churches. Theological Reflection on Accompaniment:
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, 2005, pp. 162-171.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016-11-20 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2016-11-20

  •     Happy Thanksgiving! You are warmly invited to a fellowship potluck luncheon following worship today. Special thanks to turkey and ham bakers: Larry, Aeri, Brenda and Arlene.
  •     Great Thanks to all those who participated in "Pick It Up Chinatown" last week! We heard that it was fun and satisfying. Special thanks for Burt & Jane’s leadership. Plan to join in next month on Dec. 11th.
  •     UM Student Day Special Offering, Nov. 27th - The last Sunday in November has been set aside to remember our students. Your special offering supports students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge by providing scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants.
  •     Advent Begins - We will begin the special 4 week journey of Advent next Sunday, Nov. 27th.
  •     Christmas Poinsettias - Bring Christmas beauty and color to the sanctuary by donating a $10 poinsettia. Signs up today through Dec. 4th. Thank you!
  •     Please mark your calendars for Charge Conference: Dec. 4th, Sunday, at 2:00 p.m., Twin Towers UMC (Alameda). For the first time, we'll be joining with our circuit brothers and sisters for this annual business meeting!
  •     Support the UMC's Imagine No Malaria campaign at Malaria Awareness Night with the Warriors on Jan 4th, 2017, 7:30pm - With each ticket sold, a lifesaving bed net will be donated to Nothing But Nets. Tickets are $80/$95. See Ben Wong for more info.

Thanksgiving


At Thanksgiving we pause, even if only in a cursory way (and it often is) to consider what we’re thankful for. Usually we’re more interested in turkey, football and shopping than in the practice of deep gratitude. (Isn’t it odd how on one day we give thanks for all we have, and then the next day we go on a mad shopping rampage?) But give gratitude a try. Take a moment to think of what you’re most deeply grateful for. Most people’s lists are kind of short. Family, friends, health, material comforts, our nation, church and pets. That about covers it.

Go deeper. As long as you’re being thankful for something, say, our nation, be thankful for the whole thing, not just your favorite parts. I’m thankful for all the people, all the kinds of people, all the races, all the ages and shapes and lifestyles and perspectives, the heroes and the ones who struggle. Everybody. If you are grateful for your family, give thanks for the whole ding dang family tree stretching back to Adam and Eve, even the drunks and cheats and losers and misfits. Thank God for them, each one of them, or you wouldn’t be here. If you are grateful for your health, thank God for your body, this amazing creation that may be older and weaker than you wish, but it keeps you alive. It knows how to move and feel things, how to digest food and fight germs and how to get sick instead of just rolling over and dying. Even pain is a necessary gift. Thank God for pain.

If you’re really deeply grateful for what you have, you know that it’s a gift. You haven’t earned or created it yourself. Your health, your family, your station in life, even the money you’ve “earned” is a gift (plenty of people work hard and no one pays them for it). And you’re grateful for all those who suffered so that you could have it: the underpaid migrants who pick your fruit, the black-lung infected miners who dig the coal that keeps you warm, the slaves that pick your chocolate (sorry, but it’s true, unless it’s Fair Trade chocolate).

Beware of selfishness masquerading as gratitude. There’s a difference between gratitude and possessiveness. Love does not rejoice at the suffering of others, nor does it seek to keep what we are grateful for to ourselves. (Thank God for my food; too bad for the poor... thank God we get cheap goods, though the people who made them can’t afford them...thank God for oil; too bad for the earth...) If we are truly grateful we are mindful of the whole. Even as we give thanks for our goods, health, friends and comfort, we are aware of those without. And we are aware not just in thought but in deed. In love, gratitude is not a feeling; it’s an act. We don’t just have thanks; we give thanks.

So as you think of the things you are grateful for, try this:

If you are grateful for your belongings, donate to UMCOR to support those who have experienced disaster and lost everything.

If you are grateful for your house, find out where the closest homeless shelter is and make a donation to them.

If you are grateful for your church, tell someone about this community today and invite them to come with you to worship one day.

If you are grateful for the abilities God has given you, put them to use by committing to a particular ministry via the Stewardship Response Card.

If you are grateful for your friends, greet someone you don’t know at worship this Sunday.

May gratitude be more than just a feeling for you, but something you practice. I hope that you have a deeply grateful thanksgiving.

-Adapted from “The Other Side of Thanksgiving” , Steve Garnass-Holmes