*Happy Lunar New Year! All are invited and welcomed to a joint potluck luncheon following worship. This is an important time of fellowship between our two language ministries. Please make every effort to connect across the language divide!
*Please note: Pastor Emily is away this weekend. She will return to the office on Tuesday, Jan. 31st. Please call her cell phone in case of pastoral emergencies.
*Pitch In! LMUMC's Food Pantry Workday is held on Saturday, Feb.11th at 9:45 a.m. You are invited to join in this time of mission and service. Have questions, connect with Jane or Richard. To sign up, please find the list near the hospitality table.
*An Offering Opportunity - You are invited to bring beauty into the worship space by giving to the altar flower ministry. Please sign up on the sheet posted at the end of the Annex hallway or by connecting with Aeri.
*Sharing Exciting News - The Mission Ministry Team (MMT) has felt called to enable a Mission Exchange between CCUMC and YCVM leaders. The hope has been to invite Grace Among and Silver Omakenyi to the Bay Area during the summer to share the vision and mission of YCVM and their personal faith stories. This would also enable them to connect with new churches and organizations and for us to discern our relationship and understanding together. After a year of prayer and discussion, a proposal was brought to BOAT to enable fundraising for just such a possibility. This was approved at the most recent BOAT meeting. Work is getting underway to enable this possibility. Please keep this Mission Exchange in your prayers. If you have any questions or concerns, please connect with members of the MMT (Steve, Donna, Aeri, Burt, Ben, Jane, Becky) or Pastor Emily.
“And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching--with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’” [Mark 1:26-27]
It sounds like a scene from the Exorcist. Personally, I think I would be hiding or running away if I saw this happen at CCUMC. But you have to admit that Jesus does surprise everyone with this supernatural feat. Jesus had a way of showing everyone something new. It was exciting if you were looking for hope and salvation. It was unnerving if you were part of the establishment. The same can be said even today. My homework assignment as part of my Conference Lay Minister discernment is to read the book “Who Stole My Church?” by Gordon MacDonald about how people deal (and sometimes not too well) with changes at their church.
One change you may have noticed at our church has been the formation of Small Groups. Intuitively we understand that growth is a good thing. But in the last year we have really taken seriously that to grow we need to individually commit to being active in our faith outside of just Sundays. Otherwise, if we are not growing, we are stagnating or dying. Jesus is calling us – calling those spirits of complacency to get out of our bodies so that we can make room for new things. Those new things are developing the practice of seeing God in our daily lives, encouraging others in their faith walk, being comfortable with sharing with others the exciting surprises or simple graces God has sprinkled in our lives, and being able to spend time in prayer talking to and listening to God.
Indeed change can be scary, especially if you are stuck. But change can be exciting, renewing, and uplifting too if you are looking for hope and salvation in your life.
By Becky Wong Are you the kind of person who needs routine, for life to be structured and ordered in such a way that you know what to expect, with no surprises? When I began teaching four-year-olds, I learned that routine was important because it gave the children a sense of security and safety, which then allowed for maximum learning to take place. So it meant starting the day the same way every day: greeting at the door, pledge of allegiance, a song, reciting poems, talking about the daily news. Then new lessons began. Maybe our Christian journey of faith has some similarities. We attend worship, sing songs, read scripture listen to a sermon, hear the benediction, share fellowship hour, and leave ready to practice faithful living as Jesus taught . Routine is comforting. In fact, another name for the season of Epiphany, which occurs from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, is Ordinary Time. But within this Ordinary Time, are we making time for the “new lessons” to take place? Educating my students would have come to a standstill if I only relied on the daily routine to set the stage and then did nothing else. Likewise, to grow in our Christian walk requires that we look beyond the “routines” with new eyes, daily seeking where God is calling us to stretch, to grow, to learn, to bring the life of the Gospel to this sometimes chaotic world in a way that is transforming. During the latter half of 2011, I was sensing the call of God to leave something familiar, something I really loved and felt blessed in doing: being the chair of the Missions Ministries Team. I can remember years ago Pastor Peter inviting me to consider this position, and I answered without hesitation because it was truly a ministry area that was in my heart to lead. But as I began to realize that new leadership was perhaps what the church needed, I informed Pastor Emily that the time had come to be looking for a new chairperson. While I still plan to be involved with missions, there was an emptiness in not knowing what I should be doing next. Little did I suspect that Derek would soon be talking to me about the possibility of serving as EMC Chair/Lay Leader/ Member to Annual Conference. Holy smokes! I thought, those are huge shoes to fill! I began to pray and discern if this was indeed what God intended for me to do. It took a while to get over the initial fear (yes fear!) of doing something so different, but I began to look at it as an opportunity to grow, to stretch myself, and to offer my service to God and the church in a new, rather unexpected way. I know there is a great deal to learn, and I invite you all to pray for both Steve and me as we venture into new territory. Today we celebrate Laity Sunday. You and I are the laity, the church, the body of Jesus Christ, whom we publicly proclaimed as our Lord and Savior at our baptism. We are daily being called by God to be God’s hands and feet and voice in the church and in the world. And sometimes that call comes in a way that may seem uncomfortable, implausible, or even impossible. But God knows us even better than we know ourselves, and God longs for us to stretch and grow, perhaps in ways quite different from the “ordinary”. In this continuing season of Epiphany, I invite you to intentionally look for ways to BE the church, to offer yourself and your gifts in service, perhaps trying something new in the midst of your ordinary routine. Shalom and God bless.
*Small Group Ministry Celebration & Lunar New Year Potluck - We will worship in parallel next Sunday, Jan. 29th at 9:30 a.m. with our CM brothers and sisters. Please enter through the Annex gates. Following worship, we will hold our annual lunar new year potluck. Please bring a main or veggie dish to share. No desserts, please!
*Please note: Pastor Emily will be away next weekend (Friday through Monday). In case of a pastoral emergency, please feel free to connect via cell phone.
*CCUMC Seeks Capable Custodian - SPRB is now accepting applications for a part time (10 hour / week) custodian. Please keep your eyes and ears open to someone who may need a job. To apply, please connect with SPRB Chair, Richard Fong, or Pastor Emily.
*Adventure in Faith (AiF) Monthly Chapel - AiF gathers this Wednesday to hear and explore the story of Daniel in the lion's den. Please hold our volunteers and the whole ministry in your prayers. This is an important outreach mission of CCUMC! You are invited to come and pitch in - by being a gentle presence, taking part in the chapel, or helping to prepare a snack. Please connect with Pastor Emily. We will gather at 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 25th.
*Jason (Hong Jun) Weng Graduates from Boot Camp - Jason graduates on Friday, Jan. 27th. He will be home for approximately 10 days following that before heading out again. You are invited to sign a congratulatory card for him during hospitality hour. Please hold him and his family in your prayers.
*Happy Human Relations Day! HRD is one of six Special Sundays in the UMC. The purpose of the day is to call "the Church to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other." The UMC began marking this special Sunday in 1972. We observe it on the Sunday closest to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday in honor of his life, ministry and legacy for social justice and equality between peoples. Your Human Relations Day offering supports vital community ministries that teach and advocate for justice, especially among people struggling to survive in the margins of society through ministries like the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program, Community Developers Program and UM Voluntary Services Program. Thank you for giving generously.
*We Welcome the Rev. Israel Alvaran Today! Rev. Alvaran is a United Methodist clergy from the Philippines Annual Conference and works on economic justice and immigrant rights concerns in the Bay Area. Until recently, he served as interfaith and community outreach organizer for a statewide organization, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. He has served in various ministries: as pastor, university and youth chaplain, and seminary instructor. Rev. Alvaran finished the MDiv. and MTh. degrees at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines, and a DMin degree at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.
*Do You Love Lent? Worship? Both? You are invited to imagine the season of Lent together at our worship planning retreat, Saturday, Jan. 21st, from 10:00 to 3:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided so please RSVP to Aeri or Pastor Emily.
*We Celebrate Laity Sunday Next Week. We will hear from our outgoing and incoming Lay Leader and EMC Chair and celebrate the ministry that we have ALL been called to through our baptism.
*Small Group Ministry Celebration & Lunar New Year Potluck - We will worship in parallel on Sunday, Jan. 29th at 9:30 a.m. with our CM brothers and sisters. Following worship, we will hold our annual lunar new year potluck. Please bring a main or veggie dish to share. No desserts, please!
*Have You Signed Up for Hospitality Yet? If so, thank you! If not, grab a friend and please do so today!
"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him." - Leo Tolstoy, 1897
I am unique and fall under the category of slow witted and not the most intelligent man; so you would think I could grasp the concept of what is social justice. So as usual I rely on the dictionary to give me a clue: Social means: of or having to do with human beings living together as a group in a situation in which their dealings with one another affect their common welfare. Justice means: the quality of being righteous, impartial and fair. So simply speaking we are talking about living together and treating each other with fairness.
I have always believed in social justice. It meant following the rules & taking responsibilities for our actions. That is why we have laws and insurance to make whole those who have been harmed. Growing up, I thought social justice was a simple concept: work hard, play fair and not harm others. As a slow witted and stubborn Christian this definition of social justice remained intact for me for most of my life. We had affirmative action back in the 60's and now they have Occupy Wall Street. The key concepts being batted around seem to do with issues of entitlement and redistribution of wealth. So what's it all about?
Thank goodness I am only slow witted and not stupid and also willing to listen and learn . Thanks to Sunday school, small groups, mission projects, staying awake for the sermons and all of you, I had an epiphany on what social justice really means. You guys probably understood already; but for me it was a journey. There is man's definition of social justice and there's God's definition of social justice. I always knew there was a difference; but adopting it as my own is the hard part.
Man's definition is based on protecting property rights. God's definition is based on treating everyone with dignity and love. God's definition of social justice does hold us accountable for the common welfare of all of his people. So when in doubt; always fight for the little guy, the homeless, the starving and the down trodden. You just might see the face of God when you help His people in need.
*Great thanks for the message brought to us today by Richard Fong, Certified Lay Speaker. Lay Speaking is another way to "step it up" in your discipleship, discover your gifts for caring, leading and communicating and become an active congregational servant leader. There are wonderful classes in various areas that can guide you on your way. Interested? Please connect with Derek Lang or Pastor Emily.
*Usher / Greeter Training is Today! You are invited to participate whether you are seasoned, brand new to the ministry, or just curious. We'll meet in the Annex conference room (upstairs) at 12:45 p.m. promptly!
* We Did It! Great thanks to all who contributed to the Food Pantry Barrel. It was overflowing at the end of last Sunday. Let's continue the generosity and be a part of ensuring our brothers and sisters are healthy and whole.
*Ready to Get Involved? Do you have a calling for children? Adventures in Faith invites you to become a part of the team. We design & facilitate monthly chapels for our Homework Club. The next AiF planning mtg is Thursday, Jan. 12th at 3:00 p.m.
*What Better Way to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Than Through Service? You’re invited to sign up to work at the Lake Merritt UMC Food Pantry on the 2nd Sunday of each month. In January, this will fall during the MLK weekend, Jan. 14th. Please sign up on the sheet in the social hall. For more information, please connect with Jane.
*Human Relations Day Special Sunday - We’ll observe MLK, Jr. holiday with our own Human Relations Day Worship on Jan. 15th. The purpose of this day is to call "the Church to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other." Our special guest preacher will be Rev. Israel Alvaran who serves as Interfaith Organizer for Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice of California (CLUE-CA) and the hotel & restaurant workers union UNITE HERE Local 2 in SF. We’ll also take a special offering on this day.
*Mark Your Calendars Now:Jan. 21st - Lenten Worship Planning Retreat, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Jan. 22nd - Laity Sunday Worship Celebration Jan. 29th - Small Group Worship Celebration and Lunar New Year Potluck. Worship will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Rev. Sharon Blezard from www.stewardshipoflife.org Today we are celebrating the baptism of Jesus, and we are remembering our baptism when God claimed us as sons and daughters in a lifelong covenant. If you have not been baptized, you are fully welcome here. Enjoy the ritual! Be among us in peace. Feel free not to say words that may not yet apply to you. If you would like to know more about the life of discipleship and about being part of the baptismal covenant, be sure to speak with the pastor or lay leaders.
One of the wonderful things about Mark’s gospel is that the evangelist gets right to what is important, omitting all fluff and extraneous detail. In less than a chapter we’re at the Jordan for a holy collision of water, Word, and Spirit. In just a few short verses Jesus will submit to the baptism of the cousin/evangelist “unfit to tie the thong of his sandals” and will receive the heavenly stamp of approval in a dramatic scene involving heavens rent asunder and a dive bombing bird (aka Holy Spirit). Forget the delicate hovering dove and placid savior; this is intense drama that’s going to move along faster than a Clint Eastwood blockbuster. Have you ever had a gull swoop down on you at the beach? Do you know what it is like to feel the rush of wings at your ear? During this Lectionary Year B, we are in for a roller-coaster ride. Or, as Annie Dillard writes with great clarity and truth: “Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” (from Teaching a Stone to Talk) Yes, this is no “play it safe” Sunday. Today we celebrate this holy collision of water, Word, and Spirit. In celebrating the baptism of our Lord, we also remember our own baptism*, our incorporation into the family of God, and into this wonderful, countercultural, dangerous discipleship journey. By water and Word God named and claimed us and gave us the gift of the Spirit. Nothing should ever be the same again; if it is, if the world is too much with you and you are distracted by worries and concerns then trouble those waters, my friend. Stir it up and remember whose you truly are. Let the grace and the wonder and the expectation wash over you again and again. From the waters of creation to the waters of the flood, from the Red Sea to the Jordan River, and from the water of Baptism that quenches sin for all eternity to the water that slakes human thirst each day, this elemental substance is both mighty and merciful—the power to destroy and to ensure life. Water, Word, and Spirit are powerful images for this day. See, feel, and taste that the Lord Jesus Christ is near. Yes, Jesus is wherever we gather as a worshiping community, whenever we call on his name, and in, under, and through simple gifts of bread and wine. May you be drawn out this day from your comfort and your slumber to the center of this holy collision of Word, water, and Spirit. Touch, taste, and see God’s goodness and remember the promises of your baptism. Refreshed and renewed, go forth into the world to walk in the light and love of God. You are beloved, so be sure to live like it!Peace, blessing, and spiritual crash helmets to you and yours!
*Happy, Happy New Year! The church office will be closed on Jan. 2nd to celebrate the new year.
*Celebrate the New Year...by Hiking - Please connect with Becky, Charlie or Burt to participate in this new year's tradition on Monday, Jan. 2nd at 8:00 a.m.
*Making Sense of Scriptures, a New Adult Sunday School Class begins Jan. 8th at 9:30 a.m. If you've ever struggled to open, understand, and connect with scripture, this may just be the class for you. What better way to start off the new year?! For more information, connect with Charlie or Steve.
*Do you enjoy meeting new people? Do you have a knack for welcoming others? An usher and greeter training will be held for current and new ushers and greeters on Sunday, Jan. 8th. Our time together will enable us to grow in this important area of ministry. Please RSVP to Ben, Chair of Invitation & Witness Ministry Area.
*What Better Way to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Than Through Service? You're invited to sign up to work at the Lake Merritt UMC Food Pantry on the 2nd Saturday of each month. In January, this will fall during the MLK weekend, Jan. 14th. Please sign up on the sheet in the social hall. For more information, please connect with Jane.
*Human Relations Day Special Sunday - We will observe Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday with our own Human Relations Day Worship on Jan. 15th. The purpose of this day is to call "the Church to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other." Our special guest preacher will be the Rev. Israel Alvaran who serves as Interfaith Organizer for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California (CLUE-CA) and the hotel and restaurant workers union UNITE HERE Local 2 in San Francisco, CA. We will also take a special offering on this day. Your Human Relations Day offering supports vital community ministries that teach and advocate for justice, especially among people struggling to survive in the margins of society through ministries like Youth Offender Rehabilitation, Community Developers self-improvement programs and United Methodist Voluntary Services community advocacy,
The New Year is always a good time to think about the future. What will the future bring? One new technology, called Surface, is being introduced by Samsung and Microsoft. This technology is the next generation beyond touch screen tablets and involves devices that react to your motions. No longer will we need to press buttons, but rather this device will “see” and react to a wave of a hand or an expression on our face. Bill Buxton, a pioneer in human-computer interactions, was interviewed about future trends in Surface devices. He commented, “I want better interactions and reactions with my relation with these devices; therefore it has to know more information about me.”
Think about that for a moment. Right now, we struggle with fingers that are too big to touch an icon on the screen. Voice recognition software on phone menus direct us to the wrong department or repeated requests to voice our option over again. Now we will have computer screens that have to discern what it means if we raise a finger, wave a hand, or blink an eye. The more the computer knows about what those personal motions mean, the better it can react or respond to our requests.
His observation harkened back to a basic rule about relationships. In order to have a more effective interaction, we have to know each other more deeply. I need to know more about you, and you need to know more about me. The same is true in our relationship with God. That is why it is so important to pray, to worship, to read the Bible, and be in fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. These things are not just motions we go through because we call ourselves Christian. Instead, these are ways in which we grow in our relationship with God. We learn how to listen more intently to hear what God is saying. We read more about how God acts in different situations. We see how God works through those around us. As we grow more intimately familiar with God, we can interact better with God. We learn what it means and how to respond when God moves in this direction or that direction. Our lives become more aligned with God.
I can just imagine child Jesus being presented to Simeon and Anna. He walks up to them, pulls out his iPhone, and gives it to them. He says to them, “Learn how to interact with this device and then you will just begin to learn what it means to be in relationship with me.” Fortunately, God does not treat us with such arrogance. But we do have to remember that we have a lot to learn about relationships with each other and with God.