Before this year's Streetfest, the children who attended CCUMC's Adventures in Faith summer program put on a short choir concert for their friends and family. This year's theme was Promise Island, and we pray that the children remember God's promises for them, and grow in faith.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Every year, Oakland Chinatown has a Streetfest that celebrates local organizations and businesses. The action takes over several city blocks, including the street right in front of CCUMC! We took this opportunity to do something different on this Sunday - instead of our regular worship and Christian Education, we welcomed in children and families to a variety of games and crafts around the theme of this summer's Promise Island VBS. A couple hundred kids came through our doors, and were greeted by everyone at CCUMC.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
*We Welcome New Dimension Chorus to CCUMC! The New Dimension Chorus is a men's acapella group committed to fun and truly enjoying four-part harmony. They are one of 800 organized chapters in the Barbershop Harmony Society, the world's largest all-male singing organization. We give thanks and celebrate their contribution to worship this morning!
*Welcomers/Liturgist Training Today! You are invited to gather for a minitraining following worship today with Aeri.
*All Hands on Deck for 2012 Street Fest Children's Outreach!
Aug. 25th, Saturday, 10:00 - 1:00 p.m. Prep. Day - Please come and help get crafts and games ready. Your participation will make a difference!
Aug. 26th, Sunday - Our day will begin with a simple praise and prayer service at 9:30 a.m., followed by set up and volunteer training at 10:15 a.m. Our doors open to children at 11:30 a.m. Please sign up today!
-Pastor Emily will be away the week of Aug. 27th for her Resident in Ministry Academy as well as some time off. She will return to the office on Sept. 4th. Please note that Holy Communion will be celebrated on Sept. 9th.
-Rally Day, Sept. 9th - We will kick off a new year of Christian Education and Sunday School on this day! This is a vital way to keeping "growing!"
-New Adult Sunday School Class Begins on Sept. 9th - We will have a special 4 week session exploring the context and issues of Palestine/Israel and what a faithful response looks like. Guest facilitator: Jose Arcellana, Chair of Buena Vista UMC’s Church & Society Committtee and Lay Servant.
Simple & Practical Ways with No Strings Attached”. Together, we unpacked what it means to share God's love in simple and practical ways (like handing out bottles of drinking water), as well as what "no strings attached" looks like. The class not only studied and discussed evangelism together but also practiced this new way of evangelism. We give great thanks to the leadership of Charlie Ho and Jane Yin for designing and shepherding this series. We pray that we will each continue to grow and learn in this area.
Probably the most memorable moment for me was the short skit performed by Donna and Steve the first week. The simple concept of sharing God’s love without strings attached came to life and became the theme of the class. That everyone readily took to the concept, energized me through the summer.
Equally so was watching the discussion - where the adults and younger members of each table group talked and listened enthusiastically. And despite the age range of the intergenerational class, we were able to tackle some pretty complex ideas. It was always really hard to stop the discussions due to the lack of time. (This was no fluke: Jane planned and adjusted the table members as people are in and out due to camp, family vacation, etc. to keep each table “balanced”.)
It was also wonderful to listen to the feedback on the scriptures and the exercises. While there were challenges expressed, there was also enthusiasm, joy, empathy, desire to befriend people we do not know. Maybe we’ve started removing the church’s “four walls” through this time. As we walked and looked out, I am learning that those outside are looking in. If we are to live our faith, we will be expected to act on what God guides us to see.
This summer’s Intergenerational Sunday School, “Exploring and Sharing God’s love in practical ways with no strings attached”, has been an enriching and fun experience for me. A big Shout Out goes to Charlie who prepared and executed the lessons each week. We explored the concept of evangelism and how we could share God’s love without strings attached. The feared “E” word was made easy and fun by learning about evangelism and then sharing God’s love without strings attached by giving out water to the people outside our church walls. Jesus commanded us to practice evangelism as his disciples. It is something anyone could do because the Holy Spirit is with us in all our endeavors. We don’t need to worry about what to say or do or how the other person will respond. We just need to share the love of God in us in all we do.
The highlight for me was seeing the adults, “big sisters and big brothers,” who made special efforts to include and care for the youth/children, “little sisters and little brothers,” in all aspects of the learning experience. I wonder how many of us are aware that we practice evangelism without strings attached constantly in our daily lives.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
November is months away, but I'm already weary of mean-spirited political partisanship. It's going to be a long election season. It seems like America has lost the ability to engage in thoughtful political dialogue with civility. Instead of respectful civil discourse, it seems each side only wants to attack and destroy the other side, often with half-truths or distorted facts. The end result is political gridlock, and hateful feelings toward people with different political views.
I have no illusions that political civility is on the way. The demonization of political opponents and hard line ideology on both sides will only get worse as the November elections get closer. But as Christians, there are a few things we can do.
First, we can refuse to participate in hateful partisanship. For example, we can refuse to listen to radio programs or watch TV shows or read internet sites that engage in bitter partisanship, whether on the left or on the right. We can also refuse to talk disrespectfully about political candidates on either side of the aisle.
A second thing Christians can do is admit that many political issues are complex. Rarely is one political party all right and the other political party all wrong. Framing every political agenda as a completely black and white issue is not helpful. When we admit that many political issues are complicated, and that both sides include good people with good points, then genuine compromise is possible.
A third thing Christians can do is to obey God's word to "not bear false witness" and not spread untrue statements about our political foes. Even better, we can follow the Golden Rule to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which, at the very least, means that we will respect people who hold different
views from us.
The Church has much to offer in a world of bitter partisanship. We can model a better way to treat one another including mutual respect, fair-minded dialogue, and common sense compromise for the greater good. I'd like to close with a quote from Amy Black in her article "The Cure for Election Madness" (Christianity Today, January 2012):
In 2 Peter 1:5-8, the apostle encourages his fellow believers to "make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Imagine the possibilities if Christians actually modeled such Christlike behavior in the political arena! We can and should lead by example, approaching politics with humility, grace, and reason, and giving the ultimate glory to Christ.
Rev. Martin Thielen serves as Senior Pastor of Brentwood United Methodist Church, Brentwood Tennessee. Martin’s most recent book is What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Most.
*Great thanks to each of those who served at LMUMC's Food Pantry this past Saturday. Along those lines, did you know that our last barrel contained 145 lbs of food?! This month, we encourage you to donate all things "Asian." Thank you!
*Mission Exchange Celebration - We welcome home our San Diego missioners who went to share the story and ministry of YCVM! Jenny Wong wrote, "Today's presentation was amazing! It's really great seeing people's responses and the ways they're willing to help. There was some talk about people wanting to go on a mission trip with us! And the donations - absolutely amazing! There was even a little boy that donated $.25." We celebrate the six new communities we visited this summer and give great thanks for the enthusiasm about the building of Kumi Christian Visionary School. Let us listen together to how the Holy Spirit guides us forward.
*Special Treat - Next Sunday, Aug. 19th, we welcome the New Dimension Chorus (Burt’s barbershop group) and their musical gifts to be part of worship. You won’t want to miss it!
*All Hands on Deck for 2012 Street Fest Children's Outreach! Following the huge response last year, we will once again outreach to children and families during the annual Street Fest. Sign up sheets are ready this week! Your participation is invited on Saturday for preparations and Sunday for "sharing God's love in simple, practical ways with no strings attached."
-Pastor Emily will be away the week of Aug. 27th for her Resident in Ministry
Academy as well as some time off. She will return to the office on Sept. 4th.
-Rally Day, Sept. 9th - We will kick off a new year of Christian Education and Sunday School on this day! This is a vital way to keeping "growing!"
Thursday, August 9, 2012
At this week's Wednesday Community Dinner, Janet Lahr Lewis shared the story of Wadi Foquin, a small village in Palestine. Janet is a United Methodist Liaison to Palestine & Israel, and you can read more about her work at the UM Holy Land Task Force here.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
These days Olympic athletes are vying for gold medals, which only the very best will get. Although I'm not really into sports, I love watching people do things—almost anything—really, really well. Doing something excellently gives a dimension of beauty to it that makes it a joy to behold.
Sometimes new Olympic events are added, but some things you can never turn into a competition. It's too bad there aren't more gold medals anyway, some way of saying, "That was splendid!" I know a woman who was abused as a child—terribly—but she turned out OK. It took a lot of therapy, bad turns, good friends and self-discipline, but here she is with no bitterness, fear or self-loathing, and a lot of tenderness and wisdom. She ought to get a gold medal.
A friend of mine is exceedingly good at paying attention, listening with a deep, compassionate heart. There's no medal for that. A kid in my church asks the best questions in the world. She should at least be in the running for a bronze. Someone can stop in perfect wonder at the shape and glory of a cloud. Another is always honestly encouraging. I know someone who can cry at the drop of a hat. There's an old guy I know who's almost always grumpy and cynical, but he's 94 and he keeps going. Give the guy a medal. A newborn baby just lies there. Eats a little, poops and sleeps. Doesn't even smile yet. And you can see the gold medal shining in her parent's eyes.
Ephesians 4 says to “live a life worthy of your calling.” It says God gives each of us different gifts for building up the Body of Christ. We all contribute something to the community. You life's work is to find out what your calling is, what your own gifts are. There are an infinite number of “Olympic events.”
And there are an infinite number of gold medals. “Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.” Christ's gift is infinite. God's grace is a gold medal for everyone, not for an outstanding accomplishment, not for being better than others, but just for being ourselves.
Discover what it is to be yourself, to live out the gifts God gives you. There's no competition; nobody in the world can do it like you. Nobody. There won't be a medal you can hang in your trophy case. But it will be beautiful, and a joy to behold. And whatever it is to be you, just to be you, know that it gives God
that great smile of the coach whose favorite athlete has just won the gold.
Pastor Steve is a United Methodist pastor who currently serves in Acton, Massachusetts. He writes daily lectionary related reflections at his blog, “Unfolding Light”. This can be found at http://unfolding-light.blogspot.com/
*We Celebrate Adventures in Faith on Promises Island - This past Thursday we held our final AiF on PI! The whole team was filled with praise and gratitude for all the ways that God worked in us, through us, and around us. God is good! Special thanks to Donna who was the key anchor to the whole ministry and to all those who gave a day or ten! Let us continue to whole each child in the Homework Club in our prayers. May the seeds we scattered continue to grow through the Holy Spirit.
*Patrick Okore and Sarah Wed - This past Saturday, Aug. 4th, Patrick (a member of YCVM) and Sarah (an alumni of YCVM) got married. You are invited to pray for and with them as they begin this new journey.
*Wednesday Community (Potluck) Dinner & Janet Lahr Lewis - This week we hold our final WCD. We welcome Janet who is the UMC Mission Liaison the Palestine/Israel as well as friends from Buena Vista UMC. Our time together will begin at 6:30 p.m. Please sign up so that we will be coordinated.
*Mission Exchange Update - Today, a team of seven are in San Diego sharing the YCVM story and ministry (Aeri, Ben, Jenny, Donna, Peter, Becky and Al). Let us join the "home team" and hold them in prayer. Last week at LMUMC and hosting the UMW went wonderfully well!
*Upcoming Special Treat - On Sunday, Aug. 19th, we welcome the New Dimension Chorus (Burt’s barbershop group) and their musical gifts to be part of worship. You won’t want to miss it!
-Aug. 12th - Usher and Greeter Training. Please RSVP to Ben today!
-Aug. 18th - CCUMC Work Day, 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. This is a time to pitch in together to clean, tidy, fix, and care for our church buildings together. You are invited to stop in for an hour or the whole thing! Please RSVP to Al.
-Aug. 19th - Liturgist and Prayer Leader Training. Please RSVP to Aeri today!
-Aug. 25th & 26th - Chinatown Street Fest Children's Outreach. Please sign up to participate today