Sunday, December 30, 2012

Videos for 12-30-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Waiting....Fulfilled" Luke 2: 41-52, Pastor Pui Fong Wong

English Ministry News and Notes 12-30-12

*Great Thanks to Poinsettia Donors - Adrienne & Rich Fong (in memory of our parents), Derek Lang, Eddie & Arlene Lang (in memory of our parents), Val & Jeff Kuan, Donna Chan Chu (in memory of our parents), Peggy & Larry Woon, Lisa Ahn, Brenda & Vince Wong (in celebration of grandchildren), Pastor Emily & Steven Chen, Aeri Lee & Ben Wong, Ben Lang, Anna & David Wong, Elsie Wan, James Yu, Mabel & CK Lee, Ulander Pang, Feng Ying & Wayne, Lucy Zhou, Y.F. Fan Wu, Winnie Pon, Linda Woo, Mei Hwei Lee, Leo & Helena Lin, Lin Kam Huey, Donna Louie. Please take one home after service today!

*Please note - The church office will be closed Monday, Dec. 31st, and Tuesday, Jan. 1st for New Year's. Pastor Emily will be out of the office through Jan. 12th. For pastoral care and concerns, please connect with Meina Ko (510.452.1020 or

*New Year's Day Hike - You are warmly invited to this annual tradition: kicking off the new calendar year with warm fellowship and time in God's beautiful creation. Hikers will gather at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 1st followed by dinner together. Please connect with Becky to RSVP and for details (meeting point, etc.).

*Small Group Ministries Starting a New Season - Small Groups will begin anew the 2nd week in January (Jan. 8th and 9th). If you would like to learn more about Small Groups and their impact on our spiritual lives, please connect with any facilitator: Brenda, Becky, Burt, Charlie, Jane, or Steve. Every member of CCUMC is strongly encouraged to participate in a Small Group!

*LMUMC Food Pantry Work Day - Our monthly work day is on Saturday, Jan. 12th, from 9:00 - 1:00 p.m. If you have never served in this ministry, this is a great way to start off the new year! To learn more, connect with Jane.

*Church Appreciation Luncheon - We are SO thankful for the presence of each person at CCUMC. We'd like to gather and celebrate together on Sunday, Jan. 27th. We will be having a special luncheon at Peony Restaurant nearby. RSVP with Becky before Jan. 13th for the special rate of $10 (adults and youth), $8 (for children 6-12).

*Prayer Need: Our children and youth Sunday School program is very much in need of coordination and leadership. This important ministry program is a key way we walk with the children and youth of the church. It can also be a vital outreach to our Homework Club students. We need to build it up. We need to strengthen it. Please pray for God's leading and provision. A special training for any and all wanting to support this ministry will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26th from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Please consider being a part of the day.

If We Believe by Pastor Derek Lang

In this year's Christmas message, the Pope quoted St. Augustine's Christmas Sermon #2. Speaking about the arrival of baby Jesus, Augustine said "for those good came such sublimity in such humility? Certainly He came for no good of His own, but for our great good - if we believe." "If we believe" echoed in my thoughts as I tried to explain to a friend what Christmas was all about. My words "God sent His Son Jesus as a baby into this world" must have sounded like a folk tale to someone without the context of belief. And yet, these words are so powerful to those of us who put our whole lives in the belief of a God that loved the world so much as to give God's Son to be vulnerable as a baby to the world and to die in love as a man for the world.

Charlie, Donna, and Amy explained to us last Sunday how one can interpret the Gospels' differing accounts of Jesus birth to reveal a truth deeper than fact about the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is more than a history lesson. It is more than facts about people, dates, and places. The story of Christmas reveals humility in a manger, a savior for all people are represented by shepherds lonely in a field, and the respect of kings bowing to the authority of God.

But you can only get to these truths if you believe; otherwise, it is all just a tale. Instead, the story of Christmas transforms us to give food to the hungry, sing carols to lift the spirits of those in need of company, offer gifts to bring a smile to children, and call for peace around the world. The Pope explains, "Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindess and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven."

"If we believe." Such words are so powerful and so fundamental. Yet, when we do believe, they open a door to wonder and hope. How can we not believe?! Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Candle Light Service

A CCUMC tradition continues, with a hundred candles illuminating the sanctuary during a Lessons and Carols worship service on Christmas Eve.  As one member described it, "a blessed event"! (English/Cantonese/Mandarin)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Videos for 12-23-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "A Lifetime of Waiting" Luke 1:26-35, 38, Pastor Emily

Wendy Lee's Baptism Testimony

Our own Wendy Lee got baptized on December 23. She has been a big part of CCUMC for many years and now attends UC Santa Cruz. Watch her share her experience with love here!

Sunday School Christmas Pageant

Both adult and children Sunday School collaborated to put on a play showing what happened when Jesus was born, according to the Gospels and with some surprises of course! Watch the pageant here!:

English Ministry News and Notes 12-23-12

*Merry, Merry Christmas! We pray all of God's wondrous blessings of hope, peace, joy and love to surround you and your families as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

*Christmas Eve Candle Light Service - You are warmly invited to be a part of tomorrow (Monday) evening's special service at 7:00 p.m. The sanctuary will be aglow with the beauty of lights. You are encouraged to bring light refreshments for the fellowship afterwards.

*New Year's Day Hike - You are warmly invited to this annual tradition: kicking off the new calendar year with warm fellowship and time in God's beautiful creation. Hikers will gather at 1:30 p.m. on Jan.1st followed by dinner together. Please connect with Becky to RSVP and for details (meeting point, etc.).

*LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Work Day - The first food pantry work day will be Saturday, Jan. 12th. Great thanks to all those who served over the last year and a warm invitation is extended to all those who have not yet experienced the ministry! Please sign up today!

*2013 Hospitality and Altar Flower Sign Up's - As we roll into the new year, you are invited to consider contributing towards the altar flowers (sign up on annex bulletin board, $10/Sunday) and providing hospitality refreshments (next to refreshment table). Consider working with someone new! Please connect with Laura or Peggy about sign ups.

*Holy Communion will be celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in January (Jan. 13th.) We welcome Burt Yin, certified Lay Servant, to the pulpit on Epiphany Sunday (Jan. 6th).

*Great News - Rev. Martin Odi (former Board Chair of YCVM and current consultant) obtained his visa to travel to the US on Dec. 18th.  Thus we will welcome him to the Bay Area on Jan. 30th - Feb. 4th. This is an answer to prayer!

*Please Note - Pastor Emily will be on vacation from Dec. 24th - Jan. 12th. She will return to the office on Sunday, Jan. 13th. During this time, you are encouraged to connect with Meina Ko, our Minister of Discipleship, for any pastoral care concerns or needs. She can be reached in the office at 510.452.1020 or via email ( Additionally, the church office will be closed on Dec. 24th and 25th.

Christmas Peace, Christmas Just - Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord…
                  who has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their
         God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
                  and lifted up the lowly;
         God has filled the hungry with good things,
                  and sent the rich away empty.”
- Luke 1.46, 51-53

Mary sees herself as part of how God is changing the world. Her song is not about piety, but justice. The Biblical model of justice is not just charity for the needy; it’s the exercise of complete compassion among all people as sisters and brothers. This requires the elimination of all that separates us from each other: the end of exploitation and dehumanization, and a radical upheaval and complete re-ordering of power and wealth and the economic and political systems that maintain them, a turning inside out and upside down of our society for the sake of the poor and the suffering. God doesn’t just lift up the lowly, but also brings down the powerful. It’s not just a change in certain people or behaviors; it’s a new world.

Christmas - the coming of Christ - is not a sentimental birthday celebration. It’s an act of God’s anguish at our self-centered ways, God’s judgment of our injustice and violence. It’s the initiation of God’s insurgence into the world to bring about justice and peace. God is sending an undercover human to totally disrupt our abuse of power and the very structure of evil itself. The Undercover Christ will defeat bitterness with forgiveness, subvert suffering with mercy and healing, and even overthrow the inner operation of death itself. Mary sees what’s coming. She sees the empire overturned.

To see the world through Mary’s eyes, through the eyes of Christmas, is to see the world from the place of the outcast and the downtrodden—and to see hope. In Mary’s eyes Christmas doesn’t make us think of comfort food around the family table; it makes us think of prisoners and the homeless, refugees, victims of discrimination, war and human trafficking. And thinking of them, we have hope, because God is among them and for them, and therefore so are we. In the birth of Christ, God is a poor refugee child and the emperor is powerless. If God is truly in the manger, our divisions are illusions: we are all in this together. We all are needy and powerful, all poor, all gifted. God brings us all together as sisters and brothers, and eliminates the illusions with which we separate ourselves from each other.

Seeing the world through the eyes of Christmas we see power in a peasant girl, we see hope in an empty manger, we hear angels when others hear only wind. We know that heavenly messengers visit lowly shepherds, not mighty kings. We see God’s infinite power and glory in every poor, vulnerable child. We hear hope even in the weeping of those who mourn, and we see glory and beauty in everyone, even the most plain. We know that God is among us in love and healing. We know, like Mary, that we are part of how God is changing the world, and we give ourselves over to that change. We know that even in the darkness and evil and suffering and sorrow, we are truly, gently, mercifully, lovingly saved.

To read more of Pastor Steve’s lectionary faith reflections, please visit: You can subscribe to daily devotional writings by him there.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Videos for 12-16-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Waiting Between the Times" Luke 3: 7-18, Pastor Emily

Practicing Extravagant Generosity

Some time ago, a motion was made and passed in the Board of Administration and Trustees (BOAT).  The motion was made out of a desire to live out what we had been called to as God’s stewards, as well as a desire to pass on the gifts of God to others.  The motion was to give 75% of all net profit from the Homework Club ministry during its first year at CCUMC (May 2011 – Aug. 2012) to Gum Moon Women’s Residence in San Francisco, a project with a long history of extends affordable housing and other services to women in transition. 

At the time the motion was made, BOAT had no idea what 75% would represent.  Would it be $100, $1,000, more?  Approving the motion was an act of faith and required our leaders to hold lightly God’s blessings and gifts.

In August, our Finance team reviewed the books and calculated the profits and found that 75% represented $36,400!  BOAT was as surprised as you are!  Knowing we were going to give that much money away, BOAT hesitated and questioned.  After much discussion and discernment, the original motion was affirmed but amended to direct our Missions Ministry Team to recommend how to allocate the monies and to do so by the end of the year after obtaining BOAT approval.  The only stipulation is that the monies be used for missions beyond our walls, be it local, national, or global.  The Missions Ministry Team meant this past Friday, Dec. 14th, and will do so again on Friday, Dec. 21st.   Your input is welcomed!  Please connect with any Missions Ministry Team member (Donna, Jane, Becky, Burt, Ben, Steve, Aeri) to share your discernment and God’s leading. 

This is incredibly exciting.  We invite your intentional prayers as we, together, discern how God would have us use God’s resources for God’s purposes in the world.

English Ministry News and Notes 12-16-12

*Come Wrap! We will hold a wrapping party replete with Christmas music, fellowship, and lots and lots of presents to wrap. We'll gather in the Annex at about 12:45 p.m. With many hands, all the gifts for the children of Asian Health Services will be done in no time.

*Prayer Invitation - Rev. Martin Odi, former Board Chair of Youth & Child Visionary Ministries and current consultant will be interviewed at the US Embassy in Kampala on Tuesday, Dec. 18th. He is applying for a visa to come to the US to visit us among other ministry partners. Please hold him and the whole process in your prayers!

*Adventure in Faith Christmas Party! We will be throwing a special Christmas party for our Homework Club students on Friday, Dec. 21st. Please come at 2:00 to help with set up. The party will run from 3:15 - 4:30 p.m. Your participation will make a difference!

*Christmas Caroling - We'll be heading out to share the joy and hope of the season with strangers and neighbors alike next Sunday, Dec. 23rd. Please sign up TODAY so that we can prepare a simple lunch. We will plan to return by 4:00 p.m. Drivers are needed!

*Christmas Eve Candle Light Worship - We will celebrate the beauty and wonder of God coming to be with us and amongst us, Monday, Dec. 24th at 7:00 p.m. Please consider bringing some light refreshments to share for our time of fellowship afterwards.

*Hospitality in 2013 - Thank you to all who extended hospitality each Sunday, providing delicious refreshments as well as cleaning up. The calendar for the first half of 2013 is up. You are invited to use this as an opportunity to get to know others and build relationships.

*Please Note - Pastor Emily will be going on vacation from Dec. 24th - Jan. 12th. She will return to the office on Sunday, Jan. 13th. During this time, you are encouraged to connect with Meina Ko, our Minister of Discipleship for any pastoral care concerns or needs. She can be reached in the office at 510.452.1020 or via email ( Additionally, the church office will be closed on Dec. 24th and 25th.

A Way in the Wilderness, Rev. Steven Garnass-Holmes

...As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight a path for God." - Luke 3.4

Luke does a sleight of hand here, Isaiah says "The voice of one crying out: 'In the wilderness prepare a way.'" Isaiah is talking about a road through the desert that would bring the exiles back home. Luke is talking about John preaching in the desert, so he makes it sound like it's the preacher that's in the wilderness, not the path that's being prepared. Luke connects John and Isaiah because the coming of Jesus is not just abot personal salvation; it's about justice.

We've turned Christmas into a sentimental feeling-fest. We get warm and fuzzy loving each other and feeling touched at the midnight candles and the pretty music. But listen to the scriptures and it's actually all about God's profound and even traumatic incursion against the unjust systems in the world, to create a new order. The mountains and valleys of wealth and power will be leveled. The rough places of exploitation and dehumanization will be smoothed. No wonder there'll be "signs in the heavens and distress among the nations."

To really honor Christmas we should not just to shop for our loved ones but act of behalf of God's loved ones, the poor and powerless. Tonight I'm taking some church members caroling at the prison. Maybe it will get some of them involved in reform of our "justice system." Maybe our singing will be a small voice crying out: "In the wilderness prepare a way...."

This Christmas, be mindful of those who are marginalized, exploited or oppressed. Keep in your prayers those who are lonely or afraid or abused. Put them on your list, not just to shop, but to work for justice. In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight a path for God. And all flesh shall see the salvation of our Lord.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Videos for 12-9-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Waiting for the Day of the Lord" Isaiah 11: 1-9, Pastor Emily

English Ministry News and Notes 12-9-12

*Great Thanks to all those who served at the LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry yesterday!

*Charge Conference is Today! - Please make every effort to be a part of our short but sweet Charge Conference today at 1:30 p.m. We'll share a time of lunch and fellowship at 1:00 p.m. in the Annex before gathering officially. Charge Conference is the annual "business meeting" of the church. Our time together will be used to set the pastoral compensation, receive the membership report, and elect a team of new leaders and confirm those returning.

*AHS Toy Drive - We're teaming up with our Chinese speaking brothers & sisters to gather toys for the young patients of Asian Health Services between now and Dec. 16th. On the 16th, we'll host a "wrapping party" from 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. You are encouraged to donate toys in the following categories: books, games, art supplies. Thank you!

*Adventure in Faith: Christmas Edition - We'd like to throw a mini-party for the Homework Club students on Friday, Dec. 21st, from 2:30 - 5:00 p.m.  Please pitch in!

*Christmas Poinsettias  - You are invited to purchase poinsettias to "Christmasify" the sanctuary. Each plant is $10. Plants will be available on the 30th to take home. To do so, please connect with Peggy.

*Christmas Caroling - Please mark your calendars now for an afternoon of caroling with brothers and sisters on Sunday, Dec. 23rd. Please RSVP on the sign up sheet if you will be participating. Please let us know if you'd be willing and able to drive (must be 25 years old or older) and how many passengers you can take. All are welcome.

*Christmas Eve Candle Light Service will be celebrated on Dec. 24th, Monday, at 7:00 p.m. Our service will include Cantonese/ Mandarin for the first time.

Anticipating the Advent

Lance Moore @ Ministry Matters Anticipation. You may remember the old ketchup commercial where Carly Simon sings the song "Anticipation" while the ketchup slowly hangs in midair. Anticipation should be a joyful feeling, not the feeling of anxiety and dread. But the feelings are similar in that whatever we expect, whether good or bad, is often surprising.

One of my favorite jokes illustrates the connection between anticipation and surprise. Back in the wild West, a stranger stands at a saloon bar. Suddenly a cowboy runs into screaming, "Hey, everybody, Big Bad John is coming to town." Several others exclaim: "Big Bad John is the meanest, toughest, biggest outlaw in the West. Let's run for it." Everyone heads for the door except the stranger replies, "I don't know who he is, but he can't be all that big and bad. I'm not afraid." So the stranger and the bartender wait. Soon the saloon doors fly off their hinges, and a mountain of a man stomps through the door. Covered with scars and sporting a scowl, he demands a drink. The bartender meekly complies. The stranger nervously thinks to himself, "Now I wish I had run away; this guy is the biggest, meanest-looking outlaw I've ever seen." The outlaw downs the drink in one gulp, slams it down on the bar, then turns and looks the stranger coldly in the eye to announce, "I don't know about you, stranger, but I'm gettin' outta here. I don't wanna be here when Big Bad John comes in!"

Anticipation is usually followed with surprise! Most jokes have that same structure: anticipation, then surprise. We know something is coming but then it was not what we expected. There is something delightful about the formula. Children know it. That's why they love opening Christmas presents. They must look at those wrapped gifts for weeks of suspense, and only on Christmas morning do they receive the surprise.

If only we adults could reclaim some of the anticipation and surprise, the excitement and wonder, of a child's Christmas ... or of the very first Christmas. Admittedly, we know what is coming. We feel no anticipation about the coming of Christ; Christmas for some people is just another holiday, that same old time of year where we fight our way through stores, unpack our ornaments, and eat too much.

So we must work at it if we wish to reclaim the excitement of Advent. Paradoxically, one must work at it if we wish to reclaim the excitement of Advent. Paradoxically, one must prepare to be surprised. So I'm asking you in this Advent season to shift your perspective. Don't view Christmas as a mundane or repetitious holiday. Don't expect the "same old, same old." Don't rule out the miraculous and the startling; prepare your mind for the serendipitous joy of new insights, liberation, and the fulfillment of hope. Prepare to be surprised.

The gift of Christ at Christmas has come, and will come again. Anticipate that gift. Prepare for it. Don't let it get buried underneath the packages and tree trimmings. Don't walk past the eternal, oblivious in your worries of the temporal. Open your eyes. Watch for the signs. Bare and prepare your heart. Wait. The miracle is coming!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Videos for 12-2-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Called to Wait" Genesis 12: 1-9, Pastor Emily

English Ministry News and Notes 12-1-12

*Thank You to all those who designed and created our beautiful Advent space! May it contribute to our having a worshipful experience.

*God is AMAZING...and So Are You! We have met and exceeded our YCVM benefit dinner fundraising goal! Even after all our expenses, our donations totaled $24,400. Great thanks to God and to each and every donor to this worthwhile effort. Please personally thank your friends who attended!

*Ushers and Greeters Gather Today @ 12:45 p.m. - Whether you're new to the team or an old hand, you're invited to gather for the last time this year to reflect and celebrate.

*Charge Conference, Dec. 9th, Next Sunday - Please make every effort to be a part of our short but sweet Charge Conference next Sunday at 1:30 p.m. We'll share a time of lunch and fellowship before gathering officially in the Annex. Charge Conference is the annual "business meeting" of the church. Our time together will be used to set the pastoral compensation, receive the membership report, and elect a team of new leaders and confirm those returning.

*AHS Toy Drive - We're teaming up with our Chinese speaking brothers & sisters to gather toys for the young patients of Asian Health Services between now and Dec. 16th. On the 16th, we'll host a "wrapping party" from 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. You are encouraged to donate toys in the following categories: books, games, art supplies. Thank you!

*Christmas Poinsettias  - You are invited to purchase poinsettias to "Christmasify" the sanctuary. Each plant is $10. Plants will be available on the 30th to take home.  To do so, please connect with Peggy.

*Christmas Caroling - Please mark your calendars now for an afternoon of caroling with brothers and sisters on Sunday, Dec. 23rd. Please RSVP on the sign up sheet if you will participating. All are welcome.

*Christmas Eve Candle Light Service will be celebrated on Dec. 24th, Monday, at 7:00 p.m. Our service will include Cantonese/ Mandarin for the first time.

The Meaning is in the Waiting

This year's Advent worship theme is taken from the title of a short, sweet Advent devotional titled, "The Meaning is in the Waiting" by Paula Gooder. The book had been hiding in my bookshelf for I don't know how long. And just as I was looking for inspiration for worship during this new season, the title poked its head out and gently took hold of me. The title alone drew me in.
In the foreword, the writer notes:
American culture gives us lots of cues about how to live inside time.  Chiefly, we are told to spend it (have you ever noticed that almost all the verbs we pair with time are borrowed from the worlds of finance - spend, save, manage...) We're told, by advertisements and by our Blackberries, to squeeze time dry, to use it well, to maximize it.
The church tells us a different story about time - it is God's, and there is enough of it, more than enough. The church's narrative about time is never clearer than during Advent, when we are invited to spend out time very foolishly indeed.  We are invited to wait.  Just to wait.

This seems to be an especially important invitation as we enter this time of year. Over the next few weeks, most of us will find our lives becoming even busier than usual.  Our schedules will become full of planning and attending holiday gatherings with family, friends, colleagues, and clubs.  We will go shopping here, there, and everywhere in search of the perfect gifts.  And then there are all the tasks associated with closing out another calendar year that we must squeeze in somehow (for me, this means a mountain of Charge Conference paperwork!).  And yet, on this Sunday, the first Sunday in Advent, the church starts time anew.  Rather than closing out a year, we begin a new one.  And the invitation is not to work ourselves into a frenzy, but rather to slow down, to quiet, to simply wait.  I wonder how that feels to you? Does it feel impossible...or appealing? Do you find yourself wanting to resist the invitation...or to embrace it? However you encounter the invitation, I pray that we might enter it together and learn what waiting offers to our lives of faith and our walk with God.

Over the next four weeks, we will explore together:

  • Why we wait,
  • What it feels like to be someone who waits,
  • What happens when we don't wait, and
  • Why God might want us to get better at waiting.

We will explore these questions by walking alongside some important biblical characters who waited...and waited...and sometimes, waited some more: Abraham and Sarah, the prophets of the Hebrew (Old) Testament, John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The hope is that by delving into and practicing waiting, we might be enabled to turn more and more towards God (and away from ourselves), and from being driven by an unpredictable future to being fully and joyfully present.
Happy waiting! ~Emily