Monday, February 27, 2012

Videos for 2-26-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "And God Covenanted", Genesis 9:8-17, Pastor Emily

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Keeping Lent




Here are some ways you are invited to “keep” Lent:



  • Participate in the Lenten Book Study -  The adult Sunday School class is digging into select chapters of the book, “Altars in the World: A Geography of Faith” by Barbara Brown Taylor.  The book explores how we might encounter and experience God in the midst of our daily life.  Taylor is a wonderfully gifted writer and story-teller!  Sunday School meets each Sunday in the Annex at 9:30 a.m.
  • Worship each Sunday - Each Sunday, we’ll open up to the transforming power of relationships - with God, with one another, and with the world.
  • Make Lenten Commitments - We’ve all heard about people giving up chocolate for Lent, but what about giving up something that might really draw you closer to the heart of God?  Lenten commitments enable you to name your desires to turn back towards God and act on those desires.  Look for the cards in the foyer or at SOUP..
  • Enjoy S.O.U.P -  Sundays of Uniting Prayer invites us into a time of slowing down and quiet so that we can hear ourselves, each other, and the Holy Spirit...all over a steaming bowl of delicious homemade soup.  In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to walk with others as you hold to your Lenten Commitments. Soup makers are still needed - starting next week.  Can you pitch in?  Please sign up on the board in the social hall.
  • Observe Holy Week - This year, we’ll hold both a Maundy Thursday (Apr. 5) and Good Friday (Apr. 6) Service.  These special services deepen the wonder and celebration of Easter and Resurrection!

The Practice of Encountering Others: Building Community through Covenant, Commitment, and Companionship


Welcome to the season of Lent!  For those of you who are new to Lent and what it’s all about (or those who just need a quick review), here’s a brief, simplified version:


Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter Sunday.  This 40 day period begins on Ash Wednesday and excludes all Sundays (because Sundays are for celebrating the Risen Christ!).  In the ancient church, this period was an intense time of spiritual preparation for those getting baptized on Easter.  They fasted and they prayed, and they read and studied scriptures.  It was also a time in which those who had been cut off (or out) of the Christian community undertook acts of repentance and prepared to re-enter the community.  Eventually, rather than having only certain people take part in the 40 days, the whole church was encouraged to do so.  And so here we are!  As you might have noticed, the 40 days is also significant for the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness immediately (!) following his baptism, as well as being reminiscent of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert before entering the Promised Land.  To sum it all up, Lent is a season in which we open our hearts and seek – intentionally and through discipline - to return and re-align ourselves with God and God’s Way.  We commit to self-examination and repentance, and to those practices – new or old – that support us in finding our way back to God.  


Aren’t you excited?!  I am!


This year, after reflecting on the Hebrew (Old) Testament scriptures of the lectionary, after listening to the tempo of the congregation, and after being inspired by our own Wendy Lee, we settled on a theme for the season: The Practice of Encountering Others: Building Community through Covenant, Commitment and Companionship.   That’s a mouthful isn’t it?  Our hope is to take advantage of the season to:



  1. Invite and examine our commitment to God, one another, and the wider world.  What does it mean to commit to love and follow God?  What does that look like in our daily lives?  What – if anything – does our commitment to God mean to our relationship with others and the world?
  2. Explore what covenants are and what they have to do with building meaningful community.  What are covenants?  Why did God covenant with people (and all creation)?  How might covenants enable meaningful, faithful, accountable relationships?
  3. Try on supportive, accountable spiritual companionship.  How might we go deeper and go stronger with each other?  How might walking with one another – intentionally – grow and transform us?



Our theme is not only a mouthful, but it is also bold and ambitious.  And, I believe, it holds great possibility, life-giving possibility, for us, both individually and as a community.


So let’s throw on some scruffy clothes, grab a pair of gloves, and slip into comfy work boots – we’re about to embark on a journey that will take a bit of work.  We’re about to embark on a season that invites us to stay open, try on new ways of being, and welcome God’s Holy Spirit to transform us!


Lenten blessings,
Pastor Emily

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Videos for 2-19-12

Chinese Choir


Chinese Sermon


English Sermon - "That's What Friends Are For"Mark 2:1-12, Pastor Emily

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Preparing for Lent

The season of Lent begins next Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and continues for the following 6 weeks.  This special season marks the 40 days prior to Easter and invites us to prepare our hearts, spirits, and minds for that great celebration.  Here are some ways you are invited to prepare together:

Attend Ash Wednesday Service, Feb. 22nd, 7:30 p.m. - This beautiful, quiet, and meditative service brings focus for our individual and communal walks during the whole season.   
Participate in the Lenten Book Study - The adult Sunday School class will be digging into select chapters of the book, “Altars in the World: A Geography of Faith” by Barbara Brown Taylor.  The book explores how we might encounter and experience God in the midst of our daily life.  Taylor is a wonderfully gifted writer and story-teller!  Sunday School meets each Sunday in the Annex at 9:30 a.m.

Worship each Sunday - Grounded in the Old Testament strand of the lectionary cycle, our theme for the season is: The Practice of Encountering Others: Building Relationships Through Covenant, Commitment, and Companionship.  Each Sunday, we’ll open up to the transforming power of relationships.

Make Lenten Commitments - We’ve all heard about people giving up chocolate for Lent, but what about giving up something that might really draw you closer to the heart of God?  Lenten commitments enable you to name your desires to turn back towards God and act on those desires.  Look for the purple cards in your worship bulletin.

Enjoy S.O.U.P -  Sundays of Uniting Prayer invites us into a time of slowing down and quiet so that we can hear ourselves, each other, and the Holy Spirit...all over a steaming bowl of delicious homemade soup.  In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to walk with others as you hold to your Lenten Commitments.

Observe Holy Week - This year, we’ll hold both a Maundy Thursday (Apr. 5) and Good Friday (Apr. 6) Service.  These special services deepen the wonder and celebration of Easter and Resurrection!

A Deeper Need, Reflecting on Mark 2:1-12


By Derek Lang

One day my dentist asked whether I was under a lot of stress. I told him that I might have been, but asked how he knew. He pointed at the fact that I had been grinding my teeth, and that was a typical sign of stress in a person’s life. He could have just fixed my teeth. Instead there was something deeper that had to be fixed.

The first time I heard the story of the paralytic who was dropped down into the home of Jesus to be healed was when I was a child. It was a cute and encouraging story. It was not until I read the story again that I realize Jesus’ first response was to tell him that his sins were forgiven, rather than healing his paralysis. I wonder what would have happened if the scribes did not complain or grouse. Would the man have retorted to Jesus, “Uh, excuse me. It was nice of you to forgive my sins, but I’m still paralyzed”???

Jesus knew that there was something deeper that the man needed – that even the man probably did not realize. So often it is the things right in front of us that we think are emergencies needing to be fixed. They are the traumatic things in our lives. And yet, those are the relatively easier things to fix. It is the heart and soul things that are more difficult to fix – broken relationships, deep-seeded fears, old hurts that cannot be forgotten. I am glad that Jesus sees right through all my pride, fa├žades, and saving-face, and fixes what really needs healing in my life.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Food Pantry at Lake Merritt UMC

The Wednesday night small group served at the Lake Merritt UMC food pantry this past weekend.  CCUMC volunteers there every 2nd Saturday of the month, and many have signed up over the past year.  Most of the clients who come to get food are Asian seniors who speak mainly Chinese, so volunteers who speak Chinese are very beneficial to this ministry.


About 250 people were given a grocery bag filled with an assortment of canned and fresh foods, and breads.  It's really easy to help prepare the bags, so sign up to serve in the future!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

English Ministry News and Notes for 2-12-12

*Great thanks to our amazing carpet replacement work crew! Much appreciation to each and every person who helped to pack up and move our offices and the soundboard back and forth as well as paint our offices - Steve, Vince, Richard, Mel, Donna, Adrienne, Ben, Michael, Burt. Special thanks to Al for his coordination, organizing and supervision!
*Another Adventures in Faith Opportunity - We will be sharing the wonderful story of Jonah with the Homework Club on Wednesday, Feb. 29th. We call for all hands on deck to plan our monthly chapel, Friday, Feb. 17th at 12:30 p.m. Please connect with Pastor Emily, Donna, Richard, Adrienne, Peggy, or Becky with questions or to participate!
*Welcoming New Ushers / Greeters - At our recent training, Ben reminded us that welcoming and hospitality is an "all play" practice. In other words, it's something we are ALL called to do, ALL the time! Special thanks to those who have committed to being a part of the U/G ministry this coming year and for those who have served faithfully in years past. Let us - like Jesus - reach out our hands and welcome one another to the love of God!
*Marking Lent - Our theme for this season is, "The Practice of Encountering Others: Building Community through Covenant, Commitment, and Companionship." We will be exploring how God builds relationships with us and practicing how we might build relationships with each other. You are invited to fully enter this season and theme by:
1. Attending Ash Wednesday Worship, Feb. 22nd at 7:30 p.m.
2. Reading "Altars in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor and participating in adult Sunday School, each Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
3. Participating in weekly worship
4. Being a part of S.O.U.P each week, following worship
*Celebrating 125 Years! CCUMC is marking its 125th year in ministry and mission in 2012. We'd like to get planning underway. If you are interested in helping to organize our celebrations, please connect with Pastor Emily.

Reflecting on Our Focus Scripture

By Derek Lang
It was interesting to read this week’s scripture from a couple of different Bible translations. An online version of the NIV Bible starts Mark 1:41 with “Jesus was indignant” when asked by a leper for healing. The Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV) says “Moved with pity,” but has a note saying, “other ancient authorities read anger.” Another note follows that the phrase “stern warning” actually translates to “being disturbed” or “snorting.” And several commentaries talk about how charged of a situation this was - that indeed Jesus was upset. Why? One alluded to the leper’s disobedience in proclaiming Jesus’ act to the community that forced Jesus into hiding. Another said that this situation derailed Jesus’ plans for ministry. And yet another interesting twist was that Jesus was not angry at the man but rather at the societal institutions that would not show mercy to someone with leprosy. It always piques my interest when the Biblical interpretations depict Jesus as outright mad, rather than the stereotype of a demure, loving Christ.
The thought of Jesus’ plans being co-opted by someone or something outside his control, or even being upset at society seemed to resonate with me this week. Still sensitive over President Obama’s declaration that he would shift forces from the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict to posture against China (which I view as politically motivated), I was vexed by Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Hoekstra’s anti-Chinese commercial during the Super Bowl. News of radical elements of Occupy Oakland breaking into City Hall and anarchists violently co-opting legitimate cries for economic justice irked me even more. All this was amplified when I received a phone call from a timeshare telemarketer to whom I have repeatedly requested to be taken off their call list. I felt a tug in my gut as injustice and things out of my control weighed on me.
One technique for calming someone down or reducing the tension is to repeat back the angry words of the other person. The process is supposed to help the person see that you are listening and trying to understand. As I read about Jesus’ moments of anger and frustration, I wondered if this was God repeating back to me my own stresses as a way to help me calm down and find comfort. In our current Lectionary theme on healing, it does not take much to be reminded that we live in a world of brokenness. Thanks for all the ways that God helps us heal.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jason Weng Marine boot camp testimonial

Jason Weng, a recent graduate from Marine boot camp, shared a testimony about his experience during the final test, and how going to church was something he needed throughout the entire training.  Semper Fi.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Videos for 2-5-12

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Staying on Mission", Mark 1:29-39, Pastor Emily

Sunday, February 5, 2012

English Ministry News and Notes for 2-5-12

*Pitch In! LMUMC's Food Pantry Workday is this 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 Some 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.

*The Season of Lent is Just Around the Corner - The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22nd. We will mark this beginning with a special worship at 7:30 p.m. Small Groups will rest that week and the whole community is encouraged to attend. During this special six week season, you are invited to turn towards God through intentional spiritual practice. Rooted in our Hebrew (Old) Testament lectionary scripture texts, the theme for the season is: The Practice of Encountering Others – Building Community through Covenant, Commitment and Companionship. Begin preparing now to enter this season.

*A New Look a Spiritual Practice
- The adult Sunday School will begin a new book study on Feb. 26th. The book for the season is: "An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith." This six week study will invite you to consider spiritual practices afresh. Plan to participate!

This is the Work of Jesus

By Derek Lang

“This is the work of Jesus,” says the commentary from our United Methodist website about Jesus proclaiming the message in this week’s scripture. It has such a matter-of-fact tone about it. “Of course, it is.” or “What else would Jesus be doing?” belies the attitude of the writer. In other words, that is just who Jesus is. That may seem obvious when we think about Jesus. But is it so obvious for ourselves? Who are we? Sometimes we do not realize who we are ourselves and what we should be doing.

Last Sunday, it was truly a blessing to hear the faith sharings during our worship service. I appreciated how Jonathan captured the thought that we are all on a wonderful journey of self/spiritual formation; that Jesus continues to harken us even when we might be reluctant as Brenda said; and how God is revealed in unlikely places as when Ed traveled on an airplane and was inspired by strangers God puts in his path. I think we were all moved by each story, and I thought about how so many in our congregation have shared their own faith stories this past year. Could we have imagined us doing this two years ago or five years ago? Arlene, Leily, Laura, Nichole, Wendy, Steve, Charlie, Ed, Jonathan, Brenda, John, Jason, Aeri, Ben, Donna, Al, and Becky (and many more).

I thought to myself, “This is who we are and what we should be doing.” It was not a negative feeling of why have we not been doing this already. Rather it was a joyful feeling that this is what is feels like when we are maturing in Christ. This is what it feels like when we have reached our goal. I could tell a few have been nervous about sharing in front of the rest of the congregation – that is natural. But think what kind of a congregation we are when faith sharing is just  a part of who we are. What kind of doors open up when someone visits us and is inspired by seeing God working in our lives? What kind of opportunities are created when we talk excitedly about God outside church and a passer-by asks what all the excitement is about? What happens when we feel at ease inviting others to experience God's love like we experience God's love? That will be pretty amazing. And it is happening here at CCUMC.