Sunday, December 29, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 12-29-13

*Hospitality in the New Year! Do you love sharing a tasty treat with a brother/sister after worship? Do you enjoy sipping a cup of hot tea and catching up on Sunday? We do too! Please consider pitching in to provide hospitality after worship in the new year. The new sign up sheet is posted! Thank you!

*LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Day: Saturday, Jan. 11th. Pitch in and make a real difference!

*Poinsettia Donors: Please feel free to take a plant home today! Thanks again for bringing great beauty to the sanctuary!

*Please note, the church office will be closed on Jan. 1st.

*Community New Year Hike, Jan. 1st! Hikers and bikers are invited to gather to welcome the new year by gathering in front of the Lafayette Safeway at 9 a.m. For more info please connect with Charlie.

*Prayer Invite: Please hold our youth and young adults in prayer as they head off to a snow trip in Arnold, CA lead by Ben and Aeri, from Jan. 3rd—5th.

*Curious About Baptism or Membership? Please connect with Pastor Emily to if the Spirit is moving you to connect intentionally with God and the community.

12 Days of Christmas - Beth A. Richardson

Do not put Christmas away too soon — keep the joy and the song going for the whole season.- Mary Anna Vidakovich from Sing to the Lord: Devotions for Advent December 25 is only the first day of Christmas. The Christmas celebration continues for twelve days, after which we celebrate the arrival of the kings who fol-lowed the star to find the holy babe. The awaited event is here! Don’t put away the celebration just yet, but instead, follow the Christmas journey all the way to Epiphany.

Every Christmas, a good friend of mine gives me a huge Christmas shopping bag filled with twelve smaller bags. Inside each small sack is a gift for me or for someone in my family (even the dog sometimes gets a gift). I’m grateful for this tradition of opening one gift each day of the twelve days of Christmas. This tradition reminds me to keep celebrating Christ’s nativity all the way to Epiphany.

CELEBRATE THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

  • December 25: Memorize this verse: “A child has been born for us, a son given to us.” Isaiah 9:6
  • December 26: Take five minutes to think about three things you enjoyed most about Christmas Day.
  • December 27: Gather good clothes and take them to your church or a family shelter.
  • December 28: Use the fronts of old Christmas cards to make thank-you cards for people who gave you gifts.
  • December 29: Sit down with your family and tell each other what you like about each other.
  • December 30: Write about one of your favorite Christmas memories. Pack it with the Christmas decorations. You can read it next year.
  • December 31: Take some time to think about your hopes for the next year.
  • January 1: Pray for people who are traveling.
  • January 2: Sit quietly and think about how you hope the world will be dif-ferent next year.
  • January 3: Share Joy and Peace!
  • January 4: Cut out paper stars and put them in the windows of your home.
  • January 5: Read about the wise men’s journey to find Jesus in Matthew 2:1-12.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 12-22-13

*Great Thanks to each of your generosity for your giving towards our student missioners. It's not too late. If you were unable to do so last week, please place your special offering in the plates this week with a note in the memo: 2014 VIM Trip.

*Come Christmas Caroling! We will be heading out over the hills and everywhere to share the good news that Jesus Christ is born, Monday, Dec. 23rd, at noon. If you haven't already, please sign up today!

*You are warmly invited and welcomed to Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, Tuesday, Dec. 24th at 7:00 p.m. It will be a beautiful, joy-filled retelling of the Christmas story and lots of our favorite Christmas music.

*Hospitality in the New Year! Do you love sharing a tasty treat with a brother/sister after worship? Do you enjoy sipping a cup of hot tea and catching up on Sun-day? We do too! Please consider pitching in to provide hospitality after worship in the new year. The new sign up sheet is posted! Thank you!

*Please note, the church office will be closed on Dec. 25th and 26th.

*Curious About Baptism or Membership? Please connect with Pastor Emily to if the Spirit is moving you to connect intentionally with God and the community.

Emmanuel, Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” —Matthew 1.23

Forget all the fancy theories of salvation,
how this birth will be the latchkey
to our otherwise impossible forgiveness.
No, it is much more simple.

God wants to be with us.
That’s all.
Messed up as we are,
the Beloved likes to be close.

God desires to be with you,
delights to be with you.
Our Heavenly Lover delights
to be with all humanity,
because that’s what love is like.

All the stars in the darkness,
all the aching hearts,
the strangers who,
after all, are lovely,
all of this marvel
is just the divine plea
for friends.

How simple it is
to give God
immense pleasure!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 12-15-13

*Great Thanks to each of your generosity for your giving towards our stu-dent missioners. It's not too late. If you were unable to do so last week, please place your special offering in the plates this week with a note in the memo: 2014 VIM Trip.

*Appreciations to those who served at LMUMC's Food Pantry yesterday!

*Let's Wrap! You are invited to pitch in to wrap all the wonderful toys that were collected over the last few weeks today. We'll begin around 12:45 p.m. in the Annex. The gifts will be given this week participants of Asian Com-munity Mental Health Services (ACMHS).

*Please Note: Church Secretary, Theresa Leung, will be on vacation from Dec. 16th - 20th.

*It's Adventure in Faith Time! Our monthly chapel will be held this Wednesday, Dec. 18th. Volunteers will gather at 2:00 for a time of preparation. If you'd like to volunteer but have never done so, please connect with Pastor Emily.

*We're Going Caroling - We will be visiting both home-bound seniors and nursing homes on Monday, Dec. 23rd. Our time will begin at noon (please come having eaten lunch) and conclude by 5:30 p.m. in Castro Valley. Please sign up today in order for us to arrange for teams and rides. We welcome drivers (must be 25 years or older with a valid drivers' form on file.)

*Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship - We will retell the astonishing story of Emmanuel, God with us, on Tuesday, Dec. 24th, at 7:00 p.m. You are encouraged to invite family and friends to this beautiful, awe-filled service.

Nelson Mandela and Advent by Steve Goodier

Nelson Mandela died December 5, 2013, at age 95. It is fitting that we remember him during Advent.

Advent reminds us to wait … change is coming. Mandela urged his people onward toward change, but the road was arduous. "I am fundamentally an optimist," he said. "Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward" (Long Walk to Freedom). Change was coming. But the road stretching out before them was so very long.

Advent speaks of peace. Nelson Mandela was one of the great peacemakers of our lifetime. He lived by the words, "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." But peacemaking was neither quick nor easy. "I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended" (Long Walk to Freedom).

Advent is a season of hope. Mandela’s opposition to apartheid landed him in prison for 27 years. "In my country," he said, "we go to prison first and then become President." Though often discouraged, he did not give up. Later in life he said, "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." Much of his success lay in his persistence. In his autobiography Mandela tells of his joy when, during those years, he was introduced to his new baby granddaughter. In her face he saw the future of his people. It was customary for the grandfather to name the babies in the family, so he chose her name. She would be called Zaziwe, which means Hope. She would be named for a hopeful future for his people.

And finally, Advent points us toward the source of love, the greatest of all gifts. Mandela said so eloquently, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite" (Long Walk to Freedom).

Nelson Mandela was a great catalyst for positive change in the twentieth century. If he will be thought by some to be a saint, he would contradict by saying, "I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."

So it is fitting we remember him during Advent. May we each strive to be saints: sinners who keep on trying.
Steve Goodier is the Director of Communications for the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 12-8-13


  • Special Giving Opportunity Today: We will take a special offering today for our student missioners, Jacinto, Michelle, and Jeffrey, who will travel to Uganda in May. You are invited to give generously!
  • Christmas Poinsettias! An annual CCUMC tradition is the decorating of the sanctuary with poinsettias for Christmas Sunday and Christmas Eve. If you would like to contribute a plant, please place your order with Laura. Each plant is $10. We will take orders through today.
  • During the month of December, we are collecting used children's books, grades K-4, to send to Kumi Christian Visionary School which opens next year in Uganda. This will form the basis of a small school library which the Mission Team will help establish next May. See Jeffrey Lu for details.
  • Charge Conference! You are warmly invited to attend our annual "business meeting." We will gather in the Annex promptly at 1:00 p.m. today to celebrate ministry, nominate and vote on leaders, approve the pastoral compensation package for 2014, and more. All members of the church are urged to attend.
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship: Mark your calendars now and invite your friends! We will gather in the hush and beauty of candle light to welcome the birth of Christ on Dec. 24th at 7:00 p.m.

Making Room for God: Reflections on Advent

It happens every year. Each November, I eagerly anticipate the coming of Advent. I inch out slowly into this ecclesial season like a parched root twisting awkwardly towards water. Advent, these four expectant weeks before Christmas, is a season that permits pondering, for pacing our pleas, and our confessions, for succumbing softly to those year-old aches and questions, and sitting with resolute silence as we peel back the layers of our hearts and expose vulnerabilities before God. We so often think of Advent as the "waiting season," waiting on God to make good on God's promises. It is that and so much more.

I have been meditating on the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke and have found myself stuck on Elizabeth, that righteous woman of God, that blameless old woman of God, that barren woman of God. I am a single woman. I have never been pregnant. I have never tried to get pregnant. I do not know of the severe hunger many women feel for pregnancy. I do not know what it feels like to be barren. But I dwell on Elizabeth because her story is barely told and I imagine many women might discover something about Elizabeth's life to which to relate. We know so little about her life before Luke 1:5, the contours of her relationship with God, how she aged into her unmet longing and lived with the pain of constant desire. We know so little about how her sorrow shaped her. I do not know what it feels like to be barren, to live with a womb that refuses to do what it was created to do. But, like most women at some point in their lives, I know what it is to achingly long for something. I know what it is to feel the emptiness of that longing linger and stretch possessively across the abdomen. I know about stomach pits and fervent exhaustive prayer. I know about this aspect of Advent, the sitting with longing and the terse cyclical dance of clinging to hope and loosening the handgrip of resignation.

I am grateful that the first central acting human figures of Advent are courageous women who participate with God's risky mischief. Advent reminds us that the work of God begins in the most mundane corners of life, the kitchens and bedrooms of our homes where our deepest insecurities and most vulnerable desires are laid bare. God honors the seemingly rote business of domesticity, and chooses to visit us when our guard is presumably most down, in the commonplace of our homes.

I wonder if the invitation of Advent is not also that God desires to inhabit us, to make a home within our home, to have a certain space with us in which God's self can let down God's guard and show us the vulnerability of a God who would chose to dwell in the womb of a sixteen-year old girl. Could Advent be a season in which we clear out space for God to move in and linger around the house? Could Advent be a season in which we take turns with God opening up slowly and yet deliberately as we reacquaint ourselves with one another?

Enuma Okoro (M.Div.) is the author of Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent, Introvert's Search for Spiritual Community and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. She is also a speaker, consultant and retreat/workshop leader.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 12-1-13


  • Double Your Donation! For one day only, on December 3, 2013, as part of the UMC's Giving Tuesday, gifts made online through The Advance will be matched dollar for dollar. For example, you can support Pastor Joseph Chan, Marilyn Chan, Imagine No Malaria, or Wadi Foquin. See www.umcmission.org for more information.
  • Toy Drive for the Asian Mental Health Services. Bring a new, unwrapped toy next week!
  • During the month of December, we are collecting used children's books, grades K-4, to send to Kumi Christian Visionary School which opens next year in Uganda. This will form the basis of a small school library which the Mission Team will help establish next May. See Jeffrey Lu for details.
  • Next week, Dec. 8th, a special offering will be taken to support our three young people who are going on the mission trip to Uganda next May. During worship, you will hear Jeffrey Lu, Michelle Lu, and Jacinto Obrera share their reasons and hopes for going on the trip as part of the CCUMC team of volunteers.
  • Christmas Poinsettias! An annual CCUMC tradition is the decorating of the sanctu-ary with poinsettias for Christmas Sunday and Christmas Eve. If you would like to contribute a plant, please place your order with Laura. Each plant is $10. We will take orders through Dec. 8th.
  • Mark your calendars now for Charge Conference - Our annual business meeting will take place on Dec. 8th at 1:00pm in the social hall. All members are strongly encouraged to be a part of this time.

When God Comes Down - James A Harnish

Star-watching began as a hobby for Robert Owen Evans. He grew up in a Methodist family in Sydney, Australia. In 1967, he was an ordained minister in the New South Wales Conference where he served as a pastor and studied the history of evangelical movements. He retired in 1998 and might have drifted in pastoral obscurity except for his talent for spotting supernovae.

A supernova occurs when a giant star at an incomprehensible distance from the Earth explodes in a spectacular burst of light estimated to be equal in energy to 100 billion suns. That’s a lot of light! By the time that light reaches us, it is an unexpected twinkle at a particular spot in the sky that would otherwise be left in darkness.

Pastor Evans began supernova hunting in the 1950’s, but he didn’t make his first official discovery until 1981. It takes a lot of patience to see something most people don’t see. By the end of 2005, he had made forty discoveries. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson records the star-watching pastor saying, “There’s some-thing satisfying, I think, about the idea of light traveling for millions of years through space and just at the right moment as it reaches Earth someone looks at the right bit of sky and sees it. It just seems right that an event of that magnitude should be witnessed.”

Pastor Evans has trained his eyes to watch empty spaces in the sky so that at just the right moment, by looking at just the right place, he observes a burst of light that the rest of us – too busy to wait, too anxious to watch, too immersed in the present to peer into a light come from the past – are unprepared and unable to see. He watches and waits for just the right moment when he can be the witness of that moment when a light that has been coming our way for millions of years finally appears.

The writer of the fourth Gospel – John – could never have imagined what Pastor Evans knows about supernovae. John’s Gospel bears witness to a light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness has never been able to extinguish. It was, in fact, the light that burst forth in an amazing explosion of light hundreds of millions of years ago on the first day of creation. It was the light through which the world and everything in it came into being. Most of the world, preoccupied with the darkness, didn’t recognize the light when it came. But there were some who, like Pastor Evans, became witnesses to that light. They believed it was nothing less than the light of the glory of God in human flesh, leading John to declare, “No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. (John 1:18).

Advent is the season in which we watch, wait, and prepare to bear witness to the coming of the true light of God’s presence in Jesus Christ. Through worship, Scripture, and prayer, we train our eyes to see what the world never sees so that in the hubbub of the holidays, we are prepared to celebrate a “holy day” – the day when God came down among us in human flesh.

Charles Wesley celebrated the coming of Christ in the Christmas carol “Glory Be to God on High.” Lines from the 1st verse of the carol capture the central theme of our Advent season: “Now God comes down…God the invisible appears…And Jesus is His name.”

The stargazing pastor said, “It just seems right that an event of that magnitude should be witnessed.” This Advent season, we will meet some of the people who witnessed the miracle of the Incarnation – God becoming flesh in Jesus. You are invited to enter the season then with expectation that as their stories become our story, we can also become witnesses to the light that the darkness has never been able to overcome. Let’s do some Advent stargazing!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Videos for 11-24-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - Faith Sharing "I am Thankful for...."

English Ministry News and Notes 11-24-13


  • Happy Thanksgiving! Please note the church office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28th and 29th.
  • Christmas Poinsettias! An annual CCUMC tradition is the decorating of the sanctuary with poinsettias for Christmas Sunday and Christmas Eve. If you would like to contribute a plant, please place your order with Laura. Each plant is $10. We will take orders through Dec. 8th.
  • Mark your calendars now for Charge Conference - Our annual business meeting will take place on Dec. 8th at 1:00pm in the social hall. All members are strongly encouraged to be a part of this time.

CCUMC Gives Thanks!

Holy Sprit, bless this CCUMC, all families, members, everybody. (Musa)

I am thankful that I’m free and have plenty to eat.

Every day is a giving, multi blessing. We truly believe all we have is from our almighty God. Thank you God. Finishing the new sun room.

I am thankful for my church family.

Being able to go to school.

Thank you God for my 2 beautiful, healthy grandchildren… for my mom’s health and loving care she receives from her caregivers… for the wonders of creation and the opportunity to experience it through travel, hiking, camping… health, friends, family…. Jesus!

Thankful for the grace of God, without which I might not be here today. Thankful for a supportive community in church at home and at work.

I am thankful for all my friends and family who love and care about me.

Thankful for all of God’s blessings. His constant, unconditional Love. Thankful for family, friends and the privilege to be part of CCUMC church family. Thanks be to God.

Thank God for unconditional love, his faithfulness and his forgiveness. I thank God for the past, the present, and the future. God has chosen me and adopted me into his family. He guided me over many obstacles, given me the wisdom, confidence and courage to do things beyond my imagination. He is leading me on. Blessing me with a life of abundance. He assured me salvation and forgiveness in my future. Thanks be to God. (Ed Lang)

Family. Celebrating my mom being 90 years young on 11/11/13. (Sylvia)

I am thankful for having a wonderful church filled with loving; people who just loves and cares. For a wonderful family who supports me in every decision I make and this new life.

I am thankful to be in the family of God. Amen!

Family and Health

Thank you for the great mercies of your love, Lord, and the grace that saves us. We lack nothing.

Struggles with myself/ God leading me to a stronger desire to know God and ask what God is like and God requires and humbly receive people with hope. (Jonathan Snook)

That we finally have the family we wished for blood and non-blood. Community and good health. Security and warm embrace. Love abundant. Gratitude.

I am thankful for the joy and blessings of family, of wonderful grandchildren Jonah, Leia, Adalyn. Truly gifts from above!

Thankful for family; God’s provisions and comforts; health and vitality.

I am thankful for God/Jesus because without them I would have not been learning day by day and becoming much smarter at school or at home.

Thankful for laughter and love.

Thankful for God, Family, friends, church and all of God’s creations.

Thanks be to God for small group ministries and a growing ministry with transformative congregation

I’m thankful that God loves me and all the world. Grateful that God uses me to care for God’s people.

God’s love and forgiveness, family and friends, God’s blessings, hope, comfort, joy

I am thankful for those who rescue me when I stray off the path. Thankful for the hope you give.

Thank you for Mommy and Daddy. (Love, Leia)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 11-17-13


  • We welcome back Becca Cramer as today’s guest preacher!
  • Celebrating Stewardship Response Card – You are receiving a Celebrating Stewardship Response Card in the Messenger today. This is an annual practice we have to nurture intentionality in how we live out our membership vows in terms of our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Please take the card home with you and prayerfully complete. We will offer them to God on Thanksgiving Sunday.
  • What are you Thankful for? Besides the Stewardship card that can be found with the Bulletin, there is a leaf –shaped piece of paper for you to lift up your thanks in 25 words or less (this includes your name, or you can be anonymous). Put them in to the collection plate, and they will be shared in next week’s Thanksgiving Messenger bulletin.
  • Thanksgiving Parallel Worship & Gratitude Potluck – We will celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday, Nov. 24th, with worship beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Annex. Worship will be followed by a gratitude potluck. For those with last names ending in A-M: please bring a main/meat dish to share. For those with last names ending in N-Z: please bring a side/veggie dish to share. The church will provide the dessert.
  • Adventure in Faith Chapel – You are invited to participate in this vital ministry of sharing faith with our Homework Club students. Chapel will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 20th with a gather time of 1:30 p.m. For more information, please connect with Donna or Becky.

What if church wasn't just a place to go....but something we do? By Rebecca Wong

In my former life as an elementary school teacher, one of my “missions” was to teach children to read, a basic key to unlock the riches of the literate world. And indeed, we found that we could teach children to decode and sound out words, but they often didn’t know what it was they had just read. To build comprehension, one needs to be able to connect the words with real life meaning. And so it is with the church, as we attempt to build the Kingdom of God, we need to infuse real life into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

What if church was more than a place? What if church was not just a noun, but a verb? What an exciting concept! As I look through scripture, these words of Jesus jump out at me, screaming for attention: GO……..FEED….VISIT….CLOTHE….GIVE….INVITE….SELL….BUILD….MAKE….FORGIVE….BE….PRAY….LOVE! All are verbs, actions, ways that God calls us to be alive as Christians. And the fact is, that Jesus didn’t always “DO” this ministry in safe, easy, comfortable ways; he prayed with sinners, ate with the outcast, invited the weak, walked with the common, everyday folk of the villages who had needs, both physical and spiritual.

What might such a ministry look like in the urban setting of Oakland? Maybe it would be inviting the homeless to share a meal, selling our possessions to help provide goods and services to the needy, standing in solidarity with undocumented immigrants, walking alongside those who need health care or affordable housing, voting for systemic changes that benefit the common good and not just our own bank accounts, opening our doors to community needs, praying with people who may look different from us on the outside, but who are all our brothers and sisters in the Family of God.

I believe that just as in order for a reader to comprehend a passage he needs to connect what he reads to his own life, so Christians, in order to fully comprehend what it means to live out the Kingdom of God, need to connect the “verbs” of ministry to our real lives. The verbs are what enable us to reach out and connect with the community, and in doing so, we connect with God. CCUMC has made some wonderful beginnings along these lines: providing space for Homework Club, AYSC, and the ACMHS programs, working at the Lake Merritt Food Bank, building a school in Uganda, raising money for disaster relief, and working with people in the local community. Praise God for the ways these ministries have brought new life and hope both to the church and the community.

And with God’s help, we can do even more. What if we started each day asking God, what is it I should be DOING for your Kingdom today? How should I be connecting with the needs of my brothers and sisters today? How can I “BE” Jesus to everyone I meet today? How can I engage my CCUMC community of faith in being fully alive in Christ? Choose a verb from the scripture, and LIVE it with joy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Videos for 11-10-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "What if Church were...a Shalom Zone??" - Jeremiah 29: 1-12 - Rev. Micheal J. Christensen

English Ministry News and Notes 11-10-13


  • We welcome Rev. Michael J. Christensen to our pulpit this morning! He is the Di-rector the Shaolom Initiative for Prophetic Leadership and Community Development at Drew University; and International Director of Communities of Shalom for The United Methodist Church. Communities of Shalom is a global network of over 100 “shalom zones” engaged in social justice, community organizing, and community development--trained, equipped and promoted by the Shalom Resource Center at Drew University. Dr. Christensen was ordained in the Church of Nazarene and is a clergy member of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He is the author or editor of nine books, including: C. S. Lewis on Scripture; Equipping the Saints: Mobilizing Laity for Ministry: The Heart of Henri Nouwen; a three-volume spiritual trilogy by Henri Nouwen on Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation and Discernment.
  • Please Note: The church office will be closed on Monday, Nov. 11th for Veterans Day.
  • Celebrating Stewardship Response Card – You are receiving a Celebrating Stewardship Response Card in the Messenger today. This is an annual practice we have to nurture intentionality in how we live out our membership vows in terms of our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Please take the card home with you and prayerfully complete. We will offer them to God on Thanksgiving Sunday.
  • What are you Thankful for? Next Sunday, besides the Stewardship card that will be inserted in with the Bulletin, there will be a leaf –shaped piece of paper for you to lift up your thanks in 25 words or less (this includes your name, or you can be anonymous). Put them in to the collection plate, and they will be shared in our Thanksgiving Messenger bulletin.
  • Thanksgiving Parallel Worship & Gratitude Potluck – We will celebrate Thanks-giving on Sunday, Nov. 24th, with worship beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Annex. Worship will be followed by a gratitude potluck. For those with last names ending in A-M: please bring a main/meat dish to share. For those with last names ending in N-Z: please bring a side/veggie dish to share. The church will provide the dessert.

What if Church were....

During these past four weeks and for the remaining two weeks, we have been asking ourselves “What if the church was…”

Today, I lift up the question, “What if the church today was the way it was in the beginning? Outbound. Unbound. Active.” How are we at Oakland Chinese Community United Methodist Church living as the body of Christ and the reflection of God’s kingdom within our community? What can we do better?

I invite you to re-read Acts Chapter 2 as you will re-discover the witness of the early pilgrims on the day of Pentecost. For openers, what are you usually doing at 9:00 in the morning on a Saturday? On Sunday? Midweek? On the day of Pentecost referred to, “God-fearing Jews were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” This was the first recording of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The people were both amazed and perplexed. The text continues. When the people heard the apostle Peter recount what was prophesized by the prophet Joel, they asked, “What should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [It is noted that those who heard and accepted Peter’s message numbered 3,000.]

But the story does not stop here, for we read, “Awe came upon everyone, be-cause many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

And just like with that first Pentecost, it all starts with connecting our baptism to reaching out across the places where we live and have our being. We need to take the message out of our church and into the streets… to the neighborhoods and coffee shops, parks and homes and businesses around us. We need to take our faith from the inside of our church to the outside. We have a world out there that needs to hear about Jesus and be transformed by our Jesus. It may take a spiritual fire to make it happen, and for that, we pray that Pentecost will come again and again. What will you do this week to be better prepared for God’s use? Amen.

-Contributed by Burt Yin

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Videos for 11-3-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "What if Church were Made Up of Spiritual Redwoods?" - Matthew 17: 14-21 - Rev. Schuyler Rhodes

English Ministry News and Notes 11-3-13

*We welcome The Rev. Schuyler Rhodes became the Superintendent of the Bridges District of the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church on July 1st of 2013. Prior to accepting the Bishop’s invitation to serve on the Cabinet, Pastor Rhodes served for thirteen years as the Pastor of Temple United Methodist Church in San Francisco, California. Currently, Rhodes is completing his Doctor of Ministry Degree at Drew Theological School.

Rev. Rhodes had served churches in New York City, New Jersey, and in rural New York State. His other experiences include Campus Ministry, Retreat Director, Teacher and Workshop Leader, and serving as the National Director for Peace with Justice Week. Schuyler has had extensive public speaking experience, traveling throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia and the United States. He has also served as Consultant on Peace and Justice ministries to the General Board of Global Ministries Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church and served for nine years as President of the Board of Directors of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization.
 
Rev. Rhodes has published numerous articles and monographs, as well as five books, “Journey Through The Psalms,” “Words of Hope and Clarity,” “Words for a Birthing Church,” "Pentecost Fire: Preaching Hope in Times of Change (CSS Press)" and "Words to the Silence: A Book of Uncommon Prayer (Ed. Min. Press)." He also wrote a regular column for “Emphasis Preaching Journal” for seven years, completing that work last year to work on some other writing projects.
 
He is married to Lisa Quoresimo and is the father of twins, Emma Elizabeth and Aaron Schuyler, age 19. His spare time interests involve a love of music. Schuyler plays guitar, mandolin and bass, and enjoys playing in a number of different settings. His latest recording is entitled “Live in the Light,” by Canaan Roads. He also loves puttering around his home in Woodland California, where he gardens and spends time working outdoors with his spouse, Lisa.
 
* LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Work Day, Nov. 9th. Please connect with Jane for more information.


 

What if church were ... unending questions, mindful listening, and loving obedience? By: Aeri Lee

When asked to imagine, to envision what church could be, there could be as many variations as there are people doing the imagining, perhaps each according to her own preference or inclination. What if we were asked to imagine what God would envision the church to be? Now this changes the focus from what “I” may want the church to be, to what God would have me/us be as God’s body here on earth.

Maybe that is the question I/we should be pursuing daily and moment by moment: “God, how would you have me, us, your ‘church’ right here, right now, be, do think, and act?” “How can I be ever more completely poured out for the sake of your love?” “How can each of my many identities be wholly about living out your love for the healing and transformation of the world?” “How can I be more ‘church’ as I teach my piano student today, as I take care of my niece and nephew, as I prepare for my assignments, as I interact with my husband, as I … et cetera?”

And after having asked such questions, what if being church means cultivating a careful listening heart that is ready to be lead and guided by that listening? And what if being church meant that we would be perpetually practicing a loving obedience to that “still, small” voice of God that gently but constantly points the way? What if each one of us pursued this questioning, listening, and obedience with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths? Would then we be the church God envisions us to be?
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Videos for 10-27-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "What if Church...were inside out?" - Luke 18:9-24 - Jamie Micheals

English Ministry News and Notes 10-27-13

*We welcome Jamie Michaels as our guest speaker today. Jamie serves as Campus Minister for UC Merced and Merced College. A recent graduate of Pacific School of Religion and candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church, Jamie served the church as a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries for two years as a US-2. She worked with the General Board of Church and Society in Washington DC, as well as with the United Methodist Committee on Relief as it opened its new Relief Kit Depot site in Salt Lake City. Jamie's passions lie in worship and the arts, Young Adult ministry and leadership development, and moving the UMC towards policies that embody God's desire for justice for all people.

*Quinn turns 2! Join Quinn and his parents, Rudy and Sophie, for a light lunch in celebration of Quinn’s 2nd Birthday immediately following worship service!

*New Sunday School 8 week series led by Steve Chan and others! The book title is “What’s the Least you can Believe and still be a Christian” by Martin Thielen. You are welcome to come and join the discussions!

* We’re Going to Uganda! We are in the midst of forming a Volunteers in Missions (VIM) team to Uganda in May 2014. The first orientation retreat will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2nd from 9am to 1pm. You are invited to go on the journey as a volunteer or part of the home team. For more info, connect with Aeri, Donna, or Becky.

*Adventures in Faith Chapel ~ You are invited to participate in this vital ministry of sharing faith with our Homework Club students. Our October chapel will be held on Wednesday, October 30th, with a gather time of 1:30pm. For more information, please connect with Donna or Becky.

What if Church was Less about Sunday & More about the Other days? by Steve Chan

I think churches and Christians need to be more about the other six days along with Sunday. Most churches are alive and vibrant on Sundays, but the middle of the week is quiet and somber. Churches are inclusive on Sunday(appearance of), but closed during the weekdays (except for the occasional meetings). In fact we encourage the congregation to hold most of their meetings outside away from church.

On Sunday; there is music, laughter; sharing and fellowship. People are generally on their best behavior on Sunday. Conversation is easier on Sunday; because we know God is listening. We are more tolerant and generous on Sunday. It seems we even smile more on Sunday. We are expected to leave our worries and problems at the door when we enter church to worship. So when we leave we then pick up our worries and problems to deal with them during the other six days. Is that how God intended it to be?

I truly believe that Church and the Christian life should be active everyday of the week. The concept of being a Sunday Christian is so real. Without the background of the cross and gospel music at church on Sunday; we head back to our busy lives. By Monday the church feeling has worn off and we revert back to the ways of the world. I would venture to say that we need church more on Wednesday or Thursday; when the worries of the world have over taken us.

It is vital to get involved with small groups, bible studies, mission work, fellowship with other members during the week to get refreshed to deal with the stress of everyday life. Church is also not confined to the building; but should be carried with us every where we go and to every thing we do. Be church, live church and find church everyday.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Videos for 10-20-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "What if Church...were in the Streets?" - Luke 9:16 - Rev. Deborah Lee

"Show Me" by Benjamin Wong

I have to confess, I haven’t been keeping a Sabbath lately. In fact, it’s been the total opposite - continuous work. Every couple of years, there is a big push to complete the current project, and everyone works furiously until it’s done. Fortunately, the 24/6 Sunday School study has really got me looking forwards to when I can get back to a normal schedule, and one that includes holy rest. Maybe it will happen before the end of the year - we’ll see.

Many of you know that I live and work in Silicon Valley. Some years back, I had a co-worker who was in charge of assembling the smaller pieces of the design into the completed artwork (yes, computer chips are actually drawn). Due to the precision and accuracy involved, he would often not trust verbal communications about the pieces being handed to him. He was skeptical, because people frequently told him inaccurate information - not because they were lying, but because they simply didn’t report correct information. He would often say, “I’m from Missouri - show me.” (he is actually from New York, and has a noticeable accent, which made the statement mildly amusing).

He gave that reply because the unofficial nickname of the state of Missouri is the “Show Me” state (I’ll let you do the research, and come to your own conclusion of how and why it got that nickname). Because he didn’t trust the verbal information, people would have to bring up the data on-screen, so he could see it for himself. Only then, would he believe what people were telling him. Fortunately, the completed design was correct, and the products were very successful in the market.

We live in a skeptical world. I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of supposed miracle products, heard of conspiracy theories, and received emails saying that you’ve inherited a large sum of money from another country. Along side that, practically every time I see a church making national news, it doesn’t paint a picture of “the most loving place in town.” It’s no wonder that people are skeptical of churches and their beliefs.

Wouldn’t you like to demonstrate what CCUMC believes? The world may not believe what we say, and they may not even want to hear it in the first place. If I’m a non-Christian, do I want the church to “tell me” a set of beliefs? Maybe they would rather have the church “show me” what the church believes.

Many churches - even CCUMC - are hoping that the world will walk into the sanctuary on Sundays and find out what we believe. Is that an effective way to demonstrate what we believe? Our sanctuary only seats about 80 people, and on most Sundays it isn’t even close to full. The world is not breaking down our doors to get inside and see what’s going on.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

English Ministry News and Notes 10-20-13

*We welcome Rev. Deborah Lee to the pulpit this morning! She is the Project Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, part of the statewide organization Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice-California.

Deborah was ordained in 2005 as a United Church of Christ minister and has worked in the field of faith and social justice as a pastor, educator and organizer.

She has led pilgrimages to the Manzanar Relocation Center, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and the Angel Island Immigration Station. She is the coproducer of two films: In God's House and Living Along the Fenceline, and the coeditor of the book : Unfaithing US Colonialism. She is also a mother and a dedicated tai chi practitioner.

*New Sunday School 8 week series led by Steve Chan and others! The book title is “What’s the Least you can Believe and still be a Christian” by Martin Thielen. You are welcome to come and join the discussions!

* We’re Going to Uganda! We are in the midst of forming a Volunteers in Missions (VIM) team to Uganda in May 2014. The first orientation retreat will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2nd from 9am to 1pm. You are invited to go on the journey as a volunteer or part of the home team. For more info, connect with Aeri, Donna, or Becky

*Adventures in Faith will be gathering on Wednesday, October 30th! Please connect with Donna if you are available to pitch in!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Videos for 10-13-13

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength" - Nehemiah 8:1-3, 9-12 - Meina Ko

English Ministry News and Notes 10-13-13


  • We Welcome Meina Ko to the EM Worship Service! Meina has served as the Minister of Discipleship for just over a year. More recently, Meina expressed her intention to step into discernment about ordination. We are so excited to be able to accompany and support her on this journey! Let us keep her in our hearts and prayers as she courageously takes each step.
  • Please Note: The church office will be closed on Monday, October 14th in celebration of Columbus Day.
  • Hosting Hospitality Hour ~ Our time immediately after service is an important time of fellowship. This is where we catch up with friends and meet new ones. Food is an important way we extend hospitality. If you are willing to pitch in by hosting and sharing food, please sign up on the big board in the social hall . The last quarter of the year is quite open at this time!
  • Watch for news about VIM training beginning in November!

What If Church ....? By Pastor Emily

In September, we explored renewal on an individual and personal level. The case for renewal was made, we reflected on how listening to and for God undergirds our renewal, and how the renewal of God’s image within us was one of the “fruits” of the process. The series concluded with a revisiting of the faith practice of rest or Sabbath as a key cornerstone to renewal.

We give thanks to both our preachers, Becca Cramer and Burt Yin, as well as our wonderful faith sharers in the Messenger: Charlie Ho, Derek Lang, and Jane Yin.

This month, we turn to renewal in a communal context. We ask the questions: What might it mean for us, as a church, to be renewed? Where might we need to be renewed as a body? How do we go about renewing ourselves as a community?

We have invited a dynamic group of preachers and pastors to be with us over the next 5 weeks. Each brings a unique perspective and practice of church that may look nothing like we are used to. For some, church happens in the streets and at the gates of immigration detention centers. For others, it unfolds on college campuses and in the midst of missional service. For still others, church comes alive in partnerships of transformation and shalom. Each preacher will help us wonder together about who and what God has called us – Chinese Community UMC – to be, here in Oakland Chinatown, and now in the 21st century. Our hope for the series is that it will spark our imaginations, urge us into discernment, and to start some great conversations about possibilities. We want to be renewed!

Here, for further reflection, is an excerpt from the website RethinkChurch.org: What if church were not just a building? Not a noun, but an action verb? Jesus gave the Great Commission, and told us to “Go into the world” doing the things that he did: teaching, healing, feeding hungry people, speaking out about
injustice, and calling the world to more faithful living. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples to begin a movement.

The early Christians did not see themselves as "church." Until Paul and Peter agreed upon a division of labor, one attending to Jewish followers of Jesus and the other taking the gospel to the Gentiles, the followers of Jesus spoke of themselves as the people of "the way."

In too many places, we have lost that sense of being a movement and have convinced ourselves it was enough to gather in our buildings and wait for people to come and find us. Jesus sent the disciples, and sends us, out to meet the world. We do that when we encounter the world at its points of greatest need.

The term we might use for these touch points is “doors.” Jesus consistently used a door as a metaphor to present opportunities to engage and invite his listeners to be part of the building of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Just as the early church then was on the move, so too, we are calling churches to move beyond bricks and mortar to engage a world longing for love, compassion and hope.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Videos for 10-6-2013

Chinese Choir


Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Homily - Holy Persistence; Don't Give Up!"

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Videos for 9-29-2013

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Rest and Reflection for Today's Christian" - Exodus 20:8-11 - Burt Yin, Lay Speaker

English Ministry News and Notes 9-29-13

  • Jr High Gathering ~ An afternoon and evening of fun and fellowship beginning with Mini-golf in Castro Valley, and ice cream and games at Becky & Al's. Parents can join in for a BBQ dinner at 5pm. Connect with Becky for more info!

  • World Communion Sunday Joint Worship Celebration ~ We will celebrate this special Sunday on October 6th at 10:30a.m. We welcome the Rev. Chuck Cordes to be with us. Please note that there will not be any Sunday School that morning. Worship will be followed by a simple bread and soup luncheon. Thanks too the following volunteers who will be providing soup: Mabel and Roy (CM side), Arlene, Aeri, Donna, and Laura (EM side). And thanks to Peggy and her friend, Nancy Frank-Radin, who will provide the bread from Metropolis Baking Company.

  • SING with the choir that will be part of our World Communion celebration! Practice will be at 1:30pm on Saturday, October 5th. ALL are invited to join in!

  • LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Work Day ~ October 12th. Please connect with Jane for more information.

  • Hosting Hospitality Hour ~ Our time immediately after service is an important time of fellowship. There is where we catch up with friends and meet new ones. Food is an important way we extend hospitality. If you are willing to pitch in by hosting and sharing food, please sign up on the big board in the social hall. The last quarter of the year is quite open at this time!

  • Watch for news about VIM leader training beginning in mid October.

Renewal by Jane Yin

Spiritual renewal, we all long for it. We yearn to have those moments where we experience God's holy presence and true peace in our lives. Often times we are able to find moments of spiritual renewal through reading the Bible or praying or journaling or other life giving activities. Such moments are gifts to be cherished. But it's not easy even though we are intentional. Sometimes the day just gets away from us and we have at least ten things calling to us at one time.

I believe that spiritual renewal requires that we step away from whatever claims our attention and fully engage in activities that nurture renewal. On one of our camping trips, Burt and I stopped by a United Methodist Church and read an invitation to attend a Centering Prayer session. I learned that Centering Prayer is a way to spend time in quiet communion with God. It does not require "praying." Rather, this spiritual practice bids us to being still for at least 20 minutes soaking in God's presence. When I practice Centering Prayer, the purpose is to dwell on God's presence and listen to what God is saying to me.

I have routinely practiced other forms of praying but found Centering Prayer to be most helpful. It is especially during those times when I feel anxious and unsettled or feel dry and stagnant and somewhat disconnected from God. But the loving Spirit sees to it that deep within me I hear God call my name and I am happy to sit and listen to God. Centering prayer restores and renews my spirit and revives within a deeper relationship with God.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Videos for 9-22-2013

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon - "Renewing the Image of God Within Us" - Colossians 3:7-17 - Becca Cramer

English Ministry News and Notes 9-22-13


  • Hosting Hospitality Hour ~ Our time immediately after service is an important time of fellowship. This is where we catch up with friends and meet new ones. Food is an important way we extend hospitality. If you are willing to pitch in by hosting and sharing food, please sign up on the big board in the social hall . The last quarter of the year is quite open at this time!

  • World Communion Sunday Joint Worship Celebration ~ We will celebrate this special Sunday on October 6th at 10:30 a.m. We welcome the Rev. Chuck Cordes to be with us. Please note that there will not be any Sunday School that morning. Worship will be followed by a simple bread and soup luncheon. Thanks to the following volunteers who will be providing soup: Mabel and Roy (CM side), Arlene, Aeri, Donna, and Laura (EM side). And thanks to Peggy’ and her friend, Nancy Frank-Radin, who will provide the bread from Metropolis Baking Company.

  • Don’t miss our new Adult Sunday School series led by Aeri,,“24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life”. The series started this morning and runs for four weeks. Come and learn how holy rest can transform our lives.

  • Small Groups will officially launch a new season during the 3rd week of September. Small Groups will meet regularly in Castro Valley, Union City, and at church. Connect with SG facilitators to get involved: Burt, Jane, Brenda, Becky, Charlie, Steve.

  • Adventures in Faith ~ We would love to continue our ministry to the children attending Homework Club! If you are available on the last Wednesdays of the month, please connect with Donna or Becky to pitch in!

Renewal by Pastor Derek Lang

There is a green plant outside my front door. It was there when I moved in 13 years ago. I do not know what kind it is. It is just green, and it grows whether I water it or not. Recently, it bloomed beautiful white flower buds. Never seeing it bloom before or knowing it even could, I was struck with a brief moment of awe. “Wow,” I thought. My spirit actually felt energized and uplifted in seeing God make something new out of something old and never-changing.

Life has been a whirlwind of activity - work, church, volunteering, and personal life. There are moments when I feel run down. But I have also found myself filled with renewed energy through two activities: talking with God in prayer and talking about God with others. Over the past 12 months, I have been intentionally setting aside time for prayer as well as keeping prayer in the background of my daily life. I have also been attending meetings with clergy or meeting with people about church activities. As a result, I seem to be more attuned to seeing God’s presence in things all around me. Prayers are amazingly answered, and things happen that one might call coincidence but are really God moments (moments when God does things to remind you of God’s presence).

I think renewal is like that. When we intentionally set aside time for God, we become keenly aware of God’s presence and God’s energy all around us. Those “wow” moments are like light bulbs turning on in our souls whenever we witness God creating something new out of something old.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Videos for 9-15-2013

Chinese Choir


Chinese Sermon


English Sermon - "Renewal as Listening for God" - Romans 12:1-2 - Becca Cramer

English Ministry News and Notes 9-15-13


  • We again welcome Becca Cramer! She will be sharing God’s words with us today, next Sunday, and again in November! Becca has served as the Christian Education Director and Youth Minister at several United Methodist Churches. Most recently, she served as the Associate Pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Loomis. Becca is taking a year off of pastoral ministry to spend additional time in discernment about with which vocation God is calling her to use her gifts and passions. In her free time, Becca is an avid hiker and karaoke singer. She can often be found reading a novel while cuddling her cat.
  • Great thanks to all who served at the LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Work Day yesterday.
  • World Communion, October 6th: Thanks to the following volunteers who will be providing soup: Mabel and Roy (CM side), Arlene, Aeri, Donna, and Laura (EM side). And thanks to Peggy’s friend Nancy Frank-Radin who will provide the bread from Metropolis Baking Comany
  • Don’t miss our new Adult Sunday School series led by Aeri,,“24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life”. The series started this morning and runs for four weeks. Come and learn how holy rest can transform our lives.
  • Small Groups will officially launch a new season during the 3rd week of September. Small Groups will meet regularly in Castro Valley, Union City, and at church. Connect with SG facilitators to get involved: Burt, Jane, Brenda, Becky, Charlie, Steve.

Renewal by Charles Ho

When asked to write this article, I have to admit, I had hardly a clue. So I started googling some of the words that came to mind: renewal, rest, Bible. That led me to “Sabbath”, i.e. the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” I wondered why there were so many laws about the Sabbath? Maybe it was not so simple for the Jews of old – like the way we would think of weekends.

It is interesting that pretty much the entire world observes a 7 day week today, though it was not so in the days of old. From what I googled, the Jews were one of the first to observe a day of rest every seven days. There are even Jewish laws related to the “shmita” or Sabbatical year, and “Jubilee” – the last year of the seventh shmita. The world, it seems, is still catching up on Sabbatical and Jubilee practices.

For me, it is good that our worship leaders had the foresight to pick this topic. Not only did the ancient biblical wisdom awed me in a new light, but it gave me a needed push to look at what rest and renewal means personally.

So what I got out of last Sunday’s sermon was that what we often think we want, such as relaxation or rest; is contrary to what we really need, which is renewal. If I recall, our speaker, Becca, put it simply: renewal = rest/relaxation + breath of God. I am anxious to learn other insights as this series continues and from our upcoming study “24/6” in Sunday School.

As you read this essay, I will be in southern California relaxing. I hope that I will consciously take a deep breath here and there, and remember that the air I breathe is holy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Videos for 9-8-2013

Chinese Choir


Chinese Sermon


English Sermon - "The Case for Renewal" - Ezekiel 37:1-14 - Becca Cramer

English Ministry News and Notes 9-8-13

* Welcome Becca Cramer! She will be sharing God's words with us today and several more times in the weeks to come! Becca has served as the Christian Education Director and Youth Minister at several United Methodist Churches. Most recently, she served as the Associate Pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Loomis. Becca is taking a year off of pastoral ministry to spend additional time in discernment about with which vocation God is calling her to use her gifts and passions. In her free time, Becca is an avid hiker and karaoke singer. She can often be found reading a novel while cuddling her cat.

* Thanks to all who showed up to lend their muscles for our church spiff upday yesterday!

*LMUMC food pantry work day! Saturday, September 14th from 9am to 1pm. Connect with Charlie to volunteer!

* World Communion Sunday is on October 6th. If you would like to bring a pot of soup to share during our luncheon following service, please let Peggy know!

Renewal: Inside and Out by Pastor Emily

A young person recently came by my office and described just how "full" his life had become. There was classes and all the attendant homework, a part-time job, and a large plate of family obligations. As he recounted all this, he commented, "It sucks to be an adult!" He then asked, "Is there always so much stuff to juggle? Is it always so stressful and overwhelming?"

I confess, at that particular moment, given my own looming to-do list, I was tempted to respond in the affirmative: "Yes! There are always a million and one things to juggle. And yes! It is always stressful and overwhelming."

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, however, I felt sad. While I am certain every last one of us can relate to the sentiment of this young person - of being overwhelmed and stressed by all that there is to do - I am also certain that every last one of us wishes it could be different, that life could be full of joy, ease, and moments to savor. We long for a pace of life that leaves us feeling whole, and enough space in our lives so that we stand in balance. Yet, I venture to guess that almost none of us know how to get there. How do we live like that? How do we move beyond the cycles of stress and overwhelm and dwell instead in the rhythms of joy and grace?

Wayne Muller, a minister, therapist, writer, and community advocate, writes in Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives, "In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between action and rest. When action is universally prescribed as more useful than rest, we inevitably lose our way. We bypass the nourishment that would give us succour, and we reject the quiet that would give us wisdom. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing striving and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger."

Over the next 3 months, we will explore the concept of rest and renewal during worship and ask what they have to offer us as individuals and as a community. There will be two parts of this theme, "Renewal: Inside and Out." The first will explore renewal "inside", that is renewal for us as individuals. We have invited Becca Cramer, a gifted preacher and designer of worship, to be with us. She will not only make a case for renewal, but invite us into practicing different aspects of renewal in our lives: through listening to God, and through renewing the image of God in us. Burt, one of CCUMC's certified Lay Servants, will wrap up the series with a closer look at the practice of Sabbath, or holy rest.

During the second half, we will hear from a dynamic group of preachers who will crack open our imaginations to rethink what church might be all about. This is the "Out" part of our theme. They will each complete the sentence, "What if church were..." to prod us in exploring renewal as a community of faith.

I am excited for us as we embark together on this journey of renewal. I so look forward to returning in December to hear about how the Spirit has made inroads into your life and sharing the same with you. This journey of renewal is important work, and it begins with stopping for long enough - whether it be for a few hours, a few days, or even a few months - to remember who we are, what we know, and to taste the amazing gifts of Spirit and eternity. For life is far too precious to be spent getting lost in the busyness and being stressed and overwhelmed.

May God hold us close through the process of being made new, and may we find ourselves surprised by joy even as we are transformed.