*Praise God! We give praise and thanks to another well-attended, joyful, success-ful YCVM Benefit Dinner. We also give thanks for the many, many hands, hearts, and minds that enabled the evening to come together.
*We Celebrate Camping Ministries! Camping ministries change lives. We give thanks for your generosity in underwriting 5 youth going to camp this year. We lift up those who have shared today and those who chose not to.
*Wednesday Fellowship Resumes This Wednesday - You are warmly invited to participate in this wonderful series exploring NonViolent Communication (NVC). We begin with a simple dinner at 6:00 p.m. and begin learning together at 6:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please connect with Charlie.
*LMUMC Food Pantry Ministry Work Day - Sign up now to pitch in with this meaningful opportunity, Aug. 10th, 9:30 a.m. For questions, please connect with Jane.
*Interested in Baptism? Considering Membership? We will be celebrating baptism and membership on Sunday, Aug. 18th. If the Holy Spirit has been nudging you to consider either of these, please connect with Pastor Emily.
*Save the Date: Chinatown Street Fest Outreach Sunday, Aug. 25th! Once again we will be flinging open our doors and welcoming in the children and families of the Homework Club and community. Please plan to pitch in on Saturday, Aug. 24th for preparations, and Aug. 25th, Sunday.
A local St. Paul congregation has a “prayer partner” program. They pair up youth and elders in the congregation and invite them to pray for each other throughout the year. A couple of times a year, they also invite the pairs to sit together in worship. What someone noticed at one of the “prayer partner Sundays,” though, was that the pairs don’t actually ever pray together. “They might as well call it, ‘Sit with your prayer partner Sunday,’” someone remarked.
But of course we know why they don’t actually have the prayer partners pray for each other: most people aren’t comfortable praying aloud for each other in public … or maybe even in private. We might say prayers to ourselves, say table grace, or read the prayers in the bulletin, but we don’t often say prayers aloud for each other. Why? Because most of us were never taught how. And, like most adults, people are very uncomfortable doing things they haven’t developed some measure of competence in. Why else does the pastor always pray when invited to dinner? Because the pastor knows how; indeed, the pastor is the expert.
So…given today’s lectionary gospel text is from Luke 11:1-13 and focuses on Jesus’ teaching his disciples to pray, let’s think about what we might learn from Jesus and the prayer he taught:
First, the Lord’s Prayer is pretty simple. After asking that we act in a way to keep God’s name holy and live the kingdom life on earth, Jesus’ prayer covers sustenance (daily bread), relationship (forgiveness), and safety (bringing us through the time of trial). These are the basics of life, and Jesus contains himself pretty much to these essentials. In short, prayer doesn’t need to be complex to be faithful.
Second, faithful prayer is honest. Jesus’ parable invites us to imagine that, like a man confident of his neighbor’s hospitality, we should ask for whatever we need. That means that prayer isn’t about saying the right words or sounding particularly elo-quent or pious. Rather, it’s about saying what’s on our heart in our own words.
Third, prayer is based on trust. Jesus promises that just as we desire to give those we love good things, so does God even more want to give us every good gift. Because we trust this is true, we pray. This may be one of the most difficult parts of prayer, I know, because we often see prayers go unanswered. Yet we still trust that God is listening and we continue to pray because we believe God loves us and all the world.
So that’s it: prayer is simple, honest, and offered in trust. That’s something each of us can do. But of course when it comes to learning something new, what’s essential in moving from nervous paralysis to competent and confident performance is practice.
This week, consider using one of the suggestions below to practice prayer:
Write down one simple, trusting request.
Pray for someone you know is hurting, lonely, or going through a difficult time.
Try a breath prayer – Repeat one phrase with each breath in and out. “Jesus, you are the light of the world. Fill my mind with your peace. Fill my heart with your love.”
Read a Psalm prayerfully.
Review your day in thanksgiving.
Choose a moment or feeling from your day and talk to God about it.
*Great Thanks to all those who attended the Congregational Visioning Forum yesterday! Let us continue to discern together and listen for the Holy Spirit's direction and invitations. If you'd like to hear more, connect with any English Ministry Council member (Steve, Becky, Aeri, Charlie, Ben).
*Celebrating Meina's Membership - Today, Meina became a member of CCUMC. This is her first concrete step onto the ordination path of the United Methodist Church. You are invited to pray for her, for discernment, and for God's Spirit to surround and guide her. Please give her your support and encouragement.
*Today's the Last Day! Get your tickets for the 4th Annual YCVM Benefit Dinner today. We look forward to a joyful and inspiring evening together on Friday, July 26th, celebrating the possibility of Kumi Christian Visionary School (KCVS).
*Where’s Cambodia? Our summer intergenerational Sunday School series is exploring Cambodia and our neighbors who live there. You’re invited to be a part of this exciting series taught by our youth: Jacinto, Michelle, Jeffrey, and Steve. We meet Sundays in the Annex and begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.
*Wednesday Fellowship Series: NonViolent Communication - We had another wonderful evening together exploring the power of vulnerability and expanding our vocabulary of feelings. Don't miss our next gathering on Wednesday, July 31st, at 6:00 p.m. (We’re skipping a week.)
*Save the Date: Mark your calendars now for Street Fest Sunday, Aug. 25th
The story of Martha and Mary in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:32-42) illustrates the importance of the integration of doing and being, of the relationship between action and contemplation. Martha represents the active, busy life we all lead every day with its demands of work, friendship and hospitality. Who hasn’t felt annoyed at others listening to a favorite guest or meditating, and who, instead of being able to join in, has to carry on preparing the meal to be shared afterwards? Mary is the contemplative part of our being, meditating, listening deeply to the Christ within, at prayer or meeting him in careful reading of Scripture, Lectio Divina.
This story in a way symbolizes, who we are. Action and contemplation are two sides of our own being. We are both Martha and Mary. When we are so busy and grumble about there being no longer any time to meditate, then Martha has taken over. When we contemplate giving up our job to devote ourselves totally to the work of prayer/meditation and listening deeply, then we want to be only Mary. But we can’t be one or the other exclusively, we are both, even when living in community: pray and work – ‘ora et labora’, the rule of a Benedictine Community and the rule of our life.
Martha is doing an important job, making everything ready for the meal to be shared, but by focusing resentfully on this, she loses sight of the right to exist of the other half of her soul, the deeply listening attentive Mary. Jesus points this out to her: “Martha, Martha, you are fussing and fretting about so many things.” Don’t we all do this at times? Especially on those occasions we need to remember our contemplative side and do our duties with attention rather than grudgingly. If only we could do, what we have to do, from the awareness of our deep centre within us, where compassion and friendship for others dwells. The one who grumbles is our ego, whose need is esteem, who wants to be praised and see others blamed. But instead of that, what is needed is acceptance and integration of both sides of our being: we have to be Martha sometimes but we can also be Mary at other times and that is alright too. In Jesus’ own life we see this wonderful balance of action and contemplation. He wanders over the countryside preaching and healing and yet often we hear that he withdraws to a quiet place to be still and pray: “During this time he went out one day into the hills to pray and spent the night in prayer to God.”
Most life in the Church to day focuses on Martha and some have even forgotten the work that Mary is praised for by Jesus. There is doing, caring for others, talking and vocal prayer of praise, adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and liturgical prayer – all important and valid ways of prayer. But Mary’s work, silent prayer, deep listening – contemplation – is relegated to the few nuns and monks drawn to ay of being. This was John Main’s calling in life, which Laurence Freeman carries forward: to try and re-connect ordinary Christians with the long-established tradition of contemplative prayer, which goes back to the teaching of Jesus. In 2007 the World Community of Christian Meditation received canonical recognition from the Vatican as a Ecumenical Contemplative Community, acknowledging the importance of the work of Mary.
*And...We're Off - This week, we kicked off the beginning of Adventures in Faith (Summer Edition) as well as our Wednesday Fellowship on NonViolent Communication. Both had a great start filled with excitement and possibility. Please keep both in your prayers. AiF continues to invite your donations of snacks! Please drop off in the kitchen clearly marked, "AiF." Thank you!
*Wednesday Fellowship Invite - 23 people showed up on our first night! You are warmly invited to participate in our series exploring and practicing NonViolent Communication for the next 5 Wednesdays (except Wednesday, July 24th). A simple dinner begins promptly at 6:00 p.m. and the learning begins at 6:30 p.m. Don't miss this opportunity to learn skills, build connections, and taste Life!
*Prayer Invites - Please hold our 6 campers (Cloud, Ursella, Justin, Jeffrey, Gavin, Jeffrey's cousin) in your prayers this week as they head for Camp Lodestar. You are invited to write to them (do so as early as possible to ensure receipt): Camp Lodestar, (camper’s name), 6135 Blue Mountain Rd., Wilseyville, CA 95257. Also, please hold Amy Ma in your prayers as she heads off for a month of wilderness work on Tuesday, July 16th.
*Congregational Visioning Forum - The English Ministry Council has been intentionally praying, listening, and discerning God's vision for the EM for the next 3-5 years. We'd like to share with you what's come up and hear how the Spirit is speaking through you. Please make every effort to come, Saturday, July 20th, from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. This will be an important way we keep moving together as a unified community. A simple breakfast will be served. Please RSVP to Steve or Becky.
*Have You Gotten Your Tickets Yet? Our 4th Annual YCVM Benefit Dinner tickets must be reserved by next Sunday, July 21st. You can do so through Becky
In 1997, Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood received the lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmy’s.
With an audience filled with the most handsome soap stars and beautiful women with decadent gowns and sparkly makeup, he walked onto the stage and made a small bow.
Then he said this, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, 'I'll watch the time.” Slight laughter trickled through the crowd until they realized that he was serious. And he expected them to do what he asked… so they did. They took 10 seconds to remember those who have been kind to them, those who gave them a break, those who helped them become who were that day.
One second, two seconds…. Five seconds, nine seconds, ten seconds. Members of the audience at that point were clenching their jaw to hold back tears and the mascara painted eyes were glittering like rain on a chandelier.
Each of us can name people who helped us become who we are. There are some who gave us a break, who have offered us kindness, mercy, a helping hand. Would you, along with me, take ten seconds to think of people who have helped you become who you are today? Seriously... ten seconds.
Someone once invited me to enter the story of the Good Samaritan in the place of the half-dead person lying by the road. Imagine hearing the story as one who has received life saving help from a stranger, from someone who you would never have imagined would have helped you. Imagine hearing the story as one who needs a neighbor as opposed to trying to figure out who our neighbors are or aren't.
Necessity is the father or mother of invention. Perhaps when we realize that we need a neighbor, we will understand how better to be one.
* Great thanks to Richard Fong, certified lay servant, for bringing the message today.
*Adventure in Faith Needs Snacks - Will you pitch in and provide snacks for our 65 Homework Club Summer Program students each Tuesday and Thursday? Week 2 (bring snacks by Sunday, July 14) celebrates Zimbabwe culture! Some snack food ideas include: Bananas, sweet potato or corn snacks, tangerines, animal crackers. Please avoid all peanuts! There are severe allergies. Week 3 celebrates United Kingdom culture.(Potato chips, apple slices, scones, biscuits, fruit cake).
*Save the Date! Please reserve Saturday, July 20th, from 9:00 to noon, for a Congregational Visioning Forum. This will be an important time for the English Ministry Council (EMC) to share their recent discernment of God's movement and invite the whole body to discern further together. Please RSVP to our lay leaders, Steve or Becky.
*Wednesday Fellowship: NonViolent Communication Series - See article on "Wednesday Fellowship Invitation" article. Connect with Charlie if you are attending!
*You're Invited! Be a part of the 4th Annual YCVM Benefit Dinner on Friday, July 26th. Tickets and tables are on sale now. Volunteers are being solicited. Silent auction items are being gathered. Be a part of the excitement. Connect with Donna, Peggy, or Becky.
Starting this upcoming Wednesday, July 10th, we begin a special six-week fellowship gathering. Our time together will include a simple meal as well as a time to learn and practice something called NonViolent Communication (or Compassionate Communication.
As you discern whether to participate in this special opportunity, consider these questions:
Do you wish others would understand you better? Would it make a difference for you if you could better express yourself, your feelings and needs? Does the possibility of connecting with others meaningfully and authentically interest you? Have you ever wished for some tools to be able to communicate and listen better?
My guess is that you have answered “Yes!” to at least one of these questions, if not all. Most of us are not born communicators or listeners. Most of us do not come from families that have taught us how best to share our thoughts and feelings. Most of us struggle – at one time or another – with our ability to connect beyond the surface with others. This summer’s Wednesday Fellowship series recognizes all this and invites us to learn and practice together so that our hopes and longings can be met. I sincerely hope you will consider participating!
Here’s a few concrete ways NVC can make a difference for you:
NVC Develops Your Emotional Vocabulary—Improve your ability to clearly express your feelings and needs. Your expanded emotional vocabulary will help you avoid making moralistic judgments, blaming others for your feelings, and using other strategies that often contribute to conflicts. Teach your children these skills to empower them to resolve their conflicts peacefully. NVC Teaches You to Stay Connected to Your Feelings and Needs—Prevent and reduce conflicts by learning to stay connected to your feelings and needs through self-empathy. Increase satisfying outcomes from emotionally charged situations by entering them from a place of calm and compassion, rather than defensiveness or anger.
NVC Breaks Negative, Habitual Patterns—Overcome habitual patterns that often lead to conflict. Transform thinking patterns like moralistic judgments, blame, criticism, shoulds and “have-tos” that can lead to anger, depression, guilt or shame.