Sunday, December 27, 2015

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-12-27

  • Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year! Please note that the church office will be closed Dec. 28th, 29th, and Jan. 1st.
  • We send our snow-trippers off today! Please hold our young people and their chaperones in your prayers for meaningful, fun-filled, and safe time together. Please also lift Pastor Moon and his health concerns in God’s light.
  • Looking Ahead to January - Please note these special worship and learning opportunities:
    • Jan. 10th - Aeri spent all of September in Uganda with her last week in Kumi. She will bring a word to us during worship and host a report back over lunch. Bring your questions, ideas, and prayers for our ongoing partnership with Kumi Christian Visionary School.
    • Jan. 17th - Human Relations Sunday: We welcome the Rev. Debbie Lee and her colleagues to worship. She will be preaching about the theme of accompaniment. There will be a special opportunity to learn more about accompanying families and youth seeking asylum. Please also remember that this is a special offering Sunday.
    • Jan. 24th - Laity Sunday: We give thanks for and celebrate the ministry of you, the laity. Come, ready to hear a message from our English Ministry Council leaders.
  • Prayer Invite: Cloud Cheung will be confirmed next Sunday, Jan. 3rd. You are invited to hold him in your prayers ahead of this special day.

The True Gift of Christmas, Father Alberto Cutie

Christmas is the yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it is truly a gift that we must experience each day. I share with you and all my readers the following thoughts -- based on a meditation by an anonymous author -- which enlighten us during the busy holiday season and sums up the true meaning of what we hope to celebrate as people of faith.

Christmas is a present, not a past.

Christmas should not be just a historical date to remember, but a gift to be lived.

When you decide to love those around you, that day is Christmas.

When you take the first step to be at peace with a loved one, that day is Christmas.

When you meet someone who asks for help and you assist them with all your heart, that day is Christmas.

When you take time to talk to someone who is lonely and sad, that day is Christmas.

When you understand that resentment can be transformed by forgiveness, that day is Christmas.

When you let go of something to give to someone who needs it more than you, that day is Christmas.

When you realize that love, service and authentic concern are the best gifts, that day is Christmas.

When you decide to live with joy and hope rather than surrender to fear and sadness, that day is Christmas.

Christmas is something that was born in the heart of God -- who motivated by pure love -- sent his son Jesus to save us. Yet, Christmas comes alive to-day when we allow its true significance to be born in our hearts. May the beautiful holiday lights, parties, shopping and the exhausting rush of these days not distract us from the true meaning of what Christmas really is -- and can be.


Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Worship Videos 2015-12-20

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon / Skit

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-12-20

  • Great Thanks to all those who pitched in and helped out at the monthly all church work day yesterday and to the leadership of Al.
  • A Warm Invite to Christmas Eve - Don't miss the beauty and mystery of Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. We will gather at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24th. You are invited to bring a plate of goodies to share for the fellow-ship time afterwards.
  • Please Note: The church office will be closed between Friday, Dec. 25th and Tuesday, Dec. 29th, then again on Friday, Jan. 1st.
  • Please Pray for Our Snow Trip Participants and Leaders: Next Sunday, we send off a group of leaders and youth to North Tahoe to enjoy the snow and one another's fellowship. Please hold this time together in your prayers.
  • We Give Great Thanks to Our Poinsettia Donors:
  • Elsie Wan, Anna & David Wong, C.K. & Mabel Lee, Suk Ling Woo, Linda Woo, You Fang Fan Wu, Winnie Pon, Ulander Pang, Leo & Helena Lin, Wei Lian Lei, Theresa Leung, Donna Chan Chu, Richard & Adrienne Fong, Meina Ko, Kwok Kuen Cheung, Donna Louie, Xiao-Ling Fong, Kenneth Kwan, Raymond & Claudia Foo, Lin Kam Huey, Lucy Zhou, Grace Yee, Vikki Chan, Nagawidjaja Winto, Roy & Veronica Cheung, Ursella & Cloud Cheung, Xiao Ying Chu, Feng
  • Our 2016 Hospitality Chart is posted in the Social Hall! Please sign up to share refreshments with your fellow worshippers!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

We mark this last Sunday before Christmas as the fourth Sunday of Advent. It is difficult to not rush forward and celebrate it as Christmas Sunday. We are surely ready for Christmas to arrive and everybody else seems to have moved ahead. Yet, it is only appropriate that during this season of waiting and anticipation, of preparation, we are being called to wait and anticipate for just a while longer, we are being given just a wee bit more time to prepare the way.


The late great African American theologian and mystic, Howard Thurman, wrote a book called The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations. It is a devotional of sorts in that it is a collection of meditations for the Christmas season. Thurman incorporates the hope, the sense of celebration, love, compassion, and blessing of the season into his writing and encourages us to find them throughout the year. The following poem/meditation is titled, “Christmas is Waiting to be Born.” May it be a source of meditation, inspiration, and call for you in these last days before Christmas IS born!


Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes


And the heart consumes itself as if it would live,


Where children age before their time


And life wears down the edges of the mind,


Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,


While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,


Where fear companions each day's life,


And Perfect Love seems long delayed.


Christmas is waiting to be born: in you, in me, in all mankind.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Worship Videos 2015-12-13

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-12-13

  • All Church Work Day - Please plan to pitch in with our upcoming work day on Saturday, Dec. 19th, between 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Please see Al for details!
  • Save the Date for Caroling - Join in this seasonal ministry of hospitality by visiting and bringing the blessed music to our home-bound and frail members on Monday, Dec. 21st. You will be blessed, guaranteed! Please see Charlie and Becky to sign up!
  • Prayer Invite - Please remember this month's Adventure in Faith chapel on Dec. 16th and the outreach Christmas Sunday worship on Dec. 20th in prayer. We pray that families will be moved by the Christmas story and the welcome of this community.
  • Christmas Outreach Sunday, Dec. 20th - Our CM brothers and sisters will be hosting the Homework Club families for worship next Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Twenty-nine children have been practicing sharing carols! They will be invited to remain for refreshments afterwards. You are invited to bring something for this time of hospitality!
  • Christmas Eve Worship, Dec. 24th - You are invited to join in the beauty and the mystery at 7:00 p.m. Invite friends! Bring refreshments to share!
  • Please Note: The church office will be open on the 24th, and closed the 25th through the 29th for Christmas break
  • Christmas Eve Worship, Dec. 24th - You are invited to join in the beauty and the mystery at 7:00 p.m. Invite friends! Bring refreshments to share!

Prepare the Way, Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Prepare the way of the Lord,
make a straight path for God.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
—Luke 3.4-6
 
God of love, take my heart and change it.
Take what is rough in me and let it become gentle.
Take my fear and let it become wonder.
Take my anger and let it become sorrow.
Take my grief and let it become compassion.
Take my discouragement and let it become acceptance.
Take my doubt and let it become courage.
Take my hurt and let it become forgiveness.
Take my not knowing and let it become faith.
Take my self-centeredness and let it become love.
Take my broken heart and let it become my strength.
Take my life and let it become yours.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

2015-12-6 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

Baptism

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-12-6

  • We Welcome Feng Xin into Membership - you are encouraged to meet, greet, and introduce yourself to our newest member, Feng Xin, from our 9:30 a.m. congregation. Brother Feng is a fluent Spanish speaker from living in Costa Rica for 20+ years and an avid handyman.
  • Start your holiday shopping at CCUMC and help support our school in Uganda at the same time. On Dec. 5-6 we will be selling goods from our YCVM benefit at reduced prices. Find jewelry, art goods, toys, and unique items. Sale runs from 11-3 on Sat. And noon - 2 on Sunday. Volunteers who can help at the tables should sign up with Peggy or Becky
  • All Church Work Day - Please plan to pitch in with our upcoming work day on Saturday, Dec. 19th, between 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Please see Al for details!
  • Save the Date for Caroling - Join in this seasonal ministry of hospitality by visiting and bringing the blessed music to our home-bound and frail members on Monday, Dec. 21st. You will be blessed, guaranteed! Please see Charlie and Becky to sign up!
  • Prayer Invite - Please remember this month's Adventure in Faith chapel on Dec. 16th and the outreach Christmas Sunday worship on Dec. 20th in prayer. We pray that families will be moved by the Christmas story and the welcome of this community.
  • Please Note: Pastor Emily will be out of the office this coming week. She can be reached via email. Please call for emergencies.
  • Christmas Eve Worship, Dec. 24th - You are invited to join in the beauty and the mystery at 7:00 p.m. Invite friends! Bring refreshments to share!
  • Please Note: The church office will be open on the 24th, and closed the 25th through the 29th for Christmas break.

And it was sufficient, Kyle Childress

I love the way Luke and Matthew begin their Gospels. Both tell us of these plain, ordinary people, Mary and Joseph, who obeyed God, and through whom God begins the extraordinary work of salvation for all people.
 
Traditionally, the church has called Mary the first disciple. She was the first to believe and obey. And even though Luke tells her story with a bit more drama than Matthew’s telling of Joseph’s, we still get the message that here was an ordinary young woman – really a teenage girl – who embodied extraordinary courage and faith in God to be able to say, "Let it be to me according to your will." Or to put it more mundanely, Mary said yes.
 
More than one theologian of the church over the centuries has said that the great miracle that surrounded the birth of Jesus was not the miraculous conception of Jesus or the virgin birth, but that Mary and Joseph believed and obeyed.
 
An old rabbinical story says that when there was a crisis in the life of God’s people, the great rabbi, Baal Shem Tov, would go to a particular place in the forest, build a great fire, say a particular prayer, cry to God for salvation, and the story says, "It was sufficient; for God saw the fire in the place, heard the prayer and heard the cry, and God saved his people."
 
A generation passed and another grave crisis came upon the people. Rabbi Maggid of Mezeritch, a disciple of the great Shem Tov, went to the same place in the forest and cried to God for mercy, "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And the story says, "It was sufficient. And the miracle was accomplished."
 
Still later, another generation passed and another crisis came upon the people. Moshe-Leib of Sassov, a disciple of Rabbi Maggid, would go to into the forest and say, "I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient and the miracle accomplished.
 
Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhin to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient (from Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters by Elie Wiesel, p. 167).
 
For Mary, and Joseph too, the great miracle was the simple act of obedience, of saying yes to God. Perhaps they knew a lot of Bible and were well versed in theology but I doubt it. Perhaps each of them was well situated in the religious life of Nazareth, but nothing is said about any of this. All we know is that each of them said yes to God. And it was sufficient. They didn’t set out to know all things, change the world, or even change their town. They simply said yes to God. And God said it was sufficient.
 
And it was sufficient. Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015-11-29 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon


English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-11-29


  • Great Thanks...to Richard and Adrienne for picking up the beautiful greenery decorating our sanctuary, and to Daniel and members of the Mandarin Fellowship for hanging them and decorating the tree.
  • "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" - You are invited to enter this special season by exploring some of its special music. This new 4 week Sunday School series will begin next Sunday, Dec. 6th. You are invited to gather, on time, at 9:30 a.m. ready to sing!
  • Christmas Poinsettias-Connect with Laura if you’d like to contribute a poinsettia to our sanctuary’s Christmas beauty! Each plant is $10. Today is the last day to or-der!
  • Gentle Reminder: Dec. 1st is #GivingTuesday! You are invited to double your impact by giving as soon as the "gates" open at 10:00 p.m. at www.umcmission.org/give! There are many, many worthwhile projects and missionaries to choose from. Please consider giving to Marilyn Chan, our covenant relationship partner in Cambodia.
  • Start your holiday shopping at CCUMC and help support our school in Uganda at the same time. On Dec. 5-6 we will be selling goods from our YCVM benefit at reduced prices. Find jewelry, art goods, toys, and unique items. Sale runs from 11-3 on Sat. And noon - 2 on Sunday. Volunteers who can help at the tables should sign up with Peggy or Becky
  • Save the Dates!
  1. All Church Work Day - Saturday, Dec. 19th, 8:30 - 2:00 p.m.
  2. Caroling - Monday, Dec. 21st, time tbc

Prepare the Way, Advent 2015


God is preparing The Way. God is an active God who loves and wants to be loved. God is a God who is near and amongst us. Being made in God’s image, God finds favor with us. And as the first Christians, often called the followers of “The Way,” glorified God through living their lives like Christ, how will we glorify God today? As God prepared the way for Jesus to enter into this world, and as we anticipate this birth, may you prepare the way for others to experience Christ and his love for them this Christmas season. During Advent this year, our theme invites us to dwell deeply in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. You are invited to spend the season savoring the stories and passages from this part of the Bible. Our weekly themes are:

Nov. 29th – Preparing the Way: God is Near (Luke 1:1-25)
Dec. 6th – Preparing the Way: God is Among Us (Luke 1:26-38)
Dec. 13th – Preparing the Way: God Shows Us His Favor (Luke 1:39-59)
Dec. 20th – Preparing the Way: God is Glorified (Luke 2:1-20)


This week, we explore the theme of how Advent cultivates the difficult discipline of waiting. But also how that waiting and hope find fulfillment with God draws near.

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment...

Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and there-fore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is within her...

The whole meaning of Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for that which we have already seen. Christian community is the place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously, so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us that allows us to live in this world without being seduced constantly by despair, lostness, and darkness. That is how we dare to say that God is love even when we see hatred all around us. That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us. We say it together. We affirm it in one another. Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment--that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.

-Excerpted from "Waiting for God," Henri Nouwen. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-11-22

  • Celebrating Thanksgiving - All are invited to a simple fellowship luncheon following worship today.
  • Photo Shoots - Today we have a team of photographers ready to take your picture! We would very much like to update our "photo wall." PLEASE be sure to share a bit of time to have your picture taken. Both Sundays, you can take your picture between 10:30 and 11:00 in the upstairs Chapel, or starting at 12:15 in the upstairs chapel, main sanctuary, or outside in our court-yard. Gather your family and make sure to have a picture taken!
  • Stewardship Response Cards - Our annual invitation for you to renew your membership commitments through your presence, prayers, gifts, service, and witness are available. Please prayerfully fill out and return today!
  • Advent Begins - The wonderful season of anticipation and waiting for the birth of our Savior begins on Sunday, Nov. 29th. Our theme this year is Pre-pare the Way. Let us ready our hearts and minds to welcome the Christ child once again.
  • Christmas Poinsettias - You are invited to contribute a poinsettia to our sanctuary's Christmas beauty. Each plant is $10. Sign ups will be taken through Nov. 29th. Thank you!

Thanksgiving - Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Generous God, thank you.
For the gift of life, the gift of creation, and this amazing world, thank you.
For the gift of lungs that know how to breathe without my telling them,
for galaxies that spin without my spinning them,
for living beings that surround me and give life, I thank you.
For the mystery of my life, the path that has brought me this far,
for all those who have been part of my story, all of them, I thank you.
I am grateful for loved ones near and far,
for those I live with and those I seldom see,
and those who have touched me only once,
for they are the tree that holds the nest of my life.
For the wonders that surround me, the beauty and strangeness,
the color and music of this life, I thank you,
and pray for eyes and ears of wonder.
For the mystery of your presence within me,
your attentiveness to my every heartbeat,
your unfathomable delight in my being, your forgiveness and healing,
for your gift of renewal and your resurrecting in me,
and for your energy in me, the shining sun of you in me,
I give you thanks and pray that I may always be mindful.
For all your gifts I am grateful, delighted and amazed,
and pray that I may ever be so.
For all that is to come, I ask not for goods or favors,
but only this: a heart of wonder, humility, gratitude and delight.
Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015-11-15 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministr News and Notes 2015-11-15

  • Charge Conference Today! We will gather at 1:00 p.m. for a (hopefully) short meeting to celebrate ministries and prepare for the upcoming year. All members are encouraged and urged to attend. Please welcome Rev. Chuck Cordes and wife, Stella.
  • Photo Shoots - Today and next Sunday (Nov. 15th and 22nd) we have a team of photographers ready to take your picture! We would very much like to update our "photo wall." PLEASE be sure to have your picture taken. Both Sundays, you can take your picture between 10:30 and 11:00 in the upstairs Chapel, or starting at 12:15 in the upstairs chapel, main sanctuary, or outside in our courtyard. Gather your family and make sure to have a picture taken!
  • Stewardship Response Cards - Our annual invitation for you to renew your membership commitments through your presence, prayers, gifts, service, and witness are available. Please prayerfully fill out and return on Thanksgiving Sunday, Nov. 22nd.
  • Thanksgiving Family Night - We will be hosting the families of our Homework Club this Friday, Nov. 20th from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. Plans are underway. Your presence, hospitality, and service are greatly appreciated and requested. Please sign up this Sunday to pitch in!
  • All Church Work Day - You are invited to pitch in on Saturday, Nov. 21st any time between 8:30 and 2:00 p.m. Please see Al for more info.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving - We'll be holding our community Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday, Nov. 22nd. Worship will begin for both English and Chinese communities at 9:30 a.m. A special thanksgiving luncheon will be provided—no need to bring anything but yourselves!
  • Advent Begins - The wonderful season of anticipation and waiting for the birth of our Savior begins on Sunday, Nov. 29th. Our theme this year is Prepare the Way. Let us ready our hearts and minds to welcome the Christ child once again.
  • Christmas Poinsettias - You are invited to contribute a poinsettia to our sanctuary's Christmas beauty. Each plant is $10. Sign ups will be taken through Nov. 29th. Thank you!
  • Prayer Invites: Please remember KCVS as they hold their first nursery graduation on Friday, Nov. 20th, followed by an Annual General Meeting for parents and teachers.

Gratitude and Generosity are Indivisible, M.J. Ryan

"As I express my gratitude, I become more aware of it. And the greater my awareness, the greater my need to express it. What happens here is a spiraling ascent, a process of growth in ever-expanding circles around a steady center." ~Brother David Steindl-Rast
 
Years ago, my friend Grace got into a financial jam. She had bought a one-bedroom condo in the boom years of the eighties, and watched as the market for condos dropped like a rock. Then she was transferred to another state and couldn’t get rid of it because she owed more on the mortgage than she could sell it for. She couldn’t just walk away from it because the bank would come after the house she and her husband managed to buy despite the condo. So she rents it out, but the huge mortgage continues to be an albatross around her neck. Over the years, those who are close to Grace, including her friend Molly, have heard her express anxiety about the condo, especially whenever a tenant leaves.
 
One day recently, Molly called up Grace and told her that she and her husband had just made a killing when his Internet company went public, and she was going to give Grace the money to pay off the mortgage on the condo. Grace was overwhelmed. "You can’t do that," she said. "It’s so much money." And Molly replied, "I feel so grateful that my life has been so blessed. I just want to spread some of the blessings around. I’ve heard you complain about that condo for years. It would be give me great joy to alleviate that burden on you." Grace kept demurring, but Molly persisted, and finally Grace accepted. As a consequence, Molly got to feel the delicious sensation of giving a huge gift to someone she loved.
 
And Grace? Not only was she relieved of the burden of the condo, but she got to experience a sense of gratitude that spread in all its magnificence into all aspects of her life. Speaking to me about it the other day, she said, "You know, I have been blessed with truly generous friends all my life. Molly ended up giving me more than I needed to pay off the loan. What I would really like to do now is to use the rest of the money to help my in-laws get out of debt."
 
Both Molly and Grace have entered the ever-expanding circle of openheartedness that comes from the interplay of generosity and gratitude. It doesn’t matter where you enter the circle—in gratitude or with generosity. But the more you experience one, the more the other enhances your life as well. You feel grateful, which is the experience of fullness, and from that fullness you offer someone else something—an encouraging word, a helping hand—and receive something in return love—the feeling of connection, a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment that in turn fuels your feeling of gratitude for the gifts of life you have received.
 
Few of us will ever be as extravagant in our giving as Molly, but that doesn’t matter. The beautiful circle that giving and thankfulness traces occurs no matter the size or form of the gift.
 
May you find myriad ways to enter the circle, particularly during this holiday season.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Worship Videos 2015-11-1

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-11-1


  • YOUth Gather today!
  • Offer Your Voice! We will be forming a choir to share a communion hymn during NCC Convocation Sunday Worship. We’d love to have you be a part of it. Practice will be held today at 12:30 and next Sunday, Nov. 8th at 9:30 a.m. Please connect with Aeri to join in.
  • National Chinese Caucus (NCC) Convocation 2015 - We are hosting the Convocation happening Friday, Nov. 6th - Sunday, Nov. 8th. In honor of the Convocation, we will be holding a joint worship on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. followed by a fellowship luncheon. You are invited!
  • Charge Conference - The annual business meeting of the church in which we elect officers and leaders, affirm lay servants and those called to ordination, and pass the pastor’s compensation package will be held Sunday, Nov. 15th at 1:00 p.m. It’s makes a difference when you attend!
  • Prayer Invites: For the cultivation of a grateful heart.
  • Experience the joy of hospitality! If you enjoy connecting with one another over something tasty, please sign up to host the hospitality time. You’ll be glad you did! 

It’s All About the Glass, Kristi Nelson

Like anyone, I love days of “great-fullness” and all the moments which hover vividly at the brim. And I dearly love it when I feel like a “glass-half-full” kind of person; optimistic, celebratory, upbeat. But as I have grown to humbly understand, feelings of fullness are not consistent, predictable, or assured. I can always turn on the faucet, but as we all know, evaporation happens.

It seems to me that underneath all the inevitable risings and fallings, feeling deeply content or joyful is not actually about how full the glass is or seems… it is about being grateful for having a glass at all.

Being grateful for simply having a glass is key because without it, half of anything wouldn’t matter. Without it, life would either be a puddle or thin air. The glass is a container for our experiences – all experience – and some people seem to know that noticing and being grateful for this container trumps everything, and can turn any and all contents in our favor.
What I know is that when the glass of life itself feels like enough to me, the dry times and overflowing times can come and go and my happiness remains more steady and unconditional; my wellbeing seeming to spring from a deeper source. In this state, I am able to access that balance point of equanimity and equilibrium, returning solidly to the mid-way point, the mark of both half-full and half-empty, with less concern. I feel “held” by a container, full even when the glass is empty.

Many of us spend our lives seeking, accumulating and counting good times and reasons for gratitude as one way to shift the equation from lack to sufficiency; from half-empty to half-full. But gratitude for individual moments and things that can come and go – that DO come and go – can keep us in a relentless pursuit of “more.” And, on some level, we know that “more” is just as subject to evaporation as less.

Perhaps this is why we long, and need, to listen to the voices of people like Jimmy Carter, and innumerable others who stare into the face of illness and the end of life with grace, grit, and gratitude. We know that they know what matters. And most of us are longing to know, and be filled up by, what really matters in our lives – in the midst of a million forces pulling us toward settling for just one more drop.

Knowing that our lives are incomprehensibly precious, fragile, and fleeting reminds us to stop in our tracks and take stock, every moment, of what matters, how much is enough, and where wisdom would direct our attention. Yet, facing and befriending our mortality seems to be the one thing that so many of us most heartily avoid. What a conundrum…

Grateful living can help – offering a path and practices that put living fully at the center of everything. Gratefulness is about being able to notice and appreciate the gift of the glass itself, amidst the ups and downs. It is about knowing in our molecules that life is a gift, no matter how empty we may feel.

And it is about understanding that in each and every moment that we notice we are alive, we are succeeding in creating a life that truly hovers vividly at the brim. Because, in the end, it is all about the glass, not what is in it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-10-25

  • YOUth Gather next Sunday, Nov. 1st.
  • National Chinese Caucus (NCC) Convocation 2015 - We will be hosting the NCC Convocation from Friday, Nov 6th through Sunday, Nov. 8th. Brothers and sisters from around the country will be meeting here and celebrating the theme, "Workers of the Harvest." The special keynote speaker is Dr. Wendy J Deichmann, President of United Theological Seminary. You are invited to attend, participate, or help host. Support is particularly needed around meal times (set up, serving, clean up). If you would like to attend or pitch in, please connect with Pastor Emily or Pastor Meina asap. Thanks!
  • Offer Your Voice! We will be forming a choir to share a communion hymn during NCC Convocation Sunday, Nov. 8th. We’d love to have you be a part of it. Practice will be held on Sunday, Nov. 1st at 12:30 and on Sunday, Nov. 8th at 9:30 a.m. Please connect with Aeri to join in.
  • Prayer Invites: For each who are grappling with health and well-being related issues. For the possibility of peace with justice in Palestine/Israel. For our own cultivation of a grateful heart.
  • Experience the joy of hospitality! It looks like the hospitality chart is empty from here till the end of the year. If you enjoy connecting with one another over something tasty, please sign up to host the hospitality time. You’ll be glad you did!

Gratitude Stories - Rev. Martin Thielen

The following gratitude stories might be helpful to you during this Season of Gratitude. They all fall under the theme of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Of course, this verse doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is God’s will. It’s not God’s will that we lose our jobs, or get a diagnosis of cancer, or that our children make poor choices. What this verse does say is that it’s God’s will for us to thankful people in all circumstances, even in hard times—especially in hard times. Consider these three examples.

When Robinson Crusoe was wrecked on his lonely island, he drew two columns and listed the good and bad of his situation. He was cast away on a desolate island, but he was still alive. He was separated from humanity, but he was not starving. He had no clothes, but was in a warm climate and didn’t need them. He had no means of defense, but saw no wild beasts that threatened him. He had no one to talk to, but the destroyed ship was near the shore and he could get out of it all the things necessary for his basic needs. He concluded, therefore, that no condition in the world was so miserable that one could not find something to be grateful for.

When the late John Claypool lost his ten-year-old daughter to leukemia, gratitude was the only way he survived. He tells about that experience in his profound book, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler. After his daughter’s death, John walked down three different paths. The first path was to say, “Well, it was just God’s will. I have to accept it.” But that was not helpful. He could not believe that God willed ten-year-old girls to die of leukemia. A second path was to try to find an intellectual answer as to why this happened. He tried to make sense of it. But that didn’t work either. His daughter’s death didn’t make any sense. Finally, John walked the path of gratitude. He realized that life is a gift. We are not entitled to it. That we have any life at all is pure gift and pure grace. Therefore, John chose to be thankful for the ten good years they had together rather than being consumed with resentment for the years he did not have with her. This path of gratitude wasn’t easy, but it was the only path which offered any help.

Many years ago, an elderly English pastor was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy Sunday morning, when everything was going extremely bad in the community and in the lives of many people in the congregation, himself included, he stepped to the pulpit to pray. A member of the congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God for on a wretched morning like this.” The pastor began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-10-18


  • Great thanks to Pastor Moon for bringing the message today!
  • Praise God for an inspiring, impactful evening at the 6th Annual Kumi Benefit Dinner. Particular thanks to the many hands and hearts that made the event possible. Let's continue to hold the ministry of KCVS, the students and staff, and the remainder of the year in prayer.
  • National Chinese Caucus Convocation 2015 - We will be hosting the NCC Convocation from Friday, Nov 6th through Sunday, Nov. 8th. Brothers and sisters from around the country will be meeting here and celebrating the theme, "Workers of the Harvest." The special keynote speaker is Dr. Wendy J Deichmann, President of United Theological Seminary. You are invited to attend, participate, or help host. Support is particularly needed around meal times (set up, serving, clean up). If you would like to attend or pitch in, please connect with Pastor Emily or Pastor Meina asap. Thanks!
  • Season of Gratitude - We will begin a 4 week season of gratitude on Oct. 25th. Get ready to give thanks!
  • Prayer Invites: For Wendy Lee and her upcoming wedding, for Frances Fong recovering from hip replacement surgery, for all those traveling to China in the upcoming week.
  • Experience the joy of hospitality! Sign up in the Social hall to bring refreshments to share after worship service! You’ll be glad you did! 

NOT TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE (Mark 10: 35-45) By Andrew King

Is that you, Lord, changing the diaper in the nursing home, holding the spoon for the woman in her wheelchair, wiping down the toilet and the floor; is that you serving the dinner at the homeless shelter, sorting the cans at the food bank, mowing the aged neighbour’s lawn; is that you, Lord, bandaging the wounds of the bomb victim, erecting the tent for the refugees, handing out the water and the food; is that you driving the patient to the treatment center, sitting through the night with the family, making the call to the forgotten friend; is that you, Lord, lighting the candle in the darkness, keeping vigil for compassion and justice, loving in us and through us and with us until the world that you love has been changed?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-10-11

Amazing! Last week, over 100 people came out to celebrate connection and worship God at our 1st ever World Communion Picnic Sunday. There were old time members and brand new friends. Great thanks to each and everyone who pitched in, invited friends, and showed up. Shall we do it again next year?

Counting Down - We are just 5 days away from our 6th Annual Kumi Benefit Dinner. Please consider sharing time after worship today to complete some preparatory tasks for the dinner - envelope stuffing, gift bag tying, center-piece making, etc. You are also invited to pray in these days leading up to the dinner. Thank you!

Don't Know the Bible Well? We are exploring the New Testament together during the Sunday School hour starting at 9:30 a.m. It's not too late! Plan to participate!

Prayer Invites - For Jenny Wong and her upcoming mission trip to Mexico; For Wendy Lee as she prepares for marriage; For those preparing for surgery, experiencing ill health, and seeking God's healing and comfort in their bodies.

The Season of Gratitude - We will be celebrating a season of gratitude during the month of November. Invite friends and neighbors to learn more and get ready to give thanks!

Experience the joy of hospitality! Sign up in the Social hall to bring refreshments to share after worship servicel! You’ll be glad you did!

What Wesley Practiced and Preached About Money - Charles White

Most of us know that John Wesley was used of God to revive 18th-century England and to start the Methodist Church. We know him as a great preacher and a greater organizer. But few of us realize that Wesley made enormous sums from preaching--the sale of his writings made him one of England’s wealthiest men. In an age when a single man could live comfortably on 30 pounds a year, his annual income reached 1,400. With such an income he had the opportunities to put his ideas on money into practice. What did he say about money? And what did he do with his own?

John Wesley knew grinding poverty as a child. His father, Samuel Wesley, was the Anglican priest in one of England’s lowest-paying parishes. He had nine children to support and was rarely out of debt. Once, John saw his father being marched off to debtor’s prison. When John followed his father into the ministry, he had no illusions about financial rewards.

It probably came as a surprise to John Wesley that while God had called him to follow his father’s vocation, he had not also called him to be poor like his father. Instead of becoming a parish priest, John felt God's direction to teach at Oxford University. There he was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, and his financial status changed dramatically. His position usually paid him at least 30 pounds a year, more than enough money for a single man to live on. John seems to have enjoyed his relative prosperity. He spent his money on playing cards, tobacco and brandy.

While at Oxford, an incident changed his perspective on money. He had just finished paying for some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a cold winter day, and he noticed that she had nothing to protect her except a thin linen gown. He reached into his pocket to give her some money to buy a coat but found he had too little left. Immediately the thought struck him that the Lord was not pleased with the way he had spent his money. He asked himself, Will thy Master say, “Well done, good and faithful steward”? Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy!--Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?

English Ministry News and Notes 2015-10-11

  • Amazing! Last week, over 100 people came out to celebrate connection and worship God at our 1st ever World Communion Picnic Sunday. There were old time members and brand new friends. Great thanks to each and everyone who pitched in, invited friends, and showed up. Shall we do it again next year?
  • Counting Down - We are just 5 days away from our 6th Annual Kumi Benefit Dinner. Please consider sharing time after worship today to complete some preparatory tasks for the dinner - envelop stuffing, gift bag tying, centerpiece making, etc. You are also invited to pray in these days leading up to the dinner. Thank you!
  • Don't Know the Bible Well? We are exploring the New Testament together during the Sunday School hour starting at 9:30 a.m. It's not too late! Plan to participate!
  • Prayer Invites - For Jenny Wong and her upcoming mission trip to Mexico; For Wendy Lee as she prepares for marriage; For those preparing for surgery, experiencing ill health, and seeking God's healing and comfort in their bodies.
  • The Season of Gratitude - We will be celebrating a season of gratitude during the month of November. Invite friends and neighbors to learn more and get ready to give thanks!
  • Experience the joy of hospitality! Sign up in the Social hall to bring refreshments to share after worship servicel! You’ll be glad you did!