- Kumi Benefit Dinner Planning, Today!
- Last Chance: You are warmly invited to meet Ata Manasra and Adel Hroub, friends from Wadi Foquin in the West Bank on Friday, Aug. 5th at 6:00 p.m. A simple meal will be provided followed by an engaging presentation/sharing. Sign up today!
- Save the Dates:
- Sunday, Aug. 28th is Street Fest Hospitality Sunday when we open our doors as a sign of God's hospitality. We invite your active participation. We can only extend hospitality through you!
- Saturday, Sept. 24th for a church retreat. Gather to connect, reflect, play, and worship. More info to come.
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness, www.lifehopeandtruth.com
Faithfulness is the 7th of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Essentially, faithfulness to God is loyalty to Him and to His teachings, which should shape how we think and act.
“Faithfulness” is translated from the Greek word pistis. In the King James Version this word is translated “faith.” Pistis includes both meanings (faith and faithfulness), but in Galatians 5:22 it seems to carry more of the meaning “trustworthiness or reliability”.
We grow in faith as we use the power God gives us through the Holy Spirit to obey Him and build a relationship with Him. Faith in God grows in us as it did in Abraham as we see that God will always do what He has promised (Romans 4:18-22). So, faithfulness would include being full of belief and confidence in God and all that God promises.
Faith involves the way we live. Paul said we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faithfulness includes loyalty. In Titus 1:9, toward the end of a list of qualifications for ministers, Paul says that an elder should be “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” “Holding fast the faithful word” means remaining loyal to what we have learned from the Word of God.
So the fruit of the Spirit of faithfulness includes trusting God and remaining loyal to Him and His teaching and leading.
Examples of faithfulness to follow - Hebrews 11 lists Abraham and Sarah as examples of faithful people who did many things by faith. Abraham left his home, not knowing where he was going but depending on God. He dwelled in a foreign country with his wife and waited many years for promises from God. Sarah received strength to have a child after she was well past the childbearing age, holding onto the promise made to her by God. Abraham was even willing to obey God’s command to offer his only son as a sacrifice because he completely believed that God could raise him from the dead.
Abraham and Sarah’s examples of faithfulness are timeless in their demonstration of commitment, willingness to believe God and to act on their beliefs despite growing physical evidence to the contrary. They did have some difficulties with faith, but they made God the priority, and He bountifully blessed them. Abraham turned his back on everything that wasn’t approved by God and moved forward with only God’s promises guiding Him. Talk about faithfulness!
Faithfulness self-examination questionnaire
1. How loyal am I to God? Does my faith place God as the first priority in my life? How?
2. What obstacles are there to my faithfulness? Why do I have difficulties trusting God?
3. Am I satisfied with spiritual evidence, or do I always depend on physical evidence for my beliefs?
4. What areas of my life are not completely faithful to God? How can I change them?
Faithfulness is more than just being there for someone. It is total commitment and loyalty to God that flies in the face of human reasoning. We may easily believe in God, but it takes faithfulness to allow God to change our lives
Sunday, July 24, 2016
- Our 7th Annual Kumi Benefit Dinner invites you to pitch in - our 2nd planning meeting will be held on Sunday, July 31st at 12:30 p.m. You're invited!
- Save the Date: Sunday, Aug. 28th is Street Fest Hospitality Sunday when we open our doors as a sign of God's hospitality. We invite your active participation. We can only extend hospitality through you!
- Prayer Invite: Last week, an accidental fire burned down the 1 room apartment that Silver Omakenyi and his family (Rachel and Edith) were renting. They lost all their electronics and much else. Please remember them during this time.
- Save the Date - On Friday, Aug.5th, together with our sister circuit churches, we will host 2 special guests from Palestine: Ata Manasra and Adel Hroub. Both are from the village of Wadi Foquin near Bethlehem and part of a community development project sponsored through GBGM. Ata is also a licensed tour guide and will be accompanying the 2017 pilgrimage. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet folks from our circuit, deepen understanding of the Holy Land, and begin discernment about the pilgrimage. (Aug. 5th, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. @ CCUMC) Please sign up today for an accurate count of food."
- Ukelele band practice continues after fellowship hour on Sundays in the sanctuary. All levels welcome. Let’s praise God with song and uke!
Today, we meet the final prophet of our series on prophetic ministry: Hosea. Over the last 8 weeks, we have met Elijah, Elisha, and Amos. Hosea follows on the heels of Amos chronologically but is placed before Amos in the Bible. You are encouraged to read the book – all 14 chapters – this week!
SUMMARY The book of Hosea is a collection of prophetic messages delivered by the prophet Hosea and narrative descriptions of Hosea's marriage and the birth of his children (1:2-2:1; 3:1-5). Most of Hosea's messages are announcements of God's anger with Israel (the northern of the two Israelite kingdoms) and God's impending judgment on this people. Hosea's messages focus on Israel's unfaithfulness to the Lord. This lack of faithfulness is seen in Israel's worship of other gods (alongside the Lord). The religious leaders of the people are singled out by Hosea for condemnation. Their job was to lead the people in faithfulness, but they actually did the opposite. The prophet also criticizes the political leaders of the nation for forming covenants with Egypt and Assyria, rather than relying on the Lord. The book also includes messages of hope, most notably the tender image of God as the parent who taught the child Israel to walk and will not, in the end, abandon the nation.
SO WHAT? The messages of Hosea announce sharply that God's relationship with human beings includes judgment--and also that this relationship continues on the other side of judgment, because God is faithful. Hosea teaches that to know God is to have one's entire life transformed in faith and obedience. God's anger was provoked because the people both worshiped other gods and oppressed their neighbors, sins that Hosea sees as related.
WHERE DO I FIND IT? Hosea is the 28th book in the Old Testament. It’s the first of the so-called "minor" (or shorter) prophets, the twelve books that make up the final portion of the Old Testament.
WHO WROTE IT? Most of the messages in the book of Hosea were spoken by Hosea. We do not know if he wrote them down himself; his words were most probably collected by followers who were convinced that Hosea spoke for God. It is likely that an editor placed Hosea's messages in the present order and composed the narrative descriptions of Hosea's family life (chapters 1 and 3). It is also likely that the editor arranged the books so that each major section (1-3; 4-11; 12-14) ends with a word of hope.
WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN? Hosea most likely spoke his messages between the years 750 and 722 B.C.E. during the final years of Jereboam II’s reign. WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The book of Hosea is about God's loving relationship with the chosen people--a love that leads God to judge the people when they love other gods and oppress each other, but also a relationship to which God is faithful on the other side of judgment.
HOW DO I READ IT? A study Bible can help with Hosea's metaphors, references to history and tradition, and references to social practices of his time. Read together, the messages make clear that the judgment proclaimed by Hosea was neither a departure from God's history of dealing with the people nor an end to that history, but an ongoing part of that history.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
- It's Not Too Late - You can still join in the creativity, fun, and community building that is our summer intergenerational Sunday School. Gather each Sunday, on time, at 9:30 a.m. in the Annex!
- Save the Date - On Friday, Aug.5th, together with our sister circuit churches, we will host 2 special guests from Palestine: Ata Manasra and Adel Hroub. Both are from the village of Wadi Foquin near Bethlehem and part of a community development project sponsored through GBGM. Ata is also a licensed tour guide and will be accompanying the 2017 pilgrimage. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet folks from our circuit, deepen understanding of the Holy Land, and begin discernment about the pilgrimage. (Aug. 5th, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. @ CCUMC)
- Join the Learning - We live in a multi-city, multi-ethnicity, multi-culture, multi-context world. And yet, the church remains relatively monochromatic in its existence and impact. How can we be inspired and equipped to go beyond the walls of the church to embrace the vision of God for God’s Kingdom? Join in for an incredible day of inspiration, information, innovation, integration and implementation as we worship and learn together. Saturday, Aug. 13th, 8:30 - 4:00 p.m. @ St. Paul UMC in Fremont. Please connect with Becky to attend!
- Hospitality Slots Available! Sign up in the social hall now!
For all its imperfections, the Occupy Wall Street movement successfully focused much attention on economic inequality in the United States. As a result, the relevance of the gospel to economic justice became a hot topic. Politically conservative Christians generally don't see much, if any, relevance; while politically liberal Christians think the gospel has much to say about the increasing economic inequality we see around us. How do we make sense of even in our politics. Those values are all about loving God; loving and treating one's neighbor (and enemy) as ourselves – not only in personal interac it all for ourselves, beyond the labels?
Well...let’s take a look at scripture:
There are so, so many scripture passages that talk about economic justice; about lifting up the poor and oppressed; about reining in the excesses of the rich. In fact, there probably is nothing God talks about more in the bible than this topic. God spoke through virtually all of the prophets of the Old Testament about selfishness and economic inequality. For instance, the prophet Amos said: But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
The book of Amos is about a society similar to our own in which the profits produced by the work of the people were going, not back to the people who created them, but rather to the rich landowners. Amos called for economic justice and righteousness. One of the few verses in the bible repeated verbatim is this one: I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12 and Proverbs 13:23)
Later in Proverbs we read: The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. (Proverbs 29:7)
When Jesus began his public ministry, he said: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Luke 4:18-19 (quoting from Isaiah 61))
Later, in the Beatitudes, Jesus said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God....But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. (Luke 6:20; 24.)
And these are just a sampling!
As with any political question, when it comes to economics, Christians must honestly ask themselves which view best reflects Christian (i.e. gospel) values: individual wealth creation or promotion of the common good?
No matter how you look at it, if we really believe the gospel, then we will believe in the things Jesus believed in. We will live Jesus' values. Yes, even in our politics. Those values are all about loving God; loving and treating one's neighbor (and enemy) as ourselves – not only in personal interactions, but through shaping public policy; sharing what we have with others; and generally promoting a better, more just, righteous, and unselfish world -- for all of God's children.
Let’s take this seriously!
Sunday, July 10, 2016
- Camping Fund Special Offering - Each year, we invite special giving to our youth and young adult camping fund. Your generosity enables our young people to take advantage of spiritual growth opportunities through camps, mission trips, and more. Great thanks for your 2nd mile giving.
- KCVS Update - On Aeri's recent trip to Uganda, she spent a weekend with our friends in Kumi. We will gather shortly after fellowship to hear updates, news, and respond to questions. You are invited!
- 7th Annual Kumi Benefit Dinner Planning Kick Off - Please plan to attend the kick off planning meeting at 2:00 p.m.
- Summer Intergenerational Sunday School Series: Creative Faith Expressions! You are invited to work together across the ages on a project that invites creativity, teamwork, faith exploration. We gather - on time - at 9:30 a.m. in the Annex each Sunday through Aug. 21st.
- Prayer Invite - Our Western Jurisdictional Conference gathers next week from the 13th - 16th in Scottsdale, AZ. Our own Burt and Pastor Jeffrey will be attending. Please hold both of them and all delegates in prayer as they gather to discern jurisdictional business and, importantly, elect a new bishop.
Getting to Know Amos, www.chabad.org
The Prophet Amos lived during the long reign of King Jeroboam II. Jeroboam the son of Joash reigned over the Ten Tribes of Israel for 40 years. Under his reign the Northern Kingdom of Israel enjoyed one of its most happy and prosperous periods. He recovered every piece of land which had been lost by his forerunners. He subdued the Kingdom of Moab and captured parts of Syria (Aram) which had long been like a thorn in the flesh of his people. Even Damascus, Syria's capital fell to him.
Relationship with the twin kingdom, the southern Kingdom of Judah, was still strained at first. Jeroboam maintained the stern control over it which his father had exerted; he also held members of the Royal family of Judah as hostages to ensure that the southern neighbor would make no trouble. Later, however, he realized that friendship and mutual help between the 2 Jewish kingdoms would be better for both. He helped repair the damage which his father had done to Judah, and he gave part of the land which he had taken from Syria to the king of Judah, Amatziah.
Together with the good political situation came economic prosperity. Many people in the Northern Kingdom became very wealthy, and began to lead a luxurious life. Friendly relations with the Phoenicians, who were the greatest merchants and seafaring people of those days, brought things of rare beauty and luxury into the Jewish Kingdom. Unfortunately, the unusual prosperity brought a collapse of moral standards. Ignored were the great ideals and commandments of the Torah to help the poor, and to practice justice and loving kindness. The rich oppressed the poor; might was right; it was an age of corruption. Hand in hand with this degeneration of the morals of the people went increased idolatry. People built many altars on mountains to serve the Canaanite gods, the Baal and Ashtarte. The Golden Calves, which the first Jeroboam set up in the north and south of the country to turn the people away from the Beth Hamikdosh in Jerusalem, were worshipped more than before and the teachings of the Torah and the holy commandments were viewed with contempt.
Again and again, God sent His messengers, the prophets, to admonish the people and to warn them that unless they mended their ways, they and the land would be doomed. Yet the admonitions were, for the most part, unheeded. The people went their own way.
One of the great prophets at this time was Hosea (who we will get to know in 2 weeks); another one was Amos.
Amos was a shepherd before the spirit of prophecy came over him. He was a herdsman from the village of Tekoa, and a dresser of sycamore trees. He began his prophecies "in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, the king of Israel, two years before the earthquake."
His fearless and outspoken words came thundering and stirred the people. Characteristic are his opening words: "God will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither."
Sunday, July 3, 2016
- Today, we mark a new beginning as Pastor Meina officially becomes CCUMC's Associate Pastor. We welcome her and invite your prayers for her leadership and ordination journey. Praise be to God for this gracious blessing.
- Let's start a CCUMC Ukulele Band! If you like music, ukulele might be the perfect instrument for you. It's guaranteed you can play 2-4 chords on your first lesson! Come and find out by staying after fellowship hour today. We have some extra ukuleles for novices to try. Ages 9 and up. Guitarists are also welcome to bring their instruments and join in the fun.
- And We're Off! Adventures in Faith begins this week. Please hold this vital ministry of sharing faith in your prayers. Please pray for the leadership team, the volunteers, and all the wonderful students!
- You're Invited: Yvonne and Albert would like to invite you, the church family, to celebrate Cyrus' high school graduation on Saturday, July 9th, from noon to 4 here at church. RSVP’s are encouraged by Thursday via email (yvonnemschu@gmail.) or phone (510 835 8439).
- Camping Fund Special Offering - You're invited to support our youth and young adults as they take on faith expanding opportunities through camps and missions. This special offering will be taken next Sunday, July 10th.
- Kumi Update - Aeri recently visited our friends and partners in Kumi. She will be sharing during Mission Moment on Sunday, July 10th, followed by a more in depth update after worship. Please plan to attend!
- Kumi Benefit Dinner Planning - support our new leadership (Michelle & Emiko) by pitching in with the benefit dinner planning. First meeting held next Sunday, July 10th, at 2:00 p.m.
Today’s Old Testament reading provides valuable lessons on how we receive God’s grace and blessings when we are prepared to reverse commonly held beliefs about people who are different – in race, social status and occupation. The account of Naaman’s healing also gives a voice to the marginalized and shows how, as St. Paul says to the Corinthian Christians, “God has chosen the things which the world regards as destitute of influence, in order to put its powerful things to shame.” (1 Cor 1:27)
The account of Naaman’s healing teaches us many things –
We're all vulnerable - regardless of our social standing We are told in verse 1 that Naaman is a great man, respected by many, including the King of Syria, his boss. This respect is based on his status as the captain of the victorious army of Syria. But, we are told, and this is a big ‘but’, that he has leprosy – a disease that relegates people in Biblical times to ‘outcast’ status. Therefore, we learn that in spite of Naaman’s social status, his illness in the form of leprosy is a reminder that regardless of our station in life, human beings are all vulnerable and flawed in some way, and in need of divine intervention.
Solutions can come from unlikely sources. In verse 2, the solution comes from an unlikely and seemingly ‘weak’ source – an enslaved Israelite girl who was captured by Naaman’s army and is assigned to serve Naaman’s wife. We are led to believe that the slave girl doesn’t hate those who captured her. Driven by a courageous faith in God, she seeks a way for God to be glorified in her oppressive situation. By declaring that Naaman can be healed through a prophet in Samaria in the land of Israel, she offers the possibility for the oppressor and the oppressed to worship and serve the same God.
We can jeopardize the flow of God's blessing by observing socially accepted beliefs and practices. In the ensuing verses, we see how several factors come into play that potentially jeopardize the flow of God’s blessing to Naaman. Social barriers, the effect of political oppression, ethnocentric biases and distorted human beliefs about the knowledge and wisdom of people classed as being of “low social standing” all come into play.
The faithfulness of God's people is crucial for God’s will to be done on earth - BUT in spite of it all, it is the faithfulness of God’s people – the slave girl and the persistence of the prophet Elisha that predominate. Elisha’s faithfulness to God prompts him to speak up when he hears of Naaman’s need and the anguish of the King of Israel. So Elisha summons Naaman and invites him to “see that there is a prophet in Israel” – physical healing as well as divine revelation are offered. We’re reminded that God’s people must not, as St. Paul says to the Galatian Christians, “grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap” (Gal.6 v 9). We, like Elisha, must persist in being conduits of God’s goodness and healing, even to those who are in a position to dominate and exploit.