Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016-12-18 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2016-12-18

  • Let's Go Caroling - Connect with Becky (if you haven’t already) if you plan to go caroling tomorrow! Bring joy to others by sharing your voice!
  • Calling All Bakers - Get out the mixers and sifters: your delicious treats are invited for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day refreshments! Thank you!
  • Celebrate Christmas - this year's calendar invites us to celebrate Christmas in worship and community. You are warmly invited to Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, Dec. 24th, at 7:00 p.m. Invite friends and family to this beautiful time of remembering the story and sharing the music. On Christmas morn, we'll gather at 10:30 a.m. for a creative joint worship. Again, friends and family are invited and welcome!
  • Sunday School Rests - Please note that there will not be Sunday School next Sunday, Dec. 25th. Adults will also rest on Jan. 1st and resume on the 8th.
  • Please Note - the church office will be closed Dec. 26th - 28th. For pastoral emergencies, please connect with Pastor Emily via email or cell phone.
  • AO Circuit Holy Land Pilgrimage - We will be traveling to the Middle East from May 1st - 12th with our circuit brothers and sisters. The trip cost is $3,250 and includes airfare, ground transportation, hotels, all meals, honorariums, and gratuities. The first installment representing your commitment to the trip is required by Jan. 5th ($1,500). Checks can be made out to CCUMC with Pilgrimage in the memo line. Interested? Questions? Connect with Pastor Emily.

Love: The Children of Susiya

This is a story about a village in Palestine.

Children play and make friends there. But they live in a hard situation. The churches in Jerusalem invite people from around the world to come and see what is happening. Patricia, who wrote this story, is one of those people. For three months she lived with Palestinians and Israelis who are working for peace.

Susiya is a small village in Palestine. The Palestinian people don’t have control of their own country. This situation is called a “military occupation.” In this small village, the Israeli army told the people to leave. They were going to tear down their homes and use their land for themselves.

But the people don’t want to leave. They love their homes. They love their families and their animals. They love the land and their community. This place is their home. Where else would they go?

During this difficult situation, the children try to go about their daily lives. They are just like children anywhere. The other observers and I arrive just as school finishes for the summer. Remember how that feels?

Getting up and out first thing in the morning. Meeting up with friends. Going in and out of each other’s homes? The children play school, marbles, and games. They play little sally saucer and statue. They fill water balloons and—watch out!

We watch the children play. We watch them push and pull, cry and laugh. There is a lot of love in this close community.

A special moment for me is playing rock-a-bye baby. All of the children want a turn being rocked. Even the older ones, who have trouble fitting on my lap! Then I teach them to dance to “Rock Around the Clock.” And they teach me to dance to an Arabic song!

Every child needs a safe place to live and grow up. The children of Susiya and many other villages in Palestine need to have courage. As long as this conflict goes on, they will live with the very real fear of losing their homes.

We hear the love and courage of the people in Susiya who want to keep their village. Are we ready to love? Are we ready to step up and help the people of Palestine and Israel? I wonder what love is calling forth from us?


For pictures of the children of Susiya that accompany this story from the blog of former World Council of Church’s Ecumenical Accompanier and United Church member Patricia Mercer, visit: https://patriciainpalestine.wordpress.com

Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016-12-11 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2016-12-11

  • Live Hope, Peace, and Joy....By Picking It Up - Let's work together to make our neighborhood beautiful. Today, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
  • Prayer Invite - Please remember the final (for the 2016 year) Adventures in Faith chapel this Wednesday, Dec. 14th! Great thanks to the faithful team of faithful grace-sharers and love-bearers we have (Adrienne, Becky, Donna, Katty, Pastor Moon, Richard, Steve, and our Homework Club Team.)
  • Meet Our New Bishop! A reception will be held at Epworth UMC (1953 Hopkins St., Berkeley) on Tuesday, Dec. 13th at 7:00 p.m. to meet and greet Bishop Minerva CarcaƱo. You are welcome!
  • Let's Go Caroling - Drivers are needed for our Christmas Caroling from noon til 4pm on Dec. 19th. Bring joy to others by sharing your voice!
  • Calling All Bakers - Get out the mixers and sifters: your delicious treats are invited for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day refreshments! Thank you!
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be Saturday, Dec. 24th 7pm. Joint Christmas Day Worship on Dec. 25 at 10:00am

Joy: Music Transforms

This is a story about young people. They use music to bring joy.

At Christmas we sing carols in church. We hear Christmas songs on the street. Or singers might come to our door. Music reminds us that this is a special time of year. Music brings us joy.

There was a boy named Ramzi. Music changed his life. Ramzi Aburedwan was born in Bethlehem. He lived with his grandparents in a refugee camp. A refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their home.

Ramzi’s family dreamed that one day they could return to their home. It isn’t easy to grow up in a refugee camp. Palestinian people want their freedom. But the Israeli government controls what they can do and where they can go. And Ramzi wanted to be free.

When Ramzi was 17 years old, he learned about a new kind of music. Music teachers came to the refugee camp. They taught the children to play instruments. Ramzi learned the viola. (That’s like a big violin.)

He loved the sound of the viola. He loved it even more when all the instruments played together. Ramzi got better and better at playing music. As he grew older, Ramzi’s dream was to teach music to children in Palestine. And his dream came true. He started a school where many refugee children learn music.

One day, Ramzi and a group of young musicians got onto a bus. They went to a checkpoint. Palestinians have to pass through these places to get from one city to another. They need permission to travel to get to work, school, or a hospital, or to visit family. They need a special paper. And Israeli soldiers check their bags.

People have to line up inside cages. It is crowded. People often get tired and angry. They have to wait a long time. And sometimes the soldiers don’t let people through.

The musicians came with their instruments. They knew that music can bring joy to a joyless place. Ramzi told them to keep playing, even if the soldiers told them to leave. The young people were very brave. They started to play music for everyone at the checkpoint.

The soldiers didn’t know what to do. The people who were waiting in line stayed to listen to the music. Ramzi and the young musicians brought a gift of joy. They showed the world that even in a difficult situation, they can share a message of freedom, life, and peace.

I wonder how we can share joy with those around us? Where can we bring the gift of joy?

The blog of former World Council of Church’s Ecumenical Accompanier and United Church member Patricia Mercer includes pictures of what a checkpoint is like. Visit: https://patriciainpalestine.wordpress.com

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016-12-4 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2016-12-4

  • Circuit Charge Conference, Today! Please gather at Twin Tower UMC at 2:00 p.m. Address: 1411 Oak St., Alameda. There is plenty of street parking on Oak or Central as well as a free city parking garage (entrance on Oak, btwn CVS and Cinema Grill).
  • Christmas Poinsettias - Today is the last day to sign up with Peggy if you’d like to donate a plant for our sanctuary.
  • Pitch In and Pick It Up - Next Sunday, Dec. 11th, we'll join with others to care for our neighborhood by picking up trash, sweeping, and generally beautifying our streets. This is one way we can "show up" and make a difference for Chinatown. Please sign up today! Great thanks to Richard for anchoring this month.
  • Let's Go Caroling - Drivers are needed for our Christmas Caroling from noon til 4pm on Dec. 19th. Bring joy to others by sharing your voice!
  • Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be Saturday, Dec. 24th 7pm. Joint Christmas Day Worship on Dec. 25 at 10:00am.

Peace: Learning about Where We Live

This is a story about a young woman who learned something about her home. My name is Niva. I’m a Jewish person born in the south of Israel. I grew up in a small community that was surrounded by desert. As a child, I didn’t get to know my neighbors very well. We didn’t speak the same language, and we didn’t go to the same places. I was told that the people who lived on this land before us—the Bedouin people of Palestine—just left.

One day, my father took part in a protest. Our army had hurt and killed a lot of people in the country next to us, Lebanon. Some people from our own country attacked the group my father was with. He was killed. The people who attacked him were angry. They didn’t think that we should speak for peace and justice, or question our leaders. Losing my father when I was very young changed how I see the world.

When I finished school, I had to join the Israeli army. It is the rule. I wished I didn’t have to join. When I finished my service after two years, I thought about leaving Israel. Life here isn’t easy. We live in fear and there is a lot of fighting. One day, I was walking along the seashore with my friend, Amaya. She told me about what happened 60 years ago when our country, Israel, was formed.

She said that there were other people living here, Palestinian people. Many of them were forced to leave their homes and their towns, because our people wanted to live here instead. I was shocked by what she told me. This isn’t something we learn a lot about in school. I started to feel scared and sad. I had so many questions.

This is where I live. How come I didn’t know about this before? If my country is the reason Palestinian people had to leave their homes, what can we do about it? I wondered if I should leave Israel. Maybe life would be better somewhere else with no war and no fighting. But I was born here. I love the people, the food, the language, and the land. I decided I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to do something about what Amaya told me. I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to learn more and work for change.

I started to work for a group called Zochrot. (The word means “remembering” in the Hebrew language, in the feminine form.) I volunteered to create a tour of four Palestinian villages that used to exist in the south of Israel. I didn’t know much about these places growing up, so I used the knowledge that Zochrot had about them. Today parts of these villages are covered with trees, but you can still find old buildings, like schools and houses where people lived. We at Zochrot lead tours to teach Israeli Jewish people about what happened here. People were forced to leave their homes so that we could live here. It is not easy to do this work. There are people in my country who don’t want us to talk about these things.

My hope is that one day we will live together in this land, Palestinians and Israeli Jews as equals. Then the Palestinian people could return to their homes. There is a lot of fear, hatred, and fighting between people. But we need to learn how to live together. I believe most people want happiness, health, and a good life. They want to live in peace with no wars. I don’t want other people to suffer because of what I do, or what my people did and still do today.
Things are difficult, but I believe they can change.

Thank you to Niva Grunzwieg from Zochrot (http://zochrot.org) for sharing her story.