Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017-4-23 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

2017-4-23 English Ministry News and Notes

*2nd Annual Kumi Benefit Ride/Walk, Saturday, Apr. 29th - it takes a village...... and while we are enormously grateful for the outpouring of generosity, it would be great to have the congregation join the celebration at 2 PM. If people let Ben or Jane know TODAY, they can taste the wonderful meal prepared by chefs at CVUMC for only $10.  There is also still room for a driver and photographer volunteer on April 29th. Celebrate the Risen Lord, Kumi-style, and support the kids at KCVS
Please hold this event in prayer as the bikers bike, the walkers walk, and the many volunteers join together to support.  Deep gratitude for your generosity and care!  It's not too late to give!

*We Join Together for 5th Sunday Working Worship Next Sunday, Apr. 30th - Worship begins at 9:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.  We will spend a part of of our worship time cleaning up our neighborhood.  You are encouraged to bring your own work gloves, we'll supply the rest!

*AO Circuit Holy Land Pilgrims head out May 1st through 12th!  Pastor Emily will be out of contact during that time.  If there is a pastoral emergency, please contact Pastor Meina (, 510.685.9621)
*Adult Sunday School "Rests" Sunday, May 7th and resumes on May 14th. 

*Save the Date - Our 130th anniversary will be celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.  Plans are underway for a special celebration. Please plan to be a part of it!

Celebrating Easter for 50 Days, Robert B. Kruschwitz

Resurrection changes everything.... This is why I need more than just Easter Day. If Easter were only a single day, I would never have time to let its incredible reality settle over me, settle into me. I would trudge through my life with a disconnect between what I say I believe about resurrection and how I live (or fail to live) my life in light of it.
Thanks be to God, our forebears in faith had people like me in mind when they decided that we simply cannot celebrate Easter in a single day, or even a single week. No, they decided, we need fifty days, seven Sundays, to even begin to plumb the depths of this event.  Kimberlee C. Ireton
“The implications of the resurrection lavishly overflow a one-day container,” Mark Roberts notes in his winsome invitation to celebrate Eastertide, the fifty-day season to mark Christ’s resurrection which begins on Easter Sunday. We need the extra time to explore, savor, and grow into those amazing implications.
Eastertide is an ancient and widespread practice. In the first few centuries Christians marked special events that occurred between Christ’s resurrection and the formative events on Pentecost. Today Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate the Easter season for 40 days, until the ascension of Jesus. Roman Catholics and many Protestants honor a 50 day Easter; their lectionaries provide special readings through the Seventh Sunday after Easter.
Joining with Christian believers in earlier centuries and across various traditions and using this time to draw on the rich resources of the church year are two good reasons to celebrate Easter for 50 days. But the most persuasive reason is that the implications of Christ’s resurrection deserve such extensive attention. “Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the God who raised Jesus from the dead deserves our attention,” he writes. “Moreover, we deserve to have our faith stretched, deepened, and renewed through a season of reflection upon and celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.”
In a time when so many of us feel powerless, it would be wonderful to rediscover the power of the resurrection. “Eastertide invites us to be creative, both in personal devotions and corporate worship,” Roberts concludes. It leads us to ask: “How can we worship God in light of the resurrection?” “How do we experience the reality of our own resurrection from death to life through the grace of God in Christ?” “How might we live for fifty days—and beyond—as resurrection people?”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2017-4-16 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

Justine Chan Baptism

Justine Chan Baptism Messenger

Today, we celebrate the baptism of Justine Estelle Chan.  As we do so, we remember our own baptisms and give thanks! 
Baptism is one of two sacraments that we celebrate as Methodists (the other is communion). In a sacrament, God uses common elements - in this case, water - as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Understanding the practice as an authentic expression of how God works in our lives, we strongly advocates the baptism of infants within the faith community: "Because the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, extends to all persons and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in Baptism at an early age" (2012 Book of Discipline).  Children can then confirm (or not) this decision for themselves later in their growth in the ritual of Confirmation.
We wholeheartedly celebrate and welcome Justine and hold the Chan-Samjee family in our prayers.
Justine Estelle Chan is just shy of 9 months old today.  She was born in July of 2016 to proud parents, Aaron Chan and Anne-Sophie Samjee, and thrilled grandparents, Steve and Laura Chan.  Justine is the younger sister of Victor.  The Chan-Samjee family currently live in Geneva, Switzerland but are awaiting word of a possible move later in the year (Thailand and Chile are in the running!)
Justine is curious and adventurous at this stage of development. Aaron and Anne-Sophie pray that her love of learning and adventure will never end, whether it be in her faith journey or in their many travels.  Although this is her first trip to California, it should be the first of many, and she is already becoming a good traveler having already visited Spain and Scotland.  Justine's name means "justice" which is paired with her brother's middle name Olivier, a symbol "peace." So far they get along together well like "peace" and "justice".  We pray that both continue to live up to their names. 

2017-4-16 English Ministry News and Notes

 *Happy Joyous Easter!  We welcome each and every person to worship this morning and are glad that you are here. If you are new to the community, we invite you to connect with us by filling out the white "Welcome" card in the pews. May the mystery and promise of Easter bless you today and the weeks to come.

*Great Thanks to all of our wonderful Easter Party volunteers - your presence, effort, and welcome made it possible to host the families of Homework Club!

*Kumi Benefit Ride/Walk II, Apr. 29th - We celebrate the amazing generosity that has enabled us to be in arms reach of our $40,000 fundraising goal!  Thank you and praise be!  It's not too late to join the fun or pitch in.  Please connect with Jane or Becky.

*Fifth Sunday Working Worship is Around the Corner, Apr. 30th - We'll gather to deepen our sense of God's call to worship in service to the world.  Worship begins at 9:30 a.m. and will include praise, prayer, a brief message, and then getting busy cleaning up our neighborhood!

*AO Circuit Holy Land Pilgrimage is Set to Depart - Nine members of our congregation plus pastor and family will head for Palestine/Israel on May 1st - 12th.  Please pray for their final preparations and the leading of the Spirit all throughout the way.

*We welcome new custodian, Bonnie Pan, to the CCUMC Community.  We give huge thanks for the great work and loving commitment of Wendy Wong.  Please pray for Wendy as she seeks a great fitting job!

World News This Week in Prayer

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24
We are stumbling on our way toward the day of Resurrection, gracious God. Stumbling and falling, sometimes crawling on our knees toward the cross, hoping that when we lift our tear-filled eyes, it will be empty, that the tomb will be empty, that your promise of New Life will indeed be real and we can sing with our hearts and voices:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
But these recent days have been difficult ones in which to see the reality of Resurrection, filled as they have been with death and destruction. Amid the darkness of Good Friday, we turn to you, Creator God, not as we ought but as we are able, trying to discern our place, our role, in the healing of this hurting world, seeking to be the people you are continually calling us to be, and to find hope and joy and peace, so that we can sing with our hearts and voices:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
And here, Easter is upon us. The day of Resurrection is here and our newly opened eyes are encouraged by signs of New Life and Hope:
· Malala Yousafzai, born in the Swat Valley, Pakistan, the young woman shot by the Taliban for going to school, being made the youngest ever U.N. Messenger of Peace.
· Amnesty International report that global executions have fallen 37% since 2015, with the USA being removed from the top 5 for the first time since 2006.
· The coastguard of Italy and their rescue of more than 300 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea on flimsy rubber boats.
· A restaurant in Tripoli, Lebanon offering free meals to the poor and needy, feeding 185 to 200 daily.
· Pope Francis rallying many Roman Catholic leaders to oppose immigration crackdowns throughout the world; and his planned visit to Egypt to meet with the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

Amid the glowing light of truth and new life, the reality of grace and hope for our world, we give thanks, not as we ought but as we are able, opening our hearts and hands, our minds and wills to your leading, Holy One, living in the assurance that in you there is indeed Resurrection and New Life, and so we sing with hearts and voices:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let it be so.   Amen and amen.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

2017-4-2 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

After-school Program Service

2017-4-9 English Ministry News and Notes

*Join In - We have a vital opportunity to reach out today with the Homework Club community as we host our Annual Children's Easter Party following worship.  Please consider remaining and pitching in.  We cannot do this without you!
*Holy Week Invites:
-Circuit Maundy Thursday Worship @ CCUMC, Apr. 13th at 6:30 p.m. We're hosting!  Can you pitch in?  Please connect with Pastor Emily.
-Joint Good Friday Worship with Chinese Presbyterian Church @ CPC, Apr. 14th begins with fellowship luncheon at 12:30 p.m. and worship at 2:00 p.m.  Your RSVP will help CPC prepare well.
-Easter Sunrise Worship, Apr. 16th at 7:30 a.m. in the courtyard.
-Easter Intergenerational Sunday School, Apr. 16th at 9:30 a.m.
-Easter Worship Celebration, Apr. 16th at 11:00 a.m. We will also celebrate the baptism of Justine Chan!
*Kumi Benefit Ride & Walk, Apr. 29th - It's not too late to sign up to walk, ride, donate, volunteer, or be a part of the celebration meal!  Please connect with Jane or Becky today!

Evangetality, Jim Ozier

[As we get ready to welcome the families of the Homework Club and take hold of this vital outreach opportunity, let us consider again our call to evangelism and hospitality, or evangetality.]
At last year’s School of Congregational Development, Olu Brown, pastor of Impact Church in Atlanta, wowed the crowd with his portrayal of “scout evangelism,” remembering his high school days riding home on the bus after the football game. When the team busses would stop for the after-game fast-food meal, one guy would run in and check out the restaurant for its hospitality and ability to accommodate dozens of hungry players. If satisfied, he would go back to the door, swing it open wide, and with a big wave say, “C’mon in!”
“You see,” says Olu, “the restaurant didn’t have to impress everyone — just the scout who then brings others in; great hospitality motivates people to bring others with them.”
What is the relationship between hospitality and bringing in new people? The relationship between hospitality and evangelism can be seen in Jesus’s imperative: “Come, follow me, . . . and I’ll show you how to fish for people” (Mark 1:17). Throughout the New Testament we see what it means to follow Jesus, this loving man who welcomed children, reached out to the marginalized, and invited all into a relationship of covenant, fellowship, and community.
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). Luke points to the powerful connection between evangelism (reaching and relating to “outsiders”) and hospitality (welcoming and a shared meal).
As Robert Schnase observed, “Jesus radically challenges the disciples’ expectations by overstepping boundaries to invite people in. Hospitality has us seeing people as Jesus sees them and seeing Jesus in the people God brings before us”.
To “follow Jesus” is to be hospitable! It is to welcome, invite, reach out, and treat all—especially the stranger (outsider)—with loving respect. For the church, it means creating a culture that mirrors the character and life of Jesus.
While it’s important to welcome and love one another, we’d be remiss if we forgot hospitality’s original purpose: loving the outsider.  Jesus asked Matthew, “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt 5:47). But showing love to outsiders—now that is a differentiator! That begins to set God’s people apart from others and becomes Christian community instead of a churchy clique!

 So…If hospitality is truly the key, here are three helpful principles that tie hospitality to evangelism:
· Principle #1. If we follow Jesus we’ll be hospitable like he was . . . and we’ll fish like he did too!
· Principle #2. Fish first in the pond you know best.
· Principle #3. Fishers who love to fish love to fish in new waters, too!
Read the full article at:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017-4-2 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2017-4-2

*Final SOUP Lite - Today, we mark the final time we gather for soup and intentional conversation.  Great thanks to our soup makers for today: Leily and Adrienne, and bread bringer: Peggy.  We also give thanks again for all the soup makers over the last few weeks: Becky, Arlene, Kendrick, Jane, Laura, Brenda, Donna, Jennie.  
*Palm Sunday Parallel Worship & Children's Easter Party - We gather at 9:30 a.m. for Palm Sunday Worship in order to host our Children's Easter Party beginning at noon.  Your presence and participation in this annual outreach is imperative!  Please sign up to pitch in today.
*Holy Week Invites:
-Circuit Maundy Thursday Worship @ CCUMC, Apr. 13th at 6:30 p.m. 
-Joint Good Friday Worship with Chinese Presbyterian Church @ CPC, Apr. 14th begins with fellowship luncheon at 12:30 p.m. and worship at 2:00 p.m.  Your RSVP will help CPC prepare well.
-Easter Sunrise Worship, Apr. 16th at 7:30 a.m.
-Easter Intergenerational Sunday School, Apr. 16th at 9:30 a.m.
-Easter Worship Celebration, Apr. 16th at 11:00 a.m.
*Kumi Benefit Ride & Walk, Apr. 29th - It's not too late to sign up to walk, ride, donate, volunteer, or be a part of the celebration meal!  Please connect with Jane or Becky today!

Affirmation: I Believe in the Resurrection, Ed Baker

I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that Jesus died on the cross,
his hands and feet held to the wood by metal spikes.
I believe that his body was pierced by the soldier’s spear,
and even the sun was darkened
as all creation grieved the death of God’s eternal Son.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that Jesus’ body was placed in a borrowed tomb,
where it lay for three days.
I believe that the power of God, his heavenly Father,
brought life to his dead body
and rolled the stone away from the entrance
so all might see that Jesus was no longer there.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that the unbelievable story of the women was true,
just as the angel had announced:
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that there is no force in the universe
that could stop, hinder, contain, or successfully oppose
the risen Savior, my Lord, Jesus Christ.
No nails are long enough to hold him to any cross
unless he wills it to be so.
No tomb can be sealed so tightly—
by Pilate or Herod, or Caesar himself.
Were there an army of a thousand men guarding the tomb,
it would make no difference.
Jesus said he would lay down his life and take it up again.
And he did.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that Jesus appeared to eleven discouraged, defeated,
demoralized disciples in a room where the doors were locked
and all hope was lost.
I believe that when he showed them
his nail-pierced hands and his spear-pierced side,
they fell at his feet and cried out,
“My Lord and my God!”
I believe that in the days that followed, hundreds saw him alive.
All their doubt was removed; their fear was gone.
What could the world do to them? Jesus was alive.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that Jesus lives today—
as powerfully and perfectly alive as he was two thousand years ago,
and for all time past and yet to come.
I believe he empowers his followers to follow in his footsteps,
fight the forces of evil,
and find their peace and joy and eternal hope in him.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe that Jesus calls women, men, and children
to join him in changing the world, one heart and life at a time,
starting with their own.
One day soon, he will come again on the clouds of heaven
with an army of celestial warriors whose numbers are beyond counting
and whose power is beyond imagining.
Then Jesus will establish his eternal kingdom,
where there will be no more soldiers or spears
or sepulchers or battles or bleeding wounds or crosses.
I believe all this because
I believe in the resurrection.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017-3-26 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2017-3-26

*We Welcome Dr. Russell Jeung to CCUMCRussell is a 5th generation Chinese (Hakka) American who grew up in the Bay Area and has made Oakland his home for more than 20 years. He is also a leading sociologist of Asian Americans, race, and religion. Russell currently is professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. Russell is the author of books on race and religion and most recently, the spiritual memoir we studied, At Home in Exile.  You are all invited to a community talk with Russell following SOUP at 2:00 p.m. in the Annex.
*UMCOR Special Offering Sunday is Today - Your 2nd mile giving today goes to support the important work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.  To learn more about the important and impressive work of UMCOR, please visit:  Thank you for your generosity.
*Get Your Portrait On!  Today and next Sunday are your final opportunities to get your portrait taken for our church pictorial directory.  Please make sure to head upstairs to the chapel or the hall right outside the ping pong room.  And don't forget your info cards!  Thank you.
*SOUP Lite continues - Great thanks to our soup makers Jennie and Donna, and bread bringer, Peggy.
*Will you pitch in? Our annual children's Easter party (held Sunday, Apr. 9th, 12:00 - 2:30 p.m.) requires your presence and support.  Please sign up to pitch in today.

So We May Become Blind

“I came into this world for judgment
so that those who do not see may see,
and those who do see may become blind.”                          —John 9.39

The ninth chapter of John tells a story hilarious with irony about Jesus healing a blind man while all those about him can't see the truth. They are not ready to see the man healed, because it contradicts what they believe. For them truly believing is seeing. They don't believe; so they are blind to the miracle in their midst.
How like us. We have things figured out. We have people pigeonholed. We have our ideas about God. We have our opinions. And of course—lucky for us—we're right. Prejudices, judgments, beliefs: delusions, all. They keep us from really seeing.
Sometimes I know the woods so well I don't have to look. I don't see them. Sometimes we see people the way we've been conditioned to see them, and in our eyes they can't change. It is not God who is absent. It is we who are blind.
Jesus told us parables to confuse us, so we would start over. “If your eyes causes you to sin, pluck it out.” When what you've seen keeps you from seeing anew, blind yourself.
Blind to our judgments, unknowing, perhaps we will really see for the first time.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017-3-19 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2017-3-19

*Are you signed up for portraits?  Today, next Sunday, and Apr. 2nd are your options!  Please make sure to sign up today.  Also, don't forget to return your info cards.  Great thanks!

*Today is the last day to sign up for Easter lilies!  Fill the sanctuary with the beauty and fragrance of lilies for $10 per plant.  You are welcome to take them home following the 11:00 a.m. worship celebration.

*SOUP Lite continues today. Great thanks to our soup makers this week, Laura and Brenda, and bread provider Peggy.

*Next Sunday, Mar. 26th, we welcome Russell Jeung to CCUMC! Please extend the invite to your circles for his 2:00 p.m. talk.  Flyers available in the foyer or via email. 

*UMCOR Special Offering Sunday, Mar. 26th - You are invited to give generously to support the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, our connection arm for disaster response and relief around the world.  To learn more about the important and impressive work of UMCOR, please visit:

*Save the Date - Children's Easter Party, Apr. 9th, noon - 2:30 p.m.

Consider this….

“Jesus is Lord” is the most widespread early Christian affirmation.  It is central for Paul and for the rest of the New Testament.  Like “Kingdom of God,” it has a political meaning as well as a religious meaning.
The key to seeing its political meaning is realizing that ‘lord’ was one of the titles of the Roman emperor: Caesar was called “lord.” To say “Jesus is Lord” is to say “Caesar is not lord.”  To affirm the lordship of Christ is to deny the lordship of Caesar.
Indeed, several of the “titles” of Jesus in the New Testament were also titles of Caesar.  ON coins and inscriptions, Caesar was referred to not only as “lord,” but also as “son of God,” “savior,” “king of kings,” and “lord of lords.”  Caesar was also spoken of as the one who had brought peace on earth.  Early Christian used all of this language to refer to Jesus.  Even the Christmas tory, so politically domesticated in our observance, contains the challenge to Caesar.  In Luke, the angel says to the shepherds, “To you is born this day…a Savior, who is the Christ, the Lord,” who will bring peace on earth.  The titles of Caesar properly belong to Jesus.
Thus the familiar affirmation “Jesus is Lord”, now almost a Christian cliché, originally challenged the lordship of the empire.  It still does.  To use examples from more recent times, it is like Christians in Nazi Germany saying, “Jesus is mein Führer” – and thus Hitler is not.  Or in the United States, it would mean saying, “Jesus is my commander in chief” – and thus the president is not.  The lordship of Christ versus the lordship of empire is the same contrast, the same opposition, that we see in the Kingdom of God versus the kingdoms of this world.
Excerpted from The Heart of Christianity, Marcus Borg, p. 135-136

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017-3-12 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2017-3-12

*Church Directory Update:
Portraits! We will be taking portraits of you for our church directory Mar. 19th, 26th, and Apr. 2nd.  Please sign up for a time today!  Great thanks to David and Jacinto for being our photographers.
Info Cards - we are passing out info cards today.  The information collected will help update membership/shepherding records and be used for the directory. Please review the instructions carefully and return them by Apr. 2nd!
*Easter Lilies - You are invited to contribute Easter lilies to the sanctuary for our Easter Celebration on Apr. 16th.  You can do so by contributing $10 between now and Mar. 19th.
*Invite a come hear Dr. Russell Jeung together!  Mar. 26th at 2:00 p.m.
*Let's Do This Together! The Kumi Benefit Walk/Ride takes place on Saturday, Apr. 29th.  Why not join your pastors on the walk? Or hop on a bike with Becky, Kendrick, and Ben o?  Or celebrate with all the participants at the end, or volunteer along the way?  Register online at  Don't forget - there's an enormous matching grant that ends on Apr. 1st!
*Annual Easter Children's Party, Apr. 9th - Mark your calendars now to pitch in!

The World, Melissa Bane Sevier

For God so loved the world that God gave the only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [from John 3]
God loves the world.
Κοσμος (cosmos) is the Greek word we translate here as “world” (not the nifty little drinks with cranberry juice and a twist of lime). I did a quick online search of how various people have interpreted “world” in John’s gospel. One site said that while “cosmos” can sometimes mean the whole world, here in John 3 it is limited to God’s chosen.
There’s no rationale behind such a statement. No, God loves the world. That’s the whole world. And while that world was pretty big in John’s day—including Roman soldiers, “sinners,” pagans, Pharisees, people who went to the temple regularly and those who weren’t allowed in the temple, lepers and other “unclean” folk—today our world is even bigger.
Today we can turn on the television or listen to the radio or read the newspaper and find stories—with real people in them—from all over God’s world. And when we’re really lucky, we either get to travel and meet some of those people, or we find they come closer to us.
Syrian refugees resettling in our cities
Latino immigrants – documented and undocumented - in our schools
People of faith in other religions
Secular people
People of races different from yours/mine
Speakers of other languages
Openly LGBTQ persons
Trump lovers
Obama lovers
God loves the world. The whole world. So much that God gave. God gave everything.
So must we give.
Love the Κοσμος.
Love the world.
It’s God’s world.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2017-3-5 Worship Videos

Chinese Choir

Chinese Sermon

English Sermon

English Ministry News and Notes 2017-3-5

*Welcome to Lent! Following worship we will have SOUP Lite, a time of nourishing conversation over hearty homemade soup.  Please gather in the social hall for a time of informal but intentional conversation with those at your table.  Great thanks to today's soup makers: Becky and Arlene.
*How Will You Mark Lent? You are invited to deeply consider how you can return to God and neighbor and be reconciled.  What practices might you take on or give up?
*Portraits! We will be taking portraits of you for our church directory Mar. 19th, 26th, and Apr. 2nd.  Please sign up for a time today!  Great thanks to David and Jacinto for being our photographers.
*Easter Lilies - You are invited to contribute Easter lilies to the sanctuary for our Easter Celebration on Apr. 16th.  You can do so by contributing $10 between now and Mar. 19th.
*Extend the Invite! Please sign up today to be at Russell Jeung's book talk on Mar. 26th at 1:30 p.m. and commit to inviting friends, family, and community!

Lent: Living Our Baptismal Calling

I confess that my baptism draws somewhat of a blank in my memory bank. I couldn’t tell you much about the ritual other than that water was sprinkled on my head at some point, and I definitely couldn’t name the professions and commitments I made on that day.  And I’m someone who takes words seriously!
How about you?  Do you remember the 3 professions of faith you made when you were baptized (if you were baptized in a United Methodist Church)? Could you name all that you committed to with the various “I do’s” and “I will’s”?  My guess is that what likely stands out with the most clarity is our membership vows to presence, prayers, gifts, service, and witness and everything else is rather fuzzy.
I hope we might change that through this season of Lent. 
This year, we are pairing our baptismal vows with the Lenten lectionary gospel reading.  It is my prayer that in doing so we might bring those vows to life and impact how we are living into and growing in our discipleship. 
Here are the themes for the 5 upcoming Sundays of Lent (excluding Palm Sunday):
March 5th – Renounce: We walk the way of temptation with Jesus and learn from him what it means to continue to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin.
March 12th – Accept: Through the powerful image of new birth and the biblical story of the serpent in the wilderness, Jesus shows Nicodemus and us what it takes for us to accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
March 19th – Confess: In an encounter with a woman at a well in Samaria, Jesus confesses he is the Messiah, and she not only embraces this, but leads others to make the same confession. 
March 26th – Nurture: The response of the crowds to Jesus’ healing of a man born blind says much about how our congregation can actively “nurture one another in the Christian faith and life, and include these persons now before you in your care,” or fail to do so.
Apr. 2nd – Believe!: The faith we confess, and the faith that transforms us, is more than intellectual assent to a theological construct. It is to stake our lives on the Triune God, and so join Martha’s confession, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into this world.”