The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1
The beginning of a new calendar year is a time when we often reassess direction and ask questions yet again about who we are and where we are going in life. We make resolutions, we sign up at the gym (again), we vow to be better people. This year we will take a deep journey into the question, “Who Are You?” We will discover that “who we are” is indelibly linked to “Whose we are.” What amazing things could happen if you lived into your best, most passionate, loving self? Let’s find out what transformations can happen in just 9 weeks!
Follow Your Star | 1.8.2017
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. – Isaiah 60:1 …there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. – Matthew 2:9-10
The Wise Ones found what they were looking for by following the lighted path. When we trust the “star” that God hung out for us, we move toward life in its fullest and discover joy beyond imagining. What paths is God shining light upon for you? We will take the next 9 weeks to implement movement toward a brighter future than we can imagine.
Connect With Your Belovedness | 1.15.17
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. – Isaiah 42:1
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
Can you imagine what relationships could be like without the human fear of rejection? This Sunday we remember our baptism and the voice of God which proclaims to all of us, “You are my beloved.” Let’s live in the abundance of grace and acceptance and just see what happens when we offer that to others!
Know Your Name | 1.22.17
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”… “We have found the Messiah.” – John 1:38, 41
The question of “who are you” often starts with a name. In the scriptures, people begin to describe Jesus by many names–Rabbi, Messiah, Lamb of God–as they tried to understand who this special person was. What descriptors do you want to be known by? Who has God called you to be?
Claim Your Vocation | 1.29.17
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. – Isaiah 9:4 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4: 19, 20
We continue this Sunday with the idea that God has called us, not just by name, but to a special purpose. When we find and claim our own vocation–that which fulfills us and creates good in the world–we are freed from the bonds of what others may expect of us or claim for us. Discipleship comes in many, and sometimes unlikely, forms.
Embody Beatitude Living | 2.5.17
God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Two of the most powerful and poetic lessons for life appear in the scripture readings this Sunday. The definition of beatitude is “supreme blessedness and happiness.” In our search for happiness among the “stuff” of life, have we missed the point? What difference would it make to embody a love for justice and kindness in our everyday lives?
Live With Integrity | 2.12.17
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58: 11 You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot… Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. – Matthew 5: 13, 17
Something with “integrity” is stable–all the parts are supporting the whole. We are invited to examine all the parts of our lives to see if they point toward the fulfillment of our identity, vocation and call. When all things work together for good, the parched places in our lives become watered and our saltiness never loses its taste. Are you a self divided?
Create Right Relationships | 2.19.17
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live… – Deuteronomy 30: 19 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23, 24
Who we are cannot be fulfilled in isolation. We were made for relationship and for passing on the life and love given to us by God. We’ve all experienced the pain of broken relationships and the joy of restored ones. How does our relationship to others define us? How does living in right relationship with friend and stranger send reverberations into the world and into the future?
Proclaim Transformation | 2.26.17
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain… Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. – Exodus 24:12, 17
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves… suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” – Matthew 17:1, 5
We have walked in the light, we have heard the assurance of belovedness, we have named and claimed our place in the world, our passion, our vocation, our mission. Now it is time to proclaim to the world from the mountaintop that transformation is possible. How have you changed in the last 9 weeks? This Sunday will include testimonies and answers to the question, “Who Are You?”
Choose Life • Oct 2 • John Crowe
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
– Luke 24:1-9, Luke 17:5-6
COMMUNION SUNDAY: The first Sunday introduces the theme and invites the congregation to adjust their lenses to recognize life rather than focus on death–what feels like it is destroying us. We pose the questions this Sunday, “What is the focus of our attention? What dominates our imaginations?”And it introduces the five leading causes of life through which we will journey: connection, coherence, agency, blessing and hope.
Healing Power: Connection • Oct 9 • Laura Ostman
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
– Colossians 3:12-15, Luke 17:11-19
Churches can be places of healing–places of connection. This Sunday focuses on this first “leading cause of life” which is the root of our word “religion,” meaning “to bind together.”Physical healing happens when two sides of a wound reach toward each other and bind. All kinds of healing happens for us when we connect to the Source of All Being, to the Teacher Jesus, who guides us toward the “other,” and when we know deeply that we are all connected to each other.
Purpose & Meaning: Coherence • Oct. 16 • Cajun James
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” –
Luke 9:1-6, Luke 18:1-8
When we know in our bones what we are here to be and do, we have coherence. Knowing where we belong and finding meaning in our lives gives us purpose that holds up even (and especially) in the storms of life. Jesus said he had “come to set the prisoners free.”Bottom line. So if the “prisoner” in front of him was someone he wasn’t “supposed to” associate with in the social norms of his day, it didn’t matter because setting this person free was the bottom line. To have a life-leaning bottom line invites adaptability and choice, it doesn’t restrict it. Where do we find our meaning and purpose?
We Do, We Live: Agency • Oct 23 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“…Do this in remembrance of me.”
– Luke 22:14-20, Luke 18:9-14
Agency is about doing, even if it is just doing only what we can do in this moment–which doesn’t feel like much sometimes. When our purpose joins with our doing, then we have found our “calling.” Before he dies, Jesus invites his followers to no longer be servants, but friends who understand they must carry on his actions in the world. They are to become agents of change and possibility. Instead of focusing on problems, we focus on the assets of our community, our friends in Christ, and what is possible.
Generations of Love: Blessing • Oct 30 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” – John 1:16, Luke 19:1-10
Blessing is not just a nice thing to say, it is “generative” of life. It is what we do that creates more and more life within ourselves and others and it has been going on for, well… “generations.” Blessing is about opening to the channels of love that have been flowing before we came into this world and will flow after we leave it. We are part of a long river of life-giving actions of generosity, kindness, hospitality and humor.
Not Just Wishful Thinking: Hope • Nov 6 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”
– Psalm 31:21-24, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
COMMUNION SUNDAY: Humans have the capacity to imagine the future, drawing us together to take risks and face dangers because hope moves us forward. Hope held and spoken in community is not just wishful thinking, it is a bold announcement and celebration of a future in God.
Let Your Life Be about Life • Nov 13 • Rev. Ann Corrin
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” – Ephesians 1:18-19, Isaiah 65:17-25
STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY: From death to life, from fear to blessing, from despair to hope… this is what we have been about in this series. In this final worship experience we will hear testimony to the “Leading Causes of Life” that we have witnessed and small or big ways in which we have refocused in order to let our lives be about life. We will pray for these life-giving practices to “go viral”–infecting our communities so that there is more connection, more meaning, more action, more blessing and more hope.
What a joy it is to experience the ties that bind our hearts together in a faith community. The smiles and laughter that filled the sanctuary as we tied of brightly colored strips of cloth into a beautiful banner were evidence of the power of the ties we have.
Our ties with our denomination, the United Church of Christ will become evident this month as we invite our Conference Minister, Rev. Diane Weible to lead us in worship on June 12th. This is an important opportunity for us to hear from Diane what her sense of the state of and her vision of the ministry of the church in Northern California and Nevada is. We will hear in her greetings from the wider church the ties that bind us together.
During the following week Elizabeth Shuster, Yani Henderson and I will participate in the Annual Gathering of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the Untied Church of Christ. We will hear presentations, share in workshops and celebrate in worship with our brothers and sisters in faith. The tie that binds us will become clear and strong in those days. We will share those experiences on Sunday, June 19th.
Our times together in worship, as the choir gathers for its year-end picnic, as L Club and Men’s Breakfast gather, as family and friends share dinners, picnics and play days strengthens those ties. As we say good-bye to Nataly, Raiza, Jette, and Kate on their way back to their homes we know that we have new ties that stretch around the world.
Blest be those beautiful ties that bind us in our love! May every day bring new and stronger ties.
Happy, Blessed May! Our spirits are light and free as summer begins to unfold.
May 1 was an ancient festival celebrated in pre-Christian European pagan cultures, with the Roman Floralia, the German Walpurgis Night and Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on the eve, April 30. May 1 was the first day of summer, and the summer solstice in June was Midsummer.
For many of us, May Day may be remembered for the traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May and the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps.
Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May Day with various devotions to Mary. May 1 is a feast day of the Catholic patron saint of workers, Mary’s husband, St Joseph the Worker. It is not surprising then that in the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day.
I find it interesting to think of this connection between the unfolding of summer and the celebration of workers. The busy-ness of the time of year as the ground is tilled and planted and construction which was stilled during the cold months is resumed gave an excitement to life. The longer days allowed for more productive hours and the importance and extent of the work in front of the people was most evident.
The thrill of the anticipation of a prosperous year and the clarity of the tasks ahead filled the air in the May Day celebrations. As individuals and as a faith family may we be filled with this same energy today. May our lives be filled with joy and industry. May we have a joy-filled and blessed May.
“Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised… Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” – Mark 16: 1-8
The Theme for our Easter Season series is “Just as He Told You”. The subtitle of this series could be “When in Doubt, Read the Instructions!” Jesus’ time with his disciples was short. But from the beginning he began to prepare them to continue his ministry once he was no longer with them. This Easter season we will encounter teachings of Jesus that end up coming in handy as the early church struggles and thrives… ultimately handing on the instructions to us. What will we do with them?
We are continually reminded that our faith journey is not one that is built on a system of beliefs. We read, tell and retell the stories of Jesus’ life death and resurrection not so that we will imprint them in a belief system that operates for us as one that knows that George Washington was the first President of the United States of America or that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was killed in the midst of the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960’s.
Rather, we tell and retell the stories to inspire us to follow a way of living, to build a world view that inspires us to live our lives “seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly”, not for our own well-being, but for the well-being of all creation. It is a world view that celebrates the lives and commitments of thousands of people who gave their lives and their livelihoods to build the promise of democracy as exemplified in the creation and sustaining of the United States of America and to continue the fight for civil rights in our country and throughout the world.
It is a challenging choice we have made, this choice to follow the path into which we have been invited by the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but it is a life-giving path. It brings life into our lives and into the world. During the next few weeks we will continue to contemplate and recommit ourselves to this path.