Author Archive for pastorwfumc

UMC Clergy Statement of Solidarity January 6, 2021

We, as United Methodist Clergy in the Central Coast area of California, stand in solidarity against today’s violence at our nation’s capital, and hereby reaffirm the statement of Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church:

Today is when the Congress of the United States certifies the votes of the people. This duty fulfills Congress’s constitutional role in the democratic process.

The peaceful transition of power is a pillar of representative democracy.

Even as we affirm the right to peaceful assembly, nothing must disrupt this democratic process.

We condemn the rhetoric from leaders inciting violence and division. We call on all to work for justice and the common good of the country and our democracy.

We continue to pray for the healing of our nation. Join [us] in praying these words from the Prayer in a Time of National Crisis (from the United Methodist Book of Worship, # 517):

May leaders be led by your wisdom;
May they search your will and see it clearly
If we have turned from your way,
Reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
Through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior.
Amen.

We also reaffirm the message of Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, who professed:

On this Day of Epiphany, Christians remember that the Magi guided by a divine light visited the Christ Child bearing gifts and their souls.

Let us pray for the divine light of Christ to manifest the fullness of his righteousness in this our moment of darkness.

The protests against the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that have escalated to violence at the US and at the California state capitals are truly an expression of darkness based on deception and fear-mongering.

As people committed to a civil society and a democratic process of governance, this is not the way to express differences of opinion. It certainly is not the way to be as people of faith.

Let us pray for our broken society and recommit to being followers of Christ who is the Light of the World.

Gabriel House (Aptos),

Clyde Vaughn (Boulder Creek),

Luke Ham (Carmel),

Patrick Davis (Morgan Hill),

Hwapyoung Kang (Gilroy),

Karla Lundin (Hollister),

Angel Rivero (Marina),

Sanghyun Lee (Marina),

Steve Lundin (Salinas),

Jay K. Pierce (Santa Cruz),

and Robin Mathews-Johnson (Watsonville)

 

Thursday, December 24, 2020 . . . An Advent of Love

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. ~~~Luke 2:6-7

The Manger Scene (pictured above) has been a part of my Christmas experience for my entire life. It was given to my mother from her boss at that time (Rear Admiral Edward Hutchinson) shortly after the birth of my older sister in 1944. An important part of ‘Decking the Halls’ each year for my family was setting up the Manger Scene. My sister and I would carefully position each of the manger pieces in what we considered the proper spots. Of course, we continued to reposition them throughout the Christmas season – sometimes using them to re-enact the various parts of the Christmas story. The figures were much loved by the we two little girls. Needless to say – all this love took a toll on the pieces which my Dad with great patience and love glued and re-glued various parts of the pieces (the lambs’ legs especially!) throughout the years. My mother gave the Manager Scene to me several years after I moved to California because she knew how much it meant to me.

Each year as I set up the Manger Scene I remember the story of the birth of Jesus, reflecting on how much God loves us, sending us Jesus to spread the message of love. A special Christmas song always comes to mind as I arrange the pieces in the stable:

Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine;
Love to God and neighbors, love for plea and gift and sign.

It’s all about Love! Amen.

Trish N., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

 

Sunday, December 20, 2020 . . . An Advent of Love

[A]s it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 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

Inner Peace. How many people think getting ready for Christmas simply means buying gifts that you may or may not be able to afford, and then going crazy running around doing a bunch of activities? Or maybe it’s preparing for the holiday by telling bad Christmas jokes. Did you hear the one about the family who owned an English pointer and an Irish setter? The dogs get together at Christmas time and have point-setters. Ha!

I can tell you what we should be getting ready for around here. Believers like us are looking for a spiritual and wonderful something called inner peace, especially in this chaotic, scary year. We want to prepare the way of the Lord, that is, invite the mystery and wonder of Jesus’ birth into our lives. I believe all of us seek God’s peace. The only problem is, how do we find it?

Here’s one writer’s take on it. Advent was here, so the mom and her husband thought they’d see what their children remembered from their family devotions the year before. “Who can tell me what the four candles in the Advent wreath represent?” the mom asked. Her son jumped in with seven-year-old wisdom and exuberance. “There’s love, joy, peace, and . . . and . . .” “I know!” his six-year-old sister interrupted to finish her brother’s sentence: “Peace and quiet!”

We could use some peace and quiet this week—across our nation and the world! But perhaps peace should start right here—within each one of us. What would it take to dedicate ourselves to peace?

Prayer for Advent Love (based on Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): I pray that I will let go of my desire to see too far beyond this season of love, so that my path of life may be filled with peace and quiet! Amen.

Robin M-J., Watsonville First United Methodist Church

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020 . . . An Advent of Joy

Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in my Creator; my strength is exalted in God. God raises up the poor from dust; lifts the needy from the garbage pile. God sits the rejected ones of society with the elect, giving them the seat of honor!”
~~~ I Samuel 2:1, 8

Hannah was without a child of her own. She prayed to God…and promised to give her child into God’s service. Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel (which means I Have Asked For Him), and brought Samuel to the Temple to be instructed by Eli. Samuel would eventually become the Spiritual Leader of Israel … the Prophet and Judge of Israel’s first two Kings, Saul and David.

I focus on Hannah this day because she prays with her whole being…so passionate in prayer at the Temple that Eli thought she was drunk. Hannah’s prayer ends up rejoicing in God … and as we come to the end of this week of Advent Joy … we can see how the light of God glows with the promise of redemption for the world. We anticipate this gift of redeeming grace in the birth of Jesus.

Joy truly comes with the dawn; the light of the new day that brightens the world with possibilities. The pink candle we have lit this week glows differently from the colors of purple … hope and peace are bright … but the pink of joy glows with the warmth of rich possibilities. Joy comes in the morning. Joy is our light of possibilities. Joy was Hannah’s answer to the misery that others had thrust upon her; yet she never gave up the hope…she prayed for the possibility of peace…and she was rewarded in the joy…not just of a son…but God’s Light!

Our Shelter Guests prayed for a Christmas Tree . . . this is their tree of Great Joy!

The Joy of this weeks brings us closer to the presence of God’s Grace made visible in our lives at Christmas. Where is you joy this week…even as we live with the new reality of the Purple Tier of Covid-19. . . .

Prayer for Advent (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): As we pray in God’s Joy, help us to trust that our efforts of kindness are bringing hope…peace…joy
to the world’s discouragement. Amen.

Jay P., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 . . . An Advent of Joy

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward (all the earth).” ~~~ Luke 2:13-14

I always loved the angels in our church tableau every Christmas Eve. My brother was the angel Gabriel and he looked so handsome up there on the highest step, for all to see. The angels seemed so beautiful and majestic, a precursor to the birth of the baby Jesus. What a glorious message and witnessed by the most humble of men, so that we could believe it was for all of us.

As a little girl, I felt this was the grandest story, a special night to hear a story of love and glory, the birth of a king, who would bring peace on earth. We forget the message, when we have commercialized the Christmas season, but I remember the awesome feeling of magic and spirit of that night. It is still the most beautiful message and I feel the angels around us think so, too!

Prayer for Advent Joy (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): God of the season, help me to slow down enough to listen for the way Emmanuel is revealed in my life. Amen.

Sarah Lampland, United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Monday, December 14, 2020 . . . An Advent of Joy

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
~~~ John 14:27

(selections from Praying Through Advent
Reverends Delaney Schlake-Kruse and Kelsey Beebe)

When Jesus offers peace to his friends, he is well aware that the world they live in is anything but peaceful. Jesus is headed to his death at this point in the story, and he is offering comfort to his disciples before his arrest.

“Peace” in John 14 is all about the abiding presence of God with people in times of trouble. Jesus’ peace does not guarantee that all will be well, or even that we will not experience anxiety or chaos. Rather, Jesus is offering the assurance that God will be with us, offering the gift of God’s consistent presence and peace even in the face of great fear and upheaval.

A little something: Make a list of all the areas of chaos or anxiety that touch your life and your community today. Now, write “Peace” next to each entry, and write about what it feels like to be moored in God’s peace in the midst of the storms of life.

Prayer for Advent Joy (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): Gracious God, help us to be aware of how we are God-Bearers, no matter how ordinary our lives might seem! Amen.

Michael, Sally, Elise and Sean from Florissant, MO

 

Sunday, December 13, 2020 . . . An Advent of Joy

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
~~~ Matthew 5: 14-16.

This has been a challenging year. We are trying to deal with tangible problems like wildfires, evacuation, displacement and rebuilding. We are trying to deal with political unrest, and a country that is divided in many ways. And we are dealing with the virus–an invisible and ever-present threat.

As followers of Christ, we are the light of the world. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, an angel appeared to the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone upon them; the Magi followed the light of the star above Bethlehem all those years ago, leading them to the baby Jesus.

Jesus no longer walks on this earth. But he has called on us to be the light of the world. As Christians, we are to have an internal light that shines before others, to give glory to God. As we address contemporary challenges, let us be intentional about being the place where others find kindness, patience, acceptance, mercy, a helping hand, and a place of refuge. We can be the light in a world filled with darkness.

Prayer for Advent Joy (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): Gracious God, may I be inspired to ask, and follow, your guidance today! Amen.

Gina J., Boulder Creek United Methodist Church

 

Saturday, December 12, 2020 . . . An Advent of Peace

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” ~~~John 8:12

Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I have always delighted in the many lights of Christmas. The twinkly, white lights on the tree, the warm glow of candlelight, the ambience of firelight, the sparkle of glass globe ornaments, and the glisten of dewdrops on the last of my blooming roses. How fitting that we celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ during this, the darkest time of the year and during these very dark pandemic times.

But as we prepare our hearts for Jesus during this Advent season amidst the bright illumination of all kinds of lights, we are reminded that Jesus’ love glows brightest of all. He continues to light the difficult paths we walk and is a beacon at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. He alone puts a happy song in our hearts and a smile of joyful anticipation on our faces! We know we will get through these tough times because He is with us. His rod and his staff, they comfort us as His light shines upon our faces. May we rejoice in the gift that is Jesus with every twinkle, glow, shimmer, and sparkle we see this Advent. And I, for one, plan on keeping my house aglow well into the New Year!

Father in heaven, what joy the lights of Christmas bring to our weary hearts, for they remind us of your promises to illuminate our paths forward until we walk towards the final glow of the crown of life! May we rejoice in the beauty of Christmas and the love that Jesus brings to our dark world! And may we share our light with those who are enveloped in the heaviness of these current trials. With radiant hearts, we say Amen!

Debra U., Morgan Hill United Methodist Church

 

Friday, December 11, 2020 . . . An Advent of Peace

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for”. Jeremiah 29:11

This is my family in 2018, yes, my entire immediate family.  Could have taken the exact same picture in 2019.  But this Christmas we have grown, in July my first Grandchild was born, Isabella.  Then last week my son got engaged to a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful daughter, Jasmine and Olivia.  So, I have gained a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.

If you had told the me in the picture (center back row) that within the next two years all of this love would be added to our small little family I wouldn’t have believed you.  But that has been my journey with God.  Things seem to be falling apart, the falling apart where all you can do is fall to your knees to pray, sometimes the only prayer you can get out is “please …”.  Then when things look to be the bleakest a path out opens, or really, a step opens up.  When I look back at these times, I can see God’s hand at work, God has not abandoned me and with grandchildren, well that is the future I had hoped for.  My prayers today are also simple, ‘thank you, God, thank you.”

Prayer for Advent Peace (Joyce Rupp, O.S.M., from A Heart Prayer):  O God, we seek you with all our heart. The longing for you is planted deep within our hearts. Hear our cry for you. Help us to welcome you in all of life.  Amen.

Trish C., Morgan Hill United Methodist Church

 

 

Thursday, December 10, 2020 . . . An Advent of Peace

~~~ Isaiah 40:1–11; 31

As we live through this pandemic, and continue through Advent, I am reminded by the words of Isaiah that God is bigger and stronger than anything we may face in our lifetime.  Add to that the knowledge of God’s desire for us to be comforted, and we find the importance and need to look for the all-embracing love of God in new and unexpected ways.   

We’re about to complete a difficult year while facing another uncertain one.  Twelve months ago, life was what we used to call “normal.”  We moved about as we wished; we prepared for Christmas; we went to movies; attended concerts; kids went to school; we went out to restaurants; we visited friends; gathered in groups larger than 10; even went to church; to work and received paychecks; we did all these things … all without a second thought.

2020 has been a year to remember … or maybe a year to forget.  But as we draw near to Christmas and the end of the year, we know in God we find comfort and love.  Isaiah spoke to a people with little comfort also facing a bleak past and an uncertain future.  The Prophet’s same words come to us; facing a challenge in ways we did not even imagine a year ago.  Yet God is with us now; at work in our lives even in the midst of our suffering.   I find comfort in that God does not run away from us, but chooses to run to us, and more importantly stays and dwells with us, even in a pandemic.   God Bless You.

Prayer for Advent Peace (based on Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): As I pray today, I will turn my heart toward someone who has hurt me.  Amen.

 Patrick D., Morgan Hill United Methodist Church