“When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and [the Lord] brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Deuteronomy 26:6-9
The Old Testament of the Bible includes a book of law called Deuteronomy, which gives the history of our Christian faith and how we should live. It includes the history of Jesus’ ancestors, the Jewish people, and how they suffered terribly. The people of Israel were deported, taken into slavery, ultimately exiled, and roamed, lost in the desert.
Dealing with the fires in this time of pandemic is making our lives, and the lives of many others, extremely challenging. Some of us feel lost, too!
This of course is why we need each other now more than ever. It’s why these days we worship God virtually through our weekly Online Gatherings, and witness to God’s saving grace in whatever creative ways we can come up with. It’s why Jesus makes all the difference, especially now. Our lives include hard times, and we need help—holy help that is! These Bible stories of faith give us courage to face these disasters. In God’s love, we can begin to leave our pain and messed-up selves behind.
No wonder this Scripture from Deuteronomy speaks to us. We could use a land flowing with milk and honey about now! Not in excess, but at least enough to get by and share with our neighbors. Which brings us to our survey.
Reopen Church Survey Results In! What Happens Next?
Thank you to the 50+ people who responded to our Reopen Church Survey about returning to in-person worship and programs. Our leaders will be meeting to review the data, offer their feedback, and lay the groundwork for our next steps. Here are a few highlights of our survey results:
This week, Governor Newsom announced that California has a new “Four Tier” blueprint for reducing COVID-19 with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities, as directed by the California Department of Public Health. Our Bishop Minerva Carcaño has also confirmed that our Cal-Nevada Conference protocols for reopening are still in place, and all local church plans must be approved before implementation.
We will adhere to these guidelines.
In the meantime? This is God’s holy ground, and God’s holy church. And whether you realize it or not, we are God’s holy people. All of us. A broken, lost people, in need of redemption, and God’s help.
We have much to be thankful for, even in this time of fires, evacuations, the pandemic, and other disasters. We have each other. And what about the riches of our lives? What are we to do with our bounty? Share it with others, that’s what! Starting with the first fruits. They go to God.
This is the promise and affirmation of salvation. This is what we mean by a land flowing with milk and honey. You my friend are standing on holy ground. Thank God!
It’s time for communion and another Watsonville First Online Gathering on YouTube and Facebook, linked at this website. This week we’re focusing on Jacob wrestling through the night in Genesis 32:22-31, with the theme: “I Will Not Let You Go!” We’ve also got new special guests and surprises in store. Be sure to get your bread and juice ready–or whatever food you have at hand, so you can join in.
My message includes an exclusive interview with David Honda, Chief of the Watsonville Police Department.
We talk about the tragic death of George Floyd, police violence, peaceful protests vs. looting, defunding the police, taking a knee and more.
I hope you’ll join us.
Yours in Christ,
We are excited to update you on our latest Online Gathering, slated to premiere this Sunday, April 26, at 10:00 am. See the links on this website for easy access. But I have a question first. Do you have a compass?
You know, one of those little dealies you might have used as a Boy or Girl Scout, to find your way around in the woods?
These days, most of us don’t have an actual compass sitting around the house. But there are plenty of ’em in the App store of your smartphone. They’re free and easy to use, and they help us figure out the 4 directions: North, East, South and West.
HINT: If you’d like to join me this Sunday, please use your compass to determine the directions at your home before we start. There’s a special blessing in store for you, and you’ll be able to join right in.
I’m also thinking maybe we need to make better use of our spiritual compass, too. United Methodist Pastor Charley Reeb puts it this way: “A compass always points to magnetic north to help us travel in the right direction. The good news is Jesus gave us “true north” in his teachings. When we are lost and confused all we have to do is remember Jesus’ most important lesson and we can get on the right path again.” That sounds good to me!
This week in our Online Gathering we celebrate Native American Ministries, one of the special offerings taken in United Methodist Churches to benefit Native people and their communities within our denomination. But that’s not all. My Native American friend Derrick Rainbow will be sharing a special prayer with us, too. Plus, there’s beautiful music and messages brought to you by our Worship Team. It’s definitely a group effort, and we hope you’ll come. Can’t make it Sunday? That’s okay too, as our Online Gatherings are posted on Facebook and YouTube, giving you plenty of time to find us. See you soon!
“It is time for humanity to reset our spiritual compass from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.” Bernice King
Writer Robert Frost once said, “The people I am most afraid of are the people who are scared.” We know what happens when people act from a place of fear. Just look at the world today—it’s scary! Admittedly, there’s more than enough to be afraid of. In a pandemic, anything can happen.
The question is, how do we cope? How can we keep on going when so many things we’ve always relied on seem to be falling apart before our very eyes? To put it another way, how can believers like us face our fears? How can we move towards peace and healing even in times like this? And where oh where is our courage?
That of course is where God comes in. Whatever way you want to describe it—a Higher Power, Creator of the Universe, mysterious and Almighty Yahweh, or Holy Spirit—we believers know that the buck doesn’t stop with us. We know deep in our hearts where we belong, and that is together. That’s the only way I know to face our fears.
And you know what else? Even now, we trust that God is here.
This Sunday, our celebration continues! Join us for our Earth Day Sunday Online Gathering on April 19th, premiering at 10:00 am. You won’t want to miss it. As always, it can be viewed later on our Facebook or YouTube pages–just search the name of the church: Watsonville First United Methodist. To make it easier to find, just go to our website. One click and you’re there!
Plus, there’s one more “first” for us. Our talented website developer has added a “Donate” button to our website. When it’s time to give your tithes and offerings, we’re here to help. Check it out online at our church website, below. And see you soon!
Yours in Christ,
Now more than ever we need the love of God. Please join us on Sunday at 10 am for a special Online Gathering as we learn to worship God in a new and exciting way. Don’t miss it!
As instruction to ‘shelter in place’ continues to come from counties across California and Nevada, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño shares a special video message with our faith families across the connection requesting that church buildings be closed.
Please share back with us the many ways in which you are continuing to worship in new ways and to serve your communities during this time in which we are needing to distance ourselves physically from one another. Post your tips and ideas on the California-Nevada Facebook page.
Here are some things that all of our faith communities could consider doing during this time.
Let’s stay connected as a conference family, especially in this time.
Your Sister in Christ,
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño