Archive for watsonville first united methodist church

Ash & Dash

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

Missing in-person worship?  Missing us?  Missing Communion together in the same room, and now Ash Wednesday?  We’ve got you covered!  We are working out the details to offer you “Ash and Dash” – a COVID safe, drive through option for our church members, friends and neighbors who love Ash Wednesday like we do, and want to start out Lent with a bang.  Wear a mask and stay in your car, and we’ll do the rest, with genuine ashes burned from last year’s palms, and a Lenten take away bag to begin your Lenten journey. 

We miss you too, and let’s do something positive about it!

Here’s why.  What Barbara Streisand sang is true, that, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world….”  Children instinctively know it, and we should remember it, too.  We need each other, and how.  Even in a pandemic; especially in a pandemic.  That’s what relationships are all about!  As Jesus says, “Children are at the very center of life in the kingdom.”  (Mark 10:15)  Oh, to have the perspective of a kid again.  We could learn a lot.     

In answer to the question, “When was our nation founded?”  One little boy wrote: “I didn’t even know it was losted!”  (James W. Moore)  Asked to describe the famous painting of Whistler’s mother, one student explained: “It shows a nice little lady sitting in a chair, waiting for the repairman to bring back her TV set!”  And then how about these interesting answers: “A horse divided against itself can’t stand”!  Or this one: “The death of Thomas Jefferson was a big turning point in his life!”

But here is my favorite: A little girl was asked to define the word “People,” and this is what she wrote: “People are composed of girls and boys and men and women.  Girls are nice.  Boys are no good until they are grown up and married.  My mother is a woman, which is a grown-up girl with children.  My father is so nice that I think he must have been a girl when he was a boy!”

Can I get an amen?!

People need people.  I need you and we need each other, at least, that’s one of the many reasons I belong to this church.  How appropriate that Ash Wednesday this February 17 marks the first step in our 40 day (plus Sundays) spiritual walk to Easter.  The question is, where do we find hope?  It’s all about strong, healthy relationships, beginning with Jesus of course, and on from there.  Believers like us know that being a Christian is a group effort. 

The forty plus days called Lent have changed over the centuries.  Traditionally, the experts tell us that Lent began as a time of purification and preparation.  Most people figure it’s a time to give something up and feel miserable, but we United Methodists don’t approach it quite that way.  Surprisingly, the word “Lent” originally meant “springtime,” and if you think about it, that implies a whole heap of possibilities: new perspectives, opportunities for growth, even change.  All good!

The only question is how to get there!  Won’t you join us in the journey? 

Shalom,

Pastora Robin

Join Partners in Caring on Feb 10!

Partners in Caring Virtual Gathering
Life Review – Reflecting and Making Meaning at End of Life
Wednesday, February 10, 12:00 – 1:00pm 
Life review is an important part of bringing one’s life to a close and a core aspect of spiritual care. Join us as we explore how faith leaders play a valuable role in this process.
Neil Vargas-Gladen, Lead Spiritual Care Counselor at Hospice of Santa Cruz County, will discuss how he uses life review and legacy in his work and will share tools for helping individuals at end of life to reflect and recognize the value and meaning of their experiences. The presentation will be followed by peer-to-peer discussion groups.
Please share this invitation with others who may be interested in attending including: clergy, lay leaders, and anyone who ministers to the aging or those with serious illness.
Warmly, 
Vanessa Silverstein
Education and Outreach Coordinator

Watsonville NETworX Open House // Casa Abierta de NETworX de Watsonville

Watsonville NETworX Open House Via Zoom!
Today at 6:00 pm!
Do you want to improve your life, but don’t know how or where to start? Come and learn about our program that is helping people reach their goals & get out of poverty! For meeting details and access please email the church office at office@watsonville1stumc.org
¡Casa abierta de NETworX de Watsonville a través de Zoom!
Hoy a las 6:00 pm!
¿Quieres mejorar tu vida, pero no sabes cómo ni por dónde empezar? Ven y conoce nuestro programa que ayuda a las personas alcanzar sus metas y salir de la pobreza! Para obtener los detalles de la reunión y el acceso, envíe un correo electrónico a la oficina de la iglesia a office@watsonville1stumc.org

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)

 

Building Faith Brick by Brick…New Lego Sunday School via Zoom

“Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 

Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 

He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Exodus 3:1-6

In the fall of 2016, our former intern Sydney Ota (who is now a college student entering nursing school,) with my support successfully launched Lego Sunday School for the kids at church, many of whom had never been exposed to Scripture.  The curriculum is based on Building Faith Brick by Brick, by Emily Given, a dynamic and innovative approach to teaching Bible stories and Christian faith to children from kindergarten through fifth grade.  Sydney ordered our needed Lego bricks and other supplies for us, and recruited participants.

The concept is simple; hear a bible story, such as Moses with the burning bush, and then make it out of Lego bricks.  And they did!

Fast forward to 2021, and we’re still in the midst of this pandemic.  With the vaccines coming, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is long.  How do we reach our youngsters and teach them our faith in this radically new context?  I can tell you!  We’re hoping to launch our own Zoom version of Lego Sunday School.  The weekly “events” will be short enough (we hope) for young attention spans, and we invite everyone with children this age to sign up.

How can you help?

To experience the full range of creativity, we will need large quantities of Lego pieces.  We are looking for hand-me-downs from families, online auction sites, etc.  Ask your kids and grandkids if they have a set to give, or donate the funds to purchase them.  Lots of extra body parts/people/figures are definitely needed, too.  Each child will be given a “baseplate” to build on, and a bowl of Lego bricks with which to build their creations, and once we settle on an agreed upon time, we’ll be ready to go.  We pray this effort will help foster an environment that invites a deepening relationship with Jesus by the children as well as the youth helpers we’ll supervise to teach it.

By God’s grace, it sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Shalom,

Pastora Robin

Friday, December 25, 2020 . . . Christmas Day

“A Child is born to us . . . Wonderful Counselor…Mighty God…Eternal Creator…The Long-Expected One of Peace.”  ~~~Isaiah 9:6

“Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” ~~~ Luke 2:19

We have been most fortunate in this “Shelter In Place…Covid 19 Year”, to be able to walk our dogs in our neighborhood three times a day.  Each walk grants us an opportunity to experience some kind of ‘newness of life…encouragement of live with health, beauty, and grace…an opportunity of shalom’!

The ‘street art’ has been amazing; yards that have been brought back to life, bear-hugs in the window, signs that remind us to be kind, to thank one another—especially those on the front line of service, a call to respect one another in our diverse land, black lives matter, life is precious, and the amazing chalk drawings that have been created! Hopscotch…untold animal creations…and this Christmas Tree. 

In the silence of that oh holy night so long ago … we remember the most amazing life that was born.  In the midst of a census…a couple forged untold danger and found respite in a cattle stall.  A young mother gave birth to a child who would grow up to be persecuted for his belief.  Yet his parents taught him to care for all…not just for some.  That night…in the midst of intolerance…love was truly born!

We celebrate that night in the midst of our own tragic circumstances.  May we remember that LOVE is the greatest equalizer on earth.  Without Love…life is not worth our breathing.  Remember that first breath of life that Christmas night … the pain of Mother Mary…the anxiety of Father Joseph…the warmth of the Light of God.  May we never forget.  May LOVE ALWAYS WIN.  May our fractured world find healing. 

May you be touched by the light of that Christmas night … and may you reach out to your neighbors far and wide with that warm light of love.  Give Thanks … Be Grateful … Let Love Guide Your Every Gesture.  And be the Love of Jesus God intended you to be from the very beginning.

Prayer for Christmas (Johann Rist, 1641; translated by Fred Pratt Green, 1986) :  Come, dearest child, into our hearts, and leave your crib behind you!  Let this be where the new life starts for all who seek and find you.  To you the honor, thanks, and praise, for all your gifts this time of grace; come conquer and deliver this world, and us, forever.

Jay P., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

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

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 . . . An Advent of Love

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:   ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’   John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.   He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.   I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”~~~Mark 1: 2-4,7-8

John the Baptist has always intrigued me.  Here’s this guy, alone in the wilderness, living off the land and connected to God in ways we can only dream of.  I connected to him immediately because, as a young man, my only two passions were God and the wilderness.  I have always felt God’s calling strongest out in the mountains.

I remember one solo trip with my dog, Jazz.  We were in the Dinky Lakes Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We were off trail, just wandering, focused on God and His creation. There was a stretch of time that God and Jazz and myself were One in Spirit, connected like never before.  I was on top the mountain.  As I came to look around me afterward, there were crystals everywhere, hundreds of them, laying on the earth around me.  Were they there before my “One in Spirit” time?  I don’t know.  I don’t connect crystals with spirituality necessarily, except for the fact that they are an exceptional part of God’s creation, reminding us of His beauty. I didn’t take a single crystal from that mountain, considering it a sacred place.

The three years before that time were hard years.  I had been laid bare and raw.  But I feel God used those years to help me “Prepare A Way” for Him to enter into my being in a way that I could never doubt or forget.

John tells us to “Prepare A Way” – that we need to make a way for the Lord in the world, but it has to start inside ourselves first. Preparing a way for God’s peace and joy and love in our own hearts helps us to understand what we have and need to share with others to begin a “preparing of the way” in them.   We are called to set ourselves “apart” from the world.  That comes just by allowing the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.  Imagine being “apart” from the world as much as John was.  Would you eat grasshoppers and fight the bees and bears off for the honey?  But people “flocked” to him to be baptized and to hear him speak.  He even got to baptize Jesus. Wow! That’s got to be worth a few grasshoppers.    John, what a guy!

Prayer for the Advent Day:  Help me, O God, to be prepared for your light, and to share your gifts each and every moment.  Amen.

Rick Z., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 . . . An Advent of Love


“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~~~Matthew 1:23 NRSV

God is with us.

Before we even knew God, God was there.

Throughout our past struggles and successes, God was there.

In our current stresses and anxieties, God is there.

As we deal with isolation and loneliness, God is there.

While we take steps forward from this place, God will be there.

Onward into life eternal in the presence of God, God will be there.

“Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

God is with us.

Prayer for Advent (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): God of Loving Light, guide me into giving the gift of your light this season…and in the seasons to come!  Amen.

Gabe H., Aptos United Methodist Church

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