Archive for @watsonville1stumc

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

A Compass & Native American Ministries Sunday Online Gathering

Dear Ones:

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!

Peace,

Pastora Robin

“It is time for humanity to reset our spiritual compass from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.” Bernice King