WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM PASTOR PAUL, MAY 3, 2013

WORD OF THE WEEK: SOREN

SorenKierkegaardExistentialistQuote

Happy 200th birthday, Soren Kierkegaard!  Danish philosopher and church reformer (5/5/1813-11/11/1855) was such a thorn in the side of the church of his day that his name became an anathema. The following generations of Danish families stayed away from naming their sons Soren!  While he is regarded as the “father of existentialism,” the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/kierkega/) calls him “an outsider in the history of philosophy.” SK’s message still remains powerfully prophetic – calling the church back to its first love and its original task of training disciples of Christ & academic philosophy to its Socratic roots. I started reading SK in college and still find much to chew on in his writings. (For a Christian evaluation of SK and some selections from his writings, go here).

Like Jesus, Soren told many parables to communicate his message. The following parable of the two artists is typical of SK’s effort to help the people understand the great commandment: to love God and the neighbor as ourselves.  I’ve abridged it for this weekly message – SK’s words are in double quotes.

Once there were two artists.  First artist said: ‘I’ve been around the world many times. But I’m no closer to finding a face worth painting, a face with the perfection of beauty. In every single face I’ve looked at, there was this or that imperfection, a little blemish here, a little fault there. So it’s hopeless. I can’t find a face worth painting.”  Artist two said: ‘I’m not a real artist, and I haven’t traveled much. But in the little circle of people closest to me, I haven’t found a face so dull or so full of faults that “I still could not discern in it a more beautiful side and discover something glorious.” So I’m happy with my art, even though I can’t claim to be an artist.’ So who is the true artist and the true lover?

SK says the only difference between the two is that the second took “a certain something” with her to her work, while the first did not.

The purpose of art is to make life beautiful for us, not to discover that not one of us is beautiful enough. Likewise, the purpose of love is not to discover that by its high standards none of us is worth loving. Rather “love’s recognized precisely by its loving enough to find some lovableness in all of us, consequently loving enough to be able to love all of us.” (Works of Love, pp. 156-7).

On this 200th anniversary of SK’s birthday, let us find beauty and love in the people and the natural environs closest to us. Only then will we possess “a certain something” to take into the larger world – to be able to see and love a world full of beauty, full of divine presence. May we nurture “a certain something” in our lives every day.

Thank you Soren for continuing to speak to us.

CHILDREN’S MUSICAL AT WORSHIP, SUN. MAY 45, 2013, 9 AM & 10:45 AM

Samson2

Please join the Joyful Notes Choir on Sunday, May 5th, at both the 9:00 and 10:45 worship services, as they present the Word in musical form, bringing the story of Samson to life in the musical Samson – The Day God Brought Down The House! by Eric Rainwater and Fred Judkins. Perfect occasion to invite family and friends to church to see this enchanting musical of ‘mighty proportions.’

UPDATE ON THE 90-DAY ADVENTURE IN PRAYER

We’re into the last weeks of our 90-Day Adventure in Prayer. We hope you’ve found the daily readings inspiring you – drawing you closer to God and to our companions in the Way. I’d like to invite the Triads to send me a short email, letting me know how you are doing and what you are doing. You can join the conversation by following Pastor Kim’s frequent reflections on our church blog.

UPCOMING EVENTS

TRUSTEES WORK DAY, SATURDAY, MAY 11, 8 AM TO NOON

Spring is here. Help beautify our campus. Everyone is welcome to participate!

SPECIAL CHURCH CONFERENCE, WED., MAY 22, 7:30 PM-8:00 PM

There will be a special church conference on Wed. May 22, 7:30 pm-8:00 pm to approve the pastor’s compensation package for 2013-2014. All members are welcome to attend. The regularly scheduled church council meeting will be held immediately after the special church conference. In the Fireside Room.

SUMMER WORSHIP SURVEY

We want to know your preferences for worship during summer (July 7 – Sept. 1): a) remain at 2 services at 9 and 10:45 or b) hold one service at 10 am. Please email the church office with your choice, barbarawade(at)earthlink.net, if you didn’t turn in a survey form last Sunday.

HELP FURNISH THE PARSONAGE

Pastor Paul and Christie are moving into the church parsonage on June 15. If you have any “good-quality” furniture you’d like to donate, please let them know. You can find a list of the wanted items in the May Connections.

WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM PASTOR PAUL, APRIL 26, 2013

WORD OF THE WEEK: HOPE

Familiarity breeds contempt. Biblical passages like the 23rd Psalm in King James Version can become a victim of familiarity. We hear it or recite it but not feel or know the power of its words.

So reading these passages in different versions can be helpful. Click here to read Eugene Peterson’s rendition called the Message. While you are at Biblegateway.com, you may want to click on other translations or versions.

Another way to recover the power of these passages is to write a reverse version, the opposite of these passages. They can help you hear the passages in a new and surprising ways. Here’s my reverse version of Psalm 23.

With none to lead me, I’m in constant need.
Wandering in gray wastelands, I find only garbage-filled creeks with polluted water.
With none to trust, I flee from the world, barely able to catch my breath.
When I pass by death’s door, I’m filled with a desperate dread,
for evil terrorizes my life at every turn, with none to protect me.
Envious enemies encircle me everywhere I go, emaciating my body and soul.
My heavy head hangs low, my hands clasping a cracked cup.
No doubt, evil and hostility will dog me throughout my life,
leaving me no place to call home on this Earth.

Write a reverse version yourself – and I’ll guarantee you’ll gain a new appreciation and understanding of the 23rd Psalm.

May every second of your day be filled with hope!
May every minute of your day be full of joy!
May every hour of your day be overflowing with deep satisfaction!
May every day of your life magnify God’s loving presence in our world!

For the Good Shepherd is with us, restoring our souls and pursuing us with goodness and mercy.

Pray Daily: A 90-Day Adventure Igniting Our Passion for God – Day 68, April 25, 2013

Scripture: I Samuel 1:10

1R(Read)

She was deeply depressed, and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

2R(Reflect)

  • The Bible is a very honest record of human beings, their lives and their relationship with God.
  • While we know something about women not being able to bear a child – and the science and culture that has developed to help couples overcome infertility in modern times, we probably can’t understand the depth of depression that “barren” women  lived in ancient times.
  • We are called to pray to God.  And God sees and hears our bitter cries of the heart. And God can handle it.
  • Instead of hiding our depression, fears, anger and broken hearts, we are invited to God’s presence – for healing, release and energy.

3R(Respond)

Today, I can overcome anything that comes my way because God hears me and understands – and will open a way for me to overcome and walk through the valley.

4R(PRay)

Lord, give me such faith by day and by night I can trust my life to you, especially those things that depress the heart and try the soul. Amen.

Pray Daily: A 90-Day Adventure Igniting Our Passion for God – Day 65, April 22, 2013

Scripture: Philippians 2:9-10

1R(Read)

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

2R(Reflect)

  • We focus on the fact that every knee will bend – like what happens in ancient Roman movies where the opposing general is forced to bend his knee by giving a whack behind his thighs, and cry “uncle.”
  • Given what we know of Jesus – that his kingdom is intrinsically nonviolent and non-coercive  as shown by the death Jesus died – this would not be the likely scene.
  • God’s exaltation looks to the day when people and nations will come to adopt the way of the Christ who laid down his life for his friends.
  • So the followers of Christ are given a path to follow earlier in Philippians 2 – “Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus…”
  • My worship of Christ, my profession of Jesus as Lord must be accompanied by my following the way of Christ – his life of humility towards God and compassion towards others; there is not a single note of “us vs. them” or a “I told you so.” Rather, it is the image of the father of the prodigal son who waits eagerly for the return of his beloved.
  • It is not waiting for “God” to do something; rather it is God waiting for the “world” to come to its senses and adopt the way of Jesus.

3R(Respond)

Today, I will honor Christ by walking his path of patience, compassion, inner strength and courage in face of danger.

4R(PRay)

Lord, help me to exalt your Son who came to show me how to live each day; let me glorify your name not only in words but especially in deeds. Amen.

CROP WALK ON SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2013

Are you signed up to walk on Sunday? If not, have you signed up to sponsor our team or a walker?

Well, you can do both online. And I need supporters – and I noticed that there are several other United Methodist churches in the area who are way ahead of us in terms of donations collected so far. So in the name of good competition, let’s see if we can increase our support for our walkers – for the sake of our hungry neighbors.

Here’s how you donate to sponsor our church or me.

Go to the South Bay 2013 CROP WALK Website:

1) Click on “Donate”

2) Then you can choose to either sponsor a “WALKER” like me or a “TEAM” like our church. Why not sponsor both!

Thanks to Charlie Slayman and the Missions Team for continuing this ministry of feeding our hungry neighbors at home and around the world!

Crop Walk logo

 

WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM PASTOR PAUL, APRIL 19, 2013

WORD FOR THE WEEK: QUASQUICENTENNIAL

I just learned a few week ago from our church history team that the Campbell UMC will be celebrating its 125th birthday this coming July! Back in the 1960s, someone had coined a word for such a celebration: Quasquicentennial (kwahs-kwee-sen-TEN-ial). So this is the first call for all members to get ready to PARTY!  When we cut our official birthday cake on July 7, it will signal the beginning of ONE FULL YEAR of celebrations!  An entire year of remembering and thanking for all the wonders God has shown us in the past; a year of passionately doing the work of God today in our community and the world; and a year of imaginative planning and preparing for the future that is already upon us and emerging within us.

The 125th anniversary or Quasquicentennial Team will be organized soon. If you want to nominate someone to the Q-Team, let Pastor Kim know. If you have great and even wacky ideas for programs, projects, themes, publicity items, you name it, just send me a text or an email. Already, a challenge has been thrown my way: we need to invite and bring in 125 new members in the Q-year! Wow! If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what will! Another has been to hold reunions of various youth groups or confirmation classes.  It’s going to be a wonderful year of letting God fill our hearts and minds and imagination with new ideas and new possibilities!

This week let us also remember and pray for those who died and suffered in Boston by an unacceptable act of cowardly violence – as well as more devastating bombs and deaths in Iraq on the same day; and the Texas explosion.

All of these events this week made me remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which is now 50 years old. Our Bishop Brown was in Birmingham recently celebrating with other church leaders. One of my favorite quotes from that letter is the following:  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

As we look forward to a year of celebrating our church’s welcoming presence in the Silicon Valley, may God open our eyes to see how intimately we are interrelated to one another “tied in a single garment of destiny.” May our prayers be fervent and big this quasquicentennial year so that we may help Campbell and our world draw a step closer to fulfilling Jesus’ prayer: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Thank you all for living out the vision of loving God, growing together and serving others.

Pray Daily: A 90-Day Adventure Igniting Our Passion for God – Day 51, April 8, 2013

Scripture: Ephesians 3:20-21

1R(Read)

Contemporary English Version: 20-21 I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.

The Message: God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

2R(Reflect)

  • God’s power is at work in us – verses 14-19 describes what this power is doing in us.
  • What am I daring to believe, daring to imagine, daring to ask of God?
  • What is it that I want of God? Want God to do – in me, through me, with me, around me?
  • The Spirit is moving within us? Are we aware?

3R(Respond)

Today, I will be aware of the Spirit moving in me – and dare to believe, imagine and ask.

4R(PRay)

Lord, give me such faith (the size of a mustard seed!) that I may dare to pray beyond my imagination. Amen.

WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM PASTOR PAUL, APRIL 5, 2013

WORD OF THE WEEK: LAUGHTER

  • Angel and Sarah: But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:15)
  • Paul: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Nehemiah: The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • David: God has anointed us with the oil of gladness (Psalm 45:7)
  • Paul: Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice (Philippians 4:4)
  • Jesus: I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10)

And two of my favorite Christian scholars say:

  • Martin Luther: “You have as much laughter as you have faith.”
  • Karl Barth: “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.”

When people think of the church, they’d hardly think of in terms of peals of laughter coming out of it. It’s like talking about kindness together with the IRS in April. But why do people think religious people ought to be sourpusses, long-faced, killjoys and all around not-fun-to-be-around-with kinda of people?”

Let’s put that perception to bed this coming Sunday. Holy Humor Sunday is a day to proclaim that God is alive in the world today, that we can live heavenly joys here on earth, and that people of faith know how to laugh aloud – no matter what faces them. We are going to practice laughing in service. We have our children and youth to help us too. Also Reverends Abbott and Costello will be in attendance as well.

One thing we Americans love is baseball. It’s called the AMERICAN sport. We love the teamwork, the individual excellence, and the thrill of last inning victories. It’s not over until the weight-challenged diva hits the last note! We love the game.  So we’re going to be playing baseball in church on Sunday – Bible baseball that is. Two teams of 9 players. Answering Bible questions of your choice (single – homerun, etc). An example of a homerun hit: who is the oldest person in the Bible? If you’d like to be on a team, please email me back quickly, as the roster is filling up quickly. Let me know which service (9:01 or 10:46 am service).

Please dress appropriately – uniforms, caps, gloves, horns, banners are all appropriate.

And bring don’t forget to bring your funny bone. If it hasn’t been used lately, why not tickle it a bit and make it alive. Oh, there will also be a time for members to tell a joke. You don’t have to be a Jay Leno or a George Carlin or an Ellen DeGeneres or a Bill Cosby to tell a “good” joke. Just make sure Jesus would laugh with you! And you can use a cheat note (I do) but just make sure your punch line is…on time.

Well, there is no verse that says “Jesus laughed.” But can you imagine what Jesus was doing in the following scene when people wanted him to punish a sinner?

“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.”  (The Message, John 8:6-8).

Jesus’ humor and his uncanny ability to have us look deeply into ourselves make us realize how God must laugh and smile at our foibles, our stumbling efforts to be good people he wants us to be. That’s what the church is, isn’t it. A place for people to laugh at themselves, pick themselves up when they fall – or help people get up, smile, and then keep on going. When he was asked why he kept company with “sinners”, Jesus said it is the sick who needs the doctor. Or it’s the laugh-less, smile-less ones Jesus came to give laughter and smile. If you need a shot of laughter, joy and happiness, come and get it from Jesus – on Holy Humor Sunday.

comic

“Agnus Day appears with the permission of www.agnusday.org”

Pray Daily: A 90-Day Adventure Igniting Our Passion for God – Day 46, April 3, 2013

Today, we begin the second half of our adventure in spirituality! May the power of the Holy Spirit lead your spirit and life into a different dimension – where you will find true peace, power and perception.

Scripture: Romans 12:1-2

R1: (Read)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And here’s Eugene Peterson’s The Message which offers a modern interpretation focused on application.

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

2R(Reflect)

  • “Don’t be so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” But isn’t that the goal of our education and social acculturation – to be part of the middle/rising class?
  • How do I NOT FIT into our culture? What is most foreign about our culture?
  • What is God’s will for me – and for our culture?

3R(Respond)

Today, I will think about our culture from the perspective of Jesus/faith – and recognize what pleases God and what goes against God’s will.

4R(PRay)

Lord, open my inner eyes wide, so I can become aware of the corrupting consumer culture all around me. Amen.

Pray Daily: A 90-Day Adventure Igniting Our Passion for God – Day 44, April 1, 2013

Scripture: Isaiah 6:3

1R(Read)

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole Earth is full of God’s glory.” Listen to it chanted in Hebrew here.

2R(Reflect)

  • Holy is “Kadosh” in Hebrew, and it basically means designated, differentiated or set aside for a purpose.
  • The ancients thought of God as being completely differentiated from human beings. God is what human beings are NOT.
  • Philosophically speaking, it means God is in a completely different category than what human beings are. So it’s not like comparing apples and oranges. It’s more like comparing apples with the sky (there are no common attributes that can be used to describe them both).
  • But here’s the paradox. While the Mystery is “holy” and completely different from what is human and existing, that Mystery’s glory fills our living world!
  • It means we human beings live in the presence of the Mystery. Not only that, we are in touch with this Mystery – and the Mystery wills to, loves to dwell among us.
  • The Hebrew Scriptures describe this as the image or the Spirit or the Breath of the Mystery in us.
  • The post-Easter take-away for me is that in Jesus the holy and the earthly became one. The message of Christmas is that the holy took on human form. The message of Easter is that human time takes on an eternal dimension. That makes each human life sacred in a way that was not recognized before Jesus’ death. In crucifying Jesus, humanity saw how violently we treated each other and ourselves – in the name of the Holy. It disclosed the evil in human society and human beings.
  • After Easter, we see the crucified and resurrected Lord challenging how we treat each other.  Every person we encounter carries the mark of Jesus – one who takes on the sins of the world. So we can no longer treat each other the same way as before: they are holy. It is not only the created world that is filled with God’s glory. Each person is encircled by God’s glory. So St. Athanasius says: “God became human so that human beings might become divine.”
  • We Methodists understand holiness as perfection of love, a gradual process of spiritual development in which a person is renewed and becomes so completely united or unified with God/Mystery that by grace and by Spirit, a person becomes what God is by nature. We also talk of it in terms of participating or sharing in the divine nature through God’s grace.

3R(Respond)

During this Easter season, I will seek to grow spiritually – by letting the divine image in me shine by grace.

4R(PRay)

Lord, let me become holy in my daily life – becoming more like you every day. Amen.