Our text this week is the story of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus has been summoned to come and heal Lazarus who is the brother of his dear friends Martha and Mary. Jesus stays two days longer before going to their house and by this time Lazarus has died. By the time Jesus arrives Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb four days (the Jewish notion at the time was that it took three days for the soul to leave the body). The point for us as readers is to know that Lazarus is truly dead. And yet we hear Jesus summoning him back to life after being deeply moved by the grief of Mary and Martha. It's a fantastical story, meant to remind us that Jesus, empowered by God, brings life back into situations that are dead and broken and lost. We are urged to not give up when we see nothing but death and hopelessness and instead to turn to God with our requests and our wishes. As people of faith we are asked to believe that God continues to bring new life and hope into situations that feel far beyond our ability to repair. I will contrast this story with the story from the book Our God is Undocumented, of Amalia Molina in chapter 6 whose story is about struggle and pain and loss; yet throughout her struggles, her faith in God sustains her and propels her forward. She experiences renewal and rebirth along with her profound loss. I invited you to read the story of Lazarus in the 11th chapter of John's Gospel and reflect on times in your own lives when things feel hopeless. What drew you along? Who ministered to you during these dark times? Join us for worship in our chapel on Sunday as we explore these themes. We will hear beautiful music to accompany this story - "Pie Jesu" with Mattias Orr and Kim Mendez-McLeish singing, and a "Kyrie"with Kim and Elizabeth Lanski singing solos. See you Sunday!
- Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
Our text in worship this week is the story of Jesus healing a man who was blind from birth - and the religious authorities refusing to accept this as a sign of God's presence. The Pharisees ask the man who was healed several times about his healing, about his sins, about his condition from birth - they even interview his family! We may be reminded of our reluctance in the church to try new things or approach a problem in a new way; or we may be reminded of a stubborn point of view that we face among our family members or colleagues at work. In a sermon entitled "Changing Our Perspective," we will consider how critical it is for our faith to open our minds and our hearts to new points of view! For example, what if we saw immigrants in our community as sharing with us important information about another part of the world, about our own concerns, and offering us new gifts for our life together? Come join us as we continue to preach using our Lenten book resource Our God Is Undocumented by Ched Myers and Matthew Colwell. Worship begins at 10AM in the Chapel and all are welcome!
-Rev. John H. Pomeroy
Bible Text: John 4:5-30
During Lent we are preaching from the lectionary and we are using the book, Our God is Undocumented, to explore what our Bible teaches us about being in relationship with foreigners (biblical term). This week our text is the story of Jesus who engages a Samaritan women at a public well and has a very long conversation with her about living water and sustenance. It is the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has! His disciples are surprised that he would talk to a single women in public and even more surprised because she was an outsider to them. In the third chapter of the book, Our God is Undocumented, the writers address the notion of biblical hospitality, saying that stories of welcoming the outsider and the stranger are "ubiquitous" in the Hebrew Bible. Further, the word for hospitality in the Greek New Testament is translated as "love for the foreigner." In addition, God is also portrayed as an outsider and a stranger in God's mysterious appearance in the form of guests who meet Abraham and Sarah.
All these stories and teachings are guides to us in a day and a time when our relationship to outsiders/foreigners is being scrutinized and lines are being drawn between people and countries. Our scripture is a wise guide for us as people of faith to determine how we will practice hospitality in our time and in our place. Hope to see you in worship on Sunday!
-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
John 3: 1-17
What does it mean to be an American-- or an American citizen here in Los Angeles? Now, contrast that with another question-- what does it mean to be a non-citizen in America? And finally, what new insights are gained for an American, living abroad in another borderland-- in southern Mexico?
How about this question-- how do we make sense of our "American-ness" in light of our sense of call as Christians--- meaning, as Christ-followers? Nicodemus, a Pharisee who also takes Jesus seriously, comes to Jesus asking a similar question. What does it mean to be faithful-- to be a child of God, and ALSO part of THIS world? How does being a child of God, born of the Spirit-- change the way we behave in THIS world, in the here and now? How might the world be saved through us, the living body of Christ?
During Lent FCC preachers are spending time with the book by local Presbyterian Pastor Matthew Colwell, Our God is Undocumented. This Sunday Andy will be sharing stories from the Borderlands as highlighted in Colwell's book, which focuses on his friend and colleague Delle McCormick, with several shared experiences that shed light on the call to a life of faith here in the borderlands.
-Rev. Andy Schwiebert
The First Sunday in Lent our text is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness - an opportunity for the Gospel writers to show that Jesus is defined and driven by God's purpose and God's Will! Each of us have been formed by different forces - our family of origin, our life experiences, our hardships and our friends - and perhaps by our faith. In a reflection entitled "Who Draws The Lines?" we will consider who gives us our marching orders in life - how we are shaped by our work, our associations, and our choices - and how the season of Lent and our study book for the season Our God Is Undocumented provide opportunities for us to find how God's purpose may be woven into our own lives! Come join us for worship in the Chapel at 10AM and music from our children and Connie Washburn!
Rev. John H. Pomeroy
The story of Jesus on the mountaintop where he is transfigured in front of a few disciples is a mystical event; it reminds us that being a follower of Jesus is not just about certain teachings or faithful actions, but about transformation itself! Jesus was radiant as the love and presence of God shimmered in and through him. Experiences of mysticism are few and far between it seems, but when we encounter one it leaves its mark on us. Jesus was certainly open to this kind of encounter. Are we? This is the final Sunday before we switch gears and begin the season of Lent and we invite holy encounters for each of us during Lent. But first we must do what the ancients did - we must eat up all the luscious, fattening food in the house; we must laugh and dance and sing and make merry so that there is a contrast to this and the 40 days of Lent. So, come to worship this Sunday with a light heart and dressed for a party!!! We will have a festive time in worship and afterwards with our pancake brunch. We will have pancakes and sausage, eggs and fruit and a cake walk to top off the morning. See ya Sunday!!
- Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
Our text in worship this week is a simple set of instructions asking persons of faith to welcome others we may find threatening and to pray for persons we consider our enemies. Simple instructions - hard to put into practice. We may be reminded immediately of the fear and anger around immigration issues during our recent election - and the ongoing struggle in our part of the country to offer respect and hospitality to persons who are crucial to our communities but may not have documentation or be citizens. In a sermon entitled "Border Crossings" we will consider what our faith calls us to do with respect to persons in our midst who may have different citizenship or immigration status than we do. After worship we will have conversation in small groups in a Forum, looking at the invitation of our Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC to consider becoming a Sanctuary church - something our congregation decided to do once before in the early 1980s. We will look at our hopes and our fears and begin to share some information with one another - and pray! Come join us for worship and the Forum this Sunday beginning at 10AM!
Rev. John H. Pomeroy
In this series of teachings Jesus takes on: anger, adultery, divorce and swearing - not for our day but for the first century. Who knew that some of the issues that we struggle with today were obvious and difficult back in his day? Jesus is trying to apply these ancient teachings to his time and to find the heart of the law for his people. The goal of all of this is right relationship with each other and with God. How do we attain that? What is needed from us to attain the deep reconciliation which is the heart of God? These are questions for us modern people to ponder today as we look at our relationships and our struggles in these areas. Deep anger, lust, relationship disconnect, foul language are all indicators that all is not well. We must first look within ourselves for a desire to resolve conflicts and address our own
hardheartedness. The answer is not always from another but with our own God-instilled vision of restored humanity. It all starts with ourselves and our willingness to work for a reconnection with another, even when that means looking at our own flaws as deeply as we look at the flaws of others. We will explore this in worship on Sunday and re-commit ourselves to being people who yearn for and work for reconciliation. Hope to see you Sunday!!
- Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
"Where's Your Light?!"
St Francis is said to have written - "Preach the Gospel everywhere and always - if necessary, use words". Our text in worship this week has Jesus reminding his followers that our faith is like a light - it does no good if it is placed where no one can see it or benefit from it! In a reflection entitled "Where's Your Light?!", we will explore what it would look like for each of us to share something of our faith in our everyday lives - and we will wonder about how that "illumines" the places where we spend our days. Come join us for worship at 10AM in the Chapel and remember to stay after worship for our Budget Forum if you would like a preview of the 2017 Budget that will be voted on next week!
-Rev. John H Pomeroy
"The realm of God is AMONG you... almost"
This Sunday we will be reading the "Beatitudes" section of the Sermon on the Mount. It should be noted that the Realm of God promised by Jesus is not founded in a vacuum that is foreign to life in this world; in fact the Realm of God is named in opposition to the existing realities called out by Jesus. See some articles below for faithful examples of the many ways our community and others have been embodying the beatitudes in their daily lives. May God give us strength to continue living faithfully... every day!
- Rev. Andy Schwiebert