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Location: 464 E. Walnut St. Pasadena CA
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January 08, 2018 02:38 PM PST

This Sunday we'll celebrate what we in the church call the "Feast of the Epiphany," the official close of the Christmas season. Did you know that ninety (!) percent of people in the US were expected to celebrate Christmas this year? And that our spending on Christmas totaled more than 680 billion dollars? In Canada, if past Christmas statistics give us an indication of how things played out this year, 21.8 million turkeys were raised and 6.5 million poinsettias were grown for Christmas consumption. Retailers expected to make between 20 and 30% of their annual sales.

Christmas is clearly a big deal, culturally and economically, but statistics also tell us that celebrating Jesus' birth is on the decline. Less than half of Americans said in a recent survey that they would celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, a number that has dropped since 2013. I don't report this because it bothers me (I love that we live in a diverse and pluralistic society) but rather because it raises this question: if Christmas can be celebrated just fine by a majority of people without any mention of Jesus, why do we in the church make such a fuss about him? Why do we sing about Jesus "the heaven-born Prince of Peace," and in read about Jesus, God's very "word [who] became flesh and lived among us?" Why do we tell and retell such fantastic stories about him, like the story of the magi (the story we tell at Epiphany) where these great astrologers and philosophers travel far and long and from distant countries to fall to their knees in awe and reverence of this baby, bringing with them offerings fit for a deity?

If there is one thing we can take away from the Christmas season at church it's that Jesus is important to us - world-shaking - but can we say why? Can we give our own answer? If I had to posit an answer I'd say that Jesus is important to us in the church because he reminds us of what is real, and I'll be talking more about this on Sunday! Hope to see you there as we transition from one season into another!

Rev. Kristin Philipson

January 08, 2018 02:34 PM PST
December 13, 2017 03:14 PM PST

Isaiah 40:1-5

One of our core values as a church is "welcome" and Advent asks us where and when we are ready to welcome others - even God - into our daily lives. The UCC curriculum Faith Practices puts it this way... "Hospitality begins when we perceive ourselves and others as strangers in a community of welcome. Seeing Christ's presence in the other enables us to welcome Christ into the midst of the community, with all of the costs and joys of discipleship. Gentle, attentive, patient, and consistent care is required to create a community where members are intentional about seeking and welcoming all, especially those whose abilities, experiences, and cultural traditions are different from the mainstream of the current community. A community of hospitality is aware, sensitive, and open to divergent cultural practices. It reaches far beyond the limits of the familiar in a highly mobile world, transforming both the newcomer and the established community".

-Rev. John H. Pomeroy

December 07, 2017 05:26 PM PST

Bible Text: Mark 13:24-37

The 13th chapter of Mark's Gospel has been termed "the little apocalypse," for it speaks of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving light, the stars falling from the heavens, etc. It's an ominous chapter; and then it turns toward the hope of the Human One, whom we know as Jesus coming in clouds with great power and glory. Mark addressed a first-century community of Christians facing persecution and urged them to endure suffering for the hopes of Jesus' imminent return. In our day we hope for relief from the suffering and persecution in our time. We wait. We watch. We are alert in our waiting, filling our time with Godly pursuits.

Rev. Kristin Philipson will be preaching on this first Sunday in Advent. Kristin and her family are here from Toronto, Canada. Kristin earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta and her M.Div. from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. She is currently on sabbatical from her staff position as the Minster of Children, Youth and Families at Rosedale United Church, and is working on her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago. We welcome the Rev. Philipson to our pulpit this Sunday.


-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy

December 07, 2017 05:18 PM PST

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Almost 3,000 years ago the prophet Ezekiel wrote about God's ways. The prophet noticed that people didn't care for everyone - especially those outside one's tribe. Ezekiel reminds the people of their identity and of their responsibility for one another. Ezekiel is known for his vivid imagery. He writes from an agricultural perspective, talking about sheep and shepherds. "I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide..."
Words to ponder this week as we sit down with friends, acquaintances and family to feast

-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy

November 13, 2017 02:21 PM PST

Scripture Reading: Various Psalms

In the midst of pain, despair, heartache, and sorrow, whether on a personal, communal, local, or global level, we are encouraged to seek and find hope. In various psalms, the writers pour out their worries, fears, sorrows, and anguish to God, their raw emotions serving as a catalyst for pouring out our own feelings, as a form of therapy for releasing all that weighs us down and burdens us, and as a tool for healing after we have expended ourselves, raging at God, and eventually reorienting ourselves to seek and find the calm, peace, and hope we need. For example, in Psalm 130, the psalmist wails, "From the bottom of a deep black pit, God, I scream at you! The walls rise above my head, shutting out the sun. Can you hear me, God? I can't get out by own efforts. I've tried and tried. I climb part way out, and then I slide back again to the bottom. Without your help, I'm sunk forever. ... I shall lie down here in the depths of the pit and wait. You are my only hope. I shall wait for you ... I put my hope in you, God." It can take a long time to go from yelling at God to putting our hope in God. When our hearts and minds are swirling with strong emotions, it is easy to forget God, and to forget hope. As we prepare for Sunday's worship service and message on hope in hopeless times, I invite you to ponder on the words in Psalm 130 and also on the words in the following quotes I culled from an internet search: "Hope is not pretending that troubles don't exist. It is the hope that they won't last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness and into the sunshine" (www.livelifehappy.com); "A single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing" (www.thedailyquotes.com). Incidentally, if you're curious about the paraphrase of Psalm 130, you can find it in Everyday Psalms by James Taylor [Winfield, BC, Canada: Wood Lake Books, Inc., 1994]. I took some liberties with his paraphrase, but the essential message is the same. I hope to see you on Sunday to discuss more in depth the theme of hope!

--- Rev. Stacy L. Thomas

November 08, 2017 05:16 PM PST

Psalm 1

This coming Sunday, we will take time to remember those who have died this past year in observance of All Saints Day. This remembrance is a chance to bring sadness, grief, and gratitude as we reflect on the legacies and lives that have nurtured and blessed our own. We will also read and consider Psalm 1, an ancient poem that juxtaposes the ways of the righteous and the wicked, as we humans have liked to do since the beginning of time. In the midst of remembering those who have gone before us, we are going to use this poem to ask questions about how we view concepts like sin and judgment, as well as what kind of story we want our lives to be telling. Join us this Sunday!

Sermon Text: Psalm 1 (NRSV)
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

-Chaplain Randy VanDeventer

November 08, 2017 10:54 AM PST

Joshua 3:7-17 and Matthew 23:1-10

In the Joshua text we hear the story of the ancient Israelites crossing the Jordan River. Under the leadership of Joshua the people had to cross a river that was often swollen by the spring floods. They had with them the Ark of the Covenant - a representation of God in their midst. The passage was a challenge but this passage confirms that God travels with them. The story speaks of the leaders and priests who stand in the water bearing the ark as the people pass on to dry ground. These and other stories of our spiritual forebears speak of a time of great uncertainty and wandering in the wilderness; people in community on the move, dependent on one another and dependent on God. It required great faith from them. We too are people on the move in a different time with different challenges in front of us. Like the ancient ones, we are called to band together and bear up the sacred and trust that God will provide and lead us! Feel free to read both passages of scripture in preparation for worship on Sunday. Don't forget to turn your clocks BACK one hour before you go to sleep on Saturday night - we will have coffee ready for those who inadvertently come early!!! See you Sunday!

-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy

October 31, 2017 02:55 PM PDT

Psalm 1

This coming Sunday, we will take time to remember those who have died this past year in observance of All Saints Day. This remembrance is a chance to bring sadness, grief, and gratitude as we reflect on the legacies and lives that have nurtured and blessed our own. We will also read and consider Psalm 1, an ancient poem that juxtaposes the ways of the righteous and the wicked, as we humans have liked to do since the beginning of time. In the midst of remembering those who have gone before us, we are going to use this poem to ask questions about how we view concepts like sin and judgment, as well as what kind of story we want our lives to be telling. Join us this Sunday!

Sermon Text: Psalm 1 (NRSV)
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

-Chaplain Randy VanDeventer

October 23, 2017 03:45 PM PDT

Exodus 33:12-23

Our text in worship this week is the story of Moses pleading with God for support and affirmation in guiding the people of Israel- for company on the wilderness journey that will prove to other tribes and all comers that Israel is a chosen people, the people of God. God offers compassion but also remains as our God, declaring that the people of Israel will be companioned by God - but neither Israel nor Moses will see the face of God! In a sermon entitled "Nurturing Humility," we will consider together what it means to recognize God but not control God, to be known but not to know our God in the sense of understanding or predicting Her Will or ways! To be faithful in any age, in any situation calls for us to submit ourselves to the work and direction of God, as best we know how, without knowing all the steps or understanding each of the "wherefores."

Come join us for worship at 10AM in the Chapel - we invite you to wear a family-friendly costume and join us after worship for our Halloween Festival.

Rev. John H. Pomeroy

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