Our text in worship this week is the meeting between Peter and the Ethiopian Eunich - a highly ranked court official who explores scripture, asks Peter to explain the text and is baptized along the road to his destination!
We learn from the writers that the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, the teaching about a God of compassion and justice has widespread appeal across cultural, economic and national boundaries. We may be surprised by the openness and curiosity of this important official - in our own day, it can be hard to imagine a highly placed person with both material wealth and power, wanting to learn about God. Exactly how is the story of Jesus and his ministry "good news" to a person who seemingly has everything they could want or need? In a sermon entitled "Finding the Good News" we will consider what blessings we receive as a part of our faith perspective, our relationship with God. We will ask whether we take the time to count our blessings and whether we share how our faith may lend us a life giving - even life saving? - take on our existence! Come join us for worship and Helen's baptism this Sunday at 10AM in the Chapel!
Rev. John H Pomeroy
Bible Text: John 10:11-18
This Sunday, just a few weeks after Easter, we hear the story of the Good Shepherd. We hear how adrift sheep would be without a shepherd - they are susceptible to wolves snatching them up, going astray without strong leadership, and getting lost without a vigilant shepherd who is paying attention. It's not just a sweet story; there are real repercussions if we don't have caring, dedicated people watching out for sheep! We as humans also have different lives when we don't have people watching out for us. The early disciples were frantic that their leader, their Rabbi, had been taken from them. Jesus had been their link to God, their manifestation of Divine presence and guidance. Now they would have to band together and provide that for themselves. They would also have to connect with God in a new way without Jesus interpreting things for them. This story is a story about being protected and cared for. It operates on several levels: about how Jesus cared for them; about how we are to care for others; about how our God cares for us on a cosmic level. This is about our lives being bound up intimately with our Creator God and with one another. And this story falls on Earth Day - a day when we are asked to ponder how we can care for our beautiful earth and world. We will explore our need for protection and care in our worship on Sunday. You are invited to join us at 10 am. We will have special music by Candace Murphy on violin and soloist Kim singing a piece from Bach's Magnificat as well as other stirring music. Come early if you want to join our hymn-sing as we gather!
- Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
The art of theological reflection happens when individuals and groups think about their life experiences using the language of religious tradition. I would argue that theological reflection makes up most of the content of the New Testament. This third Sunday in the Christian season of Easter is sometimes called "Meal" Sunday, because it's the Sunday we hear stories about Jesus appearing to his disciples after his death and them recognizing him as he breaks bread, or eats fish - Jesus' recreation of his last meal with his disciples, which happened to be a Jewish Passover feast. At Passover the Jewish people celebrate God's power to deliver from every force that would oppress our freedom. It is a feast held in remembrance of God's "exodus;" God's gift of a "way out" of and through and past all oppressive powers and principalities. The early community of Jesus' followers used the language of their religious tradition to talk about their experience of Jesus: as Moses led God's people on the way out of bondage to freedom so Jesus leads his followers on the exodus from the ways of death to the ways of life. "Look at my hands and feet," he exclaims to a room full of surprised disciples, "It is I myself! Touch me and see." We've kept on with the practice of theological reflection, looking for Risen Christ in all kinds of risen lives - hands and feet that have found a way out of death and into new life.
Rev. Kristin Philipson
According to the church calendar, we have walked through the season of Lent and have now entered the season of Easter. With Easter, we experience surprise, hope, joy, and delight. But in the reading for Sunday from the Gospel according to John, we find the disciples of Jesus hiding out in fear. The reading opens on the evening of the resurrection, and is not the scene one might expect. But then into their midst Jesus appears, and offers them peace. The disciples are astounded. One would assume that the appearance of Jesus would change everything... And it does, but not until a week later! We'll discuss the fears and the doubts of Thomas, the disciple missing from the first gathering but who is present for the second gathering and sees Jesus, the peace Jesus offers, and the belief of the disciples as to who Jesus is. In the meantime, I invite you to consider these questions: Where do you see yourself in this resurrection story? Where is the Spirit's transforming presence needed in your life? Where have you encountered God this week? Where has God found you?
May you experience God's presence in powerful, prayerful, peaceful ways this week!
See you on Sunday as we consider "Strange Things."
-Rev. Stacy L. Thomas
Easter Bible Reading Mark 16:1-8
As we move through Holy Week we are all invited to join the journey of Jesus as he engages the powers of the world and models how to live with great integrity. We are invited to reflect on the betrayal and suffering that Jesus endured long ago to bring God's message of love to us. On Thursday evening we will gather to hear the story of the Last Supper and the time in Gethsemane the night before his death. On Friday afternoon we are invited up to the Altadena Community Church to walk their interactive Stations of the Cross. And on Saturday we are urged to reflect on all the ways that death and suffering still persist in our world and are in need of God's power and our attention to relieve it. All of this will prepare us to come to the tomb on Sunday morning with the others and hear the assurance from our God that death and despair is never the final word, but that resurrection and new life prevail. We hope you will join us this week as we celebrate that reality anew and live as people of the living Christ. See details below on times and spaces for the services.
May God bless you richly as you reflect on these themes during Holy Week.
- Rev. Marlene Pomeroy
Our text for Palm Sunday is the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for Passover - soldiers and the governor ride in on one side of town, a show of force to keep a potential rowdy crowd in line during a festival season. Jesus comes with a few followers on the other side of town - a quiet entrance that mocks or mirrors the governor's entrance, bringing not military might but a new image of God and peace. In a sermon entitled "Trading Currencies" we will look at a model of church developed by Eric H.F. Law in a book entitled "Holy Currencies" - where the church does not rely on money as its sole means of survival! Instead, we are invited to trade the currency of money for other currencies that the church has to offer - telling the truth, offering space and time to others to share their gifts, graciousness in listening and offering help, wellness in a time of conflict and hatred. What would it mean for us to act "on the other side" from our culture as the church - to use our currencies of grace, truth, wellness and time. Comer join us in the Sanctuary for worship this Sunday at 10AM!
Rev. John H. Pomeroy
The prophet Jeremiah worked and prophesied during a difficult time - he understood that the Israelites were caught between two mighty powers, Babylon and Egypt. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had already fallen to the Assyrians in 722 BCE. And now around 625 the life of the Southern Kingdom of Israel was threatened by these two on the eastern and western borders. Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling people that destruction was on the horizon. Suffice it to say, Jeremiah was not the life of any party! And yet... he gives us one of the most beautiful images of what might be coming beyond the despair and destruction - a new covenant with God where our God's laws and words would be written upon our very hearts, never to be forgotten or misplaced. He reassured people in his own sobering manner that God was not yet done with us and would lead us anew. Helpful words for anyone or any nation to hear. What you see and experience now is not the final word!! Join us for worship this Sunday as we observe the 5th Sunday in Lent and hear the wonderful music of our guest Celtic musicians!!! How fitting for this St. Patrick's Day weekend. Our One Great Hour of Sharing offering will be taken up this Sunday. See more info below for the recipients of this offering. You may put cash or a check in the OGHS envelope.
-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
Psalm 107 (selected verses)
Our text in worship this week is a portion of a song or Psalm of distress. Nowhere are we more vulnerable as human beings, and also unpretentious, than when we are suffering and in need of deliverance. Can you remember the last time you prayed for being set free from pain, or from a situation, or a relationship where you could not see an exit? It may sound dramatic, but we all experience our limits at different times in our lives and inwardly - or outlaid - declare that we can not take it any longer! In a sermon entitled "Deliverance" we will consider how suffering is a part of our human condition - and therefore part of our relationship with God. We will recall the last time you were freed from a person or problem that was hunting you - and whether you took the time to ask for God's help, or later to thank God for your relief from suffering. Join us on Sunday morning in the Chapel at 10AM for worship!
Rev. John H. Pomeroy
These first two Sundays of Lent we are reminded of the covenants we have carved out with our God for thousands of years. Sometimes we don't always hold up our end of the relationship; sometimes we chaff under God's grand expectations of us. Close, intimate relationships make demands on us to be better than we would be without that commitment to each other. Notice that the season of Lent begins with a blessing - a rainbow is put in the sky to remind us of God's promise to every living creature. The ancients might have understood the causes of rainbows differently than we do today, but we all understand what it means to be bound by each other. The first two weeks of Lent remind us of the covenant made through Noah and the one made with Sarai and Abram. Fresh starts, new names, new promises are what we hear from our God!
Each Sunday in Lent we will look at our relationship with God. We will add chanting to our prayer time to invoke God's presence in a particular way these 40 days. Lent is about: fasting, self-reflection, new practices, prayer and great intention. Journey with us as we all awaken our hearts to the presence of God anew this season.
-Rev. Marlene W. Pomeroy
Preacher: Rev. Kristin Philipson
A Service of Worship for Ash Wednesday
Altadena Community Church
FCC, Pasadena, UCC
Mount Hollywood Congregation Church, UCC
FCC, Glendale, UCC
La Canada Congregational Church, UCC
LA Filipino-American, Eagle Rock, UCC