Horizons – April 2019

“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.” So said Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire, 1871-1890, master of realpolitik and balance of power diplomacy.

Happily, our God plays by different rules with different aims in mind. Otherwise, the sealed-up tomb might have been the end of the story. Actually, there wouldn’t be a Christian story at all, were it not for the fact that the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty; were it not for the fact that our crucified Lord and Savior is raised from the dead, ushering in the Reign of Joy which fills our lives in every moment and points to life everlasting in the love and peace of God.

Our God never settles for “what is possible” or “the next best.” God reimagines “the possible” to open new windows to ever new hopes and dreams and visions. Our God is—now and always—making all things new. And with our God, nothing is impossible.

Come share in the worship experiences of Lent/Holy Week/Easter to open windows of new possibilities in your heart and mind and soul. Invite along a friend who may be longing for the same. The Risen Lord waits to greet you all and fill you with life-ever-new.

Horizons – February 2019

Our 2019 Haiti Team is gearing up (and by the way, they need the support of our prayers and dollars!)

We’ve sent a team each year since the quake first hit in January 2010. That’s witness to an amazing commitment on the part of many individuals and our congregation as a whole. That long-term commitment changes “mission” into “relationship” and “doing for” into “working with.” It means that we’ve seen kids growing up and facilities we’ve helped build being used. It means seeing that the goats we purchased become the “bank accounts” our Team describes. It means that we are welcomed back by people who know us and look forward to our coming. It means working alongside them again on the projects they have set as their priorities. It means that they have become sisters and brothers, and their families part of our family.

This long-term commitment has changed not only the team members who have gone to Haiti, but our congregation as well. Our boundaries are not Santa Monica or the Westside. This has actually been true of us for a very long time, beginning perhaps with our welcoming of refugees from Vietnam back in the 1960s and 1970s. You may know of other examples as well.

To say “God’s world is our world” is not just about mouthing some words. We know that it’s about living into it, embracing others, learning their names and their stories, seeking their welfare alongside ours. It means holding them in our hearts and making decisions about public policy not just from the mind but from our heart and soul.

Thanks be to God for these gifts of new life and for a family that spans the globe.

Horizons – January 2019

I suppose many of us are starting into this new New Year with our very own list of resolutions, mostly having to do with diet, exercise, budget-keeping, and so forth. If so, I wish you well with all of those noble thoughts and with the determination needed to carry them forward well into the year.

At the same time, I want to suggest a more modest approach.

A friend of mine has a pinned a small note card where he’ll see it each day as he heads off to work or other pursuits.  It asks simply: “What good shall I do this day?”

“What good shall I do this day?”

What if we each do the same? Might prove to be more do-able than loftier goals–some days harder than others, to be sure, given how life has a way of unfolding.

Still, my hunch is that the intention alone will create yet another way for the light to get in, and for the light of God to shine through us each and every day.

What good shall I do this day?

May the Year of our Lord 2019 bring peace, hope, joy, and light to one and all.

Horizons – December 2018

“In the beginning….God said: Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good…”

God shines light into the darkness of creation, of our world, of our lives and hearts. God shines light to bring forth life, to reveal truth, and to illumine the path of righteousness and peace. And God sees that it is good.

In this beautiful Advent season, may God’s light shine anew in your heart. Through the worship and music of the season, may God’s light shine in your soul.

In fellowship, may God’s light shine in your home.

In opportunities for service and giving, may God’s light shine in your mind.

And, through us, may God’s light shine anew in our world.

My Christmas prayer for each of you is that you will find in this season a renewed sense of God’s love, and healing presence in your life, bringing light and joy to you and yours.

For in Christ is born the fullness of life, and that life is the light of all people. As John’s Gospel proclaims: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.”

May the blessings of Christ, the Light of the World, dawn brightly upon us all.

Horizons – November

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…
It makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
(Melodie Beattie)

November is a month-long festival of giving thanks! We begin with our annual remembrance of All Saints Sunday on November 4, grateful for all those who have gone before, that great circle of love that knows no boundaries of time or space.

We are grateful and we give thanks!

We celebrate our annual celebration of mission and ministry which we call our “Charge Conference” on Sunday, November 18. Led by our District Superintendent, Rev. Mark Nakagawa, we will share food and fellowship around our tables as we lift up all the incredible ways we have sought to be faithful disciples of Christ this year. In worship, service, praise, witness and prayer, we, the congregation of First UMC Santa Monica, continue to “Be the Hope” in lives near and far.

We are grateful and we give thanks!

As we have so generously received, we recommit ourselves to giving back, giving to support the mission and ministry of the church in our pledges and gifts. If you’re already pledging, prayerfully consider giving even more generously. If you’re giving regularly, try on the spiritual practice of making an annual pledge. If you’re new to all this—start by setting aside your weekly or monthly gift to the church. We will offer our pledges and gifts on Consecration Sunday, November 25.

We are grateful and we give thanks!

Together, with grateful and generous hearts, in joy and hope, let us rejoice, giving thanks for the past, finding peace for today in a world where no one lives in need or fear, together creating a vision for tomorrow that extends God’s love from our Thanksgiving tables to God’s children the world over.

We are grateful and we give thanks!