Horizons – November

“Now thank we all our God…”

Living in a sprawling metropolitan area, we are far from the natural rhythms of land and harvest. Still, November turns our thoughts to harvest and gratitude. We’ll gather ’round the table for a Thanksgiving meal shared with family and friends, giving thanks for God’s mercies, bounty, and love.

We’ll gather November 19 for our annual Church Charge Conference with our District Superintendent, Mark Nakagawa, to give an accounting of our mission and ministry and our stewardship of all the amazing resources God has entrusted to us at First UMC.

And we will reflect on our own personal stewardship of all the gifts God has given as we grow in generosity through giving in our “Say YES!” financial campaign.

“For all that has been–thanks! For all that will be–yes!” as Dag Hammarskjöld, former Secretary General of the United Nations, put it.

So let us gather. Let us give thanks. And let us commit ourselves anew to the future with hope God has in store for the whole creation.

Horizons – October

say-yes-webAcross the years here, we’ve used the words of Dag Hammarskjöld, former Secretary General of the United Nations, as inspiration: “For all that has been—thanks! For all that will be—yes!”

How appropriate these words seem again now, as we move into the Fall. There is SO much for which to be thankful—families finding support and fellowship in Messy Church, simple church celebrating its first anniversary, the upcoming start of our Habitat Build of Patience House in Culver City. And that’s just for starters!

It’s also the season of our Annual Laity Sunday which has become a highlight of celebrating the manifold gifts and graces of this amazing congregation. And it’s our laity who will kick off this year’s Stewardship Campaign.

Our theme this year is “Say YES!” With new life and deeper faithfulness bubbling up all around, we want to Say YES to all that God is doing in our midst. And we want to call each other to go deep and consider anew the part we will each play in supporting mission and ministry through our generous financial pledge.

When the letter comes in the mail, or you pick up a pledge card in worship….pause. Take a deep breath. Give thanks. And pledge to give more in 2018 than you did in 2017.

Won’t you join me in saying YES?!

Horizons – September

It’s been exciting over these past weeks to see the work being done on our steeple. We are so fortunate to have been entrusted with this beautiful church. Now, with the leadership of our Trustees, we strive to be faithful stewards of it, with the foresight and financial means to make sure that everything is well-maintained and safe-guarded for the future.

Across these last many decades, our steeple has been a beacon of faith and hope in our community. Even in this era of internet and Facebook, I’m amazed at how many visitors tell me that they’ve found their way to worship and prayer here because they’ve seen our steeple.

The scaffolding that’s been up has been a great advertisement as well. Many neighbors and passers-by have stopped to look and to inquire. They, too, appreciate our investment in the community they and we love.

But with the work completed, I’m glad the scaffolding has come down. I was starting to have the feeling that our steeple was in jail, held in, restricted in the message it could send. It’s free again–and more radiant than ever.

Especially in these turbulent times, may its message of God’s love, constancy, and abiding presence in our midst exuberantly witness to abiding joy and peace.

​It’s time for Fall Kick-Off!

Horizons – August

Those of you of a certain age may remember the popular video game called “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” A global spy series designed to teach kids geography and to inspire curiosity, it is now available as a “retro game” through its app.

Even if you’re not searching around the world for Carmen Sandiego, you may from time to time look at the news and dare to ask or at least privately wonder: “Where in the world is God?” I don’t intend to be sacrilegious in posing this question, but rather to acknowledge the way we all feel after one too many stories of atrocity, war, global warming, and the like. Reminds me of the refrain from the old spiritual…”Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble….”

As the name of this newsletter, “Sentinel,” and this column, “Horizons,” remind, part of our work as people of faith is to look to the far horizons, to keep watch and perceive what’s really happening before it’s totally apparent. Actually, it’s what the author of the Book of the Hebrews meant when asserting: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

So take in the news, but look beyond. Be strategically serious about what’s happening in the world, but also remember the promises of God. For God said: “…surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD,’ plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Be the hope.

Horizons – June/July

May our summer be blessed with joy and renewal. I share this prayer with you to ask for God’s blessing on all the summer may bring:

Creator of all, thank You for summer!
Thank You for the warmth of the sun
and the increased daylight.
Thank You for the beauty I see all around me
and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.
Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family,
and for the more casual pace of the summer season.
Draw me closer to You this summer.
Teach me how I can pray
no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence
and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.
As I enjoy Your creation, create in me
a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You.
Amen.

Blessings,

Rev. Farris