Horizons – October 2019

One eye on the past, one eye on the future. This is how a chameleon is described in proverb from Madagascar. It speaks of this amazing creature whose two eyes can turn independently, allowing a large field of vision embracing many directions at once.

As conversations swirl around at every level in the United Methodist Church these days, we’re keeping one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Here at First UMC, we started with a fresh look at the “Five Marks of a Methodist,” remembering John Wesley’s description of what makes a Methodist “methodist.” A Methodist loves God, rejoices in God, prays always, gives thanks, and loves others.

We’ve also revisited some of our foundational affirmations here at First UMC:
– Inspiring the world as passionate followers of Jesus Christ so all may experience God’s life-giving love. – Vision of the California-Pacific Conference
– We welcome you into our community of faith – to be transformed by God’s love through Jesus Christ. – Mission of First UMC 2003
– We pledge to fulfill our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ and as members of the United Methodist Church, commissioned and empowered by the Holy Spirit to transform the world for the sake of the Reign of God, by freely extending all the ministries of the church to all God’s children. We pledge to welcome and embrace all the members of our church families in God’s boundary-less love and grace and to welcome all those in our communities through the inclusive hospitality of the Holy Spirit. – First UMC Church Council 2012
– God is real. God is love.
Everyone matters. You matter.
Together we can change the world. – First UMC 2013

As we gather for lunch, prayer, and round table conversation after worship on October 20, we’ll have all these “eyes on the past” as our foundation and springboard. At the same time, we’ll cast an eye to the future. For indeed, our God is always doing a new thing, as the Scripture promises.

We’ll be asking ourselves and one another where we see evidence of God’s ‘new thing’ already coming to life here at First UMC and in the larger church. We’ll ask what new areas of ministry and mission God might be calling us to in our community, nation, and world. And we’ll be listening for God’s voice in our hearts calling you and me into new ministries of love and service.

Our moment is now, somewhere on the eternal continuum of past present/future. Who is God calling us to be and to become?

August/September 2019

Back-to-School time for me as a kid meant new shoes, new notebooks, a new teacher, and the new clothes my mother had made for me over the summer. It brought a sense of new beginnings and new possibilities. And because we didn’t move around, but lived in one house through my school years, it also brought a lot of reassurance in continuity—continuity of place, family, and holidays. There was newness built on a foundation of familiarity and love.

Our California-Pacific bishop, Bishop Hagiya, set “I See a New Church” as the theme of our annual conference session this past June. He is now inviting local churches to consider this same theme in our own setting this Fall. Our First UMC Lay Leadership Team will be creating some opportunities for us to come together to listen for the voice of God and to dream with God.

At First UMC, we have a strong and faithful heritage to build upon—in ministry, in mission, and in the character of our life together. We respect and love one another, despite what might be differently held opinions about a whole variety of things. We’ve embodied John Wesley’s maxim: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”

Confident in our calling, we are free to imagine and to dream. Are there needs in our community that God’s Spirit is urging us to see? Are there new opportunities for mission and ministry percolating in our hearts? Is there something God might be calling you/me to undertake?

This is a season for the fresh winds of the Spirit to blow through us, opening our minds and hearts to God’s great scope and purpose. Let’s enjoy the adventure!