CONGREGATIONAL MESSAGE

JUNE 26, 2022

     How and when do we move on?  That question is on my mind in light of one of this week’s scripture readings, two recent memorial services, and an increasingly obvious transition happening in our church.  One at a time…

     In the Old Testament lesson from 2 Kings 2 which documents the prophet Elijah being taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (cue movie music), there is the matter of his successor Elisha’s response to this ‘elevation’ of his mentor.  As you will hear on Sunday, Elisha is assured of his standing as God’s prophet when he inherits the mantle (cloak) of the great Elijah.  He tests its power out by parting the Jordan River with the mantle as Elijah had just done before his assumption: it worked!  In a few short verses we see Elisha lamenting the absence of his master and then assuming his role as Elijah’s rightful successor.  The rapid transition from grief to “getting on with it” reminds me of the behavior of the disciples of Jesus upon his ascension (40 days after his resurrection).  They go from seeing him off to being continuously in the temple praising God. (Luke 24:53)  It seems that in both cases, God is doing a new thing and the time to board the train is now!

     Last week two memorial services were held at the church: Friday morning we remembered the life of Gwen Layman, who had died the previous Sunday morning.  The grief of her recent death tinged even our best efforts to celebrate her life.  Then, 24 hours later, we remembered the life of Mary Wedegaertner who died in August of 2020, a full-on church service being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.  Even though it had been 22 months, there was nevertheless a real sense of loss amongst the overarching appreciation of her life, well-lived.  Given the time and effort invested in preparation for Mary’s service, it was inspiring how many long-time members and previous participants at Holy Cross came to celebrate her life and witness.

     While at our Annual Conference Session recently in Sacramento, both Pastor Tevita Vaikona and I were reappointed to serve at Holy Cross for the coming appointment year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023).  This shared responsibility, coupled with the significant growth in the Islander community in our region should give us a clear indication of how our congregation is trending.  I want to share that I consider myself extremely blessed when—at this past Sunday’s afternoon service—somewhere around 40 children and youth sang, danced, and blessed the fathers in attendance before serving a feast to all of us.  Somewhere between 25 and 30 Islanders will be joining a few of us non-Islanders at Redwood Christian Ashram the first full week of July.

     The trend is clear, but it should never be exclusive of anyone or any group.  My biggest aim for the coming year is to help us come together around efforts and ministry goals uniting Islander and Pelangi (non-Islander).  Forging a future where we walk hand-in-hand will ensure our long-term health as a family of faith.  I welcome your ideas for such events and efforts that can help us serve Christ in just such a unified way.

     Yours for Christ,

     Pastor Gary

Bulletin_for_6-26.pdf

CHILDREN'S WORSHIP

     Children’s Worship is back as “Children’s Worship with Mort ’n Friends” and YOU are the friends! We could not have done this without YOU. We are excited to again offer this online worship for kids of all ages!


     HERE is the LINK on YouTube unlisted video:

https://youtu.be/MlUFzafkrO8


     Children's Worship is a free innovative online worship experience for children everywhere. The production is now a collaborative effort sponsored by the United Methodist Churches of the Sacramento Pentecost and Resurrection Circuits. The 15-20 minutes includes music, faith-based messages and special friends to meet--including a puppet called “Mort” ... video clips come from around our church family in Northern California and Nevada.

     The series started May 31, 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and stopped at the end of July 2021 (after 61 episodes) BUT due to the increase in Delta-variant cases, has started again for those children who cannot attend in-person church yet as well as for everyone else--young and old!

A SPIRITUAL WALK

~LABYRINTH~

A New Resource to Aid Your Spiritual Walk—Literally

     Holy Cross United Methodist Church consecrated its new labyrinth on Sunday, December 5, 2021.

     The project, which has been in the works for more than two years, is now open to all community members to experience.

     “I've walked these a number of times and you really can get outside of all your stress and strain," Gary Pope-Sears, pastor at Holy Cross United Methodist Church, said.

     Whether seen as something religious or not, labyrinths are well knows to relate to the exploration of meditation, and are often used for rituals or ceremonies, Pope-Sears refers to it as a “spiritual walk.”

     Once just an idea is now a reality come true for the community. The labyrinth is a place for creativity and new ideas to spring, he said.

     The space was blessed by Pope-Sears with anointing oil and with two prayers, one in English and one in Tongan.

     Even though the labyrinth holds similarities to a maze, it shouldn't be confused with one. The labyrinth is supposed to help individuals find peace or find answers for their unanswered questions.

     Click here to read the article in The Record:

https://www.recordnet.com/story/news/2021/12/06/holy-cross-united-methodist-church-opens-labyrinth-stockton-california/8883657002/?fbclid=IwAR1_LRFJDAjUX_xIqz565GxfTdYvnLWXyq-nZu3P3TkYjyMWqVQcMZ4uWbA

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