Pastor’s Perspective

A Little at a Time, Matthew 5:13-20
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 2-9-14

Today we continue with Jesus’ “sermon on the mount” as told by Matthew. We move forward in time, remembering a beautiful series of statements:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

We take this awareness with us into our daily lives, and continue to listen for God’s word to us today. The passage we heard read today can be divided into three parts: salt, light, and law.

Let’s begin with a little salt— not too much, but a little. [Talk about what is does and its limitations.]

Now the image of light is used— a light set on a hill, like this church, part way up the hill, a light to the community, a light for all, not hidden under a bushel [song]. We have recently added to the brightness of our light with a new web site. People far away can now see what we are doing, and be inspired by our work. We are connecting with a much wider audience thanks to the work of Mary Lee, Susan, and many others who contribute ideas and photos toward making, modifying, and perfecting our new web site <>.

The law may be the most difficult of the images today. We know we fall short of the perfection needed here. According to our faith, Jesus is the only one who kept the law perfectly. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. But the message here is about fulfillment of the law. The promise of the law, fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, is the law of love— the highest of all laws. When we love God and show it by loving our neighbors, we, too, fulfill the law. We are called to risk everything to do this. If we seek to save our lives, we will lose them, but if we give them away in love, we will find them. This is one of the many great paradoxes of faith. The last shall be first, and the first the last is another paradox that the choir sang a week ago.

We don’t come to God through our human intellect, by love and service to the world. In order to talk about the life of faith at all, we use the stories of scripture, we sing the songs of the faith written over many centuries, and we pray, using words and silence with humility and kindness to move the world toward God’s reign of peace and justice for all, not just for some.

In frustration we sometimes look at the world and cry out, “Why?” and “How long?” This was the cry of the psalmist centuries ago. We read the laments in the Psalms and join the cry. We’d like to wave a magic wand and fix the governments, both political and religious. But instead, we use what we have and what we are to make improvements a little at a time. We resist injustice, as Jesus did, and live our lives in love, as perfectly as we can. We sing and pray, we work and give so that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Do you remember the heaven within, “O best beloved?” We get there a little at a time, but it is within us all the time, in you, in me, in us.

I’d like to close today with a paragraph from the introduction to At Your Altars:

Our [faith traditions] worship styles and theologies are diverse, but they are united by love. Our cultures and languages are diverse, but the song of the heart unites us in love and truth. Our faith traditions are different at the level of doctrine, but they join in prayer and loving practice. In spite of our intellectual barriers we sing, and we are moved toward love a little at a time.

A little salt, a little light, a law of love,
with these, we make a big difference.

Let us be in prayer

Joys and Concerns

  • Norm and Jean Reynolds are celebrating their 34th anniversary this week. Congratulations!
  • Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing.
  • Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) has had surgery postponed due to anemia. Keep remembering her in your prayers.
  • Barbara Haley’s friend, Pat Cahill, fell and has a torn shoulder cuff. Pat had surgery a month ago. Once she has healed sufficiently, it will be a long rehab back. Prayers for healing are welcome.

Katherine Parker is on a 10 cluster trip (meeting, educating and planning) near Doti, Nepal. Here’s a photo of the group at work.
With work<br /><br />
 colleagues from Doti and Kathmandu
  • UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) has sent out a request for School Supply Kits. UMW (United Methodist Women) are spearheading a request for items from you to fill 10 kits by April 1st. Kit supply lists are in Friendship Hall. UMCOR is very specific about the supplies needed and will remove those not on the list. UMCOR has been very busy in the Philippines and is sending a shipment of school supplies shortly. They need to restock their shelves. This is an easy way to help. A carton will be in Friendship Hall for your donations. UMW will assemble the kits at their April meeting.


  • February is here and in honor of Helen Valentine, we will be collecting all the coins you have saved over the past year (paper money and checks also accepted) for Heifer International. Please donate generously so we can buy a variety of animals or trees to improve the lives of the less advantaged. The children love choosing the animals!
  • Saturday, February 22, United Methodist Women in conjunction with Writer Coach Connection will have a second showing of the film “Cracking the Code: The System of Racial Inequity” by Shaki Butler from 1-4 pm in the sanctuary of First Methodist Church. If you missed it last time it is a timely piece about the racism in America and a conscious raising film. Dr. Butler is a master at challenges and inspires us to grapple with the complexities of social justice.


  • Friday, February 28, 7:30 pm Point Richmond Jazz presents Jeremy Cohen and his Violin Jazz Quartet. His electrifying jazz violin performances have earned him nationwide accolades. He has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras and been on motion picture and TV sound tracks. He has been a faculty member of the Henry Mancini Institute (LA) and the Jazz School (Berkeley) for many years. This would be an evening well spent. Advance tickets thru: $15, at the door, $20. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Point Richmond.
  • Friday, March 7, Sweetheart Dinner– Tammara Plankers will be installed as our Sweetheart for 2014. Gathering music at 6:30 pm, dinner at 7 pm at the Point San Pablo Yacht Club, 700 West Cutting Blvd, Point Richmond. Tickets are $45. For reservations contact Fran Smith: 510 685 2338 or Please mail reservation requests  and payment to : Fran Smith, 2149 Beaujolais Court, Fairfield, CA., 94533. This is always a fun night with good food and companionship. Fundraiser for First United Methodist Church.
  • Monday, March10,at 6:30 pm Prayer and Self Denial Supper and Program, for United Methodist Women, at The Open Door (Good Shepard) United Methodist Church Hall, 6226 Arlington, Richmond. This is a simple supper of soup and a program to center our thoughts at the beginning of Lent. Please let Jean Reynolds know if you plan to attend so there’s enough soup! 510 235 2988 or Carpool would be nice.
  • An Evening with Dan Damon, Saturday, April 12, 7:30 pm. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Point Richmond, suggested donation $15, choir members free. Come and sing new hymns written by Pastor Dan Damon. The session will be recorded for our new website. Join your voice with ours, no rehearsal needed. Experience congregational song at its best, singing hymns of peace, justice and joy.
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