Pastor’s Perspective
Re: Richmond First United Methodist Church News and Events

Dear Friends,

Here are my notes from Sunday. The memorial service for Liam Thompson will be 2 pm, March 23, at our church. Keep the family in your prayers.

Tradition, Matthew 4:1-11
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 3-9-14

Last week: The Good Book, this week: Tradition, next week: Reason, the following week: Experience. Together these four have been called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. I mentioned it last week, but felt I wanted to devote more time to each of the four sides. This model helps us think about how to live our faith. It reminds us of the faith community: those who came before us and those who we expect will come after us. It shows us that the private interpretation of Scripture is not as strong as the shared interpretation. Tradition is the discussion of the church through the centuries as it struggled and still struggles to understand who Jesus was and is, and how we are to live as Christians in the post modern world. In the Wesleyan model Scripture is seen as primary, but our interpretation is always supported and guided by tradition, reason, and experience.

Fiddler on the Roof, “Tradition,” The mothers and fathers teach the sons and the daughters what they have learned from their parents. This goes on through the generations, but sometimes a child will break the tradition. I am that child in my family. I moved from a traditional, literal understanding of the Bible to a literary, scholarly view that includes more of the human element.

Midrash: an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text. The earliest Midrashim come from the 2nd century CE, although much of their content is older.

Do you remember the story of Job? Retell. What did Job’s friends do when he had lost everything (children, wealth, everything but his wife)? Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. It is part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Job 2:11-13 we read that Job’s friends made an appointment to come see him, they wept, tore their clothes, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. Then they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and nights without saying a word, “for they saw that his grief was very great.”

Our tradition contains many stories of great grief. As we acknowledge the loss of our dear Liam Thompson, we may find comfort in the tradition. Others have felt great grief in the past. Even the story of the Passion, as I understand it, shows God weeping for his Son who was killed by the Romans on the cross. In the season of Lent, the tradition of the church reminds us that God knows our suffering, and is with us in it. Grief comes and goes, and comes again. It is real. It is part of all of our lives, as it the joy that comes to us in days of health and strength.

In our Gospel story today we see Jesus suffering in the wilderness for forty days (tradition has given us the forty days of Lent leading to Easter). According to tradition Jesus was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” Only Jesus has been able to make the right choice at every turn. Being human involves taking responsibility for our choices. We come from God, we live by God’s grace, and we return to God when we die. This is my faith, founded on scripture and the tradition of the church. This faith allows us to move through the wilderness of temptation and even death with hope and trust. In communities of faith around the world people like us gather to pray and sing, to praise and mourn, to take time to be silent, and then to move on by the power of the God who is love.

Brian Wren, poet and theologian, has given us this text. It is now part of our Christian tradition:

When grief is raw, and music goes unheard,
and thought is numb,
we have no polished phrases to recite.
In Christ we come
to hear the old familiar words:
“I am the resurrection. I am life.”

God, give us time for gratitude and tears,
and make us free
to grieve, remember, honor, and delight.
Let love be strong
to bear regrets and banish fears:
“I am the resurrection. I am life.”

The height and breadth of all that love prepares
soar out of time,
beyond our speculation and our sight.
The cross remains
to ground the promise that it bears:
“I am the resurrection. I am life.”

All shall be judged, the greatest and the least,
and all be loved,
till every hurt is healed, all wrong set right.
In bread and wine
we taste the great homecoming feast,
and in the midst of death we are in life.

Brian Wren © 1983 Hope Publishing Company

Let us be in prayer.

Joys and Concerns
  • For those of us who have known Liam Thompson, this is a sad time indeed. He was a wonderful young man and will be sorely missed by our community. Our thoughts, love and prayers are with his family. Memorial Service is Sunday, March 23 at 2pm here at First United Methodist Church. Alice requests that you wear comfortable and colorful clothing! Who can forget Liam’s pants? Please carpool if able, parking is limited. Donations may be made to our building fund in memory of Liam.
  •  Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. Linda has been in and out of the hospital with multiple problems this past month including fluid around her heart, fluid in the lungs and septicemia (infection in the blood stream). Linda is home and is making an effort to be more active,
  • Robbie Robinson has been out with a virus for several weeks. He would appreciate your prayers for recovery.
  • Doris Swope’s niece, Susan Wickesser, who has been recovering from pancreatic cancer and had a clear scan in December after chemotherapy and radiation treatments had a follow up scan in February that is showing some “hot spots” in her lymph nodes near the pancreas and lung. The doctors don’t think it looks like typical cancer and want to biopsy one of the “hot spots” to see. She is encouraged by this and welcomes your prayers of support and healing.
  • Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter), surgery still unscheduled since Sandra has a bad cold. Continue to remember her in your prayers.
  • Barbara Haley’s friend, Pat Cahill, fell and had a torn shoulder cuff with surgical repair. She is now going to outpatient rehab and slowly gaining movement and strength. Prayers for healing are welcome.
  • Pastor Dan and I attended an informational meeting and dinner at Pinole United Methodist Church Saturday evening. The meeting was mainly an update on events in Camp Liberty. At that time, food delivery had been stopped and the people only had enough food to last four days and off site medical care is being denied. Drainage of the sewage holding tanks had also been stopped so raw sewage was leaking and overflowing. The inhumane treatment of the Iranian refugees continues unabated.
  • A Bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3707) by Rep. Dana Roherbacher (Orange Cty) in December that would allow admission to the United States for those who choose to come as refugees. The Bill was sent to the Foreign Relations Committee in December and to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in January. Congressman John Garamendi is co-sponsoring the Bill along with 47 other Representatives. Congressman George Miller is absent from the list of sponsors. If you would like to request that Congressman Miller support the bill, please contact his office at 510 262 6500.
  • New 2014 Directory is available! Copies will be in Friendship Hall for you to pick up.
  • On Monday, Jean Reynolds attended a press conference at the Elk Grove United Methodist Church protesting the Methodist Church’s ban on gay marriage. They will continue to press for change at the Cal-Nev Conference in June. They are asking churches to sign the Declaration of Inclusion that gives all the rites of the church to same sex partners. 49 churches from seven states have signed the declaration including our own First Methodist. To read the article:
  • 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 is in Friendship Hall for your donations. UMW will assemble the kits at their April meeting.   We have all the pencils, rulers, scissors, pencil sharpeners and 5 erasers.
  • 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! We will be collecting through March 16.
  • Saturday, March 22, 9:15 am-2:30 pm Bridges District United Methodist Women is having a day of spiritual growth, “Open My Ears That I May Hear God’s Call”. Rev. Dorothy Williams is the main speaker. Eater Hill United Methodist Church, 3911 Cutting Blvd., Richmond. Advance tickets $15, after March 7, $17. It is an opportunity to attend a District presentation that is close to home! Lunch included. Come meet your district leaders. Sign-up forms are in Friendship Hall.
  • Friday, March 28, 7:30 pm Point Richmond Jazz presents David LaFlamme and It’s a Beautiful Day Acoustic, featuring Linda LaFlamme, vocals and Phil Lawrence, mandolin. Pre-concert tickets $15 through; $20 at the door. First United Methodist Church, 201 Marina St., Point Richmond.
It’s   A Beautiful Day Acoustic  incorporates acoustic hot swing instrumentals and   original compositions by Phil Lawrence, as well as classic rock songs by violinist   and vocalist David LaFlamme, from   the premiere San Francisco rock band, It’s   a Beautiful Day, including “White Bird”. David LaFlamme sings,   plays the five-string violin, and fronts the band, spinning stories and yarns   from San Francisco’s golden era of rock and roll, the Sixties; Phil Lawrence   composes some of the music and plays a vintage 1916 Gibson mandolin; Ned Boynton,   guitarist,  utilizes a unique open-tuning that enriches the band’s harmonic   tones; Ned Ripple from On the Air, adds   a hot rhythm guitar; Linda LaFlamme sings harmony vocals; and Jeff Martin plucks   and bows the acoustic bass.  The band is also available in smaller ensembles   as a quartet or a trio.
  • 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.
  • Good Friday Service, April 18, 7:30 pm at Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave., Pinole, Area United Methodist Churches will be participating.
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