Richmond First United Methodist News and Events
March 29, 2014
Here are my notes from last Sunday’s sermon. Please continue in prayer for the Thompson family as they grieve the loss of their son, Liam.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Dan Damon
Experience, Exodus 17:1-7
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 3-23-14
This is the fourth of four sermons on a methodology for theological reflection called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Today at 2 pm we will have a service in memory of Liam Thompson who was taken from us too soon. We will never be the same. We will experience the community of friends and family coming together to mourn his passing and to remember the many ways that he blessed us while he lived. He will live on in our hearts, and in the hope that springs eternal in faith and love. Experience is a teacher. Some experiences are joyful, some are very sad. Tears are a blessed release in times of sadness or joy. Sharing our experience with others helps us through the hard times and makes our joys more full as well. We experience joy and sorrow in life because we dare to love deeply. We try to make sense of it using our Reason, and as people called Methodists we use the stories of scripture and the traditional interpretations to guide us through the wilderness. A very human question is this: Who are we, and how are we to live? At a time like this some other questions come to mind: Who is God? Is there a God? How can God allow the sadness we experience both here and around the world?
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, said, “Apart from scripture, experience is the strongest proof of Christianity. What the scriptures promise, I enjoy.” We cannot have reasonable assurance [Fanny Crosby, Blessed Assurance] of something unless we have personally experienced it. In a gospel story a man who was born blind says, “One thing I know, I was blind, but now I see.” In our gospel lesson today, the Samaritan woman says, “This man told me everything I ever did.” These people in the gospel stories met Jesus and experienced a dramatic life change. Have you met Jesus in this way? He comes to us today in the experience of the community of faith gathered in worship this morning, and gathered again at 2 pm for a service in Liam’s memory. Experience these meetings, and you will be changed forever. I am talking about the experience of love eternal. Allow it to fill you to overflowing. Share this experience with others. Overcome your shyness and tell others about the love that is so powerful that it can help begin to heal the wounds we feel right now. Tradition established the evidence of faith a long way off. Experience makes it present to all persons here and now. What are you experiencing now? Notice it and, as you are able, let your experience combine with reason. Do not try to be like me in your experience of faith and doubt. Accept yourself. You are lovely. In my humble theological terms, “You are a child of God, loved eternally.” Our faith gives us comfort in times of great sorrow, and courage for the living of these days. Share your experience, strength, and hope with others. Imagine with me a fountain of peace and love springing up into life eternal. Take these stories deep into your soul and let them nourish your creative life. Try this experiment and see what happens.
Retell the Scripture Story
The children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, and pitched their tents in Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. The people therefore chided Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said, “Why do you chide me, and tempt the Lord?” Then the people murmured against Moses saying, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to kill us, and our children, and our cattle with thirst?”
Strike the rock, water comes out…
And Moses called the place Massah [contention], and Meribah [chiding or strife] because the children of Israel tempted the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Both the power and the danger of experience is that it is different for each person. It is real. We can feel it. We personally have our many life experiences, both joyful and painful. But if we focus only on our personal experience, even our personal faith experience, this can lead us onto a strange path of isolation and error. It is when we combine our experience and our reason with the experiences and thoughts of others through the centuries that we begin to benefit from the tradition that tends toward justice in a long arc, and from the scriptures that guide us toward loving actions here and now. In our United Methodist Churches we are talking about biblical obedience as it relates to human and civil rights for the LGBT community. We are following the biblical command to love, rather than the church law which places limits on that love.
Like the characters in the Hebrew scripture and in the New Testament, many of us experience a wrestling match with God. God’s ways are not our ways. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. According to Natalie Sleeth’s “Hymn of Promise” which will open our service this afternoon, there is “something God alone can see.” Our lives do not follow a straight line. We wander in the wilderness, but we have a community of faithful, hopeful, loving people who travel with us. This community helps us, if we can be open to the gifts.
My dear friends, let us love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let us love our neighbor, as we love ourselves. Let us pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. As we use our experience, rooted and grounded in a community of faith, let us proclaim that Love is eternal. This statement seems true to most of us, but it can’t be proved. The statement, “Love is eternal,” joins the temporal and the eternal, the physical and the spiritual. Love is eternal. Love lives again. Jesus lives in us. This is a faith that can help us through the present pain and lead us on with hope. This room is full of love. Experience it, remember it, and talk about what you experienced here today. In this way you will help others to find what they have been looking for— not a doctrine, but a loving way of life.
Let us give thanks for this water in the wilderness,
for days of life and strength,
and let us move on together
toward the land that still flows with milk and honey.
Liam Thompson’s Memorial Service was poignant and funny. We all continue to mourn his loss. I want to thank all of the people who made the service and reception run smoothly from friends and family of Liam to our community and El Sobrante UMC. Everyone worked so hard and in a heartfelt way for our church to accommodate and feed such a large group of people. Thank you.
Lauren McLeod welcomes your prayers for healing.
- Our friend, Arinel Greene, from Easter Hill UMC, is being treated with chemo/radiation for uterine cancer. She is a woman of great faith and welcomes being on our prayer list for healing. If you would like to send her a card: 5326 Conestoga Way, El Sobrante, CA 94803.Please remember her in your prayers.
- Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. 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. The biopsy is negative for cancer!
- Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) is undergoing more medical testing. 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. She is out of the sling most of the time now.
A Study and Survey of the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church will be presented by Pastor Dan Damon and Jean Reynolds for four Sundays, May 18 through June 8 during Adult Sunday School 10 am in Friendship Hall. Anyone interested in joining the church is encouraged to come. Recommendations from the class will be presented at General Conference 2018. Weekly topics in order: 1. General Conference, Jurisdictions, and Central Conferences.2. The Book of Discipline.3.Boards, Agencies and Finances. 4. Education of Clergy and Laity. This is an opportunity to have input into proposals and changes.
Pastor Dan and I attended an informational meeting and dinner at Pinole United Methodist Church March 8. The meeting was mainly an update on events in Camp Liberty. Food delivery has been stopped and there has been no food for 14 days. Medical care is also 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. Please remember them in your prayers. Update: Two food delivery trucks were allowed into Camp Liberty on Thursday. Sporatic food delivery is being allowed; enough to keep people from starving, but not healthy. Medications are not being allowed in.
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. With changes and additions below.
(650) 290-3140 firstname.lastname@example.orgBetty Graham: BettyGraeham@gmail.com
(916) 900-4861 (Nancy’s email is the same)
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, erasers and 7 boxes of crayons. We are having trouble finding 14″ by 16″ cloth bags in heavy duty fabric with no advertising on them.
One Great Hour of Sharing: We will be collecting donations for One Great Hour of Sharing on Sunday, April 6. When you give on this special Sunday, your gifts finance UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) administrative costs so that other monies donated to UMCOR go directly for disaster relief. Please give generously.
Special Sunday, April 6, One Great Hour of Sharing. Your gifts pay administrative costs for UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) so that all other donations to UMCOR can go directly for disaster relief.
Administrative Board Meeting: Thursday, April 10, 7 pm in Friendship Hall.
- United Methodist Women (UMW) meeting, Saturday, April 12, 1-3 pm at Doreen Leighton’s home, 236 Castro St., Point Richmond. Let Doreen know if you are coming: email@example.com.
- 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.
- Staff-Parish Committee Meeting: Sunday, April 13 after church.
- 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.
Easter Sunday, April 20, 8 am Garden Service, 9 am free Community Breakfast, 10 am Sunday School, 11 am Easter Service.
- Junktique is coming! Saturday, May 3, 9am- 3pm. Planning Meeting Sunday, April 6 after church.
If you would like to help in other ways: to price, organize or clean items before the sale or to help move merchandise before, during or after the sale, either Jonathan Swett or Betty Graham would welcome your call or email.
The day of the sale, come early and avail yourself of the bargains and unbelievable one-of-a-kind items. The kitchen will dish up chili, minestrone soup, hotdogs, and pie by the slice at lunchtime to give you strength to stay longer.
Labor Day Weekend: August 29 through September 1st 2014, Stepping Out in Faith, sponsored by the Western Methodist Justice Movement which advocates compassionate US immigration policies, fully inclusive UMC ministries, human rights in the Philippines, a just peace for Israel-Palestine, reproductive justice and more.