Are you a good listener? Do you listen when you pray, or do you fill the time with instructions for God? When I was a boy, I had a long prayer list, and I asked God for a lot of things. Now that I am older, I listen more. I feel that God knows my needs before I ask. I listen for a sermon each week. I listen for hymn texts and tunes like the one we sang today about faithfulness, passion, and joy. I trust God as I work with this faith community for human rights, for love in action, and for a just world.
I read the Bible and look for lessons that will help in that process. I honor those through the centuries who have struggled with some of the same questions: Who are we, and how are we to live? What is the nature of God? Where did we come from? Where are we going?
What does it mean to claim to hear the voice of God, when many who make that certain claim terrify me with their violent and hateful actions? Can we test the truth with love and kindness, mercy and compassion? I think, with humility, we can say that God is love. We can say that whatever is not from love, is not from God and is not true religion, but is some quest for power masquerading as faith.
Retell the Scripture Story
Samuel learned to hear God’s voice in our reading today from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. Let’s see how the story is told…
Samuel learning to listen, wakes up in the night,
He goes three times to Eli.
The old man figures it out. He says stay in bed and say,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.” NRSV
Samuel learned to listen. He had a long career, eventually anointing the first two kings of Israel.
In the gospel lesson today we heard the story of the call of Philip, and the interaction with Nathaniel (an Israelite in whom is no guile). Jesus implies that Nathaniel’s shallow conversion experience is not enough. If he follows Jesus, he will see and experience greater things than this. Responding to the call of Jesus involves a radical change of heart and life, acceptance of higher calling than service to one’s own needs and desires.
With this brief look at the lessons for today, I’d like to return to the image of Jesus in the Jordan. I want to remember my baptism as I hear the call and follow on. I want to give thanks for the deep connection that is symbolized in the sacrament, the connection that sustains us in the wilderness. This week Nancy Compton sent me an e-mail reminder of my sermon from eight years ago. Listen to part of what I heard and shared on January 14, 2007.
The Waters of Baptism
When one is hurting, all are hurting.
When one loses, all lose.
The waters of baptism run deep:
deeper than membership,
deeper than anger,
deeper than hurt feelings,
deeper than betrayal,
deeper than illness,
deeper than the caring of the best or worst minister
Until the deepest need is met,
the waters of baptism flow
until a way is found
for all God’s children to have what they need.
This is what it means to be part of a baptized community.
It is a permanent condition.
Remember your baptism.
Be grateful, work, and pray.
Express your love to those who are outside.
Invite them to grow, to heal, to live.
The waters of baptism run deep:
deeper than parents,
deeper than grandparents,
deeper than denominational divides,
deeper than songs, hymns, and chants,
deeper than red states and blue states.
deeper than blue coats and gray.
The waters of baptism are sometimes murky:
for those we love,
for those we struggle to love,
when the way is no longer clear,
when a church closes,
when we choose a new religion,
or no religion,
in illness, in addiction,
in accident, in arrest,
The waters of our baptism can be murky.
They were murky and muddy
when Jesus stepped into the Jordan with John.
The waters of our baptism can be cold.
They were cold for me…
They were a little nicer for Cecilia, baptized today.
Till the cold waters of our baptism
become the warm waters of compassion for all,
till the hurting child has what it needs,
till in brokenness we find wholeness,
till the captives are set free,
We will gather for prayer,
we will work for justice,
we will listen, love, and learn.
we will remember our baptism,
we will sing songs of hope and healing.
until God calls us home.
This is the work of the church.
Let us be in prayer.
Joys and Concerns
Lauren McLeod welcomes your prayers for healing.
Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) up date: Sandra is doing well. She just had her stitches removed so her abdomen is less tender. Sandra has a good support system there including her son, Robert and an excellent Case Manager.She will be meeting with the oncologist next week to plan for chemotherapy. She awaiting the results of a swab of drainage from the wound for possible infection.Please keep her in your prayers for healing.
Molly Smith is requesting prayers for her brother who has been treated for a brain tumor for several years and has recently entered the Hospice program. Prayers for his family and her brother as they go through this very difficult time.
Deby McFadyen is asking for prayers for her father, Jack McFadyen, who has lung cancer. Currently he is doing well.
Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. Update: Linda has developed serious cognitive issues and has been falling frequently. She has been admitted to Greenridge Skilled Nursing Facility in El Sobrante for intensive therapy to attempt to improve her brain/body coordination so that she can return safely to home. She is in room 20 bed B and should have a phone by Saturday pm. Phone: 510 367 8986.
Robbie Robinson would appreciate your prayers.
Helen Wysham welcomes your prayers for healing as she undergoes chemotherapy.
Please keep the people of Camp Liberty in your prayers as chaos reigns in Iraq and near the camp.
The General Board of Church and Society sends a newsletter every week highlighting the various issues the church is addressing. Current issues such as Terrorism, Human Trafficking, Human Justice and this weekend the first seminar on Drone Warfare is being held at Princeton University. It is encouraging to see that people of faith are working so hard to make the world a better place. The email address to sign up to receive the news is: umc-gbcs.org.
Don’t forget that donations for Imagine No Malaria are always welcome.
How are we doing? The Administrative Board met on Thursday evening and the final figures for our general budget are available. The great news is that we made our budget! We can’t thank you enough for your generosity to our church. Between our fundraising events and your gifts to the church and our faith that we could do it, and we did.
Saturday, January 24, 11 am to 1 pm. Workshop with Julian Smedley, ” Sources of Jazz Violin”. First in a series of master classes/workshops designed to bring bowed instrument players and aficionados face to face with the finest and most stylistically varied jazz violinists available. More information and advance tickets $30 at prjazz.org. Tickets at the door $45. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St. Point Richmond.
Friday, January 30, 7:30 pm: Pinole UMC presents Arnel De Pano in Concert. He is a singer, songwriter and Papuri Artist from the Philippines. Admission is free. Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave., Pinole. Flyers in Friendship Hall.
Saturday, January 31, 1pm, Finance Committee Meeting, at Jennifer and Matthew Foster’s home, 1052 Hawthorne Dr., Rodeo, CA.
Saturday, January 31, 7:00 pm “A Spiritual Experience: Indian Classical Music and Dance” which is a fundraiser for Developing Indigenous Resources working with a poverty stricken slum in northern India to improve health, education and income. Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Lawson Road, Kensington. Donations $20 but no one will be turned away. Flyers in Friendship Hall.
Friday, February 6, 7:30 pm. The Konevets Quartet from St. Petersburg, Russia, is presenting an evening of Russian choral music and chamber music. This male quartet has performed worldwide with great acclaim over their blending of voices and creation of a beautiful sound. Check them out at konevetsquartet.com with links to utube and hear their sound. Tickets are $15. El Sobrante United Methodist Church, 671 Appian Way, El Sobrante.
Friday, February 6, 6:30-9:30 pm, Lunafest, short films by. for and about women. These are new films. Kala Art Institute and Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. This is the old Heinz Ketchup factory, corner of Ashby and San Pablo. Entrance is the middle of the building facing San Pablo Ave.. The Gallery is on the first floor just to the left of the entrance, three stairs at the entry with a sturdy railing. Street parking or large parking lot behind the building that can be entered from Ashby or 9th St. behind Berkeley Bowl West. Refreshments at 6:30, films at 7:00 pm. This is a fundraiser for Zonta Club who supports fighting breast cancer and human trafficking. Tickets are #25 on line and $30 at the door. Men are welcome.
Saturday, February 7, 9:30 am to 4 pm, Bridges District Revival. Come for a day of opening your hearts to God’s love. Come and receive the gift of spirit worship through prayer and song. Main speaker is Bishop Warner Brown. Special collection for Imagine No Malaria. Fairfield Community Methodist Church, 1875 Fairfield Ave., Fairfield, CA. $10 donation to cover refreshments and lunch. See flyers in Friendship Hall.
Friday, February 13, 7:30 pm, Point Richmond Acoustic presents Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman. Melody is from the Bay Area and Jacob is from the Blue Ridge Mountains which makes their music a unique blend of styles. Winners of the Chris Austin Songwriting at MerleFest, and Telluride and Rocky Grass Competitions with their Bluegrass project, Front Country. Mike Witcher is a fantastic Dobro player. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Point Richmond. Tickets on line $15 at the door $20. For more information and ticket purchase: pointacoustic.org.
Saturday, February 14, 1-3 pm, United Methodist Women Meeting at Doreen Leighton’s home, 236 Castro St. Point Richmond. All women of the church are welcome.
Sunday, February 22, 10 am, Celebrating Fruitfulness and Faithfulness with Bishop Warner Brown. Inspirational preaching by Bishop Brown, Cal/Nev Conference Bishop as well as President of the Council of Bishops speaking about the areas of fruitfulness and faithfulness that he is most excited about. Town Hall style of Q&A time led by the Bishop. Taylor Memorial UMC, 1188 12th St, Oakland. Reception following at 2 pm at Epworth UMC, 1953 Hopkins St., Berkeley. Flyers in Friendship Hall.