During the season of Advent which begins this year on Sunday November 29, we will ponder once again The True Gifts of Christmas: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. We especially need each of these spiritual resources during this very challenging time of pandemic and political transition. We begin this Sunday with the precious gift of Hope. For our study together I invite you to read Psalm 130, Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Dear St Andrew’s Members & Friends,
Even though our county has been moved back into the Purple Tier due to a surge in coronavirus cases, which means that we can no longer gather for indoor worship on Sundays, we can still find many reasons to give thanks. How can we give thanks in the midst of this pandemic? We will look for inspiration and guidance from two classic passages from scripture on giving thanks during difficult, anxiety producing times: Habakkuk 3:1-2, 16-19 and Philippians 4:6-13. You can view my message above, Thanksgiving in a Time of Pandemic with special music by our socially distancing choir and musicians.
This week we will struggle with Jesus’ most challenging teaching of all, that we are called to love not just our friends and families, not just our neighbors, but even our enemies. Our main text will be Matthew 5:43-48, but we will also look at some background texts from the Hebrew scriptures: Leviticus 19:17-18 and Psalm 139:19-24. Why should we love even our enemies? What does this look like?
This service includes special music by David Chavez and Paul York.
This Sunday, I invite you to read and ponder once again Jesus’ fundamental teaching on A Blessed Life found in Matthew 5:1-16; these teachings are commonly known as the Beatitudes. They present a sharp contrast with the wisdom of the world. How do you hear his teaching in the context of this pandemic and contested election? How will you choose to live your life?
This coming Sunday, November 1, 2020, is All Saints Day when we remember and honor those in the family of faith that have gone before us. In preparation I invite you to read and ponder this week’s scripture from Revelation 7:9-17 that offers us A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE where a great multitude of God’s saints from every tribe and nation worship before the throne of God and Christ “guides them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” May this glimpse of our ultimate future strengthen us for the living of these days. Amen!
For the past six months, we have all been in a period of “exile” from our normal lives due to the covid-19 pandemic, including exile from attending in person worship at St Andrew’s. Last Sunday a remnant (29 people), following the most recent health guidelines from the county and state, returned from exile to gather for worship in our beautiful sanctuary. It was good to see familiar faces (though masked) and share prayer concerns in person. I hope that those of you who couldn’t be there viewed the video. As we gather again this Sunday, we will hear the Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah to God’s people who were languishing in exile, promising them comfort, healing and restoration in their home (Isaiah 40:1-11). “Comfort, O comfort my people,” says your God. May you experience God’s caring presence and comfort.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 84, one of the psalms of ascent sung by pilgrims making the long journey to the temple in Jerusalem to worship there. “My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God,” he cries out. After 6 long months of being unable to gather for worship in the sanctuary of St Andrew’s because of the covid-19 pandemic, I think we can relate to the feelings expressed in this psalm. While we are able to experience God anywhere, there are certain places that are especially meaningful to us. We too rejoice to be able to worship once again in our special sacred place this Sunday.
This week we will ponder together the meaning for our congregation in the strange vision of the valley of dry bones found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. We have reason to hope as long as God is here for us. We will survive and once again thrive in 2021.
This coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday which we celebrate each year on the first Sunday in October. Can you believe it is already October? Even in this extremely strange pandemic year of 2020, we can still gather to celebrate our unity in Christ, but online rather than in person. You are invited to view this year’s San Francisco Presbytery World Communion Virtual Worship Service rather than another message from me. I hope you will view this service with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the Bay Area.
There is also a zoom service this Sunday at 11 am. You can attend this service by clicking on: https://zoom.us/j/91323378313?pwd=c0xRVHM4cU9PVGRZVmtXWHYvc1VzUT09
I hope you will take advantage of these opportunities.
Dear St Andrew’s Members and Friends,
On Monday I emailed you a letter from my favorite spiritual writer, Father Richard Rohr. In it he offered Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months of pandemic, political dysfunction, social protest, natural disasters, and fighting over the Supreme Court.
I think his words are so on target and wise that for my message today I will just read them to you. Please listen and heed his words. In upcoming messages I will develop this Fall’s Stewardship theme: Survive to Thrive. I am confident that with God’s help we will not only survive these difficult times, but once again we will thrive in our vitality, mission, and service.
So invite you now to sit back and listen for God’s Word to you today, as God’s speaks through Father Richard Rohr, who offers Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months