Archive for Worship & Music

Handbell Musicians Wanted

Alleluia Ringers is looking for musically inclined folks to play handbells large and small. Rehearsals are Mondays, 7:00–8:30pm in the Choir Room. Many handbell musicians start on other instruments or come from a vocal background—it is easy to learn the basic techniques for ringing bells! If you are looking for a new way to get involved at church, enjoy fellowship with a wonderful group of people, learn amazing music, and perform it for the congregation, we would love to have you. No commitment is necessary on your first visit: Come try us out for a week. You will be compensated for your time with joy, laughter, playful banter, oranges, and occasionally avocados. Contact Alleluia Ringers Director Scott McGlasson (559-303-8106) with questions.

Lent Worship Series: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Our Lent worship series is “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” The lectionary for Lent this year offers many images of where love, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, healing, can REALLY be found. And usually it is not in the usual places. Isn’t it as true of us today as it was of the scriptural authors? Don’t we often look for wholeness and happiness (love) in places that offer only temporary good feelings and satisfaction? Lent is a wonderfully reflective time to reassess where we are searching for meaning, for redemption. We’ll move through the lectionary to find out who offers the real deal.

March 5: Look for the Resistor

The story at the center of our look for love this week is the story of the temptation of Jesus in the desert after his baptism found in Matthew 4:1-11. In this story we see the futility of looking for love in the things that only provide temporary satisfaction, in seeking empty highs, tempting fate, and in mindless adoration. Rather, as Jesus demonstrates, it is in our resistance to evil that we find true communion with God. Resistance to evil starts with our own confession of complicit acts that move us further from love. Our groaning can turn to “glad cries of deliverance” as we choose good over evil time after time—even and especially if it isn’t the popular thing to do.

March 12: Look for the Helper

Oftentimes we believe that we must “deserve” the love we receive. We work, work, work to get approval and to feel like our life is justified—pulling our own weight, thinking that whatever life we create and love we get is only what we ourselves can conjure up. But John 3:1-17 offers the image of God as our “keeper”—always helping, always present. Nicodemus, a Pharisee who comes to Jesus for advice in the middle of the night, has followed all the rules and done everything HE can do, and yet he is still looking for love—for tangible connection with God. Jesus says that he must be born “of the Spirit.” It’s not all up to him! It’s not all up to simply “doing the right thing”! It is about allowing the Spirit to help birth love in our lives, having faith that the Spirit of God is always present and urging us to choose love. For “God so loved the world” that God birthed into the world a Son (Love) that would embody the grace we can count on.

March 19: Look for the Thirst-Quencher (Confirmation Sunday)

The Samaritan woman at the well found out that the water she came for was not really the water she needed so desperately. This woman had looked for love in many places, in many faces and when finally offered a soul-quenching love by Jesus, she became a powerful messenger of Good News. Just as the water given by God that flowed in the desert for the Israelites offered new life, the desert of our lives can be refreshed if we look for love regularly at the well of living water and offer life-giving water to others. This Sunday, we will also celebrate with those eighth graders who joined as members of the church at the previous evening’s Confirmation Service. Holy Communion will be offered at all services.

March 26: Look for the Shepherd

We too often look for security (love) in powerful figures, sure that they can “fix” things for us. It was no different for the people of the First and Second Testaments. They were looking for kings, saviors, or liberators who would offer peace and security in uncertain times. And they often looked “in all the wrong places.” The story of Samuel looking for God’s appointed ruler among the sons of Jesse is a case in point. The youngest son, a “ruddy” boy out taking care of the sheep, turns out to be the one (David). So, too, the Pharisees just can’t believe that this trouble-maker, rule-breaker named Jesus is the One, the Son of God and Savior. Time and again Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd to teach us how we ought to love and care for each other. No wonder: the Shepherd does what is needed, when it is needed, regardless of the “rules.” Our scripture will be Psalm 23.

April 2: Look for the Liberator

Sometimes the things we think offer love actually seek to bind us, preventing us from being full and whole and offering our best love to the world. In John 11:32-45, the story of Lazarus, whose funeral shrouds trail him out of the tomb, offers us a metaphor of new life as we recognize that true love is that which unbinds us, that which wants for us more, not less, freedom and life. Jesus says to us, “Come out!” Walk! Live! Love! Shed your funeral clothes and offer your deepest self, your deepest love, for the world. Of course this kind of love can be dangerous, as we will see as the events of Holy Week loom closer. But the price of continuing to look for love in the wrong places is higher than the blessing of life lived boldly. Come out! Walk! Live! Love! Note: Holy Communion will not be offered this week.

April 9: Look for the King (Palm Sunday)

We will celebrate Palm Sunday with the traditional palm processional, as we enter into Holy Week together. The scripture will be Matthew 21:1-11.

Ash Wednesday, March 1: Looking For Love

This year, we will hold a short service of Holy Communion and imposition of ashes at 5:00pm on Ash Wednesday, March 1, in the Sanctuary, then continue to offer communion and the imposition of ashes to all until 8:00pm. Come when you can; come as you are.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a marker of the beginning of a journey of self-reflection and discernment, originating in the 11th-century church. The journey of repentance is about “turning around” (the origin of the word repentance) so that we might be in right relationship with God—in a sense, we are looking for love once again. The scriptures invite us to spiritual practices of discernment such as praying and fasting, but not for the sake of looking good (for our sake). Rather, we are to do our work for the sake of the world—to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free. When we look to God for love (not simply for approval), and start with our own turning, we participate in the turning around of the world.

Scout Sunday, Feb. 12

A Scout Is ReverentOn Sunday, February 12, we will honor our affiliated Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops along with all scouts during our worship services. All scouts are invited to wear their uniforms to one of our worship services. Services are at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:15am, and 5:00pm.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be giving witnesses of faith and serving in worship in various ways. At the morning services, the sermon will be a dialogue on “What Is Required?” between Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon and Eagle Scout Nicholas Trautman, an active youth member of our church. The scripture basis of their joint message is Micah 6:8. At the evening service, Pastor Dirk Damonte’s sermon will be about “Convergence.”

Africa Sunday, Jan. 29

Come to worship services this Sunday for our annual celebration of our church’s ties to Africa. The guest preacher at our services on January 29 is James H. Salley, the associate vice-chancellor for institutional advancement for Africa University. We will also have special music from our choirs, a special offering, and the United Methodist Women’s Sale-Abration fund-raiser.

An important aspect of our Africa Sunday celebration is raising money for the African Student Education Fund. What started in 2005 as a decision by our United Methodist Women to help a young African woman with university tuition payments has developed into a major commitment for LAUMC. Twelve years later, we have helped 53 women to pursue a higher education! The cost to educate one student at Africa University (a United Methodist institution) is $5,645 per year (including tuition, room and board, and other fees). Our fund supports each of our students with a partial scholarship of $2,823. This school year we are supporting 10 women at Africa University. Once we begin supporting a student, we hope to continue our support through her graduation.

To continue to provide 10 partial scholarships for the next academic year, we need to raise $28,230. You can contribute to this important effort by giving generously during our special collection and/or by shopping at the Sale-Abration. Please make checks payable to LAUMC with “African Student Education Fund” on the memo line or donate online, designating your donation to the African Student Education gift fund.

Christmas Eve Services

Join us in the Sanctuary at Los Altos United Methodist Church for one of our special services on Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24). You can also watch the live Christmas Eve services online. Descriptions of each service are below.

Christmas Eve service times at LAUMC

3:00pm – This will be a traditional family service. Nursery care is available for children up to age 2, but all children are welcome in the service. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will have a special gift for the children.

5:00pm – This will also be a traditional family service. This service will be interpreted for the deaf. Nursery care is available. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will have a special gift for the children.

7:00pm – This will be a contemporary family service. The youth choirs will sing. Nursery care is provided. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will have a special gift for the children.

9:00pm – This will be a traditional candlelight service.

11:00pm – This will be a traditional candlelight service.

Christmas Sunday

Since Christmas day is on a Sunday this year, we will also have one service on Christmas morning, at 10:00am in the Sanctuary. This will be a fun and casual service with lots of Christmas music!

For more information about our services, please contact the church office at (650) 948-1083.

The Longest Night, a Service of Solace

For many of us, Christmastime isn’t the Hands holding candlehappiest time of the year. The loss of a loved one (recent or not), financial stress, life transitions, depression, and many other factors can contribute to our not feeling cheery, expectant, or like we believe we “should” feel during this time. But Advent and Christmas are not seasons only for the joyous – there is space and a place for everyone in this sacred season.

Those who are suffering in their hearts during this season are invited to join us on Monday, December 19, at 7:30pm in the Sanctuary for The Longest Night, a special service for those who need a place where they can be welcomed into the season exactly as they are, without having to put on a holiday face. It is also a service for anyone who would appreciate a little calm, reflective time of peace and worship in the midst of the hectic pace of the season. God comes to us wherever we are – even in our grief, even in our pain – and there is a place for you in this season, too.

Childcare will be available during the service, and refreshments will be served afterward. For more information, contact the church office at 650-948-1083.

Not a Silent Night Advent Worship Series

Our Advent and Christmas worship series this year is taken from Adam Hamilton’s book Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem. The series looks at Jesus’ life through the eyes of his mother, Mary, working backwards from the resurrected Christ to the birth of a baby in a humble setting. This reverse focus will help us examine the significance of Jesus’ birth through the lens of his life, death, and resurrection.

November 27: Beginning With the End
In Acts 1:8-14, Mary is named among those who formed the community of Jesus’ disciples after his ascension. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message at the morning services and Rev. Sam Lewis at the evening service.

December 4: The Piercing of Mary’s Soul
Pastor Mariellen will preach from Luke 2:33-35 at the morning services and Pastor Dirk Damonte at the evening service. Holy Communion will be offered at all services.

December 11: Amazed, Astounded, and Astonished
One of the few stories of Jesus as a child is found in Luke 2:41-51, where Jesus visits the teachers in the temple without his parents’ knowledge. Pastor Mariellen will give the message at the morning services and Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon at the evening service.

December 18: Mary, Full of Grace
In Luke 1:26-33, the angel Gabriel brings a message to Mary. Pastor Mariellen will preach at the morning services and Rev. Sam at the evening service.

December 25: It Was Not a Silent Night
This year Christmas falls on a Sunday! Come spend an hour with your church family to celebrate. We will hold one service, at 10:00am, in the Sanctuary (no evening service). Pastor Mariellen will give the message from Luke 2:1-7, the telling of the Christmas story.

January 1: Now What?
Christmas and the baby are here, the new year is here, but has anything really changed? Isn’t the world just as troubling as it ever has been? Christmas is here – now what? Rev. Sam will preach from Matthew 2:13-23. On New Year’s Day we will also have only one service, at 10:00am in the Sanctuary.

January 8: Epiphany
Pastor Mariellen will give the message, using Matthew 2:1-12.

Thanksgiving Eve Service, Nov. 23

Thanksgiving Food AltarThe Thanksgiving Eve service, held this year on November 23 at 7:30pm in the Sanctuary, is one of the most heartwarming services of the year. Our two youth choirs, Lightshine and Starfire Singers, lead us in worship through song. Pastor Dirk Damonte will share the message. Please bring nonperishable foods and/or men’s or women’s knit caps, socks, scarves, and gloves. The collected food and clothing will be donated to Community Services Agency.

Told You So Worship Series, Nov. 6–20

Advent is the season of preparing for the birth of Christ, and for the last few years, Los Altos UMC has used a pre-Advent worship series in November to “prepare to prepare.” The commercial holiday season comes upon us so quickly, by December 1 it seems Christmas is already here! By “preparing to prepare” in November, we set ourselves up in a better frame of mind for an intentional Advent season of true preparation.

This November, our worship series has the theme “Told You So: Preparing for the Coming of the Christ.” The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies that point to the coming of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. In a sense, these prophecies were the Hebrews of the time “preparing to prepare” for Christ’s coming. As we prepare for our annual celebration of Christmas, how do these prophecies speak to our culture, our community, and our context today? We know what we are preparing for, or think we know. How do these prophecies help us really know what to prepare for?

November 6: God With Us. The scripture for this week is Isaiah 7:14, one of the sections that is used in the New Testament to claim Jesus as the anointed one the people were waiting and hoping for. As we prepare once again to prepare our hearts to make room for Jesus, we turn our attention back to the realization that in Jesus, God is with us. Maybe we have forgotten that. Maybe we’ve just been too busy to notice that. Maybe things have happened that make it difficult to believe that. God’s promise to the people of Isaiah’s time is still God’s promise to us today: God is with us, and we know that through the incredible gift that we are preparing for, the gift of Jesus Christ. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach at the morning services and Pastor Dirk Damonte at the evening service. Holy Communion will be offered at all services.

November 13: Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting. Isaiah 9:6 is another section of Isaiah that is viewed through New Testament eyes as pointing to the birth of Jesus the Messiah. (It is hard to read this passage without hearing the music of Handel’s Messiah echoing in our hearts!) What is amazing about this passage is these descriptions of the one God is sending: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This one whom God sends, this Jesus, is all these things and so much more! As we prepare our hearts to realize the depth and scope of this gift from God, we see that this Messiah is a Messiah for all time, and we can put all of our trust in him. Have we done that? Have we gotten away from that? Do we doubt that? In our preparing to prepare, we reflect on the ways that God’s love lives in these attributes of Jesus. We can put all of our trust in him! Pastor Mariellen will give the message at the morning services and Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon at the evening service.

November 20: The Spirit Is Upon Us. Luke 4:16-21 tells us that Jesus himself quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, and concluded by saying “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled.” Preparing to prepare for Jesus to (re)enter our hearts and lives means recognizing that this good news, healing, justice and release comes through Jesus. John Wesley liked to go further than these two verses and point out that Isaiah goes on to include more categories of the marginalized that God’s Spirit is reaching out to. John Wesley considered this a mandate for all of Jesus’ followers. As we prepare to prepare, we are being called into deeper relationship with God’s creation through Jesus Christ. Pastor Mariellen will preach at the morning services and Pastor Dirk at the evening service.