Archive for Advent

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.

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.

Advent Worship and Study Theme: The Uncluttered Heart

Uncluttered Heart book coverThis Advent season, our worship theme and GroupLife’s featured curriculum for small groups will be based on the book The Uncluttered Heart, by Beth Richardson. The Uncluttered Heart will take us through Advent and Epiphany as we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. Each week’s theme is listed below.

November 29: Hope

Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message at the morning services and Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon at the evening service. The scripture is Jeremiah 33:14-16.

December 6: Peace

Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach at the morning services, from Isaiah 11:1-2, 6. Pastor Dirk Damonte will preach at the evening service. Holy Communion will be celebrated at all services.

December 13: Joy

Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message at the morning services. Pastor Sam Yun will preach at the evening service. The scripture is Luke 1:46-53.

December 20: Love

At the morning services, Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach from Matthew 1:18-21, 24-25. At the evening service, Pastor Dirk Damonte will give the message.

December 27: Presence

Update: Seminary student Scott Kimball will give the message at the morning services and LAUMC member Phil Pompei will give the message at the evening service. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message at all four services. The scripture is Isaiah 61:10-11.

January 3: Epiphany

Pastor Dirk Damonte will preach at the morning services. Pastor Sam Yun will preach at the evening service. The scripture is Isaiah 60:1-6.

November Worship Series: Preparing to Prepare

Advent is intended as a time of preparation for Christmas – but when Thanksgiving weekend hits, we often already feel submerged in the busy holiday season! Let us help each other prepare for the season before it starts. Our November worship series is focused on slowing down, getting in the right frame of mind, and becoming spiritually grounded. Come to worship at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:15am, or 5:00pm each Sunday to prepare your heart, prepare your time, and prepare with thanksgiving.

November 8: Preparing to Prepare Our Hearts

We have a special guest preacher this Sunday, author Beth Richardson. She wrote The Uncluttered Heart, which will be the focus of our Advent worship series and small-group study. Come hear her start off our season of preparation, then purchase a copy of her book so she can sign it for you!

November 15: Preparing to Prepare Our Time

Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message at the morning services, using the scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

November 22: Preparing to Prepare With Thanksgiving

Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach at the morning services, from Ephesians 1:15-23.

Advent Generosity: A Different Approach to Christmas

As the Rev. Mike Slaughter writes in Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, “Christmas is a celebration of a miracle, but we’ve edged the miracle worker out of his own birthday. It is time to take it back by planning new traditions that focus on Jesus’ presence, rather than the often-forgettable presents we expect to receive” (page 5).

Advent Conspiracy Is Now Advent Generosity

Four years ago, Los Altos United Methodist Church started a new tradition at Christmas time called Advent Conspiracy. This year, we are again given the chance to grow our spiritual practice of generosity by embracing a new twist on the vision of Advent Conspiracy, which we are now calling Advent Generosity: Worship Fully, Give More, Spend Less, Love All, and Let Go. As the Christmas season approaches, it’s time to Let Go of the exhausting preparations, the chaotic clutter of shopping, spending, and buying stacks of gifts that most of us don’t need. We can transform our focus on receiving into a focus on giving what Jesus would want. “Feed the hungry, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned” (Matthew 25:31-36).

LAUMC is offering a simple way to Let Go this Christmas and put Jesus back in the center of our celebration. Throughout Advent, we suggest that you spend less so that you can worship fully and give more to honor the One whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas. Instead of buying unneeded gifts for everyone on your list, donate on behalf of your friends or family to our Advent Generosity campaign. By making one donation, you will be supporting four worthy organizations in our community and the world. The four organizations/programs are:

Hope’s Corner provides weekly, healthy meals to people in need in the Mountain View area in a warm, friendly and supportive environment. Funds will go toward renovating the kitchen and bathrooms. Learn more here.

Compassion Week 2015 will provide LAUMC congregants and friends with an opportunity to worship through volunteer service in a variety of areas, including poverty, homelessness, education, hunger, the environment, and many more. Funds raised will purchase supplies for these activities. Learn more here.

Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved young men and women in Los Angeles with numerous services and social enterprises with the objective of sharing compassion and God’s love to restore lives and build community. Learn more here.

Hagar International restores to wholeness the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Vietnam who have been torn apart by human rights abuse. Hagar walks the whole journey of protection, recovery, empowerment, and integration with each individual. Learn more here.

To participate, pick up an Advent Generosity envelope at the church office, in the Sanctuary, or in Creekside Center. Put the money you save by not buying unneeded/unwanted gifts in the envelope and return your envelope to the church office or place it in the offering plate by Christmas Eve. (The offering collected during all of our Christmas Eve services will also go to these four programs.) Fill out a gift card for each person you are honoring in this way to give to them for Christmas, letting them know you have made a donation in their behalf. Two gift cards are included in the envelope, and more gift cards are available if you have a long list!

Invite a Friend to Participate in Your Behalf

As you Let Go this Christmas, decide that you will give one of your Christmas gifts to Jesus for His birthday. Choose someone who usually gives you a gift, and talk to them before Christmas. Use an Advent Generosity gift card to let them know that you would like to work together with them to redirect the money that they would have spent on a gift for you to instead feed the hungry, or welcome a stranger, or care for the sick. You will be letting go of that gift and, in the process, inviting someone who cares about you to join you in your practice of Extravagant Generosity, and impact others in need.

This Christmas, experience the peace of knowing that God is truly with us, the joy of giving sacrificially, and the love of a Savior who gave everything he had for us. Let Go of the old ways you have celebrated Christmas and be transformed in the process. Together, let’s Worship Fully. Give More. Spend Less. Love All. And Let Go.

Merry Christmas!