Archive for sermon series

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.

Guest Preachers Lead Creekside Crossings Toward Compassion Week

The Bold Service and Social Justice Committee and the Creekside Crossings worship team have arranged a series of guest preachers at our evening services this month to help us thoughtfully prepare for Compassion Week.

September 11: Rod Cardoza, founder and executive director of the Abrahamic Alliance International
The Abrahamic Alliance is a faith-based, nonprofit organization uniting Jews, Christians, and Muslims for active peace building and poverty relief. Rod Cardoza is a cultural, theological, and linguistic anthropologist who has extensively researched Muslim culture and lectures internationally on Muslim-Christian dialogue. His sermon topic will be “Loving Your Muslim Neighbor.”

September 18: Paul Bains, senior pastor at Saint Samuel Church and founder of Project WeHOPE
Pastor Bains is a third-generation clergyman who grew up with a spirit of hope and a heart for the homeless. He founded Project WeHOPE in 1999 with his wife, Cheryl, with the initial goal to strengthen the East Palo Alto community by developing transformational leaders to address the critical issues facing the community. Our Outreach Connection offering this Sunday will be for Project WeHOPE.

September 25: Dave Robinson, executive director of Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC)
CIC offers love to incarcerated children and adults in Santa Clara County through a prison ministry that brings church into local jails and youth correctional facilities, giving inmates hope for and guidance toward a better life with Jesus Christ. By sharing worship, testimonies, and gospel messages, CIC chaplains and volunteers minister to individual needs and present the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen.

Love Does Fall Worship Series

Our fall morning worship series is based on the book Love Does, by Bob Goff. Each week’s theme follows one of the book chapters highlighted in the study curriculum that small groups will be using to discuss how to “do love” in our everyday lives.

September 11: “I’m With You” (Welcome Home Sunday)
Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will give the message, using the scripture text from Matthew 1:18-23. Choirs and Sunday school classes start up for the new school year.

September 18: “Free to Fail”
Pastor Mariellen will preach from John 21:15-19.

September 25: Guest preacher Bob Goff
Love Does author Bob Goff is delivering the message at our three morning worship services. Bob will share how Love in Action is how he lives his life. Invite your family and friends to this inspiring experience! Afterwards, we have the opportunity to join Bob for lunch in Creekside at 12:30pm. We will chat with him and ask him our burning questions. Space is limited, so please register to attend the luncheon.

October 2: “Audacious Love”
Pastor Mariellen will give the message, using 1 John 4:7-12. Holy Communion will be served.

October 9: Compassion Week
There will be no regular worship services on this day. We will be worshipping in our community by “doing love” through hands-on service opportunities! Visit the Compassion Week registration site to learn more.

October 16: “Be Not Afraid”
Pastor Mariellen will preach from Mark 6:45-52. After morning services, a Compassion Week Celebration will be held from noon to 2:00pm in Creekside to highlight our volunteers and partner agencies. Family fun activities are planned.

October 23: “Follow Me”
Pastor Mariellen will give the message. The scriptures are Matthew 4:18-20, Matthew 16:24, and Luke 18:18-22.

Worship Series: To Begin Again

This month, the Creekside Crossings evening worship service (Sundays at 5:00pm) has its own worship series. “To Begin Again: Preparing for New Seasons in Our Lives” follows the prodigal son story of Luke 15:11-32 and explore these topics: wandering from the path, wondering if there’s something better, God’s whisper of “Come back!” and God’s loving welcome. Come explore the story with us!

August 14: Wandering
Our new beginnings often arise out of wandering away from the path we want to be on. Pastor Sam Lewis will give the message.

August 21: Wondering
We wonder if perhaps there is something better, if a new beginning might be possible. Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon will preach.

August 28: Whispering
The voice of God whispers to us, “Come back, come back, come back!” Pastor Dirk Damonte will give the message.

September 4: Welcoming
God welcomes us with open arms and a loving heart, saying, “Welcome home!” Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach. Holy Communion will be offered.

The Big Questions Worship Series

Our next worship series starts July 31 and continues through September 4 at all morning services. We will examine some of the biggest questions of our faith and try to respond in a way that makes sense for this time and this place. Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino has invited people in our congregation to join her in speaking on many of these topics. See the details below.

July 31: What Is the Point of Living?
Pastor Sam Lewis will give the message, using Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23.

August 7: (How) Should We Live Together?
Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino and GroupLife Chairperson Kim Jones will present a dialogue message. The scripture is Colossians 3:14-17. Holy Communion will be served.

August 14: Why Should I Do Anything About Poverty?
Pastor Mariellen and Bold Service & Social Justice Cochair Jan McDaniel will have a conversation about poverty and faith, reflecting on Matthew 26:6-13. Our featured Outreach Connection agency will be Hope’s Corner.

August 21: So What About Hell?
Pastor Mariellen and Steve Moyer will speak together about the concept and meaning of hell. The scripture is Mark 9:43-50.

August 28: Why Do Bad Things, Like Alzheimer’s, Happen to Such Good People?
Pastor Mariellen and Bonnie Bollwinkel will present a dialogue about Alzheimer’s and other life struggles. The scripture text is Proverbs 3:5-6.

September 4: What Happens When We Die?
Pastor Mariellen and Dr. Bill Buchholtz will offer a conversation about death and what happens to us, using Luke 23:42-43. Holy Communion will be offered.

Bob Is Coming Sept. 25!

Get out a pen or your electronic calendar and highlight September 25. No, really: Do it now before you forget. On that Sunday, we will have Bob Goff as our guest speaker in all three morning worship services. Who is Bob? He is a crazy guy who loves Jesus and tells incredible stories. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Love Does. He is a lawyer, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States, and founder of a nonprofit that helps children in Uganda and India. He has an office on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland (read his book for more details). And he is coming to share with us at Los Altos United Methodist Church. The back of his book puts it best: “When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance to make faith simple and real.” We hope you will come on September 25 to hear Bob speak, explore Love Does with us this fall, and invite friends to come, too!

Living Beyond the Borders Worship Series

Five Practices GroupLife medallion largeOur latest worship theme is “Living Beyond the Borders,” a five-Sunday series about how the five practices of discipleship can transform our lives. We will get back to the basics and look at each discipleship practice, as well as how they all integrate into our lives.

June 26: Radical Hospitality
Pastor Debbie Weatherspoon will preach at the morning services and Pastor Dirk Damonte at the evening service. The scripture texts are 1 John 4:19 and Romans 15:7.

July 3: Passionate Worship
Pastor Sam Lewis will give the message at all four services, based on Luke 10:27 and Psalm 84:1-2. Holy Communion will be served at all services.

July 10: Deepening Faith
Pastor Dirk will give the sermon at all four services. The scripture passages are Hebrews 10:24-25 and Acts 2:42.

July 17: Bold Service & Social Justice
Senior Pastor Mariellen Yoshino will preach from Matthew 16:24-25 and 25:40.

July 24: Extravagant Generosity
Pastor Mariellen will give the message, using 2 Corinthians 9:11.

Therefore Go: Resurrected Hearts Lead to Action

Following up on our April worship theme of Resurrected Hearts, we have several opportunities over the next few weeks to listen to and participate in some possible “next steps” of having Resurrected Hearts. Read more below about a letter-writing opportunity and a short series called “Therefore Go” (based on Matthew 28:16-20) at our Creekside Crossings evening worship services.

Bread for the World Letter-Writing
Sundays, April 24 and May 1, 9:00am–12:30pm, Redwood Room
Sundays, May 1 and May 8, 6:00pm, Creekside
Come write letters to Congress advocating for policies that help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Sample letters and addresses are provided. Learn more about this national campaign on Bread for the World’s website. The letters will be blessed during communion at the May 1 morning services and May 8 evening service.

Therefore Go: Mexico
Creekside Crossings, April 24, 5:00pm
The returning team members of our recent Mexico House-Building Trip will lead the way as we transition from the Resurrected Hearts: Testimony theme of the morning services to our new Creekside Crossings worship series. They will share testimonies about their experiences of going to Mexico to build not just a house but community. After the service, enjoy a Mexican feast and learn about opportunities to serve in our local community from our Bold Service and Social Justice Committee.

Therefore Go: Nepal
Creekside Crossings, May 1, 5:00pm
Katherine Parker, a global missionary of The United Methodist Church, will speak about her experiences as a health and community transformation advisor with the ecumenical United Mission to Nepal. Katherine has a unique perspective on transforming Nepali society into the healthy, dignified, and hope-filled communities God intended. Since 2013, she has worked on issues surrounding water, sanitation, and hygiene in remote areas of Nepal. This work was especially critical after the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Prior to her tenure in that country, Katherine was posted with the emerging Methodist Church in Cambodia, where she helped communities with food security, livelihood projects, and access to clean drinking water. (Note: Communion will not be served at this service.)

Therefore Go: Nicaragua
Creekside Crossings, May 8, 5:00pm
For Mother’s Day, we will lift up Casa Materna in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, an organization striving to decrease maternal and infant mortality in rural Nicaragua that LAUMC has long partnered with. Jana Powell will share a reflection about her recent immersion experience there. The Bread for the World letters will be presented as an offering to God as we celebrate Holy Communion.

Resurrected Hearts Worship Series, April 3–24

In April, our worship theme will be about dedicating ourselves to being Easter people, people with resurrected hearts. We will reflect on how as Easter people we can develop servant hearts, using our time, talents, treasure, and testimony to serve a living Christ.

  • April 3: Time, Psalm 90:12-17
  • April 10: Talent, 1 Peter 4:8-10
  • April 17: Treasure, Matthew 6:19-21
  • April 24: Testimony, John 15:26-27

Come find out more about developing the heart of a servant and using the gifts God has given us.