Archive for worship

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.

All Saints Sunday, Oct. 30

All Saints is a day when we recognize the saints of our church. Not only those you may think of as saints—Mother Theresa, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick—but also those Christians who have taught us what it is to follow Jesus. They may not have seemed saint-like their entire life, but they taught us something about who Jesus was to them, and we believe that God was working to perfect them.

On October 30, we will observe All Saints Sunday and read aloud the names of those in our church who have gone on to glory in the last year. Our scripture will be Luke 6:20-31, which contains what are often referred to as the beatitudes. “Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. Rejoice when that happens!” (CEB). We will engage with this text in our worship, including a sermon by Pastor Sam Lewis titled “Wait … What?” and the hymn “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.”

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.

August Outreach Connection: Hope’s Corner

Our featured Outreach Connection agency this month is Hope’s Corner, Inc. People in our community are hungry. Even if employed, people earning minimum wage cannot afford both rent and food. In addition, people who are unhoused need a place to feel welcomed. Hope’s Corner, Inc., addresses these needs every Saturday by providing a nutritious breakfast and bag lunch. Hope’s Corner now serves 250 breakfasts per week on average. The organization also offers free showers and recently expanded the shower program to be open on Thursday mornings as well as Saturday mornings. On Thursdays, Community Services Agency has a social worker on site to help connect guests with the services they need.

On Sunday, August 14, Hope’s Corner board member Kevin Thompson will speak at the morning services and board President Leslie Carmichael will speak at the evening service with updates about what Hope’s Corner offers. You will find donation boxes outside the entrances to the Sanctuary and Creekside. Please give generosity to this growing program.

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.