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Resurrected to our Calling

Feb 28th, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Resurrected to our Calling

One of my absolute favorite Bible stories is from I Kings 19:10-13. It’s the story of Elijah running away from his calling. It’s the story of God being revealed through natural disasters, and finally, bending low to meet Elijah where Elijah wants to meet God–in a whisper of a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah is a bit defensive in his answer, but with good reason! He is, essentially, being hunted by the current king and queen of Israel for challenging their deity and continuing to proclaim God throughout Israel. Elijah is exhausted, he’s ready to die but God’s presence is life and through Elijah’s conversation with God he is renewed and reenters his ministry in Israel.

Why do I love this story? First, it’s so relatable! In our life’s most vulnerable moments we also crawl up in our caves, perhaps it’s under the blankets of our bed, or maybe behind the screen of our computer or cell phone. We also try to escape from the situations and circumstances that are most frightening. And in the midst of our dismal situation, God also comes to us, whispering, “What are you doing here?”

Why do I love this story? Second, God speaks and listens to Elijah. God doesn’t try to explain the situation, or correct Elijah’s feelings–God listens and then God recommissions Elijah to return to his ministry in Israel. Having a good friend listen to me, really listen, when I’m going through a hard time is so valuable. Knowing they won’t try to fix my problem or put in their two cents, rather, they’ll just hear me and try to understand what I’m going through.

God seeks us and finds us, God hears us, and God will bring us into new life.

Compassion

Feb 14th, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Compassion

“Is there anyone deserving of kindness?” This is the question King David asks his advisors after his throne has been established over Israel. And the answer is, “Yes!”

In this story from 2 Samuel 9:1-12 David is remembering his friendship with Jonathan, the son of the previous Monarch, King Saul. David is wondering if there is anyone left from Jonathan’s family that he can provide for despite the decline of Saul and Jonathan’s family years earlier.

As readers, we anticipate that King David’s agenda will be strengthening his throne, perhaps expanding the kingdom, or preparing his children to take over leadership. The last thing King David should want to do is bring potential enemies into the royal court. However, Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, is not only welcomed to the palace, he is welcomed to King David’s own meal table.

According to Google, compassion is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” However, in this story, King David is not merely being compassionate, he is acting like God! King David is looking out for the good of Mephibosheth, providing for him, and showing him love knowing fully that he will never be able to repay the kindness.

On Sunday, we will dive even deeper into this beautiful story of compassionate love, and we will also see how God reaches out to us like King David reached out to Mephibosheth. And, that God’s reaching is even more perfect, even less conditional, even more radical. God does not just put his food on the table for us, God put his own son in our lives so that we could know God truly, intimately, and fully.

Join us this Sunday morning at Glendale Church of the Brethren at 10:45am to learn about compassion, and to learn more about God. 

 

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Beyond our Patterns

Feb 7th, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Beyond our Patterns

This week we will be learning about the cycle of the Judges in Israelite history. The Judges were not as we think of judges today; gown and gavel in hand, but rather normal people called from within the folds of society to remind the Israelites how to be faithful to the work and witness God was calling them to do and be amongst their Canaanite neighbors.

In Judges 2:10-19, we read a summary of the cycle the Israelites and Judges fall into throughout this Old Testament book of the Bible; the Israelites did evil in the yes of the Lord, the Lord’s anger burned against them and the Lord gave the Israelites into the hands of their enemies, the Israelites would cry out in distress to the Lord, the Lord would raise up a judge to save them, but after the judge died the people fell back into sinful patterns and become even worse than they were before….and, the cycle begins again.

Although we cannot draw a direct parallel to our own lives, I do think sometimes I also fall into a pattern of sin, sadness, and forgiveness from God. After all, I am human, and humans sin. On one hand, I see the stories of the judges coming alongside Israel as a word of encouragement; when I do sin, there will be someone to remind me what God’s plan is for me, someone to keep me accountable to God’s sovereignty in my life, and someone to walk alongside me to help me move back into faithfulness with God. On the other hand, this is story about corporate sin and corporate forgiveness–it’s about an entire group of people recognizing their error and corporately turning back to God. This is certainly more tricky!

In an age when news, good and bad, is constantly circulated on Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of news sources, we can easily want to detach from the bad stuff that’s happening in our world. However, the story of the judges reminds us that we are not beyond the mistakes of our own society, and, that God is also not beyond the ears of those who cry out to Him. Within our church we can seek healing and find healing, we can seek reconciliation and find reconciliation, we can seek peace and find peace. The church can be a model in a deeply broken world of the corporate following of Jesus; simply, peacefully, together.

 

Service Sunday

Jan 30th, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Service Sunday

This week all over the US Church of the Brethren congregations will celebrate Service Sunday. This year’s theme is “Grow” and our theme verse is 2 Peter 1:5-8 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

In addition to celebrating the incredible history of service that the Church of the Brethren represents, we will also celebrate the people who continue to serve today. And, as I look outside the pastor’s office at the church it seems that service and growth are all around us. Congregants pitch in to care for our facilities, and care for one another; other folks in the community are able to worship God and the school teaches little ones about loving Jesus; and our camellia bush in the courtyard is in full blossom.

Additionally, we will continue the narrative of God’s salvation history throughout the Old Testament. This Sunday we will meet Rahab, a Canaanite woman who hid two Israelite men when they came to spy on the city of Jericho. Rather than being turned over by Rahab, the spies find refuge in her home and even encouragement. Rahab, an outsider reminds the Israelites of everything their God has done for them, and concludes by saying, “For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:11b). In Rahab we see the service of caring for the stranger, providing hospitality for the vulnerable, and reminding us that when we serve others one of the most important affirmations we can make is that we are actually serving God.

Please join us this Sunday, February 3 at 10:45am in the sanctuary for singing, prayer, scripture and teaching.

Animal Blessing Sunday

Jan 23rd, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Animal Blessing Sunday

On Sunday, January 13, 2019 our church celebrated blessing of the animals.

A Blessing of Animals witnesses to God’s love and the Church’s love, care, and concern for creation. As we recognize our mutual interdependence with God’s creatures, the Church’s witness of the stewardship of creation is strengthened.

Where we’ve come from and where we’re going…

Jan 23rd, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Where we’ve come from and where we’re going…

Since fall 2018, Glendale Church of the Brethren has been walking with God through the Old Testament in eager anticipation to arrive in the New Testament during the Season of Lent.

We began with the story of creation and focused on the seventh day, Sabbath, the day God rested. We learned that as humans we are called to also honor the Sabbath day; to rest in order to be renewed in our relationship with God, and refreshed so that we can continue faithfully doing the work God is calling us to do.

Then we met Abraham—the man God called through blessings and promises. We met his wife Sarah, and later their son Isaac. One Sunday we recalled how Abraham and Sarah were called to be a witness to their neighbors, to faithfully follow and worship God even when their path and goal was unclear.

From the first set of patriarchs and matriarchs we moved forward to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. We watched with awe as Jacob’s name was changed to Israel in a midnight wrestle. With joy, we also claimed and acknowledged that when we encounter God, our names also change, we become sons and daughters of God.

But from acceptance we turned to rejection. We saw with disbelief how Israel’s sons sold one of their brothers, Joseph, into slavery. We sat the tension of reconciliation and anger. Joseph forgave his brothers and so we also acknowledged our own need to forgive and seek forgiveness.

Israel’s sons and their wives and children grew, their flocks grew, and when the Pharaoh who had given Joseph work in Egypt died and the new Pharaoh came into power, he was not nearly as welcoming to the next generation of Israel’s children. The new Pharaoh enslaved the people and required them to work under truly difficult conditions.

It was during this time that Moses, born into an Israelite slave family but adopted into Pharaoh’s own household, was born. Moses’s life in Egypt was violent and after Moses killed an Egyptian slave master he fled to the desert. It was in the desert that Moses became a shepherd and met God one day through a curious event. God moved Moses from curiosity to calling and sent Moses back to Egypt to ask the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go so that they could worship God once more.

The Pharaoh resisted Moses, but after God sent plagues to Egypt—each one worse than the last, the Pharaoh relented. The Israelites left Egypt, but almost as soon as they had gone, the Pharaoh sent his entire army after them. But even in this incredibly vulnerable position, God used a strong wind to blow the Red Sea apart and the Israelites walked through on dry ground while their captors remained behind.

Last Sunday we witnessed as God continued to provide for the Israelites through food in the desert, manna, and also quail. We learned that God provides through huge miraculous events like parting a sea, but also in daily events like food, water, and a place to sleep. All of these things, big and small are held in God’s hands.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and at the end of their wandering they were instructed to give the first fruits of their harvest in the promised land to God. So this Sunday we will create a Remembrance tree, naming the things we are thankful for. We will also remember where our church has come from in the past forty years. And, we will celebrate with the Israelites the joy of giving back to God what God has given to us.

Please join us via our livefeed on Sunday, January 27 at 10:45am PST.

Community Movie Night!

Jan 9th, 2019 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Community Movie Night!

This Friday, January 11 at 6:30pm, please join us for this years first Community Movie Night. We will begin with a spaghetti dinner followed by a movie of the group’s choice! Bring a blanket or slippers to get comfortable in, but most importantly, just bring yourselves!

 

Holiday Meal Celebration

Dec 31st, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Holiday Meal Celebration

Following church on Sunday, December 31, 2018, the entire church gathered to celebrate the holiday season with a potluck. Some of the favorite dishes included Jim incredible brussel sprout salad, Audo’s chocolate cake, Tamales from Lucy, Armenian bread and hummus from Barbara and Hovsep, and the list goes on! And even though the food was incredible, the best part of our celebration was spending time with each other.

Many thanks to all those who helped to coordinate and contribute toward the 2018 Holiday Celebration at Glendale Church of the Brethren!

The Ministry of Reconciliation

Dec 28th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on The Ministry of Reconciliation

Use these clues to guess which biblical character we will be talking about this Sunday, December 30: This person…

  1. …had a special coat given to them by their father
  2. …dreamt significant dreams and could also interpret other people’s dreams
  3. …was sold into slavery by their brothers
  4. …ruled as second in command over Egypt for at least 14 years, probably more
  5. …was reconciled with his family

What’s your answer? You’ll have to attend church this Sunday to make sure you are right!

But, even without knowing this person’s name, we get the idea that they must have been very special. This week we will explore what it means to be called into the ministry of reconciliation like our biblical character. II Corinthians 5:17-21 says , “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

So, In Jesus we have the means to be reconcilers in the world! While forgiveness is hard work, and perhaps reconciliation is even harder, we can turn all the bad things of our life to God. We can refuse to be victims to the things that have burdened us for too long, and instead stand boldly with Jesus to be ambassadors of reconciliation. It is when we are reconciled to God that we can be at peace with others, we must be healed in order to reach out hands of healing into our broken world.

The ministry of reconciliation is difficult and scary, but it is also wonderful! Like watching dead leaves of the previous season fertilize the new seeds of a coming season, so too we reach out into the darkness of a brokenness world and watch as ripples and sparks of peace begin touching those we encounter. This is the faithful work of reconciliation; being reconciled to God, and then turning to share this incredible love with the world. 

JOIN US THIS SUNDAY FOR OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY POTLUCK

Dec 27th, 2018 by Cindy Badell-Slaughter | Comments Off on JOIN US THIS SUNDAY FOR OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY POTLUCK

Come join us this Sunday for our 10:45 Worship Service and our delicious annual Holiday Potluck.  All are welcome to celebrate the holidays and welcome in a happy, healthy 2019.

Interim Pastor Annali Topf