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

Jan 23rd, 2019 by Pastor Robert | 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 Pastor Robert | 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 Pastor Robert | 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 Pastor Robert | 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

   

Advent Reflections and Christmas Sunday Celebration

Dec 18th, 2018 by Pastor Robert | Comments Off on Advent Reflections and Christmas Sunday Celebration

During the season of Advent we light candles to symbolize Jesus breaking through the darkness and bringing light to the world. At Glendale Church of the Brethren we have been exploring the stories of Jesus’s birth. We learned about Mary and the expectant hope she and all of Israel had for a messiah. We celebrated Joseph’s obedience in the way that he claims Jesus as his own, and in return how God now claims each of us as His children. Last week we got to celebrate everyone being welcomed into the Kingdom of God, from the outsider magi to the salt-of-the-earth shepherds. What we have discovered is that each of these stories teach us about who Jesus is, and that we are also called to be a part of the story.

So for the four Sunday’s of Advent we have also been engaging a special prayer practice to symbolize the light we bring to those around us. On our Advent table we place a bowl with candles inside. As we sing “O Come, O Come Immanuel”, those who wish come up, light a candle for a prayer request or thanksgiving. As the bowl fills with light we remember that as Jesus is the true light that brings hope, love, joy, and peace to a dark world. But we are also reminded that we can cast our light, as we offer our petitions to God, as we serve one another, and as we faithfully remain in relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.

This Sunday, we will be celebrating with a candle lighting service. Our worship service will begin at the normal time, 10:45am, but after welcome and announcements we will read the entire Christmas story together with Christmas carols throughout, and Interim Pastor, Annali Topf, will provide a short reflection. We want to celebrate Jesus being born, and we also want to remember that we still wait for Jesus to come again. Perhaps it is the outsider magi who are our glimpse of the promise, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). Amen. 

Advent: A Season of Waiting

Dec 11th, 2018 by Pastor Robert | Comments Off on Advent: A Season of Waiting

 

Throughout December, Glendale Church of the Brethren, and churches around the world are celebrating the season of Advent. Simply put, advent means waiting for the arrival of something very special. For Christians, the season of Advent is looking forward to the birth of Jesus, the one who brings light into the world. Each Sunday our scripture reader reads part of the Christmas story and lights one candle. Each Sunday an additional candle is lit and by Christmas Sunday all four candles, and the Christ candle at the center will light up the sanctuary. The slow lighting of the candles and the incipient light that follows symbolizes the fulfillment of our waiting, and also symbolizes the light that Jesus brings into the world.

There are many ways to countdown to Christmas each year; one year, when I worked in a Fuller Seminary office my coworker brought each person a Trader Joe’s chocolate countdown book (I think it was more about knowing when vacation started then when the birth of Jesus was scheduled to be celebrated). And, I have seen storefront countdown signs letting people know how much longer they have till Christmas day, putting an emphasis on what we buy and who we buy for during the holidays. There’s also the sight of Christmas tree pop-up stores at CVS and in Ralphs parking lots, the sounds of Salvation Army bells ringing, and the constant stream of Christmas music on the radio and in stores. It seems that Americans are all about “counting down” to Christmas. 

However, the church pushes back against this “count down”, instead we are “counting up”! A new candle is lit each week, a new part of the Christmas story unfolds each week, more light is brought into the world. Love, hope, joy, and peace are shared for a new way of life; life that is ordered by Jesus where the “poor in spirit, receive the kingdom of heaven” Where “those who mourn are comforted” Where “the meek inherit the earth” and the “ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled” Where the “merciful are shown mercy” and the “pure in heart, see God”. Where “the peacemakers are called children of God and those persecuted receive the kingdom of heaven.” These are Jesus’s order for our new way of life, or the Beatitudes as they are commonly referred to. So we counting up to the time when our savior, messiah, Lord, and redeemer is born so that all can be put right in the world. 

We celebrate with Mary the blessing of being chosen. We celebrate with Joseph compassion and grace. We celebrate everyone being welcomed into the Kingdom of God; from the elite, educated Wisemen to the salt-of-the-earth hardworking Shepherds. Most of all, we are counting up to Jesus’s birth. In December, I hope we will learn with greater clarity that each of these stories is about Jesus.

BDM and Pacific Southwest District respond to California’s Camp Fire

Nov 19th, 2018 by Pastor Robert | Comments Off on BDM and Pacific Southwest District respond to California’s Camp Fire

California’s Camp Fire, so named because it started along Camp Creek Road, is the deadliest wildfire in California’s recorded history. It began on the morning of November 8, 2018 and quickly engulfed the town of Paradise, destroying all but a very few buildings. Residents had to flee for their lives. A total of 52,000 have been evacuated from the fire area. One week later, the fire was only 45 percent contained but had already covered 142,000 acres and destroyed nearly 12,000 structures, most of which were single-family homes. The death toll as of November 15 was 63, however the list of missing people was rising quickly, reaching over 630 at that point.

One of the structures destroyed in the fire was the Paradise Church of the Brethren, also known as the Paradise Community Church, along with its other buildings, including the parsonage. The pastor was able to evacuate but their home and belongings were destroyed.

Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Pacific Southwest (PSW) district of the Church of the Brethren are working closely together to respond to this disaster. Children’s Disaster Services was requested by the State of California Emergency Services to serve the Camp Fire survivors in a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Chico, Calif. Eight volunteers were deployed on November 16 to provide childcare for families who visit the DRC in search of assistance to begin their process of recovery. The American Red Cross is providing some support to CDS on this deployment. Brethren Disaster Ministries is communicating with PSW district Executive Russ Matteson and with partner agencies on the ground to determine how it might respond in other ways. A long-term response, including rebuilding, will be needed.

The Pacific Southwest District is collecting funds to provide direct support to the pastor and other members of the Paradise Church of the Brethren as they recover from the Camp Fire. Contributions can be sent to:

Pacific SW District Church of the Brethren (PSWD COB)
PO Box 219 La Verne, CA 91750
Please note “Paradise Fire”.

Donations to support the Children’s Disaster Services response and Brethren Disaster Ministries’ long-term recovery response in Paradise, Calif., and other areas in northern California impacted by the Camp Fire, can be sent to:

Emergency Disaster Fund
Church of the Brethren
1451 Dundee Ave.
Elgin, IL 60120

Please note “Camp Fire Response”

As the fire rages on, and in the months of recovery following, please continue to lift up in prayer the survivors of this devastating event as well as the first responders, including CDS volunteers.

District Conference Sharing

Nov 19th, 2018 by Pastor Robert | Comments Off on District Conference Sharing

On Sunday, November 18, Cindy Slaughter and Tia Hong took time to share about their time at Pacific Southwest District’s (PSWD) annual district Conference. Both Cindy and Tia reflected about how the business meetings, insight sessions, and worship services all contained the true spirit of hospitality and friendship that is so embodied by the Church of the Brethren denomination. While the important work of business discussions and denominational work occurred, it was the deepening friendships and joy of a family reunion-like environment that will be most cherished.

Additional information about PSWD’s District Conference can be found here.

Living in an the Upside Down Promise

Nov 18th, 2018 by Pastor Robert | Comments Off on Living in an the Upside Down Promise

“What is one thing God is calling me to leave behind so that I can live out my Christian calling without boarders?”

That is the question we will be asking one another this Sunday. We will be considering this question through the lens of Abraham and Sarah, and God’s blessings given to them throughout the book of Genesis.

Why are we focusing on Abraham and Sarah? Well, God’s blessings to them included many descendants, and Abraham and Sarah were barren! God’s blessing to them included having land, Abraham and Sarah were wanderers. God’s blessing to them included the entire world knowing them, but Abraham and Sarah slipped in and out of communities seemingly without effect or lasting impact. It seems that for each blessing, Abraham and Sarah have a long list of reasons why these blessing will never come into fruition.

This coming week we will enter this story without knowing how it really ends. We will challenge ourselves to imagine just one thing that we may need to leave behind to live into the faith God calls us to. To live into the promises that God has promised us. To wander, at God’s mercy, and be assured of God’s faithfulness, as we also wait for God’s blessings to be fully realized in our own lives.

Hebrews 12:1, NIV

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”