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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

In tough times

In tough times, the first thing to go is your sense of humor. To face evil, oppression and injustice every day tends to make one exhausted and cynical. The stories of climate crisis and disaster, financial malpractice and casual glorified violence wear the most faithful proclaimer of Jesus’ grace down. As I look around the community, folks appear worn out and definitely sans good humor. One of my friends smiled at me this week and declared, ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ She spoke it in a hush, so as not to draw attention from the committee meeting in progress. Her comment reminded me of a T-shirt my mother had when I was growing up that said the same thing. There is something heartening about remembering a Sandra Boynton cartoon of turkeys sitting on an elephant. It is enough to make me laugh, remembering my Mom wearing such a silly cartoon and cleaning the house on a Saturday morning and singing along to Linda Ronstadt. Humor is healing! The expression ‘laughter is the best medicine’ offers wisdom for the ages. No matter what age you are, laughter fights stress, anxiety, fear and pain. Norman Cousins, an author, professor, and journalist, believed that the biochemistry of emotion through laughter was the key to combating illness. He used laughter (as well as a megadose of Vitamin C) to fight his heart disease and manage his arthritic condition. Hunter Campbell, M.D., the American physician whose life inspired the 1998 movie “Patch Adams” opened a free hospital in a six-bedroom home, to pilot a health care facility through which thousands of patients received humor-infused care over twelve years. That experiment evolved into the Gesundheit Institute which currently offers volunteer programs like humanitarian clowning trips to hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps and prisons. I could talk about the biological impact of humor here, but better for you to google studies online, or better, google some jokes to make you laugh. Have you noticed humor in the scriptures? Job (a rather serious book) describes an ostrich in Job 39:13-18. Verse 17-18 say, ‘because God has made it forget wisdom, and given it no share in understanding, when it spreads its plumes aloft, it laughs…’ And then there is the prophet Jonah. Jonah runs from God, is rescued from drowning by spending three days in the belly of a fish. And then Jonah complaining about God’s rescue of Nineveh from destruction, throws a tantrum about a vine dying that was offering him shade. In Jonah 4:9 he complains about the vine saying, ‘I am angry enough to die.’ Seriously Jonah, over dramatic much? And did you ever read Proverbs 27:14? I wish I had this scripture when I was a young person with parents that took joy in waking me with a loud voice! “Whoever blesses a neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” If you are not a morning person…there’s a little biblical support for you! Ha! Does the Bible have humor? Sure it does. Genesis 18 tells the story of Sarah overhearing the news that she will bear a child. Verse 12-13 say, ‘So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure? The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’” Can you imagine the senior Sarah receiving word she’d bear a child? There is humor in the bible and even laughter. I believe that God has a sense of humor and planted that same joy of life and laughing into humanity. How else would we be able to laugh? ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ There are mean-spirited yellers who show up when and where you least expect them. The news is filled with sadness and despair. Even so, God offers joy and laughter as medicine for your soul. Don’t give your life away or let your sense of humor rust in the rain! Take time for laughter! Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann


You are never too old…

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream,” according to C.S. Lewis. My dream is for the Kingdom of God to be realized at our church…within our congregation. The Kingdom of God is like the best buffet you can imagine, where everyone is cared for and nourished. I dream that our work at the church connects us with Jesus and sends us out into the world to offer hope for those who are hungry, lonely and lost. Worship is one big piece of claiming the Kingdom of God in our midst. In August we will be having ONE worship service on Sundays at 10 am. The goal is to have the whole congregation together so that we can share fellowship, build relationships and witness to our faith. It will be what 
some call a ‘blended’ experience meaning that some of the weeks we will have band music and other weeks we will have more traditional music. Some weeks we will share in formal liturgy and other weeks it may be more extemporaneous. I hope you will open your heart and come be a part of the community. August is the time to try new things and meet new people. Marcia McFee, a worship coach and planner, says that ‘worship is as necessary to our lives as breathing.’ Christians are people who have received and continue to receive the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is God realized in our time. McFee says that worship is a time to in-spire (breathe in the spirit of God), ex=pire (breathe out the hurts and pains of the week) and con-spire (breathe with the family of God). The work of God’s Spirit is active and constant and physically within us. The work of worship is a part of this Spirit Respiration we do every week. The mission of the church universal is to make disciples of Jesus and send them out into the world to do ministry. Worship is the fill-up station for disciples to be made and empowered to go out into the world. It is the Holy Oxygen center where we receive breath into our body, both individually and corporately. The journey of discipleship is learning about God and Jesus from the lessons of the Bible for today’s world. It is a challenging world we live in and we all relate to it a little differently. So different worship experiences and songs will speak differently to each of us. I invite you to come to worship in August. Come to see your faith family and experience a variety of worship. The Kingdom of God is realized when we join together, work together, and offer one another the grace of Jesus. Let us celebrate in the month of August in worship! Amen. Grace and peace to you!

Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw


The congregation of UMC Vista has an opportunity to demonstrate what work/application they have a passion for!
Get involved: Commit to becoming a shepherd and working directly with individuals and organizations in our community!
Shepherds are responsible for diving deeper into the applying organization as well as the specifics of the application and putting forth a recommendation to the Church Council for funding. For more information, please see Beth Brainard Hallock.
Free Community event, games at 6:30 p.m. and movies begin at sunset. Bring blankets or chairs. See Beckie Henselmeier for more details. 
Save the Date for Camp ROAR –  Register by 6/16 for the Early Bird cost is $30 per student. $35 per student until 7/14 or “bring a friend” and both get to attend for $50. (Registrations must be turned in together.) This year, featuring After-Care, Available by pre-registration only. Care from 12 until 5:30 p.m. (or until needed) for $15/day per student.