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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

Busy Faithful Christians – June 2019

Busy Faithful Christians
Pastor’s Ponderings – June 2019
 
There is a lot going on! Our local church is looking to the future, making plans for expansion of our facility and celebrating our loving, empowering God. We are very busy faithful Christians who care for one another and our neighbors! At the same time that we are doing God’s work in Vista, our denomination is going through some seismic changes. Perhaps you’ve heard some news and wondered what it means.
Let me try and break it down… Our congregation is a part of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. A jurisdiction is a collection of conferences, which is a collection of local church congregations. The big work of a jurisdiction is to elect Bishops who serve in leadership to the conferences. With the on-going conversations about justice and the application of Biblical teachings, our Western Jurisdiction is taking a larger role in visioning our future. Our current Bishops have spoken out about the decisions of the special-called General Conference in Spring 2019. For more on our jurisdiction there is a helpful website with information at westernjurisdictionumc.org for you to research and learn more.
March 2019, leadership in the Western Jurisdiction gathered and wrote down agreed upon values and shared an emerging vision statement focused on discipleship. The vision for our church looking toward 2020 states that we are called to be:
“A home for all God’s people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation: The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church is multicultural and inclusive, engaged in the life of its communities, with confident, effective lay and clergy leadership who, in diverse ministry settings, form disciples who live out the Good News of Jesus as global citizens.”
As we look into the future, it is likely our denomination will be going through a major reorganization, but the work that God calls us to continues to be crystal clear. God’s call for Christians has always been to love God and to love our neighbor as ourself. We have always been challenged to care for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. We have always been expected to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus and proclaim the Kingdom of God with all that we do. Despite the changes and challenges nationally and globally, our work in Vista will continue to be at the forefront of our church life together.
To clarify, there is a place at the Vista UMC for all people. Although we are not all in agreement about theology, or the application of the Bible, we all do share a love for God and conviction that we serve God’s grace in this community. Justice, Faith and Hospitality are the cornerstone values this congregation has named as our goals in ministry. We will continue to look for dynamic partnerships to be Christ’s hands and heart to the world. We will continue to offer worship and praise to God who created and gives us life. Let us remember that the work of God happens person to person, and in small groups.
The connections of this congregation continue to be extensive: Beth Hallock and I met with the Executive Director, Dana Bristol-Smith, of Leap to Success. We talked about the work that they are doing to lift up and empower women. I’ve still got a newsletter and thank you note from North County LifeLine in my box that I want to read and respond to. Their work helping victims of sex and labor trafficking become survivors is powerful and humbling. Two of our missionaries, Paul Jeffery and Katherine Parker, have been and will be in our area to share with us about their work around the world. (Special thanks to Sue Humphrey and Jacque Howard for all they do for missions and missionaries!) On Easter Sunday our attendance in worship was 419, with almost a 50-person increase in first service from 2018! On Mother’s Day our attendance was 221, with our amazing children singing in worship! The church choir is making final preparations and practice for their Ireland trip coming up for the summer. Our Boy Scout Troop and Crew continue to raise strong young people and regularly share their great appreciation for the support of this congregation! So many connections, so much faithful ministry and all because of YOU responding to God!
Trust that God will make a way and we will grow together into God’s future for us! Our faith will carry us! God bless you today and everyday!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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Why do we worship? May 2019

Why Do We Worship?
Pastor’s Ponderings – May 2019
Worship is not something we instinctively know how to do, but something we must learn every generation. While all generations have differences of experience and perspective, there is continuity in what we crave. We all crave love, acceptance and belonging. Worship provides a space to learn that we are loved, accepted and that we belong to the maker of the universe.
Richard Foster wrote, “Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. It is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit.” Many people believe that God is love. Worship is the place where we interact with our loving God, along with other people who are doing the same. Together we ask questions and wonder what it all means.
Worship is not a show we subscribe to on YouTube or turn on through Netflix. Although there is faith- based programing that we can learn about faith from, there is no substitute for participatory faith. In fact, Jesus became human, to come to our world, to show us in person what it means to live a life faithfully. He traveled around his region offering lessons, and health care and prescribing community collaboration. Jesus didn’t phone in a relationship with us or video tape a message for us, but came to us and offered us a chance to interact with him.
Worship is a gathering of people, looking in the same direction, to give thanks to God and grow in understanding. When you come on Sunday morning, in order to get the most out of your worship time, it is valuable to get your heart in the right place. The Jewish people believe Sabbath begins at sundown the evening before. Consider a special prayer Saturday evening asking God to open your heart, and set aside your troubles from the week before. Come on Sunday morning with a fresh spirit, free from distraction (as often as you can).
Arrive at church in time to get the seat you are comfortable in, and say hello to the people you call “friend.” Look for new people or visitors, people who look confused or alone and offer a greeting or to show them where the bathrooms or other places on campus are. Intentionally quiet your spirit and remember the sanctuary is more than a big room, it is a sacred space where we look to see God. The sanctuary is meant to be a holy place. It is a place consecrated for the purpose of meeting and celebrating faith and God. Consider the volume of your voice, the conversations you carry on, how you engage or distract others from centering themselves on God and worship.
Worship is NOT something someone else can do for us, but something we must choose for ourselves. But we don’t worship alone and so we have to trust one another to help us worship in a holy and reverent way. And being holy and reverent doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, but it does mean we have a common goal. Our goal is to meet God and be filled up for the week ahead, giving thanks for all that we have that comes from grace.
Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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Didja know? Hansen Family Serving in TJ

Did you know… The Hansen Family Serving in TJ
• The Hansen family spent April 13 in Tijuana working on a home with International Relief Team?

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“Make A Difference” Community Partner Faire Join us in between services or after the 11:00 a.m. service on Sunday, Sept. 29, for an opportunity to visit with our Community Partners.