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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

Getting Ready for Easter

Getting Ready for Easter
Pastor’s Ponderings – Feb 2019
 
The season of the Christian calendar which falls prior to our Easter Celebration is called “Lent.” Not “lint” like you find in your drier. This is different.
Every season of the year has a different quality or experience. Just like summer is usually warm and winter is usually cooler, our Christian seasons have a particular quality too.
Lent during 2019 formally begins with Ash Wednesday, which is March 6. The traditional Christian ritual associated with Ash Wednesday is receiving an ash smudge on your forehead. The ashes traditionally are the burnt palm branches used on Palm Sunday from the prior year.
Lent invites you to review your life. It’s a time to assess the ways you are feeling connected to God and your neighbors and discern what you like and what you’d like to change. Traditionally Christians have given something up for Lent, and “fasted” from something which distracted them from their spiritual life.
Contemporary Christians have new opportunities to experience the rituals leading us to Easter. Some Christians fast from one meal a day and give the money they save to a food bank or shelter or their church. Some Christians take on a new spiritual discipline for this season. A friend of mine prayed her way through the Psalms one year. Another friend began a yoga class to get more physically fit and honor the needs of her body.
This year I will be preaching a sermon series on spiritual activities that help us connect with God. These spiritual rituals will include: cleaning out and decluttering, listening to silence, giving gifts to others, creative activities like writing and travel. Done with focus and intent, we can find a new and restored relationship with God during Lent. No need to auto-pilot giving something up, maybe think of new ways to connect this year.
Lent concludes on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Holy Week is the week just prior to Easter. During that week Christians worldwide remember Jesus’ final days on earth. We remember his gift of love and life that he offered humanity. We remember the pain of his life which ended violently and with great hatred. And we remember that God does not allow pain and hate to be the final word of any story.
Easter morning is a celebration of Jesus resurrection. This is the most sacred and holy of all Christian holidays. The meaning of being Christian is bound in the joy that God overcomes tragedy with healing life. The resurrection of Jesus is a mystery which we can never fully understand. What we can trust is that God accompanies humanity through every dark place we go.
Looking forward to Lent 2019…
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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New Year resolution? Jan. 2019

New Year resolution? 
Pastor’s Ponderings – Jan 2019
Mary Oliver asks the question, “Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This question comes at the end of a poem entitled The Summer Day. The poem feels more spiritual than religious and honors the beauty of the world. These words break open the beginning of the year and call us all into the next 12 months.
Have you thought about a New Year resolution? Have you thought about goals or wishes for 2019? Have you prayed that you would have more health, more time with family and friends, eat better or get your finances in order? If you have, you are not alone. But usually, these kinds of “resolutions” are what Mary Poppins would call a “pie crust promise, easily made and easily broken.” I wonder what the opposite of a “pie crust promise” is?
We get one body to walk around in and when that body wears out, it is our time to rest. We’ve said “good-bye” to some beloved friends and family over 2018. We’ve prayed and held hands and asked God for peace in the midst of illness. We’ve asked God’s help to get through grief and the flood of memories. We’ve told God what we think about it all and through it all you’ve supported and loved one another. The community of this church is powerful, generous and changing the world.
Our days wearing our flesh suit do not go on forever, but for the days we have, what is it that we and you are called to do? A few years back there was another fun poem getting shared around about getting old and wearing purple and a red hat. It was a buoyant, hilarious poem! I knew women who took the poem as a challenge and got together every month for lunch and wore red hats and generally had a fabulous time. They truly embraced their “one wild and precious life.”
The Psalmist proclaims, “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth (Psalm 66:1).” This proclamation is generally taken to be for the singer, and that’s fine, but maybe it shouldn’t just be a faith statement for the musically gifted. Listen to the laughter of children. Remember the sound of a wave folding over on the beach. These are certainly joyful noises and there are so many more! Birds singing and train noises and the kitchen timer going off when a batch of cookies are finished! All joyful noises and definitely part of our precious days.
Let the world hear from you and be bold with joy! Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” The life that Jesus came to give us and the wild life Mary Oliver reflect on demand a joyful noise. It’s time to meet a new year! I pray yours is overflowing with love!
Let us have Joy and have it boldly in 2019!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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The HOPE of Advent

The HOPE of Advent
Pastor’s Ponderings – December 2018
Will you wait on me? I’m pretty tired and it took all of Thanksgiving week to sleep through the night. I kept waking up and thinking about you and the world and my family and the thoughts run around my head dumping over my neat organized piles of hopes and making a mess of it all.
What were you hopeful for in January that you’ve given up on this year? Did the list of things you hoped for this year get disorganized with the messiness of living? Advent is that season of remembering your hope. Advent is the time we remember waiting for God’s love to pour out all over everything and make sense of life again. Advent starts our relationship with Jesus all over again as we participate in the story of Mary’s expectancy. Mary was a young woman who grew plump with waiting for a baby and took us with her on that journey of waiting.
Can you wait a minute; I need a little more coffee to get started today. I still have some pumpkin spiced creamer from October. Yum. It’ll be a whole year before that comes back. That’s a lot of waiting, for a sweet little taste that goes in my coffee. You may not care, but I wait all year for pumpkin spice to return to the store shelves, but waiting on Jesus… how many good and faithful folks have given that up all together? How many robustly faithful people have given up waiting for Jesus because the meaning and message and experience of Jesus is lost or faded? The hope for anything joyous or life-giving got dumped over and fatigue has set in.
The prophet Isaiah says, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Waiting offers us a brilliant gift! Seriously, waiting for God brings renewal, strength and restoration. I could use a little restoration right about now. Paul wrote to the people of Roman and told them, “but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25) I can see and taste pumpkin-spiced creamer, but what does the Lord look like and taste like and feel like? Hope, and cultivate patience.
Remember that Advent follows the journey from darkness ‘to’ light, from conception ‘to’ birth, and from death ‘to’ life. I remind you that we are living the ‘to’ or the middle or during the time of waiting. That means we are living during the time of pale light and shadows. Seeing Jesus come may bring some discomfort for your eyes to adjust to the brightness of God. Feeling hope and being restored will work some atrophied faith muscles that may have been forgotten. This journey of Advent isn’t a Hallmark kind of story, but it is the story of coming back to the life we most long for and the love we most desire. It is not a love that is fake or untrustworthy, but this love that God brings is true and steadfast! That’s worth the wait!
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14)
It has been an exhausting year, but hope emerges when you least expect it. The laugh of a child, the song that sticks in your brain, the spirit of joy that is softly impatient return to us now. Get ready… shield your eyes… God is about to turn on the Light in the world again!
God bless you and keep you, always,
Pastor Leigh Ann

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Building Update

The Building Committee has been working with the Planning Department of the City of Vista in order to fulfill our commitment to our Congregation with the proposed completion of our facility.

The City had requested that we reach out to our neighbors. We had planned face to face meetings in early March and then Covid-19 changed those plans. We had to determine another way to reach out and explain our reasons, provide the plans and the concepts. Once that was completed, the information was mailed to over 470 homes/businesses allowing them the opportunity to call or email the Church office with questions or arrange for a masked face-to-masked face meeting for an exterior visualization. If you would like to read this letter, please CLICK HERE.
 
Online Worship
Worship with us ONLINE.  You can find our worship time at our YouTube channel at United Methodist Church of Vista.  Or, if you receive a weekly newsletter, you will receive a link every week for our service.

We are developing a plan for safe in-person worship and gathering.  Any in-person events, including worship will be offered only when we can assure the safety of our congregation and community.  Until there is a vaccine or other treatment for COVID-19, any in-person gatherings will require face masks, physically distancing of at least six feet, limited singing, spoken litanies, prayers and sermons, no potlucks or offered coffee/cookie fellowship, and no handshakes, hugging or other greeting line with the pastor or church staff.  Our plan is being developed with guidelines from our Bishop, Annual Conference, city and state guidelines and best practices based on up-to-date health information.
 
 
 
Food donations for North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services
We are collecting food donations to take to the North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services. How can you help? Either drop off food items or schedule a pick-up on Wednesday, December 16. To Drop off: leave at the church office, on the bench outside the front office door between 9 am and noon. For Pick-Up: please email Brenda and Mike Walker at Brendakwalker@cox.net and plan to leave your items on your porch or curb by 9 am. For more information call Brenda and Mike Walker at 760. 726.0442.  NO expired or open food, glass jars or homemade items. 
 
Helping Hands and “and Two Fishes”
If you have any, please consider saving blankets and blankets for Helping Hands Outreach and food containers for “and Two Fishes.” You can drop items off on Thursdays between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the lower parking lot near the gate. Someone from “and Two Fishes” should be able to assist you. Please contact Brenda Walker, brendakwalker@cox.net or the church office 760.726.0442, with any any questions. “and Two Fishes” is still providing a sack lunch and a “to-go meal” on Thursday evenings between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.
 
 

 

Zoom meetings are one way we are working on keeping connected.  All you need is a computer or smartphone with a built-in microphone and a camera and you can join in. Click on the link and follow the prompts to join the gathering.  We are all learning as we go!  See you there!  

Weekly Coffee Chat with Pastor Leigh Ann, Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Frank’s Music Chat, Mondays at 11:00 a.m.

Congregational Care Meeting,
November 12, 1:30 p.m.

 
Trustees, November 17, 6:30 pm

Finance, November 25, 7:00 p.m.

Charge Conference, December 1, 7:00 p.m.
 
Alternative, Alternative Christmas 2020
Although we are living through a pandemic that has changed the way we do everything, we are still committed to outreach and caring for our city and community all year, and especially at Christmas time! This year, rather than having tables set up in the narthex on one Sunday, for you to “shop”, we will share “spotlight community partner” videos beginning in mid-November, with opportunities for you to drop items at the church on special days or give gift cards or money or even buy some special boutique items to support a wonderful animal rescue organization. Each worship segment will tell you how you can support that week’s “spotlight partner.” Some of the featured organizations may include: and Two Fishes, Caring and Sharing, Casa de Amparo, Operation Hope North County, Christ Ministry Center and Frosted Faces Foundation. Watch for more information to come and in the weekly Spark!
 
 
Update from the Education Committee
As with most things, COVID-19 related health and safety protocols have limited the programs and events supported by the UMC Vista Education Committee, but we want you to know we are still here with the same purpose; to bring faith enrichment and education to our church youth, families and to the community. Needless to say, finding ways to serve this purpose has been a new challenge but through the initiative and dedication of the teachers and members of our congregation, we’ve connected in various ways over the last several months. Deliveries of flowers, blessing bags, Youth Group welcome kits and Sunday School at-home packets are some ways we’ve remained engaged.
As we gear up with the new season and continue to be mindful of doing our part to support health and safety guidelines, we are at work developing plans for Sunday school connections and other safe activities. Unfortunately, our cherished Annual Trunk or Treat event is not an activity we can responsibly host as currently advised by the San Diego County Health Advisory Board but we’ll continue to work to find alternatives until we can be back together again.
If you feel called to join Education Committee or have suggestions, questions or comments, we are always happy to hear from you! You can contact the church.
 

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and out of concern for the well-being of our community, we are postponing our church meetings and activities until further notice.  Don’t hesitate to contact us for prayer or to talk. 

 
 

The Education/Discipleship program is postponing meetings and activities until further  notice.

Family Game Night is postponed until further notice.