LAY SERVANT MINISTRIES CLASSES – SPRING 2020

Dates: Wednesdays, May 6 – June 3, 2020 (7:00 PM – 9:30 PM)

Location: Zoom (hosted by Sherman Oaks UMC)

Cost: $35

Registration Deadline: May 3, 2020


Classes are open to participants from all districts. Attendance is required at all sessions for credit. All those seeking certification or re-certification as Certified Lay Servants are invited to attend.

Technical requirements: To participate in Zoom meetings, participants must have a reliable Internet connection, and a laptop, tablet, or smartphone device that can download and install the Zoom app. A web or phone camera and a microphone are highly recommended, although some users may call in via phone if a mic is not available.

Class Options:

    • BASIC Class: Instructor is Rev. Kalesita Tu’ifua, the pastor at Knollwood UMC.
      • This class challenges Lay Servants to develop caring, leading, and communicating skills that support their church and encourage others to a deeper commitment in Christ and faithful discipleship. Participants are encouraged to discover their personal spiritual gifts and to consider the importance of servant leadership.
      • This class is required for Certified Lay Servant status.
      • Required book for you to acquire on your own is “Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course Participant’s Book” by Sandy Jackson & Brian Jackson. (Cokesbury price is $8.49 for paperback on sale as of April 15, Amazon price is $11.00 for paperback and $9.99 for kindle.)
    • Advanced Class – Spiritual Gifts and the Holy Spirit: Instructor is Rev. Garth Gilliam, the pastor at Sherman Oaks UMC.
      • One Advanced Course is required every three years to become or retain Certified Lay Servant status.
      • Required book for you to acquire on your own is “Each One A Minister” by William J. Carter. (Cokesbury price is $14.00, Amazon price is $13.99 for paperback and $9.99 for kindle.)
    • Advanced Class – Leading Small Groups that Transform: Instructor is Rev. Terry Van Hook, retired conference elder.
      • One Advanced Course is required every three years to become or retain Certified Lay Servant status.
      • Explore a Wesleyan way to form small group communities. The class will focus on Wesley’s dynamic organization, it’s origins and structure, along with integrating a devotional life with a life of loving others as Christ has unconditionally loved us.
      • Required book for you to acquire on your own is “Transforming Community: The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations” by Henry H. Knight III and F. Douglas Powe Jr. (Cokesbury price is $15.00, Amazon price is $15.00 for paperback and $9.99 for kindle.)

Childcare is not available for these classes. Click here for a full flyer for more information.

For questions, contact registrar Jean Castro at soumc@sbcglobal.net or 818.789.0351.

Register online via the button below:

REGISTER ONLINE NOW

CALLED TO BE THE CHURCH

A Bible Study for Lent 2020 – Tuesdays from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

WEEK 5: Who’d Have Thunk It?

March 31, 2020

To join the Bible study online, either click on the following link or copy and paste it into your online browser:

https://zoom.us/j/7184544317

You can also join by phone by calling: 1-669-900-9128. When prompted, enter the following passcode: 718 454 4317 #


Welcome

Introduction to Lenten Practices:

So what is a Lenten practice? A Lenten practice is anything we do during Lent that opens us up and brings us closer into God’s presence. A Lenten practice is like going to the gym for your faith. It may be awkward at first and difficult, but afterwards you feel good; and after doing it for a while, you notice changes and strengths, and it becomes so much a part of your routine that you can’t imagine life without it. Some common Lenten practices include prayer, fasting, generosity, confession, Bible study, hospitality, working for justice, and meditation.

The Lenten discipleship practices that we will explore are each tied to the Christian values of generosity, thankfulness, and stewardship. Each week, not only will we learn about a specific Lenten practice, but you will be given ideas about different ways that you can actually do it. Try it; play with it; see how it opens you up to God. By taking this opportunity and trying each practice, you will be making space in your life to actively live out the Way of Jesus.

Opening Litany:

Each step on Christ’s Way, each step of our lives, takes us to new places, new times.

Some of those are times to rest—like Jesus did, when he stopped to pray.

Some are times to be challenged—as Jesus was, by the woman from Syrophoenecia.

Some are times to celebrate, even in the face of grief—as Jesus did, when he shared his last meal with his friends.

Whether our bones are dry, our spirits weary, or we are filled with energy, ready to go…

This is our time to be together—

Listening for the Spirit…

Loving one another…

Worshiping God!

Worshiping God!

Prayer

Witness of the Stewards:

Last week, we were asked to do an Appreciation Inventory. We were asked to walk around our homes either physically or in our minds eye and to feel appreciation for all that we had been given. We were invited in this way to find contentment in our exercise of gratitude. How has this spiritual practice worked or not worked for you to open you up to God?

For the stories we have shared, for the lives we have lived, for the love you have given—

Thank you, God!

May the stories of our friends remind us all that we are on the Way together!

Thank you, God! Amen!

Reading Scripture – Ezekiel 37:1-14

(The words of Ezekiel are in italics. The words spoken in God’s voice are in bold.)

I felt as if God’s hand was upon me. By the spirit I was carried to the middle of a valley—a dry valley, covered in…bones. God led me around that valley, around those bones. There were so many. Old. Brittle. Dry.

And then I heard God’s voice!

You. I ask you, can these bones live?

God, Most High, you know.

Then be a prophet, Ezekiel. Speak to these bones. Say to them:

(God’s Voice whispers in Ezekiel’s ear.)

So I did as God commanded me. I said to the dry bones, “O dry bones, hear God’s word! God says to you, ‘I will breathe into you, and you will live.’ God says to you, ‘I will put muscle and flesh on you. I will cover you with skin. I will fill you with breath. You will live, and you will know that I Am God!’”

And when I finished speaking, there was a terrifying sound. Bones rattling against stone. Bones rattling against other bones. Bones coming together, each finding its proper place. And, as I watched, muscles grew, and flesh grew, and skin covered the new bodies. But they were lifeless. There was no breath in them.

Speak to the breath, prophet. Say to the breath:

(God’s Voice whispers to Ezekiel.)

So I prophesied to the breath, I spoke the words given to me, like I had never spoken before, “God says to you, ‘Breath: come from the four winds, breathe into these who were killed, so that they may live!’”

The breath came into them. They lived. They stood on their feet. Thousands upon thousands of them!

Human? Listen to me. These bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, we are cut off completely.” So prophesy to them. Tell them that God, their God, is going to open their graves, and bring them back to life, and back to the land of Israel, O, my people! In that moment, you will know that I am God! I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live. I will take you home, and you will know that I have spoken. I have acted.

So I did exactly that. And so did God.

This is the witness of God’s people.

Thanks be to God!

Discussion

  • In lesson 1 of our Lenten Bible study, we explored the practice of saying ‘No!’ to many things based on the values decisions we have made to say ‘Yes!’ to other things. The spiritual practice of consciously basing our Nos and our Yeses on our fundamental values is THE Stewardship and Discipleship question above all others.
  • In lesson 2, we looked into being a blessing. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing for others. We looked deeper into THE Stewardship and Discipleship question. As people of faith, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to use everything God has given us.
  • In lesson 3, we explored what it means to be stewards of our time… especially as we use our time to worship and follow in the way of God.
  • Last week, in lesson 4, we contemplated the beginning of Psalm 23 and the Lenten practice of contentment. We compiled an Appreciation Inventory.
  • Now, it’s less than a week before Palm Sunday, and Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time. It’s less than a week before Holy Week and our remembrance of the last days of Jesus before he is handed over to the authorities and crucified. It’s less than a week before the powers of empire and greed seem to win again. It’s less than a week before the beginning of end.
  • We stand with Ezekiel and stare into a valley filled with dead, dried human bones. What a sight! There is nothing but bones as far as we can see: leg bones, ankle bones, arm bones, shoulder bones… And none are connected. The empty eye sockets of bleached human skulls stare into oblivion. Death reigns in this place of endings, of sorrow, of grief. This is a valley of futility and hopelessness.
  • And those feelings are feelings that many people know all too well: depression, grief, hopelessness. There are times when we ask ourselves, “Why bother?”
  • They don’t know it yet, but some of Jesus’ close followers will know this experience all too soon as they watch their messiah, their teacher, their friend, their hope hang on a cross and die. We are left to ask what it is that God might do in this impossible situation. This is a really good question. It may, in fact, be the only question that matters. What might God do in this impossible situation?
  • Think of a time in your life when you were confronted by similarly impossible situation. How did it make you feel? What kind of an impact did it have on your relationship with God? What did God do in that impossible situation?
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  • Jesus’ disciples watch in disbelief as he is arrested and everything they had been hoping for begins to unravel around them. They find themselves powerless to do anything to redeem the situation so they fall into despair and run away to hide.
  • Seeing his battered and abused body coming out of the Roman garrison and being led to the hill of the skull… watching as Roman soldiers strip him and nail him to the wooden cross; despairing as he dies a public and shameful death, most of his followers scatter and cower. But there are a few of his followers – mostly women – who have it enough together enough to take possession of his body and bury it quickly as best they can. Think about how you might have responded if you had been in the place of Jesus’ friends during these horrifying events.
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  •  So, what might God do in this impossible situation? Three days later, the answer is an empty tomb. The answer is resurrection. There is vindication, life, hope! God’s beloved people have a future after all.
  • This new and unexpected reality leaves us asking the question differently. Instead of asking it as a question of abandon and surrender (What might God do in this impossible situation that is beyond even God’s help?), it becomes a question of faith and hope (What might God who is greater than our deepest need do in this impossible situation? Hmmm… I wonder…. Let’s find out!)
  • Faith and hope invite us to watch and expect that God is at work to do something new, for God is surely in this place and time. God is surely about God’s mission in our lives and through our lives. We ask, what God might do in this impossible situation, because we believe and trust that God will do something. It may not be what we expect, but God will do something that brings new life… something that transforms and heals and renews… something unexpected and unforeseen.
  • When we ask the question “What might God do in this impossible situation?” we are activating our faith. We are opening ourselves to God. We are reaching out and grabbing on to hope, even creating hope for ourselves and those around us. Because as long as we can think of one answer, there is hope.
  • So this is our last Lenten practice, the practice of hope. Sometimes it’s tricky; sometimes it’s difficult, but always it’s worth it.
  • So, let us spend a few moments asking that question about our own current situation. Can we imagine even one answer that will let us believe that God is doing something new and life-giving in the face of COVID-19… that God is reassembling our dried and scattered bones, putting flesh upon, and breathing life into them? What gives us hope even now?
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Prayers of the People and the Prayer that Jesus Taught Us

Loving God, we thank you for the journey of our lives, with its ups and downs, with its questions and challenges, and with its moments of joy. We thank you for the beauty around us, for the hills and the trees, for the water and the weather, for all that reminds us of life, and life made new.

Today, we are especially thankful for…

Please share aloud your thanksgivings for the community and/or for current events.

In the quiet of this place, we offer you our celebrations.

A time for silent prayer.

Even as we say “Thank you,” we realize that there is brokenness in us and in our world. We realize that we have not always lived the love to which you call us. Sometimes by action or by inaction, sometimes by just going along with things, we have broken faith with each other and with you. We offer to you our brokenness, loving God, not only asking that we would be forgiven, but that, by your love, we would be made whole, living in new ways, living out Christ’s love. Receive the prayers of our hearts.

A time for silent prayer.

Knowing that we are forgiven, knowing that we are loved, we turn to the world to love it into wholeness. We pray for people living in desert times in their lives, people who are facing famine – of body or spirit, people who are tempted to turn away from what is right and just, people who are overwhelmed by impossible situations. And we pray for this world and for everything within it – all creatures and all places that are facing destruction.

We remember especially…

Name concerns about the congregation or about current events.

We pray for healing and wholeness, and we ask that we would be part of the solution, loving God, turning our prayer from words to actions. Bless our journey, we pray, sharing the words that Jesus gave all his disciples:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Announcements and Assignments:

  • Next week is Holy Week. So I invite you to take part in our online worship services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. In preparation, take time to read through the story of Holy Week in the gospel of Matthew – Matthew 21-28.
  • As you go through the week ahead, ask what God will do in the impossible (or even semi-impossible situations) that come your way. Turn the question into a prayer: “O God, what will you do in this impossible situation? Or, if you feel especially creative, write some imaginative spiritual fiction about how God does respond in these impossible circumstances of life.
  • Are there any other announcements?

Benediction and Commissioning

Each step on Christ’s Way, each step of our lives, takes us to new places, new times.

Some of those are times to rest—like Jesus did, when he stopped to pray.

Some are times to be challenged—as Jesus was, by the woman from Syrophoenecia.

Some are times to celebrate, even in the face of grief—as Jesus did, when he shared his last meal with his friends.

With bones given flesh, and lives renewed, let us go into God’s world—

 Listening for the Spirit…

Loving one another…

Worshiping God!

And the peace of Christ that passes all understanding rest and remain with us, now and forever.

Amen!

Based on “Called to Be the Church: Congregational Giving Program,” The United Church of Canada

https://www.united-church.ca/sites/default/files/called_to_be_the_church_five_sundays_of_lent.pdf

 

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCE + SPIRITUAL INTIMACY // DISTANCIA FÍSICA + INTIMIDAD ESPIRITUAL

A Lenten Devotion for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 6 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Stay-At-Home Order for the State of California

(Por favor, vean la versión en español a continuación.)

READING FROM THE SCRIPTURES

God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:24b-27, NRSV, alt.) 

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MEDITATING ON THE WORD

Ever since COVID-19 crossed the borders of China and began its rapid spread across the world, we have been hearing the phrase “social distancing.” Public health officials, community leaders, and politicians have been encouraging us to stay at home as much as possible, to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between us if we have to leave our houses, and to avoid all forms of physical contact (including hugs, handshakes, and elbow bumps).

However, as one of my friends recently observed, this isn’t really social distancing. We are not being required to abstain from all social contact whatsoever. We can still engage in social contact with each other, we just have to do it from a distance. What our public health experts are actually asking us to do could be better described as physical distancing. They are calling us to maintain enough physical space between us that the virus simply cannot pass from one person to the other.

During this time when we are being required to stay at home or otherwise separate physically, it will be more important than ever to remain socially connected. Thanks be to God that we live during a time when we can connect via telephone or the internet. We can call our friends and family members to find out how they are doing and spend a few moments chatting. We can send emails or texts to let our co-workers know that we are thinking about them. We can even resort to such low-tech strategies as shouting to our next door neighbors from a distance, or mailing letters to people far away. The important thing is that we do in fact connect even as we maintain a healthy physical separation. It’s very important in times of crisis to avoid loneliness and isolation.

As followers of Jesus, it’s also important to remember that we are still a part of the body of Christ. Just as there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39), so nothing can separate us from the love that we have for one another as members together in Christ’s body. This is why the apostle Paul reminds us: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it. If one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) We are bound together by the love of God that dwells within us. And because of this, we participate in mutual affection and responsibility for each other.

We do not know where the COVID-19 pandemic will take us next. And yet, we know that the future is in God’s hands! So, let us not give in to fear however much the world around us panics. Rather, let us continue to strengthen the body of Christ in love. Let us continue to contact each other, to pray for each other, to encourage each other, and to remind each other that God is still a God of Life, and we are still a people of resurrection. Amen.

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Take a few moments to meditate in silence.

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PRAYING FOR OURSELVES AND THE WORLD

COVID-19: A Prayer of Solidarity

By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

For all who have contracted coronavirus, we pray for care and healing.

For those who are particularly vulnerable, we pray for safety and protection.

For all who experience fear or anxiety, we pray for peace of mind and spirit.

For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety, we pray for policies that recognize their plight.

For those who do not have adequate health insurance, we pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.

For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status, we pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.

For our siblings around the world, we pray for shared solidarity.

For public officials and decision-makers, we pray for wisdom and guidance.

Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all. Grant peace. Grant comfort. Grant healing.

Be with us, Lord. Amen.

Copyright © 2020, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. This text may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration for nonprofit educational use, provided such reprints are not sold and include this notice.

Una Devoción Cuaresmal para el Miércoles, el 25 de Marzo 2020

Día 6 de la Orden de Quedarse-En-Casa del Gobernador Gavin Newsom para el Estado de California

LEYENDO DE LAS ESCRITURAS

Dios ordenó el cuerpo dando más abundante honor al que menos tenía, para que no haya divisiones en el cuerpo, sino que todos los miembros se preocupen los unos por los otros. De manera que si un miembro padece, todos los miembros se duelen con él, y si un miembro recibe honra, todos los miembros con él se gozan. Vosotros, pues, sois el cuerpo de Cristo y miembros cada uno en particular.  (1 Corintios 12:24b-27, RVR 1995)

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 MEDITANDO EN LA PALABRA

Desde que el COVID-19 cruzó las fronteras de China y comenzó su rápida propagación en todo el mundo, hemos escuchado la frase “el distanciamiento social.” Funcionarios de salud pública, líderes de la comunidad, y políticos han estado animándonos a quedarse en casa tanto como sea posible, a mantener por lo menos seis pies de distancia entre nosotros si tenemos que salir de nuestras casas, y a evitar todas formas de contacto físico (incluso abrazos, apretones de manos, y toques de codos.)

Sin embargo, como una de mis amigas recientemente observó, esto no se trata realmente del distanciamiento social. No se nos está requiriendo que nos abstengamos de todo contacto social en absoluto. Todavía podemos tomar parte en el contacto social el uno con el otro, sólo tenemos que hacerlo desde una distancia. Lo que nuestros expertos en salud pública están pidiendo que hagamos podría describirse mejor como distanciamiento físico. Ellos están llamándonos a mantener suficiente espacio físico entre nosotros que el virus simplemente no puede pasar de una persona a la otra.

Durante este tiempo cuando se nos requiere a quedarse en casa, o separarse físicamente de otra manera, importará más que nunca que sigamos conectados socialmente. Gracias a Dios que vivimos durante una época cuando podemos conectarnos por el teléfono o por el internet. Podemos llamar a nuestros amigos y familiares para descubrir cómo están y pasar algunos minutos platicando. Podemos enviar correos electrónicos o textos para avisar a nuetros colegas que estamos pensando en ellos. Incluso podemos recurrir a estrategias de baja tecnología como gritando a nuestros vecinos de al lado desde la distancia, o enviando cartas por correo a personas que están lejos. Lo más importante es que de hecho conectemos incluso mientras mantengamos una separación física saludable. Durante momentos de crisis, es muy importante que evitemos la soledad y el aislamiento.

Como seguidores de Jesús, también es importante que recordemos que somos parte del cuerpo de Cristo. Así como no hay ninguna cosa creada que nos puede separar del amor de Dios que es en Cristo Jesús (Romanos 8:39), así que no hay nada que nos puede separar del amor que tenemos el uno para el otro como miembros juntos en el cuerpo de Cristo. Es por eso que el apóstol Pablo nos recuerda: “Si un miembro padece, todos los miembros se duelen con él, y si un miembro recibe honra, todos los miembros con él se gozan.” (1 Corintios 12:26) Somos ligados juntos por el amor de Dios que habita en nosotros. Y por eso, participamos en mutuo afecto y responsabilidad el uno por el otro

No sabemos dónde la pandemia COVID-19 nos llevará a continuación. Sin embargo, ¡sabemos que el futuro está en las manos de Dios! Así que no nos rindamos al miedo, por mucho que el mundo que nos rodea entre en pánico. En cambio, sigamos fortaleciendo el cuerpo de Cristo en el amor. Sigamos contactándonos unos a otros, rezando el uno por el otro, animándonos unos a otros y recordándonos unos a otros que Dios todavía es un Dios de Vida, y nosotros todavía somos un pueblo de resurrección.

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Pasen algunos momentos para meditar en silencio.

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ORANDO POR NOSOTROS MISMOS Y POR EL MUNDO

COVID-19: Una Oración de Solidaridad

Por la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos

Para aquellos que han contraído coronavirus, oramos por el cuidado y la curación.

Para aquellos que son particularmente vulnerables, oramos por la seguridad y la protección.

Para aquellos que experimentan el miedo o la ansiedad, oramos por tranquilidad de mente y espíritu.

Para familias afectadas que enfrentan decisiones difíciles entre alimentándose a sí mismos o protegiendo la seguridad pública, oramos por políticas que reconocen sus situaciones graves.

Para aquellos que no tienen seguro medico adecuado, oramos que ninguna familia enfrentará las cargas financieras sola.

Para aquellos que tienen miedo de accede a la atención médica debido al estado migratorio, oramos por el reconocimiento de la dignidad dada por Dios de todos.

Para nuestros hermanos y hermanas alrededor del mundo, oramos por la solidaridad compartida.

Para los funcionarios públicos y las personas que toman decisiones, oramos por la sabiduría y la guía.

Padre, durante este tiempo, que tu Iglesia sea un señal de la esperanza, el consuelo y el amor para todos. Otorga la paz. Otorga el consuelo. Otorga la sanación.

Sea con nosotros, Senor. Amén.

Derechos de autor © 2020, Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos. Todos los derechos reservados. Este texto puede ser reproducido en todo o en parte sin modificación para el uso educativo no lucrative, siempre que tales reimpresiones no se venden e incluyen esta noticia.