Welcome to New Community of Faith!

Worship Time: Sundays 11:15 a.m.

We are an Open, Welcoming and Affirming family church believing that Christ calls everyone without prejudice or distinction to love and worship God. Whoever you are; wherever you are on the journey; whomever you call family— you are welcome in our Community of Faith!

New Community of Faith
6350 Rainbow Drive, San Jose, CA 95129
Telephone: 408-253-1408
E-mail: revyarbrough@gmail.com

New Community of Faith is affiliated with
the American Baptist Churches, USA and
the United Church of Christ.
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Joy

 

Joy

 

This Sunday,  many Christians will be lighting the Advent candle of joy.  Joy is beyond the celebration after a temporary gain.  Joy runs deeper than that.  It is surrendering to letting love bloom, even against the backdrop of apparent barreness, darkness, and chill.
It is trusting that God is always with us, whatever we must go through.  If you are thinking that sounds very difficult, well, know you are not alone in that feeling.  That is the beauty of community.  Reklindling the light is seldom a solitary effort.   Together, we learn to accept God’s love for all as our own.

No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree, so will the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.   Isaiah 65:22

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Called To Serve

The following post is from a post made in March, 2014. As New Community of Faith is collecting donations now for the Christmas fund, I wanted to post here.  My gratitude to all who contribute, and who serve.  Please note this fund is not just for clergy, but for all church employees who are facing financial difficulties.  Thank you for your contributions.

Rev. Sue Ann

“Pastor Benjamin, you are looking well today!”  I said this with some relief, as last month he was looking quite the opposite. The physical and mental illness that I had witnessed that day had taken an unusual toll on me, so seeing him in such good spirits was encouraging.

  
“Yes, m’am.  This is my brother!”  The reason for Pastor Benjamin’s upswing was sitting right next to him.  His brother has now moved into the community and both seemed very happy with the arrangement.   Pastor Benjamin then told me his wife had died about a year ago, and that he has no interest in living alone.  I was reminded yet again that even in a beautifully appointed assisted living community that offers a full slate of daily activities, loneliness can be assuaged only by relationships – the give and take of knowing and being known, and of being accepted just as we are.  This is one of the core values of SpiritCare, and one that is embraced for all who serve the ministry.  What continues to touch me is that most of the ministry, like all faith communities, is made up by volunteers, some who have served for almost as long as the ministry has been in existence – close to three decades now.        
 
Over the course of my time with SpiritCare, I have served two other pastors and I thought of them yesterday.  There was Pastor Carl, whose Alzheimer’s advanced fairly quickly. However, I was able to enjoy his presence in worship for a few months before his passing.  He had a fine singing voice and one day I was especially grateful for his presence. “Pastor Carl, I am so glad you are here today.  Our pianist is sick and I need your help!”  He replied that he would be happy to serve.  He sang with much spirit that day.   The last time I saw him he was quite unwell, but he extended his hand and said, “Thank you for calling me pastor.”  Pastor Ralph was very ill when I met him, but he was blessed to live in a community where one of the activity assistants attended his church.  She always tenderly spoke of him as “our pastor,” and I believe she seldom saw his illness, but rather the man that she deeply respected.  What a blessing for them both.  
     
Yesterday, as I was leaving the home, I heard Pastor Benjamin say, “There goes a soldier for the Lord!”  I had to smile.  I do not think of my ministry in such terms, but I deeply appreciated his acknowledgement. The United Church of Christ has a what is now called, “The Christmas Fund,”* but it used to be referred to as the fund for “Veterans of the Cross.”  While I think I understand the name change, I miss the former name.   Maybe we should think of all of those who are in their retirement or post-retirement years as veterans.  Whether people have dedicated their lives to serving the church, the nation, the hospital, the school, or the family, most have probably given much, and sacrificed more than we know.  
 
Thank you, Pastor Benjamin.  It is a blessing to serve. 
  
 
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Peter 4:10
 
*The Christmas Fund works to bring some financial assistance to ministers and other church employees who do not have adequate pension funds or who may be facing a serious financial calamity.  Today, many pastors and ministers are serving in part-time positions, so I believe this fund will be needed even more in the next few decades. Most denominations probably have something similar.  Please give.   New Community of Faith, along with UCC churches across the nation, are collecting donations now. 
      
    
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Refreshment

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I do not have special Advent candles, but as I put fresh tapers on the mantel, I think of the powerful,wonderful words: hope, peace, joy, and love.  
 
Tyler and I have just returned from spending some time in the home of long-time friends who live out of state.  Over the course of the past few days, we lingered at their table daily. Every morning I drank tea from this teapot, and every day my appreciation of friendship and beauty grew.  Today I think that unless we really make time for (in other words, befriend)  hope, peace, joy, and love, they will remain only words.  Like the people we meet, if we do not spend time with them, they will not become a part of who we are.  They will not become our friends.  We will not be able to rest in their presence.      
 
Throughout December, we of New Community of Faith will be reading and discussing Walter Brueggemann’s  Sabbath As Resistance, Saying No to the Culture of Now.  All are welcome to join us. It is my hope that each of us can take to heart the idea that Advent is Sabbath, and that we can nurture the practice of pausing and giving our hearts and minds time to rest and reconnect, even in a society that continually stirs everyone with ongoing prompts of needing to be more and to own more.  This engine drives particularly hard in December.  However, an Advent Sabbath can surely help us remember that we are more than consumers, and that Christmas is something so vast that we can never simply achieve it.  We can’t work for it; we can’t buy it.  However, we can rest in it because it is already here, waiting for us.  
         
    
Thus the Sabbath command of Exodus 20:11 recalls that God rested on the seventh day of creation, an allusion to Genesis 2:1-4. That divine rest on the seventh day of creation has made clear (a) that YHWH is not a workaholic, (b) that YHWH is not anxious about the full functioning of creation, and (c) that the well-being of creation does not depend on endless work.  This performance and exhibit of divine rest thus characterize the God of creation, creation itself, and the creatures made in the image of the resting God…That divine rest on the seventh day, moreover, is recalled in the commandment of Exodus 31:12-17, wherein God is “refreshed” on the seventh day (Brueggemann, p. 6).  
   
  
Advent
My thanks to my friend who shared the gift of her beautiful teapot, and her time. Both refresh me still.    
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Re-Membering To Give Thanks

Autumn Pumpkin

Bidden or not bidden, God is present – Carl Jung

Every year, someone will inevitably tell me that he or she likes Thanksgiving because, “It is not a religious holiday. We just get together, eat a good meal, and maybe watch some games.” Such statements always make me smile.   These are rituals, rooted in gratitude, with the table at the center. In other words, religion.   Maybe it is time to elevate our thinking about the day, and the meal.

At the communion table that is Thanksgiving, we remember that we are more alike than different, and that this commonality is worth celebrating.  Often, we are reminded of our brokenness, but we can also experience God re-membering us in some very surprising ways.  We learn to accept that we are loved just the way we are, and so are the people who sometimes irritate us beyond belief.

This year, let’s have the courage to intentionally host the Christ among us. Let us set a table where no one is turned away, and where everyone has a place, regardless of their beliefs, their lifestyles, or whom they love.   If it seems that everyone is out of town but you, go serve dinner at a local church or homeless shelter.  Spend time with a lonely elder.  These Thanksgiving tables may not look like something that is going to be showcased in a cooking magazine, but God’s love will be shining in you, front and center, right where it should be.

That is good religion, and will make for a mighty fine meal.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Rev. Sue Ann

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Outreach Opportunities

Come join us in November as we collect non-perishable food for Second Harvest and warm outer and under clothes for the homeless.   There will be bins in the back of the sanctuary for your donations.  Sunday morning worship begins at 11:15 and a potluck lunch always follows.  Come  join us as we share the harvest that is our lives.

Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.

Mark 4:28

grapes

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Yellow Bird Magnolia

I recently watched a Nature rerun of a look into some of the work of two Papua New Guinean biologists as they tracked and recorded the elaborate mating dances of the various species of the bird of paradise (the feathered variety, not the plants).  Working in the jungles of this remote land does not look easy, and the patience to sit in a blind for days joined only by mosquitoes is not for the faint. However, I am grateful for their tenacity. The dances of the wildly beautiful male birds are stunning.  They spread their wings and strut, puff, sing, and even swing upside down from a nearby branch while flaunting vibrant feathers of every hue, shape, and length.  Some males were so diligent about clearing the dance floor of loose twigs and debris before the big dance that I think we could use one around the house.

However, maybe even more striking for me was the respectful, even tender way the biologists interacted with the tribal members who covet the colorful and dramatic feathers for their own elaborate dances. The study became a way to help the tribes understand how to preserve the headdresses created from the feathers to help alleviate some of the pressure on the bird population today.  Such balancing acts we all need to learn. There is no part of nature that is not under some pressure from human activity, and no doubt, these tribes are experiencing encroachment as well. We humans have a long history of coveting beauty,strength, and land at any cost.  Alas, it seems even dancing can take a toll.

The picture that is attached is not of a bird of paradise, but a yellow bird magnolia.  A friend and colleague helped to identify it.  Over the past few months, I have been surprised at the number of magnolia trees I am seeing in this area of San Leandro.  Photographing the blossoms can be a little tricky.  If the tree is mature, most of the flowers are too high to photograph.  Also, the blossoms are short-lived.  More than once I have kept an eye on an unfolding flower for a day or two, only to return and discover that I missed the apex.  Fortunately, I am left, not with mosquito bites, but the whiff of a slight, sweet fragrance that perhaps is more intense in the hot, humid climate of their native south.  

I understand the wind is expected to shift today, making the day grow hot.  I am grateful for what I have seen, for the next time I am out and about, it will be different.  We cannot control the wind, but maybe we can dance a little more lightly.

   
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 
Genesis 2:22   
   
For more information on the program, go to this LINK

Yellow Bird Magnolia

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Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings probably finds most pastors in their study or office.  They may be in prayer or meditation.  They may be reading scripture or a devotional and reviewing their sermons – beautiful and worthy practices. However, my Sunday morning prayer time is often started in the kitchen. Sometimes I bake biscuits or scones. Some mornings I put together a salad, slice some fruit, or make sandwiches.  I do this because at New Community of Faith we gather at the the table for lunch after our service.  To say that our meals are eclectic is an understatement, and I cannot claim they are always nutritionally balanced.  Yet, generally everyone brings something to share, and we often do have a fairly healthy lunch.  However, what really matters is that over this simple meal we talk of things, and the sojourner is always invited to the table.  I think my ministry literally comes to fruition when I say, “Please join us for lunch.  There is plenty.” 

 
Yet, please do not assume that my time in the kitchen is not prayerful.  I think I have always prayed in the kitchen.  I pray for those the food will feed, and for those who who have succumbed to believing that there is no table for them.  For those who search.  For a world at war.  For sustainable farming.   I give thanks for those who taught me to cook.   I give thanks for pots and pans.  For Moses and Martha.  For Christ.  For learning that cooking always leads to more cooking. That from one meal comes another, and there lies is a profound blessing.      
  
Blessings on your autumn harvest.  May you find great joy in the receiving and in the sharing.   Let us remember, Christ comes as host, and Christ comes as guest, and everyone, no matter how hungry or thirsty, are always welcome at this table.
 
Rev. Sue Ann  
    
   
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. 
 
Ezekiel 47:12
persimmon
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Humility

“Humility is about learning your place in the universe, about not making either yourselves or your nation anybody’s god. It is about realizing that we are all equal players in a common project called life.”  – Sister Joan Chittister, “The Radical Christian Life.”   

While we may never completely understand our place in the universe, we can perhaps learn that we do have a place in community.  Come join us as we explore what it means to be a faith community today!  

 

 

San Leandro Dahlia Society

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At Silicon Valley Pride 2014

New Community of Faith was there at Discovery Meadow in San Jose for this year’s Silicon Valley Pride Celebration.  Here are a couple of photos:

New Community of Faith at Silicon Valley

Logan Piper

Logan Piper, Church Moderator

Logan Piper, Richard Urbanek, Rev. Donna Smith-Power

Logan Piper, Richard Urbanek, Rev. Dona Smith-Power

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Sunday, August 17th Service

On the 17th, New Community of Faith will be celebrating the Christ among us at Silicon Valley Pride at Discovery Meadow in San Jose.  Come join us! We will have a table set up, and we would love to meet you!

We will be back to our usual schedule and location the following Sunday.

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