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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The Journey

Last Sunday  I was blessed to read the eulogy at a memorial service for Joyce Akers, an elder I had met several times, but did not know due to her advanced Alzheimer’s.  Several generations of friends and family were present. How wonderful to hear her vibrant life remembered by so many. This poem was on the back of the printed worship service and I did not see it until yesterday.   I think it fits all our journeys.  They certainly vary, but in so many ways are the same.

  

Bridge to Future 

Roads that wind round canyon walls
Like corridors round learning halls
Points of light there on the ground
Will draw you with familiar sounds
Gather there the tools you need
Advice is there for you to heed
Spread the word as given you
And do the work you’re supposed to do
Travel where your heart does tell
Let your knowledge serve you well
Things will flow as to their course
You need not fear, or push, or force
All things come as time dictates
Though time has come for what you wait
The door is open once again
A bridge for futures now and then.   

Robert Langley   

The Bridge

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Regrets

On Sunday, March 1, we will continue our discussion of Shane Stanford’s book, Mosaic, When God Uses All the Pieces.  The chapter we will be looking at is “When God Uses Our Regret.”
Whenever I hear an adult say that he or she has no regrets, I really do not believe I am hearing the truth.  Unless we manage to completely avoid honestly reviewing our lives and relationships, regrets will surface as we mature. This should not be viewed as defeat. Quite the opposite.  Regrets help us to seek forgiveness and leads us to honesty and compassion.   How is God speaking to you in your regrets?   On the other hand, sometimes there is a tendency to focus so much on our regrets that they threaten to engulf us.  If that is the case, we need to to look at that as well.  Let us remember that God is always leading us to wholeness and grace.  It is a journey we can trust.
  
One thing I have never regretted is pausing to spend time in a garden.  May you, too, spend some time with beauty today.  It is a sacred gift that we too often ignore.     
  
Book study begins at 10:15 a.m. and concludes shortly before 11:00.    Hope to see you Sunday.

 

One thing I ask of God, that I will seek after; 

to live in the house of God all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of God, and to inquire in God’s temple. 
Psalm 27:4 

 No Regrets
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Ashes, Dust, and…

Ash Wednesday Cross

Worshiping in rehab hospitals and skilled nursing communities means worshiping in a fair amount of chaos.   In addition to the needs and wants of the residents, there are always announcements going on overhead. Doctors, nursing students, and caregivers are constantly moving in and out, monitoring blood sugar levels and other vital signs.  I am often left wondering how people actually heal, or at least rest, in such environments of constant noise and activity.

Today a volunteer and I were in two such hospitals, and in both communities someone showed up about the same time with ashes to be shared.  In the first community, a team showed up just as we were finishing our service.  While they seemed quite surprised and maybe a bit uneasy to see us there, cordial greetings and blessings were shared.
In the second community the person bearing ashes came during our service.  We paused as she moved through, and I asked her if she would place ashes on my forehead.  With her thumb she marked my forehead with the customary dusty cross.  “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.”  She then kept on moving through the room filled with people, most of whom were in wheelchairs.
“That’s it?” I actually almost asked this out loud.
As she finished, we continued our service, a bit dustier, but still singing of God’s promise of eternal life and love.   Some of these good folks I have worshiped with for close to eight years. Every month I stand in front of them and witness their slow demise, and no doubt, they witness mine. I don’t think any of us are foolish enough to believe that these bodies in which we are housed will not eventually fail entirely. Those I worship with probably know this even more than I.  Disease, suffering, old age, and physical death are real, and not easy to celebrate.  However, God’s love is simply, and mysteriously more.   Of this we continue to sing.
My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the sweet, though far off hymn that hails a new creation. 
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing.
(My Life Flows on in Endless Song, Anonymous)
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Preparations

Lent
On Sunday, February 15 , we will be celebrating Transfiguration Sunday.  More importantly, we will be celebrating the Jesus who always came down from the mountain, who crossed the lake, who came into town, who left the garden.  The Jesus who came down from the cross to walk among his people once more, and even to cook them breakfast by the lake.
Then on Feb. 22nd, we will accept our ashes, our dust to “dustness” and honor our own pain and suffering as we begin our journey into Lent.  We will not be worshiping our struggles, but learning to accept them, and to pause and give some thought about what they may be teaching us.
The liturgical color for Lent is purple.  This photograph seems appropriate for out of our Lenten  season can come a rich and verdant ordinary time.   The continuing cycles of fasts, feasts, and the ordinary can help us to live in balance.  We learn to not hoard the feasts for even the finest repast will grow stale.  We also learn to not identify too closely with the fasts for we know they are not forever either.  We can then begin to understand that the ordinary should be savored as the sacred and wondrous gift that it is.
Blessings to each of you in your Lenten journey.  Come join us when you can.
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The Choir

“Might we begin then to transform our passing illuminations into abiding light?”
(Huston Smith as quoted in Weekly Seeds)
"Might we begin then to transform our passing illuminations into abiding light?"<br />
Huston Smith quoted in Weekly Seeds.
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Take Time for Lent

Mosaic 2

One of the things that I truly love about Lent is its timing.  Just about the time we begin to return to our usual schedules and activities after Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, Lent appears.  This year, the first Sunday of Lent is Feb. 22nd.  That Sunday around 10:00 a.m. we will begin our Lenten book discussion on the book Mosaic, When God Uses All the Pieces by Shane Stanford.  The books are available now.  In worship  that morning we will accept the gift of ashes – that humble reminder that these bodies are temporal, and that this life is a but a journey.  Afterwards, we will share a potluck lunch and discuss our ideas for outreach this year.

Starting Lent with a discussion about the church’s ministry and outreach makes sense. Lent is not just about giving something up.  That does not have much meaning  unless we take the next step, and that is giving to others.   Lent is really a time of spring cleaning – of giving something away – our time, our hope, our compassion.  A time to recognize that being generous simply means setting aside a little less for ourselves, and giving a  little more to others.  We all have a ministry, and we all have a dream about a better world.  Let’s begin the journey.  How do you feel called to serve? How can we be of help?   We look forward to your presence and to hearing your hope-filled ideas.

Blessings,

Rev. Sue Ann

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Presence

“Instead you must recognize the Presence in one rock, one flower, one lizard, one tree, and then from loving the concrete thing, you build up to loving everything, and everything in between.”
Richard Rohr

Lately I have been grateful that photographing flowers helps me to hear the birds sing.
"Instead you must recognize the Presence in one rock, one flower, one lizard, one tree, and then from loving the concrete thing, you build up to loving everything, and everything in between." - Richard Rohr<br />
Lately I have been grateful that photographing flowers helps me to hear the birds sing.
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Gathered

Leaves

 Much of the biblical narrative is a cry from exile, and a joyous return from exile.  The tale begins in Genesis, with a swift and indignant boot out of the garden.  The story continues across deserts, over lakes and across oceans. The story continues through dysfunctional families, confusion, trials, deaths, and rebirth.  It is the story of  our restless, often rambunctious and rebellious humanity that God never gives up on.

We of New Community of Faith have grown weary of exile, and we give thanks for this community where all people can come in.  Here, we share our faith, our fears, our food.  Here, like any organic, growing thing, we expand, contract, and expand again.  In short, we breathe a collective breath, and  our lives are intertwined.

On January 25, we will be gathering from east, west, north, and south for the great tradition of the annual meeting.  The meeting will start with the offering of a cup of coffee or tea as we greet those we see several times a month, and those we see less often. If there are guests, they will be assured there is room for them, and plenty of food to go around. The meeting will then continue with our 11:15 worship and communion.   We will then continue our worship with the sharing of a meal.  Right now we may be creating reports, but on that Sunday what we will be sharing are our stories.  Stories of the challenges  and joys of this past year, and our hopes for the future.   We will be sharing our prayers for those who can no longer worship with us, and our prayers for those who are still finding their way to us.  We will pray for the refugees yearning for home.

Such meetings help us to avoid getting lost in the past, or to become overly anxious about the future.  Such meetings help us to remember that Christ can be found anytime people come together, anytime people are willing to risk being in relationship with a fellow human on the road.  We do not wait for Christ, but rather Christ waits for us.

Let us not keep Christ waiting any longer; let us be gathered in.

I will gather them from the ends of the world,

With the blind and the lame in their midst,

The mothers and those with child;

They shall return as an immense throng.

They departed in tears,

But I will console and guide them;

I will lead them to brooks of water,

On a level road, so that none shall stumble. 

Jeremiah 31:8-9

 

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Sunday, January 4

Finishing up the soup for tomorrow’s lunch:  turkey and rice with lots of vegetables. I think the only thing missing is, yes, you guessed it:  you.  Worship begins at 11:15.

Scripture Reading:  Luke 2: 41-52.  A very young Jesus asks the question:  “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

We are led to ask, where do people find us?  The true us.  Our hearts.

Come when you can; stay as long as you want.  The table is eclectic, but it is always set.   Come, join the feast.

Rev. Sue Ann

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A New Year’s Blessing

Happy New Year 2015

I woke early on January 1 only to discover that an old friend has returned:  sciatica.  No, at first I did not greet it warmly.  However, as I began my stretches, I realized that in some ways sciatica is indeed a friend.  It reminds me that I have been sitting on the couch too much; not stretching enough, and probably not paying attention to what I am eating.  Really, a pretty good friend that helps keep me in balance and gives me the feedback that I need.   

 
May whatever you face today and every day thereafter, please remember that God is always with you.  None of us, no matter what, are ever out of the loop in God.  Therefore, we are always home. Home where we belong. Home with one another. Let us be at peace. 
 
Happy New Year.        
Rev. Sue Ann
    
 
You, LORD, are my portion, my cup; 
you control my destiny. 
The property lines have fallen 
beautifully for me; 
yes, I have a lovely home.  
 Psalm 16:5-6     
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