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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Crossing the Threshold

This morning when I checked my emails, I found several from a south bay environmental group that I had completely forgotten about.  The string of messages began with a member expressing hope, in one simple sentence, that the group would start meeting again.  Another suggested contacting a particular church to see if they might have meeting space available.  A third member wrote that while she was in favor of the group reconvening, she preferred to leave religious institutions out of it.  She did not want to risk putting people off.  She further explained that not everyone, including herself is Christian, and despite the fact that she could hang out with Christians, she did not want the group risk becoming a Christian group.

I deleted the email string, but shortly retrieved it. I could not help but respond in the spirit of trying to remind everyone that all sorts of groups, both Christian and non-Christian meet in church buildings, and I encouraged them to investigate the church mentioned, as well as New Community of Faith.  I also added that everyone should try to come together over our pressing environmental issues.  While no one responded directly to my email, several of the postings that followed left me pondering how we can be good neighbors in this time of such diversity.

I did find it interesting that in one of the later emails, what surfaced is that the first church mentioned is actually pondering some important questions about how to turn their lawn into gardens, and then donating the produce to various agencies trying to address hunger issues in the south bay.   Maybe if that information had come out sooner, a few emails, including some that were a bit troubling, could have been avoided.  However, this string of messages has reminded me how critical it is to try to remain open to one another.  I will never believe that walling ourselves off in separate camps will prove to be a viable solution.  Most of us simply live in too close proximity to one another. We need one another. Some Christians do put people off – I am sure I have.  However, most of us are simply trying to learn how best to live in community, serve God, tend to the earth, and serve the living body of Christ on earth today.  Numerous people of other faiths or no faith are trying to do the same thing, but may use different words.  That is okay.  Let’s just remember that we are all trying to find our way, and we all have work to do.  And part of that work is learning to do it together.

I leave you with a poem I received through a colleague’s newsletter:

God Hunger by Michael Ryan

When the immutable accidents of birth–
parentage, hometown, all the rest–
no longer anchor this fiction of the self
and its incessant I me mine,
then words won’t be like nerves in a stump
crackling with messages that end up nowhere,
and I’ll put on the wind like a gown of light linen
and go be a king in a field of weeds.  

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Searching for Sanctuary

From our good friend, Rev. Evelyn Vigil.   Good to ponder in the midst of our Fourth of July celebrations.

Here is a short meditation for my church on all the sorrow around the church shooting in Charleston. No place to rest in this world.

July 1, 2015

THE STRANGER IN OUR MIDST

Rev. Evelyn Vigil

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;

but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20 NRSV)
A recent report said there are more refugees on the seas, on the highways, crossing the deserts than ever before, and they are finding no place to lay their heads. Turkey has taken in more than 1 million Syrian refugees; Australia is paying smugglers to return their human cargo to the place they picked them up; and we are spending millions of dollars locking up women and children who headed north to escape the drug violence created by our hunger for heroin and cocaine.

The world keeps turning as human beings seek safety, a better life, and sanctuary for themselves and the people they love. And they find no place of peace, it seems.

The shooting in Charleston, S.C., of nine black men and women in prayer meeting shocked me because it took place in the sanctuary, the place where we live our lives in common. We marry in church sanctuaries; we baptize babies in church sanctuaries; we remember our dead in church sanctuaries; and we pray, sing and worship God in church sanctuaries.

I remember a Jewish friend of mine who told me she learned early that no matter where she traveled, she could always find a home at the synagogue in that town. I would like to think that we are the same way. A church should provide us sanctuary, a place to rest from the business of the world, giving us time and quiet to remember what really counts in our lives. For too many people, though, churches have proven unsafe, because they were gay or divorced or poor or any of the ways we discriminate.

For black people in our nation, church sanctuaries are rarely as safe as we would hope. They have been bombed, burned and threatened as long as white men are afraid of losing whatever privilege they think they hold because of the color of their skin.
News reports moved quickly to link the suspected shooter at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with white supremacist groups, where he probably found meaning for his life that seems so aimless until last week. His father bought him the gun for his birthday. My mother did the same with us. I understand that culture, but I cannot live it because it believes guns can level the playing field and keep us safe. The family of the shooter believed that myth, not realizing how powerful a gun can make a powerless person feel.

Because of the easy access to guns and the sense of power they provide, there is no safe place in this world, not really. Our safety is with the love we show each other and with God’s love and care for each of us. Emanuel A.M.E. Church reopened with a worship service because, in our words, “God is still speaking” and we must listen.

People are still moving, still looking for a place to call their own, still hoping for places of peace and respect and love, still seeking sanctuary. Some people think stronger doors, more security, bigger guns, and tougher treatment of other human beings will bring us peace. That path of fear has been trod again and again and found wanting, because in all that confusion and pain and sorrow, we are called to remember the words of Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV): Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
May it ever be so.

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Psalm 17

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
 
Open my heart that compassion may
be my companion; 
Where I meet pride, humble me,
Where I meet anger, calm my fears; 
Where I meet injustice, cause me
to act in love’s way.  
 
For I shall behold your face 
in Truth,
when I am fully awake,
I shall dwell in the house 
of love and peace and joy!   
    
 
I think I am beginning to see why the ancient monks used to write out the psalms, and lovingly embellish them with drawings and color; why they they would recite them day in and day out. In the book, Care for Creation, Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood write, “In the early church those who went out into the desert to live the gospel life lived in profound silence so that when words were spoken they could be readily received as actions in their lives.  For the desert fathers [and mothers] the Word of God carried authority and burst forth into events of revelatory power(10).”   As election fervor gathers momentum, we will be hearing far too many words. How to live love in the onslaught of words too often spoken to distract, cajole, ridicule and even mislead? The psalms may indeed help us. 
May we all be open to hearing God’s revelatory word today. 
 
Psalm 17 (Open my heart)  
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Celebration!

So much good news from the Supreme Court this week.   For those of you who will not be attending San Francisco Pride, come join us!  We will be worshiping with the congregation from Celebration of Faith, with Pastor David Harvey and Mr. Rusty Baker generously sharing their musical gifts.  In addition, Mr. Anthony Montalvo will be joining us to talk about the LGBT Wellness Program he is coordinating through the county’s Ethnic and Cultural Communities Advisory Committee to  promote mental health awareness and education for the LGBTQ community.    Sunday’s offering will be donated to the LGBTQ  Youth Space.

Come join us for this informative, helpful, and celebratory day.  Yes, there will be a potluck afterwards!

Blessings to all who will be at San Francisco Pride.  Have a glorious day!

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Psalm 5

Psalm 5
Through the abundance of your steadfast love 
I shall enter your house; 
I shall worship in your holy temple 
with reverence for You. 
 
Lead me, O my Beloved, in your mercy 
lighten my fears; 
make your way straight before me 
that I may follow. 
 
For there is no truth in fear; 
it leads to down downfall; 
it opens the door to loneliness;
it speaks not with integrity, 
but out of ignorance;
 
Let this guilt I bear, my Beloved, 
be seen in your light;
forgive the many false ways I have, 
surround them with your love, 
for they keep me separated from You.  
 
Psalm 5, 
Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill     
   
Let us stop being afraid of one another.  Let us stop being afraid of another’s skin color, faith practices, sexual orientation, or health conditions.  Let us stop waging war on one another and our world.  Let us stop seeking death and isolation, but rather turn from these ways to a deeper connection to one another.  Let us be Jesus in this world.  He left us with the blueprint.  We can do this.  We can learn to love.       
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One for the Other

On Sunday, June 7, we will be sharing, not only communion, but our thoughts about what communion means to us.  Our service will be held around the table, and we will share a potluck lunch afterwards.  All are welcome to join us.   There is always room.

I include part of a post from my blog, http://www.hearthpsalms.blogspot.com.  Please know you are welcome to come say yes to the invitation with us!  None of us completely understand the mystery that is faith, communion, Christ, Spirit, and God.  We never will, at least in this lifetime.  That does not mean we should not answer yes to the invitation.   When you fall in love, do you not say yes to the mystery?

The last time, and this was a few years ago, when Roger said he was not worthy to accept communion, I decided to come clean.  “Roger, I go back and forth. Sometimes, I think all of us are worthy, and other times I think all of us are not. Regardless, I am convinced that we are all in this together, and because we are in this together, we are offered this gift of communion.  I, for one, cannot refuse it.”  He paused, and then said yes.  And he has every time since then.

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May 31 Worship Service

Members, friends, and family of New Community of Faith will be joining Celebration of Faith and other South Bay churches for a joint worship and prayer service on May 31st.  There will be no service at New Community, but please join us at the Billy DeFrank Center in San Jose.  The address is below.  Worship will begin at 11:00 a.m.  Enter through the back door.

938 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126

All are welcome!

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Pentecost

Pentecost

The story of Pentecost comes early in the book of Acts, chapter 2 to be exact.   “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. ” (Acts 2:1-4).

Yes, truly amazing.  However, what is even more amazing is that in that moment, everyone understood everyone else, and this, of course, is the great dream of the church.  That somehow we actually come to understand, and even love our fellow human beings.  Like the story of Pentecost, albeit a little less dramatically, we do see glimmers of this understanding, especially when we follow Paul’s encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:19)  to “not quench the Spirit.”  We really cannot do that, of course. The Holy Spirit will move as it will, and cannot be contained.  However, we do want to move with the Spirit, not be left behind in the confinement of our egos.

Let us come together this Sunday and let the Spirit have its way with us.  Jesus assures us that this Spirit is truth.  Therefore, we can have confidence in its ways.   We are being led to love.  We can try to go our own way, but ultimately we all will learn that there is nowhere else to go but to God.  God is the the Alpha and Omega, and God is love.   Let us keep practicing  coming together.  Together, we can find our way to the love that already abides in us.

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Charm City Blues: Baltimore and trauma-informed community

revyarbrough:

I went to seminary with Derrick and he has given me his permission to share his insightful writing.

Originally posted on derricklweston:

I’ve been in Baltimore for going on three months. It’s hardly any time at all. There’s a part of me that doesn’t feel entitled to what I am feeling tonight. I’ve fallen in love with this city pretty quickly. It has been a refuge for me, a place to start over. As a Steelers fan, I am predisposed to wanting to hate this city, but there is so much more to life than sportsball and the people of this city are pretty lovable. Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. Baltimore is more so. I work in three neighborhoods separated by mere blocks. They each have a distinct flavor to them despite their proximity and overlapping concerns. Baltimore is about twice the size of Pittsburgh. It has all of the amenities you would want in a major metropolis while feeling interconnected enough that you could easily find yourself running into the…

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Meet Your Neighbors

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was a stranger and you invited me in.”   Matthew 25:35

Let us remember that all of nature, including ourselves, needs safe refuge.   And yes, church can be a safe place.   Come join us when you can.

Meet the Neighbors 1 Meet the Neighbors 2

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