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 Door That Is the Cross

I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.  

John 12:24    

If we pause, even for a moment,  to reflect on any aspect of the journey from Ash Wednesday to Lent, to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, we have a chance to open the door of our heart to our mortality, and in that moment we understand that we are so much more than our mortality.  If we muster up the courage to look at , and dare to walk through that door, we are reminded that no matter what, our understanding of the wonder of life and death is just too small.  Therefore, we must live, and we must die, and live again.  That is our cross and we must experience this dying and living for ourselves.  Only then can we learn to not fear, but to know only gratitude for the cross that we each must bear.  Jesus told this story with his life: we do not have to die in vain.  That in relinquishing our small deaths today, accepting the struggles and surrendering to God what we need to let go of, we can bear much good fruit.  That fruit is not just for ourselves, but for life itself.   That is Easter.     

Maybe someday, all humans will know this, and more importantly, live this.  Oh, what a world that would be. 

 Blessings to you in this sacred time of learning that God is always there, in the midst of it all, inviting you, in love, to walk through one more door.  We journey together.  Blessed be.

Easter 2015    

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At Joyce Akers’ Memorial Service

Several folks from New Community of Faith attended the memorial service for Joyce Akers on February 22, 2015. Rev. Sue Ann gave the eulogy.

Sue Ann, Drew, Richard, and John

Peter and SuzieRichard

Suzie and Dona

Piper and Bonnie

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Room for Us All

I found this morning’s UCC devotional rather bittersweet.  As a child, I knew of a couple of families who had their living rooms set aside for special company.  One woman in particular stands out in my memory.  Now that I look back, I think that usually silent room probably symbolized much for her.  I do not think she was very happy living in that small West Texas town.  Perhaps she was trying to save part of herself for a more gentile time.  I am not sure it ever came.
I have always taken heart that there is room for us all, and we are invited to not only visit, but to abide with God.  We are not treated as strangers. We belong.  Let us open the doors and live fully into all the rooms of our lives.

Rev. Sue Ann

March 16, 2015

Room
Mary Luti

“In [God’s] house, there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare one for you?” – John 14:2

When I was young, I knew a family that was fanatically protective of their  living room. The armchairs and sofa had plastic covers. The carpet was unblemished. The end tables were Pledged to an impossible sheen. The parents threatened mayhem to any kid who tried to go in there. Not a lot of living went on in that living room.

I’ve since learned that family wasn’t unique. Apparently lots of parents enforced a rule about never entering the best room in the house. It was reserved for special company, and that wasn’t their kids. To this day there are probably thousands of adults out there who routinely look warily over their shoulders before setting foot in a living room.

Harmless enough, I guess, unless you’ve also come to believe that it’s normal to be confined to the kitchen, the basement, or the closet. That it’s normal to be barred not only from the best rooms in the house, but also from the best parts of life. That it’s not just living rooms you don’t deserve to enter. That you’re not special company, and never will be, ever.

By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus entered every living room in God’s house of joy and removed all the plastic, spilled wine on the couch, and tracked a little dirt across the rug. ‘There,’ he said when he was done, ‘all prepared for the most special guests. Come in, all of you. Come in.’

Prayer
Give me a ministry of invitation, gracious God. Let me help Jesus fill with cherished guests the living room of life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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Sunday, March 15

As I forward this devotion, I am hearing a great deal of bird song in the air.  It is beautiful and restores my soul.   These birds are doing what God has created them to do.  My prayer is that we are all able declare our presence in this world in a welcoming, creative way.   I don’t sing well enough to call it harmonious, but I think that is exactly what God hears when we come together.

On Sunday, March 15 please join us for our book discussion beginning at 10:15.  We will be discussing everyone’s favorite topic, rejection.  How do we move forward from what we understand as rejection? Does rejection have the last word?  Jesus’ life tells me no, but let’s talk about it.And finally, just a reminder that if you are so inclined, please share in worship your favorite encouraging scripture in worship tomorrow.   If you cannot be with us but want to share your scripture, just drop me a note.

Peace in the journey,
Sue Ann

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Feel Your Heart Beat

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

This spring is quite a busy season for me.  I am struggling between many roles that I can’t run away from. This busy life forces me to live following a strict order for my work. The first thing always in my head is to make sure that my work is done correctly.  Follow a time table; make sure there are no mistakes; then, go forward to another task.  No reflection; no gratitude; and no Sabbath.  Work demands that I pay attention only to it.  At times, work can be very jealous.  When I cannot focus on it, work responds to me with chaos, disorder, and mistakes.

However, when I break my obsessive relationship that I have with my work, I can see something new; I can hear new sounds.  There is something more important than work itself.  I think the Lenten season is all about making a break, establishing a new relationship, and remembering who has given us all things — remembering who I am, and remembering that I am a living creation.

As I read Psalm 107, I let my all schedules and concerns go, and I just enjoy my breath and heartbeat for a few minutes.  I try to listen the sounds my body makes, my heartbeat, my breath, even my stomach, and so on.

How can my heart keep beating?  How can I keep breathing?  Here is another living miracle. “God rescues us from grave.”  A little bit of time for sensing my inner sounds makes me new.  Remembering makes us new.  Remembering gives us space for gratitude.

Wherever you are in your busy day, I invite you to listen for your heartbeat.  It can be a good first step for finding an inner rhythm that can lead you to a way of gratitude.

“Give thanks to God, for God is good.  God’s steadfast love endures forever.” Amen.

Daniel Jihun Kim
SFTS M.Div. Student

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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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