Reflection Live Streamed – March 18, 2020

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Reflection by Rev. Elizabeth Aguilar, Senior Pastor

March 18, 2020

Dear Family of Faith,

May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be with you all. I write to you during this first week of major change in our country and in our lives, due to the Covid-19 health crisis. I thought it was important to share with you some thoughts and information regarding our church life and ministry during this unprecedented time.

Here in this short letter you will find the following:

  • a reflection from me
  • some information regarding what our church is doing with and for our members
  • a short message regarding giving

My Reflection

About two months ago I preached to you about the following scripture found below. I think it is very appropriate for us to look at it once again in an effort to remain connected to God as we remain connected to one another.

I realize that this crisis can make us feel much fear, uncertainty, loneliness, isolation, panic, anxiety, and the like. Those are valid and as human beings of course we will feel any of them at any given time. Yet, I have told myself and am sharing this with you as well, that we have a choice. We CAN indeed focus on all that overwhelms us right now or we can focus our gaze on Christ and ask what it is that He wants us to do at this time for the sake of our well-being, those we love and those whom we don’t know but are also His sons and daughters.

As such it is imperative that we do follow official health directives. It is also important that we prepare ourselves as best as we can not only with physical food but spiritual food, as well.

There are two scriptures that have helped me greatly during these troubling times.

The first is: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The second scripture is from Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 Both of these scriptures have helped ground me in three things: we belong to one body of Christ and therefore we much continue to help one another, and care for one another as best as we can. The second is this: I must focus on all the GOOD things that God has already given to us which do not go away. The third is this: that God desires that we live in peace and that peace is given to us once we come to God through prayer “with thanksgiving.” 

 Friends, this global health crisis WILL push us in ways that we haven’t been pushed ever before and it will be up to us, as followers and servants of Christ (His modern day disciples) to keep grounded in our Christian faith that tells us we belong to Him, we belong to one another, and that we are not alone even if we feel alone.

 Please know that I am praying for every individual and family on our church roster. I invite you to do the same for one another so that God may indeed bless us, protect us and give us all that we need to do God’s good work for all of us. I love you and I am praying for you. God bless you with all that you might need according to God’s will for your life, at this time.

Peace to you, Pastor Liz

 How Our Church is Responding to The Needs of Our Church Family

 We have set up a “Care Team” who are ready to help with making phones calls to all of our members and also helping the members with any urgent needs that they might have. The Care Team is comprised of “Callers” and “Runners.” Someone will call you 1 time per week to see what your need is. They will then give your request to one of our “Runners” who will then attempt to find your necessary item in a store or on line. Prescriptions and very important grocery items. We realize that some of you are doing fine with needed items (thank God) but others might need more support in spiritual ways. The callers are there to pray for you on the phone and encourage you as well.

We are especially concerned for people who are already staying in their homes, our elderly members who are already shut in due to physical limitations, our sick members, and those who just cannot leave perhaps due to needing to stay at home to supervise a child or older member of their family. The runners have instructions to leave things for you at your door so as not to come in direct contact with you. We are trying to exercise social distancing as our government leaders and CDC have instructed us to do.

Our Church Facility is Closed for the Time Being  However Pastoral Care Continues

We must keep our church closed for the protection of everyone. Pastors Liz and Victoria will be in the office now and then, as well as Amber, as needed. Some days we will also work from home.

*IF YOU NEED ANYTHING immediately, please call Pastor Liz at 617-359-9585 or Rev. Victoria (619) 436-9703 or call the church office as we will be checking messages every day. (619) 422-9263

 We will hold worship “on-line,” on our church facebook page and on our web site. Once a week Pastor Liz will also send out recorded messages on email to everyone for whom we have an email address. It will also be available on our church web site. (www.chulavistachurch.com). Please stay tuned.

Schedule: Every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. and Every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. Pastor Liz will go “live” on Facebook. Or recorded messages will come to you via email. Please check our web site for updates as well.

 Instructions for Facebook live: You will need internet capability. You do NOT have to have a Facebook account to watch. Simply go to Community Congregational Church Facebook and it will direct you to our “Facebook page.” Once there just click on “view.”

What We Can All Do:

During the Season of Lent, we are invited to reflect, pray, draw closer to God on our faith walk. These unusual circumstances will now offer many of us the ample time to do so. Please consider doing the following:

  • Read scripture
  • Listen to encouraging songs on the radio or internet.
  • Pray for others, for yourself, for the world, for our Church. A simple way to pray is to follow this “formula” (ACTS= Acclamation, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication/ Praise God, Confess your sins, give God thanks, and then ask for your needs according to God’s will. End with the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Journal
  • Meditate, remembering to breathe in God’s peace and exhaling God’s peace
  • Exercise at your own pace and ability. As you do so pray every step you take.
  • Fast- if it is safe for you to do so, take a morning or afternoon to fast. As you do so do the above spiritual disciplines

Remember friends that we ARE the Church: Do not hesitate to call upon one another and offer what ever support you can give. Even if you can not leave your own home do not underestimate the power of your voice, your prayers, and your encouragement for others.

A Message About Giving: Our church expenses continue. Please keep give your regular giving pattern by sending your tithes and offering through the mail. We also want to THANK ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE PLEDGED THIS YEAR TO OUR CHURCH! Please send your check to Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista, 276 F. St. Chula Vista, CA 91910

We close with this prayer:

God of life, you give us life and hope. Be with us in the chaos of this time. Calm our fears, be the light for our path, and strengthen our trust in your promise never to leave or forsake us. We pray through Christ, in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Worship – “Communion Meditation” – February 2, 2020

Communion Meditation For February 2, 2020

Matthew 5:1-10, 13-14

Sermon on the Mount

Rev. Elizabeth Aguilar

Community Congregational Church

Of Chula Vista, UCC

 

Don’t you just love the beatitudes? It is some of the most beautiful writings found in the Bible, I think. There is so much to it. We don’t have time to go through each one but I want to re-read it using the version of The Message- as I think it will be made even more clearer to us. Please listen. I invite you to close your eyes if it is easier for you to listen, that way.

 

Matthew 5:1-10 The Message (MSG)

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Matthew 5:13-16 The Message (MSG)

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.

(The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson)

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So, which portion spoke to you the most? Was it one of the “you are blessed parts or was it the end when Jesus spoke about being salt-seasoning or when he spoke about “you are here to be light?”

 

I find it interesting that still early on in his ministry he chose to share these words with His disciples and others who were following him. Think about how humbling it must have been for them to hear these words. Because in essence what Jesus is doing is He is reversing the order of things. He isn’t saying, “blessed are you if you get your own way. Or “blessed are you if you are number one all of the time.” Nor is He saying, you are so worth-less that no matter what you do, you will never shine bright.

 

No, for that wasn’t the way of Jesus. Instead, Jesus lifts up what is considered to be humble and simple. He says, blessed are those of you who AREN’T number one. Blessed are you who struggle every day- who are hungry for spiritual food, for are grieving, when you cooperate instead of compete…

 

Jesus spoke plainly and openly, inviting them to His ministry and way of life.

 

Jesus still speaks that way to us today.

 

I invite you to close your eyes again. Take a few deep breaths. Now, listen to my question and answer it to yourselves silently. What is Jesus telling YOU today? If you see yourself as a follower of Jesus and Jesus were right here, today. What would he be telling you?

 

As we approach this communion table, where Jesus is the host. What is it that you feel He is telling you today? Is He encouraging you? Is he letting you know that you are not alone, that you have not been forgotten? Is He telling you that He knows the mess you are in but that He will help you get out of it if you only trust Him some more? Is he letting you know that no matter what illness you or your loved one has that Jesus will provide for your physical needs? Is He telling you that it is indeed sad what is happening in our nation but that all you need to do is speak the truth in love? Is He telling you that no matter how bad you have sinned that if you ask for forgiveness today you will be forgiven? Is He telling you that that is time that you stop hiding behind your arrogance? What is He telling you?

Amen