October 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Welcome to our October 2021 edition of activities at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz!

We remain committed to making healthy adjustments to our services to keep people safe as this pandemic continues … We offer you Worship and Small Groups In-Person and on Zoom (Hybrid)! Thanks for connecting with our website! If you are new to our website, we invite you to share your contact information with us under “Contacts” to receive the latest recurring link to Worship, and updated information on Small Groups. “Like Us” on Facebook.  Our Web Address:  https://umcsantacruz.org

Rainbow Heart

Join us as you grow deeper in your faith.  Whoever you are and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome to grow with us.

Our Zoom Small Groups continue every Tuesday; first, third and fourth Thursdays, and on Wednesday mornings; Hybrid options are available for many of our Small Groups.

New This Month:  Safe Communion offered on the 1st Sunday; Outdoor Mask requirement has been relaxed; Passing of the Peace will be more interactive.

Enrich your spirit; let us know how we can support you!                   

Take a peek at our Hybrid Worship for October . . . .

October 3rd – Communion – Psalm 26. 

This Psalm is a reminder of both the Book of Job and Proverbs 16:18 (Pride comes before disaster and arrogance before the fall.) 

Ask yourself these spiritual questions: 

Worship 10-03-21
Photograph by Johnny Miller, “Unequal Scenes”

  • Does pride get in the way of interacting with people from around the world? 
  • Is arrogance found in my prayer life? 
  • Am I striving to be humble in my deepest spiritual life?
  • Where does pride and arrogance get in the way of being able to focus on grace and service to God and one another?  

As we celebrate World Communion Sunday, be mindful of the needs in our world and our own community.

October 10th – Mark 10:17-31.

What are your thoughts on living faithfully and the concept of eternal life? (Have you seen the one season program Midnight Mass?  This does indeed stretch the reality as we think of ‘faithful living’.)

  • What if … eternal life was our current reality?! 
  • Would you act any differently?
  • Would you change your behaviors … why or why not?
  • What is it like for us to follow Jesus?
  • What are the ways we are extending our spiritual living to others?
Worship 10-10-21
Photo from a Small Group Walk

October 17th –  Job 38:1-7, 34-41; 42:2a, 5-6. 

Worship-10-17-21
Summer Desert Sky

You may wish to read the Book of Job.

Can we be satisfied in ‘not knowing all the answers to our questions’?!  This may be our biggest human struggle.  Job wants answers!  Job leads with his Ego and the spiritual place of humility never enters into his frame of being until he relents! Are we listening for God?

What blocks us from being understanding and compassionate about new realities?

What spiritual practice might help you move from being narrowly focused to a place of possibility, compromise, and understanding? Where might you be needing to grow deeper in your spiritual humility?

October 24th – Mark 10:46-52.

When someone annoys you, what do you do?  How do you cope?  What are the changes that empower us into a deeper spiritual understanding of “seeing” with the eyes of faith?

Bartimaeus wants to see; the crowd is annoyed with him for being “in the way” …for living on ‘their street’…for bothering ‘their messiah’…for mucking up ‘their neighborhood’.

What we don’t always ‘see’ is how Bartimaeus becomes cared for by Jesus; We don’t see how his life is changed by the gift of faithful kindness. 

Worship 10-24-2021
What Do You See?’, a photo from our Small Group Walk

Jesus invites us to ‘see’ by teaching us to care about our neighbors….

October 31st – Mark 12:28-34.  Reformation Sunday and The Blessing of the Animals.

Worship 10-31-21
Cheshire Cat in an East Side Santa Cruz Alley’; photo by Joseph Jacobs

What a reforming thought … to experience all our loved ones in Worship!   You are invited to send a photo of your pet to the contact page of our website by Tuesday, October 26th as we explore ‘Loving God…Loving Neighbor’ on this Sunday.   The ‘Blessing’ part of our service will be outside.  How are you able to ‘love God and love your neighbors’ in our current climate?   Is there room in your heart to help support a refugee?   We are asked to get out of our little world and to stretch and grow…to Serve God and One Another … first by caring for those ‘in our own back yard’ (as Dorothy Gale discovered).

Annual Conference Livestream Worship may be accessed at 11:15 am through the Conference Website: https://cnumc.org

September 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Welcome to our September 2021 edition of activities at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz!

As this Pandemic continues to linger, we are maintaining our Hybrid Status in Worship and Small Groups!  If you are new to our website, we invite you to share your contact information with us under “Contacts” to receive the latest recurring link to Worship, and updated information on Small Groups.    Join us as you grow deeper in your faith.    Whoever you are and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome to grow with us.    Our Zoom Small Groups continue every Tuesday, Wednesday mornings, and the first, third, and fourth Thursdays.  Enrich Your Spirit…with us!

Take a peek at our Hybrid Worship for September . . . .

Western Service Workers Association

September 5th – Communion –  Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23.  On this Labor Day Sunday, we explore our common denominator.  How do we maintain a common thread to our humanity as we struggle with so much diversity … and … animosity in our community and our world?  In our Diversity … where is our Humanity?!  And in this mix, where do we find God? 

This illustration comes to us by way of the Western Service Workers Association website, by CF Payne.

September 12th –  Luke 14:12-14.  We are blessed to have as our speaker, Sam Altis, new to the Association of Faith Communities (AFC).  Sam will share spiritual updates and insights about our Unhoused Community and the work of AFC to address homelessness in Santa Cruz County.  His message will reflect on “It’s All Relational”.

Association of Faith Communities
Feet

September 19th – Mark 9:30a, 33-37.  Do you experience many “for the sake of argument” discussions?  While in discussion, do you find yourself escalated to the point of a ‘win or lose’ argument?  In such a situation, are you able to “remember yourself” as the “place where Jesus welcomes God in our midst”?  Remember, that the least can serve the most.

September 26th – Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, and 9:20-22.  Do you have an Anniversary Date where you remember ‘putting to rest the troubles you had with an enemy’?  Do you remain faithful to that anniversary experience?  There is an anniversary date commemorating this experience of freedom for Queen Esther and her people…a time of giving thanks to God and letting go.   Such ‘remembering and letting go’ can be a spiritual gift as we live into our future…. 

This picture of the Ester message, is a wood engraving after a Gustave Dor print

Ester Message

August 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Welcome to August 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz!

We are into our second month of Hybrid … Worship and Small Groups!  If you are new to our website, we invite you to share your contact information with us under “Contacts” to receive the latest recurring link to Worship, and updated information on Small Groups.  Join us as you grow deeper in your faith. Whoever you are and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome to grow with us.

Rainbow Heart

Our Zoom Small Groups continue every Tuesday; first, third and fourth Thursdays, and on Wednesday mornings. Enrich your spirit; let us know how we can support you!

Take a peek at our Hybrid Worship for August . . . .

Boat on Lake

August 1st – Communion – John 6:24-35. For the next two weeks we hear about Jesus being the ‘Bread of Life’.  Does Communion speak to you?   How have you come to your belief system? Was it the result of miraculous signs, ongoing growth and faith development, a personal or spiritual experience, or some other way(s)?  How are you intentionally growing in your faith, and what can we offer to support you on your spiritual journey?

August 8th – John 6:35, 41-51.  How did you experienced the ‘living bread’ this week?  What are the ways you have been aware of your spiritual growth in the last month?  How have these experiences informed your interaction with your neighbors and the world around you?  What spiritual coping mechanism allow you to not get ‘stress out’, but grow deeper in sharing the grace of God with others?  What gets in your way of remaining centered on your faith journey?

Bread
Anadama Sour Dough Bread, courtesy of Joseph Jacobs
Plant Growing from Book

August 15th – I Kings 2:10-12 and 3:3-14. We hear about King Solomon over the next two weeks.  Solomon asked for a discerning mind when he became King, following his father, David’s reign for 40 years.  Think back 40 years ago (or at a significant moment in time when you were making a major decision/life choice).  What do you remember asking for/yearning for in that time?  What resulted from your yearning?  If you were to prayerfully ask God for something now (with that wisdom you have acquired over time), what might that “something” be?  You can still spiritually mature; what are your possibilities?

August 22nd – I Kings 8:1. 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. Where are you finding God most present in your life?  What are the ways God extends a welcoming/forgiving presence though you to others — even if they are from another faith tradition or have different cultural values than yourself?  How is God calling you to be welcoming of a sojourner as you encounter one another on the journey of life?

Labyrinth
Labyrinth from our Wednesday Small Group Walk, Spring Street entrance of Pogonip near UCSC, courtesy of Pastor Jay
Fig Tree
Figs on the East Side of Santa Cruz, courtesy of Joseph Jacobs

August 29th – Song of Solomon 2:8-13. This rarely read book of the Bible could provide great insight to us as we begin and continue to nurture our most intimate relationships.  It is the celebration of love; spiritually and physically, with all the senses!  Love is clearly to be celebrated, glorified, and encouraged!  What are the experiences of love that you observe?  What adjustments need to be embraced so that love can be affirming and enriching and safe?  What are the ways we can confirm that love is love and Do No Harm?!  What love(s) needs to be affirmed in our time?  What harm(s) need to be eliminated so that we can embrace the positive nature of love?

July 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Stined Glass Window

July 4th – Communion.  Mark 6:1-13 invites us to revisit what it is like to gather once again in person after this long period of sheltering-in-place. 

We remember that Jesus was not welcomed in his hometown. 

He left the dust from his feet in that community, gathered a following of faithful disciples, and sent them out to care for all whom they met.

How are we challenged to share our faith in new and inviting ways? 

What will be our way of Spiritual Welcome in this new era? 

July 11th.  II Samuel 7:1-13 reminds us that David was obsessed to provide a Sanctuary for God.  Yet God was interested in how David would care for God’s people.  As we enter into this Hybrid Time of Spirituality, interacting with people in person and on Zoom, how will we ensure care for one another in our community and throughout the world?  What will be our focus in this near era?  Are we envisioning where and how we will grow — the substance of our growing in faith with God and one another?!

Church with Rainbow
Sunbeam on Pond

July 18th.  Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 provides us with the understanding and the challenge of how to “spiritually feed” people on their journey of life, as well as how to care for the healing of so many people … locally and globally.  Pat and Bob’ picture caught the essence of this concept.  How can we be instruments of God’s healing in our own lives as well as in the lives of our neighbors . . . .

We are living in the reality of a post-shelter-in-place, as we witness the reality that sickness and unrest are still surrounding us.  What are the ways God is calling us to respond?

July 25th.  John 6:1-14 invites us to literally feed those who are seeking to spiritually grow as well.  Jesus asks us to serve; to sit with those in need; to gather up the leftovers and to share what we have.  As we maneuver past sheltering-in-place, where will we find our strength and our resolve to answer “YES!” to this call to grow and serve with grace and understanding.  What resources and commitments will we personally need to share the resources God has given us?

Bread

June 2021 at the United Methodist Church Santa Cruz

Schwan Lake

On a recent in-person walk at Schwan Lake State Park (located behind Simpkins Family Swim Center), this picture depicts our first outdoors Small Group Meeting. We welcome you to join us on Wednesdays at 11 am.  Locations change as we feel so moved; send us an email through our website https://umcsantacruz.org for the latest information each week. 

While we begin to ease restrictions during the month of June in preparation for our Hybrid Zoom Worship and Small Group gatherings beginning on July 4th, we invite you to check out our website, and join us to grow deeper on your spiritual journey.  Whoever you are and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome to grow with us.  Please join us in June on Sunday mornings at 10:45 am for Zoom Worship.

Fellowship Gathering begins at 10:30 am.  Make contact on this website for a Zoom link.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, where the illnesses of our broken world continue to confront us, we celebrate the healing power of God’s Grace!   We hope you experience this healing on your faith journey.

Rainbow Heart

Our Zoom Groups continue online every Tuesday; first, third and fourth Thursdays, and Sunday mornings. Enrich your spirit; let us know how we can support you!

Take a peek at Zoom Worship for June . . . .

Communion

June 6th – Communion.  Psalm 138 begs the question, “How do we sing God’s ways in this time of our lives?  How do we deal with the prayer request (in light of this pandemic) “don’t let go of what your hands have made, God”?! – especially if we also believe that God made heaven and earth and calls all of creation, good!

June 13th – This image of a quilt made by Beatrice Pettyway (1928-88) will enhance the message by Reverend Alice Ann Glenn, as she shares her message on “Letting God Guide” us based on I Samuel 15:34 -16:13.

Hearts

June 20th invites us to explore times such as these through the reading of II Corinthians 6:1-13.  How do we express the Grace of God which comes to us . . . in the midst of goodness and adversity?  How do we open wide our hearts?  We know sleepless nights and stressful situations.  How do we express generosity in our hearts?!

June 27th will offer two worship experiencesUMC Santa Cruz will focus its last Zoom Worship Service on Mark 5:21-42; ‘how does healing find its way to you?’ 

Our Annual Conference will offer the Service of Ordination and Commissioning, livestreamed, from 10-noon. Access for this service can be found on https://cnumc.org

Healing Hands

May 2021 at the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

We are grateful to give credit to Trey Ratcliff for this beautiful rendition of Natural Bridges, here in Santa Cruz.

While we may still be sheltering in place as the pandemic begins to ease up following vaccinations; we remain zooming.   And so we invite you to continue to join us, as we plan the joint-venture of combining in-person activities with zoom activities, beginning in July.  Please join us this month on Sunday mornings at 10:45 am for Zoom Worship!  Fellowship Gathering begins at 10:30 am.  Zoom Links to our Worship Services and our Small Groups can be secured by sending your contact information to us via this website.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, where the illnesses of our broken world continue to confront us, we celebrate the healing power of God’s Grace!   We hope you experience this healing on your faith journey.

Our Zoom Groups continue online every Tuesday; first, third and fourth Thursdays, and Sunday mornings. 

Holu Week

Enrich your spirit; let us know how we can support you! Whoever you are, and wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome here! Take a peek at Zoom Worship for May . . .

Chris Kelly Fish
Artwork by Chris Kelley

As we move through this pandemic into the unknown new reality of our future … to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, to continue to wear masks in the crowd or not, and to join in-person activities or continue to live our lives through online ventures, we will spend time re-acquainting ourselves with our new reality post-COVID.

On May 2nd, Communion Sunday, we will explore Acts 8, and see how Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch learned a new way of being post-resurrection.  What can we learn from their experience so long ago?  How are we growing and how do we grow, a “new” faith community, reaching out to existing and new neighbors?  

Each Other.  What a simple statement!  And yet, with racial tensions and violence continuing, loving one’s neighbor is challenging … more difficult than it was to learn how to shelter in place!  Yet, we did learn how to shelter, wear masks, and stay six feet apart … for the care and safety of our neighbors.  Loving our neighbors is something we have yet to fully embrace as a society.  And this is literally killing us all!  On May 9th, focusing on John 15, we will explore how intentionally sharing love as we move out of this pandemic into our new reality can help.  Are we capable of feeling “loved enough” to share our loving God with others? 

Chris Kelly Flowers
Artwork by Chris Kelly
Tunnel
Artwork by Bob and Patricia Verheul

As we move out of this time of pandemic, what have we  developed through our spirituality, our leadership, and/or our survival skills (cooking, cleaning, gardening, technical skills, or about being an extravert or an introvert?)

On May 16th, we will explore through Acts 1, how the early faith community had to grow after the resurrection, by choosing a new apostle to help lead the faith after the death of Judas.  Our post-pandemic task is to begin to reconnect in a more personal way with our neighbors.  Is it possible to be a new creation in this new era?  YOU BET!!! 

We are in this together . . . let’s help one another to live anew in faith.

Pentecost 2021 … May 23rd.  We often refer to this Sunday as “The Birthday of the Church”.  From Acts 2 we hear the story that is so familiar to the Christian Faith Tradition, kind of like sitting around the meal table during our most significant celebrations … a birthday party, an anniversary, graduation, a holiday event, retirement or even a memorial!  Pentecost is like swapping stories:  “tell us the one about…” or “remember when…” or “what will you do now?”  Today, we hear how the Spirit came into our midst!  As we move from pandemic to re-entry into our ‘unknown reality’, what will we do differently in our spiritual lives as a community of faith?  How will we invite others to ‘sit around the table’ once again and explore our visions and dreams for this new time.  Pentecost is so much more than having a slice of cake!   

This is our time to begin anew … safely, healthy, neighborly.  Where will your faith take you/take our faith community … as we are empowered by the Spirit?! 

Pentecost 2021
Artwork by Patricia Verheul
Sidewalk Art

May 30th returns us to the ‘heart of street art’ once again.  So Diverse; separate, yet unified.  We are desperate to try and set a new reality as we move into this new reality of living with the realities of COVID-19.  We have a lot of repair work to attend to “in-person”.  People have been hurt and our world is still hurting.  We are not yet healed; we are not yet whole.  On this Peace with Justice Sunday, we will address the justice issues of poverty, “homelessness”, isolation, continued racism and sexism, and the  new reality of in-person safety issues.  So many things to deal with!  Healing our world; walking with our neighbors; being kind. What are the new ‘survival skills’ we need; what “faith tools’ are we lacking, so that our communities/our nation/our world can find healing?  Romans chapter 8 will be our guide.

Easter Continues . . . . Hallelujah!!!

Join us in continuing to celebrate the Season of Easter on Zoom, Sunday mornings at 10:45 am Sunday!  Fellowship Gathering begins at 10:30 am.  Zoom Links to our Worship Services and our Small Groups can be secured by sending your contact information to us via this website.

 Even in the midst of a pandemic, where the illnesses of our broken world continue to confront us, we celebrate the message of Easter which never ends!  The healing grace of God in Christ is with us!           

Here is a peek at the rest of April . . . .

Earth Day

We witness to our faith as we celebrate on this April 18th Sunday, not only Earth Day, but our care of Native American Ministries

We will reflect upon how God is opening up our minds to understand the needs of the crisis of our earthly strife and racial tensions, and how God is inviting us—calling us, really—to respond to the earth and our neighbors with kindness.  Luke 24:36-48

You may be able to guess the focus of the Good Shepherd scripture we will use  reading on April 25th … John 10:11-18.

We could all use a ‘Good Shepherd’ to care for us and guide us and be reminded of what can happen in our lives and our community/nation/world when we are not guided by a gentle, spirited soul … who is constantly having to remind us how to live. 

heep

The Celebration of Easter Continues!

Join us this Sunday, April 11, 2021, as Alice Ann Glenn joins us once again to share the message based on Acts 4:32-37.

Alice Ann reminds us that we are called, as Easter People, to do certain thing…care for those in need is just one example…and that not all the things we are called to do fall into our comfort zone!

May we continue the celebration of Easter … it isn’t just one day!  It’s a lifetime!!

Healthy Blessings to you….

Zoom Access for Worship and Small Groups:  send us your contact information via the ‘Contact’ tab on this website, and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible. 

Thank you for helping to grow in your faith by visiting our website!

Holy Week 2021 and Beyond . . . To Easter

Zoom Links for these Holy Week services can be secured by contacting us via the ‘Contact’ tab and sending us your contact information, at least one hour prior to the beginning of each service.

We began our Holy Week Journey with Palm Sunday on Sunday, March 28th. Often referred to as “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”, we waved palm branches on Zoom, and celebrated with beautiful music and the meaningful message of Mark’s version of the Palm Sunday story (Mark 11:1-11).

Take time to breathe in the message of new life this week . . . .

On Thursday, April 1st (no foolin’!), we gather at 7:30 pm to participate in our second annual Taize Service for Holy Thursday. This service helps us remember our journey of faith that began with the exodus of the Jewish Slaves from Egypt, escaping from the hardship of the Pharaoh…from Passover to the Promised Land. We conclude this meditative service with ‘The Last Supper’.

Communion
Good Friday

Good Friday at noon, marks the journey we all take to Easter. This service will combine familiar hymns and meaningful music with times for prayers and meditation/reflection time.


We will focus on the seven last phrases/words that Jesus spoke from the cross.


Be in this time with us, that you may find support and understanding are we seek to be a people who find God’s healing through grace!

We culminate our Holy Week activities with the glorious message of new life on Easter! Join us as we gather on Zoom at 10:45 am Sunday morning to witness to our faith! Fellowship Gathering begins at 10:30 am. Hear the familiar music of this season that carries us into the rest of the year … even in the midst of a pandemic, where the illnesses of our broken world continue to confront us! Still, the message of Easter is clear: we find healing grace through the journey we take with God in Christ!

Easter

Welcome to this Season of Lent

In 2021, allow these days to become a Spiritual Season for Healing.

Traditionally, Lent begins with the Service of Ash Wednesday, where we confront our own mortality, and confess our waywardness to God within the community of faith, reflecting upon our life with Jesus during his journey of redemption.  The color of the season is purple, reminding us of Jesus’ passion.

Lent traditionally begins with the Service of the Imposition of Ashes on the forehead, reminding us of repentance and reconciliation, the “giving up” of our ways which separate us/do harm to God, ourselves, our neighbors, and the environment.  Preparation for the Christian Commitment through Baptism was made during this season, as well as an opportunity to return to the spiritual center of one’s core being. 

Lent is the opportunity for you to have a “Spiritual Tune-up”, and to deepen your relationship with God and one another, to seek forgiveness, and to live toward the renewal of freedom found at Easter.

In this time of Pandemic, the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz is making changes to the Season of Lent for the purpose of safety.  We are emphasizing our need, and the world’s need, for Physical and Spiritual Healing.  We have offered ‘Lenten Bags of Healing’ which provide opportunities to focus on the nurture and healing of yourself and the woundedness of our world.  We are inviting you to spend time each day to be part of God’s Healing Touch.

As you journey through this season of renewal, may you reflect upon the light of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ during these 40 days and nights, remembering how Jesus spent time in prayer and contemplation, resisting the temptation to follow his way rather than serving God and neighbor, healing, and teaching.

The Monterey Circuit Area United Methodist Churches have provided a Virtual Ash Wednesday Service (see link below) for your use.

Ash Wednesday Worship

May God’s Healing Touch Be Yours in this Pandemic Lenten Journey.

Pastor Jay K Pierce

United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz