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

The Epiphany Light Still Shines — January 6, 2021

“. . . the star . . . stood over the place where Jesus was . . . and there was joy!” ~~~ Matthew 2:9-10, adapted

Click the link below to view the Coastal Clergy Statement of Solidarity :

In the midst of poverty … pandemic … and political crisis … the Light of God still shines.

You get to choose how to respond.

I pray that you will help shine God’s Light which will outshine the systems of oppression . . . to help ease conflict and bring comfort where hate has found residence.

May Comfort be your Glad Tidings of Justice and Peace.

Love, Pastor Jay; United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz CA

Friday, December 25, 2020 … Christmas Day

“A Child is born to us . . . Wonderful Counselor … Mighty God … Eternal Creator … The Long-Expected One of Peace.” ~~~ Isaiah 9:6

“Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” ~~~ Luke 2:19

We have been most fortunate in this “Shelter In Place … Covid 19 Year”, to be able to walk our dogs in our neighborhood three times a day. Each walk grants us an opportunity to experience some kind of ‘newness of life … encouragement of live with health, beauty, and grace…an opportunity of shalom’!

The ‘street art’ has been amazing; yards that have been brought back to life, bear-hugs in the window, signs that remind us to be kind, to thank one another – especially those on the front line of service, a call to respect one another in our diverse land, black lives matter, life is precious, and the amazing chalk drawings that have been created! Hopscotch … untold animal creations … and this Christmas Tree.

In the silence of that oh holy night so long ago … we remember the most amazing life that was born. In the midst of a census … a couple forged untold danger and found respite in a cattle stall. A young mother gave birth to a child who would grow up to be persecuted for his belief. Yet his parents taught him to care for all … not just for some. That night … in the midst of intolerance … love was truly born!

We celebrate that night in the midst of our own tragic circumstances. May we remember that LOVE is the greatest equalizer on earth. Without Love … life is not worth our breathing. Remember that first breath of life that Christmas night … the pain of Mother Mary … the anxiety of Father Joseph … the warmth of the Light of God. May we never forget. May LOVE ALWAYS WIN. May our fractured world find healing.

May you be touched by the light of that Christmas night … and may you reach out to your neighbors far and wide with that warm light of love. Give Thanks … Be Grateful … Let Love Guide Your Every Gesture. And be the Love of Jesus God intended you to be from the very beginning.

Prayer for Christmas (Johann Rist, 1641; translated by Fred Pratt Green, 1986) : Come, dearest child, into our hearts, and leave your crib behind you! Let this be where the new life starts for all who seek and find you. To you the honor, thanks, and praise, for all your gifts this time of grace; come conquer and deliver this world, and us, forever.

Jay P., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Thursday, December 24, 2020 … An Advent of Love

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. ~~~ Luke 2:6-7

The Manger Scene (pictured above) has been a part of my Christmas experience for my entire life. It was given to my mother from her boss at that time (Rear Admiral Edward Hutchinson) shortly after the birth of my older sister in 1944. An important part of ‘Decking the Halls’ each year for my family was setting up the Manger Scene. My sister and I would carefully position each of the manger pieces in what we considered the proper spots. Of course, we continued to reposition them throughout the Christmas season – sometimes using them to re-enact the various parts of the Christmas story. The figures were much loved by we two little girls. Needless to say – all this love took a toll on the pieces which my Dad with great patience and love glued and re-glued various parts of the pieces (the lambs’ legs especially!) throughout the years. My mother gave the Manager Scene to me several years after I moved to California because she knew how much it meant to me.

Each year as I set up the Manger Scene I remember the story of the birth of Jesus, reflecting on how much God loves us, sending us Jesus to spread the message of love. A special Christmas song always comes to mind as I arrange the pieces in the stable:

Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine;
Love to God and neighbors, love for plea and gift and sign.

It’s all about Love! Amen.

Trish N., United Methodist of Santa Cruz

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 … An Advent of Love

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” ~~~Mark 1: 2-4,7-8

John the Baptist has always intrigued me. Here’s this guy, alone in the wilderness, living off the land and connected to God in ways we can only dream of. I connected to him immediately because, as a young man, my only two passions were God and the wilderness. I have always felt God’s calling strongest out in the mountains.

I remember one solo trip with my dog, Jazz. We were in the Dinky Lakes Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We were off trail, just wandering, focused on God and His creation. There was a stretch of time that God and Jazz and myself were One in Spirit, connected like never before. I was on top the mountain. As I came to look around me afterward, there were crystals everywhere, hundreds of them, laying on the earth around me. Were they there before my “One in Spirit” time? I don’t know. I don’t connect crystals with spirituality necessarily, except for the fact that they are an exceptional part of God’s creation, reminding us of His beauty. I didn’t take a single crystal from that mountain, considering it a sacred place.

The three years before that time were hard years. I had been laid bare and raw. But I feel God used those years to help me “Prepare A Way” for Him to enter into my being in a way that I could never doubt or forget.

John tells us to “Prepare A Way” – that we need to make a way for the Lord in the world, but it has to start inside ourselves first. Preparing a way for God’s peace and joy and love in our own hearts helps us to understand what we have and need to share with others to begin a “preparing of the way” in them. We are called to set ourselves “apart” from the world. That comes just by allowing the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. Imagine being “apart” from the world as much as John was. Would you eat grasshoppers and fight the bees and bears off for the honey? But people “flocked” to him to be baptized and to hear him speak. He even got to baptize Jesus. Wow! That’s got to be worth a few grasshoppers. John, what a guy!

Prayer for the Advent Day: Help me, O God, to be prepared for your light, and to share your gifts each and every moment. Amen.

Rick Z., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 … An Advent of Love

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~~~ Matthew 1:23 NRSV

God is with us.

Before we even knew God, God was there.

Throughout our past struggles and successes, God was there.

In our current stresses and anxieties, God is there.

As we deal with isolation and loneliness, God is there.

While we take steps forward from this place, God will be there.

Onward into life eternal in the presence of God, God will be there.

“Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

God is with us.

Prayer for Advent (adapted from Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.): God of Loving Light, guide me into giving the gift of your light this season … and in the seasons to come! Amen.

Gabe H., Aptos United Methodist Church