Disappointment with God – When Jesus tells his disciples that he must endure great suffering, betrayal, and misunderstanding, Peter doesn’t like what he hears. Mark says that he actually rebukes Jesus. But Jesus tells Peter that he is only looking at things from a small perspective. The larger perspective is that suffering is often the catalyst for growth. He says that in order to find peace and fulfillment, you must sometimes let go of them, and be open to difficult challenges. In our own lives today, how has suffering helped us grow? How has it helped us develop a larger perspective, and develop compassion for others? We will celebrate Communion as we remember Peter’s disappointment with God, and Jesus’ call for us to be open to suffering.
Being the Beloved – After the great flood, God made a covenant with Noah. God promised that Noah’s de-scendants and all the offspring of the animals on the Ark would never experience a great flood again. God gave them a rainbow as a sign of this promise. In Jesus this covenant was expanded, and it now includes all of humankind, whether they are No-ah’s offspring or not. As Noah was God’s beloved in ancient Israel, so Jesus is God’s beloved in his time, and into our time as well. We can be sure of God’s covenanted faithfulness in our own lives because of Jesus, just like Noah and his offspring trusted in God because of a rainbow, and a promise.
That’s What It’s All About – In the Christian year, we call this Sunday “Transfiguration Sunday”. Jesus is transformed from the One who enlightens the world to the One who is tested by the world. Transfiguration Sunday marks the transition from Epiphany to Lent. Up to now, Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is the one who works wonders and astonishes crowds. He feeds the hungry and heals the sick. But now Mark pauses and tells us something new about Jesus: he is God’s beloved, he is the one who lives in the constant awareness of God’s presence. But he is about to be tested—can he trust in God’s presence when his disciples, his family, and his culture reject him?
Rich Carsel joins us with his message from Exodus 15:1-2
What Does God Look Like? – Rich explores fundamental questions about our relationship with God, namely: Do you believe in God and, if so, why? And if you do, then what is your perception of God? Is God a “father” figure? Or a nourishing “mother”? Is God in human form, or in some other form? Just what does God look like? And why do you believe that? Have you always believed that God is as you now perceive him, or her, or it – to be? If your perception has changed over the years, why has it changed and how is it now different?
Pastor Jason SIsk-Provencio continues in Mark chapter 1:
Confronting the Powers – While teaching in Capernaum, Jesus caught the attention of the scribes, the scholars who interpreted the Scriptures. They noticed that he was more interested in doing than just sitting around talking about the Scriptures. He also caught the attention of a man who was in need of healing. Jesus healed him, reinforcing the perception that he was a man of action. Instead of just talking about God and religion, Jesus showed the reality of God and God’s love in his day. We do the same thing today as his followers.
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio brings his message from Jonah 3 and Mark 1
Second Chances – God believes in second chances, even when humanity doesn’t. Two texts today, one from the Hebrew Testament and one from the New Testament, testify to this. The first reading tells the story of Jonah and the town of Ninevah. Even though Jonah expected God to destroy Ninevah because of their evil ways and violence, God had compassion on them instead, and it changed the people of Ninevah. Our second reading tells us about how Jesus chose his first disciples. He didn’t choose religious “up and comers”—he chose people who humanity expected very little from. They were told that they could only be fishermen, but Jesus told them that they could do the same kinds of things that he did. And they did. What would happen if we extended second (and third) chances to others the way God and Jesus do? What if we extended this grace to ourselves? These chances are often the opportunities that we and others need to grow.
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencioshares from Amos 5:18-24
Reconnecting Hearts and Hands – The Hebrew prophet Amos warned his contemporaries that their violence, militarism, and neglect for the vulnerable was not the way of God. They thought that they were very religious since they went to the Temple regularly and observed the Holy Days. Amos said that what God really wanted was justice and righteousness. God wanted a world in which the powerless and the vulnerable were included along with the elite and the strong. It is hard to hear this scripture and not hear the voice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who worked for racial justice and righteousness in our own day. He was critical of much religion, arguing that it didn’t really help people or the world change. There was a disconnect between too many people’s beliefs and actions, or between their hearts and hands. How can we continue the work of Amos and Rev. King in our time? How can we make deeper connections between our own hearts and hands?
Returning with a little special music is Margaret Montgomery.
How to Become Eccentric - Flannery O’Connor said it well, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you odd.” Not likely to make the “Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions of All Time,” but becoming odd is an interesting, if not inevitable, prospect for those who follow too closely in the footsteps of the Master. Might it even serve as a mission statement for a people of God who find themselves at the dawn of a new year beginning a new chapter with their new pastor … that in uncovering and living into new truths, they do indeed become increasingly odd?
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio begins his first “official” week as our Pastor! He .shares from Isaiah 60:
“Acting on The Light” – Isaiah longed for a day when all people knew of God’s faithfulness and love the way that Israel did. He waited for a day in which strangers would bring gifts of gold and frankincense, and know God intimately like Israel did. As Christians, we believe that this ancient hope was realized in Jesus. Wise travelers came from the East, sensing that God was doing something wonderful and something new. We continue to remember and celebrate this event today.
Come and join us for a very special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Our Director of Music, Margaret Montgomery has been working hard putting together a special and intimate evening featuring Pastor Jason, Erin & Mikiah Montgomery, Tim Treaster, Leslie Cotham and our Sanctuary Choir. We light the last candle of advent, “The Christ Candle”. We then proceed through the evening with song, readings and special Christmas Memories. We end this night with Candlelight.
Here is what Margaret writes about this night:
As Christmas approaches, we often take time to reflect on and remember Christmases past. I, myself, have a multitude of happy memories of Christmas growing up and the time our family shared with friends and extended family. I was six years old when I had a first-hand experience of the Christmas story. At that time I learned Christmas was about more than Santa Claus and presents. Curious about others’ Christmas experiences, I have been interviewing several of our church members. The result is a wonderful collection of Christmas memories that will be shared at our annual Christmas Eve service. You are cordially invited to hear these stories, along with the re-telling of the Christmas story, and to hear and sing-a-long with the beloved songs of the season. Please come to remember, sing and rejoice!
This special night starts with a reception in our fellowship hall at 5:30pm we are serving hot chocolate, chai, and maybe a baked goodie or two. The actual service starts in the Sanctuary at 6pm. Your will not want to miss this night!
“There’s Something About Mary and Jesus” When Mary learns that God is planning to use her to bless all of creation through the birth of her son, Jesus, she is full of questions, not joy. How can this be, she wonders? How can a young, unmarried Jewish peasant be the one through whom God will fulfill all of God’s promises? In the midst of her doubts and questions, Mary trusts in God’s presence in her life, and gives birth to the Christ child.
Join Us as continue celebrating the Advent Season with the lighting of the “Candle of Peace”
Pastor Jasonbrings a special message from Isaiah, “God’s Promise, God’s Peace” – Isaiah begins the 40th chapter of his book with a fresh appreciation of God’s faithfulness and providence. In spite of the terrible circumstances that Israel was in at the time, Isaiah knows that God will deliver them from captivity, because God is faithful. This morning we will remember God’s faithfulness to all of God’s people by celebrating.
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio invites you to our gathering as we announce the Season of Advent! We begin by lighting the “Candle of Hope”.
We have made a tradition of getting our sanctuary and, hopefully, ourselves, ready for this special season by decorating the Christmas tree with Chrismons and by singing Christmas Carols – all in anticipation of this season of hope and expectation.
Chrismon is a combination of parts of two words: Christ and monogram. A Chrismon is just that; a monogram of Christ that is placed on a Christmas tree. These monograms or symbols are traditionally made in combinations of white and gold. White, the liturgical color for Christmas, contains all the colors of the spectrum and reminds us that Jesus brings to us in himself the fullness of what it means to be human; the gold reminds us of his majesty and glory. We use white lights on the tree to remind us that Christ is the “Light of the World.”
“Thanks-living” – In this parable from Matthew, Jesus calls those who carry on his mission of feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, visiting the sick and imprisoned, “sheep.” These sheep will inherit eternal life because they have given Jesus himself something to eat, have welcomed him, and have visited him while he was sick and in prison. They think that Jesus has made a mistake because they never did any of these things for him, but Jesus tells them that whenever they did these things for anyone, it is like they have done it for him. Why does Jesus identify so strongly with the lowly? And how can Jesus’ message help us to live and share more courageously, and more thankfully?
Pastor Jason is back and continues in Matthew: “Lose the Fear, Find your Self”
Exciting News!Our Pastoral Search Committee has selected Rev. Jason Sisk-Provencio as pastor of our church! There will be a Congregational Meeting December 7, 2014 right after our church service. The purpose of this meeting is to approve the committee’s selection.
To call a pastor, a quorum and a 2/3 vote is needed. If you are unable to attend this meeting, please request a ballot by contacting Tim at the office 805-544-1373 or Your completed ballot will then be submitted in absentia. Only current church members are eligible to vote. Not a member? There is still time to join before the vote!
“Is Your Tent Too Small?” – Just imagine … the San Luis Obispo Missionary Society, a ministry of the San Luis Obispo United Church of Christ (Congregational)–SLOMSSLOUCC, for short. Impossible? Unlikely? Scary? All the above? Who can say, but just in case, it might be a good idea to lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of your tent … just in case.
Rev. Andy McComb returns with his message from 1 Thessalonians and Matthew:
“Partners In Service” – Jesus sums up a major theme of today’s scriptures: “But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up” (Matthew 23:11-12). In Joshua, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant have to wade into the Jordan River before the waters part, allowing the people to walk across on dry ground. Jesus scolds the scribes and the Pharisees for forsaking servant ministry in favor of earthly recognition: the best seats in the synagogue, honor at banquets, and respect in the marketplaces. Paul reminds the church at Thessalonica that those who brought them the gospel worked day and night on their behalf so as not to be a burden on anyone. The psalmist describes the fate of the wicked and the righteous: The Lord turns the rivers of the wicked into parched ground, but transforms the deserts of the faithful into springs of water. Humility and gratitude for God’s blessings lead to servant ministry and a recognition of our dependence on God, on one another, and on God’s good earth.
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio is back and continues in Matthew:
What’s Love Got to Do with It? – The religious establishment in Jesus’ day repeatedly tried to trick him into saying something blasphemous or inconsistent with the Torah, the instruction that went all the way back to the foundations of Israel. And yet, Jesus very rarely answered their questions directly. But he does answer the question of what the greatest commandment is—he says that it is to love God with everything we’ve got and that the next greatest commandment is “like it”: to love our neighbor as ourself. What does Jesus mean that the second commandment is “like” the first? Does he mean that all we have to do is love? Does he mean that loving God is somehow connected to loving our neighbor? If so, why aren’t more religious people more loving? And how can we be more loving?
This week we welcome a first time speaker with us, Eldonna Edwards. She shares her message from 1 John 3:18:
“Love is a Verb” - The Bible teaches us that we should not love with deeds or tongue but with action and truth. (1 John 3:18). What’s the difference between deeds and action? How can we better minister to others through authentic service that is born of a genuine desire to make the world a better place?
Pastor Jason Sisk-Provenciocontinues in Philippians:
“Christian Mindfulness” – Paul ends his letter to the Christians at Philippi with some practical spirituality. Focus your mind, Paul says, on things that are pure, worthy of praise, commendable and excellent, and you will experience more peace in your life. In both Eastern and Western religious traditions, the discipline of mindfulness has helped many cultivate inner peace and self discovery. Instead of letting our restless “monkey minds” jump from one task to another, people have been able to slow down and be more present through every activity, and are often surprised at the beauty and wonder all around them. Maybe Paul’s practical advice to the Philippians can help us be surprised by joy and peace today.