The Universal Language

The Universal Language

This Sunday we remember and celebrate the first time that Jesus’ followers experienced the power of God’s Spirit inside them. God had been at work in the world since creation, especially in Jesus, but now God was hard at work in and through them. The Spirit helps them see beyond differences in their neighbors’ language and culture, and helps them realize that God is now in covenant with the entire world. The Spirit has been nudging Christians to love in new and courageous ways ever since, and encourages us to do the same today.

 

This Sunday we remember and celebrate the first time that Jesus’ followers experienced the power of God’s Spirit inside them. God had been at work in the world since creation, especially in Jesus, but now God was hard at work in and through them. The Spirit helps them see beyond differences in their neighbors’ language and culture, and helps them realize that God is now in covenant with the entire world. The Spirit has been nudging Christians to love in new and courageous ways ever since, and encourages us to do the same today.

May 17th 2015 – Re-Created

Bill BartlettThis week we welcome a first time guest speaker, Bill Bartlett. He brings his message from John 12:

“Re-Created” – In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero writes: “The Bible does not spin the flaws and weaknesses of its heroes. Moses was a murderer. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. Peter rebuked God! Noah got drunk. Jonah was a racist. Jacob was a liar. … And all these people send the same message: that every human being on earth, regardless of their gifts and strengths, is weak, vulnerable, and dependent on God and others.” Dependence on God means a letting go of false self and being re-created to be the children God created us to be.

May 10th 2015 – Love, The Way Things Grow

Pastor Jason brings another message from 1 John this week:

Love, the Way Things Grow:  Let’s be honest, loving well—especially our neighbors—is often a really burdensome task. Yet John makes this promise: this love is how we overcome the world, i.e. all of the things that stand in opposition to God’s kingdom, all of the things that scream out the opposites of humility, shalom, beauty, generosity, justice, mercy. How does love help us grow and overcome the world? And what is the connection between love and God’s commands? John says they aren’t burdensome, but does he recognize that there are 613 of them in the Bible—365 in the Hebrew Scriptures alone?!?!

May 3rd 2015 – Love Abides

Pastor Jason finds this lesson in John:

Love Abides – One of the great metaphors for God that comes out of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament) is of God as a gardener. God is the one who nourishes and grows the people of God. In this section of John’s gospel, Jesus affirms this metaphor for God and refers to himself as a vine that produces many branches. These branches grow strong and produce much fruit when they remain with the vine, just like Christians become more like Jesus when we study his teachings and have compassion on people like he did. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint—it’s a way of life that helps us become more loving and more hopeful. Communion will be celebrated.

Apr 26th 2015 – When You’re Feeling Sheepish

Pastor Jason will be preaching from Psalm 23 & John:

“When You’re Feeling Sheepish” This week’s scriptures are two of the Bible’s most well known passages. Psalm 23 begins by using a using a comforting metaphor for God—the metaphor of a faithful shepherd who accompanies us during the most difficult times in our lives, always seeking to lead us to still waters. In John 10, Jesus uses this metaphor to talk about himself, how he is the Good Shepherd who will accompany his sheep always and even lay down his life to protect his sheep. In what ways do we need to be God to be our shepherd right now? In what ways can we reflect our shepherd’s love for others?

Apr 12th 2015 – If You Are Willing

Mark_192Our special guest speaker, Rev. Mark Makinney  shares from Luke 5 this week:

“If You Are Willing” – A man comes to Jesus covered in leprosy; every part of his body in pain and highly infectious and there is no cure. The best doctors are impotent to heal. His family is powerless to help. Religious leaders call him unclean. His future is full of isolation, bigotry, shame, blindness, possibly loss of fingers and toes, starvation and death. He has nothing but despair and sickness to offer Jesus, and yet Jesus Christ does what?

Apr 5th 2015 – The Rest of the Story

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio  shares from Acts 10 this week:

“The Rest of the Story” – After Jesus’ Resurrection, Peter finally understands his significance and his teachings. He finally understands that the message of Jesus is for everyone, no matter what country we come from, what color our skin is, or how we’ve thought of God in the past. Jesus’ Resurrection signals a new day for all of creation. The fact that Peter finally understands Jesus is almost as shocking as the Resurrection itself! The Resurrection helps us understand that God often appears when we least expect God, and it has the same power to move us from despair to hope, and from sorrow to joy today.

Communion will be celebrated.

Mar 29th 2015 – Palm Sunday – Peaks and Valleys

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio  shares from both Mark and Philippians this week:

“Peaks and Valleys” – When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people cheered! The crowd that was gathered there thought that all the rumors about Jesus being the Messiah might really be true, and that he was there to liberate them in a military operation. But they would be disappointed very quickly—Jesus rode in to town on a donkey, a symbol of humility and vulnerability, not pride and conquest. Jesus wasn’t there to overthrow the Roman occupiers; he was there to make one final demonstration of his love and identification with humanity. He would expose himself to the most difficult trials that we face—rejection, loneliness, and death. This willingness to humble himself to identify with us, Paul says in Philippians, is what Christian faith is all about. The life of faith is a life of humility, not pride. It’s a life of risk, not safety.

Mar 22nd – Learning by Heart

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio brings his exciting message from Jeremiah and John:

“Learning by Heart” – The prophet Jeremiah longs for the day when all people know God intimately. He longs for the time in which God’s teachings no longer have to be looked up in ancient scriptures, but are written on people’s hearts. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” is God’s vision for creation. This was also Jesus’ vision. So often religious elites would quote scriptures to justify violence or judgment, but Jesus told them that they misunderstood the scriptures. How do we as Jesus’ followers today avoid the dangers of reading the scriptures in a way that excludes others? How can we share God’s vision of people knowing God not through just scriptures, but through our own hearts also?

Mar 21st 2015 – Installation and Ordination of Pastor Jason

United Church of Christ (Congregational) Of San Luis Obispo Joyfully invites you to the Ordination and Installation of Jason T. Sisk-Provencio Saturday, March 21, 2015, 12 Noon

Reception to celebrate will follow in our Fellowship Hall

We hope you will be able to join us!

If you are unable to be with us, we would honor your presence through your prayers.

Mar 15th 2015 – Living The Light of God’s Love

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio offers his message from John 3 and Ephesians 2:

“Living The Light of God’s Love” – The Gospel reading for next week contains the most well known verse in the entire Bible—John 3:16. We see it on bulletin boards at sporting events and even on the bottom of fast food cups. It is often used to tell people that they must believe in Jesus or else be punished. It makes it sound like it’s all our doing! In the Epistle reading though, Paul talks about Jesus differently—that forgiveness and peace with God is really all God’s doing. The appearance of Jesus means that God has already promised to love us and journey alongside us. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us more…or less.

Mar 8th 2015 – Stop and (let) Go

Eldonna EdwardsEldonna Edwards is back! She teaches from both Matthew and Ehpesians:

“Stop and (let) Go ” – The Bible teaches us that we cannot give from a heart that is filled with anger, guilt or resentment.  How can we learn to detach from our suffering in order to be fully present with ourselves, our friends, our God and our community?

Mar 1st 2015 – Disappointment with God

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio continues in Mark

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.

Communion will be served.

Feb 22nd 2015 – Being the Beloved

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio shares from both Genesis 9 & Mark 1:

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.

 

Feb 15th 2015 – That’s What It’s All About

Pastor Jason-Sisk Provencio shares from Mark 9:

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?

Bulletin for the day

Feb 8th 2015 – What Does God Look Like?

Rich CarselRich 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?

Feb 1st 2015 – Confronting the Powers

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.

Communion will be celebrated.

Jan 25th 2015 – Second Chances

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.

Join us after service for our Annual Meeting!

Jan 18th 2015 – Reconnecting Hearts and Hands

Pastor Jason Sisk-Provencio shares 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. 

Our special guest pianist is Dianne Steinberg-Lewis

Please join us this week as Pastor Jason shares God’s word and we take a moment to celebrate the Life and Legacy of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan 11th 2015 – “How to Become Eccentric”

Rev. Richard KurraschWe welcome Rev. Rich Kurrasch back as he shares his message from Matthew 3:

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?