Sunday, December 21, 2014

Almost here

Well, it's almost here.


What a busy season. Lots of excitement and anticipation of wonder and wonderful things. I'm excited about our fast approaching Christmas Eve program. It promises to be a beautiful, blessed event, and I invite you all to come join in the story and the music.

Christmas Eve Service at Bethel
 Music and Candlelight
7pm Wednesday December 24th, 2014
Bethel Congregational Church, UCC 
536 N Euclid Ave, Ontario, CA 91762


Christmas  -  along with many traditions nd other winter holidays: 
Las Posadas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Dewali, Winter Solstice.

 Busy. Exciting. Anticipatory.  

What an exhausting time.

It's been a challenging season for many. On the surface, it's a season of celebration and joy. But whether because of personal loss, grief, illness, injury, financial challenges, job loss, or just the difficult tasks of everyday living, the holiday season is often not all happiness and light. It is often a stressful, difficult time.

And yet, we persevere. We hope. We live. We share. We seek the light. 
And the light seeks us.

The challenge is to embrace the hope and the light, and then, be it and share it.

Share it in a very real and tangible way.

Not just by posting cute kittens and puppies on Facebook (but please do - it may brighten someone's day!). But also by living that light and love in out communities. One on one. One person at a time. Help someone. Whether you know them or not.

Help someone. 
Even small things count.
A cup of water. A quarter. Maybe a dollar. 
Some gas. A room for the night. A coat. A bowl of soup.
Help someone fix something, or clean something.
Give of your time.
Forgive a debt, or an offense.
Apologize to someone if you have wronged them.
Accept someone's apology.
Pay back a debt.
Say "Thank-you" to someone who helps you, and mean it.
Accept someone.
Believe in someone, and tell them so.

If you are one of the "lucky ones", one of the blessed, share your blessings. That's how blessings (and people) grow.

Along these lines, I recently came across this poem, "Blue Christmas", published at

I close today as I share with you here the entire entry from the page referenced above. 

Here is the text from the daily devotional page "A Blue Christmas Poem", with an introduction by John Stuart. 

Psalm 42:5-6a – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (NIV)

"Christmas can be a painful and lonely time for some people. At our candlelight service, we light a Blue Christmas candle for those who are grieving, hurting, or ill during the festive season. This poem is recited as the blue candle is lit. It's a very meaningful and emotional time for some members in our congregation." ...John Stuart

      A Blue Christmas Poem
    There's no room at Christmas for sadness,
    There's no place for hearts that are blue.
    All the world wants to hear
    Is a word full of cheer,
    Not a sigh, not a tear, not from you.

    There's no room at Christmas for loneliness,
    There's no place for your emptiness and grief.
    All the world wants is peace,
    Mistletoe and Christmas trees,
    Not a heartache that mars its beliefs.

    There's no room at Christmas for sickness,
    There's no place or time to be ill.
    All the world wants is health,
    Prosperity and wealth,
    Not a pain that can spoil its goodwill.

    There's no room at Christmas for Jesus,
    There's no place for His family, too,
    All the world would not share,
    No one seems to really care,
    A stable will just have to do.

    Yes, there's room at Christmas for sadness,
    There's a place in God's heart for you.
    For He knows pain and loss,
    Which He felt on the cross,
    So this candle is lit here for you…
    For Christ knows what it's like to be blue.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's early on Saturday morning, the cats got me up to feed them, and as I prepare for a busy "weekend" (it's really not an "end" is it?), I am considering that sometimes, even when it seems that there is really just "too much to do", it all works out. I am drawn to pray that people's hearts will be filled the "heart of the matter" - real love for God and for each other. 

I will miss those who don't make it to church, again, this Sunday. I will rejoice with those who do. I hope that some who have not been with us recently will reappear, and that all of us continue to be the extravagantly welcoming people that we are. 

YOU"RE INVITED - please come!

I rejoice that we will be welcoming new members in a few weeks (November 16th). Interested in joining? We'd love to have you become a part of things at Bethel. Here is a page with some info about UCC/Bethel membership (click), Check it out - and contact me. Click here to email.

Yes - a busy weekend. It will require lots of energy from me - There's a symphony rehearsal, a brass ensemble rehearsal, a memorial service, and a fundraising Spaghetti Dinner for our "Furry Friends Pet Food Bank" - and that'a all on Saturday! (Sunday brings choir rehearsal, worship service, fellowship, council meeting, and more....)

I pray for energy, endurance, and peace throughout it all - for me, and for you. And I pray that all will rejoice and participate in their own portions of all the energetic events...

Peace, everyone - see you soon. 

By the way - here's some cat pics for your enjoyment...

And here's my coffee...(I wish - I actually have just one cup at the ready...)

:-) - see you all soon!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Homecoming Sunday is almost here! - I can hardly believe that it is THIS Sunday - and that means it has been 1 year since I formally accepted Bethel's call to serve as Pastor as well as Minister of Music.

I love doing it - it's challenging and rewarding  -  and it's definitely the place for me to be.

Let's fill the place and raise the roof Sunday  - Bethel is Home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hi gang: I've just added my "official" Blogspot Blog to the Bethel Website navigation, so that Bethel website visitors can drop in to the blog easily.

I invite you to post comments and have fruitful discussions about what I post here. I hope to enable a positive, uplifting forum.

I often will post the Bethel sermon videos as available, along with other things that interest me, tweak my curiosity, and inspire me.

Tonight (Tuesday August 12) at 7pm Bethel joins together at Eden Gardens Fusion Restaurant in Upland (392 E A St, Upland, CA 91786) for our monthly "Pub Theology". I'd like to get us talking about our vision for Bethel and our present needs and priorities...let's make it a mini-retreat/planning evening. Please join us! All Bethel members and friends are welcome (and plan to have a great meal - prices are reasonable)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Food for thought...

Bethel Stained Glass Window
Stained Glass Window at Bethel
While preparing for tomorrow's sermon and wonderful Baptism & New Member service at Bethel UCC, I came across these  quotes/reflections. I hope that they enrich your spirit...

Barbara Brown Taylor, 21st century
"We are the dreamers of the promise, set apart to bless all the families of the earth….It comes when all our conniving has blown up in our faces and our luck has run out." This is "where the dream touches down, reminding us that we sleep at the gate of heaven, where it has pleased God to be with us…where the bright rungs of God's ladder touch down on our own   ordinary pieces of the earth"

Mother Teresa, 20th century
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

Jerome, 4th century bishop
"The words the Lord spoke--'Lest gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them'--leave room for repentance. We are advised not to be quick in cutting off a fellow believer....'"

Georgia Harkness, 20th century
"The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world."

Thomas Long, 21st century
"The simple fact that the church always has its share of hypocrites does not make the gospel hypocritical, nor does it destroy the integrity of God."