Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Words, Lifestyle, and Lent

Rev. N. Adiel A. DePano Lenten message from FUMC Pasadena.

Words have the power to create. Henri Nouwen writes:

When God speaks, God creates. When God says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, “I love you,” and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage.

Stories of healing abound in the gospels. One such story describes how Jesus went to minister to Jairus’ daughter who had just died (Mark 5:35ff). Let’s pick up the story from verse 38:

When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.... After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

What strikes me about the healing stories in the gospels is that people sought Jesus and flocked to him in droves! They recognized the power of his words spoken in compassion. The experience so compelling that they recognized in Jesus a great prophet! In Mark 6:53-56 we read:

When Jesus and the disciples had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

You might be saying, “What do I need healing for?”

Our society is full of words: on billboards, on television screens, in newspapers and books. Words whispered, shouted, and sung. Words that move, dance, and change in size and color. Words that say, “Taste me, smell me, eat me, drink me, sleep with me,” but most of all, “buy me.” With so many words around us, we quickly say: “Well, they're just words.” Thus, words have lost much of their power.
But it seems that we have not lost a beat on our ability to inflict harm with our words. Words also have the potential to destroy as Henri Nouwen writes:

When we say, “I hate you,” we can destroy another person.

Our internal dialogue with the self could be anything but affirming and nurturing of the seed of God that is planted in our hearts. We are so capable of bombarding our inner self with words that harm – I’m not good enough. I’m an idiot. I’m a failure. I can’t do it. I don’t have what it takes. Our lives can be messy, filled with addiction, fretfulness, and fears.

For God, speaking and creating are the same. The holy season of Lent is a rich and potent season to experience the transformative and creative power of words of the Word of God! The Word that was made flesh at Christmas speaks volumes of God’s love, forgiveness, healing, acceptance, joy, and hope to us. Lent invites us to prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in order to make room for the indwelling of the Spirit. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection – so that his life-giving words and life-affirming teachings can take root in our lives and increase our capacity to speak and love as he did.

John Wesley gave Methodists “three simple rules” to abide by in growing our ability to be Christ-like in our lifestyle:
  1. Do no harm.
  2. Do good.
  3. Stay in love with God.

John Wesley believed that living a holy and good life required help from a caring community, commitment to the practice of spiritual discipline, and ongoing instruction. 

Wesley gave the Methodist movement General Rules which were the practical application of what it meant to follow Christ – they were outlined and the people were instructed on them within the class structure. Accountability for practice was centered in the classes that formed the United Societies.  Thus, the General Rules became distilled into this “behavioral trinity” we refer to as the “three simple rules”.

Living in a new way, becoming a new creation is risky business. Learning and speaking words that build up rather than tear down is hard work.  It requires sacrifice – the willingness to undergo a radical transformation – it requires creating a way through the wilderness where there was no way before. Richard Rohr, OFM brings it home for me:

Christianity is a lifestyle—a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we made it into an established “religion” (and all that goes with that) and avoided the lifestyle change itself. One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain in most of Christian history, and still believe that Jesus is one’s “personal Lord and Savior” or continue to receive the sacraments in good standing. The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.

In closing, let me share this invitation straight out of The Book of Worship:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

There’s that ‘Word’ again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easter Services in Pasadena

Easter Vigil - March 30, Altadena UMC located at 349 W Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001-4254.  For more info on meet up times, contact Rev. Mark.

Easter Sunrise Service - Join the FUMC Pasadena and Alta Dena Youth in a collaborative Easter Sunrise Service at Altadena United Methodist Church. Sunday, March 31, at 6:30am.  Altadena United Methodist Church is located at 349 W Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001-4254.  Join us as we watch the sun rise into the morning sky!

Easter Morning Art - Starting at 8:55am, all are invited to join the Arts Committee and Children's Ministry in the Colorado patio to welcome in Easter morning with breakfast, music, an innovative family worship opportunity, Easter story corner and our "egg art" exhibition.  Children and families, please arrive early as children grades preK up will adjourn to the sanctuary at 9:30am for choir.  Then join us for our traditional...

Easter Festival Service, Sunday, March 31, 10am, in the FUMC Pasadena Sanctuary, located at 500 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena CA 91101.

More info on Holy Week and Lenten services at First Church on the web.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Music for Solo Cello in Pasadena

Music at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena


Music for Solo Cello

Works by Bach, Britten and Cassado

David Garrett, cello

- Program -
Bach - Suite No. 1, BWV 1007
Britten - Suite No. 1, Op. 72
Walton - Passacaglia
Cassado - Suite (1922)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:30PM

First United Methodist Church of Pasadena
500 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena

Free Admission
Donations gratefully accepted
for the FUMC-Pasadena Friends of Music 626-796-0157

From his biography on the LA PhilGarrett is a dedicated advocate for music education. He coaches youth orchestras, visits schools, and is cello teacher for the El Sistema-inspired Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. At the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU Long Beach Garrett maintains one of Southern California’s top cello teaching studios. Garrett’s community service extends beyond the Philharmonic’s projects; he is a board member of the Los Angeles Bach Festival and the Los Angeles Violoncello Society and an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. In his spare time Garrett enjoys games and sports; in particular he is an avid, if frustrated, golfer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The February Messenger is here!

All the news fit to be reported around the church.  The February Messenger for the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena is live and ready for download.

  • In this issue, you will read about
  •  Holy Week Goings-On
  • Breakfast and Bible Stories
  • Turn-A-Page Gatherings
  •  Library Valentines for Kids Young and Old
  • Children’s Lenten Missions
  • How to “Be the Bunny”
  • An Appreciative Inquiry Update
  • How to go on the Summer YOUth Tour
  • Adult Ministries Study
  • And lots more…

You can download a copy of the Messenger from the churchwebsite, or read online here.

Hard copies will be in the mail later int he week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Episcopal Letter on Immigration Reform

This message comes from Bishop Carcaño in the the Cal-Pac Conference. 

Last week, Bishop Carcaño represented the United Methodist Church at President Obama’s address on immigration reform in Las Vegas, NV. Afterward, she sent the following letter to the Council of Bishops; today she shares it in its entirety with the leaders of this Annual Conference, with the same expectation and encouragement that we give active witness to this issue of justice and compassion. Note especially the link at the close to further resources on the Episcopal Office webpage.  

(January 30, 2013)
Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be among those who personally heard President Barack Obama outline his plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the U.S. When the White House called to invite me to join President Obama in Las Vegas, Nevada for this historic moment I was told that the invitation came as an acknowledgement from the White House of the good work The United Methodist Church has done in the area of immigration. I was privileged to represent the hard work that so many of you and other United Methodists have been engaged in.

This is the moment we have been working so very hard for. President Obama was clear in his commitment to reforming our broken immigration policies. I also sense a shift in the attitude of the country toward the issue of immigration. We have before us a great opportunity to live out our commitment to sojourn with our immigrant brothers and sisters until justice comes for them and for us.

President Obama called for immigration reform that will provide a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants now living and laboring in the U.S. He affirmed the moral need to work for the reunification of families who have been separated by migration, recognized the importance of DREAMERS for the future of the U.S., and reminded us that we are a country of immigrants. He called us to remember that immigrants are not “them” but “us”. He vowed to work hard to bring our U.S. immigration policies into the 21st Century affirming that immigrants are part of the solution to our economic struggles. I heard him say that we need common sense comprehensive immigration reform for the common good.

Yesterday was a hopeful day, but there is yet much more work to be done. I was concerned when President Obama mentioned strengthening border security, employment verification, and undocumented immigrants going to the back of the line in order to begin their pathway to citizenship. The U.S. has already spent $10 billion dollars in border security. How much higher must the border wall be before border security is considered adequate? The government’s employment verification efforts thus far have proven to be detrimental to employers as well as employees including documented workers. And, we all know there is no immigration line to go to the back of, only a mass of people and a backlog that will take a lifetime to process unless immigration processes are reformed. In the meantime our immigrant brothers and sisters continue to live in fear, suffering injustice, discrimination, and in many cases the violation of their human rights. We United Methodists can help make a difference.

Here are some things we can do now as [leaders in] the church,
  • Write op-eds for our local newspapers standing with President Obama in his call for comprehensive immigration reform;
  • Contact your Congressional leaders and let them know that United Methodists stand for comprehensive immigration reform;
  • Blog about our commitment to justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters;
  • Sign up on the Interfaith Immigration Coalition call to the 113th U.S. Congress to work for comprehensive immigration reform. I have attached it for your consideration. All you have to do to sign up is send your name to Bill Mefford at As United Methodists we are members of the IIC and helped shape this statement;
  • Observe Family Unity Prayer Vigils in your area in the month of February . Invite your local churches, UMW, UMM, young people, campus ministries, conference and district offices, your cabinets, ecumenical partners and others to join you. In doing so you and your area will be joining a nation-wide interfaith prayer effort in the U.S. There is power in prayer!
One of the most important aspects of the just and humane immigration reform we are advocating for is the reunification of families separated by migration.

We ask you to focus on three areas of concern:
  1. Protection for immigrants,
  2. Empowerment of people of faith to speak out more boldly for immigrants, and
  3. Moral courage for Members of Congress to exercise leadership in enacting humane immigration reform.

Hosting prayer vigils will give us an opportunity to reflect on the deep scriptural and spiritual roots of our work to welcome and support immigrants in the United States, highlight the moral aspects of the immigration issue and help us remember the real-life consequences of our failed policies on immigrant families. It will show our representatives in Congress that just and humane immigration reform is a top priority for United Methodists, and demonstrate a growing movement in support of immigration reform.
  • As these prayer vigils are held in your area please have someone on you staff let Bill Mefford at GBCS know when and where they are held. Pictures of the prayer vigils would also be helpful. As we work with Congressional leaders it is so very important to make them aware of the fact that United Methodists are concerned, committed, and are praying. Numbers matter to elected officials!
  • In April, encourage Neighbor to Neighbor Meetings in your area. Neighbor to Neighbor meetings involve congregational leaders meeting with Members of Congress to share with them the need to support legislation that protects and preserves the dignity and rights of our immigrant neighbors from throughout the world. Neighbor to Neighbor meetings help us establish close relationships with our members of Congress, a crucial aspect of working for the enactment of just and humane immigration reform.

If you need any resources or assistance as you plan your Family Unity Prayer Vigils or Neighbor to Neighbor meetings, please contact Bill Mefford at the General Board of Church and Society. You might also want to consider using the wonderful video, Gospel Without Borders, that Bishop Charles Crutchfield graciously provided all of us with when he was still serving in Arkansas. Excellent resources provided to us by our GBCS called “How to Organize for Just and Humane Immigration Reform” can be located here: .

I stand ready to support you in any way I can. Above all, may God be our help!
Your Sister in Christ,

Bishop Minerva