Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Dear Friends

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church year. It has a lot of names. One is the Feast of Christ the King because next Sunday Advent starts, anticipating Christ’s birth. It is also called “The Sunday next before Advent,” which sounds a little Anglican because of our Congregationalist heritage. Our movement began as Puritan reformers attempting to reform the Church of England, with names attached to us as “Dissenters” and “Nonconformists”.

It is also the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Be sure to register and attend this Friday’s secular observance via Zoom, of which our open and affirming participation is manifest by our being the only religious group in San Mateo County to be a co-sponsor.  I will share with you some of the appreciation we have received as a result of this.

Finally, it’s Thanksgiving Sunday, so come prepared to share your gratitudes. I will preach on Matthew 25:31-46. AND – we’ll have two more Thanksgiving opportunities for worship. On Tuesday, Lee Lamkin will be a speaker at our Interfaith Thanksgiving service because we belong to the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition. And on Thanksgiving Day morning, we’ll gather at 10 am for an ecumenical Thanksgiving Prayer and Praise service with several local churches. You can never be too thankful.

I hope you’ll join us Sunday. with love and gratitude,

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

Thank you so much for the opportunity to take a vacation last week. I didn’t realize how much I needed to get out into the sunlight and to be away, carefully and cautiously, with friends of many years. I feel refreshed, renewed and restored in a way that I hadn’t realized I needed, and a new sense of optimism for what our future can bring. In these uncertain times, it is so important that we are grounded with people that we love, even from a distance.

I want to urge you to join us this week for worship with our guest preacher Rev. Tessie Mandeville. She is chaplain and a Unitarian minister, and our history together goes way back to when I saw her exercise her healing ministry at the church on Eureka Street in San Francisco. Her partner Lisa will be joining us too; they will sing together for us. Be prepared for some healing, and bring your needs for healing prayers to church. When we sing “It is well with my soul” at the end of the service, you will feel it.

Be there – I will.

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

These are the words from Rev. Steven Charleston (Native American Elder and Retired Episcopal Bishop):

“I know you are tired. I know you are worried. The path ahead seems certain in only one respect, that it will not be easy. If we have learned anything through the night, it is how sharply we are divided, a margin so close as to cut our hopes in half. What comfort can I give you but this invitation to gather beneath the sheltering arms of the Spirit. The door through which we passed was so narrow. The path ahead seems narrower still.

“But before a single step is taken, before another drama begins, let the wings of the Spirit enfold you, protecting you from all danger, restoring your soul to the very core of who you are. Rest before the journey resumes. Rest and be renewed. Your courage has carried you this far. Let your faith take you that one step farther. Our search continues. Our hearts united. Our trust in love unbroken.”

This is our prayer invitation for this week: “May the wings of the Spirit enfold us, restoring our soul”.

Please join us this Sunday, as we gather together for worship, prayer, and reflection. I look forward to seeing all of you!

Rev. Elisabeth Middelberg

Dear Friends

Please join us for a special Communion Service this Sunday in honor of All Saints and All Souls Day. I will preach on Revelation 7:9-17 and 1 Corinthians 4:7-11, 16 and 5:1-5. My sermon title is “When We ALL Get to Heaven” and will also reflect on this section of the Nicene Creed.

     I believe in the Holy Ghost,
     the holy catholic Church,
     the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life everlasting.

I am sustained by a firm belief in the afterlife, though you may not share this belief. Whatever your beliefs, come celebrate the people who have had an effect on you, and whom we revere as Christians as “saints.” Some are known to others. Some may be known to you alone. All live eternally in the heart and memory of God, and in ours, too.

Hope to see you Sunday!

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

Let us bring the gifts that differ, And, in splendid, varied ways,
Sing a new church into being, One of faith and love and praise!
– Hymn text by Delores Dufmer OSB

We had another preacher scheduled for this Sunday’s observation of Reformation Day who told me today they had to reschedule. Though I was disappointed, I was also consoled by knowing that though I have less time than usual to prepare as the designated pinch hitter, I also love Reformation Day more than most festivals of the church. As a religion major at Columbia many years ago, I was deeply influenced by Reformation studies (there is such a subdiscipline). Two professors especially who were distinguished in that discipline taught there at the time. They both mentored me and indulged me in my passion for all things Martin Luther, who among other accomplishments introduced hymns into worship of the church. Certainly imperfect, he gave voice and direction to an ambitious dream: that the church – which characterized success by how little things changed – could actually change and become something new and more suitable to a changing world.

Luther loved the Bible and translated it into German. I would love him even if he had accomplished only the innovation of singing in church, although he did a lot more. His reformation became a revolution. Several of us are reading Sue Monk Kidd’s new novel, The Book of Longings. It’s a fascinating re-imagination of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of his wife, Ana (remember, it’s a novel). She reminds us that Jesus was a fierce advocate for change and advocated for the inclusion of women in an unprecedented way – and that isn’t fiction, though the church is still growing into this vision.  As Congregationalists we are in a lineage of Dissenters and Nonconformists, as they are called by historians.  Maybe it’s time for a New Reformation….

Join us!

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

I want to remind you that a group of us gathers every Thursday at 7 pm online for “check-in” and prayer. If you send us prayer requests, we will include them in our meeting. I hope you’ll join us in person. We usually are online for 45 minutes or so. This is your invitation!

We’re starting a new book next Tuesday at 1:30 pm. Each week we gather for an hour or so and work our way through something. There are a few copies of Sue Monk Kidd ‘s The Book of Longings available in a little box by my outside office door. It’s also available quickly and and easily online. Join us!

This Sunday I will preach on Mathew 22:15-22, wherein Jesus engages the thorny and sometimes divisive topic of politics and religion. Last week I preached via Zoom at United Church of Big Rapids in my home state of Michigan. It’s a union church, like ours; in this case Presbyterian and UCC. The pastor is a former student of mine, JT Hills. Years before he ended up in my church at Pacific School of Religion, he and his sister went to church at the church in San Francisco where I was the pastor. I have known him since he was ten years old and have baptized both of his and his wife Kelse’s children. JT will be our guest preacher on Sunday, October 25, for Reformation Day. Here is a link to the service in Big Rapids, including my sermon

I want to thank everyone who helped with Pray Their Names on Sunday. It was our largest outdoor gathering in quite a while, while still socially distanced. Friends from Unitarian and UCC churches especially from around Northern California joined, although several other faiths were represented. Also friends from the NAACP and from the Foster City council were present. Around 40 gathered altogether. The emotional and spiritual highlight was hearing directly from Akaba Okobi, who appealed to us not to forget what had been done to her son. Thank you to Ed, Brian, Paul, Sophie, Alexis, Denzel, Tim, Rowe, Elisabeth (I know I’m missing some) and everyone else. Neighbors have been generally appreciative; I spoke to only one who objected. Be sure to visit the installation before it leaves at the end of the month.

We are planning a great Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. Plan now to tune in on December 24 at 6 pm, and invite your family members and friends from around the country to be with us too. Hope to see you Sunday!

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

Please join us for Zoom worship this Sunday, September 27. My sermon is based on Philippians 2:1-13 and Matthew 21:23-32. The title is “Doing The Lord’s Work” – a phrase that we use frequently at Board meetings. I’ll share why this phrase has become popular and talk about the importance of a community like ours at a time like this.

I hope you’ll join us.

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Upcoming Worship Services and Themes

September 27 – “Doing the Lord’s Work,” based on Matthew 21:23-32. Rev. Jim Mitulski

October 4World Communion Sunday and Congregational Meeting

October 11 – Rev. Michael Vincent Hollingshead

October 18 – “A Spiritual Approach to Elections,” based on Matthew 22:15-22. Rev. Jim Mitulski

October 25 – Reformation Day. Rev. JT Hills, pastor of United Church of Big Rapids, Michigan

Dear Friends

The season is changing; autumn begins on Monday. These are the Days of Awe in Judaism, the religion from which Christianity originated, and our Jewish friends are celebrating a new year – 5781 – with Rosh Hashanah.

On October 4 we will experiment with a new kind of congregational meeting – online, born of necessity, which will provide us an opportunity to talk about our possible futures.

Please take advantage of the retreat this Saturday, September 19, led by Rev. Karen Foster, from 10 am to 12 noon, which has been designed as a spiritual time out for refreshment and renewal.

On this Sunday, September 20, the sermon “First, Last, Always” is based on Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus offers advice about handling resentment and offers a new vision of community in which “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

Hope to see you at the retreat this Saturday and at church this Sunday.

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

I hope you are planning to join us for our simple time of retreat, refreshment and renewal next Saturday from 10 am until 12 noon. Be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] to let us know you are coming. It’s free, and Rev. Karen has innovated this retreat specifically for communities like ours struggling to find inner peace at times like this. If you are stressed out and long for a deeper connection with God and with others, sign up. You are welcome to bring friends, family members, neighbors – one member asked if he could invite his mom, to which we said enthusiastically, “Yes!” We hope to see you.

Join us this Sunday for worship as we commemorate the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, who were murdered at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham AL this week in 1963. I will preach on forgiveness, and my scriptures are Romans 14:1-2 and Matthew 18:21-35. Come hear why it is important to still say the names of these children almost 60 years later. My friend Laura Fields Peterson will sing the hauntingly beautiful song “Birmingham Sunday.”

This week we all saw a rare sight – orange skies. Come enjoy the timeless comfort of Spiritual community. Be sure to bring something to eat and drink as we share communion.

Hope to see you at the Welcome Table,