Archive for Pastor’s Weekly Message

Dear Friends

Thank you so much for your prayers during my recent illness. I am doing great and will see you in church on Sunday. I’ll say a little more in church, but please be assured of my return to good health after an unexpected illness. Thank you to Rev. Elisabeth especially, who stepped up on short notice.

Many of you will have received an Advent bag with the fixings for an Advent wreath. Thanks to the Acker family who assembled them and to Rowe who delivered them. There are still a few at church if you haven’t received one. Let me know, and we’ll see if we can get you one or arrange a time for you to safely pick one up. If you like, bring it to Zoom church on Sunday, and we can light the first two candles together.

Our guest preacher this Sunday is Rev. Sandhy Jha from the Oakland Peace Center. This is called Peace Sunday, and she will address this theme for us. She has been with us before. You can read about her work at www.oaklandpeacecenter.org. Join us, and invite your friends and family. I look forward to seeing you.

With love as we wait in hope for Christmas,
Rev. Jim Mitulski

Dear Friends

Join us on Thanksgiving Day at 10 am for ecumenical Prayer and Praise with three other nearby churches. If you’re free at the end of the day, join us online at 7 pm for a special Thanksgiving time of conversation, check-in, and evening prayers. (Links are available on our Facebook page.)

On Saturday afternoon, look for an Advent kit. You can pick it up at church. We can also drop it off safely on your doorstep (Foster City deliveries only), or we can mail it to you. (Send us your address right away if you want us to mail it.) The kit contains candles and a garland (everything you need for a wreath) and some devotional materials you can use during Sunday worship and throughout Advent.

This week we begin a new season, a new church year, a time of preparation. Anna and Darryl have prepared some great music, everything from chant to Broadway. Lauren will help us commemorate World AIDS Day (December 1), and I’ll preach on Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8.  And we’ll spend time with our special zoom guests Hugo and Hulisse, our neighbors in Hayward. Hugo is about to be deported, Hulisse is his high school daughter, and their story will make the need for immigration justice real. It’s going to be a powerful service. Come join us, and invite your friends and your family members too.

Yours,

Rev. Jim Mitulski

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!

Kindly,
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 https://youtu.be/_CNH1r5XwBw.

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