Join with the Poor People’s Campaign

 

 

We hope you will review these events by the Poor People’s Campaign and join!

Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will launch a season of nonviolent moral fusion direct action in Washington, DC and across the country, and we need you to join us. In communities across America—Black, white, brown and Native—we have built a Poor People’s Campaign to become what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.”
The Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.  Each week of the 40 days of action will have an issue focus.

 Weekly Themes of 40 Days of Action

WEEK ONE (May 13-19) – SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE: Children, Women, and People with Disabilities in Poverty
WEEK TWO (May 20-26) – LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities
WEEK THREE (May 27-June 2) – THE WAR ECONOMY: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence
WEEK FOUR (June 3-9) – THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care
WEEK FIVE (June 10-16) – EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing
WEEK SIX (June 17-22) – A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative
June 23 – Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally in Washington DC
40 Days: Weekly Schedule
Sundays: Mass Meetings: National Broadcast @TBD
Mondays: Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action @ 2 pm in State Capitols
Tuesdays: Teaching Tuesdays – National Webinar 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm EST
Thursdays: Theomusicology and Movements Arts Culture
By engaging in highly publicized, nonviolent moral fusion direct action, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative. These enmeshed evils know no boundaries. That’s why we need people who care about this nation to build something better.
 

Action Kit

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Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 40 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity.

NCC News contact: Steven D. Martin: 202.412.4323 or steven.martin@nationalcouncilofchurches.us.

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Sermon 5.13.18 Mother’s Day “Why Women Voted for Trump”

Scripture Lesson: 1 John 4: 7-21
Sermon: Why Women Voted for Trump
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Note: There were certain background comments made before the sermon.

The topic for this sermon was requested by someone in the congregation.

LUCC supports the constitutional concept of separation of church and state. Regarding implementation, the church seeks to follow the guidelines of the organization Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. So this sermon is not intended to be political or partisan.

The pastor is trained as an historian and knows that everyone speaks from their own perspective and experience. Here are some of my biases upfront:
I was born into a church that is not fear-based but justice oriented. The United Church of Christ.
I was born to parents who were feminists. They believed men and women are equal and deserve equal rights. They encouraged my brother and I to follow our dreams whatever they may be.
I was born into a family that was, relatively speaking, financially advantaged. My parents could pay for whatever was needed for me to follow my dreams.
I am a graduate of Wellesley College, the alma mater of Hillary Clinton.

Several people in the congregation have made it known that they do not speak the name of the current president and they do not want to hear the name of the current president. So, here is the trigger warning. The word Trump is used 6 times in this sermon.

In the book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Harari, a professor of history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and best-selling author, talks about the importance of the mother-child bond: “We can argue about other emotions but since mammal youngsters cannot survive without motherly care it is evident that motherly love and a strong mother-infant bond characterize all mammals.“ He adds, “It took scientists many years to acknowledge this.” Well, I don’t think it would take any of us many years to acknowledge this. From time immemorial we know the bond between a mother and child. It is fundamental. It is instinctual.

A human mother will innately provide for and protect her children. She will fiercely defend them. Yes, there are exceptions, in cases involving mental illness or addiction for instance, but basically, a human mother will care for her young, regardless. She will deprive herself of food to feed her children. She will endure any hardship to protect her children. She will resort to whatever it takes to ensure their health and well-being.

Sadly, we live in a climate of fear even though statistically things are better now than ever for people in the US any way. Life is safer and healthier and material comforts exceed those known by generations past. Medical science has made incredible advances. We are living longer. Worldwide, war, famine, and disease account for fewer deaths than in the past. Think about it – In the US, even a no income homeless person has a cell phone. That would have been unimaginable even 30 years ago.

Yet there is fear. Fear of your neighbor. Fear of someone who does not look like you. Fear of someone you do not know. Fear of robbers and murderers. There is fear around money, jobs, and the economy. Fear of dishonest business people. There is fear of war and terrorist attacks. There is fear of random mass shootings. These things happen. It is horrific when they do. The grief and suffering is immense and tragic. I am not trying to paint a rosy picture, but you can ask our resident award-winning statistician, Charlie Lewis, or consult Yuval Harari, we’re better off, safer and healthier than any previous generation.

Nonetheless, the fear continues to increase. There are people that work at increasing the fear in our society so that they can have more control over others. And they are succeeding. So in today’s climate of induced fear, many mothers are afraid for their children. They feel their children are under direct threat. They feel their way of life, economic opportunity, values, and culture are being taken away. And they feel desperation about the future of their families and their children and their property.

And what do mothers do when they feel their children are threatened? They protect them. They will fiercely fight for their children. For their future. For their well-being. In the face of all of this fear, unfounded for the most part, but experienced by the majority of people nonetheless, mothers will feel instinctually led to protect their children whatever the cost.

In the last presidential election, I suspect many mothers who voted for President Trump, whether they know it or not, voted out of fear. The statements about I will protect you, I will make you safe again, I will make sure your children are taken care of, I will defend you, etc. I think these kinds of statements provided security and comfort to mothers who are frightened for their children’s future. And this influenced their vote. As I said, whether they know it or not.

Let’s zero in for a moment on economic issues. We live in a time of great economic fear and anxiety despite the low unemployment rate, the high stock market, and the growth rate of the economy. And this fear, this anxiety, is actually well-founded though not in the ways some may expect. Following the economic policies begun in the 1980’s, CEO compensation has skyrocketed, corporate taxes have been lowered, real worker wages and benefits have decreased, and the government tax base is shrinking due to corporate tax cuts and loop holes, and lowered taxes for the most wealthy. People, mothers, are and should be afraid for the economic future of their children. And with the growing wage gap, social instability is increasing. The poor and disinherited are not going to stay silent forever nor should we. That is why the Lakewood UCC advisors chose for the church to support the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We want to work for positive, constructive economic justice through institutions and channels in our democratic republic. Better for change to happen that way than through violent revolution or civil war as we see in some societies today.

Mothers are concerned about their children’s future. In the face of economic anxiety and financial fear maybe many of the mothers who chose to vote for the current president did so because they thought a millionaire would know how to create an economic climate that works for everyone; in which everyone has a chance to at least be economically successful if not become extremely wealthy. Surely a millionaire could do this. Was this something up front and conscious among most of the women who voted for President Trump? I don’t know. But we can see that there could be a motivation here even if it was subliminal.

Yes, we live in a culture imbued with fear. It is also imbued with oppression on many fronts including oppression against women. We know that women’s pay lags behind that of men for the same job. We know of the inequities in the IT sector, in the math and science sectors, in the visual art sector and the entertainment sector as well as many other fields.

Here is a recent Facebook post from a book store in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s not the US, but I imagine we have the same issues. Here’s the post:

Nothing like a count of Oxford University Press catalogue to let you know casual sexism & racism are alive and kicking in academic publishing! Leading academic publisher in uk? We’ll just leave the numbers here…
July-Dec books:
105 (white) men
26 (white) women
6 writers of colour

As I said, it is not the US, but I don’t think things are 50-50 here by any means.

There are multitudes of ways that women are not only not equal to men in the US but they are blatantly taken advantage of, disrespected, and demeaned. And it really pains me to have to point out that this happens in church settings. In the body of Christ. All the time. In fact, I think that a case could be made that the church brought the oppression of women to this continent and has perpetuated it.

Several years ago, I had a prominent, local politician, a woman, a Catholic, tell me that she thought only men should be priests because if a parishioner needed the priest in the middle of the night to go to the hospital, say, and the priest was a woman, she would have to ask her husband for permission to go. Again, this is from a woman elected to office and serving the public good in Pinellas County. And, in case you are wondering, she happens to be a Democrat. I was dumbfounded when she said that. I didn’t even know where to begin to refute her remark. I think I said something like, “If I need to go to the hospital for a parishioner in the middle of the night, I do not need to ask my husband for permission.” Actually, I don’t know if I have ever asked my husband for permission to do anything.

The point is, we live in a very sexist culture, and women, whether they know it or not, are oppressed. And if you are a woman of color, it is a double whammy. And this oppression is largely internalized by women. They don’t see it. They don’t notice it. They are not aware of it. They don’t realize that it exists. It is just part of who they are. It can be very subtle and it is ingrained in many of the attitudes and assumptions that are part of our culture. And it is very present in the church, from male priests, to few women pastors of tall steeple churches, to women passed over for lay leadership in the church, to the church teachings that draw from the sexist cultures of Bible times. And there is plenty to work with there.

We can readily see the sexism in the culture of Jesus’ day. There are many stories in the gospels where men cry out to Jesus to be healed or they come to Jesus asking for something. But how often do women come to Jesus asking for help? Begging for healing? Of the many healing encounters portrayed in the gospels, sometimes Jesus initiates those encounters with men and with women. In one story, Jesus approaches a man with the withered hand. In another story, Jesus approaches a woman with a bent back. In some stories, people bring their friends to Jesus to be healed. While the gender of those involved in these references is not always specified, when it is, they are male. For example the paralytic that is lowered through the roof of the house. In addition, there are stories of some men who come to Jesus seeking healing for their loved ones – a daughter, a slave. But in many stories, men come to Jesus for help and healing for themselves. In one gospel, even a thief crucified with Jesus begs Jesus for mercy.

Now let’s think about the stories in which a woman comes to Jesus begging for help or healing. There is the story of the woman with a hemorrhage who touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. She takes the initiative but she doesn’t plead or beg. Her intention is to remain unnoticed. Where are we told of women begging? Pleading? Where do we see that? There is a mother who begs for healing – for her daughter. There is Martha who begs for help – for Lazarus, her brother, who has died. There is the mother of the sons of Zebedee who begs Jesus for a favor – for her sons, that they might have a place of honor in Jesus’ realm. Each time a woman comes to Jesus to beg or plead – it’s for someone else. Of course, because women are caregivers. They see to the needs of others. Not themselves. These women will brazenly approach a man, a holy man, a prominent man, pleading and begging, violating religious law and social convention. They will risk being criticized, derided, and berated. For others. Not for themselves. If a woman is healed, it is because a man took the initiative. While there is story after story in the Gospels of men seeking healing for themselves, there is not one story about a woman begging Jesus for healing for herself. Not one. This sends the message that women are not worthy of seeking their own healing from Jesus. So women never hear a story from the gospels that tells them that they have the agency, the value, and the worthiness to seek healing for themselves from Jesus. So is it any wonder that women of today, especially, sadly, Christian women, live with internalized oppression?

So part of the internalized oppression of women, mothers, in our time, is that from stories and movies and TV and entertainment and religion, we absorb the idea that when women are in trouble or in need, it will take a man to rescue them. Noble and chivalrous, maybe, but a man will need to come to the rescue. Women will be saved by a man. From Little Red Riding Hood to Jesus Christ, we all hear it again and again and again and again. Stories of a girl or woman being rescued by a man. And we internalize that narrative as men and as women.

So, the women of today, mothers who are afraid and desperately trying to protect their children, are pre-programmed to be looking for a man to save them and their kids. And whether they know it or not, I imagine that this also contributed to the election of the current president because he certainly seems to portray himself as a male savior.

While Hillary Clinton talked about our working together to create a better future, Donald Trump personally promised to make things better himself. As I said, whether the women voters are aware or not, that narrative ties right into the socialization of women in our culture.

There are other signs of internalized oppression in the election results. I am sure there are women who voted for the current president because, whether they know it or not, they do not believe that a woman is capable of doing that job; it is a man’s job. I am sure there are women who believed all the negative things that were said about the woman candidate while they minimized, ignored, or overlooked the negative things that were said about the man candidate. There are women who voted for the current president because their husbands told them to and they are used to doing what their husbands tell them. I expect there are women who voted with their party and always vote with their party, whichever one it is, because they don’t have confidence in their own ability to think for themselves. They don’t trust themselves to analyze information. They don’t feel capable of sorting through the facts. So they choose to rely on an outside organization, in this case, a political party, to do that for them. There are all kinds of ways that internalized oppression could have influenced the way women voted in the election.

But those kinds of explanations may be subliminal, unconscious; not matters of conscious choice. So, why did women vote for Trump? I think in a fundamental way, it was out of concern and love for their children. They have allowed themselves to be made afraid. They feel they are in a perilous situation. They are desperate. So they chose to overlook a lot because they believed what they were doing was in the best interests of their kids, their families, and their future. So I can even imagine some women holding their noses while voting for Trump.

While this may explain some things, it does not reflect an approach that is consistent with the core character of the teachings of Jesus, despite the fact that many women who voted for Trump go to church or at least consider themselves Christian. They may be part of expressions of Christianity that reinforce the cultural biases of patriarchy and contribute to the second class status of women. This is usually done in the name of Bible-believing Christianity either by people who are ignorant or people who want to perpetuate male dominance and so attribute their desires to the scriptures.

True Christ-like love has no room for such biases. As we noted above, Jesus chose to heal many women. He took the initiative. He demonstrated their worth, equal to men, in the economy of God. The universal, comprehensive nature of Divine Love leaves no room for oppression or fear. As we heard this morning from the First Letter of John, “There is no fear in love, but perfect [or complete] love drives out fear. To fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect [incomplete] in love.” [1 John 4:18]

Jesus showed love for everyone which was evidence of his lack of fear. When we let ourselves be filled with love the fear is driven out. When we let the fear in the love is driven out. The potential for the love is always within us. It is our choice whether we function from the fear or the love. It is the business of the church to admonish people to choose love and cast out the fear. The church needs to encourage people to trust the power of love to transform.

Jesus chose love over fear. He chose love over self interest. He chose love over self protection. He chose love over greed and economic interest. He chose love over social conditioning. He chose love over twisted religious teachings. Jesus lived by the power of love. From a Jesus perspective, the best way we can protect children and provide for their future is to teach LOVE, love for all people, love for Creation, and reverence for all forms of life. That’s how you get a better, safer, more vibrant future for your beloved offspring.

If this was a love-based society where the glue that held us together was our commitment to the common good, we would not have the problems we do. We would not be such easy prey for fear. And we would not have the president that we have. But fearful people are often consumed with their own well-being, their own safety, and their own survival. It’s a higher level of moral development to be able to choose love, not just for yourself, not just for your family, not just for your tribe or even your country, but to choose love for the stranger and the enemy as well. Love is what will create a more just, more stable, and more creative society. Science may never prove it but love is the strongest force in the universe. Just ask a mother. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Text of the anthem, “The Lost”

Recently, at the request of a few folk, I posted the text I wrote for an anthem the choir sang. There were several very positive, and quite unexpected, responses to the post.

I’ve only ever consider myself a lyricist-by-necessity, since anthems need texts and I’m too cheap to pay for new ones and to lazy to go to the trouble of applying for copyright permission. So…I’m amazed that anyone would show an interests in my anthem (hymn, song) texts.

Here’s another one, and it’s sung to an original tune. The choir has done it a few times.


As the sheep wandered lost ‘midst the cold and the dark.
it did hear its shepherd’s voice and know that love was near.
Peace and closeness and safety as it felt the embrace
and was lifted and carried to a home free of fear.

And the coin once lost that is valued and prized
by the woman who sweeps her home,
has been found and shown to the neighbors in joy
as she holds her lamp up high.

And the child returned from a life of despair
now is fêted and welcomed home,
for the acts that matter are not our mistakes
but our taking the gift that’s giv’n,

that we not push away God’s love…
that we not push away God’s love.

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Weekly Update 10 May

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, MAY 13 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday, Mother’s Day, the service includes the opportunity for the naming of Mothers. Come be part of this celebration of A Mother’s Love. At the request of someone in the congregation, Rev. Wells will be preaching on the theme “Why Women Voted for Trump.” Several people in the congregation have mentioned that they do not like to hear or use the word “Trump.” There will not be heavy use of the word in the sermon despite the topic.
SUN, MAY 13 MISSION: This Sunday there will also be a Moment for Mission about the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. This is the initiative that drew Dr. Martin Luther King to the March on Washington in June of 1968. In honor of the 50th anniversary, there will be another poor people’s march on Washington in June. A delegation from the local Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign will be going. The LUCC Advisors have decided to encourage the congregation to financially support the efforts of the local group to attend the March. Donations will be received to help defray the expenses of the folks going from St. Pete to participate in DC. Checks may be made out to the church with the memo Human Rights. Or put a donation in an envelope and write Human Rights on the envelope. Donations will be received through the end of May. See economichumanrights.org and facebook for more information
MAY 13 – 19 FAMILY PROMISE: LUCC is serving as a support congregation at Lakewood Methodist Church the week of May 13th. If you would like to become involved in this important ministry helping homeless families with children achieve financial stability, please speak with LUCC Family Promise Coordinator Patti Cooksey.
SUN, MAY 20 PENTECOST: Sunday May 20 is the annual observance of Pentecost. This is a Christian holy day honoring the story of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the friends of Jesus who then invited others to be part of the Jesus community. See the story in the second chapter of Acts. The liturgical color for the Holy Spirit is red, so Pentecost is a Sunday to wear red if you would like to! The followers of Jesus extolled “God’s deeds of power.” During the service, there will be a time for the congregation to say something about the power of faith. How is the way of Jesus needed in the world today? How do we see faith at work for good in the world? Please consider sharing your thoughts on Sunday May 20 during morning worship.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.
SUN, MAY 20 GRADUATION PARTY: LUCC’S Zach Blair-Andrews will celebrate his high school graduation on Sunday, May 20th! Join Zach for a luncheon/party in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service.You are invited to consider a gift to help Zach with his college education. All are welcome.
SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS: There will be no Sunday Celebrations in May because of the luncheon for Zach the week before. There will be a Sunday celebrations in June.
TUE, MAY 22 CREATION JUSTICE: The taskforce plans to meet on May 22, Tuesday at 3:00pm in the church library. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 27 SUMMER SUNDAYS: On Sunday May 27th summer Sundays begin. Services will be more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time which will be returning for the summer!
AWARD: LUCC’s Yoko Nogami’s student won an award for his art that includes a scholarship for his continuing education. See wtsp.com for a short video featuring Yoko and her student. Congratulations!
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack is an ecumenical ministry housed at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg offering food and clothing to families in the area. LUCC supports Operation Attack with donations as well as by volunteering one evening a month. Contact Ian Blair-Catala for upcoming volunteer dates.
BOXES: Ed Kaspar is moving and needs boxes, get in touch with him if you can help out.
LAPTOP: The church was able to meet Christy’s need for a laptop for her daughters. Thanks to all who offered to help out!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

THU, May 10 FILM AND TALK: The Florida Holocaust Museum presents a special screening of Lea and Mira, followed by a Holocaust Survivor talk at 6:30pm tonight, May 10th at The Studio@620 (620 1st Ave S). Lea and Mira, a Spanish film with English subtitles, tells the story of two elderly Polish Jewish women living in Argentina who were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp as children. The movie depicts the thoughts of these two Holocaust Survivors: their wisdom, their resilience, and their way of looking at the world and life after trauma and horror. Following the film, local Holocaust Survivor Pieter Kohnstam will share his personal experience of escaping Nazi Europe to Argentina. Pieter was born in the Netherlands and lived in the same building as Anne Frank and her family. When his family was scheduled for transport to Theresienstadt, they fled Amsterdam and arrived in Argentina one year later in 1943. To reserve your seat, call 727.820.0100 ext. 301. This program is free and open to the public.
FRI, MAY 18 ONE CITY CHORUS: Mark your calendars for May 18th at 7:00 PM for a concert at the Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd). It’s free, but a goodwill collection will be taken to help support the family of Plant City construction worker Luis Blanco. After 20 (law abiding) years in the United States, Luis was deported to Mexico leaving behind a pregnant wife and six children.
SUN, MAY 20 ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will have their annual Spring Concert at 4pm on Sunday May 20 at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 9th St S). The choir is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of spirituals, anthems and gospel music.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend by May 13th.
WED, MAY 30 GOING SOLAR WEBINAR: As part of the monthly Creation Justice Webinar Series, the UCC has teamed with GreenFaith to offer a webinar designed to assist churches who are interested in going solar. On May 30, the Rev. Fletcher Harper will address issues related to technology, finance, physical plant, communications and more. Sign-up today for this webinar!
JUN 2-12 MARCH: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is planning a march to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City erected in 1968 on the National Mall. The march will begin on June 2nd from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia and end on June 12th at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where they will be joined by the Homeless Marathon. Sign up to join the Poor People’s March.
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
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childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Bill Lindsay, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Antin Young, Willy Zessoules

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Sermon 5.6.18 Open Borders

Scripture Lesson: Acts 8:26-40
Sermon: Open Borders
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

I love this story of Philip and a treasurer from a far off land. I love it because it challenges our assumptions and our complacency. Philip, an evangelist, gets dropped here and there into unfamiliar, and perhaps unwanted, situations and is expected to deliver good news, the gospel. Whether he wants to or not. Whether it is wanted or not. And in this story, after all of the stories of Jesus and people who are poor, and sick, and forgotten, and outcast, here is the Ethiopian eunuch. About as far out as we can imagine. Stranger. Alien. Foreigner. Outlier. Not the typical down-on-her-luck type we are used to hearing about in the gospels. No. So, again, our expectations, our assumptions, are jarred.

First, Ethiopia. Where was Ethiopia? What scholars seem to agree about is that it was south of Palestine and probably south of Egypt. But since this is before the days of Google Earth, Ethiopia is really a way of saying the end of the known world. The edge. The fringe. The margin. This person was as far out as you could get, geographically, ethnically, and religiously from the mainline Jewish culture of Jesus’ day.

And as if that was not enough, we are told that the person is a eunuch. His body has been altered. He is not “normal.” He cannot function as a man in the biological, procreative sense. So, in yet another way, he is beyond, outside, over the edge.

And before we pigeonhole him as a forlorn pathetic outcast, we must remember that we are told that he is the keeper of the treasury for the queen of his country. He is a person of high esteem, great authority, important responsibility, and, yes, probably very, very rich. Think the 1%. Again, not a characteristic of the typical Jesus follower. So, again, he defies anything that could be considered “normal.”

And, perhaps as we might expect by this point, we are told that the setting for this encounter is the wilderness. Of course. A wild place. Away from typical conventions. Untamed. Unregulated. Because this story ventures into completely new territory for the Jesus movement.

We are told that this Ethiopian man is on his way back from worshipping in Jerusalem. This tells us that he is drawn to the Jewish religion. But because of his physical alteration he cannot enter the precincts of the Temple. He must remain outside and express his devotion among the other “unclean” people who must remain outside the gates of the Temple. He has made a very long journey to have this second hand spiritual experience. So we get the impression he is quite devout; a seeker.

We are also told that he is reading the prophet Isaiah about a lamb led to the slaughter. How would this sound to one who has been altered by a knife? Of course this attracts his attention. He is drawn to a religion that lifts up someone who has been killed as symbol of faithfulness and godliness for he knows what it is to be a suffering servant.

When Philip talks about Jesus, the suffering servant, who has been recently killed, we can see how this Ethiopian would be drawn to a religious figure who has known suffering and yet has stayed true to Divine Love. So he wants to be baptized, to be claimed by this Jesus, as soon as he sees the water.

And so we are told that Philip baptizes this Ethiopian eunuch. Baptizes him into the community of Jesus. He is no longer outside the gate looking in. This foreigner. This one who is unclean. This one who is not normal. This one who is rich. This one with a different language. And a different color of skin and texture of hair. This upscale outsider is accepted and welcomed fully as a follower of Jesus. He is overjoyed!

Now at a UCC church in another part of the country, the people painted 5 doors, rainbow colors, displaying the words “God’s doors open to all,” and installed the doors out in front of the church. Our church is planning on making a similar witness. And I hope we can live up to it.

The church, every church, including this church, is made up of people. And people bring their assumptions and customs and attitudes to church with them. And so in church there are often both blatant and subtle barriers to welcome and inclusion. When this church was going through the Open and Affirming process in the ’90’s, we heard from gay people who were denied communion in the church because they were gay. The clergy would not visit in them in the hospital because they were gay. And these examples were from the Episcopal church not a conservative fundamentalist church. The church creates barriers to Divine Love.

We know about churches that only let baptized members take communion. And sometimes only if they have been baptized in a certain way. We know about churches that put economic stipulations on church membership. We know about churches that restrict full participation based on gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. And, again, not just fringe fundamentalists, but think mainstream Catholics, Methodists, and others.

And then there are the churches that insist that Christianity is the only right way to God. The only true religion superseding not only Judaism but all other religions. How does that work for someone who has friends and family of another religion? These attitudes are barriers the church puts up restricting the message of Divine Love encompassing all.

There are also perceived barriers that have to do with means. We regularly have people come to our church during the week to ask for financial help with rent or transportation or other necessities. We invite them to come to church on Sunday. They almost never do. Some have said, I don’t have the right clothes for church. Some have mentioned transportation. They have no car and can’t waste a bus fare. Some worry about the offering. What will they be expected to put in the plate? There are all kinds of perceived potential barriers that keep people out of church.

There are issues around race. After all, Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. There are issues around gender and sexual identity. There are issues around financial assumptions and expectations. There are concerns around dress and hygiene. There are all kinds of things that may keep people from taking the risk of entering a church and thus keep them from receiving the spiritual sustenance of the church and from being nurtured by a supportive faith community.

This is a problem that has been created by the church. If the church had always and forever been as welcoming as the church of the New Testament, these impressions would not exist. But the church has done things throughout the centuries, subtle and blatant, to create barriers, borders, and boundaries that try to wall off, manage, and control Divine Love. This is wrong. It is not of God. It is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. It is sin.

Some years ago, I was invited to a breakfast for ministers that was supposed to be about working on racial harmony among various religious groups. I got a letter about the breakfast. I had the church office manager call in my reservation. I appeared on a Saturday morning at the breakfast. As I went in I greeted several people that I knew. When I went to the sign in table I sensed some hesitation. I made a name tag. I introduced myself to people I did not know. But I still had a strange feeling. There were whites and blacks there. There were pastors I knew. But then I saw what was going on. There were no other women there. No one else of the female persuasion. Finally, a colleague I knew well told me that this was a breakfast for men only. But I got an invitation. Well, the person sending out the invitations made a mistake. Must not have known that I was a woman. Basically, I was not welcome. I did not fit in. Like the eunuch, I did not have the right parts. I was not supposed to be there. The men felt uncomfortable and did not know what do to with me. But I did not leave. I stayed for the whole thing. And listened to their plans for their male movement to work on breaking down racial barriers. They needed to work on gender barriers, too, but they couldn’t see that. I was not wanted and I knew it.

So even though I am white and carry my white privilege, even though I am of secure financial means and can dress appropriately, even though I am well-educated and well-spoken, even though I am a married heterosexual mother of three, I still know what it is to feel that I do not belong, that I do not fit in, that I am not accepted, that I am not welcome. And people are made to feel that way all day, every day in countless settings.

NO ONE SHOULD EVER FEEL THAT WAY IN CHURCH. EVER. Period. Even if you are a white supremacist neo nazi rapist and child molester, you should still feel that this is a place where the people will love you and open their hearts to you and treat you in a way that is compassionate. NO EXCEPTIONS. And that is the message that the world needs to hear loud and clear from the church today.

Peoples’ lives depend on it. Peace in homes, communities, and between nations depends on it. Our US democracy depends on it. The well-being of the planet itself depends on it. This is not feel-good blather. This is core to the harmonious functioning of civilization.

Jesus goes beyond the borders of his religious tradition in so many ways to make this message known: God’s love includes everyone. Every single person is created in the image of God. And Philip is dropped down in Samaria, and then in the wilderness, and then in Azotus, another foreign territory, to make the same point. Whether the people want to hear it or not. The love of God encompasses everyone.

We, too, are called to proclaim this message. Now, it’s pretty easy here where we mostly agree about this. And with our friends and family that mostly feel this way. But, like Philip, we are called to be snatched up and plunked down in situations that feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and maybe even unwelcoming and unreceptive, and to proclaim the bold and daring all-encompassing love of God. Maybe we even need to be seeking out these situations. We can proclaim the open borders of Divine Love with gentleness. We can do it with love. We can do it with compassion. But we MUST do it, and we must do it with strength and conviction. Whether the message is welcome or not. Whether we feel comfortable or not. Whether it is safe or not. The church, you and I, need to dismantle every border and boundary and barrier to the full humanity of every single homo sapiens sapiens. We must be a people of open borders. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Sermon Earth Sunday 4.22.18

Scripture Lesson: Acts 3:1-20a
Sermon: A Season of Refreshment
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

In the Harry Potter books, there are three unforgivable curses. One is the cruciatus curse. This involves inflicting extreme torture. A second one is the imperious curse. This curse controls the actions of another person. And the third unforgivable curse is avada kedavra, the killing curse. In the world of Harry Potter, these three curses cannot be forgiven.

When we think of the world of Christianity, what are the things that cannot be forgiven? Certainly real live people, in the actual world, do horrific things, cause unimaginable pain and death, and devise schemes of extreme evil. We humans are quite capable of torture, control and slavery, and, yes, death, even grand killing schemes responsible for the deaths of millions. Yet, in the world of Christianity, in the teachings of Jesus, in the tradition of the Bible, what is unforgivable?

Peter and John are part of the community of followers of Jesus staying in Jerusalem. After the crucifixion they remain in Jerusalem first afraid and then emboldened by their experiences of Jesus. They are confirmed in their conviction that Jesus is the Messiah. And as we heard today they are still devout Jews going to the Temple for services. They have not abandoned their religious tradition. They have not founded a new religion. They are functioning very much within Judaism trying to extend its influence and inviting others to experience the saving love of Jesus as they have.

So Peter and John go to the Temple and encounter a lame person who is put just outside the Temple gate each afternoon before services begin so that the worshippers will pass by and give him alms. Peter and John have no money for him, so instead they offer him healing. And the man gets up and not only walks, but leaps and dances, through the gate and into the Temple. His infirmity marked him as a sinner and so he was not permitted into the Temple precincts, but now, healed, he may enter the Temple, he is restored not only in body, but he is restored to full participation in the faith community.

And what accounts for this healing? Peter and John take no credit. It is not because of them. It is because of Jesus. It is the power of the name of Jesus that is responsible for the healing of this man. The power of Jesus’ love is so great it restores health, wholeness, and relationship. Jesus, the Just One, the Holy One, the Author of Life, Jesus is the one responsible for this healing.

In light of this extravagant display of the great power and love of Jesus, Peter reminds those present that they are responsible for the killing of Jesus. It’s almost like he is rubbing salt in the wound. Yeah, ya know, the guy you killed, he healed this man. Yeah, he’s that good. He’s that “of God.” And you killed him. Peter sees that some may have been party to Jesus’ death unknowingly. He acknowledges ignorance. But still, many of those to whom he speaks had a hand in the killing of Jesus; were perhaps part of the crowd that yelled, “Crucify him!” But Peter doesn’t stop with an accusation, with pointing the finger, with guilt. He goes on to offer forgiveness. Just as the lame man has been healed and restored to the community, forgiveness and restoration is offered to those who are responsible for the death of Jesus. The killing of Jesus, this worst thing imaginable, even this is forgivable. With God, in Divine Grace, nothing is unforgivable. There are no unforgivable sins. Not even one.

This Sunday is Earth Day. And yes, we all give thanks for the beauty of Creation. We know our dependence upon the Earth for life. We cherish nature. We marvel and awe at the ever expanding cosmos. We see the goodness and holiness of Creation ever before us. But this is also a Sunday to be reminded that we are in part responsible for the abuse, the degradation, and perhaps the collapse of the life-sustaining environment on Earth as we know it. Humans have known of their effect for good and ill on the environment and on the climate for centuries. Humans have known the negative impact of fossil fuels for decades. And if we may not feel personally responsible, we may at least acknowledge ignorance. We didn’t know. And we didn’t know what to do about it.

But now we do know much more about what is happening. And we do know much more about what to do about it. Fossil fuel usage contributed much to human advancement, but humanity has developed the capacity to progress even further using sustainable energy sources, and yet we are resisting the transition, the change, to this new future. We have been holding on to the past and now, yes, it is killing us.

I have a friend and colleague who is black and is rightly concerned about the killing of black people in America; the deaths attributable to racism from violence and poverty. It is unacceptable for unarmed black children to be shot dead especially by police who are committed to protect and to serve. I get that. It horrifies me as well.

But when I mention that even more black people are dying of toxins in the air, water, and land, that is dismissed as irrelevant. My friend sees environmentalism as a cushy concern of people like me with white privilege. I can worry about plastic straws and solar panels because my kids aren’t being killed. But restoring the environment is as least as important as other concerns because the first people suffering the negative effects of climate change and pollution are often, well, people of color. Usually poor and brown. In America, in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia. Climate change is contributing to conflicts around the world, including the civil war in Syria, and exacerbating the refugee crisis which is fueling the white supremacist movement worldwide which brings us right back to an unarmed black child being shot asking for directions about how to get to school right here in America.

Our tradition teaches that Creation, the Earth, the environment is holy and sacred. A gift to be revered and cherished – like Jesus. And we are killing it, as we did Jesus. But we, too, can be forgiven, restored, and given new life with the power to transform ourselves and the world to our intended health and wholeness. Just like those who are responsible for the death of Jesus, like the disciples who deserted Jesus, fled, and denied him, and were restored and forgiven, we too are offered new life with the boldness and courage to proclaim the sacredness of Earth and the entire cosmos.

Part of that transformation process is forgiveness. Forgiveness can relieve us of making excuses for the past. It can free us from defending past choices. Forgiveness can unburden us and allow grace to flow freely and infuse us with the power and energy for change. Humanity has the know-how and the resources to reverse climate change and to renew the natural world. What is needed is the will, the commitment, and the desire. Through repentance and forgiveness may we find new life in the name of the Just One, the Holy One, the Author of Life, the one who unjustly died a horrific death. Because in our reality, in the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are no unforgivable sins and the power of healing and new life is never dead to us. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

After the sermon, there was a litany of confession:

VIDUI FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY from the Jewish tradition

ALL:
We confess our sins against the earth.
We commit ourselves to saving it.

We have assaulted our planet in countless ways
We have blamed others for the spiraling, deepening crisis
We have consumed thoughtlessly and irresponsibly
We have driven myriad species to the point of extinction
We have exhausted irreplaceable resources
We have failed to transcend borders and act unselfishly
We have given in to our many appetites and our gluttony
We have harmed beyond repair the habitats of living beings
We have ignored the signs of change in our climate and our seasons
We have jeopardized the well-being of future generations
We have known the problem but left problem-solving to others
We have lost sight of our role as God’s partners in creation
We have mocked, cynically, those who love creatures great and small
We have neglected the environment, most of all, in places of poverty
We had over-populated our cities and over-fished our oceans
We have polluted seashore and sky, fertile soil and freshwater springs
We have questioned and doubted solid evidence of danger
We have ravaged the old growth forests – ecosystems created over centuries
We have spewed poison into the bloodstream of our land: its rivers, lakes, and estuaries
We have transformed dazzling beauty into industrial ugliness
We have used shared resources for personal gain and corporate profit
We have violated the commandment “Do not destroy”
We have wasted precious treasures, our God-given gifts
We have exploited the weakest and most vulnerable in our midst

ALL:
And yet we yearn to be better guardians of this earth and the fullness thereof
Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos, this planet – our sacred home.

After the litany, the congregation was invited outside for a special Ritual of Healing.

RITUAL OF HEALING

Reflections on air.

You are invited to breathe in – breathe out. Take several deep breaths.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos –
We commit ourselves to the healing of the air.

Reflections on water.

You are invited to come to the fountain and dip your hand in the water, feel the sensation, so natural and yet so unique. Life-giving. Life- sustaining. As the touch of water led to understanding for Helen Keller, may the touch of water help us to understand that we are water, we come from water, water is our life.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos –
We commit ourselves to the healing of the waters.

Reflections on plants.

You are invited to raise your arms and spread them, wave them, like the limbs of a great tree. May our upraised arms remind us to branch out in faith and service!

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos –
We commit ourselves to the healing of forests, trees, and plants.

Reflections on animals.

You are invited to look for an animal, a sign of animal life – right here, right now. And be reminded that we have been entrusted with the care orc each and every creature.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos –
We commit ourselves to the healing and restoration of animal life.

Reflections on earth, soil.

You are invited to touch the ground, the earth. Maybe take your shoes off and feel the ground under your feet.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos,
We commit ourselves to the healing of earth.

Reflections on humanity.

You are invited to touch someone, someone near you, in a way that is mutually agreeable. Notice the person you are touching. Feel the hand of the person who is touching you, the sensation on your flesh. The laying on of hands has long been a powerful symbol of healing and authority. As we touch each other, we claim our authority as healers of humanity and of creation.

Let us be zealous now to care for this unique corner of the cosmos,
We commit ourselves to the healing of humanity.

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Sermon 4.29.18 Love Is Kind of Crazy

Scripture Lesson: 1 John 3:16-24
Sermon: Love Is Kind of Crazy
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Barely 30 years old, divorced for the second time, and the mother of 7 children, Dolores Huerta left her home in Stockton, CA where she was working as a teacher and community organizer to work on forming a labor organization for farmworkers. There was no promise of an income, a salary, health insurance, nothing. But as she puts it, “I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolores_Huerta] So she left home and job to take on this problem. Now why does someone do something like that? If Huerta was poor and suffering from the horrific working conditions of farm workers, she would be doing it to help herself as well as others. But Huerta was not a farm worker. As she told the audience at Eckerd College this week, she is a 6th generation American. Her mother was a successful business woman running a hotel and a restaurant. Huerta grew up with piano lessons and season tickets to the symphony. She was a majorette and a Girl Scout. [http://doloreshuerta.org/dolores-huerta/] And as an adult, she was working as a teacher and in a community service center. She was a professional. And yet she left all of this, a single mother with her children to care for, and moved to a distant community to work for human rights for farm workers because she was alarmed by the awful living and working conditions that the farm workers were forced to endure. In 1988, Huerta was severely beaten by police during a non violent demonstration. Her injuries were extreme. She was truly putting her life on the line to end injustice.

How do we explain something like this? Making such a radical choice? Enduring such suffering? After hearing the New Testament reading this morning, we know what this drastic, self sacrificing action is. It is love. In her own way, Huerta was laying down her life for the lives of others. I have to tell you, Huerta is an inspiration. At 88 years old, she has the vigor – intellectual and verbal – of someone half her age, and she has passion to match the room full of college students that gathered to hear her speak. Today she addresses her efforts to far more than farm workers. She supports full human rights for every single person. No matter what. She is committed to social change on every front and she believes this can only happen through non violent organizing. Divine Love was definitely present in Fox Hall at Eckerd College Thursday night.

Yes, packing up your kids and heading into an unknown future with little promise of security of any kind, that’s crazy. It’s also love. And love is kind of crazy.

Many songs explore the inanity and insanity of romantic love and I’m sure we can think of many examples. People do all kinds of crazy things for their romantic partner. Parents do crazy things out of love for their children. But the craziness of love extends beyond familial love to Divine Love, the love we see in Jesus. As we heard today, Jesus, out of love, laid down his life. Gave it up. How crazy is that? Think about it. If he had done it differently, he could have kept preaching and teaching and healing for decades. Think of all the good he could have done if his ministry had been so much longer. There could have been many volumes of his sermons and teachings to inspire future generations. But no. After 3 years, he laid down his life. He chose to give up his life. He opted for self sacrifice, for martyrdom, rather than self protection. Why? Love.

Jesus’ love, his full and free love of all people put him at odds with people who wanted to protect their power. The more he loved the more threatened they felt and the more hostile they became. But Jesus would not relent in his loving. And the antagonism grew to fatal proportions. The only way to avoid death was to hold back on the love. And he couldn’t do that. So Jesus chose death. He laid down his life. Yes, it’s crazy.

And there is a back side or underbelly to this laying down your life, choosing to face death. Those committed to the way of Jesus will lay down their lives, but they will not take a life. Ever. The Jesus followers of the first century were persecuted, tortured, and killed. But they did not take a life. They did not engage in violent activity of any kind. They emulated the pacifism of Jesus. We see this, too, in Dolores Huerta and in the farm worker movement. No violence. Of any kind. Under any circumstances.

The Jesus way of love is extreme. We read in the New Testament of people leaving home and family and job essentially for love. We are told of people selling land and possessions and all that they have and living in common out of love. We are told of people being imprisoned, tortured, and killed for love. To our thinking in our culture these things seem irrational, unreasonable, not prudent, even irresponsible. Yes, love is kind of crazy.

And the message of the New Testament is that those who follow Jesus, those who have been called to life in his name, are to do the same and commit to this extreme kind of love. They are to love one another to the point of laying down their lives for one another. Radical? Fanatic? Yes, pretty crazy.

A couple of weeks ago I preached a sermon about the importance of factuality and reason- based religion in this age of fake news and personally constructed realities. I talked about the need for rationality in religion. Yes, facts and reason are important. But love is the complement. It is the completion. It is the both/and of faith. Divine Love, with its seeming irrationality and imprudence and extremism, challenges us to put our intellect and reason and our moral vision to work at the highest level. With full commitment. In the extreme. So, yes, Divine Love can look kind of crazy!

This crazy kind of love is needed today as much if not more than it was in the first century. And it was as crazy then as it is now. The words we heard from the New Testament remind us that our faith is about more than just saying something or praying something. It is about taking action. Action that may be drastic. Extreme. Even laying down our lives.

Now, such opportunities for heroism, giving up your life for someone else, may be rare. So the writer of 1 John extends the expression of love from the extreme of giving up your life out of love to offering help to those who are in need in some way. First John asks: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”

So even if we can’t see how we would lay down our lives we can see that there is great need in our families, in our communities, and in the world. So there is no lack of opportunity to address ourselves to the needs of the world in ways that are seemingly extreme and radical as Dolores Huerta did. So when you feel some kind of urge to do something wild, seemingly irrational, outrageous, pay attention. It might be Divine Love seeking expression in you!

When you think about it, people in our culture appear to be making sacrifices all of time. But are they self giving sacrifices made from a place of love? Or are they ultimately self serving? Made to comply with cultural norms especially around economic and material gain? Are the sacrifices made out of self interest and self protection?

The love we heard about this morning, the love that Jesus commands, is love for others, all others. It is love that sacrifices for the well being of others especially those who are in the most need. It is love that takes risks for those who are in need and who are suffering; stranger as well as friend and family.

I read some years back about a child rescued after an earthquake. [I don’t know remember the origin of this story.] There were many people buried and many who had come to help. A reporter watched as a man dug a child out from a very dangerous location. The man was clearly risking his life to save the child. He got the boy out and then carried the injured child to a taxi that would take them to the hospital. The boy’s life was in peril. The reporter got in the cab with the man and the boy. She watched as the man cradled the boy and kissed him and said soothing things to him. As they rode to the hospital, the reporter wanted to complete her notes for the article she would write. She asked the man his name. He replied. Then she asked the man the name of the boy. He looked at her. Confused. He explained to the reporter, I do not know the boy. I have never seen him before today.

“We know love by this – that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. . . Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Love. It is kind of crazy. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Weekly Update 3 May

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, MAY 6 THIS SUNDAY: The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news if it is good news for everyone not just some people. A beautiful story from Acts reminds us of the lavish scope of the gospel. See Acts 8:26-40.
SUN, MAY 6 COMMUNION: All are welcome to participate in communion at Lakewood UCC, children at the discretion of the adults who brought them. The communion offering goes to the Special Needs Fund which is used to help people in our community and the congregation with basic necessities such as food, rent, utilities, and prescription medication costs. Please be generous as you are able.
SUN, MAY 6 ADVISORS MEETING: The Advisors will meet following worship on Sunday, all are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 6 THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is Lakewood Methodist Counseling Center. Ministry item for months of May and June is travel or trial size hygiene supplies (e.g. shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste) these will be given to Covenant House Florida shelters in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
LAPTOP TO DONATE: Does anyone have a laptop they can donate to Christy Martin? Her daughters could really use one for their homework assignments.
SUN, MAY 13 MOTHER’S DAY: On Sunday May 13, the service will include the Naming of Mothers. Those who would like to will have the opportunity to name those who have offered mothering love and support. Also, Rev. Wells was asked to preach a sermon about why women voted for Donald Trump. She will offer some thoughts about this on Mother’s Day.
MAY 13 – 19 FAMILY PROMISE: LUCC is serving as a support congregation at Lakewood Methodist Church the week of May 13th. If you would like to become involved in this important ministry helping homeless families with children achieve financial stability, please speak with LUCC Family Promise Coordinator Patti Cooksey.
SUN, MAY 20 PENTECOST: Sunday May 20 is the annual observance of Pentecost. This is a Christian holy day honoring the story of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the friends of Jesus who then invited others to be part of the Jesus community. See the story in the second chapter of Acts. The liturgical color for the Holy Spirit is red, so Pentecost is a Sunday to wear red if you would like to! The followers of Jesus extolled “God’s deeds of power.” During the service, there will be a time for the congregation to say something about the power of faith. How is the way of Jesus needed in the world today? How do we see faith at work for good in the world? Please consider sharing your thoughts on Sunday May 20 during morning worship.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.
SUN, MAY 20 GRADUATION PARTY: LUCC’S Zach Blair-Andrews will celebrate his high school graduation on Sunday, May 20th! Join Zach for a luncheon/party in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service.You are invited to consider a gift to help Zach with his college education. All are welcome.
TUE, MAY 22 CREATION JUSTICE: The taskforce plans to meet on May 22, Tuesday at 3:00pm in the church library. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 27 SUMMER SUNDAYS: On Sunday May 27th summer Sundays begin. Services will be more informal and favorite hymns will be sung each week. Children will attend the beginning of the service and may go to the Nursery following Children’s Time which will be returning for the summer!
AWARD: LUCC’s Charles Lewis recently received the E.F. Lindquist Award in educational measurement. This award is presented jointly by American Educational Research Association and ACT in recognition of outstanding applied or theoretical research in the field of testing and measurement. Congratulations!
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

SAT, May 5 CLEAN CLAM BAYOU: Come help clean this park in Gulfport (Miriam St) on Saturday, 5 May at 10am. Tools and garbage bags provided.
FRI, MAY 18 ONE CITY CHORUS: Mark your calendars for May 18th at 7:00 PM for a concert at the Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd). It’s free, but a goodwill collection will be taken to help support the family of Plant City construction worker Luis Blanco. After 20 (law abiding) years in the United States, Luis was deported to Mexico leaving behind a pregnant wife and six children.
SUN, MAY 20 ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will have their annual Spring Concert at 4pm on Sunday May 20 at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 9th St S). The choir is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of spirituals, anthems and gospel music.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend by May 13th.
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Bill Lindsay, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules

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Text of the anthem, “Fully Known”

There have been several requests for the text of the anthem the choir sang Sunday, “Fully Known.” Here it is…

Immortalized, sung, painted,
the Easter stories tell
when at the grave Christ met her,
until He said her name,
that Mary felt known fully
and recognized Him well.
For in the name there’s knowing.
whence people truly came.

He’s known for fully knowing
what others not remark,
or we ourselves have falsely
not credited our worth.
In Him is a true knowing,
in full not just in part,
the full sense of our being
His loving gives love birth.

In story after story
his love for us is shown:
as with no condemnation
the woman at the well
is giv’n the living water
e’vn though her past is known.
And as with us he knows this,
as living waters tell.

Zacchaeus is another.
So too the woman scorned.
As is the rich young ruler.
The thieves received goodwill
as Jesus fully knew them.
So too are we adored,
known fully and loved fully,
Christ Jesus loves us still.

© 2018 Kim P. Wells & Hilton Kean Jones

It’s sung to the old Irish tune, “Sally Gardens.” The words are based on this past Easter Sunrise Service sermon of Rev. Kim Wells. The text of that sermon can be read here: http://lakewooducc.org/2018/04/01/sermon-easter-sunrise-fully-known-fully-loved/.

As you will clearly see if your read her sermon, the poem I wrote for the anthem is based entirely on Kim’s premise and order of construction and contains so many fragments of her sentences, that the only honorable thing to do is to credit her as co-author of this poem, for without her thoughts and words the poem would not exit!

–Hilton

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Weekly Update 26 April

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, APR 29 THIS SUNDAY: What does it mean to love? We use the word all the time but what does it mean? There are some thoughts about this in 1 John 3:16-24. How might the world be different if Christians routinely quoted 1 John 3:16 instead of John 3:16?
SUN, APR 29 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS:  On Sunday April 29 there will be a luncheon following morning worship hosted by the Creation Justice Taskforce. Please bring salads, vegetables, and desserts to share. The main dish will be provided. During lunch, Claire Stiles will offer a presentation that she has prepared on sea level rise in the Tampa Bay area. This is a very stimulating and provocative topic Claire has researched. Plan to come and see this challenge from new perspectives. All are welcome!
SUN, MAY 6 THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is Lakewood Methodist Counseling Center.
THU, MAY 10 MEETING: The Creation Justice Taskforce will meet May 10 at 11am in the Church Library. All are welcome to attend.
SUN, MAY 20 GRADUATION PARTY: LUCC’S Zach Blair-Andrews will celebrate his high school graduation on Sunday, May 20th! Join Zach for a luncheon/party in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service. All are welcome.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

THU, APR 26 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: A Plastic Ocean: A Screening & Discussion with Natural Resources Agent, Lara Milligan will be held April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Seminole Campus Digitorium of St. Petersburg College (9200 113th St. N, Seminole). Seating is limited and online registration is requested or call 727-394-6942 for more information.
THU, APR 26 ECKERD LECTURE: Delores Huerta will be speaking at Eckerd College on April 26. The 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner has spent her life organizing and advocating on behalf of the disenfranchised. From gathering her students’ parents into a labor movement that would become the National Farmworkers Association to working alongside Gloria Steinem to get more women into office, Huerta’s eight-decade life is a testament to the work and commitment social activism requires. This living legend and labor icon will share her story and thoughts with the Eckerd community during this special event on Thursday, April 26th at 7:30pm in Fox Hall.
FRI, APR 27 VISUAL ACTIVISM: USF St. Petersburg graphic design students will be taking over The Studio@620 (620 1st Ave S) Friday night from 5-9pm for their senior exhibition. “Re:spond” is a collective call to action from newly minted graphic designers. The exhibition highlights innovative responses to issues ranging from cultural appropriation to cures for the common loneliness. “Re:spond” defines itself through a variety of forms and diversity of media, including video, photography, code-based works, and performance. Admission is free and open to the public.
APR 28-29 GREEN THUMB FESTIVAL: Join in the fun and excitement on April 28 and 29, from 9am to 4pm at Walter Fuller Park (7891 26th Ave. N). The festival features: Environmental and horticultural exhibits and vendors, Diagnostic soil and water sample clinic, Recycling rally, Children’s Tree Climbing, Garden Wagon Parade, Free mulch, Variety of environmental programs, Food court and more.
SUN, APR 29 CLIMATE CHANGE PANEL: The Buddhist Climate Action Network is very happy to welcome Heather Lyn Mann and to sponsor an interfaith conversation on Sunday, April 29th from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Tampa Friends Meeting House (1502 W. Sligh Ave.). This panel discussion features an interfaith cross-section of religious and thought leaders interested in developing an effective, spiritual response to the climate challenge. Be part of the conversation to hear about transformative initiatives in America’s coastal cities, and discover how faith communities of all kinds are joining together to re-frame the climate challenge not merely as a scientific, economic, or political crisis but as a spiritual opportunity. Kim Wells plans to attend, contact her if you would like to carpool.
MON, APR 30 JUSTICE DOCUMENTARY: On April 30th at 10:00, PBS will air the television premiere of Jamie Meltzer’s documentary True Conviction, which follows the detective agency started by Christopher Scott, the late Johnnie Lindsey, and Steven Phill—three wrongly convicted Dallas men who were exonerated after spending a combined 60 years in prison—as they work to attempt to free death-sentenced Max Soffar and other wrongly convicted prisoners. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, co-founders and co-directors of the Innocence Project have hailed the film as “unprecedented” in its approach, “focusing on the experiences of a group of exonerees who are themselves learning to investigate” and “highlight[ing] the challenges and roadblocks of investigating and proving another man’s innocence.”
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend.
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is Lakewood Methodist Counseling Center. Ministry item for months of March and April is deodorant, these will be given to Daystar to be used for their work. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Bill Lindsay, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Amaiya Washington, Willy Zessoules

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Gibbs Students Create a Powerful Memorial for Victims of School Shootings

LUCC Members Yoko Nogami and Roxanne McGlashan worked with students at the Pinellas County Center of the Arts at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg to turn the lobby of the school’s theater into an extension of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for the school’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, staged through Friday at 7pm. Portraits of 103 students and staffers who were the victims of school shootings, from the 1999 columbine High School shooting to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS are part of the installation. For tickets call (727) 893-5452, ext. 2029.

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Amaiya Awarded Take Stock in Children Scholarship!!

On April 10th at the Coliseum, Lakewood’s own Amaiya Washington was inducted into the Take Stock in Children scholarship program in a ceremony attended by the Mayor and the Superintendent for Pinellas county schools. She will be provided college tuition funds when the time comes, but this comprehensive program offers much more including mentors  and enrichment activities designed to prepare her to succeed in College. We’re all very proud of you Amaiya, keep up the good work!

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Sermon 50th Anniversary – Rev. Angela V. Wells

Scripture Lesson: Colossians 3:12-17
Sermon: A Third Way
Pastor: Rev. Angela V. Wells

I went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City for graduate school from 2009-2012. My entering class had probably 150 or so people in it. The first-year Master of Divinity students took a lot of classes together, including Introduction to the Old Testament, Introduction to the New Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, and so on and so forth.

During our class discussions, and in the library, and other informal gatherings around campus, I could see that my classmates were struggling in a way that I was not. Now, I was no expert, I was one of the youngest in our class, fresh out of college. I had less life experience and formal education than many of the people in our entering class, so I tried to figure out what in the world these people were grappling with that I… wasn’t.

It turned out that many of my classmates were raised in Christian traditions that were, well, suffice it to say, different from the context in which I was raised. They were from the Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church, the American Baptist church, the Episcopal church, the Methodist church, the African Methodist Episcopal church and the list went on. What I eventually came to understand was that my classmates were struggling with trying to reconcile what they’d been taught in their home churches with what they were learning in seminary.

At home, they had either implicitly or explicitly been taught that Christianity was the only right way, now in seminary, we were being taught classes by a man named Paul Knitter, who wrote a book entitled, Without Buddha, I Could Not Be a Christian. At home, they’d been taught that the Gospel stories about Jesus’ life were historically accurate, that these events, these miracles literally took place.

In seminary, we were being taught that the different Gospel accounts of the same stories were written at different times, by different people, with different political motivations. So these facts made it really hard for anyone to know what literally took place, what didn’t, and how Jesus’ life actually played out. Not to mention the fact that in our language classes, we were learning that one Hebrew or Greek word could have upwards of 10 or more English equivalents, and the English word that the biblical translator chose could significantly affect the meaning of the whole sentence or larger story. AND, remember that the first texts written down, Paul’s writings, were written starting about 30 years after Jesus died, so we can be pretty sure that none of the Gospel accounts were written by first-hand witnesses because they were all long dead by the time any of this was put on paper.

I was fine with all this information. I absorbed it, with varying levels of enthusiasm or interest, but I certainly wasn’t bothered by any of it, I wasn’t struggling with this new information. But my classmates were another story. Some of them were even having crises of faith, questioning all that they’d been taught in their churches up to that point, questioning so many of the sermons they’d heard, Bible studies they’d sat through, and so on. They were trying to figure out whether what they’d been taught by beloved pastors, mentors, parents, friends, and Sunday School teachers was “right,” or what they were learning in seminary was “right,” because they couldn’t reconcile the two.

My experience was vastly different. What I was learning in seminary completely aligned with all that I had been raised with. It resonated with the sermons I heard, the family discussions we had around the dinner table. All the puzzle pieces fit together for me.

For example, one day, in our Preaching and Worship class, our professor spent the day talking about the hymnal that we used in our chapel at seminary, also the hymnal that you all use, the New Century Hymnal. She talked about the controversy over changing the words to hymns. She talked about the theological reasoning behind removing militaristic imagery and regal imagery like king and kingdom. She talked about why they removed the word Lord and didn’t use the male pronoun for God in any of the hymns, unless the female pronoun was used as well. Some of my classmates were aghast, they thought this was sacrilegious. The editors had butchered their beloved hymns that they had memorized from childhood.

I sheepishly raised my hand and offered another perspective. I told them that I was raised with this hymnal. That my home church didn’t use male pronouns for God and I liked that our hymnal’s vocabulary matched the language we used in the rest of the service. I said that the words to the beloved hymns that I had memorized were the words of the New Century Hymnal. They were my “original” version of the hymns. The new way, the new vocabulary, it wasn’t new to me, because it was all I knew.

They say that you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone, and I can admit that I didn’t fully appreciate Lakewood until I was exposed to the wider world of churches and Christianity. You see, this church is a gift to Christianity because in a black and white world of dichotomies and either/ors, Lakewood presents a third way. I didn’t know it was a third way until much later in life, because, during my childhood it as all I knew, I thought it was just how church was done. But most Christians in the world know of two ways, and the problem is that an increasing number of people can’t see themselves in either of those two ways. The third way is a lifeline for people who are seeking something, who want to be part of a Christian community, but can’t find belonging in either of the two ways our society offers. So, what are these two ways?

The first way is dogmatic Christianity as we hear about it in the news and from traditional/conservative preachers and public speakers. It’s the Christianity, which professes that Jesus is God-incarnate and rose from the dead on the third day. This Christianity professes the doctrinal truth of the trinity, that God is 3-in-one, Father, Holy Spirit, and Son. This Christianity subscribes to substitutionary atonement, or the belief that Jesus died to take away the sins of the world, to atone for the original sin that Adam and Eve committed. This Christianity teaches that God loved the world so much that God sent his only son to die for us. This Christianity usually takes the Bible literally, lifting it up as the inerrant word of God. This Christianity professes that God is a theistic being which created the world and still has control over something so vast as the cosmos and something so minute as our individual lives. This Christianity teaches that prayer is a way to appeal to, or talk to this God. We ask for what we want and if we don’t get it, it’s because we are not faithful enough, didn’t pray hard enough, or it’s just not God’s will for us.

I can understand if some of this is making you bristle or cringe, which is why you feel at home at Lakewood and not any of the other thousands of churches in our country. Lots of people who are looking for a community of faith can’t get on board with most of this, regardless of whether they were raised Christian. They can’t subscribe to the magical thinking, suspension of reason and logic, ignorance of historical and scientific truths, not to mention the exclusiveness of it, because in this first way, Christianity is the only way. So, people who just can’t be part of this faith tradition, they either cobble together something on their own such as “spiritual but not religious,” or they do away with all of it and call themselves an Atheist.

This is the second way. Such people back up their argument with all the statistics about how many wars have been fought in the name of religion, and that we’d be better off not having any organized religion at all. They might tell you how religious people meddle in politics to the detriment of society and, by the way, there is no God, so let’s stop pretending there is and just get rid of all houses of worship.

I can understand if this second way also makes you cringe because, since you are part of a faith community, I presume you see the value in it. You see the importance of coming together with people that have the same values to celebrate all that is good in the world, lament when things aren’t good, and work together to change them. We happen to do all this in the name of Jesus, whom we follow.

This is the third way that Lakewood is following, which is a lifeline to people who want to be part of a faith tradition, who want to be part of a community that recognizes all that around us is sacred and so we’re committed to protecting it for the sake of all life.

You all engage our Holy Scriptures, but you don’t believe that critiquing them, questioning them, or learning about their origins is somehow threatening to their inherent worth. The fact that you all can say that the Bible is valuable because of all that it teaches us through its stories, not because it’s historically accurate or because it was written by God through men, is revolutionary.

The fact that you all engage scientific advancements as being amazing and awe-inspiring because they reveal more and more to us about the vast, unknown universe, and that science isn’t threatening to our beliefs but reinforces what we know to be true, that we are not the center of the universe, is reassuring and humbling.

The fact that you all don’t ask people to check their critical thinking skills or their rationality at the door, and that you all put on your shoes and use your hands and turn your “thoughts and prayers” into action, you all are what Christianity needs.

If the church continues to insist that people buy into the first way, well, Christianity might continue to exist in some form, but it’ll be small and irrelevant because most people won’t buy into the that myth anymore. But if we continue to expand the third way, that people can have a faith practice that aligns with their worldview and encourages their political participation, in the name of following Jesus, then the church will thrive in the future.

Lakewood is so needed at this moment in time, because you all, church and pastor, encourage engaging our faith with our lived reality. As the famous theologian Karl Barth said that, “one must do theology with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.”

Now, I know that Lakewood is a small church, always has been for as long as I have been around. But I lovingly call it “the little church that could.” Because I know you all worry about finances and getting a new roof and paying bills and staff salaries, and maybe there have been times when you’ve wondered whether Lakewood could stay solvent long enough to have a future.

Well let me tell you, it’s lonely at the front. You are at the forefront of a religious sea change, the rest of us just haven’t caught up yet. The third way that this congregation offers is life-giving to people who are longing for community, critical thinking and social justice through following Jesus Christ.
Don’t tell my church this, but you’re also having an impact up north because a lot of what I do, and much of the information that I share with my colleagues in the Boston area, is inspired by what you all are doing, down here. So your influence extends far and wide beyond St. Pete.

Sometimes the future might seem bleak, and the road ahead won’t always be easy, but it is necessary for the future of our faith. So please, keep being you, keep being trail-blazers, because the rest of us, who also are seeking a 3rd way, we are looking to you all to set the pace.

Thanks be to God for this community of faith, Lakewood United Church of Christ, as it was, as it is, and as it is yet to be. Amen.

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Weekly Update 19 April

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, APR 22 THIS SUNDAY: In honor of Earth Day, the service will focus on the healing of Earth and the healing of humanity. The Bible tells of a God that forgives people for the crucifixion of Jesus. Can there also be forgiveness for the damage being done to Earth? Divine forgiveness is important to the healing process. The gathering Sunday will be a refreshing time of healing.
NAME TAGS: If you want or are in need of a name tag please contact or see Wally LeBlanc so he can make one for you.
SUN, APR 15 ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: The culmination of the 50th Anniversary celebration last week was a great success! If you missed it, be sure to listen to Rev. Angela Wells’ sermon and check out these great pictures from the event. Many thanks to the Anniversary committee (Mark Gibson, Bill Parsons, Lucille Ruga, Earl Waters, and Kim Wells), Anniversary Sponsors (Mark Gibson, Ed Kaspar, Martha Lamar, Charlie and Mary Beth Lewis, Bill Parsons, Don Ritchie, Lucille Ruga, Earl Waters, Kim and Jeff Wells) and the many others who helped including Sally Purvis, Emily and Bob Bell, Fran Whitney, Ruth Pettis, Claire Stiles, Yoko Nogami, Marg Radens, Dina Gamma, Denise Williams, Zach Blair-Andrews, Jim Andrews, Christy Martin, Vita uth, and the children of LUCC.
APR 18-20 CATHEDRAL OF REMEMBRANCE: LUCC Member Yoko Nogami and her students at the Pinellas County Center of the Arts at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg have turned the lobby of the school’s theater into an extension of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for the school’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, staged through Friday at 7pm. Portraits of 103 students and staffers who were the victims of school shootings, from the 1999 columbine High School shooting to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS are part of the installation. For tickets call (727) 893-5452, ext. 2029.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.
SUN, APR 29 SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS:  On Sunday April 29 there will be a luncheon following morning worship hosted by the Creation Justice Taskforce. Please bring salads, vegetables, and desserts to share. The main dish will be provided. During lunch, Claire Stiles will offer a presentation that she has prepared on sea level rise in the Tampa Bay area. This is a very stimulating and provocative topic Claire has researched. Plan to come and see this challenge from new perspectives. All are welcome!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

THU, APR 19 GUN CONTROL ACTION: Support Mayor Kriseman today! He is asking St. Pete City Council to approve his proposal that St. Petersburg join together with other Florida cities in a lawsuit against Rick Scott to allow municipalities to pass gun control legislation that may be more restrictive than state policy. Fired Up Pinellas has asked that we pack the city council chambers wearing orange to show support. Arrive at 2:45pm to go through security, the council meeting begins at 3pm. See facebook for more information. If you are unable to attend, write to the council by following the link on their webpage:  stpete.org/council.
JUSTICE MINISTRY EDUCATION: Join a learning community of people turning the world upside down! In June, Auburn Seminary will offer six-month training course for those who care about social justice issues and realize the importance of Florida, and in particular the I-4 corridor during the Mid Term elections this year. Gun control, immigration, equal pay, affordable housing and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated are just a few of the issues facing our communities. E-mail Rev. Pritchett if you are interested in participating.
MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
THU, APR 19 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: St Pete Earth Day, the Suncoast Sierra Club and The St Petersburg Museum of History will screen The Age of Consequences Thursday, April 19th at the St Petersburg Museum of History (335 2nd Ave. NE). The film explores how climate change impacts resource scarcity, migration and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Social begins at 6:00 PM – Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a cash bar. Panel Discussion Begins at 6:30pm, Movie Begins at 7:00pm and ends at 8:30pm. This is a FREE event, donations are gratefully accepted at the door. RSVP Requested.
THU, APR 19 GUN VIOLENCE RALLY: On the anniversary of City of the Columbine High School shooting, students in Pinellas county will join others across the nation in a school walkout to protest government inaction on gun violence. On April 20th at noon public and private school students are encouraged to gather in front of St. Petersburg City Hall for a rally and to register to vote. Hear from student leaders, Mayor Rick Kriseman, and other officials and register to vote. Street parking available along 1st Avenue N, 2nd Avenue N, on Mirror Lake Drive, and at the nearby Sundial garage located at 117 2nd St N.
FRI, APR 20 FILM SCREENING: As the legal fights over access to abortion escalate, what remains of a woman’s right to choose? Pinellas National Organization for Women presents Trapped, a documentary that follows providers at reproductive health clinics throughout the South struggling to comply with TRAP laws put in place to prevent abortions. Friday, April 20 at 6:45pm at Good Samaritan Church (6085 Park Blvd).
SAT, APR 21 ST PETE EARTH DAY: The Fifth Annual Earth Day Festival In Williams Park will take place Saturday, April 21st. Vendors will offer green and sustainable living products and services, arts and crafts, information and demonstrations. Children’s activities, live music, tiny homes exhibit, electric vehicle display, wildlife, community orgs and city of St. Pete will also be on hand. Don’t miss this amazing free event! For more information, go to earthdaysp.com.
THU, APR 26 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: A Plastic Ocean: A Screening & Discussion with Natural Resources Agent, Lara Milligan will be held April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Seminole Campus Digitorium of St. Petersburg College (9200 113th St. N, Seminole). Seating is limited and online registration is requested or call 727-394-6942 for more information.
THU, APR 26 ECKERD LECTURE: Delores Huerta will be speaking at Eckerd College on April 26. The 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner has spent her life organizing and advocating on behalf of the disenfranchised. From gathering her students’ parents into a labor movement that would become the National Farmworkers Association to working alongside Gloria Steinem to get more women into office, Huerta’s eight-decade life is a testament to the work and commitment social activism requires. This living legend and labor icon will share her story and thoughts with the Eckerd community during this special event on Thursday, April 26th at 7:30pm in Fox Hall.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is Lakewood Methodist Counseling Center. Ministry item for months of March and April is deodorant, these will be given to Daystar to be used for their work. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Mim Carle and family, Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Shirley Locke,
Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Ron Spivack, Willy Zessoules

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Podcast: 50th Anniversary Celebration — Guest preacher, Rev. Angela Wells

Rev. Angela Wells, photo by Yoko Nogami

Sunday, April 15th, 2018 Lakewood UCC celebrated its 50th Anniversary! The anniversary celebration included a beautiful worship service with guest preacher Rev. Angela Wells. In the 50 year history of the church, Angela is the one person from the congregation to become an ordained pastor. After the service, a group picture was taken around the Peace Pole, followed by a festive lunch.


Click on the orange circle in the widget above to listen to Angela’s sermon!
To download Rev. Angela Wells’ sermon click HERE.

GUEST PREACHER: The Rev. Angela Wells grew up in Lakewood United Church of Christ, the daughter of Kim and Jeff Wells. Following graduation from New College of Florida in Sarasota, she attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City. During seminary, she served two Florida churches over the summer while the pastors were on sabbatical leave: The Venice United Church of Christ and St. Andrew United Church of Christ, Sarasota. After graduating from Union, Angela was called to serve the United Church of Christ Congregational in Burlington, MA and ordained into the ministry of the United Church of Christ at Lakewood, her home church. Angela continues to serve in Burlington. As part of that ministry, Angela serves on the Board of Directors of People Helping People, a non profit organization established to meet the needs of the residents of Burlington. She is a past president of the board. Angela serves on the Metropolitan Boston Association Committee on Ministerial Standing. She is a former chairperson. Angela is part of NGLI, Next Generation Leadership Initiative, of the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ. This program equips select young pastors for future leadership in the UCC especially in light of the changing landscape of ministry. Angela is active in the Burlington Interfaith Clergy group. She is an on call chaplain for the Lahey Clinic. AND, Angela is a newly elected commissioner of the Housing Authority of Burlington which oversees managing affordable senior housing. Angela is engaged to Andy Bean, director of the Boston Climate Action Network, a community organizer and public policy specialist. And Andy is a newly elected town meeting member in Burlington.

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Weekly Update 12 April

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, APR 15 THIS SUNDAY: Happy 50th Anniversary, LUCC! The anniversary celebration includes a beautiful worship service with guest preacher Rev. Angela Wells. In the 50 year history of the church, Angela is the one person from the congregation to become an ordained pastor. After the service, a group picture will be taken around the Peace Pole. And there is a festive lunch planned for after the picture. You are encouraged to wear your LUCC t shirt to church if you would like to. Don’t miss the celebration!
SUN, APR 15 GUEST PREACHER: The Rev. Angela Wells grew up in Lakewood United Church of Christ, the daughter of Kim and Jeff Wells. Following graduation from New College of Florida in Sarasota, she attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City. During seminary, she served two Florida churches over the summer while the pastors were on sabbatical leave: The Venice United Church of Christ and St. Andrew United Church of Christ, Sarasota. After graduating from Union, Angela was called to serve the United Church of Christ Congregational in Burlington, MA and ordained into the ministry of the United Church of Christ at Lakewood, her home church. Angela continues to serve in Burlington. As part of that ministry, Angela serves on the Board of Directors of People Helping People, a non profit organization established to meet the needs of the residents of Burlington. She is a past president of the board. Angela serves on the Metropolitan Boston Association Committee on Ministerial Standing. She is a former chairperson. Angela is part of NGLI, Next Generation Leadership Initiative, of the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ. This program equips select young pastors for future leadership in the UCC especially in light of the changing landscape of ministry. Angela is active in the Burlington Interfaith Clergy group. She is an on call chaplain for the Lahey Clinic. AND, Angela is a newly elected commissioner of the Housing Authority of Burlington which oversees managing affordable senior housing. Angela is engaged to Andy Bean, director of the Boston Climate Action Network, a community organizer and public policy specialist. And Andy is a newly elected town meeting member in Burlington.
SUN, APR 15 ALTAR CLOTH: The cloth on the altar for Sunday was made by Fran Whitney in honor of the 50th anniversary of Lakewood UCC, her church home. Many thanks to Fran for this beautiful gift!
SUN, APR 15 PICTURE TIME: Immediately following worship this Sunday, please head out to the Peace Pole for a group picture in honor of the 50th anniversary. Thank you!
SUN, APR 15 ANNIVERSARY SHIRTS & BAGS: There are t-shirts and tote bags for sale with the anniversary logo. The cost is $10. Please see Amaiya and Kai’Lyn on Sunday to make your purchase.
WED, APR 18 WESTMINSTER LUNCH: Westminster Suncoast Luncheon Wednesday Apr 18 at 11:30 in the private dining room at Westminster Suncoast. All residents of the Shores and Suncoast are welcome.
SUN, MAY 20 NEW MEMBERS: The church is planning to receive new members on Pentecost Sunday May 20. Those considering church membership may speak with Rev. Wells.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
THU, APR 19 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: St Pete Earth Day, the Suncoast Sierra Club and The St Petersburg Museum of History will screen The Age of Consequences Thursday, April 19th at the St Petersburg Museum of History (335 2nd Ave. NE). The film explores how climate change impacts resource scarcity, migration and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Social begins at 6:00 PM – Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a cash bar. Panel Discussion Begins at 6:30pm, Movie Begins at 7:00pm and ends at 8:30pm. This is a FREE event, donations are gratefully accepted at the door. RSVP Requested.
SAT, APR 21 ST PETE EARTH DAY: The Fifth Annual Earth Day Festival In Williams Park will take place Saturday, April 21st. Vendors will offer green and sustainable living products and services, arts and crafts, information and demonstrations. Children’s activities, live music, tiny homes exhibit, electric vehicle display, wildlife, community orgs and city of St. Pete will also be on hand. Don’t miss this amazing free event! For more information, go to earthdaysp.com.
THU, APR 26 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: A Plastic Ocean: A Screening & Discussion with Natural Resources Agent, Lara Milligan will be held April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Seminole Campus Digitorium of St. Petersburg College (9200 113th St. N, Seminole). Seating is limited and online registration is requested or call 727-394-6942 for more information.
THU, APR 26 ECKERD LECTURE: Delores Huerta will be speaking at Eckerd College on April 26. The 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner has spent her life organizing and advocating on behalf of the disenfranchised. From gathering her students’ parents into a labor movement that would become the National Farmworkers Association to working alongside Gloria Steinem to get more women into office, Huerta’s eight-decade life is a testament to the work and commitment social activism requires. This living legend and labor icon will share her story and thoughts with the Eckerd community during this special event on Thursday, April 26th at 7:30pm in Fox Hall.
WED, MAY 30 IFTAR DINNER:  On Wednesday, May 30th at The Coliseum (535 4th Ave N) Mayor Rick Kriseman and Muslim leaders from throughout Tampa Bay will host the 2nd Annual Iftar dinner welcoming residents of all faiths to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Doors open at 6pm, prayer at sundown (8:21pm). Sign up in the narthex if you plan to attend.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is still yet to be determined. Ministry item for months of March and April is deodorant, these will be given to Daystar to be used for their work. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Mim Carle and family, Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn,
Ron Spivack, Willy Zessoules

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Weekly Update 5 April

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, APR 8 THIS SUNDAY: In the aftermath of the resurrection, there is the opportunity to reflect on faith and fact. The story of Thomas leads the way. See John 20:19-31 and Acts 4:32-35.
SUN, APR 8 CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: There will be a brief congregational meeting following worship on Sunday, 8 April for the purpose of presenting, discussing, and taking action on the roof proposal. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
SUN, APR 15 ANNIVERSARY SUNDAY: Plan to be part of celebrating the first 50 years of LUCC’s ministry in preparation for at least the next 50 years! The bash is on Sunday April 15. The preacher for the morning is the Rev. Angela Wells, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Burlington, MA. Angela is the one person in the history of the church to go into the ministry. The theme will be “Foundation for the Future.” Rev. John Vertigan, Conference Minister of the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ will be part of the festivities. Founding pastor, Rev. Richard Wiggins and Mae are planning to attend. At the catered luncheon after the service, memories of past years and hopes and dreams for the future will be shared. Contact the Church Office or Bill Parsons to make your reservation.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

MLK VIDEO: On April 4th, 2018, the nation marked 50 years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the lasting impact of Dr. King’s ministry, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is offering a new video curriculum free of charge. Martin Luther King Jr.: Epistles & Prophets  brings together an interview with Civil Rights icon and theologian Ruby Sales and expert speakers exploring contemporary black/white relationships through writings by James Baldwin, Thomas Merton, and King that resonate powerfully today.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty,  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and Phone2Action to urge congress to undo the harm that mass incarceration has inflicted on families, individuals and the country.
SUN, APR 8 SOCIAL JUSTICE LECTURE: Les Leopold, co-founder of the Labor Institute and author of Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice will give a lecture on causes and solutions to economic inequality at 4:30pm Sunday, April 8th at Temple Beth El (400 Pasadena Ave S). For more information call the Temple office at (727) 347-613.
MON, APR 9 IMMIGRATION DISCUSSION: Join Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Immigration Attorney Mayra Calo and Isabel Sousa-Rodriquez from the Florida Immigration Coalition in a community dialog about immigration hosted by WMNF’s Mitch Perry. Monday, April 9 from 7:00 – 8:30pm at Allendale United Methodist Church (3803 Haines Rd. N).
WED, APR 11 ORGANIZING MEETING: The Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for a Moral Revival, is building a movement to overcome systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy. Come hear about this movement and how you can be involved Wednesday, April 11th at the Quaker Meeting Hall (130 19th Ave SE).
THU, APR 26 ENVIRONMENTAL FILM: A Plastic Ocean: A Screening & Discussion with Natural Resources Agent, Lara Milligan will be held April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Seminole Campus Digitorium of St. Petersburg College (9200 113th St. N, Seminole). Seating is limited and online registration is requested or call 727-394-6942 for more information.
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is still yet to be determined.
Ministry item for months of March and April is deodorant, these will be given to
Daystar to be used for their work. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
NEW MEMBERS: Lakewood UCC is always ready to welcome new members into the church family. Joining the church involves attending an orientation session and being part of a Reception of New Members ritual during Sunday morning worship.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Mim Carle and family, Betty Harris, Genevieve Jackle, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn,
Ron Spivack, Willy Zessoules

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Sermon Easter Sunrise – Fully Known, Fully Loved

Easter Sunday April 1, 2018
Scripture Lesson: John 20:1-18
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

It is painted, sung about, and immortalized. That moment in the Easter story from the Gospel of John when Mary meets Jesus in the graveyard. She does not recognize him until he says her name. Mary. In the name is the knowing. It just takes the name and we know that this is a reference to the identity of the person, the history, the experiences, the inner feelings, the relationships, the habits, the quirks, the foibles, the full sense of Mary’s being. In that moment, Mary is made aware that she is fully known.

Jesus is known for fully knowing. He is known for knowing people as they truly are, not as they may perceive themselves nor as they may be perceived by others. His is a true knowing. A knowing in full not in part.

We see this in story after story in the New Testament. In the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, he mentions that she has had five husbands. That is not something that she would have been advertising about herself. Yet he knew. Probably everyone else in her town was spreading the word. And we are shown a Jesus who knows this. And he still asks her for water. And he still gives her living water. And she goes to offer this saving gift to the people of her town who have doubtless tormented her. Fully known.

The gospels share a story of Jesus finding a group of men ready to stone a woman for adultery. She makes no plea of innocence. Fully known. But in the story, Jesus turns to those with the rocks at the ready, arms drawn back, and says, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” They, too, are fully known.

In another story, Zacchaeus, a notorious hated upper crust financial functionary, climbs a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. And Jesus stops and invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house. Jesus knows all about Zacchaeus and his cheating and his greed. Zacchaeus is fully known.

And there is the story of a rich young ruler. He comes to Jesus desperately seeking life in God. Jesus knows this man. He knows there is just one thing. And the rich young man cannot accept Jesus’ offer. And Jesus is sad, so sad, for he knows this man.

We are told that Jesus knows those who initiate his execution. He knows those who adjudicate his trial. He knows the governor who can stay his execution, but does not. He knows the thieves that are crucified with him. Jesus knows them all. They are fully know.

Just that one word, in the cemetery, “Mary.” She is fully known. As are so many others. Nothing is hidden.

And what of these people who are fully known? With their past. With the evil intentions of their hearts. With their cheating and stealing. With their self absorption and greed. With their lust for power. With their self protectionist proclivities. What of this sorry lot? We are shown a Jesus who knows it all. They are fully known. Not in a clairvoyant, woo woo, supernatural way. But in a sincere, insightful, honest way that comes from paying attention and listening and caring.

We are also shown something else about Jesus. All of these people, all of the people healed and forgiven. The crowds. The women. The townspeople. The corrupt leaders. The hypocritical priests. The executioners. The disciples. All of them are fully known. And they are also fully loved. Loved for their full humanity and all of its imperfections. Loved for all of their misguided schemes. Loved for all of their hopes and dreams. Loved for all of their pain, grief, and guilt. Loved because of who they are. Loved in spite of who
they are. Fully known. Fully loved.

We may not know all about Jesus. We may hardly know his story. But all we really need to know is about the love. For each and every person. Because at the core, each and every one of us is holy and sacred. And because of that, we are worthy to be loved. Before anything we do or say, we are beloved. Because of everything we do and say, we are beloved. In spite what we do and say, we are beloved. And there’s nothing we can do about it. We are fully known and fully loved in the reality of God.

In the book, The Song of the Bird, Anthony De Mello shares this story:

I was a neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. And everyone kept telling me to change. And everyone kept telling me how neurotic I was. And I resented them, and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but I just couldn’t bring myself to change, no matter how hard I tried.
What hurt the most was that my best friend also kept telling me how neurotic I was. He too kept insisting that I change. And I agreed with him too, though I couldn’t bring myself to resent him. And I felt so powerless and so trapped.
Then one day he said to me, “Don’t change. Stay as you are. It really doesn’t matter whether you change or not. I love you just as you are; I cannot help loving you.”
These words sounded like music to my ears: “Don’t change. Don’t change. Don’t change. I love you.”
And I relaxed. And I came alive. And, oh wondrous marvel, I changed.

[Quoted in 25 Windows into the Soul: Praying with the Psalms, from the writings of Joan Chittister, p. 78]

Yes, the story of the encounter between Jesus and Mary in the garden is famous for that one word, “Mary,” showing us that we are fully known and fully loved. But there is another phrase in that story that is also well-remembered. Jesus asks Mary, “Why are you weeping?” Why are you weeping?

Do we weep because of this great love? We are fully known and fully loved. Does the enormity of it bring us to tears? Why are we weeping? Are we weeping in repentance? Seeking the healing of forgiving love? Why are we weeping? Are we weeping because the awareness that we are fully known and fully loved makes our compassion for ourselves, others and the world well up? Why are we weeping? Is it because in spite of this love, we will continue to hurt ourselves and others? Why are we weeping? Is it because we have not been able to say yes to this belovedness?

Why are we weeping? This Easter, may we know that we are fully known and fully loved and may we weep tears of joy. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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2018 Palm Sunday at Lakewood UCC

The service started outside around the cross and after the blessing of palms proceeded with a processional inside. Later in the service new members were received into the church.

photos by Yoko Nogami

 

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Weekly Update 28 March

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, APR 1 THIS SUNDAY: We celebrate the power of Love that is stronger than death this Easter Sunday. There is an outdoor Sunrise Service at 7am followed by breakfast in the fellowship hall. The 10:30am Festival Service is designed as an intergenerational service: children and youth are encouraged to participate for the whole service.  There will also be childcare provided in the Nursery for the very young. The celebrations conclude with an egg hunt and refreshments on the church grounds.
THU, MAR 29 MAUNDY THURSDAY: This is a night to remember Jesus’ last supper with his friends and followers. A light soup supper will be served at 6:00pm in the Fellowship Hall followed by a service of communion and Tenebrae in the sanctuary at 7:00. All are welcome at this solemn service of remembrance.
FRI, MAR 30 GOOD FRIDAY: There will be a guided labyrinth walk at noon related to the crucifixion of Jesus. The sanctuary will be open for meditation and prayer from noon until 3:00pm.
SUN, APR 1 EASTER: The celebration of Easter begins with a sunrise service at 7:00am outdoors on the church grounds followed by breakfast in the Fellowship Hall.
The Festival Service begins at 10:30am. This is an intergenerational service celebrating the power of Love that is stronger than death. The season of spring is a reminder that new life bursts forth even in the least expected places.
An Easter Egg hunt will be held following the Festival Service along with refreshments on the church grounds.
SUN, APR 8 CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: There will be a brief congregational meeting following worship on Sunday, 8 April for the purpose of presenting, discussing, and taking action on the roof proposal. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
SUN, APR 15 ANNIVERSARY SUNDAY: Plan to be part of celebrating the first 50 years of LUCC’s ministry in preparation for at least the next 50 years! The bash is on Sunday April 15. The preacher for the morning is the Rev. Angela Wells, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Burlington, MA. Angela is the one person in the history of the church to go into the ministry. The theme will be “Foundation for the Future.” Rev. John Vertigan, Conference Minister of the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ will be part of the festivities. Founding pastor, Rev. Richard Wiggins and Mae are planning to attend. At the catered luncheon after the service, memories of past years and hopes and dreams for the future will be shared. Contact the Church Office or Bill Parsons to make your reservation.
 LOST AND FOUND: There was a battery and a small piece to a hearing aid found on the floor of the sanctuary following the PalmSunday service March 25.  Please contact the church office for details.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

CIW ACTION: Five-day fast to fight sexual violence against women farmworkers underway outside Manhattan office of Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz. Read more on the coalition website.
ONLINE PETITIONS: Urge your lawmakers to vote in ways that promote peace! Visit Equal Justice USA to support an end to the death penalty and  Move On to support a ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
WED, APR 4 MLK REMEMBRANCE: The community is invited to come together to commemorate the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of that terrible event April 4th, 7pm at The Palladium Theater (253 5th Ave N). The evening will include readings of excerpts from Dr. King’s writings and speeches, recollections of historic events in St. Petersburg, and musical performances. Participants include Bob Devin Jones, City Administrator Kanika Tomalin, Terri Lipsey Scott, Sharon Scott, Alex Harris and One City Chorus.
SUN, APR 8 SOCIAL JUSTICE LECTURE: Les Leopold, co-founder of the Labor Institute and author of Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice will give a lecture on causes and solutions to economic inequality at 4:30pm Sunday, April 8th at Temple Beth El (400 Pasadena Ave S). For more information call the Temple office at (727) 347-613.
WED, APR 11 ORGANIZING MEETING: The Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for a Moral Revival, is building a movement to overcome systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy. Come hear about this movement and how you can be involved Wednesday, April 11th at the Quaker Meeting Hall (130 19th Ave SE).
CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS
AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THERE IS HOPE – COMMUNITY: Wally LeBlanc will have cards available for sale on Sun. May 6th. The mission for May card sales is still yet to be determined.
Ministry item for months of March and April is deodorant, these will be given to
Daystar to be used for their work. There will be a box in the back of Sanctuary for items to be placed in.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact Bill Parsons or Adrien Helm.
NEW MEMBERS: Lakewood UCC is always ready to welcome new members into the church family. Joining the church involves attending an orientation session and being part of a Reception of New Members ritual during Sunday morning worship.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
FREE ECO-THEOLOGY COURSE: Yale is offering three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the gift of God’s creation and our relationship to it. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals or small groups in churches to participate in the course. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at coursera.org.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. Middle School age children and younger are invited to participate in Church School with Grace Lewis. Preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. All children return to the sanctuary during the offering so they can participate at the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

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Meditations & Reflections for solo piano 17 – The Legacy Of The River


Simply click on the arrow in the orange circle above to play The Legacy Of The River — it’s free to play. It is one of the pieces I wrote to play for a series on contemplative moments during a past season at Lakewood UCC. If you wish to hear the complete set of pieces, Meditations & Reflections for solo piano, you may stream the audio at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/meditations-reflections-for-solo-piano. If you want to play them at home on the piano, yourself, you can download the sheet music at hiltonkeanjones.com/music. To buy the CD click on the following link.

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Sermon Palm Sunday – Ashes to Ashes: Life Before Death

Sunday March 25, 2018

Rev. Kim P. Wells

We began the Lenten season with ashes on Ash Wednesday. We reminded ourselves that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Death is the great fact of life. Real. True. Undisputed. No fake news, here. Death is democratic and egalitarian and inclusive. If you’re alive, there is one thing you can be sure of. You will die. Everyone dies.

This week, we remember one particular death. One very specific, cruel death. And this, too, is real. Factual. No fake news. While there is not much that can be historically verified about the life of Jesus, about his death, there is agreement. He was put to death on a cross. This was the Roman punishment for traitors, insurrectionists, and people who were thought to be threats to the Empire. Apparently, Jesus’ influence had become so great, that the Roman authorities could be convinced that he was a threat to their power in the territory of Palestine, already known for being rebellious.

So this week, we remember the death of Jesus. His death on the cross. But his death only really matters, only really is remembered, only really has meaning for us today, because of his life. Jesus lived his life in the reality of God. He breathed in and out unconditional, universal love. When he looked at a person, any person, he could only see a beloved, sacred, Divine being. And he, himself, was the most fully human human being.

Jesus knew that he was a wanted man by the authorities in Jerusalem. He knew they wanted him dead. We know from books and movies and TV that when there is a death threat, the person heads the other way, hides out, steers clear of the source of the threat. Not Jesus. He knew the threat was in Jerusalem. The capital. Where there was a concentration of religious power and political power. In collusion. Which typically results in corruption. And that is where he goes. And he doesn’t sneak in. We’re told he makes an entrance. In a parade. Not military style on a strapping steed with armaments in tow but on a donkey, the way strewn cloaks and with branches from nearby trees. Jesus imbues a traditional image, the military procession, with new meaning. He is not coming from having killed others in defense of the Empire. He is coming to be killed, to face his own death, because he is perceived as a threat to the Empire.

When we think of facing fear or a threat with our natural human instincts our response is typically fight or flight. Jesus chooses another way. He chooses the way of sacrificial love. He proceeds to his death not with resignation, but with strength, courage, and defiance, infused with compassion, meekness, and humility. It a rare and beautiful combination. Because of the way Jesus lived, because of the way he faces his death, because in him we see love conquering fear, the death penalty, the crucifixion, will not silence his voice, as his killers hope, but will amplify it so that his message is still powerfully heard today.

According to the gospel of John, in his last evening with his friends, his last opportunity to get across the main point, the big picture, the core concept, Jesus washes the feet of his friends. A humble, servile act. And he gives a new commandment – to “love one another as I have loved you.” Love and serve. That’s what he did. He didn’t just talk about it. He did it.

And he did this up to the very last moment of his life. We are given the tradition of Jesus forgiving even those responsible for his execution. We remember his death because of the way he lived his life.

The way you live is the way you die. Jesus shows us Divine Love that is not intimidated by fear or violence or hatred. When we live in that love, we need have no fear. Not even of death. Amen.

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Lakewood UCC presence at 2018 students’ MARCH FOR OUR LIVES, St. Pete

2018 March for our Lives LUCC folks & banner

2018 March for our Lives LUCC folks & banner

Banner was designed and constructed by Yoko Nogami, using salvaged materials from shed cleaning.

2018 March for our Lives panorama

2018 March for our Lives panorama

Below is a gallery of candid shots by Sue Sherwood of some of the sites plus pics of UCC folk actually marching!

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Meditations & Reflections for solo piano 16 – Guardian of the Mists


Simply click on the arrow in the orange circle above to play Guardian of the Mists — it’s free to play. It is one of the pieces I wrote to play for a series on contemplative moments during a past season at Lakewood UCC. If you wish to hear the complete set of pieces, Meditations & Reflections for solo piano, you may stream the audio at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/meditations-reflections-for-solo-piano. If you want to play them at home on the piano, yourself, you can download the sheet music at hiltonkeanjones.com/music. To buy the CD click on the following link.

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