While we are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have ceased in person worship for the time being, we are still gathering our hearts and minds for worship as a church. Each week our staff produces and emails an at-home worship packet with words, art, and music. You can find previous weeks’ worship packets here. You can email office@lajollaucc.org to request to be added to the weekly email list to receive these in your inbox.

If you have pastoral requests or concerns please email pastor@lajollaucc.org

With grace

CCLJ Staff

 

 

 

 

March 15th, 2020

Hello CCLJ Family (and Friends far and wide):

Today we make history. Today we join our hearts in worship from our own homes. We are still very much a functioning, living, breathing church. This is evidence of that. We are doing something that has never been done in the history of our church.

Below you will find Home Worship Guides. During the next weeks of at home worship we will be reflecting on what this means. Can we be significant staying at home? What does it mean to contend with illness? With an infirm world? Can we change the world from our own homes? Let’s explore these questions together by looking to the past and looking to our sacred scriptures. For this week, our worship focuses on French painter Henri Matisse who spent the last fourteen years of his life largely at home due to complications of a surgery to remove cancer. Some of his best work was created during this time, including what he considered to be his masterpiece. We will spend more time reflecting on this later. You will even have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of his masterpiece.

Please open the at home worship guide below by clicking on it. It should open with ease. Start on page one and read through the guide.  There are four audio files that you will see in this email as well. Don’t listen to the audio files until the guide instructs you to. They are listed clearly as “Audio File 1,” “Audio File 2,” “Audio File 3,” and “Audio File 4.” This is to make this as simple as possible. Keep this email open as you work through the worship guide so that you can easily access the audio files when necessary.  When instructed by the guide to listen to an audio file, simply click on the audio file that the guide instructs you to.

Also, please read all the way through the worship guide. Your staff put in an incredible amount of time in getting this together for you with short notice. There is a fun homework assignment too. Please send us a photo. This can be a selfie of you at home today, or a photo of the place you choose to worship, or a photo of something that is currently inspiring you. When we come back together we will use these photos in a special way.

So, get cozy and comfortable. This is still very new for us and we put it together in just over 24 hours. Any wrinkles will be worked out in the coming several weeks.

With grace,

Rev. Tim Seery, Minister

Dr. Nina Gilbert, Music Director

Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Office Manager, Soloist

 

Week 1 March 15th, 2020 Henri Matisse

PDF Instructions:    AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 1 08.52.28

 

 

 

 

Week 2  March 22nd, 2020 Isaac Newton

Dear Church,
Here is the worship packet for our second week of at home church. I continue to thank you for being willing to do church differently during these unpredictable times. Please enjoy the musical selections that were crafted for this week’s worship experience by Nina and Bronwyn. As I said before, we are continuing to look at the lives of noteworthy individuals from history who have had to stay at home for one reason or another. Last week was Henri Matisse and this week is none other than Sir. Isaac Newton. I have received many lovely photographs that you’ve sent me of where you are worshiping. I continue to invite you to send them. Also, if you have prayer concerns or celebrations that you wish to share with our congregation please email me and I will include those on a future packet.
Also, if you want to share a story or photo of what this time apart has got you up to, please do! Perhaps you are working on a project, creating art, writing, or interior decorating. Maybe you are reading a good book or watching an informative Netflix series. We want to know! If you have an thing to share: stories, photos of what you’ve been doing, or advice send them to me at pastor@lajollaucc.org and they will be included in the next worship packet to help keep us connected during this time! Think of it as “virtual fellowship hour” — you just need to provide your own cookies.
With grace,
Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Week 2  March 22nd, 2020 Isaac Newton

PDF Instructions:    AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 2- March 22, 2020

 

 

 

 

Week 3  March 29th, 2020 Frida Kahlo

Dear Church,

Here we are already with the third week of our at home worship. Your staff has enjoyed the challenge of working to make these better each week. Originally we had planned for 4 weeks of at home worship. With this being week 3, that would mean that we would also have next week as well. However, as events continue to develop, it appears that local and state stay at home orders will not be lifted by then. Therefore we will come out with further correspondence in the coming week about the future of at home worship.

Also, the current economic state of the world is being felt in all institutions of all sizes, including our own. Our renters’ businesses have come to a grinding halt, and so has their need to rent from us. In addition to this, we feel the squeeze of the global economic downturn on our investments, the income from which we rely upon to meet our operating budget. As a church that makes due with a deficit budget under normal circumstances, this year could prove to be a challenge for us. But I am choosing to see this a simply a “bump in the road” – there is still much road yet to be traveled on the other side. That said however, it is critically important that we continue to support the church as we normally would if we were meeting in person. You can send your offerings and pledges to the church. I am checking the mail a few times a week so your checks will be processed in a timely manner.

Also, it has been such an honor to receive your “homework” each week. The stories and pictures you have shared with me have been amazing. This week I want you to send me a photo of something that is giving you life during this stressful time. I think that we can all share in each other’s inspiration while continuing to stay connected to each other.

Thank you to each and every one of you for the gift that you are to our community.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Week 3  March 29th, 2020 Frida Kahlo

PDF Instructions: AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 3 – MARCH 29

 

 

 

 

Week 4  April 5th, 2020 The  Quilters of Gee’s Bend

Dear Church,

Here is the worship packet for our forth week. This is also Palm Sunday which means we are heading into Holy Week next week. I will talk a little bit more about this in my recorded message to you so I won’t explain too much here. I am so grateful for you continuing to write in with updates about your lives and pictures that you want to share. Several of you have even written in a few book recommendations as well. Keep it coming! Your contributions and stories and ideas are what make these worship packets special. This week I hope some of you will be moved to send me a photo of something that is inspiring you these days. What is giving you hope? Where are you finding beauty?

You are all in my prayers. Stay healthy and safe,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Week 4  April 5th, 2020 The  Quilters of Gee’s Bend

PDF Instructions: AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 4 – APRIL 5

 

 

 

 

 

April 9, 2020

Dear Church,

Today we begin the days when we normally would be coming to the church several times for several different services to mark Jesus’ last earthy moments. I miss gathering around a table with you and sharing dinner as the lights gradually go dim. How do we remember a meal gathered around a table together when we are not able to even do anything close to that for the health and safety of our world? Nina has offered us two musical selections to guide our prayers and medications this night and tomorrow. You will find them attached to this email with the concert notes prepared below. I hope that you can listen to this music and find a way to remember Jesus’ final gathering with his disciples in the comfort of your own homes.

As you all know I find God in art and so I thought I’d share with you a piece that reminds me of not only Maundy Thursday and Good Friday but also of where we are as a society right now. The one thing I keep in mind is that we have the luxury of knowing how the story finishes. We come to church on Maundy Thursday knowing full well we will be back on Sunday morning. We know the sorrow does not last long. But for those who were participating in this story 2,000 years ago, they did not know this. Imagine how Good Friday would feel if you didn’t know how the story ended? If you thought that was it. If you didn’t know when the pain or loneliness would end…

Where we are now is in some ways a small taste of this. We don’t know what will happen next week let alone tomorrow. The world has had to become ok with not planning ahead very far. We aren’t sure how the story will finish, though we have faith in a God of new life and resurrection, like those who accompanied Jesus, we don’t know when exactly this will happen.

The piece of art above is one in my own collection by Felix Gonzalez Torres. I used this as the bulletin cover last year on Good Friday. Felix Gonzalez Torres lived and worked at the height of the AIDS crisis. Much like COVID-19, there was a lot of mystery around this virus and how and why some people were getting sick and dying. There was no cure, no vaccine, and only marginally effective mitigating drugs. In the mid-80s a diagnosis with this was effectively a death sentence. However, unlike COVID-19, society did not stop. There weren’t press conferences every day updating the country, there was no White House task force or billions of dollars spent on treatment. Instead there was largely, silence. Why? Because AIDS mostly impacted a segment of the population that society did not want to shed light on or acknowledge the humanity of. Those who had the virus or who knew others who did were hidden, silenced, and ignored by the government that was supposed to protect them.

Getting an HIV diagnosis in 1986, the year this piece was made, was like facing crucifixion. People were sentenced to a silent, scary, and lonely death because of who they were and the fear around the disease almost marked them as lepers to the wider world.

Felix’s partner Ross Laycock was diagnosed as HIV+ in 1986 and out of despair, Felix created this work, “Untitled” (Crucifixion) 1986. Felix and Ross had to sit in this Good Friday-esque space for a long time. It would be 10 years until HIV became survivable. It would be half a decade until the government took the issue seriously and dedicated its resources to research and development. The blue hue of this image is thought to reflect the color of the hospital gowns that Ross had to wear. Ross ultimately died of complications due to AIDS in 1991.

I look at this image and I am reminded that we face true Good Fridays in our lives but we all know how the story ends. Jesus didn’t stay this way long and his lifeless body on this cross is the most extreme act of protest that history has ever seen. The most powerful kings and empires nor death itself could keep his love from shining onward.

Onward we go,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Performance Notes:

Maundy Thursday: Claude Debussy, Arabesque No. 1

Good Friday: J. S. Bach, Andante, from Italian Concerto, BWV 971

While Bach’s music is precisely notated, he is creating the effect of a harpsichordist improvising over a steady bass line. Debussy admired (and perhaps imitated) what he called the “wonderful arabesque” quality of Baroque music, a line shaped by nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 5  April 12th, 2020  EASTER

Dear Church,
Christ is risen! Here we are at Easter. Not the Easter I imagined but the story unfolds no matter what we do or where we are. Please enjoy this Easter themed worship packet and remember that we will fully realize the celebration of this festive day when we come back together again in the future.
As always thank you for sending me your photos, stories, and recommendations. I will continue to publish them in future worship packets. This week may you rise from the haze of uncertainty, doubt or despair and walk in the light.
With grace,
Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Week 5  April 12th, 2020  EASTER

PDF Instructions: AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 5 – EASTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 6  April 19th, 2020 Holy Humor

Dear Church,

Christ is risen! This is something we ought to continue to remember as we embark upon the 50 days of Easter. Even if it doesn’t feel like it some days, the tomb is empty and new life is among us. It is hard to believe we are already at our sixth week of at home worship kits. The response we’ve been getting from these has been wonderful – and our congregation is growing and expanding each week in ways it normally otherwise wouldn’t. It seems, based on my conversations with UCC leadership, local colleagues, and staff, that we will continue to worship this way for quite some time. This is a journey and it is unfolding. As the weeks progress, we will continue to think of ways to keep our worship packets fresh, relevant, and engaging.

This week we will celebrate what is called “Holy Humor Sunday.” This is traditionally the Sunday after Easter. This is the first time that I have celebrated this with you and you will find out why when you listen to my reflection.

As always, please keep sending me photos of your lives, your at-home adventures, and the ways that you are finding God during these times.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Week 6  April 19th, 2020 Holy Humor

PDF Instructions:AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 6 – HOLY HUMOR[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 April 26th, 2020

Dear Church,

Here is Week 7 of our at home worship. This week we have made the conscious choice to lift up female artists and musicians. The theme is “action painting” — the art and the musical selections complement this notion in ways that we are sure you will enjoy.

I continue to be grateful for your messages, photos, notes and book recommendations. Please don’t hesitate to send me something you’d like to share with the congregation: a recipe you like, a good book, or a picture of you! We haven’t seen each other in a while and it looks like it will still be some time before we do. Staying connected is good and healthy. We are continually looking for ways to expand, perfect, and grow this idea of taking church into digital space.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Week 7 April 26th, 2020

PDF InstructionsAT HOME WORSHIP KIT 7-Action Painting Lifting up female artists and musicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 8 May 3rd, 2020 Weathering the Storm

Dear Church,

The weeks are moving by rapidly. Here is Week 8 of At Home Church. I have been engaged in a lot of conversation with the staff, our moderators, our Southern California Nevada Conference UCC leadership, as well as colleagues across this region about all the ways our ministries have had to change and adapt over the past 8 weeks. It looks like our ministries will continue to adapt. The Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC just announced that our Annual Gathering in July will now be exclusively virtual. We in this church are also beginning to chart a long term vision of what our immediate future will look like too. I will be covering this further in my message to you next week. Because we are in this for the long-haul, we will be adding some more opportunities for connection, including possibly a virtual book discussion club this summer as well as a bi-monthly virtual happy hour over Zoom for those who are familiar with this platform–and over the telephone for those who are not familiar with Zoom. Both options will be offered. More on this later.

No matter what, our world has changed. So too has our church and the way we will have to be moving into this new future. If there is one thing I can tell you, it is that I am extremely hopeful about what that future will bring. All of you continue to be in my prayers.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 8 May 3rd, 2020 Weathering the Storm
PDF Instructions:AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 8

 

 

Dear Church,

Several of you emailed me letting me know that the 4th audio file in this morning’s worship packet did not work. This was a piano duet that Nina took great care to bring to us this week. We want to make sure you hear it. That is why she has uploaded both of today’s piano pieces to youtube. The link is here: Piano solos #1 and #4

If you just want to hear the piano duet (the part that did not work properly) then you can listen by clicking this link: Piano solo #4

Thank you to all of you for engaging with our worship packets! Please continue to send me photos for the virtual fellowship hour! Your fellow CCLJ-ers love to see what is going on in your lives.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Week 9 May 10th, 2020 Interiors

Dear Church,

Here is the at home worship packet for our ninth week. Our theme this week is “interiors.” I ask that we reflect on and appreciate the rooms of our homes which have become our new sanctuaries. I selected pieces of art that come from many different artists and stylistic periods. Though all of them are representations of interiors of one form or another. We are fortunate to have a special addition to the end of this week’s packet: Nina has summarized for us the main take-aways from a 2.5 hour webinar about the science and safety of singing in a COVID world. There are several implications that this information will have on the way that we move forward as a church. Additionally, my homily reflection will talk a little bit about our continuation of the worship packets into the future.

I continue to appreciate your emails and check ins. It has been a joy hearing from each of you. Please keep sending photos of your lives to keep us all connected.

With grace,

Rev. Tim
Week 9 May 10th, 2020 Interiors
PDF Instructions: AT HOME WORSHIP KIT Interiors 9[1]

 

 

Hi Church,
Some people said that they couldn’t get the audio files of music to work on this week’s worship packet. Especially audio file 4. I don’t want you to miss this. Nina did an amazing job using found percussion instruments in her living room. It is a perfect complement to our theme this week. 
Here is this week’s music on youtube in case the audio files don’t work for you.
Both Pieces
Direct link to file 4, the “Living Room Music” for found percussion:

With grace, 

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Week 14 June 14th, 2020 Flag Day

Dear Church,

Week 10 is here! This week I share with you the work of David Hockney, a British born artist who has spent his life capturing the spirit of California. I hope you are enjoying receiving these as much as I (along with Nina and Bronwyn) are enjoying making them.

Last week I mentioned to you some of the challenges that our post COVID world will bring to church. Most churches of the United Church of Christ and other mainline denominations are beginning to dream up new ways of worship and connection in light of the information we have been receiving. Coffee hour, singing hymns, communion, and passing an offering plate are some of the main things that will have to wait until a time well into the future. As with any loss, we mourn. But part of mourning includes making meaning. And I believe that we can use this time to foster deeper, more authentic, and creative connections than ever before.

This is why I’d like to hear from you. Would you be interested in trying out a digital, online fellowship time? For those of you who don’t have a camera on your computer or aren’t familiar with Zoom video conferencing, you can simply dial a number on your phone and then automatically be put into a conference call with all of us! As long as you have a phone you can participate!

With worship packets carrying us through the summer, it might be nice to begin some connections through digital space. Our new normal will require us to begin to connect with each other in new ways. Perhaps we can fellowship with each other through the summer this way, connected in ways that are life giving and healthy for all of us? Let me know!

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 10 May 17th, 2020 Swimming Pools
PDF Instructions:AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 10 – May 17 Swimming Pools

 

 

 

 

Week 10 May 17th, 2020 Swimming Pools

Dear Church,

Here is the May 24, 2020 worship packet – our eleventh installment. Next week, May 31, we will gather on Zoom at 4:30 pm for happy hour. You will be able to join by your phone if you are not familiar with Zoom. The instructions will be in next week’s worship packet.

Thank you to those of you who continue to write in with your stories, comments, and photos! All of you are on my mind and heart these days.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 11 May 24th, 2020 Sculptures by Louise Nevelson. new wholes, often monumental, from old parts.
AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 11Sculptures by Louise Nevelson. Building new wholes, often monumental, from old parts.

 

 

 

 

Week 12 May 31st, 2020 Pentecost Sunday

Hi Church,

Here is the worship packet for May 31, 2020. There are a few important notes:

1) There are only three audio files being emailed to you because my pastor’s message comes in the form of two Youtube videos this week. On the page of the PDF that says “A Message to Reflect On” you will find the links to the two Youtube videos. You can simply click on them to access the videos. Note that there are two videos, the first one cuts off and then the message continues on the second. This is because I needed to turn the camera around to show you the historical records that we will be reflecting on this week.

2) Several of you should have received your covenant group assignments this past week. Thank you to our group leaders: Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser & Matthias Kaeser, James & Victoria Towner, John & Mary Benbow, Mars Cheung, Kristin Bean, Chris Bott, and Sigrid & Bill Nicholas for leading groups. The groups will be what you make of them, so take advantage of this opportunity for connection and collaboration!

3) Sunday afternoon, May 31, at 4:30 pm we will experiment with our first ever CCLJ digital fellowship time over Zoom. The information on how to access this can be found in the final page of the PDF worship packet. You can join by phone or computer.

Have a great week and I hope to see some of you this afternoon on Zoom!

With grace,

Rev. Tim
Week 12 May 31st, 2020 Pentecost Sunday
AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 12 Pentecost

 

 

A MESSAGE TO
REFLECT ON…..
LISTEN TO REV. TIM’S MESSAGE TO YOU BY CLICKING ON THE FOLLOWING
LINKS
PART 1 of 2

PART 2 of 2

 

 

 

 

Week 13 June 7th, 2020 Graduation Sunday

Dear Church,

Here is the worship at home packet for June 7, 2020. I hope you will join me in sending a huge CONGRATULATIONS to our two CCLJ graduates. Jacob Nicholas graduates next week from El Camino High School in Oceanside and Melissa Melchor graduates with her BA in visual arts and media from the University of California San Diego. We are so grateful for the gifts they have brought to our congregation. This week’s worship packet is in honor of them. The musical selections were also chosen to coordinate with the theme of graduation and new beginnings and honoring Jacob and Melissa.

Please note, in place of a homily this week we have collected messages to our graduates from members of the congregation. Thank you to Nina Gilbert for editing and compiling all of these messages together. The link to the video can be found in the worship packet, but I will also include it here. Please make sure you take time to check out our tribute to the graduates:

Also the instructions for our second CCLJ Zoom Happy Hour can be found on the last page of this week’s packet. I hope to see some of you online next Sunday at 4:30 PM

With grace,

Rev. Tim
Week 13 June 7th, 2020 Graduation Sunday
AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 13 Graduation Sunday

 

 

 

Dear Church,

Several of you wrote to me to let me know you could not access Nina’s Audio File 3. She has put them up on Youtube for us. If you want to listed to BOTH of here pieces use this link

To go directly to Audio File 3 ( Pomp & Circumstance) please use this link

 

 

 

 

Week 14 June 14th, 2020 Flag Day
Hello Church,

First, note that I am using an alternative email to send you this week’s worship packet. My church/professional email was not accepting attachments. So hopefully this will get out to you but feel free to continue to contact me at pastor@lajollaucc.org This is an account I don’t check as often.

Here is the 14th edition of our Sunday worship packets. Today our theme is “flag art” in celebration of Flag Day which this year falls on a Sunday (June 14).

I am looking forward to seeing some of you Sunday at 4:30 PM on Zoom for another Happy Hour!

You all continue to be in my prayers,

With grace,

Rev. Tim
Week 14 June 14th, 2020 Flag Day

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 14 Flag Day

 

 

 


Week 15 June 21st, 2020 Office Space
Dear Church,

Thank you so much for your participation in this week’s theme! I received so many photos of office spaces of such wide diversity. I hope you will enjoying seeing them all. The message this week is a tour of my office. You will find the link to the Youtube video in the worship packet. I will attach it here also for your convenience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKJxiQMTfl0 So many of you ask me questions about things inside my office. I figured I would bring all of you inside to talk about some of the things I have in there. As such, I wanted you to also think about your own offices and to see the office spaces of others. I think you will greatly enjoy the photos everyone has shared. Our labor is sacred and so is our time. Offices are spaces in which we do the sacred tasks of our lives that provide for us, that nourish us, and that ultimately nourish others too.
Rev. Tim Seery Office Tour


I think we ought to take more time to appreciate the ways in which we interact with built spaces. Our interiors are indeed works of art. We can learn a lot by looking at certain spaces. When we slow down enough to really interrogate our surroundings we have reached a pace at which we might then begin to encounter the divine.

Thank you again for your participation!

You all continue to be in my prayers. Stay healthy and well.

With grace,

Rev. Tim
AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 15Office Space

 

 

 

 

If you are unable to open Audio file 2 you can click on the link below.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 16 June 28th, 2020 California Summer Road Trip

Dear Church,

Attached is the Week 16 Worship Packet. On this first Sunday of summer we are begging a series called “California Summer Road Trip.” Since most of us are not traveling anywhere this summer this will be our chance to travel together. Each week we will see a different part of California through the eyes of its most prominent artists. This week we start up north in Sacramento with the work of Wayne Thiebaud who will turn 100 years old this November. He has called Sacramento home for several decades and was an important professor of painting at UC Davis. Next week we will proceed down the coast to the Bay Area and then make a stop in LA before hitting up Palm Springs and then onward to our own city, San Diego. Who knows, we might even complete our California trip with stops in Baja and Baja Sur.

What a blessing it is to live in this state. It is beautiful, a source of much of the world’s culture, an economic powerhouse, and as Governor Newsom reminded us recently, a “nation state” in an of itself.

I hope you enjoy our Summer California Road Trip!

If you will, send me photos you have taken on road trips, past and present. What delighted you? Shocked you? Send it my way! I will feature these over the next few weeks.

Lastly, a brief technical note about Audio File 4: we are aware of the background hiss in the recording of this audio file and have ordered new cables that should eliminate that problem by next week.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 16 – California Summer Road Trip

 

 

 

 

 

Week 17 July 5th, 2020 California Summer Road Trip
San Francisco

Dear Church,
Our California Summer Road Trip continues! Today we arrive to San Francisco! A big thank you to Nina and Rick for providing us with Bay Area-themed music for our stay in SF!
If you have a road trip photo from the past that you want to share with us please continue to send them to me!
Also, I hope to see many of you on Zoom Sunday, July 5 at 4:30 PM! The instructions are in the worship packet!
You all continue to be in my prayers.
Stay safe and well,
With grace, Rev. Tim
AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 17 California Summer Road Trip San Francisco 

 

 

Week 18 July 12th, 2020 California Road Trip Detour

Dear Church,

As we were progressing from San Francisco to Los Angeles for our summer road trip our “car” broke down. In other words, I woke up this morning ready to email you all a lovely tour of Los Angeles through the eyes of one of its most important young artists. Alas, the keyboard on my computer decided to quit working. I’ve spent today visiting Apple repair shops in Kearney Mesa and Carlsbad. Alas, the verdict is that it needs to go be shipped to Apple so they can work on it themselves. This process will take a minimum of 10 days. So it looks like our journey is shaping up to be a real road trip with detours and all! This week’s completed worship packet is ready to go in my computer. However, since it is password protected and my keyboard is not working, I’m not able to access anything. Including our worship packet email list. Thus you are receiving this email over Constant Contact. We apologize to those of you receiving this email who asked to be removed from our email list. You’ve been successfully removed from the worship packet list which has not yet updated into our Constant Contact records.

Your staff has had to adapt to this hiccup with grace. It turns out there’s no AAA to call for digital church issues! Nina has prepared music appropriate to the moment (we are saving her Los Angeles themed pieces for when we resume our road trip). We can’t attach files to Constant Contact emails so you will find links to Nina’s music on YouTube below, as well as her performance notes about the pieces. Click on the links to access her music.

Also, Nina has offered to share with you all her sermon on real life parables that she gave during the summer of 2017 when Rev. Bear was on vacation. The link to that is also posted below. I hope you will warmly welcome this impromptu opportunity for a guest preacher!

Don’t worry! Before long we will be on our way south through California. But there’s nothing wrong with a little delay, right?

With grace,

Rev. Tim

At Home Worship Week 18
California Road Trip Detour

George Gershwin (1898-1937) and Will Donaldson (1891-1954), Rialto Ripples, 1916

Gershwin had left school to work as a “music plugger” for publisher Jerome Remick, sight reading sheet music for customers. Bored and hoping for a hit, he composed this ragtime piece, his first instrumental publication, with some collaboration from Donaldson, his friend and co-worker. It was not a hit, as ragtime was fading with the death of Scott Joplin. It was obscure enough that forty years later Robert Maxwell was able to claim about half it as his own for a piece called “Oriental Blues,” known as Ernie Kovacs’ theme song.

James Reese Europe (1881-1919) and Ford T. Dabney (1883-1958),
Castles’ Half and Half, 1914

Europe and Dabney played and composed for the ballroom dance team of Irene and Vernon Castle. They were both bandleaders and cultural leaders, groundbreakers at getting recognition for the seriousness of African-American musicians.

Real-Life Parables
Sermon, June 18, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

At Home Worship Week 19
California Road Trip Detour

Dear Church,

Well, here we are in the second week of our CCLJ Summer Road Trip Detour. On Tuesday I received a nice box in the mail from Apple, fit with all of the things necessary for sending a computer halfway across the country. I loaded it up and away it went to Houston, TX. Nina created this image of what she imagines my computer looks like:

https://www.facebook.com/1593284012/posts/10220683000936932

All suited up in its mask so it can return to me safely!

Of course, what a time for technological mishap! Right when our very connection to each other and to our worship is predicated by technology. But this reminded me of an important lesson: we are not in control. No matter how badly I want that to be not true, it is simply the way it is. Our resiliency is built not by the things that went totally completely right in our lives, but rather, by all the things that went completely wrong. This is true in both the small things and the big things. Our entire society is in the process of learning this lesson. Each and every one of us have had to dramatically revise our vision of what we thought 2020 was going to be. For some, their very livelihoods and careers have been called into question and they are having to revise their visions of themselves and the rest of their lives.

This is the reality of our situation. And so, we are tasked with accepting it. There is a certain freedom in this “radical acceptance.” As someone who enjoys travel and aviation I like to follow CNN’s Richard Quest as he covers these topics for a global audience. Just a few months ago, pre-COVID he was a passenger on the longest recorded passenger flight from Newark to Singapore aboard Singapore Airlines new Airbus A350X. Then, I imagine he could have never guessed that in a matter of months his flying would cease, the industry would be hit with the biggest disaster in its history, and that he would be grounded for months.

Richard Quest recently returned to the sky for the first time since the pandemic began when he flew home to London from New York. You can watch the short clip here:
https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2020/07/13/richard-quest-first-flight-coronavirus-newark-london-heathrow-qmb-intl-vpx.cnn

It was an emotional experience for him– the longest he had been without aviation in his life– and it was….well, different. But I appreciate his deep acceptance of this new reality. As he says, “This is just the way it is.” So too it goes with us–broken computers, mishaps, accidents, new realities, unexpected outcomes–our bravest prayer can be to simply utter the truth, “this is just the way it is.” Amen to that.

Richard Quest’s emotional return to flying
CNN’s Richard Quest takes a flight from Newark to London for the first time in four months, after taking a break due to the coronavirus pandemic. He describes his emotional journey.
www.cnn.com

With grace,

Rev. Tim

This week’s piano solos are in the spirit of our “detour” on our road trip—stopping to smell the roses and listen to a hermit thrush.

“To a Wild Rose,” from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, by Edward MacDowell, 1896

Love Wins, by Carrie Underwood, Brett James, and David Garcia, 2018

“A Hermit Thrush at Morn,” from Hermit Thrush, Op. 92, no. 2, by Amy Beach, 1922

Based on Beach’s notations of the song of the hermit thrush that she heard at MacDowell Colony.

Some birders describe the hermit thrush’s song as sounding like “Oh, holy holy, ah purity purity, eeh sweetly sweetly.” Beach quotes two poets:

John Vance Cheney, The Hermit-Thrush
Holy, Holy! — in the hush
Hearken to the hermit thrush;
All the air
Is in prayer.

John Clare, The Thrush’s Nest
…I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns of rapture, while I drank the sound
With joy…

According to Audubon California, other poets inspired by the song of the hermit thrush include Walt Whitman, Amy Clampitt, T.S. Eliot, and the creators of Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii.

 

 

 

 

 

At Home Worship Week 20
California Road Trip Detour

Dear Church,

Well, if there was one good piece of news this week concerning my computer it is that insurance will mostly cover the cost of its repair. If there was one bad thing it is that the problem was much more extensive than just a malfunctioning keyboard – our La Jolla humidity and the stress exerted on it caused much more widespread issues. But like our own bodies, technological bodies heal too. I imagine the computer quarantining away in some sterile Apple facility in Houston hoping and praying for the same wholeness and health that we all do.

Also, I wanted to share with you a lovely video that Nina sent along to me some weeks ago. It is a relaxing look at something completely insignificant to our saturated times: a 17th century elaborate Indian hookah base. As the writer of this post says, sometimes it is good to be irrelevant. The video is short and narrated by Forrest McGill, the curator of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco who was tasked with picking a favorite object that might inspire viewers to “dream of a benign, well-ordered world.” I hope you take a look at this amazing object and appreciate the ways that both his narrated explanation combined with the visual imagery create an almost meditative like experience. Check it out here: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/09/887494387/need-2-minutes-of-calm-inhale-exhale-and-click-here

There is a certain magic in irrelevancy. There is a certain beauty in banality. One such instance that particularly resonates with me is the way contemporary artist Jeff Koons has made art objects that hold irrelevancy at their heart. This might be a tough sell for some of you but hear me out. There is a movement in contemporary art that has to do with what we call “readymades.” A “readymade” is at its essence a prefabricated, industrial object that one can easily acquire in the retail marketplace. However, it becomes a “readymade” when someone declares that object a work of art. This idea holds its genesis with French artist Marcel Duchamp who famously signed his name to a urinal and thus declared it an authentic piece of art. You can see it here: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573 You see, this is not some sort of hoax. Rather it is a legitimate discussion in the history of contemporary art. For example, without Duchamp’s declaration of a urinal as art we would not have ever had Andy Warhol’s famous Cambell’s Soup cans. Warhol was merely taking the conversation from the bathroom into the grocery store, so to speak.

Jeff Koons has used his career to continue this process. One of his landmark shows in the 1980s was called “The New” – in which he created monumental sculptures that showed off pristine, brand-new vacuum cleaners and carpet shampooers encased in plexiglass under fluorescent light. So confusing was the exhibit at first that people actually stopped by the gallery thinking they were selling vacuum cleaners. Rather, these were no longer simply vacuum cleaners. They were now art objects. For Koons there is something powerfully human about vacuum cleaners as well as new objects displaying what he calls their “integrity of birth.” Here is a video of Jeff produced by the Whitney Museum of American Art where he explains his artistic process behind elevating vacuum cleaners into fine art objects. Jeff is amazing to me. The way he talks about art (and the way he looks) almost makes me forget he is an artist and makes me think he is either an evangelical preacher or a stockbroker. Jeff was a commodities trader on Wall Street before he became an artist so the comparison is not far off. You have been engaged with an in-depth art history class with me through the past 19 weeks of worship packets so I am rather sure you are all ready to open your minds to the cutting edge of artistic expression. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Here we go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg-_rLzZ5A8

Sure, you may still not be convinced. But I can assure you that after seeing what I am about to show you, none of you would complain if one of these sculptures magically ended up on your doorstep: https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/sculptures-statues-figures/jeff-koons-new-shelton-wetdrys-10-gallon-6076420-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=6076420 In short, this is serious business. There is another interview in which Jeff talks about how powerful vacuum cleaners are for small children, only one or two years old who shutter whenever mom or dad gets out these giant sucking machines that make violent noises. Even I have memories of wanting the vacuum to go away!

At its core, this too is all irrelevant. And that’s good. Clearly people are willing to pay good money for irrelevancy. There is something empowering about elevating the ordinary to the realm of the extraordinary. This is what our faith teaches us to do. I hope you never look at a vacuum cleaner the same way ever again. But I hope you don’t just stop with soup cans, urinals, and vacuums. I hope you see the extraordinary in all of God’s world. I hope you question the genesis of the readymade objects that constitute our lives, that punctuate our existence. This is what it means to be mindful and engaged with this world that God made for us.

As long as we are on the topic of irrelevance I wanted to close with a meditative and prayerful practice for all of you that comes from a faith tradition that likes to think a lot about irrelevancy: Buddhism. It is called Tonglen and it comes from Tibet. I learned this in seminary and it was a really major component to our development. There are many different versions including ones that can be authentically practiced in a Christian context such as the one I will share with you below. The purpose of Tonglen was originally to transform negativity into something positive. Tong means “let go” and len means “accept.” Put it together and this practice is about “Letting go and accepting.” In it we connect with suffering, overcome fear, and use those things to expand and awaken our compassion. The reason I think this is perfect for now is because it has its beginnings in a pandemic of leprosy in the 11th century. Meditation masters were called in from India to help those suffering from the affliction cope with their suffering and help heal others in the process.

Buddhist tradition requires that one first practice this technique by calling to mind their mother. But it is ok if you start with someone else too. The best rule of thumb is to make sure you begin with someone who is close to you and someone who needs this spiritual healing the most.

1. Sit or lie quietly. Get comfortable. Take in several deep breaths until you find yourself in a centered, and relaxed place.

2. Close your eyes. Imagine someone that you want to help. Perhaps it is a friend or a loved one. Focus intently on this person and on their struggle.

3. Breathe in. As you do focus on the heaviness of their negative energy and of the things that ail them. Imagine yourself breathing in their condition or suffering. As you do this picture that you are breathing in their pain so you remove it from their bodies, giving them room for comfort, healing and positivity.

4. Breathe out. As you breathe out, breathe happiness and peace out into the world. Think about what you think would bring them comfort or joy. Focus on that and breathe it out into the world. Imagine that breath traveling to those you want to help and having it fill that empty space with what they need.

5. Repeat. Continue this practice of breathing in pain and breathing out peace over and over again until your session is over. Remember, this doesn’t just apply to others either. If you are in pain, you can breathe in and out your own suffering.
Then after that, if you are looking for some moments of peace and meditation I highly encourage this 11 minute video which shows a masterpiece of one of the world’s best aquascapers, Takashi Amano. Aquascaping is the art of using fish, plants, and soil to create entire aquatic worlds. This is, in my opinion, quite remarkable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQVZ1jI_XFI.
With grace, peace and prayer until we meet again,

Rev. Tim

PERFORMANCE NOTES
Nina Gilbert, pianist and music director

Claude Debussy, “Hommage à Rameau,” from Images, 1906

Beautiful, balanced, and meditative, sometimes chantlike. Debussy attended (and reviewed) a performance of Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s (1683-1764) opera Castor and Pollux in 1903, and was one of the editors of Rameau’s Collected Works. His “Hommage” is a sarabande, a Baroque dance form found in Rameau’s music.

Felix Mendelssohn, “Lift Thine Eyes,” from Elijah, 1846

I'm so thrilled to have reconnected with old high school friends to form a Virtual Choir during these coronavirus times. Here's the first performance by the Alliance Girls High School Alumnae Choir. Enjoy!

Posted by Atieno de Kenya on Saturday, July 25, 2020

If this piece sounds familiar, it’s because Bronwyn, Joan, and I have sung it as a summer feature. I’ve loved “Lift Thine Eyes” forever, and I taught it to my students at Alliance Girls High School in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer…and now my students have transcended continents and generations to recreate it as a virtual choir.
This Facebook link is set as “public” so anyone can access it, even without a Facebook account.

Amy Woodforde-Finden, “Temple Bells,” from Four Indian Love Lyrics, 1902

Born in Valparaiso, Chile, where her father was the U.S. Consul, Woodforde-Finde (1860-1919) moved with her mother to London after her father’s death (1867) and then lived in India for several years when she married Brigade-Surgeon Woodforde Finden. From the exoticizing perspective of the turn of the twentieth century, she felt that she was exploring and absorbing Buddhist culture.


Rev. Tim Seery, M.Div.
Senior Pastor, Congregational Church of La Jolla, UCC
San Diego, Calif.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 21 August 2nd, 2020 California Road Trip Los Angeles

Dear Church,

At long last we return with week 21 of our normal worship packets. My computer is back good-as-new from repair in Houston! We hope you enjoy our trip to Los Angeles this week as we explore the work of one of its most important artists!

Continue to stay safe and healthy!

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 21

 

 

 

 

Week 22 August 9th, 2020 Road Trip Maine
Guest Pastor Rev. John Benbow

Dear Church,

Here we are with this week’s home worship. I am not the creator of this week’s worship experience. Rather, our guest minister this week is our very own, Rev. John Benbow. He took over for me this week as I spent all week in orientation for the Next Generation Leadership Initiative – a 6 year long adventure that I am beginning now. John will talk more about this in this week’s packet!

Continue to be well and stay safe and healthy,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Please note: The link to the Next Generation Leadership Initiative in Worship Kit 22 should be:

Next Generation Leadership Initiative

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 22

 

 

 

 

Week 23 August 16th, 2020 Road Trip San Diego

Dear Church,

I hope your week is going well! Here is our 23rd edition of a home worship experience. Today we continue to move through California, arriving in much familiar territory: San Diego! I hope you enjoy this opportunity to learn more about the place in which we live.

I continue to pray for all of you as we progress through this odd yet strange and at the same time wondrous year.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 23 Road Trip San Diego

 

 

 

 

 

Week 24 August 23nd, 2020 Road Trip Baja California

Dear Church,

Our road trip continues — we cross the border this week to Baja California to begin our discovery of the other 2 of the 3 Californias.

Stay well and healthy. You are all in my prayers.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT Week 24 August 23nd, 2020 Road Trip Baja California

 

 

 

 

 

Week 25 August 30th, 2020 Road Trip Baja California Sur

Dear Church,

Our California Summer Road Trip finishes this week in Baja California Sur. I hope you have enjoyed this journey. We have many more journeys to undertake together.

Be well. Stay healthy.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 25 Road Trip Baja California Sur

 

 

 

 

Week 26 September 6th, 2020 Agnes Martin

Dear Church,

Here is week 26 of our at home worship packets. Today there are only 3 audio files because Nina’s first musical offering is in the form of a YouTube link. It is listed in the worship packet, but I will also include the link here: https://youtu.be/MDCA90y5EzM

Additionally, the final musical offering is from our choir! Nina and the choir put together a hymn collage that allows us to hear their voices. Thank you to our choir and to Nina for putting together this very innovative project and for keeping us connected.

You all continue to be in my prayers.

Stay well and stay healthy,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 26 Artist Agnes Martin

 

 

 

 

Week 27 September 13th, 2020 Cy Twombly

Dear Church,

Here is the at home worship packet for September 13, 2020. I hope you enjoy learning about Cy Twombly and the ways that his work can intersect with a life of humility and faith.

Do continue to send me photos of what you are up to these days! How are you seeing beauty in the world? Despite the fact that it seems danger exists in the very air we breathe–not only from the virus but also now from smoke and ash–and heartbreak seems to be at every turn, there is beauty and grace just below the surface. How has that beauty manifested itself in your life this week?

We hold close in prayer our state as well as the entire West Coast as we contend with once-in-a-generation fires on top of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. We also hold in prayer our teachers and students who are navigating online learning and all of its complexities.

Continue to stay well, healthy, and inspired.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 27 Cy Twombly

 

 

 

Week 28 September 20th, 2020 Food, Recipes and Ritual

Dear Church,

I am happy to bring you week 28 this beautiful morning. Dr. Nina Gilbert is not only our musician this week but also our guest speaker and guest curator. I hope you enjoy her tour through biblical references to food!

Continue to stay well!

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 28 Food, Recipe and Ritual

 

 

Week 29 September 27th, 2020 Donald Judd

Dear Church,

Here we have the at home worship experience for September 27. You will receive this week’s in two emails due to the size of the files. This email contains the PDF and Files 1 & 2 and a separate email will contain files 3 & 4. Thank you for all the notes and messages you send as well as the commentary and photos regarding where you are experiencing joy and fulfillment during these times. I have shared some of these in this week’s PDF.

Also, if any of you (even those of you who are not local) want to be in our virtual Christmas choir, please let me know! All you would need to do is record a short verse of you singing and Nina masterfully mixes these all together into one beautiful and artistic creation. If you are interested, email me and I will pass your info on to Nina and she will be in touch with you about instructions and the piece to be sung. This can be a fun way for us to transcend time, space, and distance and come together to celebrate in a unique and safe way.

And, don’t forget, we have a Zoom happy hour scheduled for this Sunday (today) at 4:30 PM. I hope to see many of you there!

Also, please give a warm welcome to Matthias Kaeser as he offers us ORGAN MUSIC — something we have been a long time without. I hope you enjoy this special musical surprise. Matthias visited the church and recorded this piece on our very own organ. I am sure the organ enjoyed finally being able to be played as much as you will enjoy hearing it.

Continue to stay well and healthy.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 29 Donald Judd

 

 

 

Week 30 October 4th, 2020 Bill Traylor

Dear Church,

This week I hope you enjoy the work of Bill Traylor. Our theme for October will be “Outsider Artists.” I hope you enjoy learning about 3 African American outsider artists that I have selected for you.

Also, we will be having another Zoom Happy Hour very soon. Please see the details in next week’s worship.

And…our choir is planning a special Christmas Carol Project, and we’d love to have you participate. We especially welcome our new out-of-town friends. This is the week to sign up! Let me know if you’re interested, and I will forward your message to Nina, who will get back to you with fun, easy-to-follow instructions.

Wishing you a week filled with grace and health,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 30 Bill Traylor

 

 

 

 

Week 31 October 11th, 2020 Clementine Hunter

Dear Church,

I write to you with our 31st edition of the at home worship experience. We continue our 3-week series on Outsider Artists by taking a look at the work of Clementine Hunter.

Also, LAST CALL for the Christmas Carol project! If you’re thinking “yes” or “maybe” about participating in our choir’s virtual Christmas Carol medley, let me know. I will forward your interest to Nina, and Nina will be in touch in the next few days with instructions. “Maybe” is fine—this is not a commitment, and you can figure out how involved you want to be. It’s a virtual piece—everyone records a few lines from home, with a guide track to listen to first.

Additionally, will be gathering very soon for another Zoom Happy Hour! Stay tuned for details! As our world continues to slowly struggle its way toward greater justice and inclusion my prayers are with each of you.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 31 Clementine Hunter

 

 

 

 

Week 32 October 18th, 2020 Sister Gertrude Morgan

Dear Church,

Here is the 32nd edition of our at home worship. Please continue to excuse the incorrect subject line to this email. I am still trying to fix it. If you are filling your days with anything of interest do drop me a note or send me a photo for inclusion in subsequent mailings. We will meet over Zoom next Sunday October 25th at 4:30 PM for some calm, meditation, and a much-needed check in as we inch ever closer to this critical election.

I hope you enjoy the work of Sister Gertrude Morgan, our artist of the week.

My prayers are with you all,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 32Sister Gertrude Morgan

 

 

 

 

Week 33 October 25th, 2020 William Edmondson

Dear Church,

Here we have week 33 of at home worship. I hope to see some of you tomorrow at 4:30 PM for a Zoom Happy Hour to rest and reset before we enter the homestretch to a historically significant election.

I also hope you enjoy the art of William Edmondson. The son of Tennessee slaves, Edmondson became the first black American to hold a solo show at the Musuem of Modern Art in New York. He was a janitor who was called by God rather late in life to become a tombstone carver.

I continue to enjoy the photos you are sending me! Keep them coming!

Also, next week Rev. John Benbow will take to our virtual pulpit and share with us a calming and centering pre-election message.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 33 William Edmondson

 

 

 

 

Week 34 November 1st, 2020 Reconciliation

Dear Church,

Today’s At Home Worship experience is led by Rev. John Benbow, our church’s Minister Emeritus.

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 34 Reconciliation

 

 

 

 

 

Week 35 November 8th, 2020 Money

Dear Church,

Here is our at home worship experience in its 35th iteration. The audio files are big so you will receive this in 3 emails. The first containing just the PDF, the second containing audio files 1 and 2, and the thrid conaining audio files 3 and 4. Stewardship time is upon us. Please begin to reflect on the ways that you’d like to contribute to our ministry in 2021. Next week you will be receiving a letter and a virtual pledge card from me.

This week, we begin the conversation with…money! We explore the uses of money in art and the relationship between the two. I have included a link to an interesting documentary about the two-dollar bill as well as a CBS Sunday Morning segment on an artist who makes artwork out of cut up one-dollar bills.

Stay well and healthy,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 35 Money

 

 

 

 

 

Week 36 November 15th, 2020 Us

Dear Church,

Grace and Peace to you! Here is the November 15, 2020 edition of at home worship. The theme this week is…us: our church, our building, our ministry, and our future. My message to you this week is written in the form of a lengthy stewardship letter. Please read this with prayerful consideration of the ways that you might participate in our future together. In it I discuss the impact of the pandemic upon our church and the vision we have for our future. At the end of the worship packet, I have included some lectionary scriptures that you might use for calm and centering prayer. You will also find a pledge card attached to this email. There are many ways for you to complete this. You can print it out and send it back to us or you can simply email your pledge dollar amount to office@lajollaucc.org. This year instead of a set dollar amount, our goal is 100%-member participation.

In other news, my poor laptop keyboard quit working so it is off to Houston, again! Luckily before sending it off I was able to pre-prepare worship for next week. You will receive next week’s worship a bit early this week, probably on Monday morning. The following week, Nov 29, our music director Dr. Nina Gilbert will fill the virtual pulpit and will share with us a virtual choir project that several of our members have been working on. Thank you, Nina!

You all continue to be in my prayers. Stay well and healthy.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP 36 Us

Stewardship Letter 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Week 37 November 22nd, 2020 Sermon Seeds

Dear Church,

Grace and Peace to you! Here is week 37 of at home worship! You are receiving this early this week because I will be sending my computer off to Houston again for service.

This week I am trying something a little different (don’t worry, it is ONLY this week). I am doing this so that I can share with you a little project I was working on last month.

The United Church of Christ offers a resource for pastors called “Sermon Seeds.” This is a lectionary-based resource that is written to help pastors “seed” their sermons. I must admit however that I don’t use it because I take pride in trying to come up with an original take on scripture and bringing my own experiences to it–not the experiences of someone else.

The longtime writer of this resource retired and the UCC was looking for someone new to take over this important ministry. I applied. Part of the application process included writing a sample resource to be used by a pastor in both writing their sermon and crafting a worship service. They assigned me the lectionary text for next week, November 29th. However, since my laptop is in repair this week and Nina is on deck to offer us something exciting next week, I thought this would be the perfect moment to share what I wrote with all of you.

Although I was ultimately not selected to be the new sermon seeds writer, I enjoyed the process of applying and now I get to share with all of you the resource that I created as part of my application. This will read as if it is a hybrid between a Bible study and a sermon. I hope you enjoy this format–something a little different from what we are used to.

You continue to occupy my prayers. Please be sure to get your 2021 pledge information turned into Bronwyn in the office. You can email her at office@lajollaucc.org.

With continued grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP 37. Sermon Seeds

Worship At Home Study Resource, Nov 22, 2020

 

 

 

Week 38 November 29th, 2020 Advent

Dear Church!

Happy Advent!

Rev. Tim has invited me and the choir to present a music-centered worship-at-home kit this week. Lots to listen to, plus artwork that illustrates musicians.

Yours,

Nina Gilbert
Music Director

AT HOME WORSHIP KIT 38

 

 

 

 

Week 39 December 6th, 2020 Desert Wilderness

Dear Church,

Here is the at home worship experience for the second Sunday of Advent, December 6, 2020. We are in the midst of our stewardship drive. Please make sure to get your pledge information in to Bronwyn by emailing your name and 2021 pledge amount to office@lajollaucc.org. We are grateful for the ways that you are committing to support our ministry as we enter a new year together.

Also, we will be having a Zoom Christmas Eve service this year! The Zoom link will be posted next week. If you`d like to have a part in this virtual Christmas Eve service please let me know.

Stay healthy and be blessed,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP 39 Desert Wilderness

 

 

Week 40 December 13th, 2020 John the Baptist

Dear Church,

I am proud to present to you our 40th edition of at home worship. On this third Sunday of Advent my message to you is an experiment with my new YouTube channel — which I hope to use more prominently in the new year. To access the video, click on the link when prompted in the PDF. I am still working out what that might look like but I am hopeful it will add freshness to our distanced worship. I am trying to always learn new things and try new mediums that will help us spread our message to even wider audiences.

I am grateful for all of the new pledges that we have been receiving. If you have not already, please let Bronwyn know your pledge amount for 2021: office@lajollaucc.org. Also, you will find the Zoom link in this week’s PDF for our Christmas Eve service! I hope you will join us for a retelling of the holy story that binds us all together.

With grace,

Rev. Tim
AT HOME WORSHIP 40John the Baptist

 

 

 

 

Week 41 December 20th, 2020

Dear Church,

I hope this week’s edition of at home worship finds you healthy and well. We have come to the 4th Sunday of Advent. If we were in our sanctuary, we would be lighting our fourth Advent candle. The only unlit candle at this point would be the center Christ candle. That is the candle that we will light together virtually on Christmas Eve at 8 PM. The Zoom link is included in this week’s worship packet.

We will take communion together virtually this coming Christmas Eve. Pleas make sure to have some communion elements with you! This can be anything: from cookies and tea, to bread and wine, to saltines and grape juice.

I look forward to sharing that time with you.

Also, we are grateful for the 2021 pledges that continue to roll in. If you haven’t already please be in touch with Bronwyn to submit your 2021 pledge.

With grace,

Rev. Tim
AT HOME WORSHIP 41 Advent Week 4

 

 

 

 

Week 42 December 27th, 2020

Today’s At Home Worship experience is led by Rev. John Benbow, our church’s Minister Emeritus.

AT HOME WORSHIP 42 Rejoice

BONUS: If you’d like to see all the music from Christmas Eve, including the hymn improvisations, in one continuous video, click this link:

 

 

 

 

Week 43 January 3rd, 2021

Dear Church,

Attached you will find our first worship experience of 2021. Happy New Year!
This week is a study week for me. I will spend most of each day in digital classes for the Next Generation Leadership Initiative. Because of this, in lieu of a spoken sermon you will find a lengthy message to all of you that I wrote reflecting on the new year.

Next week our worship theme will center on things that are “unfinished” by taking a look at some famously unfinished pieces of art. Our musical offerings will also center around this theme of “unfinishedness.” Must something be “finished” to be good and holy?

Then on January 17 I will debut our new video format for our worship. I have been working at learning how to manage a YouTube channel so that we can produce content that others will stumble upon so that our reach and our circle can grow ever wider. It has been fun to learn and I am excited to share this new medium with you.

You all continue to be in my prayers. Stay well, safe, and healthy.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

A Message for 2021

 

 

Performance Notes – Jan 3, 2021

 

 

Week 44 January 10th, 2021

Dear Church,

As promised, today we take a look at the meaning of things “unfinished.” Unfinished works of art can shed light on important events and sometimes deep truths. I hope that you all might be inspired by something “unfinished” in your life, perhaps you might even see it in a new and more sacred light. Nina has also selected music for us which also takes up this theme “unfinishedness.”

Next week I will debut my new YouTube channel with all of you. This has been quite the learning curve for me, but also something that has been fun. It is a challenge to find new ways of widening our circle and expanding our message.

I hope you will enjoy the new adventures which lie ahead.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

AT HOME WORSHIP 44 Unfinished

 

 

 

 

 

Week 45 January 17th, 2021

Dear Church,

Here we go! This week we are moving into something a bit different. This video is an experiment in a new thing! It was the first time I produced such a product and I hope it serves as a good introduction to this new medium.

Below you will find the link to the YouTube video. Click on it to view it. You will receive a separate email from Bronwyn that includes all of this week’s musical components. Why are we doing this? So that you have more to open and you can spread this out across the week and come back to it over and over if you like.

YouTube opens our congregation to the wider world. I posted this video a week ago to make sure that it functioned properly and it already has several views from outside our congregation.

The blessing of these pandemic times is that our church can reach out beyond our walls to a world in need of our witness and our message. This first video will help anchor the channel and provide an orientation to anyone who comes along and wants to know who we are. Most of you already know me and our church, so this will be a chance for you to enjoy this new visual experience.

In the coming weeks look out for mini-sermons or reflections, prayers, and some teaching about church basics. Nina and Bronwyn will be continuing to offer us music, and Nina will be introducing us to some basic concepts of the music we are accustomed to hearing in church. All of this is information that I think both our congregation and the wider world could benefit from hearing about.

At last, here is the link. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKa3IFUGojY

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

Dear Church!

We’re starting a new format for our weekly at-home worship kits. You’ll get a separate email from Rev. Tim with his message. This week you’re also getting two music emails—this one with three performance audio files attached, plus a second email with a short “music note” talk attached.

We hope you enjoy this new format!

Yours,

Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – January 17, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Georg Philipp Telemann, Now Thank We All Our God
Two chorale preludes based on the same hymn tune. Hugely prolific, Telemann (1681-1767) wrote about 500 chorale harmonizations. His works are literally countless, because many are lost and some are falsely attributed.

I Need Thee Every Hour
Verses by Annie Sherwood Hawks, refrain and music by Robert Lowry, 1872
A prolific poet, Hawks (1838-1918) was encouraged by her pastor and friend—and composer—Robert Lowry (1826-1899) to write hymns. While this is the only Hawks text in our hymnal, Lowry is also represented by Shall We Gather at the River and How Can I Keep from Singing.

Julia Amanda Perry and Frederic Chopin, Preludes in C minor
Two unrelated pieces with similar structure. Listen to the audio file in today’s second email to learn about Prelude form!
Prelude for Piano (1946) is Perry (1924-1979)’s only known solo piano piece, composed while studying at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. She also studied composition at Juilliard and Tanglewood, and won two Guggenheim Fellowships to study with composer Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence and legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Her works include twelve symphonies, three concertos, other instrumental works, and choral and vocal works including early songs based on spirituals, a piece called Song of Our Savior for the Hampton Institute Choir, and several operas.
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote twenty-four preludes covering all major and minor keys.

 

 

Here is a learn-to-listen Music Note:

All of Nina’s piano solos this week are Preludes. The link below is to an audio Music Note that explores the concept of what a prelude is.

Yours,

Nina and Bronwyn

 

 

 

 

Week 46 January 24th, 2021

Dear Church,

Here is the second video worship product! I am trying to get better at this. I think I am succeeding (at least a little bit). Click the link below:

Also, you are all invited to a celebration of life for Jerry Allen, our beloved member of CCLJ and father of Bronwyn. This will take place via Zoom Saturday, January 30, at 1 PM Pacific. I will send a Zoom link this coming week.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Dear Church!

Here is your music for Week 46 of At Home Worship: three solos, plus a four-minute (!) talk about the music.

Yours,

Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – January 24, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Johann Sebastian Bach, In dulci jubilo, BWV 729
Following up on last week’s introduction to preludes, this is Bach (1685-1750)’s setting of “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.”

The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want + The Lord’s Prayer
Words from the Scottish Psalter, 1650 (plus the Lord’s Prayer)
Music by Jessie Seymour Irvie, 1872 (plus improvised interlude)

Stefans Grové, “Lamenting Birds,” from Images from Africa, 1999
Grové (1922-2014) was the first white South African composer to incorporate African themes in his music. He was also the first South African to earn a Fulbright Scholarship, which he used to earn a master’s degree at Harvard (1953-55). He also studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood.

 

 

Here is a learn-to-listen Music Note:

 

 

 

 

Week 47 January 30th, 2021 In Memory of Jerry Leonard Allen

Dear Church,

This week our at home worship is a bit different. Nina and I filled our week with preparing a memorial service for Jerry Allen. This was quite an interesting task. It is the first virtual memorial our church has done and the first of this sort of thing that I have designed.

In case you missed it, I have posted it to YouTube. All of the music is contained within this video. All you need to do is click the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhNQRBma_pI

Continued prayers for all of you. Next week we will take up the question of “what is a Congregationalist?” just in time for. our virtual annual meeting where we will vote by mail to approve our 2021 operating budget. A lot to look forward to, indeed!

Continued prayers for health and safety,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Week 48 February 7th, 2021 Presentation of Jesus

Dear Church,
Here is this week’s worship vlog along with a reflection on the Presentation of Jesus. This coming week we will talk about how we will do our annual meeting this year and we will send out our 2021 operating budget for your review and approval.
To view this week’s message please click this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUY_YNX3x7E
You all continue to be in my prayers.
With grace,
Rev. Tim

 

 

Dear Church!

Here is your multi-media musical adventure to go with this week’s worship kit!

What makes it multi-media? Well, it has two audio music files attached, one video link, plus an audio talking file that asks you to participate and a PDF that explains that participation.

More about the PDF: remember the music mash-up projects we did in the fall? One with hymns, and one with Christmas carols, the latter with guest appearances by dogs? We’re in the process of inventing another one.

Eventually it will involve a song, but so far we want to collect sounds. Namely, the sounds of your home. You can hear some examples on the Music Note Talk audio file, and the PDF explains how to record and send sounds on your phone.

Please think about the sounds you hear—or the sounds you can make—at home, and get creative! Does something squeak or beep or ring or whistle or bark? Can you tap or strum or drop things to make interesting sounds?

The PDF includes NIna’s email address and instructions how to send your sounds.

Please enjoy the adventure! And let Nina know if you have questions about it.

Yours,

Nina and Bronwyn

 

PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 7, 2021

Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Ludwig van Beethoven, Adagio cantabile, from Sonata in C minor, Op. 13
Our piano choices this week are inspired by the news of Salisbury Cathedral and other vaccine venues where church organists and other local artists are providing a musical environment to accompany the occasion. I’ve seen mention of familiar hymns, smooth classics, fairground tunes, and nostalgic jazz.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Words by Thomas A. Dorsey, 1938
Music by George N. Allen, 1844, adapted by Thomas A. Dorsey, 1938

 

Bronwyn tells us:
This is one of two memorial videos I made in honor of my father’s passing. It was in the wrong format to share during the memorial and we also had a lot of content that was more comforting. It was more appropriate to save this for later but I had a request for it to be shared so I am sharing it this week. Blessings!

Stardust
Music by Hoagy Carmichael, 1927, arranged by Brent Edstrom
Prepared last week in honor of Jerry Allen, also inspired by the vaccination repertoire mentioned for Salisbury Cathedral.

 

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Week 49 February 14th, 2021 Annual Meeting

Dear Church,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This week we have something different for you. Again, we are making history by figuring out a new way to do the business of the church.

Typically, this time of the year would bring our annual meeting — the event that is at the heart of what it means to be a congregational, self-governing church. Many of you have been a part of several annual meetings. The main purpose of them is to reflect on the past year, approve the operating budget for the current year, and give thanks to all of those who helped make the church what it is.

This year we intend to do just that — only in a different format.

This week, Nina has prepared special music for us as well as information about how to patriciate in our Easter music project. Attached to this email instead of a YouTube video or worship packet you will find my report on the church in 2020, a copy of the last sermon I gave in-person at CCLJ (which I make reference to in my report), in addition to a compilation of reports from various officers of the church.

I hope you will take the time to read about the strange yet wonderful year we had at the Congregational Church of La Jolla. It was filled with many surprises and little miracles. There was a lot that went on behind the scenes this year — from worship prep, community planning and advocacy, building improvements, new renters, and unexpected gifts to the church.

I explain this further in my report however I will briefly mention it here because there is one action item we need our members to take.
Your church council has recommended an identical budget to 2020, identical to the one that you already voted to approve exactly one year ago. Also, our officers/boards will remain the same in 2021 as it was in 2020. We anticipate most of 2021 to be held remotely and thus we have recognized that last year’s budget and slate of officers affords us the flexibility to pivot should the global situation change. It also allows us to continue to do the same level of ministry and outreach as we did in 2020.

Due to the fact that this email is sent out to almost 300 people, we find ourselves conducting this “annual meeting” in a forum much wider than is usual. Therefore, we are not attaching our financials to this email. Rather, they are accessible to all by request. Email office@lajollaucc.org or consult your copy of the 2020 Annual Report to find the list of current officers and the budget detail.

To vote on this budget we invite you to do so electronically by visiting this link. It is safe, secure, and easy: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MYNVCKG

Continued prayers for health, healing, and safety.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Sermon March 8 2020

2020 Pastor’s Report

2020 Annual Report

 

 

Dear Church!

We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day (and Lunar New Year, Presidents Day, Canadian Flag Day, and Mardi Gras—busy weekend!) by sending you a recording of a microwave door slamming. Don’t worry, that’s not all the music you get!

But we want to encourage you to experiment with recording some sounds at home and sharing, so we’re re-attaching Nina’s PDF instructions. Some people have used these instructions and successfully sent little recordings! Find things in your house that make noise! Pets are especially welcome. Do we have any birds? As NIna’s Music Note Talk says, the plan is to create a piece of music incorporating layers of “found percussion.” So if you think that dropping your silverware (for example) or crushing some paper is not a solo you want featured or associated with your name, send that sound! Nothing will be announced—it will all fit together into a rhythmic texture.

Yours,

Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 14, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Amy Beach, Scottish Legend, Op. 54, No. 1
We heard Beach (1867-1944)’s Hermit Thrush at Morn in July.

Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, In Christ Alone

R. Nathaniel Dett, “Dance (Juba)” from In the Bottoms
Juba, also called hambone, is a precursor of tap dance—dancing that generates its own percussion.
We heard another selection from Dett (1882-1943)’s set of “characteristic pieces”—referring to the River Bottoms region of the southern US—last April.
We also heard his “Desert Interlude” from Eight Bible Vignettes in October.

HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone-020621

 

 

 

Week 50 February 21st, 2021 Lent

Dear Church,

We have arrived at the beginning of our Lenten journey! Whatever you have given up (or added) to your lives this season, I wish you success and a time of transformation.

I hope you will continue to vote in our virtual Annual Meeting. We need 20% of the congregation to participate and we aren’t quite there yet. Voting is quick and easy. If you want to see any of the financial documents, please email office@lajollaucc.org.

 

Also, here is this week’s vlog:

Lookout for a corresponding email from Bronwyn containing this week’s solo, some info about Nina’s musical selections featured in my video, as well as further instructions for our congregation-wide Easter music project.
Continuing to wish you all health and Lenten grace,
Rev. Tim
Dear Church!
Happy WEEK FIFTY of worship at home! Here is your latest church music email.
Nina’s piano solos are incorporated into Tim’s video this week. We’ll include their details in this email. Lullaby of Birdland appears about four minutes in, accompanying the artwork, and Clog Dance appears at about eighteen minutes, under Tim’s Presidents Day segment.
Bronwyn’s solo is a replay of “Morning Has Broken” that she sang for Week 23, August 16.
Home Percussion Update: people have been sending marvelous sounds—some musical, some meaningful. Please continue to send recordings! We’re re-attaching Nina’s instruction sheet, plus an audio file that gives a small idea of how we’ll be combining these sounds.
Yours,
Nina and Bronwyn
PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 21, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Morning Has Broken
Words by Eleanor Farjeon, music traditional Scottish, arr. Yusuf/Cat Stevens
This traditional Scottish tune acquired Christmas words (“Child in a manger, infant of Mary,” by Mary MacDonald) in the 19th century. In 1931, poet Eleanor Farjeon (also represented in our hymnal by the Advent carol People Look East) was commissioned to write new words for use year-round. Yusuf/Cat Stevens (as he currently prefers to be called) recorded his version in 1971.
Lullaby of Birdland
Music by George Shearing (1919-2011), arr. Brent Edstrom
Composed as a signature tune for the iconic jazz club Birdland in 1952.
Clog Dance
Howard Hanson (1896-1981) won a Pulitzer Prize for his fourth symphony, and directed the Eastman School of Music for forty years. His 1922 Clog Dance is typical of his midwestern-Americana style.

HowToRecordAndSendSoundOnYourPhone

 

 

Week 51 February 28th, 2021

Dear Church,

As we come to the second Sunday of Lent, I want to share with you a few components to our worship email for this week.

First, our weekly vlog is now up. You can access it by clicking the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_s0YzMwhLs&t

 

Second, I share with you the unfortunate news that long-time CCLJ member Kay Reynolds died two weeks ago. Kay had been away from the church for several years so some of you might not be familiar with her. However, to honor her life I have attached an interview she gave in 2008 when several long-time members recorded their oral histories. Also, Rev. John Benbow will offer a tribute to her in next week’s worship email. If you didn’t know Kay, please feel free to get to know her extraordinary life through these attachments. If you did know Kay, I hope you will join me in thanking God for sending to our congregation such a vibrant saint.

Third, I would like to invite you all to a Zoom event on March 30 at 7 PM with our interfaith partners at Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. You might remember our interfaith dinner and discussion with them last February. We want to continue to foster this partnership between our communities. This discussion will bring us together to reflect on the lessons we have learned this past year and how our various faith traditions have informed (and transformed) us this year. If you wish to join us, please RSVP to office@lajollaucc.org.

Lastly, I want to inform you that Rev. Sam Greening’s mother died on February 19. If you want to send Sam your prayers and support, you can do so at 202 S. Hambden St, Chardon, OH 44024. We all will keep Sam and his family close to our hearts as he contends with this recent loss.

Continue to stay safe and well.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

Dear church!
Here is your music email for February 28.
We’ll continue asking for your homegrown percussion sounds for ONE MORE WEEK, and then it will be too late! (Why: Nina needs time to compile the project for Easter, and Easter is remarkably soon.) We love the sounds people are sending. See the “how to” PDF attached for instructions and the email address to send your sounds. 
Today’s short “music note talk” includes some thoughts about sound and meaning—certain sounds make us feel like something is beginning or concluding, for example. The talk also explains the terms Toccata and Toccatina.
 
Yours,
Nina and Bronwyn
PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 28, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Aram Khachaturian, Toccata, 1932
A Soviet Armenian composer, Khachaturian (1903-78) composed this piece while studying with Nikolai Myaskovsky at the Moscow Conservatory.
George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross, 1913
A Midwestern evangelist and song-leader, Bennard (1873-1958) wrote dozens of hymns, of which this is by far the best known.
Piano solo starting at 3:52 in Tim’s video this week:
Dmitri Kabalevsky, Toccatina, from Thirty Pieces for Children (1937-38), Op. 27 No. 12 
A prolific and well-connected Soviet composer—and, also like Khachaturian, a student of Myaskovsky—Kabalevsky (1904-1987) took the development of children’s musical skill and taste seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 52 March 8th, 2021

Dear Church, 

This week brings us to our 52nd week of doing church in this strange, yet creative, virtual format. One full year. I have learned so much during this time. This has expanded our way of worship into a format that has made our congregation’s reach wider than I ever imagined. 

While many churches moved their worship services onto the Zoom platform, I knew that this wouldn’t work for us in the way it might in other communities. I wanted to come up with a way where you could do church in your own time and in a place that is sacred and special to you. I wanted church to be portable and for you to be able to take it into the world with you. Whether that be on your porch, at the beach, in your bed, at your kitchen table, or while taking a walk–so many of you have shared with me the places you have taken these worship kits to. 

Our Sunday morning worship time will forever be special and sacred, but I also wanted to convey that we can take this spirit of worshipfulness into our lives the rest of the days of the week. I think we have lived into this very well. With the help of Nina and Bronwyn we continue to explore the connections between faith and art, music, and voice. We continue to imagine a faith that is brave, bold, and responsive to our world. 

We held a very well attended memorial service on Zoom, conducted our annual meeting year in review digitally and voted on our budget virtually as well. Thanks to all of you we had a quorum in our digital voting and passed the budget and slate of officers overwhelmingly. 

We also have a now sizable presence on YouTube ever since we moved our worship into video format. As of the writing of this email we have had 906 views across 6 videos. Imagine having 906 visitors across 6 Sundays at church! We have invited in more newcomers, far-away members, and friends than ever during this time. You can explore the channel and past videos that you might have missed by visiting this link: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw9PC2xRzer8N6-OggWabNw

 

Speaking of which, this coming week I am working on a video for you about Lent and this season’s intersection with the work of Robert Motherwell and the ways that he was inspired to create paintings based on a 6-movement piece for string quartet. Motherwell was a famous abstract expressionist and was the husband to Helen Frankenthaler, one of the artists we explored last spring.

While I am a very amateur video maker still finding my way in this new medium, I wanted to show you some of the ways that professionals do it. There are video makers out there who specialize in what is called “visual liturgy.” This is when scripture or other elements of worship are expressed through visual storytelling. Here are some examples from a very well-known website called “Work of the People.” I am a big fan of their work. (Hint: Liturgy literally means “work of the people”). I hope you will take time to enjoy some of these professional examples of this creative medium as we continue to remember that God is with us as we work our way t

We also will be having an interfaith event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Zoom on March 30th at 7 PM. You will find the information about this event attached to this email in a PDF.
I will also be a guest preacher at a church this coming May, without even leaving home! And the best part is, you all will be able to attend as I take the virtual pulpit of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. I will be sure to send out the Zoom link for this. Never did I imagine that we could all join with another church for worship without even leaving our homes. I hope you will all enjoy this “field trip” of sorts where we see the way that Episcopalians worship.
This week I hope you enjoy Nina’s two musical pieces. Here is some info about them:
Frédéric Chopin, Nouvelle Étude no. 1, 1839
After Chopin (1810-1849) had published two sets of concert études, François-Joseph Fétis and Isaac Ignaz Moscheles asked him to contribute to their textbook Méthode des Méthodes de Piano.
The attached Music Note Talk untangles Etudes.
Scott Joplin, Solace: a Mexican Serenade, 1909

While some Black composers avoided ragtime because of its association with casual, improvising brothel pianists, Joplin (1868–1917) elevated the style to a classical genre intended to be played precisely as written. We have an important clue to Joplin’s performance intentions in the piano rolls he recorded for player pianos. From those rolls, for example, we learn that different sections of rag can be played at different tempos.

ALSO, LAST CALL FOR HOME-PERCUSSION SOUNDS! We have plenty of sounds for our Easter project, but in case you’ve been planning to participate, you have one more week!
Reminder: we’re collecting the sounds of our homes. Things—and animals—that normally make sounds, or that you can use creatively (bam!) to make sounds. Sustained or rhythmic!
Lastly, you will find attached to this email a reflection on the life of Kay Reynolds that was written by two of her friends and compiled by Rev. John Benbow. Thank you to John for compiling this remembrance of Kay.
As always, stay safe, healthy, and well.
With grace,
Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 53 March 14th, 2021 Robert Motherwell & Lessons for Lent

Dear Church,

I hope you all had a great week!
This week’s message can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Robert Motherwell & Lessons for Lent

Donate to the mission of our church: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=MHKJLYNRGPDUS&source=url

Tim’s personal website: https://www.timseery.org

I hope you enjoy the connections between our own Lenten spirituality and the work of abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell.

Nina has also prepared music to aid in your reflection and worship including another “music talk” to help us understand and appreciate the context of this week’s musical selections.

You might be wondering where Bronwyn’s solo is. She has prepared for us one of my all time favorites, Carole King’s, “You’ve Got a Friend.” I almost included it in this week’s email, however it is too good to not design an entire video around. So I am going to sit on it one more week and next week I am going to tell the story of the song. I have preached this before, but not during our days of digital worship. So I hope this is a chance for those who are tuning in from afar to hear the brave story of Carole King, the background story of this song, and the ways that I think it fits perfectly into the season of Lent. So this week we used Robert Motherwell to learn some Lenten lessons, next week we will turn our attention to Carole King!

Also, I hope you will mark your calendars for our March 30th virtual interfaith even with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Del Mar. Please RSVP to Bronwyn at office@lajollaucc.org and we will send you the Zoom link in anticipation of the event.

Continue to stay healthy and well,

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERFORMANCE NOTE – March 14, 2021

Nina GIlbert, music director and pianist

Modest Moussorgsky (1839-1881), Bydlo (Oxcart), from Pictures at an Exhibition

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) via Ernö Rapée (1891-1945), Aëroplane/Scherzo

 

 

Week 54 March 21st, 2021 You’ve Got a Friend

Dear Church,

Welcome to yet another week of Lent. This week Bronwyn offers us her beautiful vocal rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” This is truly one of my favorites. Here is the link to this week’s video. You can access it by clicking on the following link: https://youtu.be/lspsDYwjw2g

Nina also offers us a solo based on the themes of friendship and collaboration in honor of James Taylor and Carole King’s lifelong friendship of support and collaboration. She also offers us a music talk that explains some context and background. Here is the information about the music presents us:

Florence Smith Price, Fantasie on “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” 1929
Price (1887-1953) dedicated this work “To my talented little friend, Margaret A. Bonds.” More about that friendship in the attached Music Note Talk.
You can hear the spiritual it’s based on here:
Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebJFhhygOFM

 

We continue to be deeply grateful for the careful ways that Nina pairs music with worship themes. Even when there are weeks that seem like there could be no possible musical accompaniment, Nina surprises us with perfectly appropriate occasional music.

Also, I hope you will join us on March 30 at 7 PM for our “Deliverance or Exile” event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Del Mar. Please email Bronwyn to RSVP and we will send you the Zoom info before the event.

Continue to stay healthy and well.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

Week 55 March 28st, 2021 Palm Sunday

Dear Church,

This week I wanted to share with you artistic depictions of Palm Sunday. It is a story with deep resonance and I believe poets, artists, and musicians are the ones who are best able to capture Palm Sunday in its fullness. In this first email you will find the At Home Worship Guide, Audio Files 1, 2 & 3 and the audio file containing the reading of the scripture passage.

I also look forward to seeing some of you at our first ever entirely virtual interfaith event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar this Tuesday at 7:00 PM. Please RSVP to myself or Bronwyn if you want to attend!

This week Nina and Bronwyn selected musical pieces that address the idea of our prolonged sojourn of worshiping outside of the building. Bronwyn’s vocal solo, “I was there to hear your borning cry” addresses the theme of worshiping from anywhere while Nina’s pieces, “A New Hinding-Place” and “Troubled Waters” are spirituals that connect us to a deep rootedness of the divine that exists within us and around us at all times.

I hope to see some of you on Tuesday evening.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP – PALM SUNDAY

 

 

Week 55 April 1st, 2021 Maundy Thursday

Dear Church,

As we enter this stretch of holy days — as we walk with Jesus, I offer you two musical selections courtesy of Nina.

May these help guide our meditations over these coming days.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Maundy Thursday: Claude Debussy, Arabesque No. 1

Good Friday: J. S. Bach, Andante, from Italian Concerto, BWV 971

While Bach’s music is precisely notated, he is creating the effect of a harpsichordist improvising over a steady bass line. Debussy admired (and perhaps imitated) what he called the “wonderful arabesque” quality of Baroque music, a line shaped by nature.

 

 
Week 56 April 3rd, 2021 Easter Sunday

Dear Church,

Happy (almost) Easter!

Here is our Easter worship video which includes a very special project from Nina that involved the participation of many members of the congregation. Access it by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm_nGIWCOMA

For our performance notes this week, they are divided by the times each element appears in the video. There is also special information about how the project was produced.

With grace and blessings on a very happy Easter,

Rev. Tim

Nina Gilbert, pianist and music director
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, soprano and office manager
0:00 Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Music from Lyra Davidica, 1708, via The Compleat Psalmodist, 1709

1:53 I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table
Traditional Spiritual/protest song

Singers: Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Melissa Melchor, Nate Henrichon, Rick Hernandez-Gist, Jim Tompkins-MacLaine

Home percussion:
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser (sweeping a rug; opening and closing drawers)
Nate Henrichon (wind chimes; clock; lamp chain)
Mindy Miller (Yahtzee dice; paper shredder)
Deanne Monte (dog ball bouncing)
Gina Gilbert (Nina’s niece, who recorded her cat Beau’s distinctively loud purr)
Arlene Gilbert (desk bell in a resonant metal bowl)
Kristin Bean (Fletcher lapping water; plus a treeful of loud chirping birds)
Melissa Melchor (eyeglass case; camera shutter double-clicking)
Nina Gilbert (cricket; plus the final latch of a gate at the end)

Technical notes:
Singers recorded themselves separately, watching a video of Nina conducting. Each singer is represented by two voices: the unison chorus, plus the overlaid Hallelujahs and other improvised interpolations.
There is some relevance between the sounds and the words! Before “I’m gonna feast on milk and honey,” we hear Kristin’s dog Fletcher feasting (remarkably rhythmically) on water, and before “All God’s children,” we hear other animals.

7:37 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Music by Robert Williams, 1817

18:30 Thine is the Glory
Music by George Frideric Handel, 1747, originally an oratorio chorus called “See, the conquering hero comes”
Words by the Swiss hymn writer Edmond Louis Budry, 1904, translated by R. Birch Hoyle, 1923
 

 

 

Week 57 April 11th, 2021 Sunday After Easter

Dear Church,

As we begin the season of Easter we do so as people of hope and optimism. The stone has been rolled away, death defeated, and we are onward to new things.

In the church we unofficially call this “low Sunday”– the Sunday after Easter typically yields a lighter attendance. Pastors and musicians are tired from the Easter push, parishioners decide to enjoy a Sunday sleeping in….you get it. Thankfully I think rest is holy and there’s nothing wrong with a “low” Sunday.

In response to this well-known tradition, our UCC national office has provided a Sunday after Easter worship service for us that connects our current season to many important themes that the UCC is working on nationally. We are grateful to have wider church staff who work tirelessly for justice and who represent us well.

You can access the video for this week’s worship — which will introduce you to several folks I have had the pleasure of knowing — by clicking here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8312392
 

 

With grace,

Rev. Tim
 

 
Week 58 April 18th, 2021 Worship

Dear Church,

Here is this week’s at home worship. This week we make a nod to our old style of worship with a PDF that includes examples of some of the visuals I will be talking about. I also include links to some online resources for you that explain in further detail some of this week’s topic. The sermon is a YouTube video while the scripture reading and vocal solo are included in attachments attached to this email.

I felt that since I have continued to teach about the way our faith connects with different art forms that it was only right that we keep on top of current trends. This past month crypto art was brought to the auction marketplace with astounding success. With our world’s continued interest in cryptocurrency and other digital assets this is an important frontier in our understanding of humans, human nature, artistic expression, and the ever-expanding world we live in.

Nina’s musical selections are posted to YouTube as separate links. The links are both in the PDF worship guide and can be found here for your convenience. I will also include here the link to this week’s YouTube video containing my message:

Tim’s Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1yz4CKQmoc

Alexandre Guilmant, Prelude in E-flat, Op. 41, No. 1 From The Practical Organist, Book 2
Organ virtuoso Guilmant (1837-1911) published hundreds of useful pieces for church organists.

BUNESSAN (“Morning Has Broken”)
Harmonizations by Dean McIntyre, Gregory Hamilton, and David Evans, plus an improvised variation.

This week’s dive into the new concept of “cryptoart” is something that I am still just learning about — but I am very interested in the ways that ancient aspects of our faith are replicated and reinforced by the newest and most abstract of technologies. I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to learn about something that is very new as we continue to listen for God’s still speaking voice in our chaotic world.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP – THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

 

Week 59 April 24th, 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Church,

Here is the at home worship email for the fourth Sunday of Easter. Today we hear about the good shepherd.

You will find attached to this email a PDF guide, two musical selections from Nina, a vocal offering from Bronwyn, a scripture reading from me, and my message which is uploaded to YouTube. You can view it by clicking on this link (which I have included here as well as in the PDF): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEZt9DMzBxI

The Sheep of Francois- Xavier Lalanne – The Good Shepherd
Donate to the mission of our church: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MHKJLYNRGPDUS&source=urlChurch website: http://lajollaucc….
www.youtube.com

My prayers and the prayers of our collective community continue to be with you all.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP – FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

 

 

Week 60 May 2nd, 2021 Vines and Branches

Dear Church,

This week I want to share with you something a bit different from the usual.

This was quite a week for me in terms of community activism. In order to keep the size of this email down (often these emails get very heavy with attachments) my message this week is in written form. Both are newspaper pieces recently published over the past few days. I want to first share with you a guest opinion piece I wrote for the La Jolla Light released this past week: https://www.lajollalight.com/news/opinion/story/2021-04-25/guest-commentary-politics-and-the-pulpit-dont-mix-quite-the-contrary
 

 

 

As a progressive minister, nothing is more frustrating than hearing someone restate the culturally ubiquitous phrase “Keep politics out of the pulpit.” Users of this phrase are mostly always well-meaning and cite this tired cliche as if it is not only a gospel truth but also a legally binding …

 

 

 

Secondly, I was elected to serve as a director of La Jolla Parks and Beaches. I was elected 12-2 with 4 abstentions after one successful vote to delay my election and one unsuccessful vote to postpone consideration of my election one month. You can read about this in a well-written piece by the La Jolla Light that came out this week: https://www.lajollalight.com/news/story/2021-04-28/la-jolla-parks-beaches-group-seats-local-pastor-as-new-member-but-not-without-controversy

 

 

 

The seating of a new member to the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group is normally a simple, maybe 90-second process. But when it came to seating the Rev. Tim Seery during the board’s April 26 meeting, there were debates, lengthy discussion and multiple votes. To be eligible for membership, a candidate …

 

 

 
This is the board that contained members who spoke out against the Black Lives Matter chalk art drawings on the La Jolla Bike Path this past summer. A group of community leaders, including myself, joined forces and pressured this board for the resignation of these dissenting members. After months of meetings with representatives of Mayor Gloria, Councilmember Joe La Cava, and several community members, I made the decision to offer myself for service. You can read my statements both to the board and to the media in the article linked above.

Aside from these two articles which constitute my message to you, you will find
This week’s Gospel lesson
Nina’s musical selections – two piano solos
Bronwyn’s musical selection
Here is the information about this week’s musical offerings:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Theme and Variations 1, 2, 3, and 5, from Twelve Variations on “Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman,” K. 265/K. 300e, 1781 or 1782
This familiar children’s tune from the mid-18th century has various lyrics in different countries. We know it as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” among others. Mozart would definitely have been aware of the playful quality of his composition. In keeping with this week’s worship theme, the original tune is like a vine, where each variation represents different type of branch.

Adam Anders and Nikki Anders, Roots Before Branches, 2008

Mozart, Variations 7, 8 (Minore), 9 (Maggiore), 11 (Adagio), and 10 (Allegro), from Twelve Variations on “Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman”

You will hear that our Gospel lesson talks about the metaphor of the vine and the branches. Jesus is our ever-steady vine, and we are the branches that shoot off into the world. It is here that we hear of God as the “pruner” editing us and pruning us to bear the fruit of justice in the world. The truth is, we are all called to bear the fruits of justice and this text underscores the source of that justice and truth. We bear the fruits of justice when we abide in God’s love. God is the source of our guidance and strength when we stand courageously on the side of love. I thought this was the perfect week to share with you the justice work that I continue to promote. I hope you, too, can take a moment to give thanks to God for orienting your heart toward that of justice, mercy, and inclusion.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 


 


 


 


 

 

  



 

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