Week 69 July 4th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,I hope you are preparing for a wonderful holiday weekend. I am sending your worship email out early in case some of you will be on the road, traveling, or otherwise occupied. I hope you are taking time to reset, connect, and breathe!

This week’s video, I hope, helps us center July 4 on what is most important: justice. It is at the center of who we are and what we do. The link to this week’s video is here, but before you do, read through the rest of this email so you know about the two other clips I’d like you to watch as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-muGtT9r4M

There are 2 videos that I am asking you to watch as part of worship this week. In my YouTube video there will come a time when I ask you to pause the video and go watch these two short clips. The links will be in the video description on YouTube, but I will also put them here for your convenience.

The first is an interview from 60 minutes: (Trigger warning: genocide) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZHTtfTXjrA

The second is a short clip about Buffalo II, one of Robert Rauschenberg’s most famous pieces. There is no more American painting than this one, featuring a large portrait of John Kennedy and iconic images of 20th century culture I think it helps us center ourselves on the many and often complex meanings of this American life. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmFZ4_y3_ME

The reopening survey is still open! If you haven’t had a chance, please do:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JPX6JCK

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JPX6JCK

I will be compiling this data this week and I want your voice to be heard!

Continue to stay well and healthy.

In the name of the justice we celebrate on July 4,

Rev. Tim

 

Week 70 July 11th, 2021

Dear Church,

Our worship emails this week–and next week–is going to be a bit different from the usual. The reason is because this week is General Synod 33 of the UCC! As part of my commitment to the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, I am required to attend General Synod and participate in conversations with my cohort colleagues from across the denomination. Typically, General Synod is held in a convention center in some city, however this year it is all online. A monumental undertaking, indeed. The UCC is spread across 6 different time zones from Hawaii to Maine. So, this week will certainly present our wider church with challenges. Your prayers are coveted.

If we were under typical circumstances, I would be away at this event today and all this coming week and you’d have a guest preacher. However, since we can still gather around this digital table together, I have put together resources to offer you a contemplative moment, share with you the results of our reopening survey, and also connect you to some of the events going on at General Synod 33. And I, get to take 2 weeks rest from the labor of video production! Yay!

This week you will find more music than a typical week would include. Last week you didn’t hear anything from Nina because she graciously let me hold off so that we could hear more from her during these next two weeks. She also has included more information about the music than usual. Enjoy this time of getting to soak into Nina and Bronwyn’s music. Because my email server is not allowing me to attach audio files, you will be receiving the musical component in a separate email.

I also love to take the opportunity to teach folks about the structure of the denomination of which we are a part. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is our national decision-making body that meets every 2 years. It consists of elected representatives from each of our various conferences. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is a historic body in that its decisions led the UCC to be the first denomination to endorse same sex marriage in 2004. In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker at General Synod. Barack Obama was then a member of the United Church of Christ himself and was the first UCC president since Calvin Coolidge.

Also, I am going to begin sharing General Synod resources with you both this week and next. I hope you will take this chance to step out of our local church and to experience the diversity of the wider church. Here is a video where you can hear from the 3 main leaders of our denomination:

The UCC is not ashamed to be political in the name of the Gospel. Here is a brief testimony of one pastor who is walking from Chicago to DC to bring awareness to systemic violence:

Speaking of which, I co-hosted an event this week, on Saturday July 10, at the La Jolla Bike Path with Molly Bowman Styles that invited La Jolla community members to come together and write chalk-art messages on the path in support of voter access, community diversity, and the power of us. We set up a post-card writing station to Senators Feinstein and Padilla to encourage them to do everything they can to reform the Senate’s rules and to work with their colleagues to defend the sacred right to vote. It was a great event. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I’ve shared with you. San Diego City Council Member La Cava, his wife, and his staff attended as well!

As General Synod gets started, I will share more resources with you. And next week, I will invite you to watch the closing worship service of General Synod as our worship for July 18.

Lastly, I want to share with you the results of our reopening survey! The broad take away is that the majority of you (86%) will be ready to return to church this fall around the time of our Blessing of the Animals service. However, some of you won’t be ready (13%). That is ok. We will continue to do our best to reach out to you in new ways.

The rest of the data presents a more complicated picture. 48% of you prefer to come to church unmasked but 28% plan to wear a mask and 24% are still not sure. 60% of you are ok coming to worship if unmasked people are there but 20% of you aren’t comfortable with that, and 12% aren’t sure. 60% of you are ok being in church with unvaccinated people, but 24% are not ok with that and another 16% aren’t sure. 84% of you will come to church even if there is no social hour. 12% of you won’t and 4% aren’t sure.

Nina shared with me an illustrative example from a recent National Association of Teachers of Singing webinar she attended that featured a Boston based epidemiologist who said that he was going to the cultural and theater opportunities that he’s been craving in New York now because he is unsure where we will be pandemic wise in the fall. That said, where we are continues to look optimistic. Let’s all pray for a continuation of California’s health and progress.

Meanwhile, 43% of you are interested in some form of drive by communion station in the park this summer…. so, stay tuned. This result I understand, driving into La Jolla on a weekend evening is daunting… 🙂
Enjoy exploring General Synod 33. Here is the website for the event in case any of you are fellow church nerds who want to explore it:

General Synod Home Page

And most importantly, enjoy letting Nina and Bronwyn’s musical talent wash over you and fill your spirit this day and forevermore.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 71 July 18th, 2021

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that worship tomorrow is General Synod closing worship. It is at 3-5 PM Pacific and you can tune in on this link: https://www.generalsynod.org/worship-services-july-18/

Worship Services – July 18

If you miss it or are busy during this time, I will be sending out the YouTube link of the recording tomorrow night.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

Week 72 July 25th, 2021

NOTE: My message is found in a YouTube link because the audio file was too large to attach to the email. You can find my message by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGtCU6ZswXY
Also, the General Synod worship service was finally posted to YouTube. If you didn’t have a chance to experience General Synod worship you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGzdAJyHHxs&list=PL6VgfHt6zEy5-WhXcb13kvHo29PfEE5Xt&index=4 The musical components are found as audio files attached to this email. You will also find a PDF guide, similar to our original format for doing church virtually.

Wednesday Worship Special Edition General Synod – YouTube
WEDNESDAY WORSHIPWednesday, July 14 at 8 p.m. ET | Led by Rev. Michelle HigginsLive chat is disabled for this event. Join the conversation on Facebook! https…
www.youtube.com

 

Dear Church,

This week our worship format returns to a familiar style. This week we celebrate all things United Church of Christ. This past week I spent attending General Synod 33. This is the top legislative body in our church. It sets the vision, direction, and mission for our life together. We passed all of our resolutions. We stood in solidarity with the colonized peoples of Hawaii, we said no to the cash bail system, we proclaimed racism as a public health crisis, and we voted 99% to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ persons. We affirmed the good work of our national officers and will see each other again in 2023 in Indianapolis.

This week our worship focuses on this denomination that we are a part of. Nina has curated musical pieces by composers who were a part of our denomination. The scripture reading is from the part of the Gospel of John that contains the source material for the UCC motto, “That they may all be one” which is under our historical logo and which you can find on the cover page of the PDF.

I have populated the PDF with pictures of key moments and figures in our history. Today our identity and vision statement is “a just world for all.” That is at the heart of everything we do and strive to be as church. That informs the work I do among you and on behalf of you in the wider San Diego community. We do not act alone; rather, we are guided by a history long in the making.

I also included two field trips for you that show you highlights of the 2019 Synod, the last one to be held in person. Also, I included then Senator Barack Obama’s address to General Synod in Hartford back in 2011. Barack Obama was the first president since Calvin Coolidge to be a part of our church.

I hope you enjoy this opportunity to learn about the United Church of Christ and to celebrate our unique expression of living the faith.

With grace and hope for a just world for all,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP – JULY 25, 2021

 

Week 73 August 1st, 2021

Hi everyone,

Here is a burst of light to lead us into August. Since we are currently struggling with the pandemic and getting variants under-control, it seems like this is never ending; likewise, it feels discouraging to see our hard work be for nil in light of those who have refused vaccination. When we experiencing these overwhelming emotions it can be easy to slip into anger. Which is why my worship themes in August will be centered around “stepping into August with love.”

We need a burst of brightness and hope. We need God’s light now more than ever. Which is why worship this month will focus on the good, the delightful, and the hopeful among us. I have curated a collection of pictures taken (mostly( this past week by renowned photo journalists from CNN and the Washington Post that capture humanity in its diversity, beauty, and brilliance.

I hope you will join me in stepping into August in love. We continue to allow the pslams narrate our journey. May we read their wise and ancient words alongside images that capture contemporary beauty in all its forms.

Note that this email contains the PDF, Scripture, and Message. The music will come seperately.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AT HOME WORSHIP PDF AUG 1

Week 74 August 8th, 2021

Dear Church,

Attached you will find the worship elements for this week, August 8, 2021. Please note my message will be contained in a second email as it is a larger file.

We are also at work on planning our Blessing of the Animals service — which we are praying will be our first in person event since 2020. We have commissioned our very own Melissa Melchor to create the designs for a banner for the front of the church and for our advertising materials.

Please continue to encourage your friends and family who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated. This is a community effort. We are praying that these next two months bring us healing and progress.

Also, if you need to be in touch with me this week, please do so via email. Some of you email me through my Harvard.edu email. Since it has now been four years since I have had a Harvard affiliation, they will soon retire that account. So, please be sure to email me at pastor@lajollaucc.org. I am slowly moving everyone over to this email account.

I am also in the process of upgrading phones so if you have text or called me in the past couple days I probably did not get it. Please email me or leave a message for Bronwyn if you need to be in touch or you did not hear back from me! I want to make sure I don’t miss anything!

I am looking forward to all that we have ahead of us. Thank you for being a part of it.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

AUG 8, 2021 WORSHIP GUIDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 75 August 15th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

As we continue to step into August with love, we might step together into a moment of quiet worship and reflection for this Sunday, August 15.

This week you will receive 3 emails. The first containing the PDF and scripture reading, the second the musical components, and the third my message. We split it up like this because otherwise the email is too large for many of your email accounts and it would be rejected. This way I make sure everyone receives it and is not left out.

Please please continue to be careful. Hospitals in my home state of Montana are out of beds. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but encourage your friends, associates, and acquaintances to get their vaccine. I am so looking forward to blessing your pets, animals, cats, dogs, birds and all of YOU this October. May all of us do our small part to heal our community so this might be the start of a return to our beautiful home on Cave Street.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

August 15th Worship Guide

 

 

Week 76 August 22nd, 2021

Dear LJUCC,

Here we come to our Aug 22 edition of worship. This week we turn our eyes to Afganistan. We offer an earnest prayer not only for the people there but also for all of those who have sacrificed so much over the past 20 years to bring change, hope, peace, and transformation.

As you all know, I believe religion without contemporary application is irrelevant. Our scriptures must be read in the light of our day. The pslams, which we have spent this summer studying, were made for such a time as this.

Also, as we continue to keep our eyes on the pandemic situation I offer here an article that was shared with me my others in the UCC. It offers us an important look at our present situation:

https://www.tampabay.com/opinion/2021/08/10/what-we-now-know-about-how-to-fight-the-delta-variant-of-covid-column/

With grace,

Rev. Tim

AUG 22 PDF GUIDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 77 August 29th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

I hope this beautiful summer week finds you healthy and well. I have been squeaking out the past 2 weeks worship packets on an ill computer (again!) which I sent off to repair on Tuesday evening. It should be back tomorrow. When I mentioned to the Apple technicians how much I use my computer they asked what I did for work! And they were very surprised how much of ministry has taken place this past year on my little computer. I use it an average of 10 hours a DAY! Gasp! But if you consider the fact that I have multiple Zoom meetings, dozens of emails, and am making videos and recordings and PDFs for our worship, then it all adds up and makes sense.

Also, this week begins orientation for me! I am beginning a part time Doctor of Ministry degree at the UCC’s seminary in the Bay Area, Pacific School of Religion. This is a program designed for career pastors to pursue while they continue to work in their congregations. Don’t worry, I only have to be in Berkeley 2 weeks a year! The rest I do right alongside all of you here. I will appreciate your prayers as I begin this new journey and pursue the most advanced form of study in ministry.

Since I am not able to record for you this week, I want to share with you a modern prophet of our time. If you are involved in the progressive Christian movement, you will sooner or later come across the name Rachel Held-Evans. She was a star of progressive Christianity. She was a bold and fearless preacher who made our faith relevant for our time today. She was someone we all admired. She died in her mid 30s very unexpectedly a few years ago. I hope that you will get to know her. She has several books which are also refreshing and brilliant. I almost picked one for our book study we did in 2019. When we regather and restart such things, I may select something from her for us to work through together.

This is a sermon like video from Irvine Congregational Church UCC (a church in our local UCC association) from 5 years ago shortly before Rachel’s untimely death,

 

I additionally invite you to then enjoy the musical selections prepared for this week.

Speaking of music, we also have a special announcement from Nina. She says:

Let’s do another collaborative sound project! In honor of our upcoming Blessing of the Animals, I would like you to send me animal sounds. That is, actual animals making those sounds, please! They can be your dog(s), your cat(s), your parrot (do we have any parrots among us? chickens?), or animals that you hear (my resident cricket is hoping for another solo, for example). Birds outside? Other people’s pets? I’ve saved all the sounds you’ve sent me from previous projects, so I already have a small collection. Since the animals will be the focus this time, if you’ve sent me an animal sound already it would be lovely if you could send me more.
Deadline: let’s say two or three weeks, and I’ll fine-tune that date as I brainstorm what the project will be. I’m thinking of something like our Easter project—we build a back-up track and have the choir sing something relevant on top of it.
How to send me sound: see the attached PDF that people found helpful last time, called HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone. It’s fun and silly and non-intimidating! Please email your sounds to ninagilbert@gmail.com. You’re welcome to contact me with questions too.

Please find a “how to” attachment from Nina attached to this week’s email.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone-020621

Performance Notes
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Bronwyn Allen, office manager and soprano

Attr. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Sonatina in F major
Allegro assai
Rondo: allegro
Published during Beethoven’s lifetime, this sonatina is now considered possibly not by Beethoven.

There in God’s Garden
Original Hungarian words by Pécselyi Király Imre, c.1641
Translated and adapted by Erik Routley, 1974
Music by K. Lee Scott, 1976
Translator, composer, and musicologist Erik Routley (1917-1982) was an English Congregational minister. Educated at Oxford, he became an influential Professor of Church Music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. He imported contemporary British hymns to the U.S., and is considered responsible for the elimination of the singing of “Amen” at the end of each hymn.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918), Prelude No. 10: “The Sunken Cathedral”
Inspired by the legendary (i.e. fictitious) Cathedral of Ys that was submerged under water as punishment for the sins of some of its members. Occasionally the cathedral rises and then sinks again. When do you think that happens during this piece?

 

 

Week 78 September 5th, 2021

Dear Church,

The entire worship experience for this week is contained in a video on my YouTube channel. This was certainly a labor of love for me! I am featuring California modernist Agnes Pelton. This past Sunday I drove to Palm Springs and back so that I could visit the retrospective of her work at the Palm Springs Art Museum. This is the first major show of her work since 1995. She was born in Germany but came to the United States as a child and by 1932 settled in Cathedral City. She spent her life exploring spiritual themes and she was most certainly a spiritual seeker. She was interested in transcendental meditation, esoteric thought, and theosophy. She was always on the quest for deeper meaning. I think there is something in here for us. She felt called to exist in the desert. And the difficult conditions of desert living made her feel that there was something to be gleaned by those who were hearty enough to handle it. She built herself a small cabin in Cathedral City and to earn income spent her time painting desert landscapes. But her true passion was in her modern, surrealist, desert paintings that attempted to convey the essence of the complexities of desert life.

I have always been mystified by the desert and I am not alone. Our scriptures were set again the backdrop of desert harshness. The prophets of our faith were desert dwellers. What is it about the desert that is so challenging but so irresistible?

If you are in the Coachella Valley anytime soon I would highly recommend you visit this exhibit. The Palm Springs Art Museum is one of my favorites. It was made what it is today by one man, late interior designer Steve Chase, who exemplifies what it means to leave a lasting legacy as a patron of the arts.

Also, I would like to draw your attention to an attachment to this email from Nina Gilbert! She has provided us with a friendly and helpful guide that lays out how you can participate in our next special music project.

Wherever you may be, enjoy this little bit of time in the desert!

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Click here to access this week’s video:

 

HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone-020621

Week 79 September 12th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

Attached you will find all of the audio files for September 12 worship. This week we turn our attention to remembrance. 20 years have passed since each of us experienced a tragic event that shaped our modern history.

Melissa Melchor unveiled our final designs for our Blessing of the Animals banner. I will share that with you in the coming week’s worship email. She did an AMAZING job.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Sep 12, 2021 PDF

 

 

 

 

 

= = = = = = = = = =
ONE MORE WEEK FOR ANIMAL SOUNDS! As we get ready for Blessing of the Animals, I’d love to get recordings from you of the animals you hear—pets, birds, crickets, any creature whose sound you think would be fun to include. See attached reminder if you need instructions how to record.
= = = = = = = = = = =

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

Our piano selections this week represent the beginning and the end of the career of R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943). Born in Canada to descendants of escaped slaves, he spent most of his life in the U.S. In 1908 he became the first Black music graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, and in 1917 he married Helen Elise Smith, the first Black graduate of the Damrosch Institute (precursor of the Juilliard School).Dett’s music evolved from ragtime and salon music to Romantic and Impressionist styles.

R. Nathaniel Dett, “Magnolias,” 1912
Inspired by the magnolia trees on the Lane College campus in Jackson, Tennessee. Dett, who had written a book of nature poems the previous year, placed these lines at the beginning of his manuscript:
“Gorgeous Magnolias,
Spotless in splendor,
Sad in their beauty,
Heavy with perfume.”

Dett, “Barcarolle of Tears,” from 8 Bible Vignettes, 1942-43
Each of the Vignettes has a specific scriptural reference—except this Barcarolle. A program note attributed to both Dett and pianist Clipper Erickson says “‘Barcarolle of Tears’ is like a fantasia describing the suffering of the Jewish people followed by quiet redemption.”

Touch the Earth Lightly
Words by Shirley Erena Murray, 1991
Music by Colin Gibson, 1992
Murray is a prolific and award-winning composer and social justice activist in New Zealand. She and Gibson are frequent collaborators.

 

Week 80 September 19th, 2021

PDF FOR SEP 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone-020621

 

Week 81 September 26th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

This week everything is in one convenient video link. You can access it by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I25rz0qTCG8

This week, I return to the lectionary, to what is a dreaded text by some preachers. But sometimes those are the texts that we can learn the most from. I also am sharing with you the rest of my visit to the museum that I first shared with you 3 weeks ago. I think that this week’s lectionary speaks nicely to some of the themes of the other featured exhibit.

Also here is information about the musical selections you will find this week:

Felix Mendelssohn, Song Without Words no. 44 in D major, Eighth Book: Adagio
Mendelssohn (1809-1847) wrote eight sets of six “songs without words” for piano solo throughout his life—lyrical pieces that don’t express any actual words.

Sing a New Song Unto the Lord: Psalm 98
Words and music by Daniel Schutte (b. 1947), 1972
A joyful paraphrase of Psalm 98, invoking other Psalms and Scriptural allusions.

R. Nathaniel Dett, “Madrigal Divine,” from Eight Bible Vignettes
Without actually including lyrics—that is, not intended for singing—Dett (1882-1943) sets this piece to track the Twenty-Third Psalm. It’s phrases match the rhythms and the meanings of the Psalm verses. Without actually looking at the Psalm, you can imagine key lines, including “The Lord is my shepherd” and, emphatically, “…in the presence of mine enemies.”

And finally, a note from Nina: LAST CALL FOR ANIMAL SOUNDS! If your cat, dog, or birds (pets or neighborhood creatures) are still hoping for their chance to star in one of our collective music projects, NOW is the time to record them! I will edit what you send me, so any length is good, and if you need to talk on your recording to encourage your pet to vocalize, I can edit that out. See attached “How to” PDF for instructions, including where to email your recording.

I have attached the referenced “How to” PDF to this email.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

HowToRecordAndSendOnYourPhone-020621

 

Week 82 October 3rd, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

First off we have some exciting news about our first physical event: Blessing of the Animals. See the attached flyer which was formatted by our own Nina Gilbert and the art work is from our own Melissa Melchor. We are looking forward to an outdoor gathering in front of the church on October 17th at 10:30 pm. Please join us!

In this email you will also find Nina and Bronwyn’s musical selections. Information about them is included in the “performance notes” section of the also attached PDF. In the PDF I share with you a few images that speak to the theme of work and rest. You will notice I began with a famous imagine of rest, Van Gogh’s, “Noon Rest.” On the opposite end of the spectrum you will see Peter Brugel the Elder’s dizzying imagine of labor in “The Dutch Proverbs” as well as Diego Rivera’s ode to industry in the “Detroit Industry Murals.” In between there are two images of blank canvases–the work of a Danish artist Jens Haaning. Haaning was asked by a Danish museum to produce two pieces of art commenting on the nature of labor. He was paid $84,000. The two blank works are what he came up with. A work he titled, “Take the Money and Run.”

While this might elicit a bit of a chuckle, Haaning is making an important commentary on the nature of work and labor in our world. See here the New York Times coverage of this story:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/world/europe/danish-museum-artist-jenns-haaning.html

Additionally, I want to share with you a well-written op-ed from the New York Times that speaks to the changing labor landscape in our post-Covid world:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/09/23/opinion/covid-return-to-work-rto.html

As we all learn to live in a post-Covid world I encourage everyone to remember that work is only a small portion of a life well lived and that now, more than ever, we are invited to change the things we wish we had long ago.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

OCT 3 PDF

 

 

 

 

 

Week 83 October 10th, 2021

Dear Church,

This week I am trying something different. I am writing out a long and descriptive email to you which blends scripture and my message as well as important information about our future events and the Blessing of the Animals event to take place next week. Please be sure to read it. However, if you’d like to listen to me read this email to you, I have included a recording of that below in lieu of a traditional message. If you’d prefer to listen, you can stop reading now and click on the attachment marked, “Message” below.

Today, you are also receiving this email from my personal email address because the church email would not accept any of the music attachments! If there is one thing I have now learned over the course of ministry these past two years it is flexibility.

Nina’s musical selections this week focus on the concept of time. This was inspired by a conversation we had with each other a few weeks ago about the strangeness of time. Of course the most famous scripture on time is from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

I’ve often referenced my favorite artist, Felix Gonzalez Torres–and I will once more: He was also very interested in the idea of time. He created a public billboard installation that included nothing more than the words: “It’s just a matter of time.” He went on to create multilingual versions of this and put them up in various countries around the world. Here are two examples. One in English and one in German.

The meaning here is open to debate and individual interpretation. Because, all things, one could argue, are just a matter of time. This week marks my fourth year with you. When I arrived in San Diego I was in my final days of 24 and now I am 29. At age 24 I never dreamed that an extensive period of my time among you would consist of virtual/email/remote ministry. None of us did. I never dreamed that we’d encounter a world like the one we’ve had to contend with over these past four years.

Time is opaque, time can be blurry. Time can offer both greater obscurity and greater clarity. I’m still trying to figure out time. I guess it’s just a matter of time until I do.

Speaking of time, it is almost time for our first in-person event. You will also find attached to this email the invitation and announcement to our first in person event since March 2020. Blessing of the Animals will be a primarily outdoor event on Sunday, October 17, 2021 at 10:30 am. We will not be having fellowship or refreshments after. This will be an opportunity for us to experiment with our new journey of holding events that are safe, Covid cognizant, and spiritually nourishing.

As we have begun the process of planning this event, we have realized that there is more to in-person events than we might have previously realized. Since making the announcement last week about the reintroduction of in-person worship I have heard from a few of you who have expressed that you will be sitting out the first several in-person services until Delta subsides. All of this is very valid.

That is why as we begin this phase-in to in-person worship we will take this slowly and cautiously. We also want to make sure that both our folks who desperately want in- person worship as well as our folks who aren’t ready yet are taken care of and listened to. That is why we are considering a plan of alternation, where no one will be without church for more than a week.

Since we will hold an in person event on October 17, we will go virtual October 24, and regather in-doors on October 31 for All Saints Worship.

It is our hope that this alternating of in person with virtual services will allow us the time to make this essential transition through the end of this year. We will not have choir for at least the rest of this year and will also not have fellowship for the remainder of this year as well.

As we begin to prepare for in person worship I want to share this clip from Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NYC, a church which holds a very famous Blessing of the Animals:

As the wise sage who wrote Ecclesaisties points out there is a season for everything. There is a relatable order to God’s creation. Though there is finitude to our time, God’s time is eternal. What God does endures forever. Whatever we do, or don’t do can add or take away from that. We are called to stand in awe. As I listen to this scripture now it has new and different meaning. “A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” feels almost like this was written specifically with our contemporary reality in mind. As does “A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” We refrained from embracing and scattered across the city and now is time to begin to regather. And in time, there will be a time to embrace again. As Felix Gonzalez Torres reminds us, “It’s just a matter of time.” Time may be confusing to us, but in it there is an order and peace of God’s own making. The time we have been doing church this way has felt both simultaneously excruciatingly long and like the blink of an eye. Now is the time for us to begin something new. It won’t be like 2019 but it will be good. It will be good because we are doing the right thing and we have been doing the right thing all along.

I look forward to seeing you next week. It’s just a matter of time.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

PERFORMANCE NOTES

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

Our piano selections consider the concept of time—fast vs. slow, measured vs. irregular—in three settings of the same tune. Coincidentally, the original composer (Nicolai) created the hymn in response to a plague—the Pestilence of 1597 in the city of Unna, Westphalia, where he served as a Lutheran pastor.

Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright, 1597
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright, 1740
Three times through the tune: first Nicolai’s single line, then an uncredited later harmonization of the Nicolai, and then Bach. Nicolai follows the meter and accents of his poetry—some syllables longer, some shorter. Bach made the note lengths uniform and created several harmonizations, including this one from our hymnal.

I to the Hills Will Lift My Eyes: Psalm 121
Words from The New Metrical Version of the Psalms, 1909
Music from the Scottish Psalter, 1615

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
A bicinium—that is, a piece for two musical lines—where the upper voice carries the tune in longer notes, and the lower voice offers a stylized accompaniment.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 85 October 31st, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

Thank you to everyone and their animal companions who came to our Blessing of the Animals celebration last Sunday. As many of you noticed, all 3 of San Diego’s main news stations arrived to our church to report on it. This week, I share with you the coverage from Fox 5:

Blessing Of The Animals In La Jolla

You might remember two weeks ago we watched news reports of Blessing of the Animals services in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC and this week we are watching news reports about our OWN church. Way to go us!

Next week we will come to the church for our first service inside the building. This service will celebrate All Saints Day and the departed saints of our lives. If there is a saint you’d like to honor, please send me their name. I will include them in our prayer.

We will also honor those members of our congregation who have passed during the pandemic and take some time to remember each of them. If you’d like to share any memories of Joan Kastner, Dr. Jerry Richards, Jerry Allen, or Susan Belliston please do so! I am working on collecting all of this this week.

The appointed psalm for this week is Psalm 126:

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then it was said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

I enjoyed the deep dive we did into the psalms this past summer. This one is certainly one of praise and joy. Mouths filled with laughter and tongues shouting joy is a station in life we all want! But we must remember the psalmists advice that it is our Lord who has done such great things for us.

The Lord did a great thing for me this week and filled my mouth with laughter and tongue with joy. I was organizing a few things in my office doing some much needed post pandemic cleaning and I came across a memoir of one of the pastors of our church from long ago. I believe his ministry was in the 1920s or 1930s. No one with us today would have ever experienced him. However, at the end of his career he put together stories of his time in La Jolla. What I loved is the reminder that our world can change drastically, our technological capabilities can increase dramatically, and years upon years can pass and yet people are still people! The stories he shared could have happened anytime!

Two that stand out was his mention that during that time many people would come to the church to ask for money. I am assuming this must have been during the height of the Depression. Some of them were interesting characters who weren’t always polite. This pastor’s wife was always worried about him getting hurt if he passed up someone’s request for cash. Furthermore, she was a bit upset that he’d use his own personal money for such things.

Another stranger story concerned a man in a clerical collar who showed up at the pastors home on a Saturday night before church. He declared himself to be a pastor without a parish and was looking for work. He offered to preach the next day at CCLJ in return for whatever the church could pay him. My predecessor wisely denied the request and instead encouraged him to call the Conference office to inquire about pulpit supply opportunities. The next week a reporter for a national clergy magazine came to CCLJ to ask if a man wearing a clerical collar had shown up. They had word that he was in Chicago and somehow made it to California and was going from church to church looking to preach. The man was not a pastor, as he represented himself to be, and instead was a highly elaborate scam artist.

I hope to keep reading more! Oh, the joys of church, in 1930 or in 2021…the journey unfolds and continues. No matter what era we are a citizen of, this goes to show us that interesting twists and turns are par for the course. But as our psalmist wisely reminds us: The Lord has done great things for us. (And will keep doing them, too).

Also, you will find two musical pieces to guide your meditations and prayers this week. Here is the information that Nina has provided to us:

Florence Smith Price, Fantasie on “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” 1929
One long piano solo this week, instead of two shorter. We first heard this Fantasie in March, shortly before my piano was tuned.
Price (1887-1953) dedicated this work “To my talented little friend, Margaret A. Bonds.” Bonds was Price’s piano student who grew up to become an influential composer herself. Price wrote this a few weeks before Bonds’ sixteenth birthday. You can hear the spiritual it’s based on here:
Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers:

Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers

Comfort, Comfort Now My People
Paraphrase of Isaiah 40:1-5 by Johannes Olearius, 1671
Translated from German by Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Music from the Genevan Psalter, 1551

Since our event last week was a smashing success, I look forward to our sequel to such success next week.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 85 October 31st, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

Thank you to everyone and their animal companions who came to our Blessing of the Animals celebration last Sunday. As many of you noticed, all 3 of San Diego’s main news stations arrived to our church to report on it. This week, I share with you the coverage from Fox 5:

Blessing Of The Animals In La Jolla

You might remember two weeks ago we watched news reports of Blessing of the Animals services in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC and this week we are watching news reports about our OWN church. Way to go us!

Next week we will come to the church for our first service inside the building. This service will celebrate All Saints Day and the departed saints of our lives. If there is a saint you’d like to honor, please send me their name. I will include them in our prayer.

We will also honor those members of our congregation who have passed during the pandemic and take some time to remember each of them. If you’d like to share any memories of Joan Kastner, Dr. Jerry Richards, Jerry Allen, or Susan Belliston please do so! I am working on collecting all of this this week.

The appointed psalm for this week is Psalm 126:

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then it was said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

I enjoyed the deep dive we did into the psalms this past summer. This one is certainly one of praise and joy. Mouths filled with laughter and tongues shouting joy is a station in life we all want! But we must remember the psalmists advice that it is our Lord who has done such great things for us.

The Lord did a great thing for me this week and filled my mouth with laughter and tongue with joy. I was organizing a few things in my office doing some much needed post pandemic cleaning and I came across a memoir of one of the pastors of our church from long ago. I believe his ministry was in the 1920s or 1930s. No one with us today would have ever experienced him. However, at the end of his career he put together stories of his time in La Jolla. What I loved is the reminder that our world can change drastically, our technological capabilities can increase dramatically, and years upon years can pass and yet people are still people! The stories he shared could have happened anytime!

Two that stand out was his mention that during that time many people would come to the church to ask for money. I am assuming this must have been during the height of the Depression. Some of them were interesting characters who weren’t always polite. This pastor’s wife was always worried about him getting hurt if he passed up someone’s request for cash. Furthermore, she was a bit upset that he’d use his own personal money for such things.

Another stranger story concerned a man in a clerical collar who showed up at the pastors home on a Saturday night before church. He declared himself to be a pastor without a parish and was looking for work. He offered to preach the next day at CCLJ in return for whatever the church could pay him. My predecessor wisely denied the request and instead encouraged him to call the Conference office to inquire about pulpit supply opportunities. The next week a reporter for a national clergy magazine came to CCLJ to ask if a man wearing a clerical collar had shown up. They had word that he was in Chicago and somehow made it to California and was going from church to church looking to preach. The man was not a pastor, as he represented himself to be, and instead was a highly elaborate scam artist.

I hope to keep reading more! Oh, the joys of church, in 1930 or in 2021…the journey unfolds and continues. No matter what era we are a citizen of, this goes to show us that interesting twists and turns are par for the course. But as our psalmist wisely reminds us: The Lord has done great things for us. (And will keep doing them, too).

Also, you will find two musical pieces to guide your meditations and prayers this week. Here is the information that Nina has provided to us:

Florence Smith Price, Fantasie on “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” 1929
One long piano solo this week, instead of two shorter. We first heard this Fantasie in March, shortly before my piano was tuned.
Price (1887-1953) dedicated this work “To my talented little friend, Margaret A. Bonds.” Bonds was Price’s piano student who grew up to become an influential composer herself. Price wrote this a few weeks before Bonds’ sixteenth birthday. You can hear the spiritual it’s based on here:
Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers:

Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers

Comfort, Comfort Now My People
Paraphrase of Isaiah 40:1-5 by Johannes Olearius, 1671
Translated from German by Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Music from the Genevan Psalter, 1551

Since our event last week was a smashing success, I look forward to our sequel to such success next week.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

Week 86 Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

It was beyond wonderful to get to worship with you in our sanctuary last Sunday. I look forward to doing so again this coming Sunday, November 14, 2021.

For those of you who missed last week, we celebrated All Saints Sunday. During this time we reflected on and remembered those who have passed on into the communion of saints during this pandemic time. We prayed for all of those around the world who were lost to the pandemic as well as all of those who departed from our congregation over the course of the past 2 years.

I am attaching a manuscript of my remarks in case you would like to read them or revisit them. In preparing this manuscript to send you, I read again the amazing stories of the members and friends we honored last week and I am grateful for having had the great honor of knowing them. I encourage you to read these stories again and to say a prayer of thanksgiving for having had each of these individuals touch your life.

Tomorrow, at 6 am I will be flying to Cleveland, OH to visit the headquarters of the United Church of Christ for the first time! I’ve been ordained in this denomination for over 4 years and have been a member of it for many more years and this will be my first chance to gather with other clergy under 45 at our Cleveland headquarters.

This is a part of the NGLI (Next Generation Leadership Program) that I was accepted to participate in last year. It is a multi-year program that provides the funding for my continuing education and also provides me (and our church) with coaching and resources to help us grow together.

The idea is to strengthen younger local church clergy in every conference of the UCC. I believe I shared this video when I started the program, but in case you missed it or would like to watch it again here it is:

Next week as we gather in worship together, I will love to tell the story about what happened on my visit to Cleveland. Speaking of which, “I Love to Tell the Story” is the name of one of our musical selections this week. Here is some information that Nina provided for us:

Our piano selections this week are unpretentious works by composers with interesting and important life stories.

Amanda Aldridge (pseudonym: Montague Ring), Lazy Dance, 1913

Daughter of a Black Shakespearean actor (Ian Aldridge) and his Swedish wife (Amanda Brandt, who sometimes claimed to be a countess Von Brandt), Aldridge (1866-1956) studied singing with Jenny Lind at the Royal College of Music in London. Her own students included Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, and Marian Anderson.
Lazy Dance is a piano reduction of a parlor piece for small instrumental ensemble. The notation includes the instruction “knock on piano lid” at three points in the piece.

I Love to Tell the Story
Words by Katherine Hankey, 1866
Music by William G. Fischer, 1869
Hankey (1834-1911) was a nurse and missionary in South Africa who wrote a poem of 100 verses called The Old, Old Story during her convalescence from a serious illness.
Fischer (1835-1912) taught and sold music in Philadelphia, directed music at revival meetings, and composed 200 tunes for Sunday School hymns and gospel songs. He composed this tune for words selected from Hankey’s poem, adding his own lyrics for the refrain.

Ignatius Sancho, Country Dances, 1779
Sancho (1729-1780) was born on a slave ship, orphaned before the age of two, and then enslaved to a British family. At the age of 20 he ran away to work as a professional servant to a family who taught him to read.He became a shopkeeper and abolitionist, and as a male property owner, the first Black person to vote in British elections.

​Lastly, I have been saving this over the course of the entire time we have done virtual church…. figuring there would be some Sunday when this would be a good offering. Since we are reaching the end of our virtual worship Sundays I wanted to be sure to share this with you.

In 2016, (which is already half a decade ago!) I was a finalist in the Harvard preaching competition. I preached alongside a few of my inspiring classmates of diverse faith traditions. I want to share this with you as the YouTube component of our worship this week. If you’d like to fast forward to my sermon you can, I begin at the 37:17 mark. But, if you have time, I encourage you to experience the great diversity of preaching that is exhibited by my colleagues.

I look forward to joining with you in the sanctuary next week!

With grace,

Rev. Tim

 

 

 

Oct 31 Sermon

 
Dear CCLJ,

First, we all need to lift our voices in loud affirmation and celebration of our dear Marty Eisel’s 100th birthday! 36,525 days of life and love. It was a joy to celebrate this with Marty and her family this week. I hope you will join me in wishing her a month of celebration and joy! She was featured in this week’s La Jolla Light: https://www.lajollalight.com/news/story/2021-11-19/variety-is-the-spice-of-life-for-la-jolla-centenarian-marty-eisel

Variety is the spice of life for La Jolla centenarian Marty Eisel

We have 3 interesting musical selections this week for you. Including a deeply moving rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Bronwyn. This continues our exploration of the historical directory at: https://www.musicbyblackcomposers.org>, with light works by two composers who lived around the time of the Battle Hymn.

https://www.musicbyblackcomposers.org

Henry F. Williams, Parisian Waltz No. 3
Williams (1813-1903) lived in Boston, graduated from New England Conservatory, and played and arranged music for most band and orchestra instruments. He worked with bands around the country, and in the 1880s served as Dean of the Illinois College of Music at Illinois Woman’s College.
This piece seems to tell a story: its introduction, not in waltz time, suggests that dancers are finding each other and organizing the waltz to come. Then the waltz is in symmetrical phrases—easy to dance to—followed by a coda that seems to suggest an extended goodbye as the dancers don’t want to separate.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Words by Julia Ward Howe, 1861
Music traditional
Eugène A. Dédé, Pain and Joy: a sentimental mazurka
Son of Edmund Dédé, an American Créole musician who moved to France, Eugène Dédé (1867-1919) was born in Bordeaux, lived in Paris, and wrote popular marches, polkas, waltzes, and other works.
Also, I look forward to seeing you next week in church at 10:30 for Stewardship Sunday. I have attached a 2022 pledge card to this email. We will also have these printed in physical form if you are not able to print it. You also can simply call Bronwyn to communicate your pledge. The theme of our Stewardship campaign this year is “Putting the Pieces Back Together.” This is a task that all of us in churches across the world are faced with as we figure out what faith in a post-Covid world looks like.
The good news is that this church has seen more than its fair share of global strife, heartbreak, and chaos in its nearly a century-and-a-quarter of existence. This church remains strong as a testament to the light and love of God that shines in our community and in this church. Now it is our turn to put the pieces back together in building a new reformed church for a changed world.
Speaking of “reform” I preached last week about how we are now in the midst of a new reformation. It can be scary to find oneself in the midst of a reformation but it can also be very exciting. We get to shape together the church of the future. I have attached an audio recording of that message for all of you who were not there. It also includes our prayer and a portion of our live service.
As you gather at tables near and far this week to give thanks, I give thanks for all of you. I give thanks that because of all of you, La Jolla has a bold, progressive, and inclusive voice of faith. Gathering around the table is central to our faith. One of our sacraments was first instituted when Jesus gathered around the table with his closest companions. I believe this is sacred and holy because that table represents radical grace and inclusion. Today we keep expanding the table and keep pulling up seats around it so all can share in grace and reconciliation.
May the tables you gather around this week be tables of grace as well.
With grace,
Rev. Tim

 

 

 

 

Pledge Card 2022


 

 



 

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