Category Archives: Celebrations

Celebration of the Faithful

 

Please come and join us as we celebrate the lives of faithful brothers and sisters who have gone before us!!
Saturday, September 17 at 6:00 PM

El Segundo Christian Church 223 West Franklin Avenue El Segundo, CA 90245

Children 11 years old and up are welcome!

Looking forward to seeing you there!!

Church of the Servant King, Gardena

A Cloud of Witnesses

Our Celebration of the Faithful was once again a needed reminder of the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us and who both inform and help complete our faith. Contrary to the illusion of relentless individualism, we are indeed indebted. Probably more so than we could fathom even if we were to try.
First of all, we are fundamentally indebted to God beginning with the initial breath we take. From this essential element of life, every step we take thereafter (both literally and figuratively) we owe to others. Given this reality, it is incumbent upon us to embrace and celebrate our indebtedness rather than resent or “outgrow” our inherent neediness.
So we purpose to acknowledge the faithful lives of the saints that we might be encouraged to also be faithful witnesses today and for future generations, “Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,” is certainly an appropriate song to call us on.
To that end, this year we learned about David Duplessis, the “donkey”, who humbly sought unity in the larger body of Christ. We were reminded of the remarkable transformation and subsequent steadfast witness of Nixon’s “Hatchet Man”, Charles Colson. The short but powerful life of Borden of Yale served as an implicit indictment of our often complacent lives. “No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.”
Samuel Lamb was a frail and weak man made powerful and effective by God to lead the Underground church in China. His 20 years of imprisonment and “re-education” by Chinese communist merely served to strengthen and deepen his cheerful trust in God. We learned that the activism of Cesar Chavez was informed and motivated by his radical faith.
Richard Wurmbrandt reminds us both of the constant presence of the Lord to sustain in unimaginable circumstances as well as the current persecutions and martyrdom today of Christians throughout the world. Isn’t the very least we can do is to be mindful of and pray for our brothers and sisters today?
We were given a “first person” account from Elizabeth Eliot of her courtship and marriage to Jim Eliot, who, along with faithful partners became a martyr in Ecuador. Incredibly, Elizabeth and Rachel Saint (sister of one of the martyrs) went on to live among and minister to those who had murdered their beloved.
This is what faith looks like. It is all the more remarkable therefore, that Hebrews 11 states,…”that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (RSV) Peterson in The Message translates this truth as, “God had a better plan for us, that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole; their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (Heb. 11:40)
So gird up your loins. Joyfully celebrate and embrace your indebtedness in all its glory! And give thanks by living lives of faithfulness and partnership.

Turn and become like children

We just finished our Celebration of the Children and it was brilliant! Thirty some years ago our pastors conceived the idea of a church calendar where sacred events would be celebrated as a church family. We would celebrate the faithful, that “cloud of witnesses” such as the ones listed in Hebrews 11. We would set aside time to “turn and become like children.” The Celebration of Life Together would be time set aside to do just that.

But this week we celebrated God’s gift to us in our children. We usually start with a basic theme for the week, and this year we chose “time travel.” After a wonderful visit to the Dreamworks concert at the Hollywood Bowl, we had our spectacular opening day. Our seven kids became time travelers for the day. After climbing into their time machines they traveled to 6 destinations in history where they were needed to solve problems.

Each followed a different route to various times in history. They visited Ancient Greece where they trained for the Olympics in archery and javelin throwing and learned how to use their brains and the pulley system. There was a visit to Medieval Times where the children rescued the princess from a dragon lady with the help of a trusty steed and knights. They stopped in to help some cave people interpret their cave drawings and throw some rocks. Pyramid building and hieroglyphics were on the agenda for Ancient Egypt, and their help was required in China’s Ming Dynasty to repair the Great Wall and repel marauders. We all ended up in the Chat N Chew, a 50’s diner where we enjoyed shakes, floats, and burgers and danced at the sock hop.

We swam and played games together at the pool. The rest of the week we took day trips to the zoo, railroad museum, miniature golf, and flew some kites together. At night we gathered to play games, watch movies, and enjoy a crazy mixed-up dinner at the Time Travel Inn. We gave thanks at each gathering, and as the week closed we once again realized the great gifts God has given us in our children. Jesus himself blessed the children and exhorted us to become like them. Once again God teaches us through a Child. We look forward to the rest of our celebrations this year, especially anticipating our Celebration of the Faithful in August.

And God bless us all, everyone!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…seems as if there are more and more of them each year. We talked about splitting up households for Christmas Eve/ Christmas morning, but I for one am not ready for that! We reluctantly acknowledge, however, that we will have to eat in two locations on Christmas Eve :-(…The rest we will attempt to do all together.

We lit our second Advent candle this Sunday night, the Bethlehem candle, which followed our first one, the Prophets’ candle. There are so many fine and wonderful Advent traditions that we can all be thankful for and from which we can learn and imitate.

Last night we tried humming some Christmas songs and letting others guess the answer. You have to be a bit brave for that one. Then we imagined what some of the headlines in the Bethlehem Gazette might have been on Christmas morning. That sent our imaginations soaring.

We look forward to Christmas caroling this weekend, the pastors’ high tea, strolling through Naples along the canals, and just being together to anticipate the coming of our Lord into this world. How He has changed the entire course of history, and how He has indeed changed our own histories! Wonderful, Counselor, and He shall reign forever and ever. God rest ye merry! And God bless us all, everyone!

Celebrations

This seems like the ideal time to start writing a bit about our church celebrations throughout the year. Taking a page from our Roman Catholic brethren, we attempted to create something of a liturgical calendar. Many years ago we saw the need for Christians to create traditions more aligned with faith and practice. Consequently, we developed Celebration of the Faithful, Celebration of Life Together, Turn and Become Like Children, Celebration of the Children, and Celebration of Grace and Thanksgiving.

I will address this last item first as we are in the midst of it right now. Giving thanks is a necessary component of the Christian faith. Scripture abounds with references to thanks and thanksgiving. Many of King David’s Psalms are songs of thanksgiving, for example: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds.” (Ps 9:1) To choose but one of the many New Testament examples, Romans 7:25 says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Accordingly, we set aside this week to focus on gratitude in speech, prayer, and action. We began with a Gathered Worship emphasizing words of thanks. Sunday morning found us gathered with one of our sister congregations where we were treated to some wonderful singing, sax playing, and reflections upon God’s “Amazing Grace.” How sweet the sound indeed.

Wednesday night we will be together preparing for our feast. Working together is another form of worship, one which we hope He will find acceptable.Thursday about 50 of us will gather for our glorious repast at the church building where we will turn our attention on our honored guests: shut-ins, nursing home residents, the lonely and the hungry. We share stories, food for the soul, and, of course, lots of food for our bodies!

Friday will find us re-enjoying our banquet, gathering to give thanks, and then joining in on our traditional dance of the leftovers. This year we will be decked out in 80’s regalia as we dance the night away. Then some of us will head over to the bowling alley for midnight bowling. Whew! We hope that this whirlwind helps to put us in the thankful frame of mind that God wants to see in His children.

G.K. Chesterton reminds us: …” that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” More on other celebrations later, but for now and always may we be abounding in thanksgiving!