A Word from Our Pastor 2014 May: New Life

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Dear Friends,

I hope that you were able to spend time at BMU during the Easter Season! We had a truly blessed series of events, and are so grateful for all the hard work on behalf of our choir directors, our choir, our actors, our decorators, our refreshment providers, and everyone else who worked behind the scenes to make for a magical and meaningful Holy Week. What a wonderful way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection in our own lives, and in the life of BMU.

As I mentioned during the Easter sermon, we will be focusing on signs of “new life” that we have been experiencing in the past couple of years. On Easter Day, people mentioned things like the new landscaping, the hearing-assistance devices, the Faith Clinics and Men’s groups. . . but there is more. I hope in the next few weeks, we will continue to reflect upon our journey to renewal. . . and all that it has brought us!

For example, this Sunday, we will hear about another sign of new life! Meghan Hayes and Eric Sakaji will speak about their trip to Israel and Palestine; Mike Friedrich also went on the trip, but since he had to go out of town, Jean Hart will read his message to us, and we will also be able to see his photos. This is the third trip to Palestine that members of BMU have participated in. The purpose of these trips have been to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians, specifically those in the village of Wadi Foquin, and to explore the holy sites of the Bible. It is a journey of faith to encounter the stories of Jesus and the Bible in their original setting, but also to understand the reality of contemporary life there, and to understand the suffering of the inhabitants. So far, 12 of us have visited Palestine and our sister village, Wadi Foquin:

Jean Hart
Richard Pearson
Carolyn Soto
Marsh Tekawa
Irene Tekawa
Derek Wilairat
Naomi Southard
Lee Marrs

Alice Ninomiya
Emma Williams

Mike Friedrich
Meghan Hayes
Erin Sakaji

BMUers have raised over $10,000 for scholarships for young people to participate! We have also raised funds so that last year, several persons from the village traveled to the United States to speak to legislators and congregations about their situation.

These pilgrimages are an important sign of new life for several reasons: never before in our history has BMU undertaken something like this. In the past, we have given generously to countries overseas in times of emergencies (earthquakes, floods, etc.) But our involvement in first the economic development of the little Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin, and then our commitment to freedom for its citizens over a period of years is something brand new! In addition, we have supported the UM Missionary in the region, Janet Lahr Lewis, with an annual donation that is included in our budget for three years now.

The involvement with Wadi Foquin and Israel/Palestine is a concrete way that our church is taking a step of faith by building a relationship with a particular community overseas. We are showing the love and concern that Jesus demonstrated for people who are oppressed, people to whom we are not connected by ties of family, neighborhood or even religion. We are committed to the people of Wadi Foquin because they are children of God. Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Extending our concern and support to the people of Wadi Foquin and Palestine has helped us to live more faithfully – to be the hands and heart of God in this world. It is indeed a new sign of life!

May you continue to be blessed by the spirit of Easter—new life!

Rev. Naomi

P.S. During the summer, June 15-September 15, I will be on extended leave. We are now in the process of making plans so that ministry will continue at BMU without interruption! In the next newsletter, all the necessary information will be available.