A Word from Our Pastor December 2015

A new year is on its way! Turning the next page on the calendar always brings me thoughts of possibilities for new life…new friends, new ideas, new opportunities for growth, change and service.

We have a couple of wonderful events coming up. On January 10, our Membership Committee has set up a Reunion Event. We are inviting our former pastors, cherished friends, near and far, to join with the BMU of today to celebrate the New Year together. We will have a lively worship service followed by a big party. Please contact people you know, especially those who may not be on any list we might have, to attend. Everyone is welcome, even if they’ve never been to BMU before!

The following Sunday, January 17, we will be joined by Superintendent Greg Berquist who will lead all of us in a visioning and goal-setting process, along with a consideration of how our financial situation might be aligned with our dreams for the future. All of us are concerned about our financial resources, and so this will be a good opportunity to talk together about how to ensure that we will be able to carry out faithfully the ministry God is calling us to do.

This is an important time in BMU’s history – a time of transition and transformation. After post-World War II growth (baby boom) we had a long period of stability. However, in the past 6 years or so, we have been experiencing some “life-cycle” changes. All organizations must go through ups and downs as the community changes. Our Japanese American community is more racially, economically and socially diverse. Also, especially in the Bay Area, most young people were not raised going to a religious organization. As a result, there are much fewer people who are interested in church and even fewer who are looking for a church.

Unlike in the past, it is much less likely that people seek out the church as a place of support, or even as a place to raise their children. Our traditional wisdom that providing good programs in church is the most important way to help the church grow and serve the community is in question.

Therefore, all churches must find new ways to build meaningful and life-healing relationships with our neighbors. This means being active outside our walls—meeting folks in the immediate neighborhood, in the wider community that extends to the Berkland Food Program in West Oakland and even to the little village of Wadi Foquin. We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Let’s not commit ourselves to anything less.
Remember the promise of Isaiah 35! God will make the desert bloom!
–Rev. Naomi

Christmas Letter

The birth of Jesus… “good news to the poorest of the poor, shepherds guarding their flocks on a frosty cold, snowy night. The good news of a birth of a savior who will exalt the lowly, fill the hungry with good things, the Son of God, of whose kingdom there will be no end.“ (Luke 1:33, 52-53)

The birth of Jesus—the first step toward the birth of the church, whose mission is still to be the bringer of good news to the poorest of the poor. For us in Berkeley, these are the people who shiver in the cold alleyways of our city streets, who struggle with mental illness or drug addiction, who are hungry.
We pray that your holiday season will be blessed, that your loved ones will be able to have meaningful connections with each other, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the event that offers inspiration for love and service to the suffering world.

We hope that you will be inspired to add to your monetary Christmas gift by joining in with BMU members in doing the ministry of Jesus.

We would love to invite you to join us in preparing or serving a meal to the needy, to contribute to the holiday food drive, to serve the elderly /homeless or the new service projects scheduled for 2016.
May God’s presence uplift your Christmas and New Year.

–Rev. Naomi