April 27, 2014

Pastor Letter

Greetings brothers and sisters,

A visitor in the church office today asked me how I was doing, and I replied, “Good … and tired.” Feeling the need to explain why, I shared some of the recent goings-on in our youth ministries. When I finished, I shared …”Yeah, I guess that I am good and tired … and while the church calendar states that Christ is Risen; I think that I am processing so much on my personal discipleship journey ... well, honestly, I think that I am still at the foot of the cross.” I was kind of surprised at what I said, but it makes sense in hindsight … here’s why …

On Good Friday, our youth led worship with a dramatic re-telling of the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. While I prepared them over the past few weeks, our 30+ youth were deeply committed to sharing the story in a powerfully strong way. And, I didn’t do this alone; it took the dedication of “Worker Bees” (adult leaders with youth), Don and Sabrina Moreau; our Director of Music, Yohan Partan; and Pastor Mark Ulrickson, to support this endeavor. After worship, the youth continued on campus together because they had begun the “Serve Locally; Give Globally” Fast from food or social media that afternoon. Supported by Worker Bees, Meredith Casalino and Ryan Russell, we played games, and learned about the disease of malaria before we went to sleep that night.

Then on Holy Saturday morning, while fasting, our youth were joined by members of our Los Altos UMC Service Team (Steve Yoho, Chris Hutchinson, Tim Ruegg, Bob Carpenter), Worker Bees, (Don and Sabrina Moreau), and two parents (Mary Sigler and Marla Simpao). In small groups, youth and these adult leaders spread out all over Long Beach: serving LAUMC members in their homes (yard work and simple repairs); cleaning a beach; serving at the Broken Loaf Food Pantry; bringing “care kits” to patients at the Community Hospital ER; and helping decorate the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall for Easter Sunday. Later that day, together we rested and continued to learn about global poverty. That evening, Ann and Tim Ruegg hosted a wonderful meal to break-the-fast.

In the midst of the fast, I grieved with the Hardy family and Los Altos UMC community at the memorial service of Evelyn Hardy, and mourned the 3-year anniversary of losing my own mother to cancer.

While I walk with the Los Altos UMC as we enter our hope-filled Easter season, I know that many of us (me~) are still at the foot of the cross. But, I know that I am not there alone. I am there in the arms of an amazing God, a God full of grace and abundant love. Yes, I am still at the foot of the cross, but I am there — full to the brim of God’s glorious, beautiful cycle of life — having witnessed and led God’s church of all ages and many gifts in action this most holy weekend. Christ Is Risen, indeed, as I saw Christ’s love manifested everywhere I went this past weekend. What a blessing to be a disciple of Christ here at Los Altos UMC! What thanks I have for these and so many more disciples among us!

Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Melinda T. Dodge