Saturday, April 30, 2011

Matthew 28:16-20

Is graduation good news or bad news? Is graduation the beginning of a new adventure or the ending of a dream? This year Martha and I get to celebrate Luke’s graduation from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. For us it’s all celebration. But for Luke and Kelly, it means moving out of seminary housing and finding a new place to live. It means a changing routine and the loss of old friends and finding new ones. The same is true for college and high school graduates.
Graduation is a transition, and transitions can be tough. Good things we are used to come to an end, and new things, patterns, people and responsibilities we don’t know about loom ahead of us. When we think about transitions, all of us are included, not just graduates. We all have faced and are facing transitions and changes. Some of those transitions are voluntary and others are imposed.
The disciples of Jesus faced one of the biggest transitions a human being could ever face: death to resurrection. What does that mean? How are relationships changed? What’s next? Read Matthew 28:16-20 and discover a great word for transitions.

1. One 10:00 a.m. service begins Sunday, May 1. This will be a fun Sunday as we receive seven new friends into membership, hear a great witness for Christ and celebrate Holy Communion together.

2. “Women of Faith” is a women’s conference MCC women are attending Sept. 9-10 in Anaheim. See information and sign up at the table on the patio Sunday or contact Sandi Prather at church or visit

3. Parents’ Night Out is Friday May 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m. RSVP to Ashley Miller by Wed., May 4.

4. Budget Update as of April 28, 2011

a. Income Needed YTD $231,923

b. Income Received (%YTD needed) $177,226 (76.4%)

c. Expenses YTD (deficit) $198,026 ($20,800)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 2011

What do you see during Easter? Bunnies and candies cluttering shelves and aisles? Guest lists and menus for a grand meal? Family and friends coming together to worship and celebrate? A sanctuary decked out with flowers and great music?

I have seen three distinct sanctuaries for the past four days. On Thursday I saw a kneeling rail, foot washing basins, and communion supplies. I saw Jesus’ love for his disciples in the washing of their feet

I have seen the gory image of a shrouded cross, a stripped sanctuary and seven stark candles. I have reluctantly seen the cost of my sin and the price Jesus paid to restore me.

I have seen (and smelled) the wonderful lilies and other bright flowers that will fill the sanctuary. The colors will change from black to gold! And hopefully I will see you worshiping with us in a full sanctuary with family and friends.

What we see powerfully affects what we feel, do, and believe. The text for Easter Sunday is one of my favorites: Matthew 18:1-10. As you get ready for worship, read this familiar text over several times, lingering on all the words for “seeing”. What do you see?

He is Risen!


1. The Easter Egg Hunt (for kids under 13) will begin Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

2. Please bring your prepared finger foods to the Satellite kitchen Sunday morning.

3. Bring your plastic, filled Easter eggs to church prior to the first service (9:15 a.m.)

4. Visit the Welcome Table on the patio and see how we are welcoming guests!

5. In addition to the purchased lilies, all the sanctuary flowers were donated from the gardens of Trace Robinson, Annette Simmons, and Sandi Prather. Thank you for the gifts of beauty!!

6. Next Sunday we begin one service at 10: 00 a.m. as we begin our summer schedule.

7. The 2011 Church Directory and Handbook is available Sunday in the Narthex.

8. Budget Update as of April 20, 2011

a. Income Need YTD $219,038

b. Income Receive YTD (% needed) $165,584 (75.6%)

c. Expenses YTD (deficit) $196,076 ($30,492)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Tenebrae

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is a service devoted to the table, the last supper Jesus had with his disciples. On this Maundy Thursday we will gather in the sanctuary for singing, prayer, reading the story and coming forward for communion at the kneeler. The kneeling benches are not MCC's normal mode of receiving communion. Kneeling is the ancient posture of humility, subservience, prayer, and receptivity. In our self-run, self-controlled world, this night is not about us being in charge, but Jesus.
On either side of the sanctuary there will be stations set up for foot washing (one for women and one for men). For those wishing to experience something akin to what the disciples experienced, you may have you feet washed either before or after coming forward for communion.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting Ready for Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011

In the church in which I grew up, First Covenant Church of St. Paul, Minnesota, Palm Sunday was a big deal. It was a Sunday I remembered more than any other Sunday in the year. Why? Because the children’s choir had to sing and process down the long sanctuary in red robes in front of the adult choir.

Choir in St. Paul was compulsory. Every Wednesday evening, at least forty (my memory about numbers is not that great, but it was a room full) elementary students learned to sing notes and read music. It was not optional that I knew of. Our teacher, the choir director’s wife and organist, Mrs. Opel, thoroughly taught us the basics of music. And the only time I remember the choir performing before the congregation was Palm Sunday.

This coming Sunday (Palm Sunday) the children of MCC will be participating in worship, even processing. But it will not be as a red-robed choir, but something much more surprising and full of energy. If you have elementary-aged children and wish them to participate, come a bit early and look for Ashley Miller or Lisa Holmlund for directions.

Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week around the world. Palm Sunday traditionally marks the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last time. Then, on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m., we will offer a Maundy (from the Latin word mandatum: commandment) Thursday Communion service in the sanctuary with the opportunity to witness and experience foot washing. This will be a service for the whole family to attend.

On Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. there will be a Tenebrae service (again from the Latin word for darkness) that will recount the crucifixion of Jesus by reading the account from Matthew, singing hymns and lowering the lights into darkness. This is a service that visually reminds us of Jesus’ death.

All three of these services: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday will prepare us for the centerpiece of the Christian faith: Easter Sunday. On Easter we will celebrate the great news of Jesus’ resurrection and the hope he brings to all humanity. We will offer two worship services at 9:15 & 10:45, with the traditional Easter Egg Hunt at 10:30 a.m.

As you prepare for Sunday, what are your Palm Sunday and Holy Week memories and traditions? Are they good or painful? Do they bring you closer to Jesus or distract you from him? Are you open this year to allow God to meet you in these traditions and surprise you? I can’t wait to preach this coming Sunday’s Palm Sunday sermon. Why? I got totally surprised by the text this week that I have preached for many, many years. Something jumped out from the text to me that I never saw before and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Grace and Peace,


1. There will be a congregational meeting immediately following the second service for the purpose of voting on the reception of new members.

2. Jr. High Habit will meet Sunday at 12:00 p.m.

3. Confirmation on Wednesday evening is cancelled during Holy Week.

4. An Easter Brunch for college students is being hosted by Lisa Holmlund on Easter Sunday. RSVP with Lisa at or speak with her on the patio Sunday.

5. One worship service at 10:00 a.m. will begin on May 1, the Sunday following Easter.

6. The June 26, Condor Express boat trip has 30 people registering interest. The required number is 140 at $50 per/person. Easter Sunday is your last opportunity before we decide to reserve or cancel.

7. Budget Update as of April 13

a. Income Needed YTD: $206,154

b. Income Received (%YTD needed) $157,026 (76.2%)

c. Expenses YTD (deficit) $195,006 ($37,908)

8. You can also read this email and see the altar-piece by going to our church web site ( and clicking on the orange logo on the lower right side of the screen

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Getting Ready to Worship, April 10, 2011

When I’m preaching, I have a pretty good idea how to help you prepare for worship. I have a sense of where the sermon is going. But today is different. On Sunday Dr. Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary will be preaching from Hebrews 4:12-16 with the title “The Longest Journey.” That alone is intriguing! Read the text and look for the journey. I can only guess where he’s going to go with it.

Why is Dr. Mouw at MCC Sunday? Because I have the highest regard for him as a leading voice in the church today and because our own Mary Given works with him at Fuller and agreed to find a time (last Fall) when he could come and speak.

I first heard Dr. Mouw on a cold Saturday morning in St. Paul, MN in 2003 or 2004. 9/11 created a polarizing situation in the Twin Cities where there is a very large Muslim community. We feared each other. Dr. Mouw was invited to speak on a National Public Radio show called “Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett. It was the show’s first broadcast and I was in the audience. The driving question for the day was “How do we talk with each other when we so disagree?” Dr. Mouw’s response held me on the edge of my seat with both its simplicity and profundity.

That’s also why the four churches of Montecito (M-4) invited him to speak to all of us Sunday night after a 6:00 p.m. shared soup supper. He will begin speaking around 7:00 p.m. in the sanctuary on “Convicted Civility: how to speak the truth in love.” This is a Sunday, both morning and evening, where you should consider inviting a friend (of faith, no faith, or anti-faith).

Grace and Peace,


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Friday, April 01, 2011

Getting Ready for Worship, April 3, 2011

I was watching TV the other evening when a new commercial popped up for a web site called “” for identity verification. It was kind of unnerving as three people gave testimony to how helpful it was before meeting their first date, checking on an employee, or doing background search on professionals they were thinking about using. The whole commercial was driven by fear, suspicion and doubt; doubt that people are who they say they are.

Reputations are both important and fragile. A good reputation takes a long time to build and a moment to lose. In the text for Sunday, Jesus asks his disciples about his reputation: Who do people say that I am? (Matthew 16:13). Then Jesus pushed the question deeper when he asked the disciples “Who do you say I am?”

As you prepare for worship this Sunday, ask that question of yourself: who do I say Jesus is? What are the first words that come to my mind when I think about Jesus? How do I describe who Jesus is to others?



1. Sunday is sign-up day for Santa Barbara Clean-up on Saturday April 9.

2. A Parenteen Seminar will be held next Saturday (April 9) at Community Covenant Church from 9 a.m. till noon. Register at for discounted pre-registration ($10).

3. Dr. Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, will be preaching at MCC on Sunday, April 10 at both services and again in the evening at a special M-4 Soup Supper. Please R.S.V.P Sunday or call the church office.

4. Whale-watching anyone? MCC is thinking about chartering the Condor Express on Sunday, June 26 from 1-5 p.m. as a fun event. We need at least 140 people willing to pay $50 per/person. Email Don to indicate your participation or use the connection card in the sanctuary.

5. Budget Update as of March 30, 2011

a. Income Needed YTD: $180,385

b. Income Received (% of YTD needed):Link $136,186 (72.7%)

c. Expenses YTD (deficit): $151,610 ($20,424)

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