This Sunday, March 9 – First Sunday of Lent
Message from Rev. B. J. Beu – “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”
Scripture Readings: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11
Temptation is a problem in human life. Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation whereas Jesus did not. To avoid robbing this Sunday of its theological depth, we must take seriously scripture’s claim that Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness: Feeding people is good. Demonstrating God’s power to rescue us is good. Having Jesus rule the world with righteousness would be good. What Jesus would have had to sacrifice for these good outcomes is what made those temptations wrong. The temptation to choose a lesser good because it is easier than pursuing a great good is something we all can relate to. See you Sunday.
Next Sunday, March 16
A crucial aspect of the Lenten journey is the invitation to make a choice. First, we must choose whether or not to even participate in this journey. Last we, we talked about the choices we make when temptation knocks on the door. This week we are presented with the choice between blessing and curse. Before he became Abraham, Abram makes the choice look easy, as he answers God’s call—a call to become a great people through whom all the peoples of the earth will be blest. The psalmist reminds us that we often look for blessings in the wrong places. Even when God’s own Son shows us the way to salvation, like Nicodemus before us, we have trouble choosing to accept the blessing offered. What choice will we make? See you Sunday.
Missed a Sunday? Check out our sermons at www.soundcloud.com/ncclaguna
Message from Rev. B. J. Beu – “Called to Be God’s Blessings”
Scripture Readings: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11
God calls us to walk in ways that lead to life and abundance. In his final address, Moses urges the Hebrew people to choose life while the psalmist praises those who walk in God’s ways. So many people chafe at the idea of blindly following another’s guidelines and rules. I find myself in this camp. Moreover, one reading of Sunday’s scriptures seems to suggest that if we don’t do as God commands, God is going to get us. This reading leads to the idea that God’s love is conditional—namely, it is predicated on our obedience to God’s statutes and laws. I don’t think this is what’s going on in these passages. I think these passages are descriptive in nature, not prescriptive. By that I mean that God says if you do x, y, and z, you will prosper but if you don’t, you won’t—not because God will make sure you don’t prosper, your actions will. Warning a student that if she doesn’t study, she’ll fail is simply stating what will happen if she doesn’t know the material. God warns us that if we forsake God’s ways, we’ll perish—not because God will cause us to perish, our own actions will do that for us. If you’re like me, you don’t need God’s help to mess things up. God asks us to choose life because God wants us to truly live. See you Sunday.
Healing Touch Sunday ~ All are invited for anointing & healing prayers!
Message: ”Choose Life” by Rev. B. J. Beu based on
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8
Neighborhood Congregational Church is an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ. Holding in high value both inclusion and openness, Neighborhood Church welcomes all people to any and all events! Neighborhood Church is located at 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach. Free parking is available for all church events at the corner of Cleo and Glenneyre, across from Ralph’s. Please call 949-494-8061 or visit the church website at www.ncclaguna.org for more information.
Each spring on Easter Sunday, Neighborhood Church hosts a 6:30 a.m. community sunrise service at Alta Laguna Park suffused with Native American spirituality, including flute and drumming to the four directions, whose intersection forms a cross. As the sun rises over the surrounding hills spilling light onto the Pacific Ocean, Neighborhood Church invites hikers, families, and seekers of God to celebrate the gift of new life and a new day.
Neighborhood Church’s festive Easter service at 10:00 a.m. will be in the church sanctuary. Poet John Gardiner, Musician James Grey and Pastor B. J. Beu guided us to embrace the grief of Jesus’ death, to bring our doubts and our fears, and then experience the power of the resurrection. Come and feel the power of this message of hope in the midst of despair. Come and sing your praise. Come and find the joy of being called by the living God.
Reflect and rejoice as dancers and handbells call us to new life as we celebrate the joy of resurrection hope. Handbell music directed by Jennifer Baker, choral music led by Pam Wicks, and familiar Easter songs for all will enliven the festivities. Following worship, refreshments will be served across the courtyard in Bridge Hall and children are invited to join in the annual Easter Egg hunt on the Montessori playground.
The Passion of Jesus in Drama and Story
Featuring John Gardiner, B. J. Beu & Mary Scifres
This past spring, as Holy Week began, we remembered the final week of Jesus’ life. After the initial joy of Jesus coming into Jerusalem like a king on Palm Sunday, the mood shifts dramatically and everything starts to unravel. Shortly after singing Jesus’ praises as he rode a colt into the holy city, the crowds and even his disciples betrayed and denied him. Fickleness of heart and betrayal emerge at every turn. To avoid moving from the joy of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter without moving through the anguish of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, today’s service focuses on the all too human trait of falling away when we should be following faithfully. Come and celebrate as the youth wave palm branches at the beginning of the service. Come and face the powerful emotions as we explore the depths of Jesus’ passion during this holy time. In lieu of a sermon, local poet John Gardiner and NCC’s own Rev. B. J. Beu offered three dramatic dialogues between the disciples Judas and John.
We were inspired in January with a message from Rev. Carlos Correa ~ “Shining God’s Light” ~ based on Psalm 27:1
Thank you Carlos, for your inspiring words!
Carlos reminds us: ”It is not always easy to shine a light inward to see the truth of our lives, so too it is not always easy to face the truth of the brokenness of our world. Unfortunately, the concept of a “broken world” is as applicable to the world we live in today, as it was in any time before during human history, not just in a metaphoric sense but in a literal sense. We live in a world in which millions of our fellow human beings are bound up in slavery, oppressed without freedom, from far-off impoverished countries to right here in California.” In his short reflection Dr. Correa Bernier focused on one the aspect of one of the greatest moral imperative of our time: to loosen all the bonds that bind fellow human beings unfairly, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke as he speaks on the issue of sexual trafficking as an industry that thrives in the shadows, oppressing millions of women and men and children. Dr. Correa’s challenge to the audience is simple but forceful: We must allow God to be our light if we want God to also be our help.
Dr. Carlos J. Correa Bernier – Bio
Correa Bernier is currently the Director of Centro Romero, a border ministry of Justice and Witness Ministries and the Southern California-Nevada Conference, of the United Church of Christ. A key organizer of a significant number of environmental initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the author of many published academic articles and chapters. Correa is the former United Church of Christ Minister for Environmental Justice; Fellow of the International Water Advocates Association; a Member of the Board of Directors of the Amazon Defense Fund and a founding member of Red Vida Brazil, an environmental network dedicated to the defense of the natural resources in Amazonia and the rights of the Brazilian indigenous people.
Correa current research and studies are in the area human violent behaviors: An Analysis of the genealogy of violence: A theological perspective. In his research, Correa draws on the thought of Rene Girard, Bellinger and others in search of a theological understanding of the roots of violence.
He is also de voice of Conversemos radio, a spot transmitted in 165 radio stations in Latin America and the Caribbean dedicated to promote family relational health through education.
Correa Bernier obtained a Master of Divinity, a Doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology with specialization in violent behaviors (family violence and sexual abuse) and is currently working toward a Ph.D. degree in theological studies at Oxford University, U.K.