SF Night Ministry

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Reverend Lyle – Night Minister

On Friday, March 4th, some of us joined SF Night Ministry to walk the streets of San Francisco and offer a presence of listening and prayer for those in need. Here are some thoughts on the experience from Becca Rhodes:

(1) What was it like?

Before we walked with two night chaplains named Lyle and Tom, we spent about an hour talking through the experience of  homelessness in San Francisco.  Lyle described many of the social services offered to these folks by organizations and churches, and described that the role of the Night Ministry is to provide spiritual presence on the streets not only to people who are unhoused, but also to people who are out on the streets and to the many bartenders and restaurant owners that they have come to know over the years.

(2) Did you feel safe?

I felt incredibly safe!  Lyle and Tom, the chaplains, are so well known by folks on the street.  They are two middle-aged, 6 foot men who have a gentle presence, but because of the goodness of their spirits and reputation, no one is going to mess with them.  Walking with Rev. Dawn, Lyle and Tom was fun because they were all wearing their “priest” collars- which got quite a lot of attention from locals who were out on the streets with their friends just talking and drinking on a regular Friday night.  In general, clergy are respected in SF so it was quite safe!

(3) What surprised you?

I was surprised to realize how many preset patterns of interaction I have with people who are experiencing homelessness.  You might call them biases.  First, there is my gender which is oftentimes a disadvantage, while other times can be a blessing.  Second, the Night Ministry does not provide handouts (i.e. money, meals, clothing, bedding, etc.), so I was surprised that when we were approached for a few dollars, my best response was, “I’m sorry I don’t have that.”  Truth is, I do have the money.  But that was not what we were on the streets to do- we were on the streets to provide a spiritual & human presence.  My bias is to apologize and turn people away, but what I learned is that I should have responded, “Hey, I can’t offer you money, but I can offer you conversation if you would enjoy that!  What’s your name?”  And start a real conversation acknowledging the person’s humanity rather than just turning them away.

(4) When did you feel Christ’s presence?

I felt Christ’s presence when a woman came up to Lyle and told him news that she would be in the hospital in July for cancer treatments.  The woman asked for prayers.

(5) What did you enjoy?
Homelessness seems like such a massive issue sometimes (and it is- Lyle said that a good estimate for people who don’t have their names on leases in the Bay Area is 30,000).   I enjoyed realizing that I might not be able to change a person’s circumstances very much, but I do feel much more comfortable having a conversation with a person who is marginalized by their housing circumstance!

(6) What else do you want to share?

Just last night, my boyfriend and I were eating Smitten ice cream in Patricia’s Green.  A man approached us and asked us if we would consider sparing a dollar on the condition that he was able to tell us a joke which made us laugh.  We said, “Absolutely!”  The man asked us if we would prefer a lawyer, politician or pirate joke.  We picked the pirate joke.  Then the man tells us a beautifully crafted, long linguistic joke about pirates (and it involved lawyers and politicians, too).  I could tell he had worked and carefully crafted this joke and practiced delivering it many times.  I laughed twice and was more than happy to give him the dollars in my wallet.  After I upheld my end of the deal, I told him, “I really appreciated your joke- I can tell you put a lot of thought into it.  I’m so happy we met you and I’m going to give you a couple extra dollars for using the word ‘guttural'” (I’m a language nerd).  He then told us about his linguistic passions and about a New Yorker article which inspired his joke.  Before he left, I asked him his name and thanked him by name.  He also was so grateful that he gave us a couple things he had found (treasures he was carrying in his coat pocket).  I don’t think I would have been able to have such a real conversation with this man had I not gone on the Night Ministry walk with Dawn.  Walking with Lyle, Tom and Dawn really helped me realize my patterns and biases and let go of some of the stereotypes I have for interactions with people who are asking for money.

Women’s Retreat

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 This past weekend the women of our church retreated away to Westminster Woods.

We gathered with other Presbyterian women from all over the bay area and explored the theme of hospitality. We studied the story of scripture and saw that God has given us the ultimate hospitality by creating the “home” of the world in which we live. Throughout history as God’s people we have experienced both being at home and being without a home. In both,  God’s instructions have been for us to integrate (Jeremiah 29). To make a home, a garden, a family wherever we are and to show Christ’s love in hospitality to others. We explored what is joyful and challenging about being a host and being a guest.

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We also enjoyed rest and restoration. We slept over 8 hours each night and took naps as needed. On Saturday afternoon, we did some free fall zip lining, bollywood dancing, yoga and a short trip to the town of Occidental.

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The food was delicious and the accommodations were warm and cozy. Best of all, we enjoyed each other’s company and worship with others in the woods. Women of the church, we hope you’ll join us next year. And EVERYONE, mark your calendars to retreat with us as a church in May (13-15, 2016) to Big Basin.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In light of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday today, we continue conversations on the reality of racial injustice and our dream for equality for all of God’s people.

During Doubts and Stouts the last two months, we have been discussing Nathan Rutstein’s book Healing Racism in America: A Prescription for the Disease. Rutstein claims that racial injustice is a disease that all of us suffer from and that healing starts with each of us acknowledging our part in the problem.

Hear from a few of our members:

“[The] conversation surrounding the topic of racial injustice and faith was invigorating. The topics were difficult to deconstruct and had many conceptual layers. However, it was a challenge that was worth fully embracing. The most powerful part of the conversation was how socially aware we were in how our faith is intertwined with racism that occurs all around us. Not one person assumed to know the answer, not one person claimed to not be part of systemic racial injustice in our nation, but everyone was willing to accept that their notions of racism could be altered at any moment.”  – Julio

“The looming question for us was how can we as Christians be a part of the healing? Conversations are important and good for us to draw near to our neighbor, gain understanding and insight into our own behaviors and actions, but conversations will not solve the problem in and of themselves. There needs to be change in behavior. Change in action. Change in systems as well as in our hearts.” – Dawn

“We know from scripture: ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.'” (Galatians 3:28) The gospel is beyond the barriers of racism.

“The multiple perspectives in our conversation led to people reflecting in their own actions and beliefs about racism more deeply. This seemed to lead people to embrace the discomfort that comes with such heavy ideas and using that discomfort to grow closer to God. Specifically, the discomfort helped us try to find genuine solutions that can provide God’s work in our local communities. We could not simply accept that because we are part of a church that we were doing enough to counter racial injustice. In fact, we were aware that some aspects of Christianity have played a part in perpetuating racial injustice. Therefore, this humility and unassuming demeanor of our group really paved the way for constructive conversations about our own community. We left the conversation with more questions than answers, but that only helps us seek more justice with the presence of God and scripture in mind.” – Julio

 

Justice is an important part of the gospel. Join us in our conversation and in our prayers this day for racial justice in America and in the world.

Our New APP!

 

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Blog Post from Pastor Dawn Hyde

 

Theologian Karl Barth said to read the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Well, these days we do both in one hand, on one device. A smart phone, a tablet, a laptop. One device to connect to the world, to each other, and to the divine.

At our church in San Francisco, our first encounter with Christ is online. Without fail, each visitor who walks into our church found us on Yelp or through Google. One search for “evening worship” or “progressive theology” in San Francisco and there we are: Mission Bay Community Church. Depending on your curiosity level, you might spend a few minutes looking over our Yelp reviews or wandering through our website. Within minutes, you’ve seen our faces, our worship, our camping retreat, our temporary tattoos. You’ve seen us. You’ve experienced us. You see Christ through us.

Mission Bay Community Church Website MBCC

When I left Columbia Theological Seminary to take this call in San Francisco, I knew I was signing up for more education. Faith in San Francisco takes unique shape and so I knew I had much to learn from my congregation. In the last few years, they have taught me the ways of Silicon Valley and stretched me to “catch up with the [tech] times.” In fact, I returned from my sabbatical in September to a few elders who had taken my permission to lead the church seriously and had designed a new church logo, website and app. I smiled, thanked God and thought to myself, “There really is an app for everything.”

Mission Bay Community Church App MBCC

These elders knew of eChurch, a software company that offers apps and a modern donation collection service to churches. You provide the content and they design the app. Our app “Mission Bay Community Church” is available through Google Play and at the Apple Store. It’s free and available to anyone for use. It has a Bible, calendar, church stories, sermon podcasts and social media posts. It gives you a way to financially support the ministry of our church. My favorite feature is a prayer wall. Throughout the week, you can post a prayer and know that this church community is holding you in prayer.

The church app is a hub for our community. It serves the real need for us to connect with scripture, with each other and with the divine 24/7. It also allows anyone, anywhere, who has access to a device and ability to open an app, to jump into our community and commune with Christ. Download it today and start your walk with Christ online with us!

Joseph Forgives

Introduction
This month, we are exploring forgiveness. And today we turn to the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers. Listen now for God’s word for you. ​

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Is Forgiveness Conditional?

Intro:
This month we are taking a look at what the Bible says about forgiveness. Last week we studied the great flood and Noah’s ark – God’s disappointment in the wickedness of humanity, the destruction of creation, and the forgiveness offered from to God Noah in the covenant.

Today we move into the New Testament, specifically to 1st John. It’s a message written to the Johannine early Christian community. The church at this time is struggling with the humanity and divinity of Christ. People are leaving the church because they’re not sure Jesus is necessary for their salvation. So, with that context in mind I invite you to listen now for the word of God for you.

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Noah’s Ark

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Photo Source: http://noahsearch.com
Preacher: Rev. Dawn Hyde

Scripture: Noahs’ Ark

Our scripture reading today comes from various chapters in the book of Genesis. You’ll find the reading in your bulletin or on the screen. Listen now for God’s word for you. ​

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Servant

Introduction

Today we conclude our sermon series on the Prodigal Son. So far, we have explored this parable through the perspective of the father, the elder son, and the younger son. Today, I invite you to hear this story through the perspective of the servant. The servant is only given one line, but is present throughout the story.

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Pakistan Educator Veda Gill 

We welcomed Veda Javaid Gill on Sunday, July 26th. She proclaimed the gospel to us from her unique perspective as Christian in Pakistan. 

Veda is the executive director of the Presbyterian Education Board. She likens her position there as a superintendent here. She is responsible to the board and oversees several schools – elementary through high school. Veda taught us some of our history. Our great great (probably a few more greats…) grandparents in the Presbyterian Church USA sent missionaries to Pakistan to start schools in the 1800s. These schools were taken over by the Government of Pakistan and then returned to the PCUSA in the early 1990s. 

She preached an encouraging word for us about having courage to live into Christ’s call. She preached from God’s call to Abram and Jesus’ call to the disciples, she shared with us several inspiring stories about how she and her community in Pakistan have lived out their faith with courage. 

It takes courage for Pakistani Christians to go to church, unsure if they will return home safely. 
It takes courage for the young girls in her school to speak up in society.
It takes courage for all of us to respond to Christ’s call for us. 


Our brothers and sisters in Pakistan are doing great ministry. Veda brought an inspiring word that connected us to her, to her community and schools in Pakistan and to our united mission in Christ. 

Younger Son

Scripture 

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned ll against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion;  he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned //against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy ll to be called your son.’

22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’  28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’’

31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son ll, you are always with me, ll and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God. 

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