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. 

MBCC Goes Camping!

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We were getting excited in anticipation of the weekend retreat at Big Basin National Park.  It had been a very long time since our last camping trip, and our first with a three year old, so many questions arose: Was the tent going to work?  How far are the bathrooms?  Will we disturb our neighbors with toddler crying in the middle of the night?

Despite our doubts, we packed up our car.  Within an hour and a half, the scenery changed from city to suburban highway, then to windy roads among giant redwood trees.  The setting of the great outdoors was refreshing and set the scene for a weekend of communing with our church family.  On Friday afternoon, people began to set up campsites, and it was exciting to see everyone in a totally different context—under the redwood trees, instead of in a formal church setting.  We got ready to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and while we had to make sure all of our food was secured in bear lockers so we didn’t attract any animals, we did attract a lot of hungry mosquitoes.

We began our Saturday morning with a devotional moment where we reflected on the upcoming day and how “play” fit in with worship.  Each person received a chunk of homemade play dough and we were encouraged to allow our hands to freely shape the dough as we reflected on the words of a devotional prayer and bible passages.

The theme of play continued after the morning meditation and took a more physical form.  About 25 people gathered in a circle and engaged each other in about seven or eight well-planned games.  We learned fun facts about each other, got to run through the clearing to avoid “seaweed,” danced, and sang.  In the afternoon, as some of us took naps, the more intrepid members of the church went on a six mile hike!  We heard that a couple of our campers “accidentally” fell into a stream.  The kids explored and played, climbing trees and rocks.

On Saturday night, we continued getting to know one another while preparing hobo pockets, and eating S’mores!  Our family was not able to camp a second night, so unfortunately we missed the morning church service in the woods.

For our first camping adventure with a small child, we were very glad that we were able to experience it with our church family. Tyler loved running around with the other kids, and it was a hospitable experience for those of us who are not expert campers. The weekend was an opportunity to spend time with our church family in a beautiful setting. The trip enabled us to strengthen connections with those we were familiar with and develop new relationships with people we those who we did not know. Spending time together renews our relationship with the church. We look forward to future MBCC retreats!

-Cathy & Christina


Finding Sanctuary in a New Place

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I realize that a building is just a building. “The Church” is the people – the life coursing through a living room, the streets, the world; but whenever I enter a place of worship, I love to pause for a moment and imagine all of the things it has witnessed. How many prayers of confession, baptisms, and choruses of How Great is Our God have these walls absorbed? How saturated must these cross beams be – radiating holiness and liturgy, hopes and fears, sin and grace, laughter and tears. While a building is just a building, there can be no denying the weight of tradition and the power of sharing space and humanity.

That is what I love about church. No matter if you have been a member of a congregation since before its first days or whether today is the first time you have been within 2000 miles of this place there is something shared, and safe, and stable about being here. Being in a “church” is a way to physically step into historical prayers. To walk around and feel the unique but communal experiences of joy, heartbreak, peace, doubt, faith, and community that so many before me have encountered, here.

I am so grateful we worship a God that can be accessed everywhere from a wifi-filled coffee shop bustling with YPs to the corner of a forgotten street in a desolate ghost town. I am bursting with excitement for progress being made toward equality and love and for communities learning the unforced rhythms of grace that have long been hidden under tradition and ritual.

But I am also not willing to let all of that tradition go. Like a beautiful old sanctuary – dark cedar beams, rich red carpeting, and warm glass windows – I cannot ignore the mysterious way a place like this makes a deep place in my soul come to life. So let’s not do away with these shared words, prayers, and hymns. Instead let’s dust them off, hang a few new banners in the rafters, and learn to see them in a new light.

The Church still has so much work to do in order to reconcile its past sins, and it can often be disheartening to see the ways in which a place that brings me so much joy, and comfort, and peace can be so hurtful to the people I love and care about – the very people Jesus intended the Church to be for. But having the opportunity to hang those banners and listen to the beautiful outpouring of love and trust during worship on my first Sunday at MBCC was so encouraging. No community is perfect. We have all fallen short. However, I am so excited for the opportunity to spend my summer with this group of people, in this city, doing this work.

-Hannah Sikes, summer intern


Pentecost

As four of us sat in a car last Sunday evening, looking for an escape from the harsh, bitter, piercing, San Francisco wind, I couldn’t help but think we had made a huge mistake. Holding worship outside in the park sounded like such a great idea. The sun would be shining, we would have a nice little picnic complete with cake, and we would be present in the community that surrounds us. What could possibly go wrong? While setting up the area, the wind began to pick up and we quickly discovered that everything we brought would need to be weighed down or we would have to chase it. Tables were flipping, balloons flying away, and our chairs decided to try and cross the street. After an incident with a dog that was very interested in the communion elements, we finally asked the question, should we just go back inside?

This week serves as a stark reminder that it is hard to go out. It is hard to leave the comfort of our sanctuaries. It is hard to leave the familiar to go to the unknown. Our original intent for gathering outside, in the community, this week was to emphasize our call to reach beyond our walls. God calls us out into the world to continue the ministry of Jesus. At Pentecost, the disciples were locked in an upper room, hidden, scared, trying to escape the harsh conditions they found themselves in. Jesus, risen from the grave, had been with them again, and left them again. And now they waited…again. The good news is that the story doesn’t end there. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and emboldened to go out. Tongues of fire rest on their head and they go out preaching the good news of Jesus in the languages of everyone gathered. Their previous inhibitions are so absent that observers called them drunk! This is truly an event worth celebrating, but then we have days like Sunday, and we remember the 1st chapter in Acts. We remember that the work God calls us to is hard for so many reasons.

So we ended up back inside. I don’t like calling it the church, because I don’t believe the Church is a building. After all, the passage we read this week doesn’t mention breaking ground on the first sanctuary, and yet Pentecost is known as the birth of the Church. In this case; however, I think I can make an exception. I’ll say we ended up back in the church. I make this exception, because this week the church provided shelter. It provided a place where we could be in fellowship with one another. It provided a place where we could worship God together. It provided a place where we could be comforted. It provided a place where we could hear good news in our lives where there may be none. It provided a place where we could be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what we do as the Church in the world. We ended up back in the Church because WE are the Church. May we find hope and courage knowing that the Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen and comfort us as we go out to be the Church in the world.



– Christopher Smith, Music Leader

Hope Project

In this season of Advent, we are participating in the “Hope Project.” The Hope Project calls us to listen to our neighbors to learn about the community’s hopes and dreams. On Saturday, November 22nd, a few of us walked the streets of the Excelsior neighborhood surrounding the church and in Dolores Park listening to the hopes of those around us. Many people hoped for peace, for safety and security and for happiness. Some needed basic things like a kitchen in their apartment or a job. Others hoped for their health and for the health of their loved ones. 

The greater church community is invited to participate in the Hope Project by asking someone (a coworker, family member, neighbor, stranger on the bus), this one question: “What do you hope for?” Write their hope on an ornament during worship and add it to our tree of hope. Throughout the advent season, we will collect these hopes and include them in our worship and prayer as we hope for Christ’s return. 

Small Group Bible Study

This group gathers for dinner, bible study and prayer on Monday evenings every other week. On this particular evening, we talked about how the magi followed a star to the manger (Matthew 2:1-12). We were amazed that both the leaders in Jerusalem AND foreign wise men knew Jesus was coming. We talked about how the magi used the science of their time (stars) to discover Jesus. We spent time sharing our own stories of how we are on a journey to the manger.   

Often, we talk about our journey following Christ in his adult life and ministry or even in his persecution, death and resurrection. On this evening, we got to consider Christ the baby, the newborn, the child. Jesus in a manger is an inviting image and it is a vulnerable experience. It was a night full of sharing our own stories and learning more about this bible story together. Email us if you want to be included the next time this group meets for dinner and bible study! 

Dialogue Preaching

On Sunday, November 16th, our pastor Dawn Hyde was joined by the Reverend Christin Norman and they preached in dialogue form on Matthew 19:16-26. Christin and Dawn went to seminary together at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. They both graduated in May of 2012 and as God would have it, they both ended up in the bay area pastoring churches! Dawn and Christin decided a few weeks ago that it would be fun to collaborate on preaching and began work on this dialogue sermon. They preached together! On Sunday morning Dawn traveled to Woodland Presbyterian Church (where Christin serves as pastor) and in the evening Christin traveled to us in San Francisco. 

Dialogue preaching reminds us that our faith isn’t a one way conversation between us and God. It’s not even just between us and the preacher and God. We are invited to open up the conversation to various perspectives and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we discern God’s word for us today. 

Check out the sermon online.

Turning Wine into Water

Twenty five people from our church participated in a day of wine tasting sponsored by Vineyards to Villages (http://gpfd.org/vineyards-to-villages/). Vineyards to Villages is a project of Global Partners and their primary goal is to help “turn Sonoma wine into African Water.” Ten family owned wineries have partnered through V2V to sponsor water initiatives in East Kenya. They’ve designated that 50% of the proceeds of a bottle of wine will go straight toward building wells in Kenya. 

Our group from Mission Bay Community Church visited three of these wineries: Viszlay, Christopher Creek and Merriam. We met the owners and learned about both their wines and their philanthropy efforts. Many of us bought wine that will help support the well-builds in Africa. 

Saturday was a day full of laughter, good food and tasty wine. We lived out the meaning of Koinonia, “Christian fellowship,” as we enjoyed one another’s company and came together to support a great cause. 

If you’d like to learn more about Vineyards to Villages, check out their webpage and plan to visit one of their ten wineries on your next trip to Sonoma! Keep an eye out in our announcements for upcoming koinonia events.

MBCC Kids! 

In baptism, we promise to help raise one another in the faith. We promise to teach the ways of Jesus and to care for one another in good times and in bad. Last Saturday, the kids of our church gathered for a day of Bible stories and play. Many of the kids referred to it as a “kids only church party.” Several adults (Colleen, Judy, Christine, Keith and Dawn) came with energy and love to uphold our baptismal promises to share our faith with MBCC kids. 
Together we learned the story of God leading Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea to freedom (Exodus 15) and about how Jesus welcomes the children (Mark 10). Colleen helped us act out the stories and play with the themes of water, escape, freedom and welcome. 
We even got to practice how God split the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross to safety by playing with shaving cream and making a path with our hands. 
As we read, danced, played and colored together, we reminded each other of the love of Jesus Christ. A love that knows no age or ethnicity or play style. A love that welcomes all. 

Jesus reminds us that children often see and experience the Kingdom of God better than we do as adults (Matthew 18:3). My prayer is that as we continue to share our faith with one another, we learn and experience Christ’s kingdom breaking in today! 

Contemplative Prayer Group

Remember the movie Twister, that tornado movie from the 90s? Cheesy or not, it’s one of my favorites, and having grown up in Iowa, tornadoes have always been a part of life. I’ve always found them truly awesome—in the fullest sense of that word—as though this otherworldly finger is coming down from the sky to touch the ground.

I love Twister’s final scene. Unable to escape the tornado, the two lead characters strap themselves to a metal pipe and allow the tornado to pass right over them. The world swirls around them. Wood, metal, doors, tractors, farm animals, and more hurtle through the air. They’re lost in a cyclone of dust, debris, and noise.

That is until they get to the eye of the tornado. There is perfect silence. A blue sky. And peace.

Remaining centered has been a challenge for me. Life can be noisy—with text messages, emails, city noise, and bus rides. Life can be chaotic—through career changes, life transitions, relationships, health, depression. Life can be full of “stuff.” But I’ve found that silence—especially intentional silence—can be a wonderful gift and an opportunity to rediscover that center.

On Tuesday nights, MBCC hosts a Contemplative Prayer Group, and we invite people to sit in the eye of the tornado and find the blue skies while the world swirls around them. For one hour, we engage in various types of spiritual exercises (through prayer, meditation, and scripture) that invite God to spend time with us and invite us to spend time listening to God. Our practice focuses on Centering Prayer, a type of silent prayer that comes from early Christianity and the Catholic tradition. During this time, we spend 20 minutes in silence with the intention of resting in God’s presence and allowing God to work inside us.

It is my experience and my deepest hope that this Centering Prayer time overflows into our every day and allows us to experience peace and communion with God as we walk through life’s beautiful chaos.

~ Sam Lundquist

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