The United Methodist Church is in disarray.

In February, a special session of the General Conference (the legislative branch of the UMC) was convened in St. Louis to determine the role of LGBTQ people in the church. By a narrow margin, over 800 delegates from around the world voted for the so-called “Traditional Plan,” which disallows LGBTQ clergy and includes punitive measures for pastors who conduct same-gender weddings. That vote prompted this pastor to drape black cloth over the “United Methodist Church” portion of our sign, mourning the decision and grieving the continued harm perpetrated by the church on LGBTQ folk. Yet I had remained hopeful. Many of us believed the Judicial Council (kind of the Supreme Court of the UMC) would find the plan unconstitutional. Last Friday, the Judicial Council largely upheld the Traditional Plan, as well as a plan for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. The petitions that were ruled constitutional – including no LGBTQ clergy and no samegender weddings – will go into effect in the U.S. on January 1, 2020. The petition on a “gracious exit” goes into effect immediately. You may review the Judicial Council’s decisions at http://bit.ly/JCR1378 and at http://bit.ly/JCR1379. An explanation of both rulings is at http://bit.ly/UMNSApr26.

Our bishop, Bob Hoshibata, writes:
This news is being received with joy by some and with deep despair by others. Clearly, we remain a deeply divided church about matters related to the inclusion of our LGBTQIA siblings in the church, the community, and the world. We are conflicted about how we hold each other accountable and how we move into the future, perhaps united and together or perhaps divided and apart…. I am also seeing and feeling the excitement and perhaps the inevitability of something new and exciting emerging from the rubble of The United Methodist Church.

We don’t know what the future holds. We are presently in a holding pattern. But rest assured your pastors (along with many others), your bishop (and many others), this annual conference (and many others), as well as the Western Jurisdiction, pledge to resist what we believe to be harmful and discriminatory language and practices. We journey in faith with these supportive words from our bishop:

So as we travel together into an uncertain future, I pray that we will not lose hope or faith in God. We are, you will remember, a people of resurrection faith! We hold fast in our trust that in all things, God will be with us.

So, let’s keep engaging our congregation and our community in mission to touch hearts and souls and transform lives

Let’s share the love of Christ with all people

Let’s love one another even when we disagree

Let’s pray for each other as we discern what our future will be

And in the Wesleyan spirit, let’s do no harm, do good, and last but not least, let us stay in love with God.

~Bishop Robert Hoshibata

I remain convinced that a bolder, more inclusive, grace-filled expression of the faith will emerge — the kind that Dayspring already strives to embody. May we continue to be a church for all people

Pastor Jeff


Dayspring Arcadia

2020 VISION

Dayspring UMC is a church that aspires to live into God’s dream for the world. Through inspiring worship and social justice advocacy and action, we are a healthy church that seeks to fulfill our mission of creating disciples of Jesus Christ who touch and inspire people through an open and diverse community. In 2017, we celebrated 50 years of God’s work in our community and began to wonder what God might have in store for us for the next 50 years.

Dreaming Possibilities

Aldersgate UMC

At a staff meeting in March 2018, Pastor Joel shared a prayer concern that some of our United Methodist Churches were struggling and their future was uncertain. We prayed and asked for God’s direction and wisdom, especially for the pastors of these churches. Last April, staff members began to wonder how Dayspring might possibly adopt and revitalize an existing congregation in Phoenix. Many conversations with church leaders and conference staff ensued, and Dayspring leaders were excited to explore possibilities. Pastor Jeff shared the vision with our district superintendent, Rev. Susan Brims, who mentioned that Rev. Tom Kiracofe would be ending his part-time appointment at Aldersgate UMC in Phoenix and that they would need pastoral support. Pastor Jeff began to wonder if Aldersgate might serve as a satellite for Dayspring’s mission and message. Pastor Tom invited Pastors Jeff and Joel, along with SPRC chair David Barnhouse, to dream possibilities. Pastor Tom shared the story of Aldersgate and its current situation. We learned that the people of Aldersgate are a small but committed group of primarily 70-90 year-olds who desire to leave a legacy and want to be part of a greater vision.

Rev. Brims convened an “Elijah Team” with members from both churches to begin visioning in earnest. Dayspring Covenant Council chair Ed Johnson, along with outgoing lay leader Amy Notbohm and incoming lay leader Regina Walker, as well as David Barnhouse and Pastors Joel and Jeff have been meeting regularly (sometimes weekly) this year with leaders from Aldersgate and Rev. Brims. Like John Wesley’s Aldersgate  experience, our hearts have been strangely warmed and we are excited to share this vision with our congregations.

VISION: Dayspring Arcadia

To create a vibrant United Methodist presence in the Arcadia area by extending Dayspring’s ministry of radical hospitality, inspired worship and justice work to the Aldersgate campus.

LOGISTICS 

Multi-sites vary in pastoral and staffing strategies. We recognize that an existing faith community is present at Aldersgate and celebrate their willingness to welcome a new strategy for vitality. We would embrace this community using their gifts and talents and explore with them what this would be like in this new model of ministry. In this model, Dayspring clergy will be sharing the vision and mission in various ways, and the Dayspring clergy and lay leadership will have complete worship/missional/programming oversight. 

Aldersgate would retain trusteeship and responsibility of the Aldersgate campus and foundation for a transitional period (TBD) with Dayspring representation, and existing Aldersgate members would be welcome to serve on Dayspring’s administrative teams. The annual conference would provide significant financial support to ensure a smooth transition.

In order to be successful in this journey there will need to be a dedicated staff person who has the leadership skills to assist the clergy in “listening” to the Aldersgate community and the Arcadia neighborhood – and to develop a process that will help build relationships within the church and broader community. Moreover, we believe we have identified a person well suited for this role: Amy Notbohm. Amy has served as Dayspring’s lay leader for three years and co-chaired our last capital campaign. Before coming to Dayspring, she was part of the new church start in Chandler called Jacob’s Well. She brings a wealth of understanding and experience to this vision of ministry and will graduate from the Claremont School of Theology in May 2019 with an MDiv. Plus, she’s excited about the prospect!

We hope you will attend a congregational meeting to learn more. We have scheduled two informational meetings to take place on Sunday, March 31 at 11:45am in the fellowship hall and Monday at 6:30pm in the sanctuary. If you are unable to attend either of these meetings, Pastor Joel will be coordinating an additional informational meeting, please contact him at joel@dayspring-umc.org.

Pastors Jeff & Joel


Hope for a People Weary of Violence

“… they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;”
Micah 4:3

My daughter Claire, a high school senior, came home from school on Valentine’s Day deeply troubled. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” “During third period my friends and I realized today was the first anniversary of the Parkland shooting and that we were the same age as the students who were killed.” On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others. It was
the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history.

Claire was in the sixth grade when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred, on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut–the deadliest mass shooting at a grade school.

Claire’s middle and high school years have been framed–and marred–by horrific gun violence. A generation of students going to school in fear. Lockdowns commonplace across the land. Claire reports that the sudden opening of a classroom door (usually a youth returning from the bathroom) can elicit anxiety on the part of student and teacher alike. Especially following a mass shooting.

On March 24th we will observe Gun Violence Awareness Sunday at Dayspring. It is the first anniversary of “March for Our Lives,” the youth-led event that brought together hundreds of thousands of people of all ages at hundreds of sites across the U.S. Over fifty Dayspring members marched, led by a dozen of our youth. “My backpack IS NOT a bullseye,” read the sign Claire made and carried that day. This March 24th, Shane Claiborne will preach at both services and a 2:00pm event featuring Claiborne and Michael Martin, co-authors of Beating Guns: Hope for a People Who Are Weary of Violence. I’m looking for some hope. I know Claire is. How about you?

Pastor Jeff


A Generous Way of Being Christian


What might that look like? I think, for me, it starts with a renewed love of Jesus and a profound appreciation for his way of love. I am energized by New Testament scholarship of the past two decades that peels back layers of tradition, revealing the historical Jesus. Scholars like John Dominic Crossan, Brandon Scott, Amy-Jill Levine, and Marcus Borg help paint a compelling portrait of someone I have decided to follow and dedicate my life to. Some call that ‘discipleship’. Jesus said simply, “Come, follow me!” as he went about encouraging people to live into God’s Kingdom–God’s dream for the world. Discipleship reflects a passion for Jesus and a commitment to his mission. So it’s not simply what we believe, but how that finds expression in our lives. That’s why one of the questions we ask of new members is, “Will you seek to follow Jesus and live according to his teachings?”

“Progressive Christianity” is sometimes used to describe a thoughtful, open, contemporary Christianity. An expression of the faith that embraces critical biblical scholarship and welcomes metaphorical readings of Scripture, allowing for fresh, relevant understandings of the text. One that takes the Bible seriously without taking it literally. This helps us understand how tribalism, slavery, the subjugation of women, and heterosexism are but cultural byproducts from a distant time and place that need to be put to rest once and for all. Along with the Bible, as good Methodists, we are free to believe and practice our faith in ways that honor both tradition and our experience, as well as reason. Far from being frowned upon, critical thinking and questioning is encouraged. As the poet has suggested, “Live the questions.” Sound familiar?

Progressive Christianity honors other paths to the sacred. It recognizes that no faith tradition has a monopoly on God, and that we are not in competition with other religions. That’s why we’re offering a class this month called The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your Muslim Neighbor as Yourself. Another example: Rabbi Dean Shapiro of Temple Emanuel will be preaching at Dayspring on Feb. 17th and will remain for Q&A at 11:45am.

Progressive Christianity isn’t threatened by science or evidence-based discovery. Those images coming back from Hubble, for example, can be awe-inspiring. Science can deepen our appreciation and respect for the ongoing unfolding of Creation. Did you know that United Methodist Churches are encouraged to commemorate Evolution Sunday? It falls on the
Sunday closest to Charles Darwin’s birthday, which is Feb. 10th this year.

Recent studies have shown that alarming numbers of 18-35 year olds have not only left the Church but are passionately disinterested in it! The #1 turnoff: “the Church is anti-gay.” Hopefully you’re aware of the special General Conference of the UMC to be held Feb. 23 –26 to determine whether or not our denomination will be fully inclusive of LGBTQ people. Additional reasons that millennials give for leaving the Church: it is “anti-science”, “anti-women”, “hypocritical”, and “judgmental”. Progressive Christianity attempts to address these and other concerns by offering a positive alternative for being in community and following the way of Christ. Those are some of the ways we at Dayspring attempt to express an open, inclusive, generous Christian faith centered on Jesus and his message of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Jeff


December 25, 2018

Joy to the World!

United Methodist Hymnal – #246

let every heart prepare him room,

and heaven and nature sing!

 

Well – I’ve made it for 24 days without a huge push for music. I guess it’s time. Hans Christian Anderson wrote, “Where words fail, music speaks.” It’s true. I’ve become aware that even in the most profoundly moving scenes in a motion picture or television show, the music underscoring it has more to do with my instinctive reaction than the scene itself. The hymn lyricists and even the authors of the Bible realized the same things. Why else would something as significant as Jesus’s birth be accompanied by singing? In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman speaks of music, “I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a great place dares to dream.  And for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.” Music has the power to transport us to another place and time. Music can help us celebrate, or comfort us when nothing else can. Music is the ultimate gift from God. Why else would angels sing at the birth of Jesus? And it continues today. The carols we sing elevate our celebration of this season far beyond what it might be otherwise. “Joy to the world! The Lord has come!” Today, tomorrow, next year, and all the years after, may music fill your life with hope, joy, peace and love, that you might always hear the angels’ song.   Merry Christmas!

 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those

whom he favors!”

LUKE 2: 14

      

Gracious and loving God, like a choir of angels, we gather to sing praises at the arrival of your Son. We thank you for the gift of love, and the example set by the newborn King. But we also thank you for music, giving us the most beautiful way to praise you for all you have done.  Bless our song, that we might join the angels again in welcoming the Christ Child.  Amen.


December 24, 2018

Silent Night, Holy Night

United Methodist Hymnal – #239

. . . While earth’s peoples, with one voice,

Jesus their brother proclaim!

 

There is so much lore about the origins of this most beloved of all Christmas carols. Rumors of a failing organ in the church at Oberndorf, Austria, may not be true. No wheezing pipes, no mice chewing through the leather trackers. The organ, in fact, was in use for several years after. Rather, the composition of such songs for Midnight Mass was a common practice. What we do know is that the curate, Joseph Mohr, gave the poem to organist, Franz Gruber, who set it to music. It was performed for the first time, accompanied by guitar, at Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve 1818, exactly 200 years ago. My selection of a lyric actually is translated from the original German. The original lyric concerns itself far more with salvation, and God’s incarnation as human, than does the “sleep in heavenly peace” version we are familiar with. But it might also be noted, that the original piece was much more of a folk song than a lullaby. Still, something about the lilting melody has maintained its popularity for 200 years. Today, we to envision the Virgin Mary, supported by Joseph, rocking her infant son to sleep, surrounded by a magical glow, with heavenly beams shining into the stable, illuminating the tiny king’s face. It’s our story, our history. The birth we have celebrated and re-imagined for nearly two thousand years. In the stillness of that holy night, the world changed for all time. Love was born that night, and that is what we should be celebrating.

 

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger;

because there was no room for them in the inn.

LUKE 2: 7

      

God of peace, on this holiest of nights, we pray that you would again come into our lives like you did so many years ago. Make yourself known in the faces of our loved ones, and all those we encounter. May the love born that night soften our hearts, as we put others before ourselves. And finally, help us to discern your will, that we might bring about your kingdom here and now.  Amen.


December 23, 2018

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

United Methodist Hymnal – #221

. . . but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,

worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

 

At this point, we have examined nearly every aspect of the Advent/Christmas season. On the four Sundays of Advent we have lit (or will light) candles representing hope, joy, peace, and love. Those, by the way, should be year round practices, not just things we think about during Advent. So much of the story is bigger than life; Angels, Wise Men, Shepherds. But amidst all the celebration, we often look right past the more intimate side of the story. A baby was born. Mary had been visited by an angel and told that she was chosen to birth God’s Son. She very well could have dealt with morning sickness, decreased energy, swollen ankles, odd cravings, and all the other things that can accompany pregnancy. And then there’s the pain involved with giving birth (that you forget? Really?) And giving birth in a stable? Today that would be akin to giving birth in a taxi. And the only person to help is the hapless father? Well, I might paint a negative picture, but I think it’s important to keep this miracle at a human level. That was the point, wasn’t it? God incarnate, Emmanuel. So what could be more human than a mother and child. And amidst all the activity, a mother gently kisses her baby. It’s really a call to rethink our own celebrations. Big parties and special events can be fun, but as Christmas Day approaches, let’s focus on the more intimate side. Hold tight to those you love. Celebrate your relationships and treasure your loved ones.

 

And all that heard it wondered at those things

told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart.

LUKE 2:18-19

      

Loving God, return our hearts to Bethlehem. Let us experience again the young mother and her infant son. We hush, in awe at the humble surroundings, cradling a King. Let us remember, Lord, our loved ones. May we embrace each other as a mother cradles her baby. Fill our hearts with love and appreciation that no one might feel unloved or taken for granted.  Amen.


December 22, 2018

Angels We Have Heard on High

United Methodist Hymnal – #238

What the gladsome tidings be

which inspire your heavenly song.

 

“Tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Those familiar words from the Nativity story as told by St. Luke, are committed to so many of our hearts, that we could recite it in total, much like the Lord’s Prayer, or the 23rd Psalm. A host of angels appears above the Galilean countryside, resplendent, announcing the birth of Jesus. (I have a recording of a Welsh carol, sung by a Welsh women’s choir, that I’ve decided must be what the angels sounded like.) We’re told the shepherds were “sore afraid”, but I wonder if today we would even notice. Our world has become so inundated with noise/music that we are pretty much oblivious. Everywhere from McDonalds to Costco to the gas station blares out the latest tunes. There’s even a science that determines what kind of music can actually make people more apt to spend money, or eat faster. In a Washington D.C. subway station, renowned violinist Joshua Bell, posing as a busker, played his violin for a couple hours at rush hour. Actually playing the repertoire he had played in concert the night before (with tickets costing several hundred dollars each), and yet no one stopped to listen. In fact only a couple people, one of them a child, bothered to drop a coin into his open case. We have become immune to beauty. In this amazing world, how much do we miss every day? We should make a resolution, right now, to heighten our senses and fully experience the amazing beauty all around us!

 

And God saw everything that he had made,

and, behold, it was very good.

GENESIS 1: 31

 

Creator God, we marvel at your world, the beauty of your creation. But so often, God, our schedules and commitments blind us to our surroundings. During this season, make us more aware, more open to the magnificence around us. Help us recognize your hand in the art we see, the music we hear, and the world we experience. Fill our hearts with the desire for beauty.  Amen.


December 21, 2018

Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

United Methodist Hymnal – #223

Break forth , O beauteous heavenly light,

and usher in the morning;

 

December 21, the shortest day of the year. Often referred to as “The Longest Night”, it is not unusual to find many churches, Dayspring included, offering services of varying types. We have held Healing Services, Taizé Services, musical Evensong Services, even Blue Christmas Services for those for whom the holidays are not a time of joy. In fact, the date for Christmas was probably originally chosen for its proximity to the winter solstice. The poet  beautifully describes the breaking of the dawn, ushering in the morning. But I’m thinking that today, December 21st, the shortest day/longest night, should be a day/night when we consider that time before the dawn breaks, the hours that can be the longest, darkest, and loneliest. Personal loss, financial stresses, loneliness, all work to create a barrier to what we might know as Christmas Spirit. Everyone should experience to the joys of the season. So . . . what can we, the lucky ones, do for those who might be suffering at this time of year? Lending a hand, or a shoulder could be a start. Opening your home to someone who has experienced loss. Secret Santa, Angel Trees, and Family Promise are all ways we can help. Still . . . one of the easiest, and most meaningful things we can do is just be present with someone else. Listen, Help with a task. Maybe provide a meal. Be someone else’s beauteous light, and usher in their morning. After all . . . joy comes in the morning!

 

…just as you did it to one of the least of these

who are members of my family,

you did it to me.

MATTHEW 25: 40

      

Comforting God, we acknowledge that this time of year can be challenging. So many people are dealing with loss, stress, despair, and hopelessness. We thank you for your ever-present love that surrounds us today and always. Guide our steps, Lord, that we might find ways to help, to befriend, to comfort and to support our brothers and sisters in their distress.  Amen.


December 20, 2018

Away in a Manger

United Methodist Hymnal – #217

. . . I ask you to stay close by me forever,

and love me, I pray;

Good byes can be difficult. Of course, there’s always a house guest that has overstayed their welcome, but for the most part, it’s hard to say “good bye”. Could it be that it’s about maintaining the status quo? We get comfortable with things the way they are. Certainly our modern lives, and our tendency to keep way too many balls in the air, contribute to the feeling of personal chaos. Remember the guy that would spin all those plates on really long sticks. As he got more and more of them going, he would have to go back to keep the first ones spinning (young people – this was “entertainment” back in the day.) So we pray for the baby Jesus to stay close. Maybe its about acceptance . . . being loved and cared for. Those among us with big families have it easy. Even when conflicts arise, you still know that someone “has your back”. I recently attended a memorial service for a woman, 95 years old with 138 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A blessing for sure. But for others like me, with a small – extremely small – family, we need to look elsewhere, developing our own families, if you will, from our friends and colleagues. I am so very grateful for my Dayspring family, and my choir families. They have been there to support and care for me and my loved ones. But that is what church should be all about. Those who are searching for a loving community should be able to find it at 1365 E. Elliot Road. Don’t you agree?

 

I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

For the sake of my friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”

PSALM 122: 1, 8

      

God of love, we talk of open heart, open minds, and open doors. But do we really live it? We pray that you would imbue us with your radical hospitality. Help us to open our hearts, minds, and then our doors. To all those feeling unloved or disenfranchised, may we be a beacon of love and hope, embracing all who come to us for community, belonging and grace.  Amen.