Easter

Easter has been the most significant event in the Christian calendar for nearly 2000 years.

The holiday comes with lots of fun activities and traditions, including stories of Easter egg hunts, bunnies and chocolate eggs. However, the central Christian message of Easter is that Jesus Christ rose victorious from the dead. The event of Jesus’ resurrection is so central to the confessions of the early Church that even today, 2000 years later, most Christians continue to worship on Sunday, the weekly anniversary of that resurrection.

The background of Easter is a story of great expectation, intrigue and treachery.   Jesus of Nazareth became known throughout Roman occupied Palestine for his compassion, authentic preaching and miracles, as well as his prophetic challenge to the leaders of his people. By his life and testimony he was recognized by many as the Messiah, the Jewish term for a divinely appointed king. But he was tragically betrayed by one of his own disciples, falsely accused, tried, and then handed over to the civil authorities as a criminal. On a gloomy Friday he was executed by a method the Romans used to crush insurrections, crucifixion. As a result most of his disciples fled in fear.

However, three days later, by Jewish reckoning, Jesus rose from the dead. Some of his followers found his tomb empty. Soon others reported various encounters, seeing him, conversing with him and even eating with him. Just as important they discovered even in his physical absence a new capacity and fervor share the good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus had spoken of.

His disciples spread the news of his life, death and resurrection through the network of Jewish synagogues, but many refused to accept the claims. The Jesus movement soon spread west into Greek and Latin speaking communities, as well as toward the east, south and north. As Christianity spread it took on the diverse flavors the cultures where it was planted, but held together by a common witness to the resurrection, as expressed in the faithful witness:

“Christ is risen.

          He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”

At Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church we seek to continue this witness through word and action, not only on Easter Sunday, but throughout the year. Come join us at 9:30 on Sunday morning, our weekly anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus.

Lent, Fasting, and the Longer Days

2017 March E-Thymes

“Lent, Fasting, and the Longer Days”

by Rev. George Martzen

Ready for warmer weather?

Spring begins this year on March 20 with the vernal equinox.  That’s the magic day that happens twice a year when the sun passes over the equator, making it spring in one hemisphere and autumn in the other.  Here in North America we are slowly moving away from the long nights of mid-December back to the warmer sunny days of spring, while southern hemisphere countries like Australia are slipping into fall weather.

Overlapping the natural season of spring is the church season of Lent, a 40 day period which begins before the equinox but concludes well into spring with the holy day of Easter.

We rightly associate Lent with spiritual disciplines like fasting, prayer, acts of charity and penance.  Historically that was especially expected of baptismal candidates and those who may have slipped away from the faith, in order to be received into the fellowship on Easter morning.  Various European traditions developed over the centuries that prohibited the eating especially of fatty things like meat, eggs and milk during Lent.  That led to other interesting traditions to help people supposedly get rid of the excess food in their household before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten fast.

The English tradition of Shrove Tuesday is a pancake dinner the night before Ash Wednesday to consume the remaining eggs, milk and other “rich foods” in the household before the austerity of Lent.   Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and Carnival (from carne – meat) and similar variations are celebrated in many countries from France and Italy to South America and New Orleans. They may involve more excesses than just eating up the remaining eggs and fat.  So we tend to picture the Lenten season in terms of a contrast between shameless excesses and austere self-denial.  While protestant Christians, including Methodists, have been less inclined to follow these traditions, we still may consider fasting from chocolate, sweets, alcohol, fast food or certain social networks.  Even so, it’s not very easy to fast if your friends and family members are not fasting.

I suggest a slightly different approach, based on the meaning of the word “Lenten.”  The word probably derives from an older Germanic word that simply means “lengthen.” Lent is essentially about the lengthening of the days as we approach spring. With new seedlings sprouting, dormant trees awakening and bright flowers blooming, our senses are also reviving after the winter darkness.  So we should fast from foods or activities that hinder our wellbeing, so we can put more of ourselves into that which helps us to flourish.   As the days lengthen consider fasts that promote spiritual, physical and social health.  That may include reducing prepared foods in order to feast on fresh vegetables from the garden, or limiting TV or social networking to give more time for conversation or letter writing.

Isaiah 58 also talks about fasting as socially redemptive. “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”  So whatever you do this Lent, let your days be lengthened as you cut back on foods and activities that limit your wellbeing, and make time for what is important.   Make time for our Ash Wednesday service, at 7 p.m. on March 1, pick up your Lenten devotional and commit this season to God.

 

Blessed Holy Days!

Welcome to Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church.

We have entered a high holy time of the year, with Advent leading up to Christmas and the Epiphany, the manifestation of God’s presence in Emmanuel. There are several key activities to look forward to as we celebrate what God is doing in our world.

• Christmas Eve: Saturday, December 24, 5 p.m.
• Christmas Day: Sunday, December 25, 9:30 a.m.
• New Year’s Day (We celebrate as Epiphany Sunday): Sunday, January 1, 2017, 9:30 a.m.
• Baptism of the Lord: Sunday January 8, 9:30 a.m.

At Sage Granada Park, our essential purpose is to live out God’s hospitality. As scripture says, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15:7). Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church has expressed God’s hospitality through its diverse history.

The church history begins with two different strands of Christian faith from the early part of the 20 the century who formed to welcome people in Jesus’ name. The seeds of the Granada Park church were already growing in 1923 with a small Sunday School meeting at Freemont School to meet the spiritual needs of the neighborhood. It grew, and together with others, they became officially Granada Park Community Methodist Church on Easter Sunday, 1924.

A few years later in the early 1930s Rev Jutaro Yokoi and his wife Minnie Sage purchased a bus and began picking up children from the farm lands around El Monte to have a weekly Sunday School. By God’s grace, their efforts paid off. Even the challenges of World War II and the incarceration of many Japanese Americans did stop the ministry. However, Sage Methodist Church had to be uprooted on several occasions, moving from El Monte to Monterey Park and eventually to Alhambra.

When the two churches, Sage and Granada Park, merged in 1998, it was a mutual expression of God’s hospitality. Today Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church is a multi-cultural and inclusive church united by God’s love and hospitality as expressed in Jesus Christ. Our location is a community center full of activity.

We worship in English every Sunday morning at 9:30, with fellowship time afterward. The Church of India follows at 11 am with Gujarati worship. Childcare is available during the worship times, along with Sunday School for children and youth. During the week there are two Bible studies, Boys and Cub Scouts, a ukulele group, interfaith meetings under the Center for Pacific Asian Theology, a Chinese choir, our own choir, a dance group, the Alhambra Center for the Performing Arts, and a PFLAG group.

In addition Sage Granada Park United Methodist church is home to a preschool and Japanese school. Granada Park United Methodist Nursery School and Kindergarten has full day, half day and summer programs. Sage Granada Park United Methodist Language School holds Japanese classes on Saturday mornings for children though teenagers. We are also partners with the Kodomo No Ie, the Japanese school that meets at First United Methodist Church in San Gabriel.

Hymns are chimed daily from our bell tower are reminders that we are here as an expression of God’s immense love for the world. Come and share in the unfolding movement of God’s hospitality.

Rev George Martzen

Message from the Pastor

grad-robing
Rev George Martzen, with his wife, Rev Chin Cheak Yu and their son, Walter. Rev George was appointed to SGPUMC in July and his wife to First UMC, San Gabriel. Walter is a Theater and Anthropology student.

Welcome to Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church. Our essential purpose is to live out God’s hospitality. As scripture says, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15:7).

Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church has expresses God’s hospitality through its diverse history. The church history begins with two different strands of Christian faith from the early part of the 20th century who formed to welcome people in Jesus’ name. The seeds of the Granada Park church were already growing in 1923 with a small Sunday School meeting at Freemont School to meet the spiritual needs of the neighborhood. It grew, and together with others, they became officially Granada Park Community Methodist Church on Easter Sunday, 1924.

A few years later in the early 1930s Rev Jutaro Yokoi and his wife Minnie Sage purchased a bus and began picking up children from the farm lands around El Monte to have a weekly Sunday School. By God’s grace, their efforts paid off. Even the challenges of World War II and the incarceration of many Japanese Americans did stop the ministry. However, Sage Methodist Church had to be uprooted on several occasions, moving from El Monte to Monterey Park and eventually to Alhambra.

When the two churches, Sage and Granada Park, merged in 1998, it was a mutual expression of God’s hospitality. Today Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church is a multi-cultural and inclusive church united by God’s love and hospitality as expressed in Jesus Christ. Our location is a community center full of activity.

We worship in English every Sunday morning at 9:30, with fellowship time afterward. The Church of India follows at 11 am with Gujarati worship. Childcare is available during the worship times, along with Sunday School for children and youth. During the week there are two Bible studies, Boys and Cub Scouts, a ukulele group, interfaith meetings under the Center for Pacific Asian Theology, a Chinese choir, our own choir, a dance group, the Alhambra Center for the Performing Arts, and a PFLAG group.

In addition Sage Granada Park United Methodist church is home to a preschool and Japanese school. Granada Park United Methodist Nursery School and Kindergarten has full day, half day and summer programs. Sage Granada Park United Methodist Language School holds Japanese classes on Saturday mornings for children though teenagers. We are also partners with the Kodomo No Ie, the Japanese school that meets at First United Methodist Church in San Gabriel.

Hymns are chimed daily from our bell tower are reminders that we are here as an expression of God’s immense love for the world. Come and share in the unfolding movement of God’s hospitality.

Rev George Martzen