Panic Attack: Fear of Being Alone

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In this message, we end our series on the fears that can overwhelm us and cause us to feel a sense of anxiety. Many of our fears, if we boil them down to their essence, are wrapped up in our fear of being alone or excluded. Scripture reminds us again and again that there is nowhere we can go from the presence of God. Pastor Sarah talks about how God’s presence can help tackle the feeling of being alone even when it feels like the divine is far away.

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Panic Attack: Fear of Failure

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As we continued in our series on fears, Rev. Nicole Reilley shared about the fear of failure by diving into the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. Although this was a high point in David's life, we were reminded of all his challenges including the loss of a best friend, the loss of a child, and his own inner demons and sin. Failure is a fact of life, but not a way of life. It is a reminder of our own humanity, and we have the opportunity to gain wisdom and compassion in the process. 

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Panic Attack: Fear of Death

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Last week, we began a series on the fears that can control our lives and lead to panic and anxiety. Fear is a good instinct when it keeps us safe, but when we live in constant fear, our mind exists in "fight or flight" mode making us incapable of living in the present. If unaddressed and unchecked, fear can become a general, unnamed, always-present anxiety. As we look at scripture, it is clear that this fear-based life can keep us from the shalom (a sense of wholeness) that God would desire for us.

As we discussed last week, there are times when anxiety is a medical issue, and this isn't the kind of fear we are talking about. Instead, we are talking about the daily fears that add up - often part of a bigger fear, perhaps our biggest fear, the fear of death. Not only do we fear physical death, but we also fear the death of relationships, death of jobs, death of independence, and many other smaller more subtle deaths. In this message, we look at the fear of death and the 1 Corinthians declaration that death has been swallowed up in victory.

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Panic Attack: Anxiety - What Are We Afraid Of?

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We all have things that cause us concern and rob us of the ability to be present to what's in front of us. Throughout scripture, we are reminded we can find peace and comfort in our faith even during times of great stress, but that isn't always easy to focus on in the midst of the storm. For this series, we aren’t talking about the medical reality of an anxiety disorder. Medical anxiety cannot be relieved without utilizing professional help and sometimes a medication to help us regulate our brains. There is no shame in that, and in no way does the presence of anxiety show a lack of faith. Listen in as we find hope in the midst of stress and worry. 

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Makes Cents: Give All You Can

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In this message, Pastor Sarah Heath wraps up our "Makes Cents" message series, which has focused on the challenge from John Wesley to "gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can". This message is particularly important for our church as I shared "why" we invest in what God is doing in and through First United. I talked about the vision of the church and why we exist in Orange County.

In addition, we were all provided a card that gives us the opportunity to share our Giving Goal. This is a great opportunity for us to prayerfully and intentionally make a decision to invest in First United. As you know, the only way that our church exists and will continue to be a place of peace for others in need is through our financial investment.

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Giving Goal: Click Here

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Makes Cents: Save All You Can

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We live in a time of economic transition, and for many, a time of economic anxiety. At First United, we are in the midst of a series on how our hearts and minds are affected by the way we feel about and deal with money.

One of the church fathers, John Wesley, made a statement that helps sum up what a faithful treatment of money could look like, "Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can." These three principles can never be separated, or it leads to the creation of idols, a sense of anxiety, or a deep fear that we aren't enough. In this message, Pastor Sarah Heath talks about what saving looks like in the Kingdom of God. 

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Makes Cents: Gain All You Can

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When it comes to money, it seems like there are strong voices in our culture that are telling us to do one of three things…

  • Make as much as possible in order to acquire more and better things (greed).
  • Save as much as possible so that you won’t ever be without (fear).
  • Give away as much as possible, because the accumulation of money is bad or evil (martyr). 

Rather than focusing on one aspect of financial resources, John Wesley (the founder of the United Methodist movement) challenges us to do all three - “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” As we begin a new series called “Makes Cents", our focus will be on an interconnected approach to faith and finances that’s based on a deep trust in God and results in beautiful generosity.

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EKKLESIA: Prayer

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There are many experiences and practices of prayer within the church, and we all come to prayer in different ways. In this message, Jenna Tourje talks about prayer as a way in which people can come together, to experience communion, to experience community, and to embody “with-ness”. We end the service practicing centering prayer together.

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EKKLESIA: Breaking Bread Together

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Throughout our lives, we share meals with many people, and a shared meal is often the place we really get to know people. Think about all the holidays we celebrate where we share a meal around a table. As we read the Bible, we discover that Jesus commanded that a shared meal (Communion) be a regular part of our faith, but oftentimes this sacred act looks nothing like a family around a table. In this message, Rev. Sarah Heath looks at what it means to be the Ekklessia as laid out in Acts 2 and at the power of sharing meals together. 

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EKKLESIA: Teaching

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In Acts 2:42, the early church is described in this way. "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." In recent years, there's been a tremendous amount of research around the best ways that we learn as human beings. It turns out most people learn best when they participate with a mentor in the learning process. As we continue to look at what it means to be the Ekklesia (gathered community), Rev. Sarah Heath examines how we are to be devoting ourselves to the teachings of those who have gone before us and how mentorship plays a role.

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PILGRIMAGE: Separated from the Crowd

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On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. If you grew up going to church, you may remember that the cheers of the crowd soon turn to yelling for his crucifixion. We see how easy it is for "group think" to change direction and how quickly cheering can turn to criticism. As we enter Holy Week, Pastor Sarah Heath talks about how our own pilgrimage can require us to stand apart from the crowd.

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PILGRIMAGE: Separated from the Will

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Sometimes, life in the midst of a pilgrimage or journey doesn’t make sense. We encounter paradoxes and contradictory pieces of information. What does it mean for the last to be first or for the person who loves their life to lose it? Listen in as we search for answers to hard questions and continue in our journey together through Lent. (Message by Adam Marshall Lopez.)

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PILGRIMAGE: Separated from the World

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There is a company that sells shirts, stickers, and other items that say “not of this world.” The suggestion is that as Christians we don’t belong to this world, but to heaven. What can be implied is that there is something wrong with this world. In this message, Pastor Sarah Heath will be asking whether we are meant to think of this world as 'condemned' or if Jesus suggests something different. Not only will we look at John 3:16 (emblazoned on signs at sporting events), but we'll dive into the next verse that's often overlooked. How are we to be part of this world, and where is our citizenship? Will our pilgrimage call us to be separated from the world around us? 

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PILGRIMAGE: Separated from Faith Community

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2017 was the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant reformation. 501 years ago Martin Luther nailed a thesis of things that he knew needed to change. This week, Pastor Sarah Heath talks about how a pilgrimage of faith sometimes requires us to stray from the beliefs that our faith community holds. That can be scary! We as humans are designed to want to be part of community. Even Jesus experienced this as he risked rejection by turning over the tables in the temple. We're talking about how we can move through separation from faith communities and how we can find wholeness in this journey.  

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PILGRIMAGE: Separated from People

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Have you ever felt nudged by God to do something important only to be rejected by others? Maybe it had to do with taking a job, making a lifestyle change, starting a relationship, or choosing an adventurous path in life. They just didn't understand, and there was separation in your relationship. You're not alone. This Sunday, we'll look at how Jesus shared a God-given vision for his life and dealt with separation from those around him, and we'll learn from Jesus how we can gain courage to continue on our personal pilgrimage. (Message by David Trotter)

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PILGRIMAGE: Jesus in the Wilderness

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Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the season of Lent, and it lasts for 40 days (not including Sundays, which are always counted as mini resurrection days.) 40 has always been a number of significance in our spiritual tradition. A Jesus began his earthly ministry, he took 40 days to be in the wilderness and prepare himself for the tough tasks that his ministry would require. Oftentimes, people take a pilgrimage (or journey) when they are trying to set apart time to to find clarity or prepare for what is in front of them. In reality, a pilgrimage doesn't require us to travel anywhere, but it calls us to be willing to set time and space apart to risk movement towards something. This Lent, we're taking a spiritual pilgrimage that will require us to be honest about all the separation we feel during our times in the wilderness. 

In this message, Rev. Sarah Heath begins by looking at the story of Jesus in the wilderness, and we talk about all the ways we can feel like we are in "the wilderness" and where God is during those seasons of life. Scripture often challenges us to set apart time, but there is something about solitude that many of us want to avoid. 

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Zoe: Jesus' Treatment of the Outcast and the Poor

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We live in a time when toleration of others is a common cultural value. Yet, Jesus' way of living "zoe" meant that he didn't just tolerate people who didn't fit into the Judaic laws of insider and outsider - he actually included them! In Luke 7 after a woman kisses Jesus' feet and Pharisee confronts him about it, Jesus asks, "Do you see this woman?" He doesn't mean a physical 'seeing'. He wants the Pharisee see who she really is as a person - a beloved child of God. If we're going to move beyond merely tolerating people, we'll need to be close enough to actually 'see' them.

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