6-18-17 Audio

Order of WorshipAnnouncements


How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – Psalm 133:1

Dear SDUMC Family,

Greetings from California Pacific Annual Conference 2017 at the University of Redlands. (The delegation from SDUMC would remind you to take a moment and give thanks for the coastal weather as we move about in the 100-degree heat of Redlands). It’s always a blessing to gather with friends from Southern California, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan.

It has also been a joy to have Bishop Grant Hagiya presiding with his graceful leadership. We’ll share more about Annual Conference in the weeks to come. I am grateful for our SDUMC delegation and their work through the week (Cheryl Allen, Randa Krakow, Lynne McKiernan, Bradley Nussbaum, Daniella Rojas, Chelsea Simon and Rev. Darin).

Our conference time will end excitingly on Saturday night as Chelsea is commissioned as a deacon in the United Methodist Church (more details about this service are included in this this e-news).

This Sunday as we gather together on Father’s Day, I look forward to sharing in worship with one of the great fathers of our church, Rev. Charles Hoffman! His sermon will be a great reminder to listen for God’s message even in what seems like interruptions in our daily lives. He shared a quote from Henri Nouwen with me, “You know. . . my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.”

I hope that you have a blessed weekend and I look forward to being with you on Sunday!

Grace, Peace and Thanks, John

PS Also, remember that we have a Light Your World Saturday event tomorrow.

Posted on June 16, 2017

5-14-17 Audio

Announcements, Order of Worship

“You look so much like your mother!”

This is a phrase I’m accustomed to hearing. Especially now, as a young pastor meeting colleagues in our Methodist connection who have known my (also-clergy) mother for years, this is a common and expected conversation piece. We both have dark, curly hair, the same green eyes, a similar smile. We are about the same height and even have similar sounding voice patterns. There is no denying I am my mother’s daughter.

While my mother sometimes worries that I will tire of hearing how alike we appear, it’s something that I appreciate about being family—these tangible markers of belonging. I love seeing you all come through the doors on a Sunday with your children or parents or siblings and getting to see your eyes or nose or height resonating in the person standing beside you. This kind of similarity—these echoes—between us seem to bind us to one another at the deepest level.

Bearing likeness to one another can, of course, show up in a lot of ways within families and close communities. My cousins have grown up in a house with very quick-witted parents, and you can tell they are Gerstins by their one-liners. Families and close communities develop their own idioms, rituals, expectations, and ways of relating that not only help establish familiarity and comfort within, but help those outside to identify them as distinct from all others.

In our text this week, the disciples anxiously ask Jesus to show God to them—to be given assurance of who God is so they might be in relationship with God. Jesus responds saying that because they have seen him, they have seen God. The family resemblance is strong.

This week, as we gather together in worship, carrying our own anxieties about the world and our future, hoping to see and hear again the compassion, justice, mercy, and grace of Jesus, may we be reminded of the image and likeness we also bear as children of God and followers of Christ. May we gather in thanksgiving that God has been made known to us in Christ, that we are bound together by Christ’s love, and that our family resemblance may just be the hope we need now.

I look forward to seeing you (and your mothers!) on Sunday.



Posted on May 12, 2017

5-7-17 Audio

Announcements, Order of Worship

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” – John Wesley

Dear SDUMC Family,

First, I want to take a moment to thank the youth and youth leaders of our church for an inspiring Youth Sunday. If you weren’t able to be at church last week, please take a few minutes and listen to their inspiring and uplifting messages. Here’s a link Youth Sunday Messages . The youth reminded me that we are more than just a gathering place on Sunday but a campus where hope abounds as we come together in Christian unity.

The messages reminded me of a passage in a devotional by Henri Nouwen, “We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the road once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might indeed become neighbors.”

As we live the days between Sundays, I pray that we each can find some ways and take a little time to cross the road and reach out to our neighbors. Imagine the changes we would begin to see in our corner of the world if we took a little time each week to walk across the office, the classroom, the sidewalk or the aisles in a store to reach out to a neighbor. Again, I give thanks for the youth of our church as they reminded me in their messages that they have been given this example by so many of you.

I look forward to joining with you for another Joy-filled Sunday as we give thanks to God for the many people who worked together to bring about the renovations in the Sanctuary and Chapel. We’ll take a few moments to recognize the teams that worked tirelessly in various ways to bring the plans to fruition. There will also be a special time between the 9 and 10:30 worship hours to thank those who labored throughout the renovations…and share in fellowship with our church family.

I’ll see you at 8 AM (In the Chapel) or 9 AM and 10:30 AM (In the Sanctuary). Have a blessed Friday and Saturday!

Grace and Peace,


PS Don’t forget to bring some food for “Share The Table Sunday” as we share in Communion this week.



Posted on May 5, 2017

4-7-17 Audio

Order of WorshipAnnouncements


Dear SDUMC Family,

I look forward to being with you on Sunday as we again come to the exciting day of Palm Sunday. Children will lead us as they wave their palms, our choirs will fill the sanctuary with joy, and we will each have moments where we repeat the ancient words of “Hosanna!”  We will remember the joyful entry of Jesus and the excitement of the people waving their palms. It was a time for the people of long ago and still for all of us to experience that Jesus is near, when all seems well, when joy is felt all around.  Shouting “Hosanna” began to spread along the road; their expectations were high, they were sure Jesus knew exactly what they wanted.

As we think about that day not much has changed many years later. I’m sure that they thought that the oppression of the Romans would soon be overthrown, if only Jesus would take over, and bring restoration the way they saw it then all would be well.

After being on this journey through Lent, we too have experienced Jesus. Maybe we’ve changed a little, maybe devotional study has become part of our daily ritual, and maybe it feels like all will be well. It’s been a journey, and now Easter is just a few days away!

Although we share in the scriptures year after year the journey through this next week still seems to surprise us. I hope we take the time to shout “Hosanna!” on Sunday but also remember the journey ahead…

Walter Brueggemann shares a glimpse of the journey ahead, “Lent is a time for fresh decision-making about reliance upon the God of the gospel. Such decision-making in Lent is commonly called “repentance.” It’s a time to reflect on the way in which God gives new life that is welcome when we recognize how our old way of life mostly leaves us weary and unsatisfied.”

I look forward to joining you on this journey at 8, 9 or 10:30 on Sunday morning and in the week to come.

Grace, Peace and Lenten Blessings,


Posted on April 7, 2017

3-24-17 Audio

Order of WorshipAnnouncements

“The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” John 9:10-11

A few years ago on a family vacation to Hawaii, a former intern who lived on Oahu wanted to take us to some of his favorite spots on the island. We started out at an excellent restaurant for lunch and then a quick stop for the best ice cream and shaved ice.

The next destination was one of his favorite “little” hikes and was suitable for all abilities. When we arrived at the entrance of the park, he told us he hadn’t been on the hike in a couple of years but remembered the trail very well. We encountered our first obstacle as the trail was a bit washed out after recent rains but he could still see the little markers on the trees.

The little hike turned into a four-hour journey as we trekked through mud and a few spots where we had to turn around to find the “little markers.” As the journey continued, we heard a sigh of relief as we approached the sound of a creek. We followed the creek for about another mile and finally came to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. I’ll admit there were a few moments of doubt and thoughts of turning back before we found the waterfall but in the end, the journey was well worth the route that hadn’t been planned.

This Sunday we’ll share the scripture (from John 9) in which Jesus finds a blind man along the trail as he heads to Jerusalem. As I read the scripture, I wonder if the blind man had a doubt or two as Jesus placed the healing mud upon his eyes. As soon as he opened his eyes, we hear that any doubt quickly faded away as he arrived at a new destination in his life, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” (John 9:15)

Although all of our journeys may have various twists and turns and maybe a few moments of doubt the author, Walter Brueggemann, of our Lenten study says throughout the study new possibilities are found in our life if we allow ourselves to follow Jesus. He shares, “We see more clearly; then we love more dearly the one who gives us sight. And then we follow more nearly, giving sight to others.”

I look forward to journeying with you on this Fourth Sunday of Lent at 8, 9 or 10:30 as we continue to take “A Way Other Than Our Own.”

Grace, Peace and Lenten Blessings,


PS. I hope you’ll take a moment and read through John 9 and ask God to open your eyes so that you too may, “see clearly, love dearly and follow nearly.”

Posted on March 24, 2017