Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.  – Psalm 136:1

Dear my beloved Lake Park and Lake Merritt church family, I bring you greetings with Shalom of God.

It’s been a busy few months at Lake Park and Lake Merritt United Methodist Church!  I spent some time being still in the presence of God this morning, and your faces passed through as I was still before God and I felt so blessed to have all of you in my life.

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just two days away!   Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, looking back at the year and thanking God for bringing us through it a little stronger and a little wiser.  It is also a time to count our blessings.  Some of us may have had a difficult year battling cancer, COVID 19 infection, and other health challenges, while others have found much success in their endeavors.  It is through the grace of our God that we are able to consider the lessons we have learned and the experiences God has given us, and to allow them to deepen our relationship with our loving God.

My new appointments at Lake Park and Lake Merritt have been a great blessing. As I shared this past Sunday, you are my blessing cup!  We are growing and deepening our faith together and collectively we are experiencing challenges that are stretching our faith in action to navigate our world where oppression, violence, hate against LGBTQ siblings and other races and inequality continue. My heart is heavy but I know God is on the move through us in the world bringing God’s kin-dom.

This week, we are witnessing God’s kin-dom here at Lake Merritt. This morning at 830am, the Thanksgiving Turkey Prep crew arrived and prepared fourteen turkeys and they are all wrapped and ready to be cooked tomorrow.  At 9am, 100 salads, hot turkey meals, water bottles, pies, shirts, and a reusable bag for the Lake Lunch was delivered to us from the city of Oakland.  Our Lake Lunch Crew and community volunteers including children and youths arrived at 11:30 am and they joyfully went out to serve and distribute our unhoused siblings the hot lake lunches, essential items, their smiles and most of all, God’s love. It was a good day at Lake Merritt UMC.

Our table grows each time God opens our resources and we share them with our community in need.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  We have decided to stick with love and live in such ways to reflect the kind of society that Jesus envisioned.

It was great timing, as I was walking out of the Stark Hall, my Spotify was playing “I’ve decided to follow Jesus” and so I joyfully sang …. “I’ve decided to follow Jesus.”

The holiday seasons can be a difficult time for some of us. Let us be compassionate to ourselves as well.  Take a day of rest. A day where you can move more slowly, eat healthy but…, exercise if you wish and do something that refuels you.  A day with people you love… who will make you laugh and sit with you in silence.  Then perhaps for some introverts, just some time alone.  Dear friends, let us continue this journey of love and service together with renewed joy and strength.  Spend some time to give thanks to God for his love and goodness for us and for all his creation.

I promised to send you the video that did not play during the worship service.  The video is from the Skit Guys and is called, “How Big Is Your Table?”  The video file is too big to attach here but Mike, my husband, was able to edit it in Facebook worship from this Sunday.  Here is the link, and it begins at 20:29 to 24:22. Enjoy watching.

Also there was one prayer request from our online community during worship from Sia Linda which was emailed by Don Weingarten, “Praise be to God that I moved yesterday. The moving truck tire blew on the road, but God is good and has provided and we are safe. Thank you for your prayers church”. Grace abounds.  Have a great Thanksgiving week and see you this Sunday.

With many gratitude,

Pastor Sunae