January 7, 2014

The following is my welcome to worship from this past Sunday. Thank you to Sydney Webster for a fine first sermon and to the Voices of Lakeshore for their usual beautiful music.

Welcome to worship, this Epiphany Sunday, this first Sunday of 2014, at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. 2014 marks the 160th year our partner congregation, Oakland First Baptist Church has sought the peace of our city and the 154th year LABC has done the same. The work of seeking God’s peace for any community is work that is both spiritual and physical, work that is both demanding and rewarding. Today we give thanks that the homicide rate in 2013 in Oakland was 37% lower than in 2012. This decrease is due, at least in part, to the Ceasefire program of which we are significant participants. At the same time, we mourn the 92 lives that were taken in acts of violence, noting that many of those that died were children and teens, including 13-year-old Lee Weathersby III who died from gunshot wounds suffered on New Years Eve. For all the grieving families we pray.

We give thanks for the schools, ministries and hospitals that make our city a more humane place. While giving thanks, we acknowledge that human caring is never perfect. Thus, we pray with families like those of Jahi McMath who know unimaginable loss.

We worship, we work and we witness knowing full well that life and death are both great mysteries. When is it that a group of cells become human life? When is it that death can be is pronounced?

In the face of these mysteries, we worship, we work and we witness shaped by an enduring faith, a faith that whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s, a faith that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

We gather this morning believing that God is at work in Oakland, at work on the corner of Lakeshore and Mandana, at work in each of us. We gather believing that God will finish the good work that God has begun.

Prayers of the Congregation

Concerns

  • Sybil Alexander who underwent back surgery on Monday
  • Kay Baxter for Stacey and Jamie
  • Jaison Smith on the death of his cousin, Bryan
  • George and Sylvia Lee
  • Gloria and Phil Meads for Carlos Elias and for those who are unemployed
  • Myra Saxton and Lucille Riggins
  • All caught in the icy grip of winter
  • The people of South Sudan
  • All our shut-ins
  • The homeless residents of our neighborhood
  • Marcia Patton, Executive Minister Evergreen Baptist Association, hip replacement repair surgery today
  • Michael Smith, Pastor McGee Avenue Baptist Church, health concerns
  • Aaron and Teresa Hopkins for Henry, that he will eat well and gain both weight and strength

Celebrations

  • Thanksgiving for our Minister in Training Sydney Webster and her family
  • Thanksgiving for our children and youth and their families
  • Thanksgiving that our Minister of Christian Formation, Allison Tanner, is able to be on a sabbatical leave
  • Thanksgiving for the good work done by all the community organizations that use our buildings
  • Thanksgiving with Pastor Naw San  and Christie KD on the birth of their son Noah on December, 23

Announcements

The Orientation Breakfast for members of all Departments and Committees will be held this Sunday at 8:30 in Barnett Hall. Please make every effort to attend this important time of planning and preparing.

Our guest preacher on Sunday will be The Reverend Dr. Debora Jackson, Executive Director of the American Baptist Ministers Council. Please contact me if you can pick her up from the Oakland airport on Saturday (12:15) and/or get her from and to ABSW on Sunday. Thanks.

Our “Second Offering” in January is the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering. This is a note that was in the interpretive material for the offering. “Every year the thank you check comes and it is a nice heartwarming moment when I realize that there are people that remember me.” Pastor Richard Bausman, Springfield, MA