Faith Evolving, Lives Transforming
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
1101 Golf Course Rd SE
Rio Rancho, NM
P.O. Box 15755, Rio Rancho, NM 87174-0755
Our core values…
Jesus Guided / Intentionally Inclusive / Peace Seeking / Justice Committed
Activities in May
Wednesday May 4, 11, 18
Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
9:30 – 11:00 am
Starbucks across from Intel, on 528
Saturday May 7
An Invitation to a Children's Items Sale
Church Parking Lot
7 am – noon
Hosted by Beth H and friends
Wednesday May 11, 18
Adult Education / Faith Development
New class -- See details below
6:30 – 8:00 pm
Friday May 13, 27
6:00 – 7:00
Singing songs of praise and contemplation
from a variety of cultures and traditions.
Sunday May 15
Celebration of Pentecost
You are invited to wear red
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The Mystery of The Lost Ark of the Covenant
Wednesdays May 11 and 18
Rita Noe, is the facilitator. She has been to Japan 19 times and suggested, since we just finished studying the Old Testament, that we focus on Gene Cho’s book “The Replica of the Ark of the Covenant in Japan - The Mystery of Mifune-Shiro.” Professor Cho presents a bold reinterpretation of the story of the missing articles from the Ark of the Covenant. The book holds that these most sacred items (or their replicas) in monotheistic Judaism are preserved to this day within the Great Ise Shrine of Japan.
Come and learn together about --
The origins of the Ark of Covenant
What was it made of?
What was its purpose?
What is its history? (locations)
What was and continues to be its significance?
What explanations are given for the Ark being located in Japan?
The importance of Covenants today.
This will be an intriguing, intellectually stimulating and just plain fun experience. So come.
Patricia Dunn, Faith Development Team Leader
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Second and Fourth Fridays
May 13 and 27
6:00 – 7:00 pm
RE:Sounding Joy utilizes traditional and contemporary sacred and inspirational music from religious, secular and wisdom traditions from all over the world, to promote collective joy, unity and global healing. This practice draws from all recorded traditions and is not linked to any one teaching or ideology. The sacred music offerings include songs from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu/Indian, Native American, Sikh, Islamic/Sufi, Hawaiian, African diaspora, Neoteric and other global and folk music traditions. Praise singing, devotional singing, congregational singing, chanting and folk song traditions in a variety of languages are learned and explored.
RE:Sounding Joy is based on the observation that when we open to and participate in joyful song, we come as close as we can to bridging the divides that separates us, as we share in the essence of an individuals, or cultures sacred musical tradition. For this reason, RE:Sounding Joy is an excellent way to practice Religious and Cultural Literacy.
RE:Sounding Joy provides an opportunity for people to:
Experience - COLLECTIVE JOY by hearing or participating in joyful singing
Develop CREATIVITY - with music and song
Practice OPENESS - to other cultures and tradition
Cultivate LOVING-KINDESS and COMPASSION - by considering diversity
Develop AWARENESS - learning new ways to express the heart
Encourage ENTHUSIASM, WONDER and a sense of UNITY
Connect with SELF, SPIRIT and OTHERS IN THE COMMUNITY
RE:Sounding Joy is guided by the following ideas from the Charter for Compassion.
“We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion…
to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures…
to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity...
to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—
even those regarded as enemies."
I look forward to seeing you there!
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Other meetings at our location
5 pm Girl Scouts
11 am Tai Chi
6 pm Buddhist Meditation
Missions Make a Difference
We have made a great start. Thank you everyone for contributing to Haven House, especially Pat and John Stover and Ernie and Pat Dunn for two full carloads!!! We are so blessed to have such giving and thoughtful people in our church.
Remember, even some toothbrushes and toothpaste will be so welcomed. About two weeks ago, we gave out orange neon (kinda flashy) cards with ideas for contributions, and items of goodwill came rolling in. Jeanne, our Haven House liaison, would like a car full of goodies to take over.
We will be concentrating on Haven House for the entire year, but also giving note to other areas of concern that the UCC’s are working on. “Strengthen the Church” is one such area. You are encouraged to give a gift during May with the intention of planting new churches, awakening new ideas in existing churches, and helping develop the spiritual lives of youth and young adults. This continues our extravagant welcome to all who come seeking to transform lives.
We also want to start up a group of guitar pickers, soul singers and mad tambourine players to go to assisted care places to perform for the occupants and caregivers. We would like to do this every month or so. It would only take about an hour—15 minutes of practice with well-known songs, 15 minutes of drive time and 30 minutes of performing. We can include lunch, too, if the performers wish. (Performers, WOW! Just like Adele!) We are thinking of making this the third Sunday of the month, so it’s easy to remember. It’s fun, it’s so appreciated, it’s great MISSION.
Happening in the Southwest Conference
Folks from Church of the Good Shepherd (COGS), ABQ, took a day trip in April to the Very Large Array (VLA) west of Socorro, NM. It is one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories. The tour was led by COGS astronomers, Lanie & John Dickel.
Ms. D. Seymour, prior to her death, bequeathed her estate to the Youth of Church of the Good Shepherd to help fund their trip to the UCC National Youth Event. In keeping with her wishes, the sale of her estate was held at the church on April 15th and 16th. Proceeds from this event and from yard sales amounted to $9000 to benefit COG's youth.
At First Congregational Church UCC, ABQ, church t-shirts are being ordered to arrive in time for the Pride Parade on June 11th.
Their Progressive Christianity group began a new study entitled “Painting the Stars – Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith” in April. This program looks at the evolutionary process as both empirical knowledge and as a deep spiritual mystery, and seeks to help us connect with the ongoing creative process of which we are a part.
Annual Meeting of the Southwest Conference
In April, I spent three days at the SW Conference Annual Meeting, held at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ, Phoenix, Arizona. I, along with five others, had the opportunity to talk about what our churches are doing to grow our congregations. It was a challenge to keep my presentation to six minutes and there was absolutely no time for our audiences to ask questions, though after the presentations some did connect with me to ask about particulars of St. Paul’s. On Saturday morning, some congregations that had experienced “Innovation Labs” also presented their emerging ideas. It was very interesting and good food for thought.
Rev. Cameron Trimble, Executive Director of The Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR), was our keynote speaker. Since time is short, the deadline for submitting articles to the newsletter has come, I will try to send her comments in an eblast to you.
And one Sunday this month, I will preach on the Annual Meeting, using my presentation and incorporating some of Cameron’s ideas.
O God of all nations and peoples, we praise your name. We rejoice in the many languages that proclaim your word and your wonderful deeds. We give thanks for the movement of your Spirit alive in your people, churches, and the world.
God of wind and fire, we confess that sometimes we fear your Spirit. In those moments when the Spirit gushes, pushes, and challenges us toward the unknown, we would often rather cling to comfort and the familiar. Forgive our hesitations, God, and renew the ability in us to entrust our lives to you. Move us beyond boundaries of language and nationality into your endless and extravagant love.
Pastor Sharon's View
I recently read an article about the value of wasting time. The value of having nothing to do, no problem to solve, and no solution to seek, gives my mind the opportunity to go into places it would not have if it had focused on one specific thing. This makes meditation difficult for me since meditation is focusing on one thing, or focusing on nothing. My brain does not like this constraint. It always wants more.
Sounds weird? Like you want to have productive time or have social media time? Or you want to watch a delicious television show? There are some studies that offer reasons to waste time this way. According to the Albuquerque Journal of April 26, 2016 (pC9), one study involved 40 people who copied telephone numbers from the phone book for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the group was asked to come up with different uses for a tea cup. A second group, which did not engage in the boring exercise of copying phone numbers, was compared to the first group. The researchers “found that the people who copied the phone numbers ended up being more creative with what to do with the tea cups” (C9).
That suggests to me the idea that unproductive time is somehow productive — maybe even that daydreaming is good for us. Wasting time has become part of my new mantra. Wasting time is productive! And while there surely is a limit to the time wasting, the end result is productive. It helps my creative mind grow.
A bit about my creative mind: When I take part in sessions designed to measure my “creativity” it seems I am a very creative thinker. Visualize this ~ 50 people take part in a creativity exercise. Possible outcomes are “box thinkers” “bridge builders” and “out of the box” folk (sometimes people are not quite in one group or another, but they tend toward one or another). There are always more box thinkers than bridge builders; and far fewer out of the box folk than box thinkers. When asked to stand with a group, I fit in with the out of the box thinkers. Actually, I am the farthest out of the box outlier. That makes me the most creative, though possibly not the most productive, thinker. My creativity is good for new projects and new concepts, but goes too far afield from the group to help very much.
From Fast Company dot com, there are some traits of very creative minds that seem to be constant across the spectrum of creativity.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book, Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996) researched creative people.
"I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”
accessed April 26, 2016
Here are a couple of characteristics he found to be consistent in creative people:
Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
But this playfulness doesn't go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.
Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over, one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.
Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it's difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.
My creativity is thriving right now. It is hard to hold back. Just returning from the Conference Annual Meeting it has been fed and watered, ready to grow.
If you think about it, where do you think you are positioned on the creativity spectrum? How do you nurture the space wherein you fit? And how have you “wasted time” recently?
From the Editor's Desk
It is my privilege and pleasure to meet regularly with a group of guys for food, fun and fellowship. In addition, and equally as important, we come together to share stimulating discussions, to participate in meaningful debate centering around the book that one of us has chosen for that particular time. The book most recently selected was the New York Times bestseller, In Defense Of Food, An Eater's Manifesto, authored by Michael Pollan.
Recently, I referred to this volume in a conversation with a couple of members of the Congregation, and, as a consequence, they both suggested that I share with you some of the basic ideas Pollan presents concerning good food and health. Pollan initially informs us that most of the nutritional advice that we have received over the last half century, supposedly designed to contribute to our health and happiness, has not lived up to the promises. Whenever we choose to discuss diet and health, he contends that, first of all, we must recognize "the elephant in the room," what has been labeled, "the Western diet." It would appear that this diet is one to which we humans are unable to adapt. This diet is derived from an overabundance of the trilogy of processed wheat, corn and soy. Therefore, Pollan offers the ideas in this book as an eater's manifesto, "an invitation to join the movement that is renovating our food system in the name of health."
A significant number of factors has lead to the development of the Western diet. One very important one is the sheer abundance of food, or rather what the author chooses to label "food-like substances." This has led to a vague indifference to food, "a tendency to eat and run rather than to dine and savor." Furthermore, our Puritan roots continue to impede a sensual or enjoyment of food. Eating, like sex, links us to the animal world and all such instincts and indulgences should be kept in check. John Kellogg, of cereal fame, once righteously proclaimed, "The decline of a nation commences when gourmandizing begins."
Another significant contributor to this diet is the food industry, from production to processing. As we have moved from smaller family farming to enormous commercial agriculture, the result has been the sacrifice of quality for quantity. The soil that yields our vegetables and fruits is not as organically rich and nourishing as in earlier times. Therefore, the harvest is not as nutritional as before. The use of chemical fertilizers does increase yield, but eventually decreases the quality of the soil. This has affected both the quality and taste of our food. However, food consists not just in a pile of chemicals, it comprises a set of "social and ecological relationships reaching back to the land and outward to people."
In terms of meat production, dairy products and eggs, for example, the taste and quality are not the same anymore as animals are not range feed. We have moved from "leaves to seeds" for animal fodder. This has resulted on the one hand in greater production, but, on the other, in animals needing to be fed antibiotics to compensate from the nutrients that once came through more natural feed.
Add to that the food processing itself. For the sake of large production and longer shelf preservation, natural ingredients, such as whole grains, which may contribute to faster spoilage are eliminated. Processed ingredients, chemical additives (do not call them the "i" word, imitation) are then added to compensate. All in all, food science has become an ideology that has resulted in processed foods that have, for the most part, left us fatter, sicker and more poorly nourished.
So, what can we do. The advice that is often given is "just eat food." But as Pollan would remind us, "given our current state of confusion and given the thousands of products calling themselves food, this is more easily said that done." One British nutritionist once advised, "Just don't eat anything your Neolithic ancestors wouldn't have recognized and you'll be ok." Another suggestion is, "Don't eat anything that is incapable of rotting."
Here are some suggestions put forth by the author. First of all he advises us to shop the peripheries of the supermarket. Processed foods dominate the center aisles of the store while the cases of ostensibly fresh food line the walls. Even there it will be somewhat difficult to avoid the enemy hidden in foods there, the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup.
Secondly, whenever you can, avoid the supermarket. You are less inclined to find the enemy mentioned above at the farmer's market. Seldom will you find elaborately processed food products or any "packages with long lists of unpronounceable ingredients or dubious health claims." You are not likely to find any microwavable items, and, perhaps, most importantly, you food will not have travelled a great distance to reach you. Hopefully you will find fresh whole foods "picked at the peak of their taste and nutritional quality." As well as you can, eat "well grown food from healthy soils."
Pollan also suggests "eating mostly plants, especially leaves. You can remain an omnivore, eat meat, for example. However, meat should be eaten as a side dish and not as the main course. As he puts it, treat it as a "condiment for the vegetables."
He further suggests that we should pay more and eat less - focusing on quality rather than on quantity. He realizes that paying more is again easier said than done especially for those living from pay check to pay check, or as one friend recently put, "from bank deposit to bank deposit." However, if you can, do it. Another reason he makes this suggestion is that it has been discovered that there is a corollary between the price of food and the amount we consume. The cheaper the food, the more we tend to eat. He also argues that the better the quality of food, the less it will take to satisfy our appetite. Certainly, better quality will result in better health.
One final offering, because of our rapid paced life style and our failure to take time to taste and savor, we tend to each too much. According to several studies that I explored, it takes a minimum of twenty minutes for the brain to inform the stomach that we are full. Before that time is up, most of us have had seconds along with dessert and coffee. By slowing the pace at which we eat and taking more time to enjoy the experience, we tend to eat less. The instructor of the course I took on mindful meditation made the same suggestion.
And a post final offering. Pollan feels that he must be showing his age it that he can remember a time when there was at "least a mild social taboo against the between-meal snack." That is now gone. It is customary for Americans to mark time all day with nibbles of food and sips of soft drinks. Several recent studies have suggested that the bulk of the calories that we have added to our diet over the past twenty years has come in the form of snacks. For the most part, these snacks consist of "refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, corn sweeteners and salt." If you feel the need to snack consider veggies and fruits.
Personally, as a guide to remembering all this, I have summarized Pollan's ideas in three short sentences. First, food should taste good and be good for you. Secondly, take the time to savor and enjoy it. Finally, eat less to be full.
Cheers from the PUB
“Motion is lotion.” I overheard this snappy phrase when I was in the office on a Tuesday (working on the newsletter) as the weekly tai chi class was in full swing. In the pursuit of better balance, joint flexibility and safety when walking, the instructor emphasized the value of the lymphatic system and internal fluids that keep our bodies in good working order. To minimize stiffness, the gentle movements of tai chi promote lubrication of joints affected by age, illness or accident.
As citizens of the the high desert of New Mexico, we are well acquainted with dryness. Some of us have first hand knowledge of other places where humidity can be oppressive. Too much atmospheric lotion. We're grateful for the motion that brought us to Albuquerque and its surrounding communities.
Dryness is also a spiritual concept. Our faith ancestors were desert people where life depended on springs and wells, wine and succulent fruit. When these necessities were scarce, survival hung in the balance. Doubts and fears surfaced. Understandably the people felt cut off from their God during times of drought, because they looked to God as the source of these blessings. Ample rain from heaven made the land flow with milk and honey. A poetic image. In their world view, God withheld blessings when God was angry with the people. In a similar vein, this angry God gave them over to neighboring gentile nations to be conquered and humiliated. Look through the psalms and you will find many words of woe. The authors spoke for the malaise of the people when they felt abandoned, dried up and left to crumble under the heat of adversity.
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. [Psalm 63:1]
The opposite of motion? Being a couch potato, as in watching too much TV? (And what is too much? But that's a topic for another time.) Recently I watched a documentary about Gloria Vanderbuilt. Her father had made millions with his ships and railroads. Gloria was only 18 months old when he died. Ten years later suspicions arose regarding the fitness of her mother to continue to raise her and a custody battle heated up. In the 1930's it was hot news – “the trial of the century.” Gloria became known in the press as “the poor little rich girl.” Along with her happiness, her trust fund worth millions hung in the balance. Her father's sister was given control over Gloria, and the money. Her only joy in her young life, the companionship of her nurse (nanny) was taken away. Neither Gloria's mother nor her aunt proved to be a warm and comforting presence. Despite her early priviledged surroundings and the fame which continues even today at age 92, she can recount many regrets and sorrows.
The connection I make here regarding her story is a quote from the documentary. She told her son, Anderson Cooper who interviewed her, that her all through her life she felt she had to keep moving, going forward, as a shark needs to keeping moving, moving. The action of water passing through its gills is the only way the shark can breath. If it stops swimming, it dies. (Wikipedia tells me this is true for some species of sharks, not all.)
For Gloria, motion means life. But one thing has provided her a sense of safety and serenity since she was a teen – creating art. She loved, and loves, to paint. In doing so, her spirit finds rest.
Be still and know that I am God.
Motion. Stillness. Both essential in living a full and satisfying life. Finding the right mix between the two? Your joy, your feelings of accomplishment, hang in the balance.
St. Paul's UCC Leaders 2016
Rev. Sharon Smith-Littrell, PhD
William W. Williams
Assistant Financial Secretary
Anita Curtis and Trish Herron
St. Paul's View Staff
You may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
View from the House – 0114
Taken on December 15, 2010
Internet Archive Book Images
“Armco iron rust-resisting products”
Publisher: American Rolling Mill Co. / Middletown, Ohio
flickr “The Commons”
No known copyright restrictions
Altered by Sandra Chapin
Musical fountain in Hamburg
Uploaded on July 26, 2015
my first step
Taken on February 28, 2016
De Paepe edwin
Taken on May 11, 2013
Pencil on paper
Uploaded on January 9, 2016
Pastor Sharon's View
Small Decorative Alarm Clock
Uploaded on July 4, 2012
From the Editor's Desk
Fry Bread Adobo Taco
Taken on February 19, 2016
Cheers from the PUB
Female Bicyclists Riding Side by Side
Taken on July 19, 2012
Pixel.la Free Stock Photos
Taken on September 9, 2014
Promotional wholesale Pens in New Zealand
Uploaded on June 11, 2015
Golden Gate, Emeryville, California
Taken on October 3, 2012