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Archive for March 2011

March 16, 2011



 Friday, March 25th - 7pm to 9pm
 Saturday, March 26th -  10am to 3:30pm



LADERA UCC, Portola Valley
(3300 Alpine Road)

Members and friends of FCC Redwood City will meet to pray and listen and discuss God’s call for this church.  We will be led by Ron Buford, of the national UCC, and Kim Smith-Nilsson, our Chaplain.  Join us as we review and build on some of the discernment work done in our most recent past and seek to discern our next best steps as a congregation.

Dessert will be offered on Friday evening and lunch will be provided on Saturday (as well as snacks throughout the day).  Please call the Church Office (650-369-0344) or write to Kathie at to let us know you will attend so we can plan ahead for food.  We are asking that people attend both sessions of the retreat since we will be building on our work together throughout the two days.  All adult members and friends are invited (including High School Youth.)

 What a gift to have this time together –

 We hope to see you there!


 Questions? Contact the Church Office (650-369-0344) or write Kim at

 Need a ride or want to carpool?

Call the Church Office at 650-369-0344 or write to



The Gifts We Give


We learn a lot about ourselves during tough times, don’t we?  When we hit those patches of lilfe where we are reminded — again– of how little control we really have, we come face to face with choices that can define us.  

Sue Bender, the author of EVERYDAY SACRED and PLAIN AND SIMPLE,  tells the story of a group of women she met sometime after the Oakland hills fire in 1991.  They had gathered together to talk about their experiences, and they shared about all the things they had lost during the fire, things which they thought had defined their lives:  pictures, scrapbooks and mementos, diplomas, certificates — all of the little and big things that made up their history.

As they were talking, one person spoke about a particularly precious object she had had before the fire.  It was a piece of porcelain that she treasured.   She said that a friend had long admired it. One day, she decided that she wanted to give her beautiful piece of art to her friend.  She gave it away because though she loved it, she loved her friend even more, and it gave her great joy to share this special gift.  Later, after her home was destroyed and she lost everything she had, her friend returned with the gift, and gave it back.

 Another woman in the same group told them that before the fire, she only gave away things that she didn’t like — gifts she’d received which didn’t fit or match her style, objects with unpleasant memories attached, or things that didn’t mean much to her.  After the fire, when she, too, was left with absolutely nothing at all, these were the same things that people brought back to her.

 Jesus said in Matthew 6:

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—   worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is,  is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

 Where is your treasure?  What are the things you value most in your life — and how do you share them?  I don’t think Jesus was talking exclusively about stuff or money, although he was certainly including those things.  I think he was going deeper than that, asking us to discern our dearest values and our most precious beliefs.  I think he was inviting us to look at our lives through the clarifying lens of love, and asking us to be honest about what we are putting out there in the world.  Are we offering the world the best of who we are?  Or are we putting out there only the things that are easy to give, asking little of ourselves? 

Sometimes tough times make it easier to see ourselves as we really are, or to learn something new about ourselves.  But we don’t need to wait for a fire or an illness or a loss — we can start each day praying for the grace to be truer, more generous, more compassionate, more loving.  Because if those are the gifts we treasure, those are gifts that we will give. And ultimately, those are the things that will shape our lives — and our world. 

 Thanks be to God.