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April, 2020 - Issue #187
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

The Truth of Easter
by Garrett Siemsen
This spring, my wife and I moved back to Santa Clarita after spending six years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We will not miss the cold and gloomy winters of Pittsburgh, but we will miss the annual return of spring - when gloom gave way to light, the silence of snow yielded to the song of birds and buried bulbs turned into beautiful flowers. Springtime in cold-weather places can feel like a transition from death to life.
For many, this can make Easter primarily a celebration of spring. It's pretty much the holy equivalent of the Kentucky Derby! However fun that may be, it seems more likely, and even more fun, that it is precisely the other way around - that the return of spring is, in fact, pointing us to the truth of Easter. A God who brings light out of darkness, joy out of suffering and new life out of death - that's what nature seems to be hinting at and that's what the resurrection of Christ declares is true.
So whereas the transition to spring is not as dramatic in Southern California, the truth of Easter is equally dramatic everywhere. To anyone who's ever felt like a buried bulb, I invite you to join us at Christ Lutheran Church as we celebrate the God whose grace can raise us up with glory.
Garrett Siemsen is senior pastor at
Christ Lutheran Church. 259-0200

The Strange Holiday that can Radically Change your LIfe

Easter is a beautiful celebration of spring and fresh starts - but it's also a little weird. You have candy, hats, chocolates, giant rabbits that somehow lay plastic eggs... and a zombie named Jesus. I mean - not really a zombie, but we really don't have many other names for someone who has come back from the dead!
What if I told you there was much more to this superficially-strange holiday? What if I told you that your understanding of Easter could radically change your life in a real and practical way? This year at Bethlehem SCV, we're going to explore how the death and resurrection of Jesus changes both who we are and where we find our hope. If Jesus rose from the dead, this one event changes everything. So, try something new this Easter! Head on out to our church. On Easter Sunday we'll have services at 8am, 9:30am and 11am. Whether you're somebody who is skeptical and cautious about Easter and Christianity, or you're all in and all about it, you will be welcomed and loved in this place.
Joe Beran is pastor of Bethlehem SCV. bethlehemscv.com

Spring Reminders of Change

by Jay Siegel
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus points out, "the only constant in life is change." No doubt you have heard that quote before - and we all know its wisdom. The season of spring reminds us of great changes that are beyond our control. The weather changes, flowers bloom and we enjoy more sunlight. At this time of year, many religious traditions mark these changes with holidays that celebrate birth and rebirth, creation, renewal and excitement about what is to come. These and other themes we apply to our personal lives.
As we enter into spring, we look for ways to make changes in our lives. Many of us commit to renewal. We bring new energy to old ideas, we complete projects we have placed on hold and we begin new adventures with a fresh attitude. With spring, we acknowledge the potential in nature - and we look at our lives and see the great potential of where we can be physically, mentally and spiritually in the next few months. Change is constant and as we embrace the change we grow. Spring comes to say, "Let's start to change now!" If not now, when?
Jay Siegel is rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom. 254-2411
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing
by Dave White
Mental wellbeing is a faith essential. The mind is very important to our walk with God; it is indispensable to the Christian Life. The great commandment, after all, is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27).
Paul reminds us that if our mind is set on the untamed desires of our flesh and the selfish pursuits of the world, we'll ultimately be lead to discouragement, detachment and death. But the mindset on the Spirit - focused on the things of God and goodness - leads to a positive relational life and a contented, worry-free peace (Romans 8:6). Building on that, the apostle exhorts us all to "set our minds on the things that are above." In other words, focus on the things that are eternal and transcendent - not on the things that are temporal and fleeting here on earth (Colossians 3:2).
To make it even more practical, Paul tells us exactly what to be mindful of: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - let your mind think about these things"
(Philippians 4:8).
The Bible teaches that the good life is not about emptying one's head or numbing one's thoughts, but rather channeling, focusing and directing the mind in a way that leads to physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellness.
Want to learn more about mental health? Search YouTube for "thebridgescv" and you'll discover our teaching series on the topic.
Dave White is pastor of The Bridge. thebridgescv.com

A Simple Approach & Special-needs Service

by Jack WInkle
At Calvary Chapel Golden Valley, we take the simple approach of teaching the Bible chapter by chapter, book by book - the whole counsel of God. We've recently added a "Special Needs Service" for entire families dealing with autism and other disabilities, Sundays at noon. As parents of a 20-year-old autistic son, my wife Julie and I know that it is difficult for those in the autism community to meet and worship together in a traditional Sunday service. We offer an abbreviated, 20- to 25-minute service that is adapted to the special-needs family. The worship is more quiet - a single guitar and singing - and includes a brief-but-Biblical message on God's love, grace, mercy and compassion, as well as time of fellowship and prayer. Many of those who have come tell us that it's the first time their family has been able to worship together in a church. We invite those who might benefit from this kind of service to join us in an understanding and loving setting!
Jack Winkle is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Valley. 523-2248

This is Us

by Nicole Reilley
The "Seven Things We Know to Be True" is our statement of who we are as a faith community.
All Means All We are an inclusive community, open and affirming of all people. Gay or straight, young or old - everyone is welcomed and included.
Everyone Has "Stuff" and that's OK We are regular people and all of us have a past, have struggles and are searching - and it's OK.
Your Story is Important You and your story matter to God and matter to us. That is why small groups are a core value here.
Families Come in All Shapes and Sizes Single? Married? No kids? Lots of kids? We celebrate diversity.
God's Love Changes Everything God's love has changed us. We live more fully and as we have been loved, we have been freed to love.
The Bible Has a Message for Us Today We gather weekly for worship where the scriptures give us life. We are excited to hear what God's word has to say to us today and worship gives us insight on how we take what we learn into the world.
We are #hereforgood Following Christ is about living as his people in the world - we were the lead church in bringing Family Promise to the Santa Clarita Valley. We continue to serve and make a difference in Christ's name.
Join us Sundays at 9am and 10:30am and on Easter at 8:30am, 9:45am and 11am. Children's activities will be held at 9:45am and 11am.
Nicole Reilley is pastor of Valencia United Methodist Church. umcv.org
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