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Dear Friends,

The gospel lectionary passage for July 1, Mark 5:21-43, happens to be one of my very favorite passages. It is the story of Jesus healing a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years, which meant that she was also isolated from her family, friends and religious community for twelve years, not to mention suffering from physical pain as well. But as I was preparing to write the sermon, something else in the peripheral story of the passage caught my eye and that is Jesus' words before he heals (or some would say resurrects) Jairus' daughter. He says, "Do not fear, only believe,"  and everybody laughs at him because they know what dead looks like.

You have called me to your church because you too have experienced a similar emotion of despair and fear about the decline of your congregation. And believe me, it's not just your congregation that is experiencing decline, an aging congregation and difficulty bringing in new people. This is a trend among most churches across the country. We are moving towards a post-Christendom society that makes us people of faith wrought with anxiety but I want us to consider another way to face this unique religious time. One way to look at the secularization of our country is to be saddened by the decline of church membership. Another way to look at the secularization of our country is to see that we are shifting from a cultural Christianity to a radical Christianity--a Christianity that is much more authentic, committed and real through and through.

We don't know yet what this new kind of church in this post-Christendom world looks like. We are grieving, anxious and worried because our current church is no longer what it used to be. In the midst of our heavy emotions, let us hear Jesus say to us, "do not fear, only believe." His words are interesting. He doesn't command  the people around him to do anything. He simply commands them to have faith in him.

There is life for us, life abundant for us as individuals and for us as the church. We don't know what that looks like. Contrary to what the rest of the world says to us, we don't have to effort our way into that new life with painstaking work, cool music and attractions that "kids like these days". Jesus' words show us that we simply need to have faith and faithfulness. We need to trust that God is in the midst of us making all things new and resurrecting life when we least expect it and be faithful on our end.

One of the ways I am being faithful is by recognizing that I have been called to your church to, alongside with you, discover the new life God has for us. And one of the many ways God is inviting you to be faithful is to practice openness of spirit and trust in God. And together, we will, with faith, faithfulness, patience and joy, bring this new post-Christendom Church into being. I am so excited to begin this new adventure with you.

On another note, my family and I have never lived in San Diego (or near any beach for that matter) before so this is a completely new chapter of our lives that we are looking forward to. My husband, James Rogers, is finishing up his doctorate on a 19th century German theologian named Friedrich Schleiermacher and our two-year-old son Hugh, thinks that chocolate, water and hide-and-seek are the best things in life (many of us would agree). We have already felt so much love and hospitality from you and in a very strange way, even though we have never lived in San Diego, it feels as if we are coming home.

Lydia Sohn was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of three. Born into a Christian family, her faith has always been a central part of her life and development. She attended college at the Claremont Colleges and there felt that strange and mysterious "calling" for the very first time.

She slowly but steadily followed the sense that she was called to ministry, which led her to pursue a Master of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School.

In June of 2015, Lydia was commissioned as a United Methodist Elder and appointed as the Associate Minister of Church of the Good Shepherd, United Methodist in Arcadia, California. She was then ordained as an Elder in Full Connection in June of 2018 and appointed to St. Mark's United Methodist Church. Her ministerial passions include broadening, complicating and at the same time, enriching people's theologies and walking alongside them on their spiritual journeys as they discover and continually re-discover the awe-inspiring reality of the depth, height and expansiveness of God's love for each one of us and all of creation.

For fun, Lydia enjoys reading, journaling, hiking, dinner parties, spending time with family who are split between the west and east coasts and lastly but most importantly, spending time with her husband and son.
Sermon June 24, 2018

The SSP team is leaving in less than three weeks for Chiloquin, Oregon, and they would love to hear from you while they are there.  If you would like to write a letter of encouragement, or just to say hi, the counselors (Christina and Brian) will deliver the mail to the SSP staff to hand out during the week.  As per SSP tradition, the youth receive their mail only if they to perform a song/dance routine that the counselors will make sure to take photos of to share when we return. 

Please turn your letters into the folder in Kris’ box before July 6th
If you would prefer to mail it directly, you can send it to:
St Marks UMC Youth
Sierra Service Project
General Delivery
Chiloquin, OR 97624

Thank you for all of your support and we will be excited to share our experiences when we return.
Copyright © 2018 St. Mark's United Methodist Church, San Diego, All rights reserved.

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