May 5, 2013: Welcome home, JD! From prisoner to pastry chef!

Posted on : May 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday, May 5,  we have another “only at WeHo UCC” Sunday!

I have been waiting for this day for over a year.  I’ve had my hopes dashed many times in the last months, but at last (please pray with me that nothing stops us) J.D. will be with us to share some of his life and faith experiences, having served a sentence of about 2½ years in a Federal minimum security prison.

The last Sunday worship service that J.D. had with us was our “Worship in the Park” service, September 19, 2010.  That was a bittersweet Sunday in that we were able to worship in the vast beauty and freedom of the magnificent Griffith Park while at the same time we knew J.D. was headed toward the loss of his freedom and a much more confined space.  During his time in prison, J.D. and I kept in regular contact through the federal prison email system.  From the beginning it was clear to me that J.D. was taking his sentence seriously and that he was strongly committed to using this time and experience to change his life for the better.

It has been a joy to journey with J.D. both personally and spiritually.  As often happens to those who are in prison both his family and personal friends abandoned him.  Shame, guilt and embarrassment have a way of destabilizing relationships.  We all know that experience!  But the one community that did not abandon him was our church family.  We were with him from his first day until today.

I have asked J.D. to share with us on Sunday how his life and faith have been changed and transformed from this experience in prison and how his faith both supported him and grew.  Those are things he and I talked about regularly.

I would love to tell you more, but this is J.D.’s story to tell and he needs to tell it as much as we need to hear it.  One thing I guarantee you, we will all be blessed by his sharing.

Welcome home to the community of Faith that loves you and believes in you, J.D.!  We are proud of you and can’t wait to embrace you back into our worshipping community!

Blessings to each of you,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 14: 22-33

For a moment, Peter loses faith.

Jesus insisted that the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side (of the lake).  Having sent the crowds away, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray, remaining there alone as night fell.  Meanwhile the boat, already a thousand yards from shore, was being tossed about in the waves which had been raised by the fierce winds.

At about three in the morning, Jesus came walking toward them on the lake.  When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they were terrified.  “It is a ghost!” they said, and in their fear they began to cry out.

Jesus hastened to reassure them:  “Don’t worry, it’s me!  Don’t be afraid!”

Peter spoke up and said, “If it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water.”

“Come!” Jesus said.

So Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened.  He began to sink, and cried out, “Save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and caught Peter.  “You have so little faith!” Jesus said to Peter.  “Why did you doubt?”

When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Child of God!”

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