A Message from Our Kahu

OPUKAHAIA On Sunday, we celebrated the life of Opukahaia, the young Hawaiian man whose family members were killed in the brutal warfare in these islands during the 1790’s. He sailed to New England where he was educated and converted to Christianity and was called Henry Obookiah. He planned to return to Hawaii and share his faith with his people. Unfortunately, Opukahaia died on February 17, 1818, before he had the chance to return to his beloved islands. However, his life and his writings motivated the first company of missionaries to sail to Hawaii the very next year, arriving on March 30, 1820, after more than five months at sea. As I reflected on Opukahaia and his life in my message on Sunday, I found it inspiring how he forgave the people who killed his parents, his young brother, his aunt and many other relatives and neighbors. His journey as a Christian led him to let go of his anger and love the people who had once been his enemies. Letting go of anger, forgiving our enemies and loving people who have hurt is difficult to do. Yet, as I reflected on our Gospel reading from Matthew, chapter 5, I became convinced that it must be possible. As I read more of Matthew, it occurred to me that seeing people through God’s eyes turns that possibility into reality. God cares about everyone; God loves everyone; and in God’s eyes everyone matters. I don’t know of any other way to let go of anger or to love. As a complete surprise, the author Christopher Cook, who wrote the book The Providential Life...

A Message from Our Kahu

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou! As we enter into a new year and decade as a church, I hope you do so with the same spirit of celebration that I have. It has been a great year! As I think back over the past 12 months, here are some of the things for which I am most grateful: The unanimous decision of our members to become an official “Open and Affirming” congregation of the United Church of Christ My 3-month sabbatical in southern Europe where I focused on “Beauty, Art and Spirituality” while traveling in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Switzerland Our Open and Affirming celebration on Pentecost Sunday in June Our participation in Kauai’s first Pride Parade and Celebration Our Capital Campaign Celebration in September with our new Conference Minister David Popham Growth in attendance, membership and giving A church choir that sounds better than ever, as well as inspiring and meaningful music every week of the year There are many other reasons to celebrate as well! I am so grateful to be the Pastor of such a generous, accepting and talented congregation. As I look forward to 2020, I have complete confidence that this will be another year of growth in many ways! I thank you ahead of time for your part in it! I wish you a very Happy New Year! Aloha nui loa!!! Kahu __________________________________________ “A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference. To see a video of a recent message...

A Message from Our Kahu

“The Tender Mercy of God” In church on Sunday, I shared about God’s love being the light in our darkness. I also read a poem by St. John of the Cross, called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” In it John describes a happy journey in the dark. It is happy because there was a light that burned in his heart that guided him to God. John also understood God as darkness, at least in part, because God is mysterious and unknowable in so many ways. Because of his comfort with the darkness, John seemed to have little fear wandering through darkness and arriving at darkness, for God (whom he called “Beloved”), though unknowable, is present in love. John didn’t seem to yearn for light outside himself because he was so aware of the light within. Here are a couple stanza’s of John’s “Dark Night”: In an obscure night Fevered with love’s anxiety (O hapless, happy plight!) I went, none seeing me Forth from my house, where all things quiet be In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me, Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart. During these days when the nights are long and the days short, may the light of God burn brightly within us and the love of God guide us wherever we go. Mele Kalikimaka and aloha nui! Kahu __________________________________________ “A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference. To...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Nothing Will Be Impossible” Luke 1:37 On Sunday, I talked about the two times I attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions: in Salt Lake City in 2015 and Toronto in 2018. While attending the first one, it occurred to me that I was doing something for peace, for I was gathering with people from many faith traditions from all over the world to listen to and learn from one another. I am convinced that the world would be a more peaceful place if we all listen to those who are different from us and we are willing to learn from them. In Salt Lake City, I attended the movie Nuclear Savage, which documented the testing of atomic bombs in the Marshall Islands by the United States from 1946 until the 1960’s, thus leaving some of the islands uninhabitable for the Marshallese people. After returning home, I looked up the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation online, since that was the organization that showed the movie and led a presentation and discussion afterwards. I was impressed with their mission, commitment to educating young people, as well as their list of supporters, including Jane Goodall, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Peter Yarrow and Noel (Paul) Stookey from the legendary folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. I was so impressed, in fact, that I decided to make a donation to the organization because I wanted to do something big for peace. I’m sure it was not a big donation in terms of what some of their larger gifts must have been, but it was big for me. I thought...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Never Give Up Hope” Luke 1:5-25 On Sunday, I told the congregation about a beloved friend Dwayne who died earlier this year while I was on my sabbatical. By the time I met him nearly 20 years ago, he had lost nearly everything that was important to him. His two sons died, his wife left him, he lost his job. He also faced some huge challenges in some of the jobs where he worked after his world seemed to come crashing down on top of him. Nevertheless, Dwayne was one of the kindest, most helpful and hopeful people I had ever met. One day I asked him how he remained so positive and hopeful. Here is how I remember his response: You know, Alan, I know that I could have chosen to have been bitter, angry and resentful, and I’m pretty sure that anyone who knew me at the time wouldn’t have blamed me because that was a really tough time. But I also knew that I could choose to trust that God had always been with me in love and would continue to be with me and continue loving me. I just had to believe somehow that my best days might still be ahead of me. And so, I chose to be hopeful. It was a choice I made. I knew I didn’t have to make that choice, but who wants to be around a bitter, angry person? Dwayne’s response was a reminder to me that hope is something we choose. In fact, it is something we get to choose every single day, regardless of the circumstances all...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Expansive Gratitude” On Sunday, I shared about two recollections from my childhood. When I was quite young, I remember someone saying to me: “Why can’t you just be grateful for what you have?” I felt extremely guilty for wanting more than I had. A few years later, I wore a bracelet with the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” This not only increased my guilt, but I began believing that God did not want me to have desires, that desires were a bad thing, and that any desires pointed to the fact that I was ungrateful. I now believe that I can be profoundly grateful for God’s grace, the gift of life and all of the blessings I have, and at the same time want something more. This past week, I was walking along the Poipu Beach just before sunset and came across some turtles…and then some monk seals…and then saw my first whales of the season. I was overcome with gratitude to be walking in such a beautiful place and seeing such amazing creatures. However, my immediate reaction after feeling gratitude for seeing the whales was a desire to see them again, and so I stood there and looked until I did see them again—several times, in fact—and then I saw a whole other pod even further away by the horizon. I was filled with a sense of wonder and awe—and felt even more gratitude! There was absolutely nothing wrong with my desire to see more whales. I can hold both gratitude and desire at the same time. There is a kind of gratitude...