Chaplain Mark Yeager wasn’t sure what to expect when his keynote speaker promised to deliver an address focused on “Mesmerizing Rhythms,” but Mark Labberton came through with a splendid motivational morning message at the annual Community Prayer Breakfast recently at the Crescenta Cañada YMCA.
In his address, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary referenced the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3, as he urged an audience of more than 350 to free themselves from the negative, seductive rhythms all around them and to focus on the rhythms of God.
“It’s a wakeup call to people who live in a context of rhythms seduced as we so easily are by beauty, health, fear, anxiety, politics, money, greed and success — endless mesmerizing rhythms,” Labberton said. “[When] we hold on and remember our identity, seek clarity in the midst of all those mesmerizing rhythms; we are given the gift of an unhooked life.”
The author of three books and many more articles, Labberton was the headliner at an event that featured a vast variety of “prayer-givers” from different denominations delivering spiritual thoughts for the world, the nation, the state and the city.
Labberton joined the faculty at Fuller in 2009, before which he spent 16 years as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley — which he mentioned last week.
“When you hear the sound of the USC’s ‘Fight On,’ that is a mesmerizing rhythm,” Labberton said, speaking swiftly and freely, without notes. “I’m particularly sensitive to that because for 30 years I was hearing the Cal fight song, and suddenly I’m living in Southern California within earshot of the USC fight soon. This is a different mesmerizing rhythm!”
The many USC fans in the crowd — all of whom sipped coffee and munched on muffins and quiche — appreciated the reference, and the message.
“The Prayer Breakfast is really inspirational this early in the morning,” La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Jonathan Curtis said. “It’s really not only spreading the word, but celebrating the community and celebrating everything that the church does.”
Funds raised at the Prayer Breakfast go to support the YMCA’s expanding Chaplain Services program, which now features more than 100 trained chaplains available to community members for companionship and assistance.
In addition to 41 table sponsorships sold, Yeager said this year’s event received a sizable donation from Citizen’s Business Bank.
“Chaplain Services is one of the most important things we do,” Yeager said. “We represent people with care and compassion, giving them an opportunity, if they desire, to have somebody in their lives that will either listen to them or guide them and direct them and give them advice if they want.
“We work hard at collaborating with many organizations and entities in our community,” added Yeager, referring to his organization’s work with local schools and law enforcement. “That organizations all invite us to come and be a part, I’m especially proud of that.”
Many of those groups were represented in the audience last week, supporting the program.
“This YMCA makes such a difference in this community,” Curtis said. “It’s really amazing.”