Pastor Rick: December 19

wreathsWe had a lovely time Sunday afternoon enjoying the gracious hospitality of Nana and Alex Spiridon at their annual holiday open house.  It was especially nice to celebrate Grace’s completion of her MBA (from the joint program between Columbia and UC Berkeley) along with her proud parents and husband, Greg.  It was good to see some old friends as well.

Sunday’s service was a challenging one for most of us as we sought to reconcile the day’s focus on joy (Gaudete Sunday) and the enormous tragedy of the mass shooting in Newtown, CT.  Thanks to Pastor Tripp who brought a powerful witness through Bruce Cockburn’s song, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”; to Daniel Ramirez for his eloquent ringing of the “singing bowl”; to the wonderfully joyful music provided by Susanna Jimenez, Jan and the choir; and to Melanie Ramirez and Dona Smith-Powers for providing and arranging the lovely poinsettias.   As I said Sunday, perhaps all we can do in moments like these is light candles in protest against the shadows that threaten us.

It felt like this was the right place to be on Sunday, as it was Friday night when we gathered in the sanctuary for our contemplative service.  If you and/or someone you know needs time and space to reflect on what’s going on in the world and what might be a faith response, I invite you and/or them to take advantage of the peaceful beauty of our sanctuary, especially on Friday night, when we will have our final prayer service for this season.

Sunday morning we will celebrate the “Light of Love” that breaks into the world and into our lives at this holy time.  Will we be as open as Mary was to the angel’s announcement of God’s calling?  Can we give ourselves over as she did to the power of love to transform our lives?  We will have extra music Sunday as we welcome an octet of singers from The Choral Project (the choir in which Dan Cudworth and I sing).  They will provide some special music as well as augment our choir.  Following worship, we’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall for our annual Christmas Brunch with a new feature – a Do-It-Yourself Christmas pageant!

And don’t forget we will have a Christmas Eve service Monday evening at 5:30 PM in the candlelit sanctuary.  It is a beautiful time for the whole family to join in worship of God who comes to us as a small child, a vulnerable child who in time will become “Jesus, the Light of the World.

This is a wonderful time to invite a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join in worship, sharing and celebrating.  See you Sunday before 10:00 AM and at the other events of the season.

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: December 12

Thanks to everyone for the flexibility in scheduling our annual caroling and chili event.  We had a good turn out; we sang for several folk from our community who are not able to be with us regularly.  Then we gathered back at the church for chili supper.  I think the singing was much appreciated by those we visited.

Please remember our Friday evening Contemplative Services.  They are lovely, brief opportunity to spend time in the beauty of our sanctuary praying, singing and meditating our way through this Advent season.

This Sunday we will continue to spend time with John the Baptist as well as the prophets Zephaniah and Isaiah and the apostle Paul as we search out the light of joy in this Advent season.  The challenge for us will be to look for the joy in the sharp critique and sometimes harsh words these biblical characters bring.  I suppose the real question is whether or not there can be joy in our lives and in the world if we do not get our house in order.   Yet, even in our wondering and our waiting Paul encourages us to “Rejoice in God always!”

Soprano Susanna Jimenez will be singing with the choir Sunday.  She will also supply some very special Music of Preparation when she sings “Rejoice Greatly” form Handel’s Messiah.  You will want to be here early to hear her.  After Adult Spiritual Formation, in which we will consider what it means for Christ to come into the world as we know it, we will take a little break before reconvening at Spiridons for their annual open house for the whole congregation.  We are always grateful to Alex and Nana for opening their lovely home and providing a fabulous party.

This is a wonderful time to invite a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in worship, sharing and learning.  See you Sunday before 10:00 AM and at the other events of the season.

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: December 5

banjo.fwWhat a lovely beginning we have had for the Advent season.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed in action and in spirit.  It seems that we are on the right road of preparation for the holy coming.  I urge you to participate in all the activities of the season as much as possible at the same time I encourage you to take time to prepare.  Both John and Jesus spend time alone in the wilderness as they prepare for the work to which God has called them.  We may not find ourselves in the wilderness per se, but some down time in all the crush of holiday madness may be just what God is calling us to – time to sit quietly, to consider what is to come, to pray that we may be ready, to search for wisdom and understanding, to contemplate the light that is coming into the world and how it is manifest in hope, peace, joy and love.

Sunday we will spend time with John the Baptist and his forebears  John’s is that alarming voice, crying in the wilderness for us to make ready the road to salvation, urging all who will listen to turn from the seduction of empire to the promise of God’s righteous reign.  In this process, we will also look again at Zechariah’s song, the “Benedictus,” which was the focus of our work with Jennifer Davidson last month.  What did we learn in those sessions that we might bring to our worship this Sunday?  How might all these ancient words of blessing and comfort, prophecy and hope help us prepare for God’s touch on our lives this Advent?

As part of your time of preparation, I strongly encourage you to join us for Friday night’s contemplative service in the astonishing beauty of our worship space.  I find this to be a holy, healing time and trust that you might, too.  The services are simple and brief, scripture, songs, prayer and silence.

Sunday, we will keep our caroling and chili supper at 4:00 PM, so we will also continue our sessions in Adult Spiritual Formation on the theme “Prepare the Way.”  This Sunday we will consider preparation for Christ’s coming – in our faith community.  What is it for which we hope in this season and how might its realization make a difference in us and around us?

This is a wonderful time to invite a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger to join us in worship, sharing and learning.  See you Sunday at 10:00 AM and at the other events of the season.

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick