Note from Pastor Rick (12/7/2016)

Our Advent journey continues. With watchful and wondering attentiveness, we have wandered through the realms of hope and peace. Now this week, we approach joy. It may seem hard to hold on to joy in this season of shrinking days, cold, and rain. The political climate is difficult, challenging. We are met often with pain, suffering, and death. The whole world groans in its winter sleep. Where will we encounter joy in such an environment? Our wise companion on the journey says joy will not just happen to us while we’re sitting and waiting. “We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day,” Henri Nouwen writes. It sounds very much like real joy is one of those spiritual disciplines we need to cultivate in order to make the journey to God’s Beloved Community.

Describing the “holy way” by which the children of Israel will travel from exile in Babylon to their home in Jersualem, the writer of Isaiah says, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (Isaiah 35:1-2.) Facing a long and arduous journey to an uncertain future, the prophet is still willing to proclaim that God will make a way and that his people can walk that way with God. That is reason enough to sing and rejoice.

Sunday is Gaudete or Joy Sunday on the Advent calendar. Come, share the joy of the day as we worship and study. Our texts for the day will be Isiah 35:1-10 and Matthew 11: 2-11. In Adult Spiritual Formation we will conlude our study of Jesus’ birth and the incarnation, using the Saving Jesus Redux video series. We have had some lively discussions in this series. You are welcome to join us.

In the afternoon, we will gather at the church at 4:00 PM to go caroling to several of our members we don’t see so often. Because those folk are somewhat spread out, it would be nice to have a couple of groups of carolers. You don’t have to be a trained singer to join in. You just have to love to sing Christmas carols and love your neighbor. After caroling, we will gather back at the church for chili supper. If you can help with set up or clean  up for the supper, please let one of the pastors know, so we can plan accordingly.

Plan to join in the joy of the day, beginning with worship at 10:00 AM and continuing through the education hour and caroling. Bring someone else along to share the day with you.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick   

Joy of Advent

Communion ServiceFor some time, Lucille Towner has been inviting me to the annual holiday potluck for the Huntington’s Support Group that meets in our Parlor the second Tuesday of each month. I have not gone primarily for fear of interrupting or interfering with the work they do. But this year, Lucille convinced to join them. I don’t know how many of you are aware of this wonderful ministry this is in our midst. I know we only provide the space (at no charge) and others do the actual work. Still, it is part of the ministry of space that we provide for a wider community than ourselves. I was very much impressed with the camaraderie and compassion on display last night. It is clear to me that Lucille and Andrea are providing an important resource for people living with this disease along with their families and care givers. Bravo and thank you. We are delighted to have you here.

Sunday’s theme is “Joy.” As with the other key Advent words, it is challenging to speak of joy in the context of the trials and tribulations of the world around us. Yet there is joy to be found all around, if we open our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds. And there is even more joy to come as we anticipate the birth of the Christ. John, the baptizer wags his finger at people but he, too, is excited about the Coming One. Paul says to the Philippians, “Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice!” So on Sunday we will be looking for the joy the day even more than we do every other week.

In Adult Spiritual Formation we will continue our exploration of the world into which Jesus was born. It was important to hear last week how many of the titles the early church used for Jesus were titles reserved for the Roman Emperor (Lord, Son of God, etc.) No wonder they were in trouble with the empire.

Sunday afternoon at 4, we’ll gather at the church to go caroling. We will be singing primarily at the Terraces. Come along and join our song. It’s always a fun and rewarding experience to spend some time with folk from our church community we don’t see so often. Afterward we will return to the church for a chili supper. We are still looking for volunteers to help with the preparation and set up for that event. Please let me know if you can help out.

See you Sunday at 10:00 AM ready to worship, learn and share. Bring someone with you to experience the beauty, the wonder, the challenges of life lived in hope, peace and joy.

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.

Pastor Rick