Dear Church Community,
As we approach Thanksgiving Week, I’m excited to share that Nick and I are going to be balloon handlers in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Nick loves the parade, and it’s a great treat for us to participate. If you’d like to watch for us, we’ll be wearing glamorous green coveralls and helping hold the Dino and Baby Dino balloons.
Our congregation has a tradition of making sure everyone has a place for Thanksgiving Dinner. If you’d like an invitation, please let me know. If you have an extra seat at your table and would like to host someone, please let me know. These pairings always work.
As we draw near the holidays, it’s not unusual to experience sorrow. Blue Christmas Services provide space for those who don’t feel so “merry and bright.” We’re all invited to this year’s UCC Blue Christmas Service on Monday, 12/5, at 3:00 pm. The service will recognize and stand in solidarity with those displaced by disaster or forced migration in 2022, from Kentucky to Ukraine, and remind us we’re called to work together to create a just world for all. UCC clergy and choirs engaged in humanitarian ministries will provide liturgy, music, and preaching for this event. Register here. The service will be recorded, so you can view it whenever you’d like.
As our church works to become more accessible to people with disabilities, it’s important that we educate ourselves on best practices. Low vision is a common condition, especially in older adults, and there are specific ways we can offer support. On Sunday, 12/4, from 12:30-2:30 pm, the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington is hosting Life After Sight Loss, a lunch panel discussion on low vision and its varying challenges and accommodations. The event is being held at Leisure World in Silver Spring, MD and tickets are $22. You can find more information and purchase tickets here or email Melissa Loughlin, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tis the Season for our annual Stewardship Campaign! You’ve each received a pledge packet highlighting the mission and activities of our beloved church community. Pledging is as simple as clicking here. I increased my pledge by more than 6% this year to support the rebuilding of our music program and provide COLAs (cost of living adjustments) for staff. I hope you will, too! What does our congregation mean to you, and what would you like us to do (or not do) next? I’d love to receive your answers at email@example.com.
Last Sunday, I preached about the possibility of our congregation engaging in a year of intentional dreaming and discernment. I noted that our culture pushes us toward non-stop “doing” without taking time and space to process, reflect, and listen (to God, ourselves, and one another). I encourage you to read my sermon here and let me know your thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Here’s an excerpt:
“If church is to be relevant, to really matter, it needs to be different, to offer a place to practice living in new ways, counter to the culture at large. If we’re to be a transformative presence—in this neighborhood, community, city, or even our own parlor—we must engage in creating the table-turning paradigm of God’s beloved community, not just another well run bureaucracy with better than average intentions. Please understand, I’m not saying we’re the latter. But I think, with intention, grace, and creativity, we could shift powerfully in the direction of the former!
… So, what do you think? Is it time to take a step back as a congregation and reimagine what sort of vessel we’re meant to be? Do we have the capacity to take a long deep breath and enter an intentional process of dreaming and discovery quite different from our usual mode of planning and procedure? Would we like to do things differently? Which may sometimes mean doing nothing at all? Do we want to practice living a new way? Is this what our church could be?”
In closing, I hope many of you will join me Saturday, 12/3, from 1-5 pm for our first in-person spiritual retreat in almost three years! As we enter Advent, this will be a chance to slow down, center, and reconnect with ourselves, each other, and God (who is both already here and yet to come). Advent is a time of waiting, and we’ll open ourselves to whatever is ready to be revealed. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and Blessings,
P.S. Our Teen Room needs help. The Children & Youth Committee is looking for a brightly colored, clean 4 x 6 rug and a couple of lightly used bean bag chairs to spruce up the downstairs teen meeting space. If you can offer ideas or assistance, please contact Dawn Straitz, email@example.com.