Dear Church Community,
This first week of Advent, I’m still buzzing from my trip to NYC. It was a magical weekend (photos below) but the rapid swing from one holiday to the next (our hotel changed its decorations from Thanksgiving harvest to Christmas trees overnight) felt a little frenetic.
This is one of the reasons I encourage you to embrace Advent as a Season. It’s not that I oppose early Christmas decorations (I support anything that brings light and hope in this darkening time of year). But trying to maintain a non-stop holiday pace from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is too much for anyone. Slowing down and taking regular breaks keeps us sane and actually increases our holiday joy! Since Advent is a season of waiting, I invite you to sit down and spend some time each day doing just that.
When you do, consider:
- What am I waiting for?
- What do I already have?
- Where is God in my life?
- Where am I waiting for God to appear?
As we enter the holiday season, it’s not unusual to experience mixed emotions. Blue Christmas Services provide space for those who don’t feel so “merry and bright.” This year, the UCC’s Blue Christmas Service will be held on Monday, 12/5, at 3 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 that we’re called to work together to create a just world for all. UCC clergy and choirs engaged in humanitarian ministries will provide the liturgy, music, and preaching. Register here to watch—the service will be recorded, so you can view it live or later.
The UCC will also offer these December webinars:
Gift Giving & Worker Justice, 12/7, 2:00 pm: Wouldn’t it be great to give gifts and help establish just wages/worker safety standards for migrant workers and build the wealth of small business owners around the world? Equal Exchange and Milk with Dignity/Migrant Justice will share suggestions for your holiday shopping and connect you with their programs. Register here.
WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) for Mental Health, 12/15, 3:30 pm: As a denomination, the UCC adopted the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged) for Mental Health Covenant in 2015 as part of its commitment to mental health justice. In this webinar, representatives of the UCC Mental Health Network will share practical resources for how members and congregations can become WISE-r. Register here.
After almost a year of discernment, the Music Committee and Leadership Team are delighted to announce that Harold Walbert, who has been our church organist since 2010, will be our Music Director & Accompanist starting in January. In addition, we’ve hired Catherine Pruett to be our Accompanist one Sunday a month. We’re excited to resume our regular Music Program after so many pandemic years!
Our congregation has been graced with excellent musical leadership for decades. This includes Dorothy Mora, who retired as Music Director last December and continues to play flute and organize ensembles for worship, and Daniel Stokes, who has been our once/month accompanist and music librarian extraordinaire since 1999. During Coffee Hour on 12/11, we’ll celebrate Dan’s retirement and part-time move to Georgia. Please join us in saying thank you and goodbye.
This December, we’ll enjoy many wonderful offerings of Advent and Christmas Music with gratitude to Dorothy, Catherine, Daniel, LaTia, and Sarah Spaeh, our Music Committee Chair. If you’d like to participate in the choir, play an instrument, or be part of our music program in any way, please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During Advent and Christmas our church will host a variety of holiday events and activities (see announcements below). The Christmas Eve Service will take place at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary to accommodate our growing in-person numbers and online participants. Afterward, we’ll gather by the fireplace for holiday refreshments and cheer. There will be no service on Christmas Day, but we’ll hold a lively service (with plenty of coffee!) on New Year’s Day.
In closing, I offer the following planet-friendly gift ideas. Some of them are wallet friendly as well, and many include the priceless gift of human connection.
Wishing you and yours a Blessed Advent Season,