It’s Coming…It’s Here!

Last week Pastor Carol wished us a happy New Year’s as we prepare to enter the season of Advent. And now it’s official. It’s here, and we’re in! It’s a complicated time as we look forward to celebrating the Christ Child’s birth with family, friends, and community, and exchanging gifts on Jesus’ birthday. But it is also a time of looking back and remembering the oppression of the Jewish people that began before their escape from slavery in Egypt, and arose again during the Babylonian Captivity, and their occupation by Rome. This makes their deep yearning and prophesying for a Messiah that would be a Savior and a Deliverer of the Jewish People all the more understandable.

It also helps us understand the Second Coming as a twin theme of Advent. Since Jesus’ death, the Jewish people have often been a nation without a home, suffering further oppression and unwelcome in country after country around the globe, through the Holocaust and into our modern age. Sadly, both pre- and particularly post-election they are also joined in this country by many marginalized populations that, like the historic Jewish people, now fear for their very existence. Now more than ever it is time, as Paul tells us, to wake from sleep and take positive action in whatever way we can.

Not to end on a downbeat, let me end as I began, with a hearty Happy New Year! May you find in reality, as we symbolize in the lighting of the Advent Candles, all the hope, peace, joy and love within you and both express them to those around you and share in those others. In these troubling times, the bonding of community, family (blood and chosen), and friendship become even more important. Prayers of blessing to you and yours this Advent season and beyond! May we leave our wanderings in the desert and enter a new Promised land together, with a promise of deep caring for all people, stewardship of its creatures, and tender preservation of the land and its resources.

Your intern, Lauren

“All Creatures Great and Small”

During Advent we are thinking about how all creatures, great and small, are blessed in God’s sight, and in need of the hope, peace, joy and love we can bring into the world.  It is a time of expectation, logistical and spiritual preparation, and finally the arrival of Christ anew in our hearts.  A few notes for your own preparations: 

–Lauren graced us with her preaching for the first Sunday in Advent (11/27).  Pastor Carol will preach the remaining services through Christmas Day, all at 10 am. 

–Our beautiful Christmas Eve service will be at 6:30 pm on Saturday, December 24. 

–We are in need of (1) families (singles, doubles, any configuration) to light the Advent candles each week, and (2) many voices to offer short readings on Christmas Eve.  Please let Pastor Carol know if you are interested in either of these opportunities.

–There are a few copies available on the entry table of the UCC Advent devotional “Wolves and Lambs.”  This beautiful publication is now sold out, so we cannot get more.  But here is a link to download your own copy!

New Year’s Eve

The holiday season can be a whirlwind, a mish-mash without precious time to slow down and reflect. Why – as you read this even before Thanksgiving Day – am I talking about New Year’s Eve?  Did I lose a page from my calendar?  This is not the secular calendar new year, but we are at the start of a new liturgical year in Christian reflection.  Advent starts the new year cycle of engaging God moving in our midst, in the life of Jesus, in his ministry, in the work of peace and justice we are called to do to carry on.  This coming Sunday, November 27, will be the first Sunday in the 4 weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas.  Let’s savor those weeks.  They have their own special meaning.  We light candles in the darkness and bolster our ability to bring hope, peace, joy, and love into the new year.

The gospel readings in the lectionary shift (generally, not entirely) from Luke to Matthew.  We will be looking at new adventures and new ways of being as a church.  Yes – it’s New Year’s Eve.  Happy New Year, Island United Church!  Peace and grace to you in the days ahead –

Pastor Carol

PS  Notice many times was the word “new” was used!  Our faith is about being new.