Wise Enough for Visions
November 22 – Thanks-singing Sunday
Sometimes wisdom comes through deep study and research. Sometimes it comes from paying attention to the world around us, and sometimes wisdom comes through visions, like those of the Prophet Isaiah with his wonderful vision of God’s great feast for all people. (Isaiah 25:6-9) On God’s holy mountain, everyone will be well-fed, and the “veil” that keeps us from seeing one another will be lifted. May we have the wisdom to see such a vision, too. May we have the courage to live into it.
Holy Waiting — Advent Worship starts November 29
How do we wait for the coming of Christmas? At United (even apart) Church, we
hold off on the glitter and gold that’s been up since before Halloween. Instead we
put up the purple banners and light the Advent candles against the darkness. We
sing “Come, O Come, Emmanuel” before “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” We tell our
children and grandchildren stories not of a red-suited man “making a list and
checking it twice” or an “Elf on the Shelf,” but of people who beat their swords into plowshares, lions that lie down with lambs, deserts that bloom, and a poor child born in a stable in a backwater town.
How we wait also differs from the ways of the world. Advent worship calls us to acknowledge the ache of our longing and of this world. Advent scriptures remind us that we are a long way from the peace of those plowshares and that many of God’s children are still a long way from home. Yet the sacred texts of this season also remind us that God is with us in our waiting, as God has been with those who have waited in the past. May
their stories of such “Holy Waiting” give us hope and strength as we, too, wait for Emmanuel’s coming.
Waiting with one another, even when we’re apart, is a gift of this season. It’s also a gift you can give others by sharing United’s online worship services with friends, family, and neighbors, near and far.
Waiting for a Sign
1st Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29
Decades after Jesus’ birth, the apostle Paul promised the United Church of Corinth (Greece) that God would strengthen them in their waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. (I Corinthians 1:1-9). Twenty years later, after the Roman Empire destroyed Jerusalem, the writer of the Gospel of Mark told his listeners to still stay alert to God’s signs. (Mark 13:24-37) For Mark, those signs covered the spectrum from the “Son of Man descending on clouds” to a fig tree in spring. Being open to the many ways God may show up is one way to sanctify our waiting.
Waiting for a New Heaven and a New Earth
2nd Sunday of Advent, Dec. 6
Also decades after Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, the unknown author of the “Second Letter of Peter” faced the same challenge as Paul and Mark—how do you strengthen others in their waiting, given that the Second Coming has yet to come? Like people of faith before him, “Peter” reminded his community what they were waiting for—“new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home”—and how to wait, with perseverance and peace. (2nd Letter of Peter 3:8-15)
Joyous Sunday of Advent, Dec. 13
Rome still ruled, her hometown was still occupied territory, and the chasm between poor and rich was as wide as ever when Mary of Nazareth threw back her head and sang to the heavens her magnificent vision of God’s intention for her and her people. (Luke 2:46-55) Her ancestor in the faith, the Prophet Isaiah, had done the same when his people also languished in a time of occupation and hardship. (Isaiah 64:1-4, 8-11) For people of faith, waiting is not passive but filled with promise, pregnant with possibility.
Waiting in Perplexity
A Service of Lessons and Carols
4th Sunday of Advent, Dec. 20
“How can this be?” asks Mary of the Angel Gabriel when he blows in with his outlandish news. (Luke 1:26-38) Five days before Christmas, we could ask the same question. How can this be? How can Christmas possibly come this year? How will know God’s promise of new life? Through carols and readings, we’ll find our way to God’s answer together.
Christmas Eve Worship
(Thursday, Dec. 24)
As the newsletter goes to print, plans are still in the works for Christmas Eve this odd year. We will definitely offer two different prerecorded services—one for children, families, and the young at heart and the other (also for the young at heart 🙂 ) a “traditional” service with choral anthems and other special music. We may also try to offer a “Farolito Walk” around the church grounds on Christmas Eve—but that idea isn’t fully formed yet 🙂 . Stay tuned!
Yet to Be Revealed (Literally)
1st Sunday of Christmastide, Dec. 27
Traditionally, Sunday services are held at 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM. Holy Communion is celebrated every Sunday at 8:30 and the first Sunday of the month at the later service (11:00 AM). Adult forum is held at 9:45 AM. Childcare available. Please check back for updates.