Tagged with 2013

Advent Wednesday Witness: Fran

  • December 4, 2013

Fran GardellaWhat wakes me up to God’s presence? Morning sunlight reminds me that a new day is beginning and God will guide me through it if I ask for help. Welcoming a new baby into our family lets me know that God wants and loves people in his world. Caring hugs, loving words, shared laughter or tears tell me God is close by embracing me, too. Readings like the 23rd Psalm, beautiful music and thoughtful prayers are God’s special messages. A gorgeous sunset or bright moonlight shining on a snowy backyard, revealing one small rabbit, are signs that God ends my day offering peaceful rest and will watch over all of His creations throughout the night.  God is ever present.

What wakes you up to God’s presence?

What Time Is It?

If you were enjoying a pleasant, well-fed stupor in the hours and days after Thanksgiving, the season of Advent has arrived to throw cold water in your face.  The scriptures we read this past Sunday (Romans 13:-14 and Matthew 3:1-12) don’t feature angels, babies, or stars. Instead, we hear “Wake up! Do not revel in debauchery, quarreling and jealousy!” and “Repent, you brood of vipers!”

It’s not nice to be yelled at. The urgency of these texts can feel exhausting, because photo(5)most of us have enough urgency in our lives already. We have a long list of unfulfilled responsibilities that grows even longer at this time of year. We’re busy caring for those we love and trying to care for ourselves.We’re busy sending cards, welcoming guests, observing traditions, and acting cheerful, even if we’re really stressed-out or sad. We’re busy — and if we’re not, something tell us that we should be, just to keep up appearances.

But the wake-up call we get this week, this cold Advent faceful of water, isn’t about our photo(4)normal responsibilities, or our holiday to-do list. Instead we hear from a foul-smelling, fly-ridden, crazy-eyed prophet. He doesn’t care if we meet our deadlines. No one who wears camel’s hair and eats insects is very concerned about other people’s expectations. Instead, he’s asking us to put all that other stuff aside to wake up to the immanent, magnificent, life-changing presence of God.

John’s words are harsh. But all of us need a bracing pep talk now and then to keep our priorities straight. We need a voice that’s strange and powerful enough to break through our everyday. It’s only then that we can fight against the nagging voice that asks us to do, or be, the wrong kind of more. It’s only then that we can defy expectations that lead us to anxiety and despair. It’s only then that we can wake up to the kingdom of heaven all around us.

So whenever you take a look at your watch or your clock, try to see John’s face instead. When you’re writing down your list of tasks, add in a reminder: “The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!” May we all receive this gift of God, this strange and smelly prophet, and wake up to the presence of God all around us.

Advent Music Monday: Awake

Here are some tunes to help us wake up this week to the prophets’ Advent promises.  What music helps you wake up to God’s presence and promise?

Advent Preparations

  • November 29, 2013

advent wreathHow can we hold some space in this busy season to prepare spiritually for Christmas?  Stay posted for resources here, and please join us this Sunday at 9:45 a.m. for our first Advent worship!

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel: you have visited your people; you have set us free. You have sent us a saving power, as holy prophets predicted long ago. You have shown us faithful love, keeping the holy promise you made our ancestors. You have freed us to serve you without fear, and to stand before you in righteousness all our days. Now may the dawn from on high break upon us, giving light to all who sit in darkness, and guiding our feet into the way of peace. Amen.  Zechariah’s Song, Luke 1:68-79

Serving Others: John

  • November 27, 2013

Many members of John & Ann FossettWCUC give a lot of time, money, and effort to the wider community. In recent years we’ve tried to do a better job of recognizing and celebrating this generosity, which is an extension of our ministry together. John has been working hard to launch a program to provide opportunities for real-life experience for high schoolers in Concord and Carlisle.  Read more about his Community Connections program here!

Why I Serve: Rhonney

Doll-BarkovicAssistants in our multiage classroom listen, play,and pray with elementary-age children. Here is Rhonney’s story:

I have greatly enjoyed working with the children in our Sunday School program over the years. I love the spontaneity and creativity of children.  You never know what they are going to say, or how they will interpret a lesson or project. When Emily was in that age group, it was wonderful getting to know her peers. Now I am volunteering to get to know the next generation. I hope the newer, younger families can experience the same connection and support from members in different phases of their lives as I have. I want these children to feel nurtured by a wider church community and have them grow up feeling known, supported and loved at WCUC. 

We Give Thanks

cornucopia 2013This Sunday, we gathered to give thanks for the abundance in our lives, and on our tables. As many of us gather around tables this week with family and friends, I continue to give thanks for this congregation, how God’s Spirit is present among us, and how we share what we have with each other and the wider community.  Our congregational giving video this year captured it well! Take a look:

Responding to Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines-Typhoon-Source-Thomson-Reuters-FoundationOur denomination has been fundraising to help support those in need following Typhoon Haiyan. We hope to raise $250,00 to support relief efforts. Learn more and donate here. Lord, you walk with the mourner, the refugee, the poor, and the hungry.  Teach us also to accompany our sisters and brothers. Amen.

A Veteran's Story: Annie

On Sunday, November 10th, Annie shared this reflection during worship.

The year was 1943. The Annie HoltUnited States was at war. I was 21 years old and life was dull. All the boys had gone off to war; no dates, no dances. The WAVES, a newly formed branch of the Navy, sounded interesting, exciting. I decided to join.

Boot camp, Hunter College, Bronx, NY was not like any camp I had ever been to. It was march, march everywhere. Physicals, aptitude tests, lots of shots, uniform fittings, classes on Navy history and protocol. I qualified for communications training, was sent to Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, to learn Morse code. Next order: San Francisco, where I would do coding at the Federal Building.

In September 1994 my high school boyfriend, who was in the Seabees, arrived in San Francisco to be shipped out to the Pacific. After a whirlwind courtship we decided not to wait until war ended to be married. A Navy chaplain performed the ceremony on Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay.

Perhaps you would like to hear how I announced my marriage to the Northern Pacific Fleet. My duty was broadcasting weather to the fleet at scheduled times. The report was punched out on tape in Morse code. It was never done in plain language. When not sending the actual report we were to practice on a dead key. I was waiting for 2am to send the weather, so on a dead key I practiced: Hi, Annie Rand Fay. It was fun, a new name, sounded good. At 2:10 the chief of the watch came over and said, “Your transmitter is running wild.” Glancing at the clock I realized I’d been on the air ten minutes. I was scared. What would the brass do to me? I imagined spending years in the brig in Portsmouth, N.H.. Fortunately the captain of the station was in Washington. My error was overlooked.

What did I learn from two years in the WAVES? Tolerance of others whose backgrounds and ideas were different. Respect for rules and authority, knowing they were for everyone’s welfare and safety. Caring for my WAVE buddies. I knew God was with me always. I came home safely, older and wiser. Thanks be to God.

A Veteran's Story: Bob

BobOn Sunday, November 10th, Bob shared this reflection during worship.

Today is the 238th celebration of the birth of the United States Marine Corps at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia in 1775.   Semper Fidelis!

I joined the Marine Corps on the 2nd of October, 52 years ago.  The seven+ years I spent in the Marines are important to me.  I learned much in boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.  I learned to conduct myself as a gentleman and to conduct myself as an armed combatant and to determine when each was appropriate.  I gained self-confidence.  I learned how to operate and repair radar sets and a computer. These skills helped keep me employed for the next 25 years in the evolving computer industry.

I was a member of an infantry battalion that was part of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, landing at Danang, South Vietnam on 8 March 1965.   This was the beginning of “combat” operations in Viet Nam.  We guarded the perimeter of the Air Base at Danang and occupied hills 327 & 268 to the west.  I was one of two radar technicians located hill 268.  When our radar became inoperable, we sent it for repairs and became S-2 scouts and went on guard duty and patrols in the area.  Streambeds were often used as trails to get through the jungle.  During this process, we became food for the leeches that lived in the water or dropped on us from the trees.  My battalion was relieved on 20 June 1965 and we returned to Camp Hansen, Okinawa and to the U.S. in August.

I became an instructor in electronics & the operation, maintenance & repair of artillery tracking radar sets & a computer attached to one of them, at MCRD, San Diego. I made Staff Sergeant in July 1967 & was a radar team leader at Camp Pendleton, CA.  I was discharged on 28 December 1968.   The skills and attitude I developed in the Marine Corps have enabled me to make a living, attend college and have been useful in my career.

It was some time after my service that I began my faith journey.  I was living at the YMCA in downtown San Diego and happened to attend an informal meeting there.  After the presentation, the pastor invited us to his church.  A week or so later I went and later joined, the North Clairmont United Methodist Church.  There I met people who became important to me, Dorothy & Keith McMahon and others.  When my job took me to Los Angeles, I transferred membership to a church there and later, to Acton, MA as well.   I have been attending church fairly regularly since.  Church and the search for understanding God have become very important in my life.