If you know that God's love embraces all persons equally, no matter their gender, race, or sexual identity...
If you understand that faith is a matter of mind as well as heart, and that taking the Bible seriously means it cannot always be taken literally...
If, for you, diversity, tolerance, and inclusion are strengths to be taught...
If you believe that Christ calls us to be nothing less than global citizens, that the social expression of love is justice and that spiritual concerns are inseparable from a commitment to the natural world...
If you have wished for a more open and embracing community of faith to nurture your spirit and raise your children, and haven't yet found a place of belonging...
... then please know that Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ is the place for you.
Humans often use animals as a symbol of their identity, in some cultures even taking on the name of an animal---Spotted Wolf, Crazy Horse, Running Antelope, Sitting Bull, Thunder Hawk, etc. In modern Western culture, we see it most frequently in sports. We divide ourselves into tribes of fighting animals.
Our youngest son attended high school in Niagara Falls, New York. During his time in school, the two city high schools merged and a brand new consolidated campus was constructed. As part of their new beginnings, the students chose a new mascot---the wolverine. The wolverine “has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself.” There you go---a perfect symbol for our gridiron fights.
I’m not sure what it is here in Oregon. Our most prominent teams are Beavers and Ducks, Trail Blazers, Pilots, and Vikings (often stereotyped as violent warriors).
This week’s reading from Isaiah is jarring when we place it alongside our images of a “dog-eat-dog” world. It depicts the wolf living with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the young goat, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bears living peaceably together, the child playing over the home of a poisonous snake. (Isaiah 11:6-8) It’s an inspiring picture, giving rise to a painting, The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks, a Society of Friends (Quaker) minister. Reading this passage, often quoted during the Advent season as a dream associated with the Messiah and applied to Jesus ministry and teaching, always moves me.
And that’s without even mentioning the powerful and challenging clause, “and a little child shall lead them.”
Can this be for real?
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out
In the dark season of the year we celebrate the coming of the life-light.
In an angry season in our country’s political discourse we celebrate the coming of the Word that was with God.
In every season, we remember that our lively, beloved congregation is a part of the very body of Christ – called to seek and share that life-light, that Word of peace, hope, and justice with the world.
At our council retreat last month we talked about our goals for the next year – what focus we might want to add to the vibrant life we already share. We celebrated the time, creative energy, and love that has gone into the work of our music team, mission and social justice committee, green team, Christian education (with new curriculum, youth gatherings, confirmation class and a Christmas pageant in the works!), community life, member care, and community outreach in the past year. And we decided that as we move forward we want to refocus some energy on sharing who we are as a congregation and what we do with folks who don’t already know us. We’ll start by encouraging interpersonal exchanges and extend to creating a visible KMUCC presence at places like Sunday Parkways, political demonstrations and events, street fairs and first Fridays.
We’ll also explore expanding our presence both on social media and right here in our Milwaukie neighborhood.
As we work on preserving our beautiful sanctuary by the major investment of replacing the roof we will also look forward to fostering new depth in the spiritual life of our younger members by supporting a 2018 Service learning trip or participation in the Western Regional Youth Event.
In response to the anti-immigrant sentiment in Washington we will explore the sanctuary movement and what it would mean to become a “sanctuary” congregation.
What a wonderful place to be, to belong to one another, and to rejoice in the light.
The annual United Church of Christ Christmas Fund provides direct financial assistance to individual lower-income retired UCC clergy and lay church employees through: monthly pension supplements, quarterly health premium supplements, and Christmas "Thank You" gift checks.
This fund also provides emergency grants to active and retired UCC clergy and lay employees. In 2015 gifts to the Christmas Fund enabled 464 retired clergy and lay employees to receive pension supplementation and 235 to receive health benefits supplementation. Your gift in 2016 will be combined with the gifts of others to continue this vital mission.
We will collect these contributions the first two Sundays in December.
“The God who we love and trust, that God is not just in the creating business, but in the de-creating business. Everything will end, and God will have a hand in it. The things we thought would be here forever, won’t... Advent invites us to consider the gifts of God, but also the taking of God. Because God is with us not just in the joy when things are begun, but also when things are ended. God is there too. Our endings, even the most painful and unhoped for, can be transformed into new life.”
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