PACE December 2017

 

Photo: (c) iStock.com / marekullasz (#484416138)PACE Monthly Newsletter for December 2017

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Photo: (c) iStock.com / bkkm (image #79603399)“Therefore what I say to you, I say to all: Keep awake!”

I don’t know how it is for each of you, but this year as we move into advent and toward Christmas, my heart is full of longing. I am longing for a different world. A better world. A world without mass shootings, and the need for metoo#s; a world without nuclear weapons and unstable leaders with their fingers on the triggers; a world where renewable energy is preferred, and access to clean, healthy drinking water is a right; where everyone has access to affordable healthcare and public education is fully funded. A world without racial and religious bigotry, without misogyny and homophobia. And, to be honest, I’d really, really like God to appear and just sort that out for us. I’m tired of trying to be the change I want to see in the world and I feel overwhelmed by the impossibility of the tasks. I am indeed waiting.

Into this season of advent church tradition sends the words of Jesus recorded in Mark… “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come. Keep awake!”

We are called to keep alert for a future arrival of Christ in Glory as we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus all those centuries ago. But reading those apocalyptic words as a part of Mark-- a gospel that more than all the others centers Jesus in the midst of ordinary people with their ordinary economic and social lives, a gospel that focuses more on the present than the future, I think we should read these apocalyptic cautions in the same way: as an invitation to keep alert for signs of God’s in-breaking love all around us at all times. As we share our joys and concerns in worship, we’ll share our encounters with God’s presence too.

We are invited to hold on to the promise that even in waiting times, and times of great uncertainty and even peril, we are not alone. As we move through the season of advent, alert to God’s presence in the world, we’ll heed the favorite words of the messengers of God: “Do Not Be Afraid.” And we’ll seek ways to counteract a culture of fear with more hope, more peace, more joy and more love.

Wishing you a blessed advent, a joyous Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Our congregation continued our ancestry and immigration exploration on Sunday, Nov. 16, by watching a video on immigration history (below) and discussing it as a group. Many of the approximately 15 people who attended mentioned their personal connections to the history – being able to place their ancestry in one of the waves of immigration to the United States. The first wave was approximately 1790 to 1820 when groups of immigrants came to the U.S. for a variety of religious, political and economic reasons. Groups included English, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans, Dutch, French, Spanish and Puritans. The second wave was between 1820 through 1860 when immigrants came largely from Europe after being displaced from agriculture and artisan jobs by the Industrial Revolution. Largest affected groups were the Germans and British (escaping economic problems and seeking political freedom) and the Irish (fleeing horrific poverty and famine). The third wave, between 1880 and 1914, came to America for job opportunities and freedom of religion from China, Japan and other Asian countries. The current or fourth wave from 1965 on came after certain groups were given priority by law if they had family in the U.S. or skills that were perceived as needed in the labor market. They include Europeans, Asians and Hispanics (mainly from Mexico).

We also talked about the long history of U.S. immigration law that has – since the late 1700s – precluded certain groups from migrating in large numbers to this country. We talked about the push/pull of the U.S. needing labor during wars and at other times that led to discrimination and backlash by those who perceived those groups as threats.

 

 

During December, let’s think about the subtle and obvious connections between the nativity story and immigration – as well as the issue of homelessness that the youth will present in their Christmas play and video. Welcoming the stranger is a central and compelling part of our faith. We have a wonderful opportunity to explore how our church will react to that in the next few months. For an excellent article on the connection between immigration and the Christmas story, go to the story “The story of Christmas makes it clear: Welcome the refugee” in the Los Angeles Times.

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