The United Church of
Thank you for an amazing Christmas here at the United Church of Kanab/Fredonia. I started to list the names of all of those that shared music, a poem, helped decorate the church, or just came to be here with us, but I of course don't have room and I'm sure I would forget somebody. Just know that it wouldn't have been Christmas without all of you.
Or should I say our celebration of Christmas? As Christians, we know, Christmas isn't just one day a year – it's every day. Christmas Eve was very special though, thank you.
I spoke to my husband on Sunday and he was surprised we were already talking about the baptism of Jesus. After all, we just celebrated the birth! My response to him was Easter will be here before we know it and we need to be ready. Ash Wednesday is February 18th and the six weeks of Lent will lead us to Easter Sunday, April 5th. We have things to do and we do need to prepare our hearts, our minds, and our souls. As individuals, as a church.
This is an exciting time for the United Church of Kanab/Fredonia. Not only as individuals do we need to prepare for Easter, as church we need to be prepared. We did have 6 new members join on January 4th and they are already sharing their gifts of ministry, most importantly their gift of presence. Being present is a huge part of the Lenten season.
I hope to see many of you on Wednesdays at our Soup Suppers. The one scheduled for the 28th also includes a calendaring party. This will be an opportunity for all of us to help plan the coming year here at the church.
I continue to have conversations with people in the community. Those that have attended the church in the past, those that currently attend, those that will be here at some point, and others that just celebrate the presence of our church here in the community. So many of them talk about their experiences here at the United Church over the years and how they will watch for opportunities to be here again – as members, of the church, of the community.
Again, Happy New Year and may we all be blessed to be a blessing in 2015.
With joy, your sister in Christ,
What a joy to be with you this December! As we prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas, it is truly wonderful that the church is preparing and celebrating as well. If you haven't been to church lately, please try to join us for this advent season. The sanctuary is beautiful. The Angels finally arrived and presents are already appearing. We were so blessed by Xpress last Sunday when they opened our worship. And we will continue celebrating! Even into next year.
We, as a church, have also been lighting the advent candles. From the PCUSA website, we find this history of the advent wreath:
In the ancient world, various peoples lit fires to mark the turning of the light into winter’s season and to pray for the return of the light. The church has Christianized that practice in the lighting of the Advent wreath. To us, these candles are signs of the growing light of Christ who is coming again in all fullness into the darkness of our world. Until the dawning of that Great Day, we watch and wait in Holy Spirit for Christ’s coming into the darkness of our world, lighting candles of hope, peace, joy, and love;and remembering the promises of God with prayer.
Each week, as we light the advent candle, we are invited to think about ways that we can share the light of Christ with the world. We, at the United Church of Kanab/Fredonia truly believe that we can make a difference now and can share Christ in so many ways – today. In November, we were able to give thanks for our abundance. During advent, we are invited to prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ and to think of ways that we can share our abundance with the world around us.
We will be having two Christmas Eve services this year. From the comments that have been shared with me at the grocery store, the senior center, the craft fair, the coffee shop, the dinners I have attended – the sanctuary should be full. Our Traditional Christmas Eve Service will be at 7:00 and it will be a celebration with songs, sharing and candles celebrating the birth of Jesus. At 11:00, we will be offering a Christmas Eve Communion service celebrating our ongoing spiritual union with the living Christ.
In January, the beginning of a new year, many of us will declare and claim New Year's resolutions – promises to live differently in 2015. As a church, we are starting off the new year with Membership Sunday on January 4th. If you are not currently a member and would like to be, please let me know. Membership here at the United Church simply means accepting the opportunity publically to share faithfully in the worship and service of the Church and to support the church as time, talents and financial circumstances allow. Also, as a member you can vote and hold office. You are not required to relinquish any previous denominational affiliation – you are simply saying yes to being a part of the United Church of Kanab/Fredonia.
What a wonderful time of year! Giving thanks, sharing gifts, looking forward to a new year. Not everyone has the hope, peace, love and joy that we seem to know and claim in our lives. My prayer for each of you is that you do know that joy, peace and love that comes with following Christ and acknowledging a divine God. And my hope at this time of year is that you each will find a way to share that joy, peace and love with the world.
In Christ, with joy, wishing you continued blessings, Pastor Marcia
I am so grateful for this opportunity to be included in the newsletter. Being grateful is the theme for the month so I thought I would start off with naming something for which I am grateful. November, the month of Thanksgiving. Or as I like to say, a month of giving thanks! I don't think God planned it this way, but as Americans our November, December and January have a definite pattern. It makes great sense to me that November comes first.
My good friend and well known Spiritual Director, Rev. Jane E. Vennard, has released a new book Fully Awake and Truly Alive Spiritual Practices To Nurture Your Soul. In the book there is a chapter that is entitled The Fruits of Practice: Living Gratefully, Humbly, and Compassionately. She refers to St. Paul's admonition to the Thessalonians to "give thanks in all circumstances." Later in the chapter she shares "Not until I went to seminary did I realize that Paul was not teaching us to be thankful for all things, but rather to give thanks in all things." Every day, every moment, every circumstance – be grateful.
In this month of November I encourage each of us to live gratefully. Many of my friends are on facebook every day this month posting 5 things they are grateful for that day. My goodness, I'm on facebook maybe every 5 days, certainly not every day. That's not going to work for me. In times of transition, change or challenge, I have always been encouraged by my mentors and I certainly always encourage my directees to create a gratitude journal. Writing down the things one is grateful for can literally create a shift from despair to blessing. Perhaps we are all in a great place and don't need to shift from despair to blessing, but we are in a moment of transition and change. November is the month of giving thanks, so we should – in some way, give thanks.
As individuals, find some way to celebrate on a daily basis a month of giving thanks. Celebrating the harvest and the transition. As a church, I'm inviting all of you to bring a symbol of something you are grateful for to worship on Sunday, November 23rd. I need to talk with the Worship Committee (speaking of things to be grateful for!) but my hope is that we can place those symbols on the altar and that our worship on Thanksgiving Sunday will be a one of giving thanks. I'm sure it will be a wonderful Sunday, as will the others leading up to that Sunday.
Blessings! Continued joy in all that you do. See you soon!