At the very beginning of this pandemic journey, way back in March, I gave my very first Zoom Children’s Sermon. I talked about how things would have to be different, just for a little while, so that we could do our part to help keep each other safe. I had no idea that we would be separated for such a long time, but here we are, about to begin Advent, and we are still doing things differently.
This year, our Christmas Pageant will indeed be different. And while I will miss seeing a crowded chancel full of sheep and cows and monkeys, I actually think we have an exciting opportunity. Because of our need to stay apart, we must think differently about how we can present the story that we know by heart using technology that some of us (that would be me) are still trying to figure out. We have an opportunity to be creative, flexible, and supportive of our children and youth in a new way. We have the chance to make something really beautiful during this challenging season in the life of our world and our church.
Filming will take place over the next few weeks, and we’ll present the Greatest Digital Christmas Pageant EVER! movie on December 20th in Worship. The story of the birth of Jesus, the same story that we hear every year, will still be the same story this year. We will just tell it in a different way. I wonder if that means that we might also come to understand it in a different way. And what a year to understand things differently.
We are all invited to be a part of sharing God’s word in a new way…so let’s choose to embrace the adventure, together. Let’s choose to accept change, to continue to learn technology (hey, after 8 months, I might just be getting the hang of it…), and let’s create, together, the Greatest Digital Christmas Pageant EVER!
I hope your family will participate in this adventure. Check out our website for more information: https://www.uccaustin.org/christmaspageant.html
With love and thanks,
Emily Jamison Guerrero
Each day Thanksgiving grows closer, the numbers of Covid-19 cases multiply. The Center of Disease Control is now urging all Americans to rethink their Thanksgiving plans. A crushing thought, because we are just so tired of living apart, and yet, we still feel an obligation to keep those we love safe and to flatten the curve as global citizens.
The holidays will indeed be different this year. But different, as we have found at United Christian Church, doesn’t have to mean less meaningful -- so many of you these past months have told me you’ve been surprised at how meaningful online worship has been to you.
Even so, there is still something about embodied worship: like breaking bread around a table or standing to pray in a sacred space. We are a people of the incarnation after all! For this reason, your church will be offering two safe ways for you to have a meaningful and embodied holiday season this year, even amid viral spread.
First, this Thanksgiving Thursday at 6 PM, you are warmly invited to participate in a Virtual Thanksgiving Feast, modeled after our popular Maundy Thursday Feast earlier in the pandemic. You may log on for all our part of the Thanksgiving Communion liturgy followed by breakout discussion dinner parties. Though we may have fewer chairs at our tables this year, we will fill our homes with our church family as together we physically light the candles, set out the plates, wash our hands, and break the bread. For more information about our virtual feast and to see the “discussion menu,” go to uccaustin.org/thanksgiving.
And just the day before Thanksgiving, (in addition to hosting our first Advent at the Movies Zoom Discussion at 7PM on The Muppet Christmas Carol led by Meghan Trout) we will also be posting our first station of our Advent Stations of the Nativity, authored by Rev. Elsa Cook. Two paths of yard signs will be posted on church grounds for your devotion throughout the season of Advent through Epiphany: a shorter purple way along paved pathways, and a longer blue path through the outdoor sanctuary. Each stop on this walking devotional includes a yard sign with a scripture reading, reflection, prayer, hymn and an action. New stops will be introduced via livestream Wednesdays and Sundays for the longer path, and on Sundays only for the shorter path. More information is available at uccaustin.org/stationsofthenativity. We warmly invite you to come and pray over these stations whenever and as often as you wish.
Friends, love came down at Christmas, incarnate in a human child. We too are incarnate beings, who yearn for human connection and to touch holiness, especially during the holidays. So I hope you will join your church family in these embodied practices this Thanksgiving and Advent.
Peace be with you,
noun the action or fact of joining or being joined
Watching the election results last week, I was reminded that there is still so much work to be done. There are more people who need to know that they are loved by God and that others are loved by God just as much. And that we are all created in God's image and called to be co-creators with God for our world.
In order to do this work well, we must be joined together. To be a union. In our current sermon series, we have been considering how our liturgical practices join us together, challenge us, and even change us.
This Sunday we will focus on the liturgical practice of singing, with a hymn-sing service focused on our songs of justice. In addition to singing, we will explore how our singing forms us inwardly and outwardly for the work of justice.
Our Virtual Family Re-Union immediately follows are worship service. And although we cannot be together physically, we will come Together for Joy to celebrate the many accomplishments of 2020. I think you will be amazed (and possibly surprised) at all the good things happening!!
After we celebrate, there are a few business items to address and you can find information about those on our website.
Members, to be able to fully participate, please join via the worship zoom link. We will also be streaming live in our in-house FB group. For those who are not members, although unable to vote, you are welcome to attend.
I look forward to being with each of you in worship, in celebration, and even in doing the work of the church through our votes!
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” - Matthew 19:14
What a nail-biting week it has been for us adults. For those of us fortunate enough to live in households with children, however, we are reminded that life goes on whether or not we worry about it. They continue to play and fight and lose their shoes. So for our children, we must get out of bed, pour the coffee, and keep on.
Even if your own children have flown the nest, or even if children have never lived in home, you are part of a church family that cherishes and raises our children together in an intergenerational community -- that is something truly unique and special in this world where more and more, we live in silos segregated by age. In our church, we cherish our children not because they’re cute, or sweet, or even because they’re “our future.” We value children because they are full human beings right here, right now. That’s why we go to great lengths to make them feel welcome in our building, in our worship, and in our community. And that’s why we voted recently on their behalf -- to build for them a more just and peaceful world.
This week, we have published a new resource at www.uccaustin.org/holyconversations so that our children and youth can more easily participate in the strategic planning and visioning process that will build the future of our church. There you will find 2 downloadable forms: one for pre-writers and one for children and youth. These forms prompt children and youth to respond to the themes of our Holy Conversations. You can use these forms or your own paper; download them yourself or pick copies up at the blessing bag pickup this Saturday; drop them back off at the next blessing bag pickup or scan them in and email them to the church office. These forms are perhaps the most important contribution to our Holy Conversations, because they build the church we will leave for our children.
I also hope you engage in our next Holy Conversation on identity beginning November 22nd, as well as in the other points of entry that are popping up on our Facebook page, such as the wonderful history photos our church historian Carol Barrett has been posting. Our Search Committee is currently working hard to pull all these rich conversations together into a report on our history, and we’re so excited to share it with you soon.
Peace be with you,