At the beginning of each New Year, on Epiphany Sunday, we chalk our doors like the ancient Christians. We inscribe our doors with symbols that mark our home, our place of worship, and our lives with God's blessing, and to visually remind ourselves of God's presence in our lives and our commitment to faithfulness and radical welcome. We'll chalk our church this Sunday in worship and there will be kits available so you can do the same in your home.
The very next Sunday each year is Baptism of Christ Sunday, when we remember Christ's and our baptisms, that we are all washed in the radical and renewing grace of God and resurrected to a new life in Christ.
It occurs to me that we could use more renewal and resurrection this year than usual after all that we've been through the past 21 months. I know I could! So this Baptism of Christ Sunday, I invite you to participate in a robust Renewal of Baptismal Vows in our January 9th worship services. You are invited to renew your Baptismal vows by touching the water in the font yourself, by being sprinkled, or by being fully immersed in our baptistry.
If you'd like to begin the New Year by renewing your baptismal vows by being fully immersed in our baptistry on Sunday January 9th, please email me before noon on Thursday January 6th.
If you have not been baptized before, I would love to set up a time to meet with you 1-on-1 to discuss baptism with you and prepare a special service for you.
May your New Year be Blessed,
Do you remember Christmastime last year? I do. Every Sunday morning of Advent I would drive to the church in full makeup and yoga pants. (It didn't matter what I wore anyway because the camera just showed my head and shoulders.)
Then when I arrived at church, I would sit alone in my car in our empty parking lot a minute or two and wonder, how much longer it would be before I was preaching to people and not to a camera?
Next, I would drag myself out of the car into our empty sanctuary. Meghan would already be there and we would click on an enormous ring light, fire up my laptop, connect it to the camera on the tripod, pop my iPad into the teleprompter, check all the shots, fire up her computer and extra monitor for slides, and then troubleshoot whatever it was that was going wrong that morning. From my end, worship felt more technical than holy, but I was heartened that many of you still found the holy on your end during that time.
So I wasn't looking forward to re-enacting this exhausting routine on Christmas Eve. It didn't feel like Christmas without your candlelit faces before me. But when I came into the sanctuary that evening, it was filled with your illuminated faces! You, dearly beloved, had sent in photographs of yourselves holding candles that were pinned to the pew where each of you usually sat, an electric tea light beneath each one. My cup overflowed. It was, perhaps, the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received.
And this year, beloved, you again have given me the greatest gift of the year: the privilege to walk beside you through the joys and sorrows of life together, to grow in the Spirit as we seek God's wisdom, and to incarnate Christ here and now through acts of love and justice. Life together -- living in community -- is a difficult and fruitful calling. I'm so glad you have chosen this path, and I'm so thankful to walk it with you.
So Merry Christmas, blessed New Year, and may the Christ child reveal himself to you this season through love incarnate in your family and friends.
Well, here we are again – ready to share another Christmas Pageant together.
Doesn’t it feel like we were just here? Except that last year, we were all at home, hunkered down, in month 10 of the pandemic.
And now, a year later, here we are: ages 5 and older are able to get vaccinated (hooray for science!) and those who are able will be gathering together, in person and masked, in the Sanctuary at 10 a.m. to remember the Christmas Story together.
Will things be the same as 2 years ago or 5 years ago or 20 years ago?
Yes…but also, no.
The story is the same – or at least the essence of the story is the same.
Sometimes words or phrases are a bit different, but it’s really US who change from year to year.
A baby Jesus grows up to be a shepherd, or an angel, or a cantor…
A child who once crawled on the floor as a donkey is now a senior in high school…
I remember a toddler who was a cow, then an angel, then Baby Jesus, and now an angel again…
I wonder what part of the story resonates most with you this year?
I wonder if there is something you might hear differently or understand differently this year? I hope you will participate in the Worship service this week in whatever way is comfortable for your family.
We have pre-recorded the speaking parts, so that those who are not able to be in person, are still able to participate. And we will remain masked. Those who want to come and dress up are warmly invited to do so…all ages are welcome to be a part of the story!!!
Come and get into costume at 9:30 and be a part of the Journey to Bethlehem as we worship together at 10 a.m.
Emily Jamison Guerrero
Outdoor Worship at 8:30am on 1st Sundays of the Month
We are proudly affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
3500 West Parmer Lane, Austin TX 78727