Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

KMUCC News & Events

Photo: (c) iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

Photo: © iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

News and events information from KMUCC and the wider community.

 

image.pngAs the lights go up around the neighborhood, and my calendar fills up with concerts and plays, parties and service project and worship services, as my house is filled with the scent of nutmeg from my handed-down-the-generations Christmas cookie recipe, my heart is filled with the old familiar combination of excitement, anxiety, joy and dread.

Excitement because I love the lights and the concerts, the work and the play of the season and the chance to spend extra time with my family and friends. I love hearing about other people’s family traditions. I even love an occasional cheesy Christmas movie.

Anxiety because although my children are both adults now, I still hear the anxious voice in my head reminding me of every detail that seems NECESSARY to making Christmas merry.

Dread because the world is full of dreadful news and like most people I sometimes wonder if I have enough trust in the good news of God’s presence with us to keep me rooted and grounded in love in the face of the world’s onslaught.

Joy because I am not alone. Joy because I am reminded that faith is not something I need to produce through sheer will power. Faith is a gift that time and time again is returned to me – welling up within as we work and sing and pray together. It is a gift that falls down upon my shoulders like a gentle rain, making everything fresh and new, when I sit in stillness, close to the “deep but dazzling darkness” and wait.

I wish you a holy advent, full of quietness and peace, in the Presence.
I wish you a joyous Christmas full of the traditions that enliven you most.
I wish you a hope filled season, with joy in your heart and just the right amount of work for your hands to do.

Photo: (c) iStock.com / tirlikk (image #863905204)December Doings

The month of December is usually full of activity, and this one is as busy as ever.
The Bazaar on the 9th is preceded by a “greening of the church” on the 8th.
On Friday the 14th, we open the church to a lunch and conference of the conference’s Wider Church Ministry, sponsored by the Palestine Israel Network.
On the 16th the magnificent Vivaldi Gloria will enliven our worship service.
Also, the Council will meet on the 16th, with Vivaldi ringing in our ears, to discuss priorities for our 2019 budget.
On the 23rd we will have a soup luncheon hosted by the Council, followed by a Chimes and Carols service at noon.
All of this is part of celebrating the advent of the birth of the one in whose honor we engage in these worshipful activities and more.

Energy

We run on energy. Part of the energy of the congregation comes from having the financial resources to serve and survive. We are still running a deficit, but it is shrinking, so keep up the good giving! Other energy comes from the tangible ways we touch the lives of each other and the wider community. Our Council provides guidance and structure to channel this energy; we, the congregation, provide the energy to channel.

Solar power is becoming a new, popular source of energy. This congregation, however, also gains energy from a different Star that appeared 2,018 years ago and energizes us and the world even today. Guided by that Star, may we all have the merriest of Christ’s Masses and the happiest of a bright New Year!

Photo: (c) iStock.com / DawidKasza (image #28035110)Sunday, December 16, 2018 during 10:00 am worship

We will experience a special Christmas worship service at 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 16th, when the Choir will present Vivaldi’s “Gloria.”
Our choir will be enhanced by guest musicians in what promises to be an occasion of great beauty and joy.
Coffee hour after the service will feature special Christmas cookies brought by all to share along with warm apple holiday wassail.

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

--Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Photo: (c) iStock.com / Timofey Zadvornov (image #859871484)The other night as David and I sat by the fireplace enjoying the first fire of the season I was forced to admit to myself that all the long sunny days of September and October did not in fact mean that summer had never really ended. Now the clocks have been turned back, making it impossible to ignore the way dusk has been creeping toward late afternoon, falling earlier and earlier each day.

I have trouble welcoming the shorter, darker days of late autumn and early winter here in Oregon. When the rain begins, and the soft gray skies speak only of sameness, a certain light turns off in my brain and saps me of energy and creativity and hope. But this year’s extra weeks of sunshine have given me some time to prepare. Yes! I do have a full spectrum light. Yes! I do make myself go outside for a short walk in natural light every day. Yes! I DO have Vivaldi and Mozart cued up and ready to go on my phone.

But more than all those lovingly offered and happily accepted bits of native Oregonian wisdom for fighting the seasonal blahs, I have begun to focus on gratitude and, as its sequel, hope. This begins with a daily tallying of the “things” for which I feel thankful – my family, my home, pastoring and belonging with Kairos, the way the light falls on the golden tree…I write a list every day, and each day’s list is long. But gratitude is more than thankfulness for things I have already in some sense received. It is also a forward-facing attitude toward what will be each day. Gratitude in the face of life’s vicissitudes is not a tool for denying the pain of life, but of contextualizing it. As David Whyte wrote:

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live
together and mesh together and breath together in order for us to take even one more
breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating
human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than
nothing, Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of fields, the freshness of a
cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

That kind of thankfulness requires only that we pay attention and allow ourselves to be present both as participant in life and witness to the lives around us. Steeped in gratitude and aware that there is some divine grace at work that has brought us to this day, to this moment, my hope is renewed.

As that first fire of the season becomes a weekly or even daily pleasure, my reading will turn to works of hope. Next up: DeRay McKesson’s “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope,” and Ann Lamott’s “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope.” What will you be reading as the days grow short? For what are you giving thanks this season?

Immigrant Welcoming

Now that we have become an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation (see the resolution text here) we will be focusing on making that a meaningful part of our mission. What does welcoming look like? How do the lives of recent immigrants touch us, the earlier immigrants to this continent and those who were here when we arrived? We talk of sanctuary for immigrants, but in fact we provide a grand sanctuary in our overall devotion: a safe, sacred space for all.

Elections

As I write this, the November elections haven’t happened, but as you read this, the results will be in. Lots of cliffhangers – Governor, city council, Measure 105 repealing Oregon law on local independence from ICE, Measure 26-201 taxing large businesses for low-income energy help, etc. Whatever the outcome, our faith-based involvement in social issues continues, and our allegiance to powers beyond politics remains true.

Pendleton Conference

KMUCC at CPC Pendleton ConferenceThe Central Pacific Conference annual meeting in Pendleton was a busy, varied event organized around the Starling Project – learning flight patterns of the spirit like the graceful patterns of starlings in flight. Pastor Jeanne, Joanie McClellan and I participated in a wealth of activities, including group spiritual alignments, anti-105 protests, workshops on a variety of topics, business including elections and budget, and a lot of informal getting together.

Of these, the interactive sessions were the most meaningful for me, where we got to practice moving together both spiritually and practically with grace and empathy. I was especially pleased that Linda Jaramillo is our new Conference Moderator.

A couple of resolutions passed easily: one against Measure 105 and one supporting universal publicly funded health care in Oregon. Despite a deficit Conference budget and continued shrinking membership, there was an air of hopeful energy for individuals and congregations to move together like starlings in a cloud of witnesses. Now more than ever, the strong moral integrity of the conference is a vital social force in an increasingly amoral society.

For more on the conference and the Starling Project visit the Central Pacific Conference UCC website.

Resolution to Become an Immigrant-Welcoming Congregation

Photo: (c) iStock.com / sigoisette (image #859630472)Adopted by vote of the KMUCC membership on October 28, 2018

It is resolved that Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ become an immigrant-welcoming church. We will covenant together to make immigrant issues one of the lenses through which we explore and extend God’s extravagant welcome. The congregation commits to:

Deepening our connections with

  • Other churches and organizations committed to immigrant justice;
  • The sacred stories of migration, hospitality, injustice and hope that already exist in our traditions;
  • The immigrant communities in our own Southeast Portland and Milwaukie neighborhoods.

Ongoing education about immigration-related issues

  • Learn about issues that have a direct impact on immigrants in our society (e.g., profiling, detainment) and about legislation targeting immigration policy reform;
  • Use resources from and support organizations that work for immigrant justice and progressive immigration reform;
  • Educate ourselves about immigration’s legal and historical context.

Advocating for justice and for comprehensive humane immigration reform

  • Actively work toward comprehensive humane immigration reform in Oregon and the United States, consistent with the policies and teachings of the United Church of Christ;
  • Support the UCC’s and other faith-based organizations’ position calling for an end to programs that separate immigrant families;
  • Uphold Oregon’s and Portland’s sanctuary law as the foundation for disallowing ICE-funded facilities detaining immigrants in this state.

Photo: (c) iStock.com / thegoodphoto (image #894058154)Sunday, November 11, 2018 from 12:30 to 2:00 pm

We are beyond blessed to be home to some of the very finest music and musicians to be heard in the Portland area. Join us as we showcase our music and revel in our blessed community.
Performances from the KMUCC choir and chimes choir, selections from our Music Team with special guest Dan Balmer, ranging from classical to jazz, Broadway to folk.
Donations gratefully accepted in support of the KMUCC music programs.