Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Photo: © iStock.com / andreusK (image #1029169532)
What a rich full November we have ahead of us. A month for celebrating, for raising spirits and funds with our fall musical showcase; a month for looking back at the merger that created Kairos-Milwaukie UCC twenty years ago from our two precursor congregations. A month for giving thanks for all the saints that have gone before and brought us to this day. And a month for looking forward with anticipation!

There is an old story about a holy man, a monk, whose meditation and prayer were so deep and profound that many younger monks longed to be in his presence for prayer. He was indeed a holy man. He was also a cat owner. And his cat loved to follow this kind and gentle man everywhere he went – even into the chapel where she would wind her way around and around him, purring loudly and vying for his attention as he sat to pray. He was able to sink into deep meditation assisted by her purr but the novices who flocked to him were so distracted by her that in deference to their needs he finally tied her to the altar one day. She didn’t like it a lot, but she got used to it and day after day allowed herself to be constrained so that eventually it became so much of a habit that when they entered the chapel she would go directly to her spot under the altar and wait patiently while the wise old man tied her up. Years went over, novices came and went, and finally the old man was gathered to his ancestors and his body was laid to rest. A few years later his beloved cat also died, and her small body was laid beside his. Immediately afterward, the monks said, someone will have to go into the village to get a new cat! Our prayers cannot continue without one – we’ve always had a cat tied to the altar. It’s …. tradition!

I wonder if you have traditions which were created to protect or transmit something of value, but which have become so much “the way we do things” that you don’t remember why you do them. (Like the woman who always cut the end off of a roast before she cooked it, because that’s the way her mother did it. Never realizing that her mother would have preferred to cook the whole roast but couldn’t because her pan was too short!)

I wonder if we as a community have any traditions whose “why” we don’t know? I wonder if there are traditions that we have that someone new to our community might find as opaque as tying a cat to the alter before settling in to pray?

I invite those of you who have been part of his community for a while to participate in a thought experiment over the next few weeks: As you arrive at church imagine you are here at KMUCC for the very first time. What do you notice? What do you see and hear? What do you notice about the way we sing and pray and talk together over the course of the morning? Is there anything you’ve always wondered about but never asked, and now it’s been so long you just take it for granted? If you are newer to Kairos: What makes you feel welcome? Is there anything that makes you feel nonplussed, unwelcome, or left out?

As we give thanks for the life of Southwest/Kairos UCC and Milwaukie UCC and our life together as Kairos-Milwaukie, I invite you to consider what old traditions shall we cherish? What new traditions shall we explore?