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.

 

“Oh sisters, let’s go down.  Let’s go down, come on down.  Oh sisters, let’s go down, down in the river to pray.”  

Sunday, August 8, 2021, was a memorable day for our church.  Not only was it an outdoor service at Camp Adams, but it was the baptism of Kathi Malcom in Milk Creek, which runs through the camp.  When Pastor Jeanne asked me the week prior if I could help her, I said sure, not realizing what exactly I would be doing.  Well, the experience was not at all like the Baptist Church baptisms of my youth!

Baptism at Camp Adams

The area of the creek was very “rustic.”  We worked our way downhill, through the “brambles” to stand next to the water.  As I stood next to Jeanne and Kathy, facing the hillside, it was a beautiful sight to see our congregation make their way “down to the river to pray.” 

Kathy (Walden) was playing violin, Dan and Lily were singing as were the rest of us.  I had a lump in my throat looking at “us,” with the observation that we are a beautiful, quirky, loving group of people whom I deeply cherish.  

Baptism at Camp Adams

In the creek, Jeanne, Kathi, and I managed to not fall from the slick rocks on the bottom and performed the (completely underwater) ceremony.  Kathi said that the ritual symbolizes her love of Jesus and her ability to follow the teachings of Jesus.  I felt honored and humbled to participate.  This was truly an experience of love and commitment.

“Oh sisters, let’s go down, down to the river to pray.”

 

Maine on the LakeWe cannot attain
the presence of God
because we are always already
totally in the presence of God.
What is absent is awareness.

~ Richard Rohr

(Almost) every year the Randall-Bodman family travels to Maine for vacation.  We don’t go just anywhere in Maine, but to the REAL Maine.  The part of the state that is too far “down east” for wealthy tourists from Boston and points south to even think about visiting.  There on a piece of property bought by David’s great, great-grandparents, we stay in a tiny cabin built by David’s great-grandfather and grandparents, lovingly renovated by his parents, and now in our care.  It’s not quite wilderness – there are many camps on the lake and we have plumbing, electricity, and these days even Wi-Fi (well, some days). But there are bears and moose in the woods, eagles, osprey, kingfisher and loons fishing in the lake and beaver and otter living along its banks.  

We go back to that same small place of all the possible places in the wide earth, to be immersed in family history, to play and read and relax, together.  And to let the familiar wild beauty remind us that we are, indeed, always, already in the presence of God.

We thought when we scheduled this year’s trip that we would be coming back to a world returned to something closer to “normal.”  Instead, we are returning to more covid uncertainty, more and continuing politicization of mask wearing and being vaccinated, more and continuing effects of the climate crisis, more and intensifying refugee news. More of everything that made 2020 difficult.

As we move forward together here at Kairos into an uncertain future I am holding on to the reminder of God’s presence.  Not just in the splendor of the Maine woods, but in every place where there is life.  In the life we share together, in the space between and among us, and in each one of us.  As we move into our sermon series and book study based on Valerie Kaur’s book “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love,” we will develop practices for seeing and loving the God-light in all human life – in each person.  I hope you will pick up a copy of the book and read along with the sermon series and join in conversation on Wednesday evenings as we go forward, together, in wonder, love and solidarity.

Together, let us love.

 

Theology On Tap: 7:00 pm on the 3rd Tuesday each month.

This isn't a closed group or an event you need to have been to before.  If you like to talk with your church friends about life, the universe, and everything, come on in!

Theology On Tap

 

ZOOM gathering

Linkhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/85270896249?pwd=TnJPeGRUSEpuekdlMGNHRHkrMi9UZz09 

Meeting ID: 852 7089 6249
Passcode: 752672

 

 

What a joy it has been to worship together with so many of you these last few weeks, in the building and on zoom. Lee Burleson, who makes the technology work, and I are so grateful for your patience as we experiment with how to make the hybrid experience rich and satisfying for everyone. We welcome your feedback on what’s working well for you and what needs to be changed or refined.

KMUCC SkylightsAlthough many in our congregation are vaccinated, there are some who for health, age, or personal reasons, are not. It is tempting for those of us in the “I and all my household are fully vaccinated” group to throw caution to the wind and “go back to normal life.” But consideration for the unvaccinated and humility about things we don’t yet know about all the variants of covid call us to move forward carefully, together. So, for the time being, we will continue to use masks during worship and encourage folks who are able to move outside during coffee hour. And together we’ll be able to gather to play at our August 1 barbecue, to mourn at our August 2 service for our beloved friend Corinne Morton, and rejoice with Kathi Malcolm as she is baptized at our August 8 service at Camp Adams.

The 33rd General Synod of the UCC wrapped up on July 18. I encourage you to head over to https://www.generalsynod.org/ to read all the news and to find videos of the worship services. It was a rich and wonderful week of work, worship, and learning. Our Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries, Traci Blackmon, introduced the newest initiative of the national church, “Join The Movement toward Racial Justice.” Our first keynote speaker, Valerie Kaur, echoed the call for revolutionary love to lead the way to justice. You can hear Ms. Kaur’s earlier ted talk “Lessons of Revolutionary Love in a Time of Rage” at https://valariekaur.com/ted-valarie-kaur/ .

My husband David (pastor of Bethel Congregational UCC, Beaverton) and I were so moved by Ms. Kaur’s address that we are working together on a September sermon series based on her “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.” I hope that many of you will pick up a copy of the book and join me in studying her call to love others, opponents, and ourselves in ways that will bring us all closer to Beloved Community.

“Love” is more than a feeling. Love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life-giving – a choice we make over and over again. If love is sweet labor,
love can be taught, modeled, and practiced. This labor engages all our emotions. Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love. Revolutionary love is the choice to enter into wonder and labor for others, for our opponents and for ourselves in order to transform the world around us…. revolutionary love can only be practiced in community.”

Together, let us love.

CorrineMortonOur beloved Corrine Morton, mother of Jackie Hultine, Leith Gerber and Pauli Nash, left us April 13, 2021. Corrine had lived for the past few years at Westview Care Center. Covid had limited physical connections, but Pauli and Leith often had stood outside her window to “be with her.” Others maintained contact by phone.

Corrine was a nurse, and she worked her last shift at OHSU in 2012 at the age of 81! Corrine celebrated her 90th birthday on January 17.

The memorial service will be held in person and on Zoom at KMUCC on August 2, 2021 at 11:00 am.

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83673557066?pwd=RkZOTzd6RzJXa01rZzBOWG5YN2d0QT09 

Meeting ID: 836 7355 7066
Passcode: 413285

 

sofia ornelas 172mGIcc3xc unsplashBehold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
- Isaiah 43:19 -

On July 4 we will gather for in-person worship at 4790 Logus Road!

Weather and updated CDC recommendations will determine whether we worship under the trees or in our sanctuary, but all those who are able will be invited to meet in person.  Masks will be required so that we can welcome everyone of every age!   For those who are not able to get to the building, or who are not ready to be among so many people, worship services and meetings will also be available on zoom.    

Thinking about and planning for a return to our building brings me so much joy – seeing the people who have been just a face on a screen in person!  Seeing people who have not been able to participate online!  New friends who have only ever joined us online welcomed in person! The energy of the gathered community renewing and sustaining us.

And, thinking about and planning for a return to our building raises questions:  Who will we be after so many months of digital life?  Will we be able to sing together?  Will “hybrid” worship – some of us in person and some of us online -- feel zesty and lifegiving as we hope or leave us feeling too remote from each other?  We know we cannot replace our beloved friend and acolyte Christopher Martin, who died of COVID, so how will we honor his lasting place in our hearts and who will follow him as acolyte for the future? 

And then there is the elephant in the room.  According to the most recent Gallup poll:

Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

Having experienced church as a place of acceptance and love, how shall we serve a world skeptical of organized religion?  Having heard the gospel, how shall we continue to bring more joy and justice into the world?  Having found a community that nurtures our spirits, how shall we invite others to participate in the life we find so enriching and good?

We can let all these questions and unknowns daunt us…Or we can see this moment as a great opportunity for renewal, believing with our forebear John Robinson that there is yet more light to break forth!

One thing I know for sure: together is a very good place to be, and we do not move into the unknown future alone.  The same Spirit that drew us together goes with us.

 

Photo by Sofia Ornelas on Unsplash

 

“The arc of the moral universe is long …. and it will bend toward justice if we bend it.”
DeRay McKesson, “On the Other Side of Freedom”

Photo by Esther Gorlee on UnsplashI’m sure that like me, many of you drew long deep breaths of relief last month when the jury found former Minneapolis police detective Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Joy was fleeting, as news of yet another black American shot by an officer was reported even as the verdict was being read. But the relief remained. As the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of Episcopal Divinity School, said "Today the arc bent toward us just a little bit. It bent so we could step up on it and stand on it and keep it bending! While we take a deep breath of relief, we remember that George Floyd lost his. Let us continue to fight for the kind of justice that all who draw breath deserve."

In our relief and our resolve, let’s remember to ask: what would have happened if the original police report was all the evidence available? What would have happened if then seventeen-year-old Darnella Frazier had NOT stopped and filmed Mr. Floyd’s death, had not uploaded that footage onto social media? What might have happened if there had not been an international outcry for justice?

The disproportionate use of force against Black Americans may be the most visible symptom, but it is just one piece of a much larger and more pervasive pattern of white supremacy baked into American culture and institutions from our very beginning.

In her new book “The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community,” the Rev Stephanie Spellers confronts her own beloved denomination, the Episcopal Church, with the question “how does a denomination historically connected to establishment and empire become a church that loves Jesus, lives in solidarity with the oppressed and seeks the flourishing of all God’s children.” It’s a question all of our progressive, mainline denominations might well ask.

After this year of COVID disruption, amid a decades long decline in church participation across America, in the face of our deepening understanding of racism in all of our cultural institutions, there is hope.

As we celebrate Pentecost once again, rejoicing in the gift of the Holy Spirt and the birth of the church, let’s join Spellers in seeing the church not as cracked and broken, but cracked open so that love can be poured out. Let’s recommit ourselves to the work and joy and meaning of becoming, ever becoming, Beloved Community.

Photo by Esther Gorlee on Unsplash