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.

 

Photo: © iStock.com / Olena_Z (image #1282751250)November is a tricky month for me. The trees begin to shed their glorious autumn colors, the gray sky settles down on us like a blanket, and every day we lose a few more precious minutes of daylight. I know Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away and advent and Christmas close behind, but still, November often feels like a giant gray pause.

But slowly, I am learning to embrace the pause. To see the grayness as softness, the darker days as an invitation into mystery. I try to remember with Wendell Berry that “the dark too blooms and sings.”

This year, the November pause has echoes for me of the pause that cultural anthropologists label the “liminal.” It’s a concept first named by Arnold Van Gennep. While studying tribal communities and their rites of passage, Van Gennep noticed that right in the middle of these rites there was an almost universal stage of ambiguity, or disorientation. A time when the person or group in transition was in between something that was ending (childhood for example) and a new situation not yet begun.

What was true of tribal communities and their initiation rites, turned out to be true for other kinds of communities and organizations and even whole cultures. Standing on the boundary or threshold (from the Latin word līmen) we have one foot rooted in something that is not yet over, while the other foot is planted in a thing not yet defined, something not yet ready to begin.

We can allow this pause to fill up with anxiety and dread – over what might be lost, and what we may not be able to do or achieve. Or we can allow this pause to be filled up with a sense of peace and possibility. As Pixar president Ed Catmull put it, “there is a sweet spot between the known and the unknown where originality happens; the key is to linger there without panicking.”

Standing here in the doorway, before the holiday season begins, before COVID ends, as America teeters on the edge of deep cultural change, before the church at large and this congregation in particular know what the future will hold for us…

Standing here together, let’s embrace the soft gentleness of the gray days and the mysterious beauty of the dark. Let’s linger here, reveling in gratitude for all that has been and breathing deeply as we hope in the future.

 

iStock Image 1278765757 by SmileusAs my younger son begins his senior year of college, as the days grow shorter and the trees brighten into their autumn colors, I’ve been thinking about impermanence and how we learn to love what doesn’t last.  

You don’t have to pay close attention to cultural trends to know that the role of religious organizations is changing in American culture.  Across the whole spectrum of Christian denominations membership and participation have been in steep decline for at least the last twenty years.  (There is a slight upward trend among Mainstream/liberal Protestant denominations like ours in the last five years, but not a rebound to mid-twentieth century levels, and that’s another article…)  It’s easy to look at the religious landscape and long to go back – back to how things used to be – to cling tightly to the past. 

But I wonder if there is another way to live faithfully amid changes we did not anticipate or desire. I wonder if we can get curious about the way Christianity has changed across its whole long history and imagine what possibilities the current moment holds. 

In 2014 Fr Richard Rohr wrote: “Much of what Jesus taught seems to have been followed closely during the first several hundred years after his death and resurrection. As long as Jesus’ followers were on the bottom and the edge of empire, as long as they shared the rejected and betrayed status of Jesus, they could grasp his teaching more readily. Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, inclusivity, and love of enemies could be more easily understood when Christians were gathering secretly in the catacombs.”  And then, almost overnight, the church went from the catacombs to the great Basilicas, from the margins to the very center of Imperial power.  

Perhaps in our moment the church is being cracked not apart, but open, so that we can find our way all the way back to the teachings of Jesus, and to the original creed of the church: “now there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for we are all one in Christ.”*  Perhaps we are being called to let go of all our precious markers of identity, become traitors to our ethnicity, class, and gender and become a new people.  A people motivated by the transforming love Jesus taught and lived.  

As we continue our fall worship series on “revolutionary love,” I invite you to think about the saints in our community who have loved others, opponents, and themselves well.  Because even as the institutional church has often lost its way, saints and prophets have risen up within it, to call it back to itself.  Some of them right here in our community.   Who are or were those saints?  What did you learn from them about loving well?  What lesson of theirs shall we carry with us into the bright, uncertain, beautiful future?  

Will you share your memory with the whole community during our November All Saints Day and Thanksgiving celebrations?  Let’s gather and lean on our great cloud of witnesses.

                               

*See Stephen Patterson, “The Forgotten Creed: Christianity's Original Struggle against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism,” 2018

 

Change The WorldThis month, the KMUCC Missions Team is initiating a summary of issues of concern to our congregation. We are all on a learning path, so some entries are educational and others include actions we can take as individuals or as a group.

Are you interested in joining the Missions Group? If so, please contact Johnette Orpinela, Kathy Anderson or Macy Guppy. We would love to include you and your ideas.

At Home

The Immigrant Mutual Aid Coalition

IMAC (www.imacpdx.org) is a partnership of members from local immigrant rights and social justice organizations. IMAC formed in response to the September 2020 wildfires to provide a safe and welcoming distribution site in Clackamas County for members of the Latinx and immigrant communities. IMAC also supports mutual aid efforts in Medford, Cottage Grove and Hillsboro. 

IIMAC provides culturally appropriate food boxes, baby needs, hygiene products, masks, community resource information and other needed items. They are all-volunteer and rely on contributions from community members and organizations. At distribution events (every two to three weeks), IMAC serves between 300 and 400 families in the Portland Metro area. 

Here are some of their current needs that Kairos members can pick up:

Costco:

  • Kirkland bar soap - 15 bars (made with shea butter in green/white packaging). We distribute over 300 bars per event.

 Target:

  • Up & Up Diapers Economy Plus Pack Size 6 $29.99 (surprisingly these are cheaper than Costco!)
  • Pads: L. 60-count Regular & Super $9.99 / Stayfree Ultrathin 

There is a more detailed list at www.imacpdx.org/donate.

You can take donated items to one of the following sites:

  • Alder Commons, 4212 N.E. Prescott St., Portland, on Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Rose City Book Pub, 1329 N.E. Fremont St., every day from 1 to 10 p.m.

Fall Market 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Quilts, scarves, pottery, puzzles, jams and jellies, crafts, baked goods, books and more.

In the church parking lot at 4790 SE Logus Road, Milwaukie OR 97222.

Please observe appropriate masking and social distancing. Thank you.

 

See No Stranger Book CoverThis fall, we are spending eight weeks putting Valerie Kaur's book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, in conversation with the Gospel of Jesus.

Kaur is a civil rights activist, filmmaker, and Sikh faith leader; a visionary calling diverse allies to transform the world in revolutionary love. She asks, "What if the darkness of our world just now is the darness, not of the tomb, but of the womb?"

We're forming a weekly book group to engage in this work together.

 

Wednesday Evenings at 7:00 pm, September 15, to November 3, 2021

Meeting on Zoom

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82042176033?pwd=VGxjc3c4cUVRcFBBL3pmSmtUbXRpdz09

Meeting ID: 820 4217 6033
Passcode: 502327
Or by calling: 253-215-8782 or 301-715-8592

“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.