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.

 

Happy New Year 2022I am sitting in my January-dark dining room, grateful that my Mama raised me the way she did: the Christmas tree does NOT come down until Epiphany – January 6.

Anything else would just be… I won’t say “wrong” because you may have good reasons to follow a different tradition at your house, but it would certainly leave me feeling incomplete. After the Christmas music goes quiet and most of the world has moved on, I treasure the lights and ornaments that remind me that the light and love of God came into the world and have not left.

Which, it turns out, is also why gathering with a congregation to sing and pray and learn together, matters so much to me. In the faces of the gathered community, in the love and care I see between church members, in the heartfelt prayers lifted for each other and the world, in honest questioning and joyful singing – in the wholeheartedness of the congregation, I am reminded that the light and love of God has not left.

As the omicron variant of COVID spreads the phasing forward team met and reviewed the latest information for faith communities from the Multnomah Health Department. We are recommending the following steps to keep our hybrid worship safe and vibrant for everyone.

For those coming to the building to participate:

  • Please wear an N 95, KN 95, well-fitted KF94 or double layered mask (either surgical and cloth, or 2 cloth). Surgical masks and KN95s will be available on the table in the narthex.
  • Please sign in when you arrive – this will make contact-tracing possible if needed.
  • Please observe social distancing during the service. Sitting closer together is safe for shorter periods, but is not recommended for the full hour of the service.
  • The congregation is invited to hum along to hymns while our (masked) church musicians and perhaps a choir member or two sing for us from the chancel.
  • Until the omicron wave has past, we will move from having coffee hour with refreshments to social time with art supplies on each table in the circle room. We can still be together – and we might even create something beautiful. Or silly.

For those participating via ZOOM: I would love to hear what is working well for you and what suggestions you have that might make hybrid worship more welcoming and inclusive.

God’s light is with us, leading us -- through delta, omicron and every other challenge.

God’s love is with us, among us, between us and within us. Thanks be to God that we get to be together to share it!

 

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

-Mary Oliver

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash.comThe booster and flu shots I had yesterday knocked me sideways so I spent much of the day snuggled under a blanket on the couch, shivering and trying to resist the temptation to doom scroll the news on my phone. I decided instead to re-read all the children’s Christmas books we have in the house. The picture book variety. Over and over again, I saw images of the manger from Luke’s version of the nativity story. The manger, which is in the text. And the stable, the animals and the cold-hearted inn-keeper – which are not anywhere in the text.

Like thousands of others, Mary and Joseph were internally displaced people, forced to move at the whim of an occupying force that had a deep love of counting things. Like thousands of others, they were vulnerable to Rome’s caprice. Like thousands of others, they relied on the hospitality of extended family to buffer the effects of Rome’s caprice. We know how the story goes: when the couple got to Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the “inn.” We hear the English word inn and our imaginations supply the picture of an ancient motel, complete with innkeeper. Much like the inn and inn keeper found later in the book of Luke, in the story of the good Samaritan.

But the author of Luke uses a different word here in the nativity story. Kataluma – can be translated as inn, but it more often referred to the hut or “upper room” built on the roof of some of the one-story, one-room houses common in that time and place. Katalumas were used to offer hospitality. And sometimes they were rented out. Imagine an ancient air bnb. It was this room, this kataluma, on the roof of a home probably belonging to one of Joseph’s relatives, that was too full for Mary and Joseph. So, instead of being shown to the room on the roof, the expectant couple settled down -- not outside, around back in an imaginary stable. Not in the gutter or a cave. But inside, down below with the rest of the family. Jesus was born as generations of his ancestors would have been, in the warmth of extended family. In an ordinary place, among ordinary people, receiving the tender care and hospitality of that community. In the kind of house with a central area where the very few animals owned by each family were brought in at night for warmth and security.

This is not a story of inhospitality. “Mary and Joseph found shelter in the kindness of people, presumably Joseph’s kin in his traditional homeland of Bethlehem. It is a story of what people under occupation have been doing for millennia: Looking after each other.” Now that is a story I want to sing. Of the extraordinariness and stubborn persistence of ordinary human kindness. Of hope that endures because God is present in everyday spaces.

God came uniquely in Jesus to teach us how to look and see and love the holy in each other, in our neighbor, in the stranger – in everyone.

A blessed, joyful Christmas to each and all of you.

 

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