Advent Calendar — Week Two

We’re walking toward Christmas through daily actions that point us toward light.

The calendar theme for the second week of Advent (beginning on Sunday, December 6,) is creating a gift box of small items for a child. You should be able to find these things at a local drugstore or dept. store. Each day you’ll add something to the box. Feel free to make substitutions if you wish!

Child’s Toy Box : Give a child a gift for Christmas

*Fill and wrap a shoebox

*Choose the age of a child (2 to 12) you would like to receive this box. (Adapt items below to make them age- appropriate.) Feel free to wrap each item and then wrap the outer box too. Please add a label with age noted on the box. Try to keep things gender neutral. Deliver to UPCOB by December 16 for distribution or donate to a place of your choosing.

*Add an item each day Sunday – a small box of crayons or colored pencils and a coloring book

Monday – a small stuffed animal 

Tuesday – a pair of mittens

Wednesday – a book or two

Thursday – a game, puzzle or playing cards (like Uno) that will fit in the box

Friday – 2 tubs of playdough or blocks of Sculpey

Saturday – a small lego set that will fit in the box; wrap the box and deliver to UPCOB

Living Advent Calendar: Celebrate Light!

Please join us in a daily activity as we seek joy, reach out, “cross the days off” the calendar, and approach Christmas. We’re posting suggestions outside the church building on our sign and are inviting neighbors to take part in this journey together.

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

Each of the coming weeks has a theme, with daily action suggestions: 1) household activities 2) creating a child’s toy box 3) building a food box and 4) assembling a hygiene kit.  Those who participate may drop boxes they assemble off at the church or can choose how/where to donate them.

WEEK ONE: Sharing hope

Sunday:  Make a simple Advent wreath. (Four candles in a circle, with a central candle; greens surrounding the circle) Light the first candle today.

Monday:  Cut/color stars for your doors. Use tin foil or construction paper — or make a  paper tree chain, naming something that creates joy for you on each link.

Tuesday:  Send a card or write a note to someone living alone or far from home            

Wednesday:  Make a pinecone bird feeder (Spread peanut butter on pinecone, roll in birdseed & hang with a wire or ribbon in a tree)

Thursday : Listen to a piece of music or watch a show from a Christmas concert or play

Friday: Choose an alternative gift that gives twice – check out one of the organizations below or see one of the alternative giving fair sites in our region

Saturday:         Make Christmas cookies and take a plate/to a neighbor or friend

Alternative gifts:

SERRV International:  http://serrv.org/?a=Sharing Fair (use SESNOWMAN20 promo code) New Community Project:  https://www.newcommunity project.org/ Heifer Internationalhttp://www.heifer.org

A prayer of thanks

*Excerpted from Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

O God of timelessness and time,

I thank you for my time

and for those things that are yet possible

and precious in it:

daybreak and beginning again,

midnight and the touch of angels,

the taming of demons in the dance of dreams;

a word of forgiveness,

and sometimes a song,

for my breathing…my life.

Thank you for work

which engages me in an internal debate

between right and reward

and stretches me toward responsibility

to those who pay for my work,

and to those who cannot pay because they have no work;

for justice

which repairs the devastations of poverty;

for liberty

which extends to the captives of violence;

for healing

which binds up the broken bodied and broken hearted;

for bread broken

for all the hungry of the earth;

for good news

of love which is stronger than death;

and for peace

for all to sit under fig trees and not be afraid;

for my calling…my life.



			

Election Day

More than 50 % of North Carolina has cast ballots with 3 days left of early  voting | WLOS

Everyone I know is on edge today. Much is at stake in our national election. In the midst of this tense time of decision, calm is fleeting. I believe that we should speak and act and vote with all the passion for good we can.

But maybe we can pause from time to time, breathe deeply, and remind ourselves that love endures. Voices calling for justice and integrity will not disappear no matter what happens. God’s spirit is abroad.

The words of Psalm 46 were written in the context of intense conflict and political turmoil. From that moment came the call: “Be still and know that I am God.” (v.10a)

Breathe. Hear that call.

You may want to listen to this version of Shawn Kirchner’s song, performed and posted on youtube by Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Calgary.

Moving forward…

Cairn,water,river,stones,stone tower - free image from needpix.com

DO NOT BE DAUNTED BY THE ENORMITY OF THE WORLD’S GRIEF.

DO JUSTLY, NOW.

LOVE MERCY, NOW.

WALK HUMBLY, NOW.

YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO COMPLETE THE WORK,

BUT NEITHER ARE YOU FREE TO ABANDON IT

-rabbinic commentary on Micah 6:8

We are continuing to meet via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship. If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

Food and Justice

And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10: 29)

What does it mean to love our neighbors as ourselves when many around us are suffering the effects of a damaged economy? When our nation is grappling with racism on personal and structural levels?

Some here are reading “So You Want to Talk About Race?” (by Ijeoma Oluo) together in coming weeks, and discussing what it means for us.

Some are contributing to a special Food & Justice offering, to be divided between the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Route One Communities Care (an effort to support some of our small local restaurants & their staff, who will be paid to prepare free meals for those experiencing food insecurity in our neighborhood.)

Some among us are helping to fill the Little Free Community Cupboard outside the church — a pantry to which neighbors are also contributing, and from which anyone in need may draw.

Feel free to contact the church if you’d like to participate in any of these steps!

We are continuing to meet via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship.  If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

The voices that are calling

” I can’t breathe.”

Few of us are unmoved by a knee pressing down on someone’s throat, preventing breath and crushing life. George Floyd’s tragic experience is also too often a metaphor for what people of color meet in our culture. In the midst of those voices crying out, God also speaks.

Calling for repentance and transformation in our personal and national lives, local faith communities and neighbors gathered on June 4 in a vigil for solidarity. Some in our congregation were involved in planning and participation. The death of George Floyd has mobilized protests and called on all of us to confront anew the systemic racism with which we live.

About 300 people, spaced because of COVID-19 across a wide expanse of lawn at University Christian Church, came together to pray, lament, and listen to the voices of citizens and leaders seeking change. Next steps envisioned are contacting county officials to urge immediate deployment of body cameras for police officers and joining in an upcoming community forum on change and accountability.

Feel free to contact the church to be added to a list of those receiving followup messages from this gathering!

We are meeting via Zoom on Sunday mornings. You can join us from your computer or by telephone for sharing and worship.  If you’re interested in being part of this time, contact us at upcob@aol.com and we’ll send instructions.

Crop-sharing

With food insecurity growing among families in our community during the COVID crisis, one of our neighbors had an idea. In collaboration with a friend at St. Camillus Catholic Church, who normally works with school garden projects and has access to great sources of vegetable seedlings, they invited people to sign up for a crop-sharing project. Plants would be provided, participants would grow vegetables and commit to giving away 2/3 of the harvest to food distribution programs. 44 people signed up.

We played a role in helping it come to pass last Saturday, as tomato, squash, cucumber and bean plants, fertilizer and straw were distributed in the church parking lot. A careful system allowed for non-contact pickup during this time of physical distancing. Now it’s up to sun, rain, and the growers! (We planted a batch of the vegetables in the church garden, too!)

Pause for a moment

Peace…”Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”)