The coming of Christ! Advent used to be the time when people thought about the second coming of Christ, not Christmas. That’s why we have the better-known tradition of using purple for Advent – it was a preparation for Jesus coming again, with a call for repentance and preparation. But things change (have you noticed?) and now we focus on the coming of Christ into our lives, using Christmas as the point of reference. Because of this idea of preparation, we use the “Mary blue” vestments and hangings during Advent, and invite people to silence in this noisy time, invite people to simplicity in this consumer time, and invite people to reflection. For some people, Christmas really is a “blue” season, not a happy one. It is easy to see why. We are led to believe that things can and should be picture-perfect, and they are not, not at all. We are disappointed, sometimes bitterly, by things that don’t work, by people that fail us, and by systems that oppress when they promise to support. Over against this rather insane picture of “happy” we have been given another picture, a picture of love. This picture is not pretty, it shows poor people, forced by the government to travel, giving birth in a strange place instead of home. It speaks of immigration, illegitimacy, and poverty, and of God’s redemption. If God is willing to reach down into that, perhaps God can reach into my situation too. In fact, that is exactly what we say, that God has already reached towards us, and it is our job to listen to the angels in gratitude.
Please join in the gratitude chorus this Advent, thanking God for entering into our most difficult times, for being there at the most awful and devastating places of our lives, as well as the good times. If we will do that, paying attention to gratitude each and every day this Advent, we too will hear the angels sing Gloria!
You should have gotten a request from us to turn in your pledges. As you consider your support of Sei Ko Kai, think about what this church has meant to you. At one small church I was at, I suggested that there were two important things to consider. One was to make the pledge. Most organizations that you belong to expect you to pledge something as a sign of being a member. From that perspective, not being willing to pledge says that you do not really consider yourself to be a member! Perhaps you have not thought about it that way before. The other thing to consider is the amount of your pledge. The historic amount is 10%, and that is certainly worth aspiring to. But if that sends shivers down your spine, perhaps you can think about what you spend on lattes each week – do you give that much to the church? Jesus talked more about money than about any other single subject. It makes us nervous to talk about money, but it is important, because how we spend our money is a very clear indication of our values.
Pledges need to be completed for the year, and please everyone contact Kuni to let her know what we can expect for the upcoming year!
At Diocesan Convention, a resolution was passed that all churches need to have a disaster plan in place. Marie Gishifu stepped up to start our process, thanks Marie! You will hear more about this in the next months. Also, for the first time in many months, the Beloved Community training event will happen at Grace Cathedral (instead of places like Lafayette and Palo Alto). Please put Feb 1 on your calendar and plan to go.
The Sunday after Christmas, we will join our service with the Presbyterians (Laguna & Sutter) at 10:00 to sing carols. Pine Methodist people will also join us in this Soko Bukai event.
Our Annual Meeting will be January 12 (yes, it’s early!), and we will begin the discussion of what to do with the resources we have been given recently (the Nihonmachi Terrace money), the resources we have
(our building and our people), and what we want our legacy to be. So this will not be an ordinary annual meeting! Please plan to come participate in this discussion.
- Christmas Eve Service, Dec 24th, 4:00 pm
- Sunday after Christmas, Carol Singing at CUPC, 10:00
- Annual Meeting, January 12 after church
- February 1, training event at Grace Cathedral
- August 24, Music Festival
To Kevin for his help with the carpet installation, to Carl for all of the research he has done, to the altar guild for their extra duty during this change of seasons, and to Chris Webber for preaching on the last Sunday of Pentecost season.
THE LAST WORD
I will be beside you in the night watches, when what is to come seems so uncertain, and what has been seems so shadowed. I will wait with you to see if we see, faint stars far away, a glimmering moon on the distant hillside, any light at all coming our way. I will pray your prayer until it becomes our prayer and winds its way out into the darkness to mingle with all the prayers of all the nights of all our lives, the darker rivers of hope, deeper still for their longing. Yes, I will be beside you. Bp Steven Charleston