December 14th News and Notes

 

 

Childrens’ Christmas Program

The children of UPB have been hard at work practicing the Christmas play since October!  They will present the story of Christ’s birth during worship on December 17th.  Come and support our kids and hear the Christmas story in a new way!

Christmas Open House

Pastor Chris and his family invite you to a Christmas Open House at their home on December 17th from 3:00-6:00.  Stop by or stay for the whole thing!

Men’s Night Out

The men of the church will be gathering for food and fellowship at the new restaurant by Bowie Towne Center, Bj’s Restaurant and Brewhouse on December 21st at 6:30.

Christmas Movie Night

On December 22nd, the CYF committee will be holding a Christmas Movie Night.  We will have dinner and watch “Elf”.  This is a perfect opportunity for parents to do last minute shopping!  Dinner will be at 6:00 with the movie starting at 6:30.

Christmas Eve, part 1

On Christmas Eve at 10:00, we will have an interactive service for all ages.   We invite you to dress comfortably and bring breakfast finger foods to share.  We will worship around tables in the sanctuary as we hear the story of Christ’s birth presented in a new way!

 

Christmas Eve, part 2

On Sunday, December 24th, we will have out traditional, candlelight service at 7:00.  We still need 1 more reader for the candlelight service, if you are available, please email ckdeacon@yahoo.com

De-greening the church

Please make plans to stay after worship on January 7th when we will take down the Christmas decorations.

Two Week Outlook

Sunday, December 17th

  • Third Sunday of Advent
  • Worship, including Children’s Christmas Program, 10:00
  • Deacons’ Christmas Open House, 3:00-6:00

Wednesday, December 20th

  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, December 21st

  • Men’s Night Out, 6:30, BJ’s restaurant and brewhouse

Sunday, December 24th

  • Fourth Sunday of Advent
  • Christmas Eve
  • Interactive Worship service with breakfast finger foods, 10:00
  • Deacons’ Christmas Open House, 3:00-6:00

Looking Ahead

  • December 17th:  Children’s Christmas Program
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve
  • January 7th: De-Greening the Church
  • January 28th: Annual Meeting

December 7th News and Notes

 

 

 

Congregational Meeting

On December 10th, we will have a Congregational meeting following worship for the election of officers for the coming year.

Committee Chair Meeting

On December 10th, there will be a committee chair meeting following Sunday School.

Gingerbread Houses

Remember, if you signed up, we will be decorating Gingerbread Houses this Sunday at 5:00.  Each house is $5.00 and a bag of candy to be shared for decorating.  Feel free to bring more candy!  Pizza will be provided for dinner!

Childrens’ Christmas Program

The children of UPB have been hard at work practicing the Christmas play since October!  They will present the story of Christ’s birth during worship on December 17th.  Come and support our kids and hear the Christmas story in a new way!

Christmas Open House

Pastor Chris and his family invite you to a Christmas Open House at their home on December 17th from 3:00-6:00.  Stop by or stay for the whole thing!

Men’s Night Out

The men of the church will be gathering for food and fellowship at the new restaurant by Bowie Towne Center, Bj’s Restaurant and Brewhouse on December 21st at 6:30.

Christmas Movie Night

On December 22nd, the CYF committee will be holding a Christmas Movie Night.  We will have dinner and watch “Elf”.  This is a perfect opportunity for parents to do last minute shopping!  Dinner will be at 6:00 with the movie starting at 6:30.

Christmas Eve

On Sunday, December 24th, we will have two services.  At 10:00, we will have an interactive family activity telling the Christmas story!  We invite you to bring breakfast breads and casseroles to share!  At 7:00, we will have out traditional, candlelight service.  We need 8 readers for the candlelight service, if you are available, please email ckdeacon@yahoo.com

Two Week Outlook

Friday, December 8th

  • Book Club

Saturday, December 9th

  • Christmas Play Practice, 9:30am

Sunday, December 10th

  • Second Sunday of Advent
  • Worship, 10:00
  • Congregational Meeting, immediately after worship
  • Sunday School, following worship
  • Chat & Chew, following worship
  • Committee Chair meeting, following Sunday School
  • Gingerbread House night, 5:00

Tuesday, December 12th

  • Board Meeting, 7:00

Wednesday, December 13th

  • Christmas Play practice, 5:45
  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, December 14th

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton

Sunday, December 17th

  • Third Sunday of Advent
  • Worship, including Children’s Christmas Program, 10:00
  • Deacons’ Christmas Open House, 3:00-6:00

Wednesday, December 20th

  • Choir rehearsal, 7:30

Thursday, December 14th

  • Men’s Night Out, 6:30, BJ’s restaurant and brewhouse

Looking Ahead

  • December 10th: Gingerbread Houses
  • December 17th:  Children’s Christmas Program
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve
  • January 28th: Annual Meeting

December 25th Christmas Devotional

All the World’s People

Scott Simmons

Luke 2:1-20

The story of the birth of Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Luke, occurs in the midst of an exhaustive and ambitious human project: a census designed to record and register every person in the entire world. The successful completion of such an endeavor held great strategic potential for the Roman Empire. With the data collected, government and commerce could be more efficient and effective. Opportunities and threats could be predicted more accurately. Lives could improve. Wealth could increase. Rome could unite the world.

It is very unlikely that Caesar’s census achieved its lofty goals. Luke doesn’t elaborate further. There’s no historical record of such a census being completed. However, it is within the backdrop of such raw ambition and immense scope that a single humble birth is recorded and remembered. A vulnerable baby stands apart from any person who lived that day, before or since.

One of the Angels of the Lord said: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

 

Holy God. Today we give thanks and celebrate the birth of the One by which you truly unite the world’s people – Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Scott Simmons is a Mission Developer at Lydia’s Place in Saint Paul, MN.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 24th Advent Daily Devotional

Already and Not Yet

Tom O’Brien

John 1:1-18

I strive for Advent to be a time of anticipation; Christmas means more to me if I have to wait for it. If you’ve been reading these devotions once a day in order maybe you’ve been successful in putting off the celebrations of Christmas too. Now, we sit at the threshold: the planning and waiting are almost over; the carols and the bells are ready to ring out loud; Christ will be born again!

Haven’t we been here before? Every Advent, we yearn for the One who will come and save us and every Christmas we celebrate Christ’s arrival. Then what? If the baby has already been born, lived, died, and was resurrected, what more are we waiting for?

The joy we feel each Christmas is set against the background of a world that continues to fall short of our promise. We want the Prince of Peace to be born again because we are still a world at war. We pray for the Light to once again shine because the darkness keeps trying to creep in. We need the One who existed before us to come once again to once again reveal God to us because we so often forget.

We’ve been here before and we’ll be here again – because God has not given up on us. This Christmas Eve listen for the Word and look for the Light. It was there in the beginning, is with us now, and will be evermore.

 

Holy One, may this Christmas Eve once again renew in us the hope of the Christ child. As we remember our past, may we recognize our future. May we be re-energized to follow your Word that lights our path forward. Amen.

 

Tom O’Brien is Pastor and Teacher at Memorial Congregational Church (UCC) in Sudbury, MA.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 23rd Advent Daily Devotional

Not Feeling New

Kate West

Isaiah 65:17-25

As I sit to write this reflection, and pray with this text, I do not feel like being a new and glorious creation. I hurt, my soul hurts. There’s just too much going on in the world and it weighs on me. But I keep re-reading this scripture passage, a favorite for Christmas cards to depict, and I know that if I want the world to change, I have to change. I have to acknowledge, bless, and then release the hurt I feel so I can become a new creation. The more that I hold on, the more I am missing the new creations occurring around me all of the time: new friendships formed while serving a community meal, my dog learning a new trick, the progress those are making in their various forms of recovery. It is okay for us to not be new and shinny all the time, but let us try to see what God is doing around us. May we find our place in the creation of new things this Advent and Christmas season, even when we don’t feel like it.

Breathe deeply through your noise so your lungs fill fully, exhale. Repeat a couple of times. Take a few minutes to write down those things that you struggle with this Advent season. Acknowledge them, bless them, and then turn them over to God.

 God, help me to be a part of a new creation today. Amen.

 

Rev. Kate West is pastor at First Congregational UCC in Belle Plaine, IA.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 22nd Advent Daily Devotional

Reversal of Fortune

John Renze

Isaiah 61:1-11

It’s the age old story. What was thought lost forever is found again. The hero is found in the most unlikely place. The most downtrodden becomes the most unfortunate. Cinderella has the other glass slipper. The underdog team wins the big game. It is written into the fabric of our culture.

But for people of faith, this is no fairy tale drama. It is the promise of God. The prophet speaks the unlikely words that what was once shamed will be exalted. Those who were poor will be rich. The city that was destroyed will be rebuilt. Those who mourned will be full of joy.

But that is not what we see in the real world, is it? As we look around, reversal of fortune is hard to find. The poor stay poor. The powerful oppress. The sick die. What is going on?

This is where faith comes in. Our faith holds that these words remain true despite the evidence to the contrary. In faith we hold the confident hope that the fortunes will one day be reversed. In faith we believe that God does not speak in vain. Come, Lord Jesus. The earth needs it. It always has. So in faith, we continue to pray the Advent prayer.

God of the ages,

We wait. And you wait on us.

Show us your glory, that we might yearn to know your peace.

Strengthen our resolve to seek your ways of justice as they are revealed to us in Christ.

Amen.

 

John Renze is a member of St. James Lutheran Church in Crystal, Minnesota and a student at Luther Seminary.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 21st Advent Daily Devotional

To Know Peace

Joe Genau

Isaiah 59:1-8

We’ve come so far in search of light, hope, peace, joy, and love. We’ve waited, trying to be as Advent-y as possible. We can sense the promise: God-with-us is nearly here. We are close. We can hear the melody, faintly.

And in comes Isaiah with fierce judgment for post-exilic Israel. He proclaims that their nation has become poisonous – filled with venom that begets venom – and death has been loosed in the community. If God seems absent, they needn’t speculate about God’s power or ability to hear their cries. The distance felt is of their own creation through cruelty, injustice, and violence against the powerless. The result of this sin is that they do not know peace.

Not knowing peace is a nightmare to consider when the waiting is nearly complete. I am aching for peace. I could’ve sworn I’d just heard the heavenly host warming up.

Peace will come. But the nightmare is reality too.

This year has been filled with death and injustice and violence against the powerless. As a people freed from exile by a God-with-us who has hands to save and ears to hear, we reside at the intersection of peace and poison. The choir sings peace, and between the notes we hear the prophet’s call to know this peace by throwing off the fetters of cruelty that separate us from the holy.

 

God of the ages,

We wait. And you wait on us.

Show us your glory, that we might yearn to know your peace.

Strengthen our resolve to seek your ways of justice as they are revealed to us in Christ.

Amen.

 

Rev. Joe Genau is the pastor of Edgewood Presbyterian Church in Homewood, Alabama. 

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 20th Advent Daily Devotional

The Promise of Peace

Chris Deacon

Isaiah 57:14-21

When I was in elementary school, my Grandma gave me my first “G.I.Joe” figure.  I loved it!  I took it to school to show all my friends.  While we were playing outside, we were throwing it in the air and catching it.  Then one toss sailed and the toy was gone forever.  That night is the first I remember not being able to sleep.  I felt so guilty that I just lay there awake.  I had lost a gift that my Grandma had given me.  The next night, I still felt guilty, so I went and crawled in bed with my parents and told them what I had done.  I’m sure they were either relieved that it wasn’t something worse or annoyed that I had waken them up.  With my conscious eased, I felt better and was able to sleep!

In this text, Isaiah promises that peace is coming for the far and near!  God will heal the people and repay them with comfort.  In Christ, we are offered forgiveness for our sin.  Even though we want to keep turning back to our own ways, God offers healing, forgiveness, and ultimately peace.  We only have to confess our sin and accept God’s forgiveness.  For those who do not seek forgiveness, they will feel as I did in elementary school, tossing like the sea that cannot keep still.  As we prepare for the coming Christ, we seek God’s forgiveness and the peace that accompanies it.

 

Holy God, as we celebrate Christ’s birth as we wait for him to come again, help us to seek our comfort in you.  Help us to seek the peace that only you can provide.  Forgive us for the ways we have wronged both you and our neighbors and enable us to live more fully into our Advent calling.  Amen. 

 

Rev. Chris Deacon is an ordained pastor in the PC (USA) and is serving the United Parish of Bowie, a union UCC/PC(USA) church in Bowie, MD.  He is also the author of “Louder Than Words”.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 19th Advent Daily Devotional

The Suffering Servant

Kelley Jepsen

Isaiah 53:2-12

This is a tough passage to read the week before Christmas.  We desperately want Isaiah to be talking about Jesus as the suffering servant – so many of the analogies fit!  And while it is natural to speculate on who Isaiah is actually writing about (was it Jesus? the nation of Israel?  all of humanity?) we can focus on the message that comes through the text: a life following God will not be easy.

As servants of God, we know that the path is not simple and though we may try our hardest, there are times when we will end up suffering like the servant.  Verse ten of the text reminds us “Through [the servant] the will of the Lord shall prosper.”  God’s mission comes into the world in, with, and through this suffering.   As followers of Christ, we are called to humble ourselves and make room for God to work through us.  It is through this suffering that God is powerful.  And though we may encounter a life where we are despised, rejected, afflicted, wounded, etc., we live knowing that death will not have the final word.  Living a life of suffering is our calling, part of what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ.  Knowing how the story ends, we can live into this calling with the knowledge of the promises of God to be with us and to overcome all pain and suffering in this world and the world to come.

 Let us pray: Gracious and merciful God, remind us that suffering is a part of our call to be Christians and that our suffering is not in vain, but brings an opportunity for you to work in the world.  Amen.

 

Kelley Jepsen is a senior M.Div student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, seeking ordination through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  She is currently working as a Pastoral Intern at First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Minnesota.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 18th Advent Daily Devotional

God’s Comfort

Jennifer Boyd

Isaiah 40:1-11

It’s all about comfort.  If something is not comfortable, I want no part of it.  This is true not just for the clothes I put on, but the situations I find myself in.  When faced with a difficult situation, my innate tendency is to go the other way.

Yet these uncomfortable times in our lives are not so easily avoided as much as we may try to dwell in our own realm of denial.  They may not just be a matter of dis-ease or dis-comfort but the harsh reality of sickness, estrangement, injustice, and sorrow in our lives and world.

The people of Israel faced the ongoing and often harsh discomfort of exile and promises deferred.  Hope was waning with the withering of the grasses and flowers of the field. Their future was uncertain.

It is into the dis-ease of our lives and our world that the prophet proclaims “comfort, O comfort my people, says your God’.  This is not the comfort of “don’t worry, be happy” or a warm blanket.  This is the comfort of trusting that God has not deserted us, that all those seemingly insurmountable mountains and rough places are within God’s purview to overcome.

The power of God is revealed in an infant, in the Christ-child who is born to bring the true comfort of peace and grace into our world.  This is a comfort founded in hope and promise.  This is a comfort that reassures and strengthens us for lives lived in peace.  It is the promise of new life birthed out of the labor pains of life.

 

God of grace, we offer up the people, the places and the situations in our lives and world that are in need of your comfort.  We name before you those in our own thoughts….may your peace pervade their lives and bring them the true comfort that is found only in you.  Amen. 

Pastor Jennifer Boyd is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church (Brewster, NY) who recently marked 25 years of ordained ministry.

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.