Weekly Update 12 December

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent. Lakewood UCC will offer an oasis of calm during what is for many a very busy month. Come center your heart and see where the journey leads. Join the migration to Divine Love! Come a little early (10:15am) to sing favorite Christmas Carols.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Join in offering the joy of music to those from the church family who are homebound! Meet at church on Saturday Dec. 15 at 3pm. After caroling, there will be a dinner party at Yoko Nogami’s house. Many thanks to the Blair-Andrews family for organizing this expression of seasonal cheer!
DISCUSSION ABOUT DEATH PENALTY: Rev. Wells will be meeting with the older elementary and middle and high school students after church on Sunday (Dec. 16) to have a brief discussion about the death penalty. Parents are welcome as well. The gathering will be in the front of the sanctuary.
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018. If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” (available in the back of the sanctuary) or indicate this on the memo line of your check. Watch the bulletin board in the narthex to see the progress toward this important goal – each step represents $1000. We’ve raised $11,600 so far. Many thanks in advance for your generosity.
LEADERSHIP SELECTION: Would you like to be an Advisor? Are there people in the congregation you would like to be an Advisor in 2019? In addition to stewarding the finances, property, and staff, the Advisors also have a significant role to play in guiding the overall ministry of the church. Your help is needed identifying those who will lead in the coming year. Please fill out a Leadership Selection form and place it in the envelope on the bulletin board.
ADVENT: This season the Advent services at Lakewood UCC will be contemplative services patterned on the style of Taizé in France. In what is often the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the church is offering a window of calm and quiet for reflection, re-creation, and rest. In Christianity, as in most religious expressions, quiet is an important spiritual discipline. Quiet creates space to listen, to feel, to be. It may be an opportunity to experience God, however you may understand God. In this season of Advent, a time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, may these contemplative services create space for love.
LETTER WRITING: During the season of Advent you are invited to write to inmates on death row in Florida. This is a time of year when they can feel especially hopeless and alone. Letter writing materials are available in the back of the sanctuary.
DISCUSSION ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS STORY: On Sunday Dec. 23 following the service, Rev. Wells will meet with middle and high school youth to discuss the Christmas story and why we have the stories we do relating to Jesus’ birth. Parents welcome. The gathering will be in the front of the sanctuary.
LUCC CONCERT SERIES: The Stillhouse Shakers are a string band based in the Tampa Bay Area. They strive to authentically represent the music of America’s past while blending their own unique styles into a high-energy show, filled with history, hilarity, and a wide variety of Fiddle Tunes, Folk Songs, Blues, Ballads and Breakdowns. They will perform at Lakewood UCC (2601 54th Ave S) on Friday, January 11 at 7pm. There is a $20 suggested donation for the band.

The band is comprised of three young, award-winning musicians: Tyler Nall from Florida on the Fiddle, Camden Pugh from Tennessee on the Banjo, and Holly Foss from Minnesota on the Guitar. The three long time friends formed the band in 2015, and since then they have relentlessly performed their music at festivals, farms, bars, breweries, weddings and many other venues throughout Florida as well as many other states throughout the Southeast.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE: Music of the season begins Monday Dec. 24 at 6:30 followed by a service of readings and reflections at 7pm. The service includes communion and candlelight. All ages are welcome – nursery care will not be provided.
WHAT IS YOUR THEOLOGICAL ORIENTATION? Following up on conversations about the mission statement of the church, in 2019 the Advisors will be offering a bi-weekly discussion group about theological orientation. The sessions will alternate between Tuesday and Wednesday nights. There will be a topic for each session and opportunity for discussion and learning from one another. The series will be coordinated by Rev. Wells and Patti Cooksey. Stay tuned for more details!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

CONCERTS: The Tampa Oratorio Singers (LUCC’s Claire Stiles is a member) will perform a concert, Carols of the Season, on Saturday, December 15, at 4pm at Pass-A-Grille Beach Community Church (107 16th Ave, St. Pete Beach) and again on Sunday, December 16, at 4pm at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. Contact Claire Stiles for more information.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: The 2018 National Homeless Persons’ Interfaith Memorial Service will be held 16 December at 5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, (100 Mirror Lake Drive) to remember all those who lost their lives while struggling on Pinellas County streets this year. A dinner and distribution of backpacks and toiletries will follow the service. For more information or to volunteer email bef0928@aol.com or call (727) 457-6143.
CHRISTMAS DINNER: Celebrate Outreach sponsors an annual Christmas (December 25th) dinner from 3-6pm at Trinity Lutheran Church (401 5th St. N) for over 150 homeless people who would otherwise go without. Workers will be needed all day to prepare, cook, serve, and clean up after the meal. To give food, funds, and volunteer help, and to schedule your work time: G. W. Rolle at gwrolle@gmail.com or (727) 424-1088.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email or voicemail, as well as written material, is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
ELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free? Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with LUCC on Facebook and on Twitter.
YOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!
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Reduce Single Use Plastics in St. Pete

In St. Pete, we have a plastic problem. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years but that’s exactly what is happening. Our economy encourages us to make, use, and throw away plastic at the greatest possible speed. Americans dispose of almost 300 million plastic bags, 70 million polystyrene/Styrofoam cups, and 175 million plastic straws every day.

In St. Pete, much of this plastic ends up in our streets, parks, and waterways which flow into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, or the Gulf. Plastic fragments have been found ingested by endangered wildlife, including 100% of all sea turtle species and half of all seabirds and marine mammals.

But, there’s hope. This Thursday, Dec 13th, the St. Petersburg City Council will be voting on an ordinance addressing the overuse of two particularly harmful single-use plastics: plastic straws and polystyrene (brand name Styrofoam).

Click here to send an email to the St. Petersburg City Council in support of banning single-use plastic straws at food service establishments (except for those with medical needs) and to ban the use of polystyrene products on city-owned property and at city-sponsored events.  

America’s obsession with single-use plastic is hazardous and nonsensical. We’ll say it again – nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our environment for hundreds of years. Let’s call on our city government to do what other coastal towns in Florida have already done to take a serious step to reduce throwaway plastics. The proposed ordinance includes exceptions for hospitals, nursing homes, other medical facilities and people with disabilities. A one-year compliance period will include a voluntary “by request only” provision for straws, designed to allow businesses time to adapt.

Urge the St. Pete City Council to address plastic pollution and make St. Pete a leader in curtailing it.

For healthier waterways,

Mark, Amy, Ray and the rest of the Progress Florida team

P.S. – If you’d like to show your support in person, wear blue (optional) and arrive by 2:45pm on Thursday, December 13th, at St. Pete City Hall Council Chambers (175 5th Street N. 33701).

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Major Action Announced

This coming spring, farmworkers from Immokalee and their national allies will join forces on four of the country’s flagship state universities – University of Michigan, Ohio State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and University of Florida – to demand Fair Food on campus… or an end to contracts with Wendy’s!

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Save the date

FLORIDA
WOMEN’S CONVERGENCE

to nurture and connect women who are:


Transforming the Future 
 
Regenerating the Earth
 
Creating Community
 
Empowering Themselves
 
Inspiring Others
 
And More…….
Much more information coming soon.
Stay tuned and plan on coming!
Dates: March 30 and 31, 2019
Location: Permaculture Farm near Brooksville
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Companion Diocese Committee for Jerusalem

Join in for a wonderful Christmas experience! A joint service with the people of the Holy Land gathered at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Bethlehem, Palestine and the people of America gathered at the Washington National Cathedral Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW, Washington, DC.
In Bethlehem, Palestinian Christians continue to bear witness to their faith this Christmas, as they have done for generations. Once again, let us join our voices with theirs in seeking and offering hope for a better future.
Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington and Bethlehem
via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Invite your friends and fellow parishioners to join us at the Cathedral,
or online.
If you are unable to join us at the Cathedral, 
we encourage you to gather with others  
in your community to watch the service live at  
 
Among those participating this year are Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Holy Land Rev. Suheil Dawani, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop of Jordan and the Holy Land Rev. Sani Ibrahim Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop of Washington Rev. Richard Graham, Cathedral Dean Rev. Randolph Hollerith, Rev. Munther Isaac, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church in Bethlehem, Rev. Canon John Peterson, Rev. Mitri Raheb, Rev. Victor Makari, Rev. Sari Ateek, Rev. David Wacaster, Rev. Hosam Naoum, and lay people Matthew Taylor, Jim Zogby, Joyce Haddad, Lois Herrmann, Adel Nassar, and Anton Nassar. Music provided by Brass for Peace and combined choirs in Bethlehem and Washington. Here’s a quick view of some of our past services: video (1 min.)

For additional information about the service, or about the Companion Diocese Committee, contact us at jerusalem@edow.org

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Growing the Light: Advent Reflections on Farmworker Justice — Week 3

This Advent, join unwavering allies of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Rev. Brian McLaren, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in preparing to grow the light of farmworker justice throughout the new year. The season of Advent draws us into a time of anticipation and preparation with all who long for release from oppression. Through the Fair Food Program (FFP), the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, together with student and faith allies, kindles the flame of justice for farmworkers in the tomato fields of Immokalee and now on farms across seven states.

You’re My Joy by Jacqui Lewis

This poetry/song in First Isaiah is so beautiful, even more so in Eugene Peterson’s The Message:

Isaiah 12:2-6 

“Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
I trust, I won’t be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
best of all, my salvation!”

3-4 Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water
from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you’ll say,
“Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done,
spread the news of his great reputation!

5-6 “Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all!
Let the whole earth know what he’s done!
Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion!
The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”

I see the words, “…wells of God’s salvation,” and my heart remembers Jesus blessing those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and the promise that they will be satisfied. I think of drought in the Sea of Galilee, and wildfires in California. I see the scorched and charred Mama Earth, desperate for water that will save her and her creation. I think of children in Flint Michigan, whose little minds will be forever altered by water that did not save them, but rather poisoned them. I think of some who patrol the border, who find gallons of precious, life-saving water, left there for those who would sojourn to a land flowing with milk and honey, and pour the water onto the desert floor. I think of the water I sometimes waste, standing too long in a deliciously hot shower, singing my favorite Advent Song.

They say you walked around in the flesh,
and if that is true, then I guess
You must understand how it feels,
When your faith is wavering
And you want to pray but can’t find the words to say
Oh, God, what I mess I’ve made of things
And no reversing it, that’s how it seems
But a second chance from you is always guaranteed
And I know they don’t accrue
But you say my child take as many as you need
You’re my joy, you’re my peace
And all my cares I’ll cast on thee
Never take your love away from me

From You’re My Joy by Tituss Burgess for Middle Church Music

No matter what, God never takes her love away from us. Our constant, faithful God is our joy. Isaiah expresses this ever-present, salvific power of God in a song almost identical to the one Moses sang, following the deliverance of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt:

The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation. Exodus 15:4

The healing, salvific quality of water is everywhere in the Hebrew scriptures. God provides water for desperate people (Genesis 21:19) and communities (Exodus 17:1-7). Water is a metaphor for salvation (Isaiah 35:6-7 and 55:1; Ezekiel 47:1-12). And water represents the very presence of God with individuals (Psalm 42:1 and 63:1) and with communities (Isaiah 44:3). We who are incubated in a pool of water know its power to heal us.

Moses, Isaiah and my friend Tituss, who penned You’re My Joy (a track on the album, Welcome!) all testify to the way God continues to provide deliverance of God’s people from all that oppresses them. Those on the margins, without power, thirsting for hope can find comfort in this text. Those who toil in the fields, picking the fruit of the earth, backs bent, knees sore. Those paid low wages low, exposed to the elements, unsafe at times from predators; it is to these people across human history our God has come. Hearing the cries of the enslaved and the vulnerable; lighting a path home to those outside and cast away. Offering a cool dip of living water to those whose souls are scorched by the hot mess of their circumstances. God is our salvation. This eternal truth is cause for an eruption of joy.

This is our blessed assurance, and this is our prayer.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, Lord please answer them, do not forsake them, or us. Amen.

Based on Isaiah 41:17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

An Advent Call to Action:

Give joyfully to fuel the fair food movement! By supporting the Fair Food Program, you are standing shoulder to shoulder with farmworkers who are eradicating sexual violence, forced labor, and many other human rights abuses from U.S. agriculture. Become a Fair Food Sustainer today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

When she was eight years old, Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis hid under her bed as bullets flew in her Chicago neighborhood following the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In that moment, she felt called to work for racial equality in the United States. Dr. Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 1,100-member multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City. She is an activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQIA+ equality. Middle Church and Lewis’s activism for these issues has been featured in media such as The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Essence, and The Huffington Post.

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FL Execution ACTIONS: Jose Jimenez

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Gov. Rick Scott has ordered Jose Jimenez to be killed by the “People of the State of Florida” on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 6pm. Jimenez was convicted of killing Phyllis Minas in 1994. This would be the 28th prisoner killing ordered by Gov. Scott – a new record for a Florida governor. Please consider one or all of the following actions:

1. Use and circulate the EJUSA/FADP Action tool to connect you directly with the governor’s office and urge him to halt executions. Please click here to view the Action.

2. Both in and outside the U.S., please click here to use the Amnesty International Take Action tool to send a letter to incoming Gov. DeSantis. These letters and others will be hand-delivered to the new governor.

3. Attend or host an execution vigil/protest for Jose Jimenez, his parents, wife, and family, murder victim Phyllis Minas and her family, and all those impacted by the execution. One such vigil will be held on the corner of 66th Street and 22nd Avenue N. near Tyrone Mall from 4:30 to 5:30pm. Click here for a list of vigils the FADP Vigil/Protest Page.

Florida’s hyper-expensive, catastrophically failed death penalty program is broken beyond repair and completely unnecessary for public safety. It’s time to end the needless state-sponsored killing of well-secured captive prisoners.

Join in the statewide organized grassroots actions to end executions in Florida. Make your much needed and appreciated donation today. Monthly donations in any amount are especially helpful. Become an active FADP Florida Death Penalty Abolition Action Angel! Please join with others investing $5, $10, $25, $50 and $100 each month – automatically.

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Weekly Update 5 December

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday is the second Sunday in Advent. Lakewood UCC will offer an oasis of calm during what is for many a very busy month. Come center your heart and see where the journey leads. Join the migration to Divine Love! Come a little early (10:15am) to sing favorite Christmas Carols.
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018. If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” (available in the back of the sanctuary) or indicate this on the memo line of your check. Watch the bulletin board in the narthex to see the progress toward this important goal – each step represents $1000. We’ve raised $11,400 so far. Many thanks in advance for your generosity.
LEADERSHIP SELECTION: Would you like to be an Advisor? Are there people in the congregation you would like to be an Advisor in 2019? In addition to stewarding the finances, property, and staff, the Advisors also have a significant role to play in guiding the overall ministry of the church. Your help is needed identifying those who will lead in the coming year. Please fill out a Leadership Selection form and place it in the envelope on the bulletin board.
ADVENT: This season the Advent services at Lakewood UCC will be contemplative services patterned on the style of Taizé in France. In what is often the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the church is offering a window of calm and quiet for reflection, re-creation, and rest. In Christianity, as in most religious expressions, quiet is an important spiritual discipline. Quiet creates space to listen, to feel, to be. It may be an opportunity to experience God, however you may understand God. In this season of Advent, a time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, may these contemplative services create space for love.
LETTER WRITING: During the season of Advent you are invited to write to inmates on death row in Florida. This is a time of year when they can feel especially hopeless and alone. Letter writing materials are available in the back of the sanctuary.
LUCC CONCERT SERIES: The Stillhouse Shakers are a string band based in the Tampa Bay Area. They strive to authentically represent the music of America’s past while blending their own unique styles into a high-energy show, filled with history, hilarity, and a wide variety of Fiddle Tunes, Folk Songs, Blues, Ballads and Breakdowns. They will perform at Lakewood UCC (2601 54th Ave S) on Friday, January 11 at 7pm. There is a $20 suggested donation for the band.

The band is comprised of three young, award-winning musicians: Tyler Nall from Florida on the Fiddle, Camden Pugh from Tennessee on the Banjo, and Holly Foss from Minnesota on the Guitar. The three long time friends formed the band in 2015, and since then they have relentlessly performed their music at festivals, farms, bars, breweries, weddings and many other venues throughout Florida as well as many other states throughout the Southeast.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Join in offering the joy of music to those from the church family who are homebound! Meet at church on Saturday Dec. 15 at 3pm. After caroling, there will be a dinner party at Yoko Nogami’s house. Many thanks to the Blair-Andrews family for organizing this expression of seasonal cheer!
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE: Music of the season begins Monday Dec. 24 at 6:30 followed by a service of readings and reflections at 7pm. The service includes communion and candlelight. All ages are welcome.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

CAROLING FOR THE HOMELESS: Still No Room in the Inn, the annual carol sing at downtown homeless shelters, will begin at 6:30pm on Friday, December 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, (100 Mirror Lake Drive). The caroling is sponsored by Celebrate Outreach, a coalition of St. Petersburg area faith groups that provide aid to those experiencing homelessness, including three weekly meals and the Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans program. This will be the 29th year of Still No Room in the Inn. Still No Room in the Inn takes its name from the Christmas story, when Jesus was born as a homeless refugee. He was put in an animal’s feeding trough because there was “no room in the inn” for him and his refugee family. The name is a reminder to us that two thousand years after the first Christmas there is “no room in the inn” for many in St. Petersburg. Contact sjstew@gte.net or (727) 894-2832 if you have questions.
CONCERTS: The Tampa Oratorio Singers (LUCC’s Claire Stiles is a member) will perform the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah with the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir and orchestra on Sunday, December 9, at 7pm and again on Tuesday, December 11, at 7pm at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church (3501 W. San Jose St., Tampa). There will be a free will offering collected.

They will perform a second concert, Carols of the Season, on Saturday, December 15, at 4pm at Pass-A-Grille Beach Community Church (107 16th Ave, St. Pete Beach) and again on Sunday, December 16, at 4pm at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. Contact Claire Stiles for more information.

ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will give a Christmas Concert at 4pm on Sunday, 9 December at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 Dr MLK, Jr St S). The Alumni Singers, founded in 1980, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of African American spirituals, anthems, and gospel music. The choir will be under the direction of Ms. Janice Seay Hogans. A freewill offering will be taken during the event.
CHRISTMAS DINNER: Celebrate Outreach sponsors an annual Christmas (December 25th) dinner from 3-6pm at Trinity Lutheran Church (401 5th St. N) for over 150 homeless people who would otherwise go without. Workers will be needed all day to prepare, cook, serve, and clean up after the meal. To give food, funds, and volunteer help, and to schedule your work time: G. W. Rolle at gwrolle@gmail.com or (727) 424-1088.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email or voicemail, as well as written material, is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
ELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free? Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with LUCC on Facebook and on Twitter.
YOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!
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Stillhouse Shakers at Lakewood UCC

Don’t like loud bars, busy festivals or crowded restaurants? Then join us at the Lakewood United Church of Christ, in St. Petersburg, FL, for a family friendly evening filled with the sounds of old time string band music by the Stillhouse Shakers, Friday, January 11, 2019 at 7 PM!

Please bring a suggested donation of $20 for the band.

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Pax Christi Tampa Bay E-mail Newsletter

Pax Christi Tampa Bay E-mail Newsletter

SINGLE EVENTS:

1. The Second Amendment: Myths and Realities lecture tonight
2. Anti-death penalty interfaith service tonight
3. Jean Donovan memorial service
4. Talk About Town: Coalition for the Homeless
5. Community Conversation: Domestic Violence Awareness in the Workplace 6. Florida and Women’s Suffrage
7. Show Support: Dunedin is Ready for 100% Clean Energy
8. Still No Room in the Inn caroling at homeless shelters
9. Paddle the Preserve: Estuary-Friendly Living

10. Equal Opportunity Day Gala
11. Free Concert: Rock for Human Rights
12. Execution set for Thursday, December 13
13. Christmas dinner for those experiencing homelessness
14. Memorial service for people who died while homeless
15. Peacemakers’ New Year event at Trident nuclear submarine base
16. Drag Queen Bingo January 17


ONGOING WEEKLY EVENTS CALENDAR

Friends,

Celebrate Outreach, the homeless aid coalition, will sponsor the 29th annual “Still No Room in the Inn” Christmas caroling at homeless residences on Friday, December 7.  This joyful event is an annual holiday tradition for many in the Tampa Bay area.  There are also holiday meals and a homeless memorial service coming up.  Details on those events are below.

Also below is information on an execution December 13, a talk on the original intent of the 2nd Amendment and a gathering against the death penalty tonight, November 30th; a peace and justice New Year’s gathering outside King’s Bay Trident submarine base; Peace First’s annual holiday December demonstration on Wednesday afternoons at 66th St and 22nd Ave. N. in St. Petersburg; lectures; workshops; an ecological kayak tour of Weedon Island; and more.

Details on all these events are below.

Pax Christi Tampa Bay

SINGLE EVENTS

 

 

The Second Amendment: Myths and Realities
Friday, November 30    8:00 PM
Trustees Board Room; ninth floor of the Vaughn Center
University of Tampa
401 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606

Saul Cornell, a leading authority on early American constitutional thought and the Second Amendment will be giving a talk The Second Amendment: Myths and Realities.  He argues that gun regulations were part of the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther chair in American history at Fordham University, and the former director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute. He is the author of The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, which won the 2001 Cox Book Prize, and A Well-Regulated Militia: the Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America.

The talk is free and open to the public.  An interview with WMNF’s Rob Lorei is here

Cities for Life Interfaith Prayer Service
7:00 PM  November 30, 2018
The Franciscan Center

3010 N. Perry Avenue, Tampa

On November 30, events will be held at over 20 locations in Florida Catholic dioceses to recognize International Day of Cities for Life / Cities Against the Death Penalty. This annual event has been spearheaded by the lay Catholic community of Sant’Egidio since 2002. Over 2,000 cities across the globe have declared themselves “Cities for Life” and are committed to the abolition of the death penalty and to a more civil form of justice.

November 30 coincides with the anniversary of the first death penalty abolition in history, which occurred in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Italy on November 30, 1786.

DIOCESE OF ST. PETERSBURG EVENT
The Franciscan Center
Interfaith Prayer Service
Local clergy and guest speakers:
Bishop Gregory Parkes, Reverend Kim Wells and Father Bob Schneider
Derrick Jamison, Death Row exoneree
Allison Ferber Miller, Senior Assistant Public Defender, Sixth Judicial Circuit

Light refreshments and the opportunity to mingle with Derrick Jamison and Allison Ferber Miller from 6-7 PM.

 

JEAN DONOVAN MEMORIAL SERVICE: On December 2, 1980, four Catholic missionaries from the United States working in El Salvador were raped and murdered by five members of the El Salvador National Guard. Maryknoll nuns Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan (L-R) were killed because the El Salvador military dictatorship feared their work with the poor.

At 5:30 PM on Sunday, December 2, a candlelight memorial prayer service will be held at Jean Donovan’s grave at Sarasota Memorial Park.   The service is sponsored by Manasota Chapter of Pax Christi USA.  For further information on the service, contact Russ Banner at Rjbannerusa@gmail.com  or (941) 217-5374. For more information on the four martyrs, click here and here

 

 

Get engaged! Get active!

Talk About Town: Coalition for the Homeless
Monday, December 3, 2018 at 6 PM – 7 PM

People Places, LLC, 5742 Main Street, New Port Richey, Florida 34652

Join People Places for a discussion with Don Anderson, Chief Executive Officer for The Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County. He’ll discuss his organization’s work in the community and their mission to help the homeless regain hope, healing, and life.

Facebook event page

Community Conversation: Domestic Violence Awareness in the Workplace
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 9 AM – 10 AM

5851 Park Blvd N, Pinellas Park, FL 33781-3270

Join CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) for a disccussion on the effects domestic violence has on work teams and the fiscal health of an organization. This conversation is one of a 6-part series hosted by CASA on the impacts of domestic violence and how we as a community can come together to Stand Up To Silence.  RSVP – https://progressflorida.actionkit.com/go/86693?t=12&akid=8230%2E76906%2EPLrZyn

Facebook event page

Florida and Women’s Suffrage
Tuesday, December 4, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa, FL 33602

Officially, the suffrage movement in the United States began with the Seneca Falls NY Convention in 1848, and ended with the greatest expansion of democracy on a single day in1920, yet few understand how it happened and Florida’s role in this struggle.

Learn from Presenter Tom Mortenson about the people of the suffragist movement and the stories behind Florida’s unique role as part of the five million women (and men) who fought for 72 years to get the vote. Hear how women’s suffrage unfolded, why there are so few monuments to this effort and why many of the names have been lost to history.

Facebook event page 

Show Support: Dunedin is Ready for 100% Clean Energy
Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 6 PM – 9 PM

City of Dunedin City Hall, 542 Main St, Dunedin, Florida 34698

Show Support for moving Dunedin to 100% Clean Energy for All. The Dunedin City Commission is expected to consider a resolution to commit the City of Dunedin to a clean energy future. Dunedin is poised to join St Petersburg and Largo in Pinellas County – 99 other cities and towns in the USA have done it – Dunedin can be the 100th City in the USA to make the Commitment to 100% Clean Energy. Please wear green so that Commissioners can easily identify supporters.

Facebook event page

Still No Room in the Inn annual carol sing at homeless residences
Friday, December 7    6:30-9:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church, 100 Mirror Lake Drive St. Petersburg

Many Tampa Bay residents have made this Celebrate Outreach carol sing, which brings the songs of the season to precariously housed people, an annual tradition.   The caroling will begin at the Unitarian Church, then wind through downtown, stopping at residences and the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Courts, ending on the waterfront in Straub Park with cookies and hot chocolate.  Rides back to cars will be provided.

“Still No Room in the Inn” takes its name from the Christmas story, when Jesus was born as a homeless refugee.  He was put in an animal’s feeding trough because there was “no room in the inn” for him and his refugee family.  The name is a reminder to us that two thousand years after the first Christmas there is “no room in the inn” for many in St. Petersburg.

The caroling is free and very open to the public.  Please invite friends, co-workers, and groups.  For more information: sjstew@gte.net or (727) 894-2832.

The caroling is free and very open to the public.  For more information: sjstew@gte.net or (727) 894-2832.

Paddle the Preserve: Estuary-Friendly Living
Sat, Dec 8 @ 2 PM
Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Dr NE, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33702

Estuaries are productive coastal habitats where freshwaters meet the sea. Just as estuaries attract wildlife, they offer prime real estate for people.  No matter where you live in Tampa Bay, your actions can impact these valuable resources. Join UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County Sea Grant and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Extension Agents to learn how estuaries work and what you can do at home to protect them. The workshop includes a 2-hour, guided canoe trip into the waters around Weedon Island for a firsthand look at the Tampa Bay Estuary.

Tickets/Facebook event page

Equal Opportunity Day Gala
Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Sheraton Sand Key Resort, 1160 Gulf Blvd, Clearwater, Florida 33767

You are cordially invited to attend the Pinellas County Urban League’s 2018 Equal Opportunity Day Gala, in celebration of our 41st year of service. The theme for this year’s Gala, a formal affair, is “Yet, Still We R.I.S.E.” (Reach, Invest, Serve, Empower).

The Pinellas County Urban League’s mission is to assist African-Americans and others in need in the achievement of social and economic equality, implementing its mission through advocacy, research and direct service delivery of programs.

Tickets

Facebook event page

Free Concert: Rock for Human Rights
Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
1300 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605-3601

Rock for Human Rights launched to bring human rights awareness to tomorrow’s leaders using the power of music, visual media, and social networking. Many people do not have an understanding of their basic human rights, and fewer still have even heard of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights established over 70 years ago. Indeed, the first step towards making human rights a reality is raising awareness that these rights and agreements actually exist.

Rock for Human Rights combines live music from veteran musician Wil Seabrook and his band along with the award winning short film “The Story of Human Rights” and 30 accompanying Public Service Announcements that beautifully illustrate each of the basic rights fundamental to every person on earth.

Register
Facebook event page

 

FLORIDA EXECUTION: Governor Rick Scott has ordered Jose Jimenez to be killed by the “People of the State of Florida” on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 6:00 PM. The Stay of his previous execution date was lifted by the Florida Supreme Court. Jimenez was convicted of killing Phyllis Minas in 1994. The details of Jimenez’s case are here.   This would be the 28th prisoner killing ordered by Gov. Scott – a new record for a Florida governor.

Equal Justice USA has put together this easy tool that will connect you directly with the Governor’s office and help you share your action. ACT NOW.

OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE:
Contact Gov. Rick Scott and ask him to suspend this and ALL executions.
Phone: (850) 488-7146
Click on this e-mail address: Rick.Scott@eog.myflorida.com

Pinellas anti-death penalty demonstration: Pax Christi Tampa Bay, Peace First, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and other death penalty opponents will gather from 5:00-6:00 PM on Thursday, December 13 at an anti-death penalty demonstration at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and 49th Street N. in mid-Pinellas County  (map).  Park in the lot behind Checkers and the bank on the northwest corner of the intersection.  Signs and banners will be provided, or you can bring your own. Since execution dates often change, please check the media for updates and changes.  The demonstration occurs during the execution; if the execution is re-scheduled, the demonstration will be rescheduled. FMI: sjstew@gte.net  or (727) 492-1590.

Manasota demonstration against the death penalty: A witness against the death penalty prayer vigil will take place on Thursday, December 13.  The witness begins at 5:30 PM with a silent protest with signs on the front lawn of St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 S Beneva Rd., just north of Gulf Gate Drive in Sarasota (map).  A short prayer service will follow at 6:00 PM.  Sponsored by Pax Christi USA—Manasota Chapter.  FMI: Rjbannerusa@gmail.com

On November 5th, there was yet another exoneration of an innocent person sent to Florida’s Death Row. There are now a national record 28 innocent people sentenced to Death and later exonerated despite many years of the state’s best efforts to execute them. Since Florida executions re-started in the 1970’s, 96 people have been executed. For nearly every 3 executions, an innocent person on Death Row has been exonerated. Take Action!

Annual Christmas Dinner
Christmas, Tuesday, December 25
3:00-6:00 PM
Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 5th St. N., St. Petersburg

Celebrate Outreach sponsors an annual Christmas dinner for over 150 homeless people who would otherwise go without. Workers will be needed all day to prepare, cook, serve, and clean up after the meal. To give food, funds, and volunteer help, and to schedule your work time: G. W. Rolle at gwrolle@gmail.com or (727) 424-1088.

 

PEACEMAKERS’ ALERNATIVE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION: Join peacemakers from all over the southeast and beyond at the annual Alternative New Year’s Gathering at Crooked River State Park, St. Marys, Georgia on the Atlantic coast just north of the Florida/Georgia border. The gathering will begin on the evening of Friday, Dec 28th and end the morning of Sunday, Dec 30th.  Participants will be home for New Year’s Eve.

St. Mary’s is home to the Kings Bay Trident submarine base.  Although the Cold War is supposedly over, Kings Bay is the home port for Trident submarines that carry Trident II nuclear missiles.

Activities will include leafletting on Friday, Dec 28th at the Stimson gate of the base from 3:00 to 5:00 PM followed by a pot luck dinner open to the wider community of peacemakers.  The gathering provides discussions of peace and justice issues; common meals; a chance to meet, socialize and strategize with peacemakers; and more.  The grounds of the park are wooded and cottages look out over the salt marsh estuary of the Crooked River.

Each furnished cottage at Crooked River features a fully equipped kitchen and bedrooms with two queen size beds, linens, some towels, a living room, and furnished kitchens with stove, refrigerator, pots and pans, and some utensils.

COST:  The cost of a space at a cottage is approximately $40 for the 2-night stay per person, depending on how many stay in a cottage.  Please make arrangements to pay your cottage holder your share of the cost prior to or upon arrival.

Lists of cottages and contact people for reservations are below.  Participants should bring food for two potluck dinners, two breakfasts and a lunch.

  • Nancy O’Byrne, PCFL – Cottage #9 (2 bedrooms-sleeps 8)

obyrnen@bellsouth.net, 904-422-3618

  • John X. Linnehan, FCPJ – Cottage #10 (2 bedrooms-sleeps 8)

metanoia.mx@gmail.com,  904-504-1004

  • Anne Richter, PCFL – Cottage #11 (2 bedrooms-sleeps 8)

arichter58@msn.com  , 727-796-6539

Crooked River website is at http://www.gastateparks.org/CrookedRiver/

FMI: Contact Nancy O’Byrne at obyrnen@bellsouth.net, 904-461-9216

Mark your calendars now for the fabulous fundraiser that can provide six months of funds for over 150 diners a week at Celebrate Outreach’s Saturday morning breakfasts (see below for details about the breakfast).

 

WEEKLY ONGOING EVENTS

MISSIO DEI SUNDAY DINNER: Missio Dei is a small church that meets in the refurbished corner of a warehouse at 1330 Burlington Avenue N. (map; the entrance is on 2nd Avenue on the south side of the building.)  They serve a meal after their worship service.  The congregation is largely homeless or precariously housed.  The service begins at 5:30 PM; the dinner begins at 6:30.  For information on how you can help prepare, serve, or financially support the meal, contact G. W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088.

RESIST TRUMP TUESDAYS AT SENATOR MARCO RUBIO’S TAMPA OFFICE: Indivisible and other local activist groups gather outside Marco Rubio’s office in the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Court House, 801 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa, FL 33602 (map).  The protest is every Tuesday, 10:30-11:30 AM.  Bring signs, or organizers can provide them.  There is parking around the courthouse and the meters take credit cards.  For more information (FMI): sjstew@gte.net

PEACE FIRST: During every Wednesday during December, Peace First will gather at its annual December site: the intersection of 66th St and 22nd Ave. N. in St. Petersburg (click for map) from 4:30-5:30 PM. Royal Pets pet supply and a CVS drug store are on two of the corners.  Peace First will have signs concerning immigration, war toys, the Muller investigation and gun safety, but participants can bring their own.  Participants gather afterward at a nearby restaurant for a meal. For more information contact Sarah at selmocabi@gmail.com

FRIDAY NIGHT PICNIC ON THE PLAYGROUND IN ST. PETEThe Friday Night Picnic is a potluck picnic for hungry people, most of whom are low income or experiencing homelessness.  The picnic continues to need potluck food, beverages, picnic supplies, and volunteers. The picnic, which serves over 100 people a week, is at 6:00 PM every Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 719 Arlington Avenue N. at Mirror Lake Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.  FMI: http://uustpete.org/2014/09/17/friday-picnic-playground or (973) 768-3256.

WEEKLY BREAKFAST: Loaves and Fishes is a breakfast held at Trinity Lutheran Church on Saturday mornings. Volunteers serve a full hot breakfast to over 150 people. The breakfast is held on the third floor of Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 4th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.
The breakfast runs from 7:30-10:30 AM, and volunteers can participate with some or all of the breakfast.   Please contact Anita Podgwaite at (727) 565-8742 or G. W. Rolle at (727) 424-1088 to help.

 

 

 

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Sermon 11.25.18 Dinner’s Ready

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 23:5, and Luke 14:1-24

This was the week for the iconic American Thanksgiving feast.  According to the National Turkey Foundation, 51.6 million turkeys were consumed.  [22% of them were raised in Minnesota.]  That’s about 736 million pounds of turkey eaten!  Along with the turkeys, Americans consumed something like 3.1 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, 859 million pounds of cranberries, 50 million pumpkin pies and 40 million green bean casseroles.  Add to that gravy, corn bread, rolls, apple pie, pecan pie, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and macaroni and cheese, among other sides, and you have a colossal feast!  

According to the American Farm Bureau, a typical Thanksgiving dinner costs $5 per person for the food.  An average of 3,000 calories is consumed at Thanksgiving dinner with the big ticket calorie item being the pecan pie.  I had a large piece of pecan pie!   [Thanksgiving food statistics from:  https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/thanksgiving-day-food-facts and https://us.blastingnews.com/food/2017/11/the-number-of-turkeys-consumed-on-thanksgiving-day-002187613.html]

Thanksgiving is definitely our national feast day.  Countless social service agencies and food banks and churches provide Thanksgiving meals to those made poor.  People who are alone are invited to dinner by neighbors and coworkers.  With the narrative of the Pilgrims and the Indians fading into the background, Americans still sat down to a feast day last Thursday. 

The abundance of food at Thanksgiving is reminiscent of the scene portrayed in the book of Isaiah.  The prophet images God’s intentions for humanity in terms of a feast:  At a meal of rich foods and well-aged wines, all people come together and there is no fear, no sadness, and no scarcity.  Thanksgiving almost seems to be our national enactment of the concept of the commonwealth of God albeit for one meal; no one is hungry or thirsty and everyone has a place at a table.  I hope we never lose that glimmer of heaven even if it is only once a year.  

Given that the feast is a common way of imaging the intentions of Divine Love, it is not surprising that Jesus was famous for feasting.  He enacts the idea that the realm of God is among you through food and eating in story after story.   Jesus is remembered for being at dinner with people to the point of being a glutton and a drunkard.  Think of the last supper, and the meal at which a woman anoints Jesus’ feet with oil, the wedding in Cana, the dinner at the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector, to name a few.    Jesus is also remembered for feeding people.  Each of the four gospels includes the story of the feeding of the multitudes and the gospel of Matthew includes it twice.  And in every case, there are leftovers.  Abundance, no scarcity.  And Jesus is remembered not only for eating, but for telling stories about feasts and dinners and eating.  

In the story we heard this morning from Luke, Jesus is at a dinner and he teaches using the imagery of meals.  We are told that this meal is at the home of a Pharisee.  This is someone from the ruling religious class, so someone important, with the status and means to host a banquet.  Jesus begins by healing someone on the Sabbath.  This can be seen as a violation of Sabbath Law.  So this act is a direct challenge to the authority and legalism of the Pharisees who are entrusted with upholding the Law of God.  So, from the get-go, Jesus is enacting the commonwealth of God, embodying the saving, healing power of Divine Love for all people at all times. 

Then Jesus goes on to talk about who gets invited to dinner.  The whole banqueting thing was about the host inviting prominent people to impress them, to impress those below the host with the host’s status, and about getting the guests to then be obligated to the host – to invite the host to a banquet to impress and improve the host’s standing and status.  So a banquet was about promoting status and privilege, and keeping people indebted to you so that you could expect their loyalty and cooperation when needed.  A banquet was an occasion to increase and solidify power and prestige.  And this was very much tied up with who was invited and where they sat.

And in this very setting, absolutely aware of the situation, Jesus talks about taking a seat of lower status, and inviting people to dinner who can’t invite you back:  Those made poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.  Jesus is choosing these categories of people because these are just the people who are denoted in the scriptures for receiving favoritism from God. Jesus is explaining the commonwealth of God in a way that completely undermines what his host is doing, as well as overturning the expectations of all of the guests present.  Think, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  That is essentially what Jesus is saying in a context in which the first are trying to stay first, and those who are not first are trying to get in with those who are first. 

Then Jesus tells another story to those at the Pharisee’s banquet.  It is about someone throwing a banquet and the guests refusing the invitation.  They are too busy.  Caught up with other matters.  So, those made poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind are invited.  They come.  The implication is that the “important” people refuse the invitation to be part of the realm of God present here and now.  Those who are the “Establishment”, the structure legitimators, the privileged, those with status, they turn down God’s offer and instead invest in maintaining their own power and place.  And those made poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, those from whom nothing can be expected in return, they accept the invitation to be part of God’s reality.   They are held up as the recipients of Divine Blessing because they accept while the others choose to protect themselves and their power constructs rather than being part of God’s realm.  

Jesus, like Isaiah, envisions a feast for all people.  Those with status and privilege, as well as those on the margins and fringes of society.  All are welcome.  In the scene at the Pharisees dinner, as the stories unfold, the realm of God is welcoming to all, but those with power and property to protect opt out.  To create community based on Divine Love, religious, social, and economic hierarchies that privilege some over others must be dismantled.  There are no haves and have nots.  All are beloved children of God.  

Jesus knew that creating such community, embodying Divine Love, living out the reign of God, would not be accepted by all people.  He knew there were those who would want to protect their power, privilege, and place.  And he encountered their opposition.  Jesus loved those who were threatened by God’s realm.  He offered them a place.  He courted their presence at the table.  But they chose not be part of Divine reality.  

Here we think of that verse that was read from Psalm 23.  We tend to think of this psalm as one of comfort and assurance especially at a time of death and grief.  But there is that indelible verse:  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  This is an image of the banquet of Divine Love where everyone has a place.  We have a place.  Our enemies have a place.  And when we take our place with our enemies, as Jesus did, we experience the overflowing of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  Our cups overflow.  

Given the current polarized political climate in our country, it is inevitable that some of us sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with our enemies.  There were articles and posts and blogs and even a training event at Eckerd College about how to deal with people with whom we disagree at events like Thanksgiving dinner.  Sometimes our first reaction is to avoid the situation.  But that can be very hard at a holiday.  

And we have more holiday gatherings ahead in the coming weeks.  Social events with family, clubs, teams, coworkers, organizations, and other groups.  These gatherings may include people we do not agree with, especially about the current political situation in the United States.  Some of us anticipate these gatherings with dread.  

So let’s remember these scriptures about feasting and banquets and parties as images for the commonwealth of God.  Everyone is welcome. That means even the people we vehemently disagree with.   The image of eating together is a universal image that everyone can relate to.  It is important that people sit down to eat together.  This simple ritual reinforces our common bond as human beings.  We all need to eat.  We all need each other.  And we are all recipients of the bounty of Earth.  With the banquet image we are reminded that there is more than enough for all.  That means even the people we may deem undeserving.   In the feast image, everyone receives from the goodness of God.  It is grace for everyone.  There is no pecking order, or hierarchy, or power to protect.  Think of a round table not a rectangular one.  

In that verse from Psalm 23, there is mention of enemies.  A table set before us in the presence of our enemies.  There is the assumption that we have enemies.  It is not assumed that we are living harmoniously with everyone.  It is assumed that we have enemies.  Maybe those we consider “other.”  Those who are different and seem threatening in some way.  Those whose beliefs and views are abhorrent to us.  

In the season to come, we will likely have to deal with some of these enemies at a holiday gathering.  We are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of Divine Love in Jesus, showing us what it is to be a human being, full and free.  These gatherings are an opportunity for us to incarnate Divine Love:  To be present at a table with our enemies.  To have a conversation with someone we don’t like.  To sit near someone we disagree with.  To speak our truth in love.  To enact and incarnate the reality of God.  That is what it’s like in the realm of God.  In the love of God there is room for all at the table.  

And what happens at that table with the enemies?  The psalm tells us, “My head is anointed with oil, my cup overflows.”  As we embody love in these difficult situations, we may find meaning and purpose.  We may experience grace and even peace.  We may grow and learn.  We may feel in some small way more a part of the reality of Love.  That, after all, is the reason for the season before us.  

So, with Thanksgiving behind us, we look to the feasts and parties and gatherings ahead.  The invitations will come.  Jesus spent more time at dinners and banquets and meals than in the synagogue.  It is at the table that beloved community is created.  That is where the gospel is experienced.  May we be willing to be present even in the presence of our enemies.  Especially in the presence of our enemies.  Dinner’s ready.  Are we?  Amen.  

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

 

 

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Sermon 11.18.18 The Darkling Beetle

 

The BIG Event, Stewardship Sunday

Scripture Lessons:  Isaiah 25:  6-9 and Matthew 6:25-33

The Namib Desert is a vast expanse of, well, dry sand, in south western Africa.  This long narrow coastal desert stretches about 1200 miles from Angola through Namibia and into South Africa.  The name, Namib, comes from the Nama word which means “vast place” and indeed the Namib Desert is a vast place covering over 31,000 square miles.  That’s about half the size of the state of Florida.  The Namib Desert is one of the oldest on the planet.  It may be between 55 and 80 million years old!  The landscape includes sand seas with dunes rising up to 1000 feet, gravel plains, and scattered mountain outcroppings.  In some places, the average yearly precipitation is 2 millimeters per year!  The temperature ranges from 140 degrees F to freezing.  Not surprisingly, there is very little human habitation or activity in this desert, though there is mining of diamonds and tungsten. 

Despite the harsh conditions, there is prolific life in the Namib Desert.  It is home to some 3,500 plant species half of which are endemic.  That means they can be found only in this region of the Earth.  One of these plants is the Welwishcia mirabilis.  It has only two long, narrow leaves and it can live for over 1,000 years!

There are also a variety of animal species that live in the Namib Desert including birds, shrews, moles and snakes as well as zebra and even elephants.  There are also lots of beetles and bugs including the amazing darkling beetle.

This beetle is endemic to the Namib Desert.  That means it cannot be found living anywhere else on Earth.  It’s a little beetle about the size of a thumb nail.  And it gets up every morning and climbs up a sand dune which may be up to 1000 feet high.  That’s like twice the height of Mount Everest to a human being.  Then, when this beetle gets to the top of the dune, does it lay down and rest?  No!  It stands still, facing the wind, and does a head stand.  In this position, here’s what happens scientifically – the bumpy elytrons with a pattern of hydrophilic bumps and hydrophobic troughs cause humidity from the morning fog to condense into droplets and roll down the beetle’s back into its mouth.  OK.  That means that the beetle does this head stand and moisture from the fog forms drops on its body which has special bumps and grooves to channel the water down the body right into the beetle’s mouth.  What a design!  In this way, the beetle takes in up to 40% of its body weight in water.  That’s like an adult drinking about 30 liters of water!  (Calculated for a 160 pound adult.)  So, the beetle doesn’t rest at the top of the dune but it sure has a big drink of water!  Then it heads down the dune to conduct the rest of the days activities!  This seemingly crazy water capture procedure keeps the beetle alive even in the harshest conditions.  

Well, I’m going to suggest that coming to church for us is something like heading up the dune for the darkling beetle.  We get up on Sunday morning and get dressed, eat something, drink something, and then we head to church.  Here we find what we need to live.  We find community.  We find love.  We find spiritual sustenance.  We find teachings and values that promise life.  We find a concept of reality to not only sustain us but to help us flourish.  All that we need to live is offered here.  We just have to show up and take it in like the beetle heading up the dune.  Sometimes it may seem like a taxing trek up that dune but the beetle is not disappointed.  It does its headstand and gathers the water it needs to make it through another day.  Some Sundays, it seems like hard work to get to church.  How are we going to fit it in with all that we have to get done?  Maybe we feel weak.  Maybe there are other reasons the effort seems like a stumbling block.  Maybe it’s not as bad as climbing a mountain twice the height of Everest, but it could be as taxing as doing a head stand!  But we make the effort and we get here, and we find just what we need to make it through the day, or through the challenge we are facing, or through the difficult circumstance that has us stressed.  Here, at church, we find that what we need comes pouring in.  We just have to show up.  And then we leave to proceed with the rest of life, prepared, supported, and fortified, even for the harshest conditions.  

So as you make your pledge this morning, offering time, talent, and treasure, think of all that we are receiving from the church and all that the church is offering.  It’s all here.  Everything we need to live with meaning, purpose, joy, and delight.  Let us share the harvest that is being so generously given to us.  Amen.  

Information on the darkling beetle and the Namib Desert is from:

http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/namib_desert/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namib

Planet Earth, “Deserts”

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

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Weekly Update 28 November

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. Lakewood UCC will offer an oasis of calm during what is for many a very busy month. Come center your heart and see where the journey leads. Join the migration to Divine Love!
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018. If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” (available in the back of the sanctuary) or indicate this on the memo line of your check. Watch the bulletin board in the narthex to see the progress toward this important goal – each step represents $1000. We’ve raised $11,000 so far. Many thanks in advance for your generosity.
LEADERSHIP SELECTION: Would you like to be an Advisor? Are there people in the congregation you would like to be an Advisor in 2019? In addition to stewarding the finances, property, and staff, the Advisors also have a significant role to play in guiding the overall ministry of the church. Your help is needed identifying those who will lead in the coming year. Please fill out a Leadership Selection form and place it in the envelope on the bulletin board.
ADVENT: This season the Advent services at Lakewood UCC will be contemplative services patterned on the style of Taizé in France. In what is often the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the church is offering a window of calm and quiet for reflection, re-creation, and rest. In Christianity, as in most religious expressions, quiet is an important spiritual discipline. Quiet creates space to listen, to feel, to be. It may be an opportunity to experience God, however you may understand God. In this season of Advent, a time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, may these contemplative services create space for love.
DECORATING THE SANCTUARY: Decorating the sanctuary for the Advent season will take place following worship on Sunday Dec. 2. Please plan to stay and help with the wonderful process of the transformation of the worship space that encourages transformation of our hearts during the Advent season. Many thanks to Colleen Coughenour for organizing this effort.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Join in offering the joy of music to those from the church family who are homebound! Meet at church on Saturday Dec. 15 at 3pm. After caroling, there will be a dinner party at Yoko Nogami’s house. Many thanks to the Blair-Andrews family for organizing this expression of seasonal cheer!
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE: Music of the season begins Monday Dec. 24 at 6:30 followed by a service of readings and reflections at 7pm. The service includes communion and candlelight. All ages are welcome.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

ONE CITY CHORUS: Be uplifted and inspired by the rousing music of the 140-voice One City Chorus, featuring LUCC singers Yoko Nogami and Jeff Wells. The music features themes of social justice, civil rights, diversity and equality. The next concert is Dec. 1 at 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater (2470 Nursery Rd, Clearwater, FL 33764). Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. See Jeff or Yoko for details.
CAROLING FOR THE HOMELESS: Still No Room in the Inn, the annual carol sing at downtown homeless shelters, will begin at 6:30pm on Friday, December 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, (100 Mirror Lake Drive). The caroling is sponsored by Celebrate Outreach, a coalition of St. Petersburg area faith groups that provide aid to those experiencing homelessness, including three weekly meals and the Tiny Homes for Homeless Veterans program. This will be the 29th year of Still No Room in the Inn. Still No Room in the Inn takes its name from the Christmas story, when Jesus was born as a homeless refugee. He was put in an animal’s feeding trough because there was “no room in the inn” for him and his refugee family. The name is a reminder to us that two thousand years after the first Christmas there is “no room in the inn” for many in St. Petersburg. Contact sjstew@gte.net or (727) 894-2832 if you have questions.
ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will give a Christmas Concert at 4pm on Sunday, 9 December at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 Dr MLK, Jr St S). The Alumni Singers, founded in 1980, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of African American spirituals, anthems, and gospel music. The choir will be under the direction of Ms. Janice Seay Hogans. A freewill offering will be taken during the event.
RAYTHEON PROTEST: Major U.S. defense contractor Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. Since Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, there have been 212 confirmed civilian deaths involving Raytheon’s missiles. During this same time, the company’s stock has almost doubled in value from $108.44 to $210.70 per share. For more information on Raytheon’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen see this article on the news and opinion website salon.

Pax Christi holds a weekly demonstration of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia nearby Raytheon’s Largo facility at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher from 4:30 to 5:30pm on Wednesdays and invites you to join. There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the bank on the SW corner.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
ELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free? Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
YOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

 Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules

The Church is assessing its communications. if you read this update,
please hit reply and send. Thank you!

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Weekly Update 21 November

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

THIS SUNDAY: After a holiday centered on eating, we reflect on the table God prepares for us and taking our place at that table. There is a promise of lavish food and well-aged wine. It’s the last Sunday of the month, but there will not be a Sunday Celebrations Potluck this week.
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018. If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” (available in the back of the sanctuary) or indicate this on the memo line of your check. Watch the bulletin board in the narthex to see the progress toward this important goal – each step represents $1000, we’ve raised $10,000 so far. Many thanks in advance for your generosity.
ADVENT: Advent begins Dec. 2. This is the 4 week season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent used to be called “Little Lent.” It was a season of penitence, preparing for the feast of the nativity, as Lent is the season of penitence preparing for the feast of Easter.

At Lakewood this year, the concept of migration will lead us through this season. We are told that Mary and Joseph migrated to Bethlehem. There is a story of the holy family migrating to Egypt for safety. While you may not be involved in a physical migration, every person is making a migration through life. There is migration to new ways of thinking and believing. There is migration in life that comes from knowledge and experience. There is migration that takes place as part of the aging process. Hardship and illness often cause migration in terms of self understanding and abilities. Changes in relationship status and loss involve migration to a new normal. There are many ways that migration applies to life’s journey. In this season of Advent, the theme of migration will be explored hopefully leading us to more fully welcome the new love and life represented by the birth of Jesus. Join in this spiritual journey of migration!

Sunday services will involve readings and time for quiet reflection. The congregation will be invited to join in singing chants in the style of the Taize community in France. This contemplative form of worship was offered last year during Advent and it was very much appreciated as an oasis of calm during what is for many a very busy month. Come center your heart each week and see where the journey leads. Join the migration to Divine Love!

DECORATING THE SANCTUARY: Decorating the sanctuary for the Advent season will take place following worship on Sunday Dec. 2. Please plan to stay and help with the wonderful process of the transformation of the worship space which encourages transformation of our hearts during the Advent season. Many thanks to Colleen Coughenour for organizing this effort.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING: Join in offering the joy of music to those from the church family who are homebound! Meet at church on Saturday Dec. 15 at 3pm. After caroling, there will be a dinner party at Yoko Nogami’s house. Many thanks to the Blair-Andrews family for organizing this expression of seasonal cheer!
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE: Music of the season begins Monday Dec. 24 at 6:30 followed by a service of readings and reflections at 7pm. The service includes communion and candlelight. All ages are welcome.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

BUY NOTHING DAY: Since the early 1990s, Buy Nothing Day has inspired worldwide personal and collective action against consumerism. This year why not get your family together and do something wildly different: ignore Black Friday. Try buying nothing on Friday, 23 November.
ONE CITY CHORUS: Be uplifted and inspired by the rousing music of the 140-voice One City Chorus, featuring LUCC singers Yoko Nogami and Jeff Wells. The music features themes of social justice, civil rights, diversity and equality. The next concert is Dec. 1 at 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater (2470 Nursery Rd, Clearwater, FL 33764). Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. See Jeff or Yoko for details.
ALUMNI SINGERS: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will give a Christmas Concert at 4pm on Sunday, 9 December at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 Dr MLK, Jr St S). The Alumni Singers, founded in 1980, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of African American spirituals, anthems, and gospel music. The choir will be under the direction of Ms. Janice Seay Hogans. A freewill offering will be taken during the event.
RAYTHEON PROTEST: Major U.S. defense contractor Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. Since Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, there have been 212 confirmed civilian deaths involving Raytheon’s missiles. During this same time, the company’s stock has almost doubled in value from $108.44 to $210.70 per share. For more information on Raytheon’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen see this article on the news and opinion website salon.

Pax Christy holds a weekly demonstration of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia nearby Raytheon’s Largo facility at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher from 4:30 to 5:30pm on Wednesdays and invites you to join. There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the bank on the SW corner.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
ELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
YOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.18.18

Where do we get gratitude?

Today at Lakewood Church is The BIG Event: Sharing the Harvest, a celebration of gratitude and generosity. In these weeks leading up to The BIG Event, we have been exploring many facets of gratitude. A gratitude journal was provided to encourage thinking about thankfulness.

The spiritual discipline of gratitude is life shaping, life altering, and life sustaining. Gratitude gives us a lens though which to see our lives. Gratitude inspires generosity. Gratitude is like a microscope that shows us what is really there in our lives. And it is like a telescope that reveals to us where we really are in the scope of things. Gratitude shapes our ideals, our behaviors, and our reality. I think we can see from these weeks of reflection the power of gratitude to inform our worldview, our self concept, and our reality. Gratitude gives us an orientation of generosity and abundance.

And where do we learn gratitude? Not in school. Not from society. From society we are more likely to learn greed. We learn gratitude in church. In church we are taught appreciation, awe, and our capacity for generosity based on gratitude for all that has been given to us by God however we may image or conceive of God.

We may be part of other groups and organizations like card clubs, political parties, music groups, environmental organizations, service clubs, book clubs, sports teams, and these experiences may be meaningful and enriching. But it is the church which forms and shapes us as people of gratitude. And gratitude invites us to celebrate the abundance of life and to be generous.

So today we give thanks for the church! We celebrate the church. We offer our generous support of the church. We share our bountiful harvest!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16   

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.17.18

Jesus

The BIG Event is almost here. On Sunday there will be a festive celebration at church of all that we are grateful for. And as part of that celebration, we will choose to share the harvest with one another and the world by offering our financial support for the ministry of the church in the coming year. It will be an exciting morning!

And behind it all, really, is Jesus. Jesus is our window to Divine Love. He is our image of a fully loving human being. His stories and teachings convey how human life can be lived to the fullest, with meaning, purpose, and wonder. Jesus invites us to find our highest good not in accumulating wealth or power or privilege. Not in fame or comfort. But Jesus calls us to find our highest good in service and solidarity with those who suffering.

Jesus’ life and death show us what it means to love with generosity and abandon. To love truly. Not counting the cost even when the cost is your very life. That is why we are here on earth – to love. Ourselves. The Creation. Each other. Our neighbors. Our enemies. Beauty. Life itself. This moment. The great beyond. The mystery. The wonder. Jesus takes none of it for granted. He is enchanted by all of it and tries to show us how to live in full awareness. And for all of his appreciation and engagement with life, he accepts death, he is not afraid of death. The big problem is not dying, but not fully loving and living in every moment, with every action, in every circumstance. He shows us how to do that: to be fully human. And for that, I am grateful!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.16.18

For what am I thankful?
 
Originally written by Robert “Coke” Coughenour for the
Westminster Shores Newsletter: Shorelines November 2015
 
For what am I thankful beyond the expected family, friends and food?
I am grateful for the ineffable mystery of life;
for wonder more than “facticity”; 
for a fundamental faith in eternal values;
for compassion given and received; 
for learning Time as qualitative rather than quantitative;
for learning to seek in complexity, simplicity; 
for learning and love; especially, love of God and love of neighbor,
as one friend taught me, “all the rest is commentary.”
“I would not sleep here if I could, except for the little green leaves in the wood, and the wind on the water” (from Archibald MacLeish, J.B.)  
 
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  
1 Thessalonians 5:16   
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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.15.18

Cultivating Change

While I was in California recently, I needed exact change for a bus.  I looked for a business nearby to get change.  There was a coffee shop.  The clerk said that she was not allowed to open the register to give change but she herself was a bus rider, so she got out her purse and made change for me from her own personal money.  How kind is that!

The cost of the bus was $2.25, so I had three quarters left.  Someone else came to the bus stop and she did not have exact change either.  She had two dollars but no quarters.  I offered to give her one of the quarters I had left.  She didn’t want to just take the quarter from me.  She was very hesitant.  Then I told her about the clerk giving me change from her own money.  It was really the clerk’s kindness and generosity that produced the quarters.  So, the fellow bus rider accepted the quarter – with a caveat.  She said that she would make it a point to help someone else when the opportunity came up.  

Gratitude produces generosity which produces more gratitude which produces more generosity and on it goes.  Or is it generosity that produces gratitude which produces more generosity which leads to more gratitude?  All I know is that gratitude and generosity go together.  And cultivating the spiritual discipline of gratitude makes the world a better place and makes us better people.  

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16   

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Weekly Update 14 November

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, NOV 18 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday is The BIG Event: Sharing the Harvest. It will be a celebration of the abundance of life – all that we have been given and all that we have to give. As part of the service, the congregation will help to create an altar of gratitude. Please bring something that represents what you are thankful for to put on the altar during the Ritual of Thanksgiving. There will also be an opportunity to make a financial commitment to the church for the coming year. This will be an exciting Sunday. Please plan to be part of the celebration!
SUN, NOV 18 RECEPTION: There will be a reception following worship on Sunday Nov. 18 to celebrate Sharing the Harvest and the full ministry of the Lakewood UCC congregation.
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018. If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” (available in the back of the sanctuary) or indicate this on the memo line of your check. Watch the bulletin board in the narthex to see the progress toward this important goal – each step represents $1000, and we need to get all the way across the board! Many thanks in advance for your generosity.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

THU, NOV 15 INTERFAITH EVENT: Join Interfaith Tampa Bay for their annual Interfaith Thanksgiving event. This year, the focus will again be on the art of storytelling and feature some amazing storytellers presenting on the theme of gratitude and community. New this year will be a potluck dinner, where guests are encouraged to bring a dish to share (as well as a tablecloth) that represents their family or community. Thursday, November 15, from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg (100 Mirror Lake Dr N). This event is free and open to the public. A collection will be taken for Interfaith Tampa Bay and UUSP. RSVP to Joran Slane of Interfaith Tampa Bay.
SUN, NOV 18 CONCERT: Join the Tampa Oratorio Singers (Claire Stiles is a member) for their 50th Anniversary Concert featuring favorite choral masterworks at 4pm on Sunday, November 18 at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church (3501 E. San Jose St., Tampa). A free will offering will be collected.
TUE, NOV 20 LOVE NOT FEAR EVENT: Is there someone you love that disagrees with you about something important? Are you dreading that conversation over Thanksgiving dinner or social media? Come to Loving Through Disagreement at Eckerd College Bininger Theater on Tuesday, 20 November at 7pm to hear from people with perspectives on loving people who disagree on core issues like race, religion, sexuality and politics. Share your experiences and get new ideas from fellow participants. Get your free tickets on eventbrite.
SUN, DEC 9 CONCERT: The Alumni Singers of St. Petersburg will give a Christmas Concert at 4pm on Sunday, 9 December at Lakewood United Methodist Church (5995 Dr MLK, Jr St S). The Alumni Singers, founded in 1980, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African-American experience through choral arrangements of African American spirituals, anthems, and gospel music. The choir will be under the direction of Ms. Janice Seay Hogans. A freewill offering will be taken during the event.
WED RAYTHEON PROTEST: Major U.S. defense contractor Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. Since Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, there have been 212 confirmed civilian deaths involving Raytheon’s missiles. During this same time, the company’s stock has almost doubled in value from $108.44 to $210.70 per share. For more information on Raytheon’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen see this article on the news and opinion website salon.

Pax Christy holds a weekly demonstration of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia nearby Raytheon’s Largo facility at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher from 4:30 to 5:30pm on Wednesdays and invites you to join. There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the bank on the SW corner.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!
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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.14.18

People I don’t like

Maybe it’s not Christian to not like someone.  But to be honest, there are people I just don’t like.  It doesn’t happen often.  And it’s not enough to keep me from doing what I want to do and being who I am trying to be.  I can usually overcome my negative feelings, but sometimes there are people that I just don’t like.  

And I am grateful for these people.  On reflection, I find that if I am open to it, I can learn a lot from people I don’t like.  Why don’t I like someone?  Figuring that out can tell me something about myself and my values and concerns.  Why is this person annoying to me?  What is it about their behavior?  Exploring these questions helps me discover more about who I am and what makes me tick.  

Then there is the idea that what we don’t like in someone else is usually something that we don’t like in ourselves.  So, when I don’t like someone, and I can figure out why, I may learn more about my myself and what I don’t like about myself.

Oh yes and something else about people I don’t like.  They help me to grow as a Christian.  Even if I don’t like someone, I still want treat them with dignity and kindness because that is who I want to be.  Dealing with someone I don’t like helps me to work on treating all people as precious children of God.  It’s a lot easier to do that when you like someone.  With someone we don’t like, it stretches us and helps us grow.

So, today I give thanks for people I don’t like.  

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16   

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.13.18

Lazarus

The story of Jesus summoning Lazarus from the tomb is an assigned lectionary reading for this month.  [See the Gospel of John chapter 11.]  It’s a beautiful story.  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are three siblings.  They live in Bethany.  They are friends with Jesus.  You may remember the story of Mary and Martha.  Well, as the story goes, Lazarus is sick.  Mary and Martha have sent for Jesus.  Jesus delays in coming to Bethany.  By the time Jesus gets to Bethany, Lazarus has died and been put in the tomb.  And the sisters are consumed by grief.  It has been four days since Lazarus died.  It was thought that it took three days for the spirit to leave the body.  So maybe there was a possibility that Lazarus could be restored to life within those three days.  But after four days there is no hope.

As the story relates, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb and he appears wrapped with grave clothes.  The impression is that he was really dead.  And now he is really alive.  

I am wondering about what hopes and dreams and desires we put in a tomb.  What kind of things do we let die?  What do we give up on?  What do we abandon?  What do we lock away never to be revisited?   Our faith teaches us to be peace makers.  Have we given up on nuclear disarmament?  On gun sense laws?  Our faith teaches us to value economic arrangements that are just.  Have we given up on economic justice?  Our faith teaches us to cherish the environment.  When we hear about the trends with global warming, do we simply ignore the statistics because we have given up on mitigation?  Our faith teaches to pursue forgiveness.   Have we given up on mending a relationship?  Our faith teaches us to be servants.  Have we given up on being able to make a difference?  Our faith invites us to health and wholeness.  Can we change our habits and face our addictions and dis-eases?  

The story of Lazarus reminds us of the persistence and resilience of the hopes and dreams of our faith.  Maybe they have been shut away but they can be restored.  What dreams have you given up on?  Divine Love can breathe new life into our dreams.

I am grateful that we are part of a religious tradition of hope and promise.  No situation is beyond redemption.  Restoration and healing are always possible.  

 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16   

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.12.18

Lynching Revisited

Several days ago, I wrote about the poem and song, “Strange Fruit” which describes lynchings in the southern United States. I have recently read Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and An Early Cry for Civil Rights by David Margolick written in 2000. That propelled me to YouTube to watch videos of the song performed by various artists starting with Billie Holiday. Yes, her performance is emotionally wrenching to watch as are the renditions of the song by Nina Simone and other African American artists.

Then I noticed a more recent performance, 2013, by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa. These people are white. Hm. What would that be like? I was skeptical. I watched the video. And I watched it again. And again. The vocals. The guitar. Haunting? Breathtaking? Tortured beauty? It’s hard to describe.  You can watch it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qf_aytrlpQ

That performance led me to new thoughts about lynching. Yes, it is horrific to think about what it was like for black people to be the victims of such heinous evil. Again, hard to find human language to talk about something so inhumane. I am white. Can I say I am grateful that I am not black and was not subject to that depravity?

But watching the Hart/Bonamassa video stirred a different perspective within me. Here were these white people putting on such an authentic, pained, gut-wrenching performance. Maybe it is better to be black, to be associated with the victim rather than the perpetrator of such horror. Maybe it is worse to be white and to know that people of your kind did this, lynched people, hung them from a tree. With no semblance of justice involved. Can some say I’m grateful that I’m not white and not associated with behaving with such depravity?

We revisit this topic today, the 104th anniversary of the lynching of John Evans who was lynched in St. Petersburg near MLKing St. and 2nd Ave. S. by a mob of 1500 white people.

Can we be grateful? White and black? Can we be grateful that such a horror would not happen in St. Petersburg today? Can we be grateful that we are making progress in confronting racism? We have not come far enough. There is still a long way to go. But I am grateful that the majority of our society wants to end racism in the United States.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.11.18

Veterans Day

This is a difficult day.  It’s a day to remember all of the suffering and sacrifice of those who have served in the military.  Yes, it is good to thank our veterans and remember their honorable service to our country.  But it is also a day of conflicted perspectives and feelings for me.

Jesus was adamantly anti violent.  He was a pacifist.  Thus he was against armed conflict and war.  So as followers of Jesus, we, too, are to be against war and violence of every kind.  

So to me it feels like there is a tension between the commitment to following Jesus who was against war and expressing gratitude to those who have served in the armed forces on Veterans Day.  

There is also the underlying tension between the view that the armed forces protect our safety and security and the view that the armed forces are used to undermine working for peace in the world.  

So, there is a sense in which Veterans Day is a day fraught with mixed feelings and contradictions.

I am wondering about truly remembering our veterans.  What if we were to commemorate each and every person who has served this country in the armed forces?  What if all those thousands and thousands of people were named and identified?  What if the toll that was taken on their lives and the lives of their families was cataloged?  What if their scars, emotional and physical, were charted?  What if all of their stories were told?   What would that be like?  To know who all of these veterans were, what they did, and how it affected their lives.  What if we spent Veterans Day, a holiday, pouring over the stories of veterans?  Listening to their stories?  Surrounded by published lists of all of their names?  What if we really remembered each and every veteran on Veterans Day instead of shopping, going to the beach, and sleeping in since it is a day off?  

Maybe if were really thought about the human cost of serving in the military as well as the financial cost, we would re-think our military-industrial complex.  

Stanley Baldwin, British statesman and three time Prime Minister, declared, “War would end if the dead could return.”

Maybe the most significant way we can express gratitude to those who have served in the military is by abolishing war.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16   

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.10.18

Finding Gratitude through the Back Door

There is a wishing trees garden within the Arlington Garden in Pasadena, California. This public garden features native and drought tolerant plants. It has tables and chairs and benches for people to sit and enjoy the natural beauty. There is a labyrinth made from stones in the garden. And there are several trees blossoming with ribbons and papers that convey people’s wishes.

 

One post on the tree conveys these wishes:

I wish my husband will stop drinking alcohol and smoking.
I wish I will have job soon
I wish for best of health for my whole family
I wish I win in lotto.
I wish to have house soon.

After seeing that and some of the other wishes, here is my wish:

I wish to be more grateful!

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.9.18

Poetry

In 1937, an English teacher at De Witt Clinton High School, Abel Meeropol, wrote the poem Strange Fruit:

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Later, Meeropol set the poem to music. It was recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939.

Why be grateful for such wrenching words? For the portrayal of such a gruesome scene? In words or in song?

Here we are served by George Santayana who observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The poem and song Strange Fruit portray the past in sickeningly stark honesty. Meeropol was Jewish. Could he have been thinking that remembering this harrowing past in America could influence the course of events in Europe? We don’t know.

But may we be grateful for those writers, musicians, scholars, and artists who help us to remember the past so that we are not condemned to repeat it.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.8.18

Forgiveness

We’ve done something to wrong someone. And we know it. And we feel awful about it. We’re abashed, ashamed. We do what we can. We want to make things right. We ask for forgiveness. And what a relief it is when that forgiveness is granted!

It can be hard to accept such a gift. A relationship is restored and maybe even strengthened. Our guilt is relieved. Forgiveness from someone is something to be very grateful for. Can you think of a time that you have received such forgiveness? How did that feel?

There is also another side to forgiveness. Sometimes we are the ones who have been wronged. Sometimes someone has done something that has caused us harm in some way. We bear the burden of the injury, the hurt, the pain. It may be something fairly minor. It may be devastating. But we carry the weight of having been wronged. It may linger and fester.

When we choose to forgive someone, we lay that weight down. We release that burden. We free ourselves from that load. And we can forgive whether the other party has requested that forgiveness or not. We can choose to forgive regardless of the demeanor of the other person.

Forgiving others restores us and frees us. Maybe you can think of someone who has hurt you. Forgive them in your heart. You don’t even need to tell them you have done so. And you likely will find that you have unburdened your spirit.

In this season of gratitude, may we give thanks for forgiveness – the forgiveness that we receive AND the forgiveness that we give.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Weekly Update 7 November

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH of CHRIST
2601 54th Avenue South, St Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961 ~ lakewooducc.org

COMING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

SUN, NOV 11 THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday the season of gratitude continues in preparation for The BIG Event Sharing the Harvest on Sunday Nov. 18. No matter how you are feeling after the election, it is always the right time to cultivate gratitude
WED, NOV 7 OPERATION ATTACK: Operation Attack needs boys/men’s clothes along with coats for all ages. Volunteer tonight at Lakeview Presbyterian Church (1310 22nd Ave S) from 6:30 to 7:30pm.
SUN, NOV 11 CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: There will be a congregational meeting following worship on Sunday Nov. 11 to take action on the Creation Justice covenant.  The meeting will be a time to discuss the covenant and to suggest any changes.  Feel free to review the history of the Creation Justice processthat the and the proposed Creation Justice Covenant.  The Covenant has been endorsed by the Advisors.

Please plan to be part of the congregational meeting on Nov. 11.  This is a very important commitment in the life of the church.  It is a very exciting ministry to be pursing at this crucial time.
SUN, NOV 11 IN MEMORIAM: LUCC Member Fran Whitney died October 12th. A Memorial Service will be held November 11th at 3pm at Benjamin Towers (250 58th St N). Rev. Kim Wells is officiating.
TUE, NOV 13 SHARING THE HARVEST: Please return your Sharing the Harvest 2018 forms to the church office by Tuesday, November 13th. The information will be compiled and reported back at The BIG Event on the following Sunday. This is a way to celebrate the full ministry of the congregation, from underpaid jobs to volunteer work to charitable giving.
SUN, NOV 18 THE BIG EVENT: This year the focus of the BIG Event will be on “Sharing the Harvest.” November is a season of gratitude, a time to celebrate abundance and the ministry of Lakewood UCC. Gratitude journals will be distributed at church on Sunday as will harvest forms. They will also be available online later this week, so keep an eye out. The church is grateful for all you do to offer the inclusive love of Christ to all people and work for peace and justice throughout creation!
EXTRA MILE GIVING: The church is facing a $13,500 shortfall in operating expenses for 2018.  $5,000 has already been pledged to help close this gap.  If you are able to “go the extra mile” to help, please place your donation in an envelope marked “the extra mile” or indicate this on the memo line of your check.  Watch the bulletin board at church to see the progress toward this important goal.  Many thanks in advance for your generosity!

COMMUNITY EVENTS

SUN, NOV 18 CONCERT: Join the Tampa Oratorio Singers (Claire Stiles is a member) for their 50th Anniversary Concert featuring favorite choral masterworks at 4pm on Sunday, November 18 at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church (3501 E. San Jose St., Tampa). A free will offering will be collected.
WED RAYTHEON PROTEST: Major U.S. defense contractor Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. Since Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, there have been 212 confirmed civilian deaths involving Raytheon’s missiles. During this same time, the company’s stock has almost doubled in value from $108.44 to $210.70 per share. For more information on Raytheon’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen see this article on the news and opinion website salon.

Pax Christy holds a weekly demonstration of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia nearby Raytheon’s Largo facility at the corner of Bryan Dairy and Belcher from 4:30 to 5:30pm on Wednesdays and invites you to join. There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the bank on the SW corner.

CONTINUING LAKEWOOD UCC EVENTS

AA: In the Fellowship Hall Thursdays at 7:45 p.m.
ANNOUNCEMENTS WELCOME: To have an announcement put in the bulletin or weekly update, please turn it into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Email, or voicemail, as well as written material is welcome. The church is glad to share activities and news from members and friends.
THE BIBLE ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS: As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors. The Bible is unambiguous in calling us to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. In these times, let us listen to the voice of the still-speaking God. Visit ucc.org for a list of biblical references to immigrants and refugees.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON: If you are interested in calling, emailing or writing your representatives in congress, here is some contact information:

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Senate Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Tampa office: 801 N. Florida Ave., 4th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: 813-225-7040
www.billnelson.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Tampa office: 5201 West Kennedy Blvd, Ste. 530, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: 813-287-5035
www.rubio.senate.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)

Dist. 14: Rep. Kathy Castor
2052 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20515
Tampa Office 4144 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa FL 33607
Website: www.castor.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-3376 Washington
(727) 392-4100 St. Petersburg
(813) 871-2817 Tampa

District 13: Rep. Charlie Crist
427 Cannon House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515
696 1st Avenue North, Suite #203 St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Website: www.crist.house.gov (Click “Contact” to write a message)
(202) 225-5961 Washington
1-(888) 205-5569 District office

If you are living outside Florida or local districts, you may phone your Member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Visit americantrails.org for additional contact information.

givingELECTRONIC GIVING: The church offers several options for electronic giving. There are information sheets and sign up forms available in the sanctuary and the church office. For additional information, please contact the church office.
FREE BOOKS: Did you know that there are not only books to borrow in the church library but books being given away for free. Take a peek at the great selection. Many new titles have been added including a selection of books for children.
GUN VIOLENCE INFORMATION PAMPHLET: Copies of a Gun Violence information pamphlet are available. This resource was created by Grace Lewis of the LUCC congregation to educate the public about gun violence. They are located at the back of the sanctuary, or you can download one here. Please take them and share them.
Screenshot 2016-08-08 18.34.07NEW EZ PODCASTS!!! No downloading! Just click and play! Try it! Just click on the little orange circle with the white arrow in it. Only one click and it plays! Every week, a new podcast is posted on the church website. All our streamable podcasts are at https://soundcloud.com/luccpodcasts – please tell your friends who might enjoy listening! Keep checking back, more and more will be added each week.
recycle1RECYCLE: Recycle your print cartridges! At this time we cannot recycle toner cartridges, only inkjet cartridges. Keep it coming in! Many thanks to all who contribute to the church recycling. This income stream helps the ministry of the church.
USHERS NEEDED: Please see or email the church office if you would like to volunteer to usher for services.
WEBSITE — lakewooducc.org: Everything you always wanted to know about the church. Go ahead and ask. The information is probably at the church website. You can subscribe and have updates and comments automatically sent to your email address. See the homepage for details. You can also keep connected with on Facebook and on Twitter.
childrenYOUNG PEOPLE AT LAKEWOOD: Children and young people are a vital part of the LUCC family. School age children are invited to participate in Church School and preschool children are welcome in the Nursery under the able care of Claudia Rodriguez. They will join the congregation for the end of the worship service. Children and young people are an integral part of this church family and the intergenerational relationships that form in this small congregation are truly a blessing!


CIRCLE OF CONCERN

Family & Friends of Fran Whitney,
Shirley and Bill Locke, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.7.18

The Examen

One year as part of Bible Study, we used the spiritual discipline described in the book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life (Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn, authors). The book is designed for children and families and is based on the examen, a prayer of St. Ignatius. At each Bible Study session, we would take some time to light a candle, then each person would respond to the question, What am I most grateful for? Then we would respond to a second question, What am I least grateful for? After our sharing and a closing prayer, we blew out the candle and were finished for the evening.

It was a very interesting process. Sometimes we found it very hard to figure out what we were least grateful for. We were often surprised at what we said. And how we felt about it.

One thing that tended to happen again and again was that in the process of examining what we were least grateful for, we found a hidden blessing. We discovered something we had not seen. We realized that something we were not grateful for had helped us or taught us an important lesson.

I have found this to true in my own experience. At one time, we had an older couple in the church and the wife had Alzheimer’s Disease. The situation was very difficult for the husband who was the caregiver. He would call me regularly to come over to their house to try to help when things got dicey. I was glad to go but I don’t think I was of much help. I was “least grateful” because I felt I was ineffective.

A few years later, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My mother also had the same condition. In those frustrating experiences with parishioners, I had not been of much help to the couple. But later I saw that those experiences were of great help to me in preparing me to care for my parents. Something I was not grateful for at one point turned out to be something that I was very grateful for later.

To be honest, in those Bible Study prayer sessions, I think we all learned more about ourselves and the spiritual life through the discipline of identifying what we were least grateful for rather than what we were most grateful for. It was very illuminating.

So as we engage in this season of gratitude, may we be open to the possibility that something we are not grateful for may actually hold a blessing for us.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Sharing the Harvest Devotion 11.6.18

Election Day

It’s Election Day.  Finally!  There’s been quite a lead up to this election.  Ads.  Mailers.  Robo calls.  Yard signs.  Emails.  Texts.  Social media posts.  Radio, TV, and print media coverage.  And it’s finally here – the day of the midterm elections in the United States.  

In the Gratitude Journal provided by the church for this season of preparation for The BIG Event, there is a prompt:  Something I appreciate about living in the United States. . . There are so many things to be grateful for but today, I am thinking about how thankful I am that we have a say so in who our leaders are.  We have the right to vote for our leaders and those who will govern.  And that right was hard won for African Americans and for women.  People were willing to give their lives to get the vote because voting matters.  In the current news there are many stories about voter suppression and gerrymandering.  Why bother to restrict voters or to manipulate district lines if it didn’t matter?  Voting makes a difference.

And here in Florida, voting is not just about who gets elected to govern, but we also vote on amendments to the state constitution.  This gives us the power to directly influence the laws of our state.  Think of it.  With our vote.  In those few minutes filling out a ballot, we have the power to give 1.4 million people in Florida who have paid their debt to society the right to vote and have a constructive impact on their community and their country.  [Vote yes on Amendment 4]  We have the power to stop any further off-shore drilling on the coasts of Florida and to stop fracking in Florida.  [Amendment 9]  

I am grateful that we have the power to influence the life of our communities and our country by voting.  I am thankful that voting gives us a voice in the affairs of our land.  

I am also thankful that the election will be over today.  Whoever wins, whoever loses, there will still be work to do to ensure that there is “liberty and justice for all” in these great United States of America.   

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16    

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