Bulletin 11.27.22

LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

A Just Peace Church

An Open and Affirming Church

A Creation Justice Church

10:30 am

November 27, 2022

CAROL SINGING              10:15AM

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                       Sherry Santana, Liturgist

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.

Where there is discord, let me bring union.

Where there is error, let me bring truth.

Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.

Where there is despair, let me bring hope.

Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.

Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

O Master, let me not seek as much

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love,

for it is in giving that one receives,

it is in self-forgetting that one finds,

it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,

it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

                       Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, 1181/2-1226

 PRELUDE       There’s No Place Like Home for the Holiday’s     Allen       

* OPENING READING                  Jim Cotter, 1942-2014

O come, O come, thou wisdom strange

            from deep within God’s womb to range

            the earth at midnight’s hour of fears

            to make us wise beyond our years.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Our God shall leap
with light that rouses us from sleep.  

* HYMN                 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel              116

LIGHTING THE ADVENT WREATH – HOPE

Unison Prayer

We give thanks for the many ways that hope is made manifest in our lives and in our world.  We need the gift of hope to sustain us on life’s journey.  May we look for signs of hope in the darkening days of this Advent season. May we be signs of hope for the world.     Amen. 

Response:    Light our Way                                   Joyce Rupp

Light our way, light our way, as we journey in the dark-ness. Light our way, light our way, gift us with hope for our world.

SCRIPTURE LESSON

Let us prepare ourselves for the word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture. Our hearts and minds are open.

                                Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44

For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us. Thanks be to God.

MODERN READING             Peter Hooper, 20th c.

* HYMN       Keep Awake, Be Always Ready             112

SERMON    Seeking Christ                 Rev. Kim P. Wells

UNISON READING                Kate Mclhagga, adapted

Now is a time of watching and waiting

a time pregnant with hope

at time to watch and pray.

May we watch for the signs,

listen for the messenger,

wait for the good news to slip

into our world , our lives.

Christ our advent hope,

help us to clear the way for you;

to clear the clutter from our minds,

to sift the silt from our hearts,

to move the boulders that prevent us from meeting you.

ANTHEM                  I Wonder as I Wander              Amer. Trad

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives & in our world.
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people.
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

MORNING OFFERING

Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar. You are invited to write your prayer requests on the sheets provided in the bulletin and bring them forward and place them in the basket on the altar. If you would like assistance, please turn to someone seated near you.

               Offertory      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel     trad./arr. HKJ  

            * Prayer of Dedication    Dorothy Mcrae- McMahon

In the face of all our realities:

We are the people who heal each other,

who grow strong together,

who  name the trut

who know what it mean

  to live in community,

  moving towards a common dream

 for a new heaven and a new earth

 in the power of the love of God,

  the company of Jesus Christ

   and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

* PREPARATION FOR PRAYER   O God of Love, O God of Peace     571

MORNING PRAYERS- SAVIOR’S PRAYER

Fathering and Mothering God, lover of us all, most holy one. 

Help us to respond to you

To create what you want for us here on earth.

Give us today enough for our needs.

Forgive our weak and deliberate offenses,

Just as we must forgive others when they hurt us.

Help us to resist evil and to do what is good.

For we are yours, endowed with your power to make the world whole.   Amen.

* HYMN                All Earth Is Waiting         121

*BENEDICTION                                                                   

*CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE (please form a circle)   

Lead Us From Death to Life                581

Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth,

            from despair to hope, from fear to trust.

            Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace;

            let peace fill our hearts, let peace fill our world,

            let peace fill our universe.

*POSTLUDE      It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year      Pola & Wyle

Circle of Concern: Erik Johnson, Colombian Family, Family and Loved ones of Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn is under Hospice care, Maggie Brizendine, Janet Hall, Tony Larson, All those suffering from COVID-19 and all healthcare workers, Schools: Students, families, teachers, and staff

                                               Announcements

FaceBook Live- The 10:30 a.m. service is being streamed on FaceBook Live

Choir Rehearsals Resume – Rehearsals began today and will continue each Sunday in the sanctuary from 9 to 10:15 a.m.  All are welcome!  For more information, please contact music director Hilton Jones.

Guided labyrinth walks Wednesday mornings at 9:00am – Each week there is a guided labyrinth walk on the outdoor labyrinth at the church. It’s a time of prayerful faith sharing, and a time to listen more deeply to our spiritual lives. In case of rain, the walks are held on Thursday Morning.

Healing Through the Holidays– The holiday season is just ahead. We had our prologue with Halloween. Now we gear up for Thanksgiving, the Christmas season, and New Years. Whew!

This time of year can be fraught – and not only because we are busy celebrating. It can be a time to remember those who will not be with us this year. It is a time to negotiate difficult family relationships. It is a time requiring us to be with people who may have different values than we do. And it is a time when many of the activities and customs don’t necessarily align with what is good and healthy for us or for the earth. There is a lot to consider and to navigate.

The holiday season can also provide a wonderful opening for healing, for reconciliation, for understanding, and for transformation. In a three part discussion

oriented workshop, we will look at some of the stresses and opportunities that may come with the holiday season. We will think about ways that this time of year can be a time of healing and restoration instead of a time of depletion and conflict.

This workshop will be held via Zoom on Tuesdays November 29, and Dec. 13 from 7-8 p.m. All are welcome! The Zoom number is: 270 068 3648.

All Church Read – Access a copy of Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. It’s a very short story. This book is also available as an audio book. Join in a discussion of this beautiful story December 22 @ 6:30 via zoom.

Zoom Link: http://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648

Meeting Id: 270 068 3648

Holiday Gift Shop –   During this Holiday season the church is helping to support the Holiday Gift Shop Project at Maximo Elementary School. Please bring toys, jewelry, silly socks, stickers, mugs, coloring books, notepads in fun shapes and books or other gifts to church Sundays through Dec. 11. These will help to stock the Holiday Gift Shop at Maximo where children may select gifts for their families, their friends, and themselves

Baby Time – This is the time of the year to focus on the birth of a baby and the story a baby born in a barn, far away from home. Family Promise of Pinellas County is a faith-based coalition helping families without a house to move toward residential stability. This ministry to families without homes has been supported by LUCC for many years. This year Family Promise has asked that we collect diapers for the families in the program. Please bring donations of diapers- any size, any style- to church.

Christmas Caroling – Sunday Dec. 4 at 12:30 pm. Lunch will be served after the service for all who go caroling.   Share the joy of the season with the homebound

 CHRISTMAS EVE

6:30      Music of the Season

7:00     Service with candlelight and communion. All ages’ welcome!  

2022 Advent Calendar

Seeking Christ
The Advent/Christmas Season at Lakewood United Church of Christ 2022

Sundays
10:15 Favorite Carols
10:30 Worship
Lighting the advent Wreath
Church school and Childcare

DAILY DEVOTIONS
Look for a new devotion each day in your email or at the church website to help inspire your reflection about seeking Christ this holy season.

HEALING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS
Explore themes of the holidays that provide comfort and joy through the challenges of the season. This is a zoom meeting on November 29 and December 13 from 7-8pm. All Are welcome!!
Zoom Meeting link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648
Meeting ID: 270 068 3648

ALL CHURCH READ
Access a copy of Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. It’s a very short story. This book is also available as an audio book.Join in a discussion of this beautiful story December 22 @ 6:30 via zoom.
Zoom Meeting Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648
Meeting ID: 270 068 3648

LABYRINTH WALKS
A prayerful walk seeking to find Christ in ourselves, others, and the world around us. Wednesday mornings from 9-10am. All welcome!

HOLIDAY GIFT SHOP
During this Holiday season the church is helping to support the Holiday Gift Shop Project at Maximo Elementary School. Please bring toys, jewelry, silly socks, stickers, mugs, coloring books, notepads in fun shapes and books or other gifts to church Sundays through Dec. 11. These will help to stock the Holiday Gift Shop at Maximo where children may select gifts for their families, their friends, and themselves.

CHRISTMAS CAROLING
Sunday Dec. 4 at 12:30 pm. Lunch will be served after the service for all who go caroling. Share the joy of the season with the homebound.

CHRISTMAS EVE
6:30 Music of the Season
7:00 Service with candlelight and communion.
All ages welcome! 

CHRISTMAS DAY
Gather Sunday morning at 10:30 in the sanctuary for songs and stories. Celebrate the gift we have been seeking. There may even be food and fun. You are welcome to attend in your pajamas.

BABY TIME
This is the time of the year to focus on the birth of a baby and the story a baby born in a barn, far away from home. Family Promise of Pinellas County is a faith-based coalition helping families without a house to move toward residential stability. This ministry to families without homes has been supported by LUCC for many years. This year Family Promise has asked that we collect diapers for the families in the program. Please bring donations of diapers- any size, any style- to church.

WORLD AIDS DAY
December 1st is a time to reflect on the ravages of AIDS. Wear a Red Ribbon. Offer a Prayer.

LINING THE CRADLE
Join in preparing for Jesus’ birth in the ritual of lining the cradle during Sunday worship on December 18th at 10:30

WINTER SOLSTICE
The longest night is a time for reflection and wonder. Join in a fireside gathering at 5:41pm on Wednesday December 21 at the church.

NEW YEARS DAY
There will be a service on Sunday @ 10:30 to start the New Year. Rituals will help set the heart’s intentions for the year ahead.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

CELEBRATE OUTREACH CHRISTMAS CAROLING
Join with others to offer Christmas joy to those who are houseless in St. Petersburg.Friday December 9 from 7-9pm. Meet at the Unitarian Universal Church100 Mirror Lake Drive S. Petersburg, FL.

COMMUNITY MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THE HOUSELESS WHO HAVE DIED
In this season of “ No room at the inn” join in remembering those who have died who were houseless. This moving service will be held at Unitarian Universalist Church100 Mirror Lake Drive St. Petersburg, FL on Friday December 16 at 4:30pm.

2022 Harvest Report

Each year at LUCC there is a “harvest” of the giving of the congregation. The harvest report is a beautiful witness to the faithfulness of the LUCC and its MANY ministries enveloping the world in love.

Lakewood United Church of Christ Harvest 2022

People who responded to form: 17 members, about 1/3 of the congregation

Total Volunteer Hours: 3,391

Total Dollar amount: $ 69,116

Organizations:

Lakewood UCC

Southern Poverty Law Center

Operation Attack

Political campaigns

Lutheran Services hurricane relief

Center for Racial Healing

Wounded Warrior Project

Kim Foundation

Leon Humane Society

Humane Society of the US

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Maximo Elementary School

Fairmont Park Elementary School

Tampa Bay Watch

Southeast Beagle Rescue

Act Blue for Democratic candidates

IRC – International Rescue Committee

Equality Florida

Radiant Hands

Human Rights Campaign

Women’s History Museum

CASA

Florida hurricane relief fund

RAMWI –  Refugee and Migrant Women’s Initiative

Blue Mountain Center

WUSF radio

WMNF radio

Ready for Life

Food pantries

Ukraine causes

ACT city of St Pete

Morean Arts Center

League of Women Voters

Appalachian Ohio Rural Development

Southwest Florida Community Foundation – Ian Relief

Salvation Army

Planned Parenthood

Southern Poverty Law Center

ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union

St Pete Time Bank

Blessing Hands

Stonewall Democrats

Moms Demand Action

Pinellas County Schools

Innocence Project –  Bail Project

Lakewood High volleyball and soccer

St Pete Raiders Soccer

Pinellas County soccer club

Lakewood High School food pantry

Suncoast residents garden

Suncoast journal

Suncoast employee appreciation fund

Local library and little free library

MAPS – Multidisciplinary Application of Psychedelic Studies

Sarasota Rotary Club

Sarasota Bay Estuary Foundation

New College of Florida

St Pete NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Michele Rayner for Florida

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom

Women’s March

Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger

Pet Pal Animal Rescue

Feeding Tampa Bay

The Temple, Atlanta

Chari’s Circle

John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

James Museum

St Pete History Museum

Holocaust Museum

Dali Museum

Rincon UCC

Grinnell College

SPIFFS – St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society

Scottish Cultural Society

Arizona food bank

Harvard University

Indiana University

Eckerd College

Florida Orchestra

Union Seminary in New York

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Eden Seminary

Wikipedia

Buskers

12-step programs

Meals on Wheels

Carter Woodson Museum

SOTENI

Wellesley College

LUCC Care Team

96.5 WSLR Sarasota Community Radio

Operation Attack

Celebrate Outreach

Neighborhood Association

Friends and strangers who need help

Scholarship fund

DAV  –  Disabled American Veterans

Political candidates who support social and climate justice

Sermon 11.20.22

Date: November 20, 2022

Scripture Lesson: Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Sermon: A Brimming Basket

Pastor:  Rev. Kim P. Wells

On our last day of walking the Camino de Santiago, we found ourselves among crowds of other people who were also completing the pilgrimage.  At the end of the Camino, several routes converge, so you make your way to the cathedral as part of a steady stream.  Along the way that last day, I over heard a man, a white American who looked to be in his 50’s, say to his companions, a younger man and a younger woman, “Just think, you’ll never have to walk 15 miles a day ever again in your life.”  Evidently, he was offering needed motivation. 

I can hear the relief in those words having walked 15 miles a day many times on the Camino.  Yup, you are tired.  Yes, things ache that you didn’t know you had.  You bet the day was long.  And while my feet never hurt, I did lose three toe nails.  And I made a significant contribution to the Spanish economy with my consumption of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. And their over the counter ibuprofen comes in 400 mg tabs so you only have to take two each morning and each night!  We walked through the wet, including a nasty squall during which Jeff lost his glasses and had to go back to look for them only to find they had been driven over by a car.  And when there was no room at the inn, the albergue, the hostel, sometimes you had to go more than 15 miles to find a vacant bed for the night.  “Just think, you’ll never have to walk 15 miles a day ever again in your life.”

Despite all the inconvenience and discomfort of long distance walking, I must tell you that I never, not once, not for an instant, desired to be relieved of the challenge at hand while we were on the Camino.

Why?  Gratitude.  Every day, every moment, I was filled with gratitude.  And that gratitude centered around  three things:

One.  Having the long stretch of time needed  to do the Camino.    Being blessed with a job that advises taking three months off every five years for renewal and re-creation.  Having the time.  How amazing is that?!

Two.  Having the money.  I remember Jeff’s Uncle Brad telling me many years ago, Well, usually you have the time or the money but not both.  We had both.  The time.  AND the money.  We had the money to spend two months in Europe.  Sure, the albergues often cost only 10 euros a night, but still.  And at the end, we had the money to fly home direct from Frankfurt to Tampa.   Not stopping in Paris and Pittsburg, or Las Vegas and Denver, with long layovers, on the way back.  Yes, we are the beneficiaries of ancestral wealth, so we don’t take credit for the fact that we have the money, but we are so, so grateful!

Three.   We have the physical capability to walk over 500 miles, even 15 miles in a day.  We have the strength and health and capacity to do it, with a little help from our friends at the famacia. 

And I’ll tell you, after my heel surgery that ended in infection requiring another heel surgery to prevent amputation, being able to walk 15 miles a day was a gift beyond measure.  I can’t begin to describe how happy I was. 

Every day, 10 miles, 15 miles, 6 hours, 12 hours, whatever the walking, the conditions, the upping and downing, rain or shine, with or without the pack, I wanted to pinch myself.  Was I dreaming?  Could life really be this good?  We felt like we were the luckiest people in the world.  “Just think, you’ll never have to walk 15 miles a day ever again in your life.”  I get it.  But I can’t think of anything better than being able to tramp 15 miles a day through the highways and byways of Spain.  Bring it on!

Deuteronomy talks about bringing a basket full of produce to the altar.  There is no basket big enough to contain my gratitude for the blessings I enjoy.  And we are told this ritual is to be observed on a regular basis building thanksgiving into the natural cycle of faith expression.  This is to help people cultivate a continual attitude of gratitude for all they are given. 

This is important because Thanksgiving moves us beyond our self-absorption.  It frees us from the tyranny of the self and self obsession.  Gratitude lessens our pride and our prejudice.  Thanksgiving fosters a perspective of abundance rather than fearful scarcity.  And gratitude promotes generosity.  Rituals of Thanksgiving help us to realize we are part of a larger reality, God’s reality, the reality of Divine Love. 

Deuteronomy also talks about Thanksgiving, the first fruits offering, as a ritual for the faith community.  This was not an individual observance.  This is something that everyone was part of.  And the recitation of the ways that God had blessed the community was a sign of that.  These people were showing gratitude not for what Adonai, Our God, did for me.  But for what Adonai, our God, has done for us.  Us.  Our community.  Our people.  So the whole community is formed and shaped by gratitude.  This creates a culture of gratitude.

And as we remember our Thanksgiving narrative as a nation, it is also a communal observance.  The Europeans and the indigenous people, feasting together after the native people helped the Europeans to survive in this foreign land.  It was a community celebration in recognition of what God had done for the community. 

Part of the role of the faith community is to help us to cultivate gratitude.  Thanksgiving.  It may or may not come naturally.  But the church is here to encourage us to see the good in our lives, to count our blessings, and to give thanks, to God, beyond ourselves, realizing that we are the beneficiaries of so much more than we can take credit for, so much more that we can earn, and far more than we deserve.  It takes a communal formation to help us to see beyond ourselves and to give thanks for the ways we benefit from being part of a community, and for those who have gone before us, and for all that is simply given to us.  The church helps us to be aware of this and to realize our giftedness.  The church offers us a context in which to share our gratitude and to know our interdependence. 

Now, the gentleman who made that memorable statement, “Just think, you’ll never have to walk 15 miles a day ever again in your life.”   Now I don’t know, but I suspect that he does not go to church or participate regularly in a faith community.  And maybe, if he did, he would be filled with praise that he had the opportunity and the ability to walk 15 miles a day in the beautiful countryside of Spain.

I recently read a brand new translation of  the spiritual classic, Practice of the Presence by Brother Lawrence.  It is a compilation of writings that originate in the 1600’s.  Brother Lawrence lived through three bubonic plagues, the Little Ice Age, an additional 2 ‘without a summer’ years of chill through the summer which produced hunger and starvation, and the Thirty Years War in which 8 million lives were lost and he was injured in the leg, an injury which plagued him for over thirty years with severe pain, a limp, and several years of immobility at the end of his life.  And yet and still, he writes this in a letter to a nun:  [Oh, and keep in mind that the translator refers to God in the plural to reflect the Trinitarian nature of God.]  So Brother Lawrence encourages his friend, a nun, “Join me in thanking them, [God], please, for their great kindness to me.  I can never thank God enough for the great number of graces they have give me, such a miserable sinner.  May God be blessed by all.  Amen.”  [Practice of the Presence, Nicolas Herman, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher.]

If the only thing we learn at church is gratitude, that will be enough.  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.