Weekly Update 13 March


This Sunday: This Sunday the season of Lent continues with the theme All Things New.  See Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Luke 13:31-35.  Why are people resistant to change?  When something better is offered, why hesitate to accept? 


Picture: The Creation Justice office of the national United Church of Christ has requested that a picture be taken of the LUCC congregation with the new Creation Justice banner that was given to the church.

This photo will be taken at the church on Sunday March 17 immediately after the worship service.  Everyone is invited to wear green.  That should be easy to remember since it is St. Patrick’s Day!

Advisors: Advisor will meet at 11:30 this Sunday March 17, all are welcome to attend.


One Ticket Available: A group from the church is attending Haydn’s Creation with the Florida Orchestra Saturday March 23 at 8pm.  There is one free ticket available please contact Claire Stiles or the Church Office if interested.


Operation Attack: Attack poverty! Ongoing needs include coats of all sizes, diapers of all sizes, oatmeal, cereal, and peanut butter. LUCC’s next volunteer evening is March 18 at 6:30 pm at Lakeview Presbyterian Church (1310 22nd Ave S).


Theological Orientation Discussions: On Tuesday, March 19, those participating in the theological orientation conversations are invited to be part of an interfaith dialogue at Congregation B’nai Israel (300 58th St N) led by Dr. Roy Kaplan. LUCC was specifically requested to participate in this opportunity. Rabbi Weintraub will begin the event with a tour of the sanctuary and explanation of what the Jewish religion is about. That will be followed by about 1.5 hours in small groups discussing the different faith traditions represented, holy days, and what it is like to live and practice our religion in this area. The event will run from 7-9 PM and include snacks provided by the synagogue. Those who would like to may meet at LUCC at 6:30 to carpool to the synagogue. Please contact Patti Cooksey or Kim Wells for additional information or to arrange transportation.

On Tuesday April 2, Dr. Robert “Coke” Coughenour will offer a presentation on how the word “Christ” is used in the Bible.  Coke is a retired Biblical professor.  This will be a very informative and engaging evening.  The gathering will begin at 6:30 and end at 7:45 in the Fellowship Hall at church.  All are welcome.  Please contact the church office if you would like transportation.  


LUCC Concert Series (and square dance): celebrating Old Time, Blues, Blue Grass, Folk & Country music. All concerts begin at 7pm. There is a $20 suggested donation for the band, doors open at 6:30pm. See the website or LUCC Facebook page for more information. Spread the word, share on Facebook or Nextdoor, invite your friends!

Friday, March 22 – Randy Wilson and Gabe Dansereau
Saturday, March 23 – Square Dance (1-4pm)
Friday, May 3 – Charley Groth
Friday, May 31 – Rebecca Zapen


Sea Level Rise Conference: Plans are shaping up for the Suncoast Sea Level Rise Collaborative’s conference on climate, a two-day program that will explore changes in the level of climate impacts over four years and highlight action steps individuals and policy-makers could take to mitigate or adapt to those impacts.

The conference, titled [Sea Level] Rise Up: Realities and Opportunities, will be April 5 & 6 at the Conference Center at SPC Seminole, 9200 113th St. North.

The Collaborative, a small group of concerned citizens (LUCC’s Claire Stiles is one of them) committed to educating the public about the challenges and opportunities created by global warming, emerged from the Institute’s 2015 sea level rise conference. Since 2015, a great deal has happened on the climate change front to heighten the need for action to deal with the impacts of a warmer Earth. Register online.


Earth Day: April 13th from 10am to 5pm St. Petersburg will celebrate Earth Day with a community celebration in Historic Williams Park (350 2nd Ave N).  Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people in hundreds of countries around the globe. By celebrating Earth Day we join with others and share our common reverence and respect for this beautiful but fragile planet. LUCC is considering having a booth at this event.  Those who are interested in helping, please contact Claire Stiles. For more information visit earthdaysp.


World Dance Day: April 13th from 1 to 2pm at William’s Park. This Global Celebration Dance For Humanity creates an international dance celebration that unites humanity. Registration Cost is just $5 and includes the download of epic 1 hour global mix of music for your dance party. Access to a private online Facebook community for dancers worldwide. Global Organizers: The Liberators International. Local Organizer: Wally LeBlancRegister online.


March Birthdays: Happy birthday to Carol Shores (3/1), Claudia Rodriguez (3/3), Grace Lewis and Yvonne Riesen (3/13), Ron Huff (3/19), Earl Waters (3/25), and Charlie Lewis (3/27). Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Jane Diven, Christy Martin, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules, and Ann Rogers.


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Weekly Update 6 March


This Sunday: This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, a time of repentance and re-centering on God, however you may conceive of God.  The theme for the season at LUCC is All Things New. In this season of re-turning, and the awakening of new life as the spring approaches, the focus will be on transformation and change toward healing and wholeness.


Daylight Savings Time: Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March each year. Remember that we spring ahead on the 10th!


Ash Wednesday: The season of Lent begins today.  There will be an outdoor service this evening, lakeside around a fire, at the home of Dana, Chip, and Jackson Cosper (1040 56th Ave S). The service begins at 7pm. Bring a chair if you have one and bring a stick if you can.  Plan to be part of this beautiful gathering to begin the Lenten season of reflection and repentance.


In Memoriam: We received word several weeks ago that former LUCC member Lucille Bailey had died.  There will be a memorial service at Pilgrim Church (6315 Central) following 10:30 worship on Sunday March 10. Lu’s ashes will be buried at LUCC according to her wishes. 


Farmworker Rally: There will be a rally in support of the Fair Food Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee workers on Thursday March 14 in Gainesville. The Florida Conference of the UCC is sponsoring a bus to take people to this important witness. The bus will stop in Tampa about 10:00 Thursday morning. After an afternoon of demonstrating in support of the Fair Food agreement, there will be a communal dinner and then the bus will bring folks back to Tampa. Kim Wells is going and would love to have others from LUCC join her! Please consider spending a day in support of those who put food on our tables!


Operation Attack: Attack poverty! Ongoing needs include coats of all sizes, diapers of all sizes, oatmeal, cereal, and peanut butter. LUCC’s next volunteer evening is March 18 at 6:30 pm at Lakeview Presbyterian Church (1310 22nd Ave S).


Theological Orientation Discussions: On Tuesday, March 19, those participating in the theological orientation conversations are invited to be part of an interfaith dialogue at Congregation B’nai Israel (300 58th St N) led by Dr. Roy Kaplan. LUCC was specifically requested to participate in this opportunity. Rabbi Weintraub will begin the event with a tour of the sanctuary and explanation of what the Jewish religion is about. That will be followed by about 1.5 hours in small groups discussing the different faith traditions represented, holy days, and what it is like to live and practice our religion in this area. The event will run from 7-9 PM and include snacks provided by the synagogue. Those who would like to may meet at LUCC at 6:30 to carpool to the synagogue. Please contact Patti Cooksey or Kim Wells for additional information or to arrange transportation.

On Tuesday April 2, Dr. Robert “Coke” Coughenour will offer a presentation on how the word “Christ” is used in the Bible.  Coke is a retired Biblical professor.  This will be a very informative and engaging evening.  The gathering will begin at 6:30 and end at 7:45 in the Fellowship Hall at church.  All are welcome.  Please contact the church office if you would like transportation.  


LUCC Concert Series (and square dance): celebrating Old Time, Blues, Blue Grass, Folk & Country music. All concerts begin at 7pm. There is a $20 suggested donation for the band, doors open at 6:30pm. See the website or LUCC Facebook page for more information. Spread the word, share on Facebook or Nextdoor, invite your friends!

Friday, March 22 – Randy Wilson and Gabe Dansereau
Saturday, March 23 – Square Dance (1-4pm)
Friday, May 3 – Charley Groth
Friday, May 31 – Rebecca Zapen


Sea Level Rise Conference: Plans are shaping up for the Suncoast Sea Level Rise Collaborative’s conference on climate, a two-day program that will explore changes in the level of climate impacts over four years and highlight action steps individuals and policy-makers could take to mitigate or adapt to those impacts.

The conference, titled [Sea Level] Rise Up: Realities and Opportunities, will be April 5 & 6 at the Conference Center at SPC Seminole, 9200 113th St. North.

The Collaborative, a small group of concerned citizens (LUCC’s Claire Stiles is one of them) committed to educating the public about the challenges and opportunities created by global warming, emerged from the Institute’s 2015 sea level rise conference. Since 2015, a great deal has happened on the climate change front to heighten the need for action to deal with the impacts of a warmer Earth. Register online.


Earth Day: April 13th from 10am to 5pm St. Petersburg will celebrate Earth Day with a community celebration in Historic Williams Park (350 2nd Ave N).  Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people in hundreds of countries around the globe. By celebrating Earth Day we join with others and share our common reverence and respect for this beautiful but fragile planet. LUCC is considering having a booth at this event.  Those who are interested in helping, please contact Claire Stiles. For more information visit earthdaysp.


World Dance Day: April 13th from 1 to 2pm at William’s Park. This Global Celebration Dance For Humanity creates an international dance celebration that unites humanity. Registration Cost is just $5 and includes the download of epic 1 hour global mix of music for your dance party. Access to a private online Facebook community for dancers worldwide. Global Organizers: The Liberators International. Local Organizer: Wally LeBlancRegister online.


March Birthdays: Happy birthday to Carol Shores (3/1), Claudia Rodriguez (3/3), Grace Lewis and Yvonne Riesen (3/13), Ron Huff (3/19), Earl Waters (3/25), and Charlie Lewis (3/27). Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Jane Diven, Christy Martin, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Willy Zessoules, and Ann Rogers.


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the church office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Regaining Balance Event

WeTheDine

Now that we have proclaimed St Pete to be a City of Compassion and a City of Peace; how do we heal the pains of our past and restore mutual understanding and respect?

Shawn Mulford, Dine’ (Navajo), joins us from the Four Corners of the southwest to speak about the roots of Indigenous People’s Rights and what we can learn about sustainability from the peoples who embrace it as a way of life.

Join The Open Partnership Education Network (OPEN) next Saturday, March 9th as their distinguished guest helps to re-ground us in the importance of reconnecting humans to nature.

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Presentation + engaged Q&A

Location: The Pole Barn at Pioneer Village
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
3130 31st Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(Enter at Gate #2 for parking)

Free and open to the public ~ all are welcome!

Register online.

Sermon: Paramount

Date:  March 3, 2019, The Transfiguration
Scripture Lesson: Luke 9:28-43a
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Many times we have gone to a movie that begins with the appearance of a snow-capped mountain followed by numerous stars that gather in an arc framing the peak.  And then the intent is revealed: Paramount. Superior to all others. Above the rest. The best. Well, all Paramount Pictures, it turns out, are not at the top, at least not this year at the Oscars.  But the logo at the beginning of a Paramount movie sets the expectation. Get ready for a star-studded, peak experience.

This morning we heard a story about a star-studded peak experience.  We are told that Jesus and three disciples, Peter, James, and John, head up a mountain.  In the Bible, mountains are a place for an encounter with God. At the top, Jesus appears luminescent.  Elijah and Moses appear. They are yesteryear stars of the Hebrew people. A voice comes from a cloud. The scene is complete with special effects – shining light, apparitions of the dead, a voice from the beyond, shrouded by a cloud.  All the trappings of a Paramount Picture! And a paramount experience it is. This story marks a turning point in the Jesus story. After coming down the mountain, Jesus’ trajectory is aimed toward Jerusalem, for his final engagement with the authorities, which will lead to his death and beyond.  

Jesus shows us a faith, a way of being, that is filled with awe and wonder.  He invites us to be part of all of Creation, something so much greater than ourselves that is magnificent and miraculous.  He beckons us to know ourselves as part of an interconnected whole. This gives us life. And we are needed, each one of us, for the well-being of the whole.  Our light is needed to shine.

In the Transfiguration story, Jesus goes up with mountain with Peter, James, and John.  We have been told that these are three of the first disciples. They are the fishermen that Jesus calls as he walks along the Lake of Galilee.  These men have thriving lives. They have a profession providing food for others. They are good at their work. They are making a constructive contribution to the community.  They have families. They are devoted Jews and practice their religion. They have a good life. Jesus does not condemn them or criticize their lives. He does not harangue against their sinfulness.  And yet we have the story of these fishermen leaving their job, community, and family to follow Jesus. Why would they leave their lives, their livelihoods? Because Jesus is offering them something more.  He wants to take them to the peak. He offers them something that is truly paramount.

As Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk and spiritual teacher of the 20th century, tells us:  “We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time.”

Jesus wants us to encounter God everywhere.  He is inviting us to live extraordinary lives, right here in the midst of the everyday.  He is calling us to Be:

Be dazzled by each breath.  

Be filled with gratitude for the sublime mystery of each moment of life.  

Be blessed by all those who have gone before us.  

Be willing to give our lives to something greater than ourselves.  

Be filled with Divine light that helps others to see.  

Be aware of the voice of Divine Love speaking to us through nature, loved ones, strangers, religion, the arts, and even through the media.  A message may even emerge from the murky clouds of Facebook! This mountain top story reminds us that we are called to a life of deep reverence, awe, and engagement.  

From a peak there is a beautiful view, a vista, of a much larger reality.  People who climb Mount Everest can’t find words to fully describe what it is like to be on top of the world and see forever. It is humbling and ennobling.  That’s what Jesus is offering us: Life with a vista of the past, of the future, of the web of Creation, life with a vista into ourselves. It’s a large life, lived in the very present moment of the everyday.  It’s a life of taking care of each other, loving each other, and co-creating heaven here on this mountain-peaked Earth even when the way is difficult and treacherous. It is humbling and it is ennobling.

This Sunday the season of Epiphany comes to a close.  Epiphany is a church season celebrating the coming of Jesus, a light to the world.  It is a time to glory in all that we are given through Jesus. It is a time to appreciate the lens of love and eternity that Jesus gives to us.  Epiphany is followed by the church season of Lent. It’s kind of an abrupt switch. Lent is a time of repentance. Re-turning our lives to God. It’s a realization that while we appreciate the light that Jesus brings to the world, we have a tendency to turn from the light, maybe even shield our eyes.  So the season of Lent, a season of repentance, is a time to recognize how we set our sights too low, how we are missing out on what is being given to us, how we hesitate to trust the Gospel, or even turn a deaf ear to Gospel promises. We can be prone to stopping short of the peak. Just like we need Epiphany, we also need Lent to help us re-center on the light and stay committed to trekking to the peak.  

May we continue to be guided by the light of Epiphany as we make our way through Lent seeking to be filled with the full radiance of Divine Love – a truly paramount experience.  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.

 

Modern Reading from 20th century writer, Franz Kafka:

 

“Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”