The Babe of Bethlehem

This is the final tune in my current project of arrangements of tunes from Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion (CD title is Simple Hymns, pairing it with last year’s project, Simple Songs).

The music begins with the piano alone, playing what seems to be the melody of the hymn tune, except it’s not. It’s actually a countermelody. Then the strings come in–first the violins, then the cellos–playing what feels like a counter-melody, but it’s actually the real hymn-tune melody.

Things finally straighten out halfway through the arrangement and the piano plays the real hymn-tune melody by itself, followed by the strings playing versions of the original countermelody.

New Orleans

This is another tune from Southern Harmony for which Walker, the 1835 editor, lists a composer: Robert Boyd. Here’s a couple links to info about him: and I can’t find any clue to why he might have named this tune New Orleans!

Here’s a scan of the tune in Southern Harmony itself–remember, the melody is in the tenor.

Here’s a link to a little better understand of the four-note shaped-note system (there’s also a 7-note system, which this is not):

Weekly Update 6/2


 The service is at 9:30 in person, covid safe.

Childcare provided.

Please bring a feather to church this Sunday.  If you can, bring more than one, to share.  

The month of June will be devoted to “There Is A Season.”  Gatherings each Sunday will provide the opportunity to reflect on this season of transition in the covid pandemic.  It will be a time to look back, to notice what we have been going through, and to move forward with intention.  Scripture, readings, ritual, and music will be used to guide this time of spiritual healing.  

Each Sunday will be themed to one of the ancient elements:  Air, Fire, Earth, and Water.  This Sunday, the theme will be Air.  You may want to bring a journal, notebook or pad to make notes.  

If you know someone who has been struggling during this time, consider inviting them to church in June. It will be a season for healing the spirit.

The readings and material from the Sunday gathering will be posted at the website the following week and there will be regular posts of music and music videos from Hilton Jones.

Watch the service on Facebook Live Sundays at 9:30.

Or on YouTube:

Unite Against Hate Demonstration

You are encouraged to be present to demonstrate your opposition to hate, specifically anti-Semitism.  Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the US and last week a hate crime was perpetrated against the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.  Stand up and be counted by making a witness to solidarity and tolerance.  

The event will take place at 6 pm outside the Museum at 55 5th Street South in St. Petersburg. The planners ask you to bring with you a book that means something to you personally. It can be any book on any topic—one that is of personal or professional importance and has made a difference in your life.

Please plan to participate on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and bring your book!  If someone would like to bring the LUCC banner that is in the sanctuary, please contact the church.  

LUCC Speaks Out Against Anti-Semitism

Rev. Kim Wells and Jim Andrews of LUCC were part of the group offering this letter to the editor that was printed in the 5/30/21 edition of the Tampa Bay Times.  Here is the letter:

Our relationship is sacred 

As faith leaders, we reach out to share our sense of horror and disgust at the terrifying rise in violence against Jews and increasing public expressions of anti-Semitism. The Christian tradition historically has been and continues to be the source of anti-Semitic terror. Those of us who are Christian carry a particular responsibility to identify, condemn and resist anti-Semitism in any and every form. When we encounter it in sacred texts, liturgy and history, it’s on us to call it out. When we see it in the media or in everyday interactions with our peers, it’s on us to speak up, push back and demand awareness of the harm that even unintended or casual slights may cause.

When we see anti-Semitism borne out in acts of aggression, it’s on us to go public, to cry out in the strongest possible terms that such actions are anathema to the God we worship. To our neighbors who are Jewish, please know that we hold our relationships with you as sacred, that we stand in solidarity with you, that you are not alone. Today, we recommit ourselves to doing our part to sustain our ancient ties and to show that we cherish our connections with you. Silence is both sanction and assistance.

At a time of a resurgence of hatreds of all kinds, and meanness and violence visited upon persons of color, queer persons and immigrants, let us cry stop. Therefore, let us stand together to restore tolerance, decry hatred, celebrate diversity, “give to bigotry no sanction and persecution no assistance.” Let us reach out to our Jewish neighbors, co-workers, friends or acquaintances. Write them a caring text, email or letter. Now we are called upon to show our care, love and support in these tender, terrifying and fragile times.

Jim Andrews, J.C. Pritchett, Victor Ray, Libby Shannon, Elizabeth Siplin, Princess Watkins and Kim Wells

The writers are board members of the St. Petersburg chapter of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Permaculture Training Returns

Now that the Fellowship Hall renovation is complete, the church is able to host Grow Permaculture training with Koreen Brennan.  This is part of the Creation Justice commitment of the church.  Permaculture is a comprehensive design process that involves sustainability and earth friendly/people friendly practices.  The class will meet at the church all day Saturday and Sunday this week.

Memorial Garden Efforts

Many thanks to Claire Stiles, Ed Kaspar, and Malcolm Wells who worked with Rev. Wells after church last Sunday to clean up the Memorial Garden.  You can now see the paving stone path, the monument, and you can get to the bench to sit down!  The team worked for about an hour to clear things out.  Take a look the next time you are at the church.

Book Talk

The initial gathering of LUCC’s Book Talk last week was lively and spirited!  This is an opportunity to discuss what you have been reading and hear about what others are reading. Join in the fun next month, the third Thursday of the month, June 17 at 6:30 on Zoom.  It’s the same link the church always uses:

If you aren’t reading anything compelling at the moment, you’ll certainly be inspired after Book Talk.  And you may even be given some specific recommendations based on your personal interests!

Being Covid Safe and In Person Worship

Please stay home if you are not feeling well.

Please wear a mask while in the church building.  While most people have been vaccinated, this helps visitors to feel safe.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending double masking.  Please consider wearing two masks to church.  Additional masks will be available at church to use as needed.

Two hand sanitizing stations are available for use by worshippers.

There is well-ventilated, physically distanced indoor seating in the sanctuary.

Please know that your safety is of primary consideration! 

Safe childcare is provided.

Immigration Justice: Action Item

The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program provides a path to safety for Afghans who worked with U.S. forces and who, as a result of that affiliation, suffer direct threats to their safety. These visas have been long delayed. As the U.S. anticipates its final withdrawal of our Armed Forces in September, we know that we cannot simply abandon the Afghans who risked their (and their families’) lives to help us and our allies (think of the U.S. evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War).

Send a message to President Biden today! Urge the administration to provide urgent humanitarian protections, including evacuation for those who have put their lives on the line for our country. Easy, templated, click and send link here from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:

Operation Attack Update

The two most recent OA drive thru events were a success! Thank you for Lakewood continuous donations during this trying time. OA is having 4 drive thru dates in the coming months. Those being June 26, July 31, and September 11. Please get these dates out to members of our congregation if they wish to help volunteer. In addition to those dates, OA is also still needing

Donations of cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, vegetables and soup, dried beans, and mac/cheese. Remember we still aren’t accepting clothing donations at the moment. Finally, pray for the people in our community who are continuing to be challenged during this difficult time and the volunteers who are trying to ease their burdens. I’m hoping to find a time to stop by Lakewood to pick up any donations. 

Thank You,Ian Blair-Catala

Please note that OA is not accepting clothing donations.

Anti Racism Demonstration Continues

Yes, it is still going on every week.  Because racism is still going on every week, every day, every moment in this country.  We can imagine a different future.  And we are making a small effort at creating that new reality at the demonstrations each Sunday.  

Signs are available at church or bring your own.

The new time beginning May 16 is 5:30.  Come every week.  Come for a season.  Come once. Come once in a while.  Everyone is ALWAYS welcome!

Weekly Labyrinth Walks Continue

Each Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. a small group gathers at the outdoor labyrinth for a time of devotion, discussion, and meditative walking of the labyrinth.  The theme for the week is taken from the Sunday before, so it is an opportunity to go deeper in the spiritual exploration of that theme for your life.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

If there is rain on Wednesday morning, the gathering will be held on Thursday morning at 9:00.

Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at or contact the church (867-7961 or ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near the bottom of each page.

June Birthdays: Genie Terrell 6/10, Tony Rogers 6/21, Michelle Cloutier 6/21, Shirley Locke 6/30. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.

Circle of Concern: 

Edward Jones

William Owen-Cowan

Jen Degroot

Carolyn Moore

Ann Quinn

Maggie Brizendine

Janet Hall

Ben Shores

Teachers, students, and school personnel, and all healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Church Office Hours:  Tuesday-Friday 9:30-noon. 

Recent Posts:

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.

Sunday Service 5.30.2021



LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                         Claire Stiles, liturgist

         Earth is but one country and all people its citizens.

Baha’u’llah 1817-1892, Founder of the Baha’i Faith

PRELUDE                                 Imagine                                 Lennon

CALL TO WORSHIP                                                        Anonymous    


To the fragile feelings, not to the clashing fury


To the quiet sounds, not to the loud clamour


To the steady heartbeat, not to the noisy confusion


To the hidden voices, not to the obvious chatter


To the deep harmonies, not to the surface discord.

MUSICAL REFLECTION            Peace in the Valley                Dorsey


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 6:1-8 and Psalm 29

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.

POEM                                       Plenty                      Gunilla Norris

SERMON                               The Peace Force                Rev. Kim P. Wells

Over 10 years ago, we went on a trip to Scotland. While we were in Edinburgh, we visited St. Giles Cathedral and were taken on a tour by a volunteer who was a member of the church. She wore what I would describe as a black choir robe and was very professional. There were several guides from the church doing the same thing; taking visitors on tours of the church and telling them about the building, the furnishings, and the history of the church. It was very interesting and illuminating.

As we proceeded on this tour, we were shown many stained glass windows. This one in honor of the winning of this battle in this war. This one in honor of the winning of that battle in that war. This one in honor of this person who led this battle in this war. Etc. A lot of what we were shown related to different battles and wars. We listened politely. Then out of the blue our guide commented, “Evidently, we Scots love war.” It seems that she suddenly noticed that there was a lot of revering of war-related activity in the cathedral, and she spontaneously drew this conclusion. “We Scots love war.” Well, that was revealing. And honest. And self-aware. You couldn’t really feel critical when she had been so disarmingly direct. About her own people.

I was surprised at my reaction to this experience. Instead of being shocking or horrified or condemnatory, I found myself feeling admiration at the honesty of the comment. Not in 10 million years could I imagine an American giving a tour of an historic edifice and commenting, “Evidently, we Americans love war.”

Now, if we were to do an analysis of government spending, of allocation of resources, of public messaging about the military, an impartial observer could probably draw the conclusion that we do love war. But I can’t imagine that being actually said, outloud, and to guests, foreigners, upon whom you would be trying to make a good impression. Frankly, the honesty of the woman in St. Giles was refreshing. And it made me love the Scots more, even if they do love war. At least they know it and admit it and aren’t lying about it or covering it up.

When something is admitted, openly, honestly, then you can work with it. There can be authentic dialogue. There can be mutual sharing and understanding. There can be progress. There can be change. There can be movement toward peace. This is the case in interpersonal relationships and in international relationships. Whatever the circumstances, setting, or parties involved, the movement toward peace involves telling the truth.

Which is why we are having such trouble moving closer to peace in our country internally. There are a lot of people who don’t want to hear the truth. Who don’t believe the truth. Who won’t tell the truth. And without a deeper level of honesty and acceptance of facts, it is hard to move toward greater peace.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Jeff, was helping our 25 year old son, Malcolm, do his taxes. It was during the increased hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. As the taxes were being prepared, we, the parents mentioned that we were glad to pay our taxes. They helped fund schools and libraries and roads and things that are important to our life together in this country. Malcolm commented, “It’s ok that you think that, but I know that my tax money is going to be used to kill Palestinian children.” Well, who is right? Who is telling the truth? There is a lot of truth to be told. And we need to learn to listen to each other’s truth. From there, we can move toward peace. Without truth, without respect for truth, for facts, for experience, we cannot move toward peace, as individuals, communities, or societies. The pursuit of peace requires truth-telling.

This morning we listened to the story of the call of the prophet Isaiah. And in that story, we see a scene of dramatic truth-telling. There, at the altar, in the presence of the heavenly beings and the hem of the robe of the Divine, in the swirl of smoke and the sound of ethereal chanting, Isaiah is laid bare. Simply struck down in awe. And what does he say: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.”

There it is. The honesty. The truth. The unobstructed, undiluted, unattractive, undesirable truth. I am a person of lies and I live among a people of lies. In the presence of the divine, the truth is exposed. Laid bare. You can’t help but hear the echo in James Baldwin who said that America is founded on a Big Lie. We are a people of unclean lips.

But that exposure, that truth-telling, that confession in Isaiah is not only an ending; it is a beginning. In the story from Isaiah, the seraph takes a coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips. He is made clean. His sin and guilt are gone. He is released from bondage to the lie. He no longer has to hide or pretend. He is now free to speak the truth. He can now be used by the Divine to redeem his people. To tell the truth. To bring them back from the lie of self- serving greed and treachery to the truth of justice- based community. After telling the truth, Isaiah is filled with power to speak God’s word and pursue the long arduous path to peace for his people and those around them. Telling the truth unleashed the power for the prophet to be a peacemaker.

We are using a lot of force and power to keep lies in place in our society. To perpetuate lies. To maintain the facade of a false reality. It takes a lot of work to do this.

So, since it takes so much effort to perpetuate the lies, why do we bother? Why do humans continue to pursue what they portray as safety and security through violence and armed force? Well, for one thing, and it is a big thing, in today’s world, war is big business. Armaments and the military are a huge industry. Many people are getting very rich from war, preparation for war, readiness for war, and the implementation of war and violence. Gun manufacturers are making money hand over fist as guns proliferate in the United States,. And there are all kinds of off shoot industries that make, well, a killing: security services and devices, security technology, equipment, fencing, wall building, protective gear, and on, and on, and on. ‘Not peace’ is very lucrative for some. And they donate heavily to political campaigns making ‘not peace’ lucrative for politicians, too. If there was no financial gain to be had from war, violence, and gun culture, guess what? They wouldn’t be as pervasive in our society. As German socialist August Bebel observed in 1870, “In time of war, the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.” This hasn’t changed. So greed is a factor in the culture of violence.

And all that leaders need to do to get people on board is to foment fear and sow division and polarization. So, yes, our society has been intentionally manipulated into a war culture. Over decades. After Vietnam, our country could have said no. Not again. But we did not. And here we are. Not only in armed conflict with other countries and peoples, not only paying for others to be engaged in armed conflict, but we also have a domestic culture of terrorism and armed violence. When random people are killed at work, it’s a war zone. When students are killed at school, it’s a war zone. When customers are killed at the store, it’s a war zone. When people are killed at a restaurant or a bar, it’s a war zone. And there’s more fear. And there’s more polarization. And there’s more money to be made. Gun sales are up, guys, including among first time gun buyers.

We maintain a culture of violence because of the apparent benefits, like greed, and guns, and heroism, and the illusion of power. And perhaps the short term gain of an objective.

So what can be done to break this cycle? Well, we see a path forward in the call story from Isaiah. It is the truth telling that unleashes the power that leads to peace. And we all know that there is much truth yet to be told in our midst. Thankfully, we are starting to have some of those conversations. Like about Confederate monuments, and buildings named for slave owners. We are starting to tell the truth about generational wealth. And white male privilege. And antisemitism, which is very different from supporting human rights for Palestinians. And the covid pandemic has exposed a lot of truth about healthcare, and workers, and the power of government, and rural communities left behind, and moms doing more work than dads when everyone is working from home. And the more that comes out, the more power that is unleashed. And the harder it becomes to maintain the lies. And eventually the lies will fall and the truth will stand. Eventually.

Truth telling is very powerful. Listening, understanding, letting yourself be transformed, having the patience to give others the space to change. It is a complex, challenging, intricate business that is very powerful. And it leads to peace.

You see, people think peace is weak. That it is insipid. Sentimental. Like a Kincaid painting. Oh no. Peace is a force. It is strong. It takes courage and creativity and vulnerability.

Mister Rogers captured the power of peace when he said, “It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.”

The pursuit of peace is a powerful witness and it takes courage.

I love the psalm that was read today because it is filled with images of power, of Divine power. The voice of God has the power to snap the cedars, thunder over the raging seas, strike with bolts of lightening, cause oaks to whirl, strip the forest bare, shake the wilderness. Oh my! Such images of power and strength simply from the voice of God! And then there is that last line of the psalm: “Give strength to your people, Yahweh! Bless your people with peace!”

Peace. The psalm hardly sounds peaceful, but it reminds us it requires strength to attain pace. And one way that power is unleashed is through the voice, through truth telling.

I want to close with another story from Scotland. On our trip, we visited one of the most prominent museums in Glasgow. And there, on the first floor, by a main door, was an extensive exhibit about violence against women. Past and present. Complete with torture devices in the glass cases along with pictures, drawings, descriptions and statistics.

There is something about the truth telling in Scotland that I find inspiring and hopeful. I feel like if we were to do more truth telling here, it would open the lock, unleash the power of peace that is needed to eradicate the pandemic of violence that has infected our life together.

This is Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day. A day to remember. All those who have died in war. A time to bring to mind the toll that war and violence have taken in our country, in the world, and in our lives. Remember. Then tell the truth. And let it sink in. So that we can move toward creating a culture of honesty about our past and our present that will unleash the power of peace. Amen.

UNISON READING                                      Written by a 7th grade class

Palms Junior High School, West Los Angeles

We, children of the world, declare peace on the future.

We want a planet free of war and weapons.

We want an end to disease, death, and destruction.

Hatred and anger make no sense to us.

We want them done away with.

Our earth gives food enough for all – we will share it.

Our skies give us rainbows everywhere – we will safeguard them.

Our waters give us life eternal – we will keep them clean.

We want to laugh together, play together, work together,

learn from each other, explore and improve life for everyone.

We are for peace now and forever for all.

Grownups of the world, join us,

grab hold of our smile and imagine:

Together Peace is possible.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE     Down by the Riverside       African-American Spiritual


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 offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar.

Offertory        Nimrod from “Enigma Variations”           Elgar

Prayer of Dedication                           Based on Pablo Casals

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?” Like Jesus, may we be a people whose love for one another, for our enemies, and for the very earth itself has no limits, borders, or boundaries. Then we shall know peace. Amen.        


                         O Day of Peace That Dimly Shines [Jerusalem]         Parry


O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,

focus your light within us—make it useful.

Create your reign of unity now;

Your one desire acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.

Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,

as we release the strand we hold of others’ guilt.

Don’t let surface things delude us,

but free us from what holds us back.

From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do,

the song that beautifies all;

from age to age it renews. Amen.

Peshita Syriac-Aramaic translation

*BENEDICTION                                         Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as

those who love war. Amen.

*POSTLUDE               Let There Be Peace on Earth        Jackson-Miller

For Memorial Day: Elgar’s “Nimrod”

“Enigma Variations are 14 musical compositions in honour of Elgar’s dearest friends and family. Variation IX, also known as Nimrod, is dedicated to Augustus J. Jaeger, who helped the composer through his darkest periods of self-doubt and depression. Nimrod is a favourite piece for funeral music and is always played at the Cenotaph [] on Remembrance Sunday.” []