“For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world." --Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Even as we lit the first candle of Advent at UCC Watertown on Sunday morning, my partner Satya and I lit the first candle of Hanukkah later that evening. Holidays abound this time of year! As we head toward the Winter Solstice on December 21, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, it makes sense that so many traditions celebrate a festival of lights. Whether you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), or whether you just feel a sense of creeping hopelessness about the state of our world, remembering that “a light shines in the darkness” isn’t cloying sentimentality; it’s a necessary spiritual practice.
Especially after a disturbing surge in antisemitic harassment and hate crimes last year, it’s important that Christians pray in solidarity with our Jewish siblings this holiday season. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks so beautifully expresses, we have so much to learn from each other, and so much that we can accomplish together. In that spirit, I share a Hanukkah blessing by Julie Batz. Julie is the shlichat tzibur (prayer leader) at Chochmat HaLev, the synagogue that Satya and I attend in Berkeley, CA. Her words resonate across traditions in this time of deepening darkness:
I love this time of year. Slowing down and sinking into the deepening quiet, the invitation to introspection…reading, knitting, studying, or cooking while the rain falls softly outside…time with friends and family…and contemplating the interplay and potential of dark and light.
This year, as we savor this season of illumination and mystery, I offer a blessing for joy:
May we cultivate and nurture joy in our hearts May we know the contentment and pleasure of serving others May we revel in moments of happiness when they come, keeping the flame of those moments alive even when – especially when – the world around us feels bleak, oppressive, or hopeless. Let us dream about the world we want to create…and find the strength and courage to build that world by holding fast to the joy that animates and inspires us!
Amen, Julie, and so may it be.
QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Do you have friends of other faiths? Where do you find common ground? How can people of all faiths (and no faith) work together to create a world filled with joy?
Donna French’s Memorial service will be Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 2:00pm at First Congregational Church, Watertown SD. Visitation will be from 4-7pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at Wight & Comes Funeral Chapel. Please keep Donna’s family in your prayers.
Tom at LATI community office hours, 9am – 12pm
Women’s Fellowship, 1:30pm: It will be our Christmas program with music and goodies! Members are asked to bring a sample of their favorite treats to share. Everyone is welcome.
Wednesday Youth Church, 6pm
UCCW Choir, 7pm
Tom’s Community Office Hours, 9am-12pm @ Gather
Memorial for Donna French, 2pm
Holden Evening Prayer at UCC, 6pm (simple potluck to follow)
Adult Bible Study, 8:45am
Sunday Worship, 10am (followed by church council meeting.)
Book Study, 4pm (Pastor's Office)
UCC serving the Banquet @ Grace Lutheran
Anyone who wants to help with the set up can come to Grace Lutheran Church around 4:00 pm on Dec. 10, to set the tables and get the dining room set up. Donations of milk, pans of bars, or gallon jars of green beans are still needed. If you have signed up to bring items please drop them off at First Congregational Church on Sunday 12/9 or Monday 12/10 until noon. Serving starts at 5:30pm, volunteers will be needed for that also. After serving, there is plenty of clean up, so if you can't get there until 6:00 or later, that's fine. Contact Cyndy Voight for any other information at 886-2770, call or text her at 605-868-3148.
UCCW Youth Christmas Program "Everybody Is a Star!" 10am (with all-church potluck to follow)
We will have our Christmas Eve candlelight “Lessons & Carols” service at 5:30pm on Monday 12/24.
Have you stopped by the book exchange in the Fellowship Hall? Just a great way to find a new book and drop one off if you have any. Books for all ages, adults, teens, and children’s.
We also have a puzzle and movie exchange. Stop by, take a look, ~~ take a book…
“Courageous Women of the Prairie” Volume II, by Jo Vitek, is in the office for a suggested donation of $20.00.