Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stations of the Cross Community Art Project

We are thrilled to announce our new community art project for the Easter season. We are going to create our own Stations of the Cross display.

The Way of the Cross has long been a way for Christians to join Jesus on the journey through Jerusalem and beyond. We are inviting you to pick one of the traditional stations and paint it as you might imagine it. To share with our community- both in person and online. (We’ll be making a video of the art to use as part of a short virtual prayer service for Good Friday)

Pastor Erin has put together a resource to help you prepare (download below), that includes some history, the list of stations, and lots of interpretations from all over the world that are accessible online. Please read through those materials first, and then click here to sign up to paint one of the stations. We’re hoping to have all of the art dropped off at church by March 21.  

Touchy Topics Book Group 2021

Our Touchy Topics Book and Discussion Group have selected their readings for 2021. We meet on the first Wednesday of most months (not exception for Holy Week in April) at 7:30 p.m. Right now we are meeting on Zoom. Pick up a copy of one of these books from your library or local book store, and join us!

2021 Touchy Topics Reading List

DateTitle & Author
Wed, Jan. 6Go Tell It On The Mountain
by James Baldwin 
Wed, Feb. 3The Yellow House
by Sarah M. Broom 
Wed, March 3 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Wed, April 21 The Broken Heart of America: St.Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson
Tues, May 11 (in conjunction with the Oak Hill Book Club)The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Wed, June 2 Caste:The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
Wed, July 6 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Wed, Aug. 4 A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice and Freedom by Brittany K. Burnett
Wed, Sept. 1 Here For It: Or, How To Save Your Soul In America by R. Eric Thomas
Wed, Oct. 6 The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Wed, Nov. 3 What Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha

Advent Devotional – Dec. 24

Dec. 24                            Luke 1:67-80                                 Erin Counihan

When John the Baptist was born, and Zechariah got his voice back, and the people were afraid of everything that was happening right in front of them, Zechariah praised God. And he offered a vision. A vision of salvation and mercy. A vision of hope and help. A vision of faith and justice. A vision of One to come who would guide us on a journey to peace.

It sounds like the kind of vision I need right now.

There’s this moment every Christmas Eve, after all the shopping and the wrapping, after worship and Silent Night, after the bubbly punch and the party and the people and the snacks and the fun. After all of it, late at night (more accurately, early in the morning), in my jammies, in the quiet, in my home, in the dark, there is this precious Christmas Eve moment, where I allow myself, every year, to really believe. What if this hope is real? What if it is real right now? What if the promise is true? What if Christ is coming? Right here. Right now. What if all that love is being born right now, in the dark, in the quiet, in the fuzzy socks, in our hearts, in our lives, and in this world?

Zechariah says:
By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May it be so. This Christmas Eve.
Right here. Right now.
Always. And again.
AMEN.

Advent Devotional – Dec. 23

Dec. 23                            Luke 1:57-66                                       Matt Hanify

Our main characters are Elizabeth, who is pregnant, and her husband Zechariah, who is mute. I don’t believe those items are related.

Anyway, Elizabeth gives birth to a son, and everyone is happy. So far, everything is according to plan. One day, also according to plan, “they” come to circumcise the baby, whereupon, after much crying I assume, the child will be named Zechariah, after his father.

However, throwing a bit of a wrinkle in things, Elizabeth says he is to be named John – “God is gracious.” Unfortunately, this is not according to plan, and there is apparently much hand-wringing. So, of course, because Elizabeth’s opinion seems irrelevant, everyone turns to Zechariah, mute though he may be, to find out what his opinion might be. He motions for a writing tablet, and on it, he writes, “His name is John.” I think we can all agree – an objectively smart move by Zechariah. I am not mute, much to everyone’s consternation to be sure, but if I were, I think I would work very hard to placate any and all in my immediate family. I think being mute would make things very difficult on those around me, but being mute and opinionated, obstinate and otherwise belligerent would be, I imagine, a quick way to getting abandoned on the side of the road.

Thankfully, Zechariah is nobody’s fool; he quickly agrees with Elizabeth that the boy’s name is John. I imagine the circumcision crew giving a side-eye to this turn of events, but then, in a full-blown miracle, Zechariah begins to speak. And he begins to praise God. And, possibly, later on, he suggests that they get takeout.

And so thank You, God. We give thanks for all of Your miracles, which can sometimes come from changing a child’s name late in the child-naming game or from agreeing to said name change. For, indeed, “God is gracious.”

Advent Devotional – Dec. 22

Dec. 22                                 Luke 1:39-56                                      Lina Belar

    I once had a priest tell me that Mary was the first feminist.  This was not an ordinary priest. He had been a chaplain during WWII and came away a devout pacifist. He never served in the high churches but instead sought to do some good in the poor rural reaches of Minnesota.  He was a plain man with simple needs and I spent several months talking with him about marriage.  I was 40 years old, once divorced, and engaged to be married to a Minnesota boy whose family had settled here more than 100 years ago as part of a group from Ohio. They were following a radical priest who had displeased the bishop of another state with his notions of inclusiveness and equality among all.  So it wasn’t surprising that this rural country priest thought of Mary as someone important.  She might have been a peasant girl of low estate but for thousands of years afterwards she would be called blessed and be a symbol of importance unlike anyone who had come before her.  And with the simple and magical act of giving birth to Jesus she ushered in a new world with new promises and new hopes and new admonitions.

“Turn the other cheek”,  Jesus said and everybody grumbled because it had always been the habit to return injustice with justice and that was the way things stayed level.  It was also the way they stayed the same, generation after generation, people fearing other people.  “Love your neighbor”, he said and added, “as yourself”.  Well, how can we do that if we don’t turn the other cheek?   Exactly.  Jesus’ logic was unassailable.  And simple.  Like the simple peasant girl who bore him. Can we be that simple, too? 

Prayer
Today, another woman has our attention.  A woman who has achieved what no one else had done before and is now the vice-president elect of the United States. Let us pray that we can all follow Jesus’ simple request to love our neighbors and to forgive our former enemies.  

Advent Devotional – Dec. 21

Dec. 21                            Luke 1:26-38                                 Lisa Thompson

Imagine that an angel appears to you…well, that’s pretty much enough to blow anyone’s mind right there…but there’s even more. The angel tells you that you are “God’s favored one” and tells you that something will happen to dramatically change your life. The event that will happen is a blessing and an honor, but the people around you may not see it that way. You may be criticized, judged, made fun of and put down. When the angel tells Mary, she responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord”.  What wonderful faith and trust in God Mary displays. When we hear God’s calling (maybe we don’t actually see an angel, maybe we just have a strong feeling that we’re being called), do we respond with faith like Mary, or do we let our fears get in the way? Do we delay our response by spending too much time thinking and rationalizing about what might happen or what the negative consequences might be for us? Do we think maybe we should wait until the timing is better? If we truly believe that God favors us and is with us always, we can try, like Mary, to be more open, trusting, and faithful in our answer when we are called to be a servant of the Lord.

Prayer
God, please give me the courage of my conviction this day. 

Help me not to waver.

Help me not to procrastinate.

Help me not to rationalize.

Help me not to play games with myself.

Help me to stand strong with Thee.

(by Marian Wright Edelman from Guide My Feet: Prayers and
Meditations For Our Children)


“When god wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps of a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it in the baby’s mind, and then—God waits. The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.” – Edmond McDonald, Presbyterian Outlook

Advent Devotional – Dec. 20

Dec. 20                            Luke 1:5-25                                   Erin Counihan

“This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.” -Luke 1:25

She called it disgrace. Elizabeth, when she became pregnant after all those years, she celebrated this promised beloved child, and she celebrated being liberated from her disgrace. Being freed from her own community, “my people” she called them.

I think I usually read this as a magic grant wishing moment. Of Elizabeth and Zechariah being rewarded for their faithfulness and also winning the God lottery and getting to have that dream they always dreamed, that wish of all wishes, finally in their old age having the baby they always wanted.

But this year, I noticed. In the one line the author gives her in this whole scene, Elizabeth is thankful for being released from her shame. Elizabeth is thankful for being restored to full standing in the community. Elizabeth is being granted justice and reparations and freedom and healing.

We talk so much about Jesus finding people on the margins, on the fringes, and helping and healing them in order to welcome them back into community. It’s a healing justice. But look at God here, setting up John, who will set up Jesus, by doing that very thing with Elizabeth.

This Advent, I am praying hard for that kind of healing and helping, that kind of relief and repair, that kind of liberation and justice, that restores our communities. And prepares us for what God might bring next….

Prayer
God, take away our disgrace and restore us to one another. Remind us that you are with us on this journey toward community, justice, and welcome. Now and always. Amen.