Dear KCC Members and Friends,
Have you had a chance to look at our website? If you haven't, it's at kenwoodcommunitychurch.info. It's a marvelous thing! Thanks to the work of Anna, we have an updated website that reflects who we are and what we're doing. Right now there's a wonderful article on our upcoming Gingerbread Extravaganza. There's an archive of Notes and News, as well as information about current activities, weddings, our church's history, and the United Church of Christ in general.
In this day of high internet use and social media, an active and updated website is an especially important way to let people know about KCC. So if you're wanting to pass along information about our church, let your friends know about our website! And a heartfelt thank you to Anna, who volunteers her time and highly-experienced talent so that we can have this resource. Another example of why Kenwood Community Church is all about 'community' and is such a wonderful place to be!
“Ten Minutes Until Your Perfect Moment”. So said a billboard advertising an upcoming winery on my way home this afternoon to Sonoma Valley.
Sounds close, but why do we have to wait even ten minutes for the perfect moment? Why not right now? The perfect moment after all is not a destination; it is how we show up in the moment, it is how we fully appreciate the love and life around us, and how we express that joy to others. Same with Christmas. Advent has begun, but do we really have to wait twenty-five days to experience the magic of Christmas? Isn’t the best preparation for Christmas the early arrival of Christmas initiated by each of us?
As we enter into Advent, I am grateful for the community and the care that we have for each other and the generosity that we are sharing in multiple ways with those in need. May we revel and rejoice in the season. It is here. It is now.
Dear Members and Friends of KCC,
This past Sunday morning the sun lit up the old stained glass windows and the chancel. The blue Advent banners were in place. Fresh flowers were there and the doors stood open waiting for you.
Hospitality is a wonderful gift. St. Paul refers to it as one of the great spiritual gifts along with prayer, administration, healing, teaching and others. Every Sunday it takes many people to be ready for those who arrive at 10:30 for worship. The Sunday 'hospitality team' -- those doing music, ushers, printed bulletins, flowers, a vacuumed carpet -- the list is long! Everyone has a part in this sacred choreography. It is a gift we give each other every week.
If we are invited into someone's home for a party, we rarely know what it took to get everything ready, but we do know the work behind the scenes is significant. I am honored to be invited to your party; to be one who receives your gift of hospitality.
The primary reason we provide hospitality on Sunday mornings is rooted in the Gospel itself. The story of Jesus' life and work and the wider story of God's hospitality in all of the Bible and Church history, is the account of the loving hospitality extended to all God's children.
Advent is like the hours of preparation we put into a worship service at 10:30 every Sunday. Christmas is when the doors open, and all is ready for the Savior to be born, once again, in us.
Bless you all.
Dear KCC Members and Friends,
The lovely Sundays just keep continuing! Jim's sermon was inspiring and uplifting, speaking of thanksgiving to those of us with an abundance to be thankful for and to those of us who have an ache in our hearts. Afterwards, we gathered in the Fellowship Hall, always a time of warmth and friendship. We chose ornament tags from the Giving Tree to support the WOW Christmas project of "adopting" a local family in need. By the time we left, there were very few tags left on the tree -- a testimony to the generous hearts at KCC. We also took part in the unveiling of another fundraiser -- the pillow project, in which each household received a beautiful Thai silk Christmas pillow cover and had the opportunity to purchase additional covers. Proceeds from this will help support our Benevolence program. The pillow covers are truly beautiful! You can read further details on the project in this newsletter; we're fortunate to have this opportunity.
This Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent. You can feel the excitement and joy of the season in everything that's going on at church. So much is coming up -- meaningful worship services, special choir music, the Gingerbread Extravaganza, the WOW Christmas party, our Christmas Eve candlelight service. And most all, our fellowship together. This is who we are and what we do. We're a community -- this little place called KCC -- and aren't we glad we're a part of it!
Acts of Kindness in Times of Divisiveness
Regardless of our political leanings, I think we can agree that our country is in the midst of a challenging, divisive time. The messages are harsh and crude and many of our fellow citizens all along the social and economic spectrum are fearful and insecure. We are offended by what has been said and scared about what could happen. How do each of us move from feeling victimized to feeling empowered? Is there really anything that each of us can do individually to impact our collective well-being and make ourselves feel better? Maybe.
This last week I was traveling through the airport in Los Angeles when I came across a slightly confused and anxious family in front of the security checkpoint. They most definitely were from a foreign country, clothed a bit differently, speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, and judging from their faces, apprehensive about what to do next. I wasn’t sure whether to respond, but decided to approach them with a smile and simply ask if I could help. After checking their tickets, I reassured them that they were in the right place and pointed them in the right direction.
Not a big deal, right? Wrong. About thirty minutes later, I ran into them again at their gate on the other side of security. When the husband and father saw me, he waved enthusiastically and broke into a broad grin. It was the highlight of my day, a small act of kindness that had a profound impact on me, transforming me at least for a few minutes from disheartened to fulfilled.
So maybe we are thinking too big. Maybe we can’t have much of an impact on Washington and the new administration. But maybe we can have an enormous impact on those around us by simply going the extra mile to be kind, to be kind to those family and friends with whom we break bread on Thanksgiving, and to be equally kind to those we don’t know and to those who are different. It sure made me feel great again.
When I picture Sarah Lee and Henry walking the streets in downtown Santa Rosa, asking homeless people if they would like to send a letter home, I see a sacred sight.
Picture this scene with me. Life on the streets is simply awful: cold, dangerous, hungry -- just trying to stay alive with a broken heart and spirit must take every ounce of strength left. We have learned more in the last many years about the homeless; old stereotypes no longer tell the story. They are us, but with a string of bad luck. They have children who live with them out there.
Then along come these two gentle and loving saints, with a bag full of cards, stamps, and pens. It's a sacred conversation, just like Holy Communion. "Take and write," Henry says. "You are the body of Christ," says Sarah Lee.
There must be great joy on the receiving end when the letter arrives. How long has it been since we've heard from her? Are they safe? Is he sick? Perhaps we know next to nothing about our son/daughter/grandkids. We know nothing and it breaks our hearts.
But then, out of the blue, comes a letter addressed to the folks at home. And it begins: "Hi There. It's me." Someone at home receives this simple gift. They need no other gift this season than this card. It gives them hope for one of their own, down on their luck.
And it gives power to the person sending it; a declaration of endurance; a testimony to the human spirit, and, to the power of the Gospel.
Bless you, Sarah Lee and Henry,
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, fifteen of our church's Women of the World gathered for a potluck lunch, much socializing, and to work on our Christmas projects.
We decided in October to adopt a Christmas family from Kenwood School this year, so we were busy writing their Christmas wishes on ornaments to put on the “giving tree” that we set up in the Fellowship Hall. There was such excitement as we talked, laughed, and got to work.
Having finished that, we got busy preparing for the Gingerbread Extravaganza. If you have never been to a gingerbread house building party, please save the date: Saturday, December 3, 2016 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. It'll be an afternoon you won’t soon forget.
Each child decorates their own small graham cracker gingerbread house to take home. There will be movies and popcorn, cookies to decorate, crafts to create, and the Christmas spirit surrounding you.
Thanks to Linda Salomon, this wonderful activity continues year after year. The women of WOW recognized Linda at our meeting by presenting her with a gingerbread plate. Please let us know if you are coming so we will have enough houses for everyone. Call the church at 707-833-1087 or email Linda directly to RSVP.
On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, at noon in the Fellowship Hall, WOW will host our annual Christmas lunch and gift exchange. Please save the date. Cathy Valerga and Linda Salomon do a wonderful job with this program. We set a limit of $15 for the gifts. There is a lot of gift “stealing”, laughter, and great food. Plan to come and have a wonderful time. There will be a sign up sheet in Fellowship Hall or call the church at 707-833-1087 to RSVP.
One more date to save: October 10-11, 2017 will be our fall women's retreat at Westerbeke Ranch. More information later in Notes and News.
Peggy Ensley and Dorothy Green
Dear KCC Members and Friends,
Last Sunday was just wonderful. Jim's sermon gave us a lot to reflect on but brought a sense of calm and a little bit of closure to end a tumultuous week. We turned in our pledges with a sense of unity and learned that we are in sight of reaching our pledge goal. And we celebrated together at the Harvest Luncheon with a fine meal and fine fellowship. This is what we do best -- gather together in worship and in friendship; reassure each other with our presence when times are difficult or unsettling; and rejoice together in the things that are joyful. This is who we are and this is our place -- our little community called Kenwood Community Church.
Turning Points Not in Washington D.C.
With the elections over, and all the talk about transitions from one presidency to another, consider these good words from Frederick Buechner. True history, he says, is less about elections and transition of power, but rather this:
"True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people -- including the one whose soul is at stake - are looking the other way. The real turning point in our lives is less less likely to be the day we win the election or get married, than the morning we decide not to mail the letter, or the afternoon we watch the woods fill up with snow. The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a child is born in a stable."
One of the purposes of a congregation is to save us from the anxiety of political transitions. "The transitions in our hearts and minds are easy to miss; we often are looking the other away," writes Buechner. The big transitions are not, he suggests, in the halls of political power, but in our personal and private lives.
These transitions probably sneak up on us; we miss their coming to us. We don't need to even see or acknowledge them, but they are happening to us every day. This is one of the works of the Holy Spirit -- to change us when we are not looking.
Bless you all.
Dear KCC Members and Friends,
We have so much to be thankful for in our little community. We truly care about one another. It feels like family here because it is, in a way, a family. We know who needs our visits and who might need a ride to church. We notice when someone hasn't been to church for a while and might need a word of encouragement. We appreciate those who were the 'worker bees' in years past and those who do the work now. Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks off, but it's not too early to take some time to reflect on this remarkable community and give thanks for what we have. These are our friends -- even if all we get to do is chat briefly on Sunday morning. This Sunday, we'll bring in our pledges for the coming year and then sit down together at the Harvest Luncheon. It's a good time to take a look around, smile, and be grateful for this really special place called Kenwood Community Church.