The Gift of Dignity
This last week in the scheduled vacation absence of Marjorie MacLeod, our superb treasurer, I was entrusted with depositing the funds generously contributed by the congregation over the last couple of weeks. Standing insecurely at the bank teller’s window with fistfuls of checks in one hand and cash in the other, I truly felt like a messenger delivering a gift that was far beyond my own reach. And indeed it was.
Just think of the Christmas giving this year from our congregation: the Christmas cards distributed by the Sarah Lee and Henry, the clothing collected by Earla, the pillow case funds generated and donated by the Benevolence Committee, the family giving tree sponsored by WOW, and the Christmas Fund collected in our offering to support retired pastors in need. While the efforts have been multiple, the intent and the impact have been singular, to bring dignity to those in need: to connect them with loved ones, to give them warmth, to provide counsel to those at risk, to provide social services to the vulnerable and a bit of security to those who have committed their lives to serving others.
This, really, is what Christmas is all about.
Kenwood Community Church's 2016 Gingerbread Extravaganza was a hit! Families decorated tiny gingerbread houses together and everyone had fun.
Charlie Ensley counted 48 children and 10 adults. That's record attendance for sure. Linda Salomon pre-made 60 little gingerbread houses for folks to decorate, and there were only 2 left over this year. Last year, there were 19 leftover gingerbread houses. That's a 90% increase in particiaption! We like that math a lot. :)
Most importantly, we celebrated the siprit of Chirstmas together. What a wonderful day it was for one and all!
For all children
all children at heart…
Kenwood Community Church
is happily hosting a
December 3, 2016
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
the Fellowship Hall
The church folks will provide a pre-built gingerbread house
and decorating materials.
You’ll have a fun-filled, finger-licking, frosting-coated, candy-sticking,
holiday activity for the whole family.
Please plan to come and enjoy the festivities
and take home your very own mini-gingerbread house.
Please RSVP by calling us at 707-833-1087.
And please save the date!
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