Our Conference Newsletter
December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas  
                                         
We are at the darkest time of year for our area. 9 hours of light compared with 15 hours of dark. Every person goes through light and dark seasons in their lives; sometimes this coincides with the seasons of our sun and sometimes it doesn't. Neither light nor dark is more right or correct than the other; both are necessary for our health. We need up times and down times, happy times and sad times. It is the fullness of life's experiences that make us whole. God is God of the dark and of the light. If you have access to a copy of the New Century Hymnal, take a look at "A Litany of Darkness and Light" #880.
 
               As Christians, we don't wait until the days are getting longer to celebrate New Year. Instead, we begin our New Year at the end of November when the darkness is increasing. When the darkest days are coming upon us, we celebrate the hope of a new year, of the new possibilities that are there, even in the dark.
Perhaps your life is going great right now, the stars have aligned and it's never been better - hallelujah! Perhaps nothing is going right, there isn't enough time or money and there's too much sadness or anger - peace be with you. Perhaps your life is just dull, you are going through the motions, it's not great and it's not bad - may you be surprised with wonder.
With his permission, I adapted a statement of faith written by Brian Wren. I invite you to say it out loud:
Because Jesus was born of a peasant woman,
I know that God takes notice, and knows my name, and loves us all.
Because Jesus was visited by shepherds,
I know that God forgives me, and hears my name, and loves us all.
Because Jesus was visited by wise people,
I know God cares about me, and speaks my name, and loves us all.
Because Jesus is God in human form,
I know God thinks I'm lovely, and sings my name, and loves us all.
Because Jesus lived and died, and lives with God and says, "I am with you all the time,"
I know that God is near me, and calls my name, and loves us all.
 
May you feel the warmth of God's love no matter the emotional season you are experiencing.

Rev. Jennifer Geary
News Items:
The Christmas Spirit - Ann Weems
From Kneeling in Bethlehem
 
The Christmas spirit
is that hope
which tenaciously clings
to the hearts of the faithful
and announces
in the face
of any Herod the world can produce
and all the inn doors slammed in our faces
and all the dark nights of our souls
that with God
all things still are possible,
that even now
unto us
a Child is born!
How to Survive the Holidays

December brings challenges as we prepare for Christmas. During this time we also experience less sunlight and increasingly cold temperatures. Expectations of how things "should" be and what we expect of ourselves and others can become overwhelming.   How to Survive the Holidays by Patty E. Fleener MSW is a resource with many suggestions, one or more may be useful to you.

A Christmas Commitment to Peace

In his Christmas message,  United Church of Christ General Minister and President the Rev. John C. Dorhauer asks all of us to give a gift to the world.

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to those of good will.

Peace.  

Jesus came for this.  

Peace.  

He'd have a hard time seeing that today. From post-election acrimony to racial tension; from Aleppo to Palestine; from refugee resettlement to climate change, there are signs of deep division and unrest between various communities.  

What may be worse is there seems to be a lack of desire to resolve the differences. Rather than committing to the ways that make for peace, we all seem to be more interested in being right than being well.  

So, what do you say? How about in this Christmas season we pray for peace, remembering the one whose peace passes understanding. But let us all also commit to one act of understanding, of compassion, of empathy, or of reconciliation.  

Let our Christmas gift to the world be our single commitment to peace. Find someone with whom you are now in conflict or tension; someone who doesn't see the world the way you do; someone who voted for a candidate that you couldn't fathom voting for; or someone that you find it particularly challenging to even be kind to.  

Prayerfully, creatively, carefully imagine a word, a gesture, an invitation, or a gift that - if received in the spirit of love in which you offer it - might change the way you relate to each other.  

As a child, I always enjoyed singing the song, "Let There Be Peace on Earth." Jesus came to bring peace. Let those who call themselves Christ's disciples dream of such a peace.  

Merry Christmas.  

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.


Keynote Speaker:
Brian McLaren


Super Saturday - March 18, 2017
Workshop proposals welcome
What are you passionately engaged in now at your church or community?
How might you share that with others?
What concepts and practices have you develop that could be shared at this upcoming
March Super Saturday in Wilbraham, MA?
Brian McLaren will be the keynoter...
Submit a proposal for a ninety minute workshop.
Registration is free for up to two leaders
of a given workshop.
Click here to submit a proposal.
Deadline for submissions is December 31!
I n Our Conference:
McVinney Auditorium 
Sat. Dec. 17  
7:00pm    
State House Rotunda
Wed. Jan. 4 
3:00pm - 4:00pm     
Seekonk Congregational Church 
Sun. Jan. 8  
1:00pm - 5:00pm     
Rhodes on the Pawtuxet 
Mon. Jan. 16   
8:00am      
Edgewood Congregational Church 
Thurs. May 4
8:00am - 3:00pm      
Other Events
Trinity Repertory Theatre
Sun. Jan. 15 
2:00pm     
Harvard Divinity School
Wed. Jan. 18
Thurs. Jan. 19
8:30am - 3:30pm      
Barrington Congregational Church 
Sun. Feb. 26
3:00pm      
MACUCC
Minnechaug Regional High School, MA 
Sat. Mar. 18
8:00am - 3:45pm      

ONLY 4 COPIES OF
UNITED CHURCH
OF CHRIST
2016 - 2017
CALENDARS
LEFT!!!
Call Conference Office 
401-724-7700



 
 


April 3, 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to Memphis' Lorraine Motel after delivering his famous "mountaintop" speech. There he is visited by a spirited young maid who challenges him to come to terms with his life, life's end, and legacy. This breathtaking re-imagining of the last night of one of America's greatest heroes achieves what only theater can do - it brings Dr. King to immediate, spontaneously felt life.  The Mountaintop - with surprising humor and newfound urgency - draws audiences a bit closer to the summit.
PLEASE ADD THESE DATE TO YOUR CALENDARS

Installation - Rev. Dale Azevedo Sunday 2/26/17 Barrington Congregational Church
Annual Meeting of RI, MA, & CT UCC Conferences - 6/16 & 6/17/17 Hartford, CT 
UCC General Synod  - Friday 6/30/17 - 7/4/17 Baltimore, MD
Youth@Synod - Friday 6/30/17 - 7/4/17 Baltimore, MD 
Check out Rev. John C. Dorhauer's weekly podcast on UCC.org.  The United Church of Christ General Minister and President offers these weekly messages so that "the art and practice of spiritual reflection is modeled as a priority and not just a part time avocation."To listen to this weeks podcast, click here.  
Additional Resources/ Links: 





 










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