200 years ago, a hymn was written that has become the musical centerpiece of the best-loved worship moment of many Christians – even those who only attend worship once a year. This worship series will highlight the carol’s message through the whole holiday season and highlight its call for our lives in these times that are so often marked by discord and division.
Each week will feature the inspiring musical talents of various partners from our community.
NOTE: There will be just ONE worship celebration each Sunday at 10:30.
December 2 – Windsor/Healdsburg Community Children’s Chorus
December 9 – Windsor String Orchestra
December 16 – Kirk Harris, Recorder
December 23 – “Silent Night” Cantata
December 24 – Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion at 7 pm
December 30 – All-Congregation Carol Sing-Along
A sampling of Pastor Laurie’s sermons are found on this website. Contact the church office if you’d like a copy of a specific message not found here.
For me, the observance of Advent is about being profoundly counter-cultural. Even if it is only for a day a week, or a morning, or an evening. It’s stepping away from the mall, away from the smartphone, away from the television and away from the computer. It’s stopping to listen, not only to the whisperings of God, but to the deep yearnings that are conveyed in the earth’s sighs and in those of the most tired and weary and grief-stricken among us. When we are quiet and still, we become aware again of how fragile and precious life is, and how carefully and purposefully we need to direct our time, attention and resources to the building of life and peace, to the multiplication of compassion and kindness.
While there is “no reason” for Job’s suffering, God makes the ultimate “lemonade out of lemons” — always responding with grace and opportunity for healing and growth. We would do well to look for signs of this in our “times of trial.” Actually, this lesson from Job is an overarching theme of the entire Bible. Time and time again, God’s people experience difficulty. Sometimes the hardships come as a direct result of being faithful — the chosen one is targeted by enemies. And yet, these heroes and heroines persevere, and something even better comes about — often, a result that blesses a whole community.
Although disaster often stuns us into silence, that is not the only way to get to awe. The practice of silence is an important spiritual discipline: meditation, contemplation, solitude — out in nature or indoors, in daytime or in dark, in front of an ocean sunset, on a mountaintop, in a forest, in front of a candle or before an open Bible. Practicing being alert and silent before God strengthens our souls and makes us resilient and faithful in those inevitable times when crisis and calamity strikes.
It is hard to shake the deep cultural myths that say “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” or some version of “hard work will bring a reward.” There are even some “churchy” versions of these things, like the one that gets argued by Job’s friends in this book: “If something bad happens to you, you must have sinned.” Or the one I hear way too often in church circles: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” You know what? Sometimes you do get more than you can handle. And that’s when lament is entirely appropriate. We can cling to hope that God will be there with us, even if we cannot seem to find God wherever we turn, and we can refuse to be silenced by darkness.
No matter how you define it, and no matter where you come from, it is likely that, at one point or another, you are going to get “disoriented.” There’s going to be a time when your foundation gets rocked. A time when “the good life” you are living will come up against some hard questioning. You might be questioned, or you might be the one asking the questions. There is something powerful about talking through, reflecting, wrestling with questions like these in the context of a group of fellow pilgrims — when you’re trying to understand scripture, when you’re disoriented, when you’re going through tough times, when you look back on your life, and when you look forward and listen for God’s calling concerning what’s next.
The Apostle Paul calls it a “secret” — this living simply and in contentment regardless of external circumstance. And here is the “secret formula:” 1) gathering in community (i.e. not isolating oneself), 2) following God’s directions, 3) lifting up what we have been given, and 4) pouring it out (i.e. sharing).
We then talked about groups we are a part of that at least come close to living out the “love one another” command, and the blessings we receive from being a part of such communities. You simply cannot put a price on the value of mutual respect, or on confidence — and these were blessings members of our groups pledged to share as they work to overcome the “fear of the stranger” that so easily grips us in this culture that worships individualism and lifts up the “self-made person.”
Storms — whether they come in the form of tsunami or hurricane, firestorm or personal crisis — force us to face the truth that we need God. They force us to face the truth that everybody needs God. The “storms” of life strip away the pretense — the silly notion that we are in control. The truth is, we need God, and we need each other.
The passage that launches our four-week emphasis on stewardship is one of my favorite in all the scripture. Actually, it’s more like the most convicting of all scripture to me — the one with which I wrestle the most in my life, the one that I frequently find myself pondering. For me, although Jesus spoke about money and possessions so much in the New Testament, this teaching is the one that it all boils down to.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who has, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, spent much of his life engaged in Christian-Buddhist dialogue, and who curates a wonderful website called www.gratefulness.org, has said, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy” (quoted in The Book of Joy, p. 242).
The Dalai Lama counsels: every day as you wake up, think, “I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it”.