This Week – January 11, 2018

marshmallows

We open ourselves to God’s Spirit in worship, prayer and study, holding each other
in community and encouraging one another to grow in the Spirit.
We reach out in generosity and compassion to the people around us.

Sunday, January 14, 2018
9:15 a.m. Choir Rehearsal
10:15 a.m. Worship

Scripture: Exodus 33: 17-20; Job 38: 1-7, 40: 1-5; John 1: 18; 1 John 4: 12
Sermon: “The Protestant Principle”
Serving Our Church:
Liturgist: Amanda Kerr

The Christmas Fund
Thank YOU for your generous support of The Christmas Fund! Your donations totaled $1,373. This offering will be sent to the Pension Boards in NYC and added to offerings from other UCC churches to address clergy needs in times of unexpected financial crisis or health care need.

Exploring Open & Affirming
The New Beginnings committee prepared a Statement of Purpose and Identity that describes Chapel Hills as “inclusive” with a mission of “actively reaching out to all who are seeking spiritual and social connection.” They are now asking the congregation to start a caring conversation about whether to seek to be designated formally as an Open and Affirming church that publicly welcomes persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We encourage everyone to share his or her thoughts, pro and con, about whether to move toward a vote. Together, as part the process, we will learn what it means to be Open and Affirming and the steps we would need to take if we eventually decide to seek the designation.

We plan to continue the discussions next Sunday after services. The Open and Affirming ministry team of Laura Feierabend, Dorothy Lundquist, Caroline Mast, Stephanie Tesch, and Bob Huber will each be available to speak with individuals or small groups. You may also speak with them later by telephone. We appreciate your willingness to speak with them and each other.

Pitching in to Remove the Christmas Decorations

tear down

Thank YOU!
We are grateful to Doug & Meredith Allen and Jon & Lynn Pearson who will be representing Chapel Hills on Saturday, January 13th at the House of Charity.

January Book Club – The Discussion Continues
Join us following worship on Sunday, January 14th to discuss the book… You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism, by Brad Hirschfield.
This was our December book selection. We decided that we needed another month to delve further into it. Read some, or all, of the book and join in the conversation.

“Known and Loved”
Second Sunday After Epiphany

It is something to think of ourselves as being knit in our mother’s womb, as if we were put together strand by strand. Sounds a lot like DNA doesn’t it? We are knit by intricate design with given bedrock characteristics, like blue eyes or a “natural” grace. The psalmist wants us to know this: God has intimate knowledge of who we are—a knowledge that is deep and touching as it fills us with awe.

This God who knows each of us this way is continually wanting us to get to know each other. The biblical world is replete with stories about God introducing us to strangers, asking us to know those we don’t know. It’s as if God is introducing us to distant and near cousins born also by that same knitting in gestation. “Here,” the God who knows us all might say, if we imagined a prosy God, “here is your cousin, Ali; he is like you and different from you. I think you should know each other.” It’s a good thing to welcome strangers and provide hospitality to the foreigners among us. Not only a good thing but it is God’s desire for us that we know each other and recognize our shared humanness.

Congregations all over the UCC are engaging these kinds of holy endeavors by reaching out to strangers in their community. If you believe that building relationships with strangers is a holy and spiritual practice, then the world today with its wash of refugees and immigrants is both a mission field and a divine imperative. Westmoreland Congregational UCC, in Bethesda, Maryland, is a church of about 400 members. They are diving into the practice of meeting strangers by partnering with Quaker and Presbyterian congregations, to support refugees in their community. The world of refugee support opens us up to the spiritual practice of welcoming the stranger. As God knows us, deeply and intentionally, we are called to know others as God knows us.

In Bethesda, Maryland, they welcome refugees by getting to know them, by helping them start businesses, by sharing meals and gathering things people need to start a new life in a strange country. This UCC congregation even passed a resolution by unanimous vote in January 2017. The Motion was passed in Support of Extravagant Welcome to Immigrants and Refugees of All Faiths. Their support included letter-writing to politicians, joining with the Justice and Peace Network of our denomination, and making their support of their Muslim neighbors visible and unmistakable.

Looking Ahead
January 13 House of Charity
January 14 Book Club – Following Worship
Confirmation – Following Worship
January 16 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Church Council Meeting – 7:00 p.m.
January 17 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
January 23 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
January 24 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
January 30 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
January 31 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
February 3 Cookies for College Students & Homebound Friends – 9:00 a.m.
February 5 Board of Deacons Meeting – 5:30 p.m.
February 6 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
February 7 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.

Worship this Sunday:
Scripture: Exodus 33: 17-20Job 38: 1-740: 1-5John 1: 181 John 4: 12
Sermon: “The Protestant Principle”

twofaceA late New Year sermon for this Sunday: looking back at the Reformation and looking forward at keeping the Reforming Spirit alive. In the final essay in 500: A Study Guide for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Matt Fitzgerald says that disgust at another believer’s claim to know the mind of God is a Protestant feeling. Paul Tillich puts it in very sophisticated language: the divine and human protest against any absolute claim made for a relative reality. Oliver Cromwell put it in more striking language: Is it therefore infallibly agreeable to the Word of God, all that you say? I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

Prayer
God, you have revealed your love by the coming of Jesus Christ into our world. Help us to welcome him with joy, and to make room for him in our lives and homes that we may abide in him and he in us. Amen.

This Week – December 14, 2017

starbanner

We open ourselves to God’s Spirit in worship, prayer and study, holding each other
in community and encouraging one another to grow in the Spirit.
We reach out in generosity and compassion to the people around us.

Sunday, December 17, 2017
10:15 a.m. Worship & Youth Christmas Program

Scripture: Psalm 16
Sermon: A Selection of Readings about Advent JOY!
Performance: The Tale of the Three Trees

Serving Our Church This Sunday:
Greeters: Gene & Nancy Booker

 

Tis the Season to Donate Warmth!
In December, we will be collecting essential winter gear… (Hats, Scarves, Mittens & Socks).

2018 Greeter/Usher/Flower Sign-Up
Be the 1st to sign-up to greet and/or usher on Sunday mornings in 2018. The ushers and greeters are an important part of our worship service. The Worship Team is always available and happy to assist if needed. Sign-up chart is in the Narthex.
Holiday Carol Sing – Special THANKS to…
• Doug Allen and Mary & Amanda Kerr for leading the singing.
• Sandy Davis-Lerner, Jack Gillespie and Cindy Stille for accompanying us.
• Those who set-up & cleaned-up and brought appetizers & desserts.
• Everyone who sang and brought food for the food shelf.

pictures

Looking @ December…

Sunday the 17th Youth Christmas Program – During Worship
Sunday the 24th Worship Service – 10:15 a.m.
Christmas Eve Service – 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Offering – The Christmas Fund
Monday the 25th Merry Christmas!!

carols

Christmas Eve Worship – 4:30 p.m.
Join us at 4:15 p.m. for a musical prelude; stay for our traditional Carols, Candles and Communion.
We will receive the Christmas Fund Offering during the Service.

christmasfundThe Christmas Fund – Christmas Eve Offering
The Christmas Fund provides direct financial assistance to retired and active United Church of Christ authorized ministers and lay employees and their surviving spouses, including pension and health premium supplementation, emergency assistance, and Christmas thank-you checks. A ministry of the Pension Boards, the offering will be received on or before our Christmas Eve service.

Chapel Hills is a 5 for 5 church; that means we provide support to Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) and the special mission offerings: One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS), Strengthen The Church, Neighbors In Need (NIN) and The Christmas Fund. Please give generously.

 

raingardenRain Garden Proposal
The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District (NMCWD) has a Clean Water Legacy Fund grant to work with local nonprofits to reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching local water bodies. They have determined Chapel Hills is a good location to install a stormwater best management practices (BMPs). BMPs are things like raingardens that capture polluted runoff. The runoff water soaks into the ground and is gone within 24-48 hours. Most BMPs can be planted with plants that attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators. We would like to work with you to install a BMP [a Rain Garden is what they propose] at Chapel Hills.
Alan met with a representative from the Nine Mile Watershed District and a Landscape Architect. They proposal is that they pay for design, they pay for the plants, they plant the garden and care for the Garden for the first 2 years. IT IS FREE! Or almost. No funds from us, but then we agree to maintain it (weed it) for 13 more years. It is a 15 year “deal.”
The proposed site location and the description of the proposal is on a poster board outside the office. Take a look and talk to Alan. He knows a little and will tell you what he knows. He will communicate questions to the Watershed District and tell what he learns.
They wish to hear back from us in January.

The HOME Program – Share a Smile
Brighten the day of a senior citizen and have some fun. Hang out with an older adult on an ongoing basis and do things that you both enjoy. Elders reside in Minneapolis or suburban Hennepin County. Small groups and families welcome; youth must be age 12 or older and supervised by an adult. Please contact Jeanne the HOME Program, Volunteer Coordinator at scsvolunteer@seniorcommunity.org or call 952-767-7894 for more information about a variety of unpaid volunteer options.

The HOME Program number is 952-746-4046, if an elder seeks a Friendly Visitor or other services in Hennepin County. Senior Community Services is a nonprofit organization with four programs serving elders age 60+ and caregivers statewide. For more information please visit www.seniorcommunity.org or call 952-541-1019. Seniors outside of Hennepin County should contact the Senior Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433 for information about services in their area. Thank you!

“Shouts of Joy”
Third Sunday of Advent

We love movies where the downtrodden and beaten and dismissed character in a story finally gets their due and all the evil in the narrative gets punished. The girl who is bullied; the poor family who saves their neighborhood; the basketball team nobody thinks will win does win; the orphan boy forced to live under the stairs who becomes a mighty wizard—these are all the kinds of stories that give us a buzz and engender hope.  They reorder expectations about whose likely to have power in this world.  This is the story of Jesus. A story that shines a light on the powerless of this world.  Jesus, born to a mother who felt lifted-up by her pregnancy and whose expectations were that her child would be remarkable.

All mothers should feel that joy of expectation for their children. But there is a hard truth in the world as it is – not every child has the same opportunity or privilege.  Some children are born in a world of misery and hunger, some have no access to education, some are born with a skin color that will mean that they will to work twice as hard to get what others take for granted.  This is a hard truth to digest.  We depend on our belief in the basic fairness of the world.

The question for faithful people is how does God work in this world for justice and fairness? One could say that in Genesis God gave us the world and its resources are at our disposal. What we have we done with that gift? How have we loved this world into being?

The young pregnant Mary believes that God will fix and reorder injustice. What can churches do to spread her joy to all children?

It is not necessary to be a big church to spread one’s love of children into the world. Mt. Cavalry Church, in Woodstock, Virginia, has only 5-7 people in worship on a Sunday, but their members share their love by making special small quilts for children in their county’s shelters. Father north, in Gloversville, New York, the First Congregational UCC houses a program called CAPTAIN (Community Action for Parents, Teens and Interested Neighbors). It provides food, life skill training, support, homework help and a place to go for any teen or youth in the area. FCC Gloversville has only 40 in worship.

There is a mission field around your church. In it teenagers languish without support, children need a blanket and all young mothers need hope and joy. What can you do with what you have? What joy can you share, in this season of giving, to a world that longs to show its love for all God’s children?

Looking Ahead
December 17 Youth Christmas Program – During Worship
December 19 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
December 20 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
December 24 Worship Service – 10:15 a.m.
Carols, Candles & Communion Service – 4:30 p.m.
December 26 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
December 27 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
NO Adult Choir Rehearsal
December 31 Choir is OFF
January 2 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
January 3 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
January 8 Board of Deacons Meeting

Worship this Sunday:
Scripture: Psalm 16
Sermon: A Selection of Readings about Advent JOY!
Performance: The Tale of the Three Trees

Prayer
God, we ask you to give to us: Faith, so that we admit our doubt and still walk on in the way of Christ; Hope, so that setbacks and disappointments do not drive us to despair; Love, so that we may act toward our sisters and brothers as you do; Prudence, so that we are wise and careful when we choose; Justice, so that we care for the vulnerable; Courage, so that we may endure and persist; Self-control, so that we are the people you have called us to be and so that others see you in us. Amen. (Adapted from a Prayer of William Barclay)

This Week – December 7, 2017

advent

We open ourselves to God’s Spirit in worship, prayer and study, holding each other
in community and encouraging one another to grow in the Spirit.
We reach out in generosity and compassion to the people around us.

carolsingSunday, December 10, 2017

9:15 a.m. Choir Rehearsal
10:15 a.m. Worship
11:15 a.m. Book Club
4:00 p.m. Holiday Carol Sing

Scripture: Philemon 1-7
Sermon: “The Anglicans, the Puritans, and the Congregationalists”

Serving Our Church This Sunday:
Liturgist: Heidi Schellhas

Thanks…

fans… to Charlie and Jacob Olson for undertaking the much needed maintenance and cleaning of the
fans in the sanctuary.

Pictured to the right:
Jacob Olson and Sandy Davis-Lerner
(Reaching NEW Heights)

 

donate

december

Looking @ December…
Saturday the 9th Cooks of Chapel Hills – Holiday Family Traditions
Sunday the 10th Book Club – Following Worship
Holiday Carol Sing – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday the 17th Youth Christmas Program – During Worship
Sunday the 24th Worship Service – 10:15 a.m.
Christmas Eve Service – 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Offering – The Christmas Fund
Monday the 25th Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Eve Worship – 4:30 p.m.
Join us at 4:15 p.m. for a musical prelude; stay for our traditional Carols, Candles and Communion.  We will receive the Christmas Fund Offering during the Service.

The Christmas Fund – Christmas Eve Offering
The Christmas Fund provides direct financial assistance to retired and active United Church of Christ authorized ministers and lay employees and their surviving spouses, including pension and health premium supplementation, emergency assistance, and Christmas thank-you checks. A ministry of the Pension Boards, the offering will be received on or before our Christmas Eve service.

Chapel Hills is a 5 for 5 church; that means we provide support to Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) and the special mission offerings: One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS), Strengthen The Church, Neighbors In Need (NIN) and The Christmas Fund. Please give generously.

 

Rain Garden Proposal
The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District (NMCWD) has a Clean Water Legacy Fund grant to work with local nonprofits to reduce the amount of polluted runoff reaching local water bodies. They have determined Chapel Hills is a good location to install a stormwater best management practices (BMPs). BMPs are things like raingardens that capture polluted runoff. The runoff water soaks into the ground and is gone within 24-48 hours. Most BMPs can be planted with plants that attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators. We would like to work with you to install a BMP [a Rain Garden is what they propose] at Chapel Hills.
Alan met with a representative from the Nine Mile Watershed District and a Landscape Architect. They proposal is that they pay for design, they pay for the plants, they plant the garden and care for the Garden for the first 2 years. IT IS FREE! Or almost. No funds from us, but then we agree to maintain it (weed it) for 13 more years. It is a 15 year “deal.”
The proposed site location and the description of the proposal is on a poster board outside the office. Take a look and talk to Alan. He knows a little and will tell you what he knows. He will communicate questions to the Watershed District and tell what he learns.
They wish to hear back from us in January.

“Human Rights Day”
Second Sunday of Advent

It has been a hard year for human rights.

There have been times in our history when it has felt that indeed the arc of the moral universe was bending toward something greater than we were. Human beings built democracies, shared wealth, created opportunities and it seemed that we were progressing toward a new world.  Then, racism, long bubbling beneath public discourse, resurfaced with new outfits but wearing the familiar symbols of hate. We saw that bedrock evil of white supremacy reanimating itself and marching on Charlottesville chanting the old loathsome slogans of bigotry. We saw the rebranding of these groups, and the normalizing of hate speech. We saw politics become a tool for leaders to embarrass themselves and all human beings with a fear-filled and bigoted reminder of what too many of our neighbors think. We saw many terrible things and we did not back away. In this awful year for human rights the United Church of Christ stood where it has always stood—with the messengers of hope.

It’s Advent, right now, in the church of Jesus Christ. It is a time to imagine what is possible for human beings. It is a time to anticipate wonder and imagine what justice looks like. It is a time to remember that we ourselves are powerful witnesses. We are not fearful, not withering, not timid but outspoken on behalf of a God who comes to us from the underside, from the marginalized, from a stable in a faraway place and declares that evil will not prevail. Our God is born in hope. A hope that is as real as a chain of human beings putting their bodies on the line for love itself.

We, as a denomination long in the service of human rights, have seen our leadership shine.

Reverend Traci Blackmon, our UCC Executive Minister for Justice and Witness, was present in Charlottesville leading clergy in a peaceful and protesting line against hate. Our President and General Minister John Dorhauer said, “Charlottesville made it very clear that the United Church of Christ has not only something to say, but something transformative and critical for the movement . . . We will not be silenced, discouraged, and certainly not diminished. And love will win.” Of course, love will win.

Looking Ahead
December 9 Cooks of Chapel Hills – Holiday Traditions
December 10 Book Club – Following Worship
Holiday Carol Sing – 4:00 p.m.
December 12 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Church Council – 7:00 p.m. Meeting
December 13 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
NO Adult Choir Rehearsal
December 17 Youth Christmas Program – During Worship
December 19 Tai Chi – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
December 20 Tai Chi – 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Adult Choir Rehearsal – 7:30 p.m.
December 24 Worship Service – 10:15 a.m.
Carols, Candles & Communion Service – 4:30 p.m.

Worship this Sunday:
Scripture: Philemon 1-7
Sermon: “The Anglicans, the Puritans, and the Congregationalists”
Finally: the end of the 500 year Celebration of the Reformation! Cross the pond to Great Britain and you discover a Reformation driven by the desire for a divorce and ready cash: Henry the VIIIth reforms the Church in England for his benefit. Several Monarchs and lots of martyrs later we find two groups who try to reform the reform: the Puritans and the Separatists. You may recognize those names: the separatists who arrive in this country are often called the Pilgrims. Some of them will become us, alongside German Evangelicals and German speaking Swiss Reformed.

Prayer
God, we ask you to give to us: Faith, so that we admit our doubt and still walk on in the way of Christ; Hope, so that setbacks and disappointments do not drive us to despair; Love, so that we may act toward our sisters and brothers as you do; Prudence, so that we are wise and careful when we choose; Justice, so that we care for the vulnerable; Courage, so that we may endure and persist; Self-control, so that we are the people you have called us to be and so that others see you in us. Amen. (Adapted from a Prayer of William Barclay)