Our Thanksgiving offering will go to Casa Myrna. Casa Myrna is Boston’s largest provider of shelter and supports to survivors of domestic violence, offering safety, resources, advocacy, and information since 1977. Casa Myrna operates SafeLink, a statewide domestic violence hotline, and promote domestic and dating violence prevention through awareness and education. To learn more about Casa Myrna visit their website at casamyrna.org.
Lesson: Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
First, I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very happy Thanksgiving. I have heard that some of you are traveling, others are receiving family or friends for the day, some will be spending the day by yourselves or with a small group of friends or neighbors. Some already have grandchildren running around the house and others are facing the grief of a first holiday without a loved one. Regardless, we are assured that our gratitude is what opens up space for Divine Grace which is ours in all circumstances. This Thanksgiving I am deeply grateful for all of you, the grace you have and continue to show me, and your love of and faith in this church. I am grateful for your passion for mission and ministry and your courage to wonder about God’s call for us. Thank you for being such good people in love and in hope.
So there’s Thanksgiving… NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT CHRISTMAS (or, more precisely, Advent)! Your worship board and staff have prepared such a lovely and thoughtful season for you all! On retreat at the beginning of this month your Worship Board gathered with me to prayerfully discern the state of heart and mind of members and friends of UPA and then consider how we might best receive the story of Jesus’ birth. Together they have determined our Advent theme to be “Seeking the Sacred in All Things” recognizing the divine spark that is a part of all of creation. This spark is the light that shines through the darkness. It is the love that is undefeatable. To honor this first new light, we will open our worship with birdsongs, original compositions by our Director of Music, Allen LeVines, each of which will highlight a different bird’s (or birds’) song. Opening worship in this way will remind us of the “Morning Chorus” of birds that usher in the new light every morning even as we prepare to usher in the Light of the World.
Our scripture this Sunday, the First Sunday in Advent, feels at first read a bit shocking. Whenever we read words that are commonly referred to as “The Second Coming” or “Apocalyptic Texts” we wonder about what we must do to earn our way to be “chosen.” This Sunday, however, I hope we can see this from a different perspective. With Jesus, the Anointed One, The Light of the World, being birthed into our current social conditions, what will we be looking for? What are we waiting for? And how, friends, might we share the good news of this New Light, God With Us, with the world
See you Sunday!
Prelude: “Songs of the Black paradise flycatcher, Japanese bush-warbler, and Eurasian blackbird”
Anthem: “Prepare the Royal Highway” 14th c. Swedish folk carol
Meditation: “Fugue in F” Sebastian Scherer
Postlude: “Fugue on Wachet auf” Johann Walther
BIRDSONG MUSIC FOR ADVENT
French composer Olivier Messiaen once stated, “Through the mixture of their songs, birds’ … melodic contours, those of merles (blackbirds) especially, surpass the human imagination in fantasy.”
Birdsong has been and still is honored through quotation and imitation in music traditions throughout the world. In China “A Hundred Birds Pay Homage to the Phoenix” is well known as a virtuoso solo for suona (oboe). In Africa birds are perceived as not only singers but as musicians. Since at least the 1300s European music has quoted birdsong in the works of many composers. A small sampling includes Vivaldi (goldfinch), Handel (nightingale), Beethoven (cuckoo), Tchaikovsky (swallow), Rachmaninov (linnet), and Messiaen (song thrush).
UPA worship this Advent season will not begin with traditional music. Rather, at the start of each service we will hear a morning prelude of birdsongs from around the globe, transcribed to organ or piano — a gentle and quiet way of recognizing the first light, welcoming the new, and experiencing the sacred in everything.
Live Stream Information
We will continue streaming our worship on both Zoom and Facebook Live. Please share these links with your friends. Bear in mind that we cannot share the Zoom links publicly (to keep from being Zoom bombed), so please share it person to person rather than posting it on Facebook/Twitter, or other public social media. It’s fine to share the Facebook link broadly and publicly. For the Zoom login information please reach out to Pastor Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: that we continue to work on streaming as we make improvements to the sanctuary sound system.
Zoom Link: UPA Sunday Morning Worship
Facebook Livestream Link: https://www.facebook.com/upanewtonma/live