February 13, 2016


Join us as together we praise our Creator on Sunday mornings. [Scroll down to view older posts.]

Lent 2016

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75be1d19-7fc3-45b9-b69e-ff955e0eff45 Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday Worship

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Ash-Wednesday-iStock_000033616418LargeAsh Wednesday Worship

Wednesday, February 10 | 7:00pm | Sanctuary

Join us as we begin our Lenten Journey toward Holy Week and Easter. The choir will sing and we will hear Jesus’ words about being more faithful as recorded in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. We will also light our Lenten candles of courage, vulnerability, patience, flexibility, receptivity, advocacy, generosity. Each time we worship during Lent, we will extinguish one candle as we get closer to the darkness of Good Friday. We will light all of the candles again on Easter morning as nothing can extinguish God’s light or love.

Now the Work of Christmas Begins: PUCC Christmas Devotion – Dec 26 – The Day After!

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704a5292-a97c-475c-85fe-cf6efa9fb1c3Now the Work of Christmas Begins by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Love Came Down: PUCC Christmas Devotion – Dec 25 – Christmas Day!

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7234212d-cce6-48dc-8e33-01be14627252MERRY CHRISTMAS!
As you read and pray through
Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rossetti (1885),
find time today to put yourself in a physical, emotional and spiritual place where you can feel this love coming to you. What does it feel like? Which of your senses are most aware of this love? How can you spread this love?
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all (wo)men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

In Common: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 24 – Christmas Eve!

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d7b17a26-72ba-4cd6-8553-675c2977d558In Common by Mary Luti
“O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of humankind…” – O Come, O Come Emmanuel
On a visit to South India, the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked to bless the Hindu kitchen staff of a big hotel. The occasion was the annual mixing of the batter of their famous Christmas cake. So, as instructed, he poured honey into an enormous trough of fruit, said prayers, shook hands and walked out into the searing heat, with ‘Joy to the World’ blaring over the loudspeakers.
Christmas, it turns out, is one of the West’s greatest exports. The story is known and loved even in places where other faiths predominate: Shanghai, Mumbai, Dar-es-Salaam. Any why not? It features a clutching baby, and not many people on earth can resist offering a pinky to the clutch of an infant.
It may be the thing we long for most, the Archbishop noted – to let go of our aggression and fear and whatever else in us keeps us tied to violence, and bend together over a child in shared wonder and gratitude. Perhaps this common longing is what the old carol means by ‘desire of nations’.
You don’t have to be a Christian to be profoundly gladdened by a story of open, defenseless love. Even when it comes draped in the gaudy tinsel and bows it’s accumulated over the centuries, it touches something basic, something universal. And that should makes us think twice about ever giving up on the human heart’s capacity for goodness and faith, however deeply buried it may seem.
Prayer: ‘O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of humankind. Bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our Prince of Peace.’ Amen.

It’s a Wonderful Life: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 23

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aa3da0b1-89c6-4990-9e19-43464c1613bdI hope you have watched some classic and new Christmas movies this year – we’re just about out of time! I’ll admit it — It’s A Wonderful Life makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME! The love is palpable!
View a few gems from the film… just click here for the clips described below –
It’s A Wonderful Life – reflection by J.L. Sosa
Frank Capra’s inspiring masterpiece puts us – and its protagonist George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) – through an emotional wringer and to the very brink of death before delivering a happy ending. Before we are shown the reason we must hang on to hope, even when life seems far from wonderful, we follow George through a fierce storm of emotional upswings and free falls.
Through melodrama, Capra’s film communicates the intensity of our inner passions in a way that always rings true. Being something of a softie, it’s no surprise that many of us look to our favorite scenes in It’s a Wonderful Life as the ones that celebrate love.
Here are six of the best.

“I’ll Love You ‘Til the Day I Die”

A far more astute student of the human psyche than I once told me that our personalities are formed from a very early age. We become our true selves as children and in many ways the journey of life is about shedding the heartaches and illusions life deals us. What I love about this scene is how it introduces George and Mary pretty much as they’ll be throughout the story as they mature into adults. They’re both optimistic, innocent idealists. George dreams big and is driven by a thirst for adventure. But he sometimes misses the truth that’s right in front of him: that Mary is destined to be the great love of his life.

“It’s the Chance of a Lifetime”

There’s hope for George, of course. He’s a bright kid and eventually he stumbles upon the truth. The moment he tunes out the chatter of his racing thoughts and tunes into the steady voice of his heart, he realizes Mary is just as his mom described her earlier in the film. She’s the kind of girl that will help him find the answers.

“Show Me the Way”

George Bailey lives out loud. There’s usually absolutely no filter between what he’s feeling and what’s bursting out of him. That’s why his quiet prayer at Martini’s Bar is so powerful. The camera tracks dramatically in at the beginning of the shot, followed by a much softer zoom as he whispers a plea for any sign of hope the universe can give him.

“Good as New”

While George is not far from his absolute emotional low, the nurturing love he feels for his youngest child, Zuzu, proves to be a calm at the center of the storm. This tender scene pretty much sums up the essential truth of the film in a few seconds. Zuzu’s rose is losing its luster. But George clears away the dead petals, gently tucks them into his pocket, and deems the flower “good as new.” It will never be perfect again, but it’s more than good enough.

“Clarence Oddbody, AS2”

After plummeting into the abyss at the end of the film’s second act, the third opens with a much-needed breather. One of the lightest and funniest scenes in It’s a Wonderful Life comes when George meets his unlikely guardian angel (an angel second-class, to be precise),

‘The Richest Man in Town”

The sad reality is sometimes it’s a terrible life. There will be times when you feel lost, at the mercy of catastrophes beyond your control. But the ending of this cherished Hollywood fairy tale, at least in my experience, rings true. If we hold on to hope, do the best we can to show love and compassion to others, and reach out for a helping hand when we feel destitute, there’s always a reason to keep going. And the answer to your problem might present itself in the most surprising way.
If you’re having a tough time this holiday season, remember there’s always a reason to keep hope alive. And sometimes wishes come true!

Be Nice: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 22

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8b77ee18-f75b-401d-8ab1-f66c7f677399Photo of birthday cake decorated at grocery store goes viral for unexpected reason
A woman went to the grocery store to pick up a birthday cake – and ended up with a surprise. Lisa Aldrich said in a Facebook post that she went to a Meijer grocery store in Michigan to get a cake decorated for someone’s birthday. She asked a person she assumed was a bakery employee to write a message on it. Aldrich then took the cake without really looking at it.
“After looking, I nervously laughed and headed to check out – it didn’t really matter to me that it looked so bad,” wrote Aldrich. She said employees offered to make her a new one, but she stuck with the one she had.
The cashiers were concerned and called a manager over. And then it all became clear. “To my surprise, after they discussed it, one cashier put her arm on my shoulder and said ‘the girl who wrote that has autism. Thank you for smiling and thanking her – even though she’s not supposed to write on cakes, you probably made her day,'” wrote Aldrich on Facebook.
Aldrich added: “So I guess the moral of the story is that kindness is important!”
Aldrich’s post is public and has been shared more than 34,000 times.
She later wrote on Facebook that she had received messages from more than 100 people who have a loved one with autism, thanking her for sharing her story.
“Be nice. That is all,” wrote Aldrich. “I can’t believe how awesome God is to use this story to bless so many people! God is so, so good.”

Winter Solstice: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 21

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10f9f186-b0aa-4e59-977a-a27d30031a5eWinter Solstice: 21 Alchemical Reflections from Carl Jung to Pema Chödrön

Out of darkness, new light (and life) is born.
Alchemy… a transmutation of matter.
Each year we enter into a time of great darkness, and each year we are invited into the path of shadow to seek and discover the illumination for the life that will begin to birth as we welcome back the light.
The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), hence it is said that the sun will seemingly stand still in the heavens before reversing direction. There are two solstices within every 12-months and is either the longest day of the year (in summer) or the shortest day of the year (in winter) – this pertaining to any earthly location outside of the tropics. The December solstice is known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.
In the northern hemisphere, this solstice occurs during what is typically the coldest season of the year. Throughout history winter has been regarded as the season of hibernation, stillness, melancholy, famine, dormancy, darkness and cold. The symbolism of the winter solstice to-date represents the coming of lighter days and potentially elevated optimism, energy and hope.
For many, the return of the light is a reason to celebrate the continuation of nature’s cycle – and the participation with it.
The winter solstice, and the acknowledgement of the dark, has influenced the lives of many people over the centuries, particularly through art, literature, mythology and religion to participate in rituals that are focused on a celebration of life and the return of light. Winter solstice – light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life vs death! The process slow, patient! A transition from oblivion to prosperity, we are invited to turn within. We seek our inner light for survival. We sleep more, hibernate, huddle, slow our actions and wait.
Shakespeare said, “Darkness has its uses.” This seems appropriate as the winter constellations light up the evening sky to inspire our minds and make up for the loss of daylight. Each day representing the journey into darkness and every waking, an increase of light.
This time is also powerful for meditation, healing and for turning our vision silently inward. It is a profound time for listening deeply to desires that emanate from the core of our being.
May all of us find the courage and trust to embrace the darkness, connect with the light within and find our way.
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

Prayer: O Divine Mother, our hearts are filled with darkness. Please make this darkness distant from us and promote illumination within us.

And so we begin the journey of 21…
#1 “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” ~ Carl Jung
#2 “And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ~ Rumi
#3 “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.” ~ Swami Vivekananda
#4 “In the darkness, I am light.” ~ Unknown
#5 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
#6 “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~ Plato
#7 “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” ~ Bram Stoker, Dracula
#8 “Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. ” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
#9 “If you don’t take the lamp of awareness with you, you are going to create a hell around you. Light your lamp wherever you go – courting, not courting, that is not the point. Wherever you go, whatsoever you do, always do it in the inner light, with awareness.” ~ Osho
#10 “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
#11 “Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.” ~ Helen Keller
#12 “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino
#13 “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” ~ Aristotle Onassis
#14 “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
#15 “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” ~ Robert Frost
#16 “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
#17 “Character is what a man is in the dark.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
#18 “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel
#19 “”Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda
#20 “It is in this darkness that I have found all light- somehow become so bright, a shooting star on a stormy night.” ~ Coco J. Ginger
#21 “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön

The Gift of Love: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 20

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5cba8138-d53c-491f-a97c-1b8ccd28aa7dAs we light our 4th Advent Candle today, we celebrate the gift and responsibility of LOVE.
One of you sent me this brief quote on love earlier this season. It stopped me in my tracks….

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”

-Dorothy Day

It is a clear call to accountability in the ways that we love – and in the ways that we withhold love.

Before Winter: PUCC Advent Devotion – Dec 19

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1754c1d1-a78a-4ab9-90f9-0aa22a0b8460A nod to our church’s German Heritage, an echo of our December newsletter theme of Aging and a living out of scripture* at Christmastime.
Watch this quick and potent commercial – less than two minutes…
* 2Timothy 4:21
“Do your best to come before winter.”