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The Phoenix Flamings

Phoenix Community Church UCC
Friday, January 3, 2020

A progressive Christian experience...
Welcoming and affirming the LGBT community...

As a spiritual community following Jesus Christ we are called by the Holy Spirit:
  • To create meaningful, inclusive Community;
  • To be God’s voice and hands in Service to our neighbors and Creation;
  • To be a Witness of God’s love in and for the world;
  • To deepen our relationship with the Divine through Worship.

Food For Thought

Although some of us might have already taken down our trees, manger scenes, and other decorations, it is still officially the Christmas season. In the church calendar we celebrate Christmas until Epiphany begins on January 6, which is also still about recognizing the light that has come. Sometimes we need these many reminders of God’s presence born into our lives.
 

What does it mean when we celebrate this child Jesus who was born so long ago? Historically, there isn't much we really know with certainty about Jesus’ birth. We have the four biblical gospels, but Mark and John don't even talk about Jesus' birth and Matthew and Luke differ on the details. And, of course, these accounts of Jesus' birth, as well as those of his life, death, and resurrection, aren't really written to give us historical details, but to tell us deeper truths of who Jesus was and is.
 

Matthew tells the story of an angel visiting Joseph. The angel tells Joseph that there is something special about the baby that Mary is carrying and the angel gives the baby two names: Jesus, which means “one who saves,” and Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Both names are important statements about who Jesus is, but perhaps “God is with us” better captures the spirit of Christmas.
 

Christians understand God as having taking human form in a small baby. A baby is vulnerable. A baby needs help. A baby does not represent a vengeful God who comes to crush our enemies. God doesn't come to us as a violent God, but as a child, vulnerable as we are vulnerable, to be received and loved, not feared. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus. Despite the connection often made between this famous bible verse and Jesus' death, John 3:16 doesn't actually talk about his death and resurrection. It says only that Jesus is a gift of love. Jesus is the incarnation of God’s love. Jesus as “God with Us” is also “Love with us.” When we get to wishing people would put Christ back into Christmas perhaps we’re really saying let us put love back into Christmas. I’m ok with that because the world needs a lot more love.
 

Christmas is ultimately not about Mary being a virgin, or the wise people traveling from a far away land, or angels appearing to shepherds. All of these are wonderful stories which are told to convey to us the truth that God is with us. Our Christmas celebrations invite us to stop and look for “God with us,” to notice the Christ-presence in our own time, to notice where and when Love is born into the world. Take a moment today to look for signs of love within you and around you: a kind word, someone helping a stranger, a special unexpected gift, an act of charity and compassion, sunshine peaking through winter clouds, the companionship of a pet… where do you see Christ in the world? Where do you see love in the world? Stop and look. Stop and listen. For God is with us.
 

Blessings,
Pastor Ken
 

This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “God is with Us,” from Sunday, December 22, 2019. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

 

 

It’s that time of year again when cancellation of events due to bad weather is a possibility. If we have to cancel Sunday worship, it will be posted on our website as well as on Channel 3’s website, wwmt.com. For other smaller gatherings, cancellations are usually handled by contacting those who regularly attend. If the weather is bad and you’re not sure whether an event might be happening you can check in with the church office at 383-3222.
 

Join us for Spirit Talk, a time of relaxed discussion over the refreshment of your choice. There’s no pressure to join the church or think in a certain way – just an opportunity to talk about what’s on your mind. We meet on the first and third Mondays of the month. The next gathering is January 6 at 7:00 pm at the Main St. Pub on Westnedge Avenue in Portage. The tentative topic will be how we understand spirit and consciousness and what this means for the possibility of life after death. However, feel free to bring other questions that you’ve been pondering. Conversations are often far-ranging but always interesting!
 

Pastor’s Office hours for January will be 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesday, January 21, hours will be 2:30 to 3:30 pm. If you stop by and the front door to the church is locked please ring the bell. We don’t want to miss your visit but we are unfortunately not able to leave the doors open if no one is upstairs to monitor them (our office is downstairs). Other meeting times can also be arranged by making an appointment.
 

Worship on Sunday, January 12, will be a special service of dedication to officially install our committees for 2020. As we give thanks for those who volunteer to support our church community, we’ll ask for God’s blessings on the year ahead. Please join us to support all those who give so much of their time and talents.
 

Movie Night is Tuesday, January 14, in the church office. We’ll gather at 6:45 pm and the movie will start promptly at 7 pm with a short discussion to follow. Bring a snack to share. The movie will be “Groundhog Day.”
 

The Book Study Group will be starting a new book soon. We are wrapping up our current book and expect to start reading "Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others" by Barbara Brown Taylor at our gathering at 3:30 pm on Thursday, January 23. The author recounts her moving discoveries of finding the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in rural Georgia, revealing how God delights in confounding our expectations. This would be a great opportunity to join us for what is always wonderful conversation.
 

The Timid Poet Open Mic is coming back! Our first open mic of the year will be Friday, February 28, 2020. To sign up for email notifications about this and future events, please visit http://timidpoetunderground.blogspot.com.

 

 

Do you have concerns about falling? The Kalamazoo County Area Agency on Aging is sponsoring “A Matter of Balance,” an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels for older adults. There are several sessions being offered at various locations beginning in January. Classes are free of charge to participants, and funded through local, state, and federal grants. Registration is required. For more information, contact Kelly Milliman, LLBSW, Healthy Living Program Coordinator at 269-373-5021 or kmmill@kalcounty.com.
 

Have you ever heard of the Wild Goose Festival? Does spending an inspiring July weekend at a campground in the mountains of North Carolina with a couple of thousand progressive Christians sound like fun to you? Check out http://wildgoosefestival.org/ for more information. Pastor Ken has been to the festival twice and will be going again in 2020. This is a truly wonderful and uplifting time. Let’s carpool!

 

Please remember the churches and people of the Southwest Association, Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ, in your prayers.

For January please remember:

  • First Congregational Church, Battle Creek, MI, and Rev. Tom Ott as they search for a new senior minister to succeed Rev. Ott as he retires this year.

  • First Congregational Church, South Haven, Michigan, and Rev. Jeffrey Dick.

  • The Association’s Church & Ministry Committee for 2020: Dale Muyskens (Chair), Rev. Bob Bond, Michele Bush, Rev. Jennifer Fair, Rev. Dr. Deborah Kohler, Rev. Dr. Scott Luppe, Doug Stahnke, Rev. Kyle Tade, Pastor Dani Veenstra, Ken Warren, Rev. Ken Arthur (Registrar), and members ex-officio Rev. Calandra Nevenzel and Rev. Mary Beth Moran Cross

Folks often make personal prayer requests during Sunday worship and at our Wednesday prayer group. If you would also like to make a personal prayer request to be included in the Flamings, please email the request to office@phoenixchurch.org. Do not include information unless it is ok to make it public.

 

Worship begins at 6:00 pm on Sundays. Communion is observed on the first Sunday of the month. Sermons from previous weeks are available online at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.
 

Jan. 5: “A Light in the Darkness”

Jan. 12: “Opening Heaven”

Jan. 19: “What are you looking for?”

Jan. 26: “Follow Me”

 

Phoenix Community Church UCC
2208 Winchell Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
 

Phone: 269-383-3222
Office Email: office@phoenixchurch.org
Web Site: http://www.phoenixchurch.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhoenixChurch  

Peer Ministers for 2020 are Linda Cross and Arlene Scholfield. Please contact a peer minister if you need assistance or just a listening ear.
 

 

All events are at 2208 Winchell unless noted otherwise. Also see our online calendar at: https://phoenixchurch.org/home/calendar/.

Sundays, 6 pm: Worship

Tuesdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours (except hours on Jan. 21 are 2:30 - 3:30 pm)
Wednesdays, 4 - 5 pm: Prayer Group
Thursdays, 1:30 am - 3:30 pm: Pastor's Office Hours
Thursdays, 3:30 - 5 pm: Book Study

Monday, Jan. 6: Spirit Talk, 7 pm @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
Tuesday, Jan. 14: Movie Night, 6:45 pm
Monday, Jan. 20: Spirit Talk, 7 pm @ Main St. Pub, Portage, MI
 

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