Beth Coffman, Editor                                                                    December 2019  

…..from the Interim Pastor’s desk, Lindley DeGarmo

When I was a young boy in rural Pine Plains, New York, there were no streetlights in our part of town. Building lots were still being carved haphazardly out of what had been until recently wooded farmland. Ours was one of the first houses built in that neighborhood, and I had a sense of living, like pioneers, on a remote frontier. As November turned into December, the darkness that fell earlier each evening was deep and unyielding. It hemmed us in, limiting our playtime and turning us inward, like a clan of bears preparing to hibernate.

How excited we children were when it came time to put up the outdoor Christmas lights! It was a Saturday afternoon’s project for the whole family. We would haul out the great barrel of colored lights—big, old-fashioned, screw-in bulbs, not these prissy little sparklers you get today—and work together to untangle the strands, test them for burned-out bulbs, and then feed them up to my father on his stepladder as he attached them to the eves with his staple-gun. The whole front length of the house was illuminated, along with the light-pole that flanked our driveway. All through December and up until Epiphany, we’d turn on the Christmas lights at twilight and leave them burning until the last bedtime. In subsequent weeks, we would decorate inside the house, adding fat evergreens, nativity scenes, copious quantities of garlands, candles and yet more lights. But it was the outdoor lights that most delighted me. What an enchantment it was to return home in the evening to that garish display! I never tired of it.

As we enter Advent, 2019 in the bustling communities of Westchester County, our sense of the gathering darkness may be tempered by the volume and intensity of all that bombards us in this busy season. Society conspires to move us quickly to the joys, conviviality and gift-giving of Christmas itself, as though uninterrupted merriment could ensure our freedom and enlightenment—or the world’s. Many of us sense, however, a hollowness at the core of the dominant culture: a loss of sustaining values, an insatiable consumerism, a glorification of violence and military might as the reliable means of beating back an engulfing night. For some, a deep despair hovers beneath the busyness.

As Christians, our willingness to confront these shadows is an essential element of Advent preparation. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” says the evangelist John. Professor Erskine Clark observes, “Even our own darkness has not overcome the Light that emanates from a poor child born in Bethlehem. Indeed, we see the depth of our surrounding darkness precisely because of this Light that illumines the world. And seeing this Light, we find the Advent gifts of hope and courage beginning to stir within us and we discover to our utter amazement the Christmas gift of joy.”

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light,” wrote the prophet Isaiah long ago. May our worship and work together at Union Church during this Advent season sharpen our awareness of the coldness and dangers of the world’s darkness and prepare us for the wonderful brightness of the One for whom we wait and watch.

See you in church!

PREACHING
SCHEDULE
Dec. 1 “Are You Ready?” Isaiah 2:1-5 & Matthew 24:36-44
Dec. 8 “Not All Actions Are Created Equal” Isaiah 11:1-10 & Matthew 3:1-12
Dec. 15 “That’s OK, I’ll Wait” Isaiah 35:1-10 & Matthew 11:2-11
Dec. 22   “Don’t Drop the Baby” Isaiah 7:10-16 & Matthew 1:8-25
Dec. 24 3:30 pm, 7:70 pm and 11 pm “The Gift of Fragility” Isaiah 9:2-7 Luke 2:1-20
Dec. 29   “When Good Plans Aren’t Enough” Isaiah 63:7-9 & Matthew 2:13-23
FELLOWSHIP HOUR VOLUNTEERS
Dec. 1 Mattoon
Dec. 8 Staudter
Dec. 15 Perry
Dec. 22 OPEN
Dec. 29 OPEN

Please consider hosting a Fellowship Hour.  Currently December 22nd and 29th and every Sunday next year are open.  Thank you!!

CHRISTMAS POT LUCK

Please come to the Christmas potluck dinner on Saturday, December 15 at 5:00 p.m. There is a sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall or call or email the church office (631-2069 beth.ucph@ optimum.net).  We are looking for people to bring an appetizer, a main course or a dessert.  The more the merrier!!

CHRISTMAS EVE

Christmas Eve Services will be at 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.  The 7:30 and 11:00 services will be candlelight services and enhanced by the Choir.  The title of the sermon is: “The Gift of Fragility”.

FROM OUR ORGANIST AND CHOIR DIRECTOR

There is probably no season of the church year filled with finer, more inspiring music than Advent through Christmastide.  It seems that the scriptures, carol-texts, hymn-texts, and poetry that adorn the story of the nativity bring out the very best in composers and tune-smiths, and this has been true for centuries.  As Advent and Christmas approach, our weekly worship and our community outreach will be filled with great hymns, chants, carols, anthems, and organ works. 

Of special note is Sunday, December 15, when at 3:00 p.m. we, as a congregation are  joined by friends and neighbors in the community for what has been known as a “carol-sing,” and this year will include the reading of scripture passages that compose the Great Story, each one followed by a hymn or carol that enhances the various themes.  There are many!  So, if you want to be sure that, by season’s end, you have had the chance to sing all of your favorites, this is the event not to be missed. We will raise our voices heartily in song, and after a rousing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” we will adjourn to Parish Hall for a time of refreshment and fellowship.  Help us fill the church!

Come Christmas Eve, there are three opportunities to raise our voices again in song, including an afternoon service that features one of our choir’s soloists, and then twin services in the evening, in which an array of carol arrangements will be sung by the choir, enhanced in number by some home from college, some visiting the area for the season, and some as guests participating in a way that will enrich the vocal and musical strengths of our beloved choir.  There is much to look forward to at Union Church during this holy season.    “Come and see.”  (And “hear”!)

NEWS FROM THE PEWS

We are saddened by the death of Ed Corrigan in early November. 

CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR CHILDREN

Christmas gift requests for children, distributed through the Grandparents Coalition of Westchester, are still available.  Help to brighten a child’s Christmas! 

Return wrapped gifts to the church no later than Sunday, December 15th.   Be sure to attach the form to the outside of the wrapped gift so that all information is readable and will get to the correct agency and  child. 

 CHRISTMAS POINSETTIA

Order Forms are still available. Ushers will have them before and after services.  Please complete and return your form, along with your check for $16 per poinsettia no later than December 15.  All checks should be made payable to Union Church.  Remember to print legibly so your dedication will be accurate in the bulletin.  Thank you!  

PLEDGE CARDS

It is not too late to return Pledge Cards for 2020.  If you need a card, ushers have them or Sundays or call or email the Church Office (914.631.2069 / beth.ucph@optimum.net)

OFFERING ENVELOPES FOR 2020

Offering envelopes will be available beginning on Sunday, December 8th.  If you do not currently have envelopes for 2019 and would like them for 2020, please contact Beth Coffman in the Church Office, 631-2069 beth.ucph@optimum.net.  

PASTORAL ENDOWMENT

Gifts were received from Beth Coffman in memory Ed Corrigan. 

The Paul DeHoff Pastoral Endowment was created to ensure that Union Church always remains a living church with a pastor and congregation, and not just be an art museum.  Please consider the Pastoral Endowment when making memorial gifts and in your benevolence giving. and estate planning.  

PRAYER REQUESTS

Prayers continue to be requested for Pheobe Luciano who is in rehabilitation after a serious car accident.

If you would like to request the prayers of the congregation feel free to contact the church office at 914.631.2069 or beth.ucph@ optimum.net and your requests will be announced during worship services. 

LAMPSTAND

“…let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

This space is reserved for anyone who would like to share stories or experiences with us.  If you are interested, please contact the church office to submit something for consideration. 

EMAIL ADDRESSES

If you are not currently receiving emails from Union Church, please consider providing us with your email address.  We do not send an excessive amount of emails but we do communicate some things by email that we do  not send out in print.  It would be up to you if  you wish to receive the Tower Chimes in  print or only by email.    Please send to the church office at beth.ucph@optimum.net.