December 4, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. Online and in-person
Magnificat, attributed to Pergolesi and presented by the Unicantors with guest instrumentalists and soloists
Our theme for December is wonder, and we begin the month with a musical setting of a classic story from the Christian narrative. When Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she had been chosen to bear a son, she could hardly believe it. As recorded in the Latin version of the Christian scriptures, Mary responded to this news by saying, “Magnificat anima mea dominum,” or in the traditional English translation, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” She responded with awe and wonder to this news, as we, too, are moved by the wonder of the miracle of birth whenever a child is born. As Sophia Lyon Fahs put it, “Every night a child is born is a holy night,” and indeed, it is so.
Many composers have set Mary’s response to music over the centuries. The version we will present in worship this Sunday has been attributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736), although some musicologists attribute the work to Pergolesi’s teacher, Francesco Durante (1684-1744). Whoever wrote it, the music is delightful, and our presentation of it will be greatly enriched by the guest musicians who will join the Unicantors for this special Sunday of music. We hope you will join us!
We will Share the Plate with Partner Church
Our Partner Church is one congregation in two buildings in Nadas and Pipe, two miles apart. Located in the Transylvanian part of Romania, the country is in the worst economic slump in three decades. In their economy, your $20 donation is like a needed $80. Thanks for your continued support for over the last 30 years.
Happy Birthday to: Judy Gustafson (11/29), Vince Verkuilen (11/29), Tierra Polfliet (11/29), Ann Marie Marshall (11/30), Peggy Menze (12/01). Sally Walker (12/02), Jack Berti (12/03), & Aida Rosemore (12/07)!
Volunteers for Sunday, December 4
Ushers: We Need 2 Volunteers
Greeters: We Need 2 Volunteers
Guest Table: Gloria Perez & Rev. Joyce Palmer
Coffee Hosts: We Need 2 Volunteers
Please note that if you volunteer for coffee host you will need to clean up afterward and run the cups through the sanitizer. Reminder to coffee hour hosts: please make sure the heater is off and the machine master switch is off when you leave. Thank you!
Today is Giving Tuesday, and we would be delighted with a gift to the church – in particular, this is a fine time to contribute to the Staff Holiday Fund, which will be distributed to the staff for the Holidays. You can make that gift athttps://uurockford.org/connection/donate/and select “Holiday Gift.”
For folks up at Wesley Willows, my apologies for missing this morning. I moved the date on the church calendar, since our regular meeting would have been when I was on vacation last week – but didn’t make the same adjustment on my own calendar. Oops! We will skip December, so our next meeting will be January 24th at 9am, in the Reflections Room at the Town Center. If you are living up at Wesley Willows, join us!
Speaking of vacation – it was great! I went to Oaxaca, Mexico. I explored, hiked, and ate some great food. Big thanks to Rev. Joyce, Autumn, and the rest of the staff for holding down the fort.
You might be curious about our plans for worship in the Holiday season. Here’s the scoop:
This Sunday, Dec. 4th, is Music Sunday. Tim and the Unicantors have prepared a beautiful service. This is a great day to invite your friends to church.
Dec. 11th will be our annual all-ages interactive nativity story (aka The Pageant). Parents and grandparents, today is a great day to bring the kids. This is always a lot of fun.
Wednesday, Dec. 15th, at 6pm will be the Blue Christmas Service, led by Rev. Joyce with guest harpist Nanette Felix.
Regular Sunday Worship on Dec. 18th; I’ll be preaching.
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, Saturday, at 5pm we will have our traditional Christmas Eve service with hymns, story, and candlelight. Come and bring your friends and family.
Sunday, Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, Rev. Joyce and Lindsay will lead a short worship followed by social time, beginning at our regular 10am time.
Sunday, New Year’s Day, Jan. 1st, I will lead a short worship service followed by social time, beginning at our regular 10am time.
We have continued to require masks in the sanctuary for worship. As our community risk level has climbed back up to Medium, even before Thanksgiving, we are glad we’ve been cautious about relaxing this requirement. If you haven’t gotten your booster yet, please do so! I hope and pray that this winter surge won’t be as bad as last year.
However you spent it, I hope you had a great thanksgiving. I am thankful to be your minister.
Church is More than The Big Picture
There are also small things.
Who runs around the office desk to open the locked door? With a smile.
Who plans to take the kids outside on bad weather Sundays? Not me.
Who finds singing masks to keep the choir safe? Have you heard them yet?
Who cleans up after Sunday service? Even if there is no coffee hour.
During this holiday season, would you like to remember the staff for the small details that make this church run? Add to the “Holiday Gift Fund” before December 14. Two ways:
Drop off a check to the office, or the Sunday offering, labeled “Holiday Gift Fund”.
On-Line. Go to Donate and make sure to select “Holiday Gift” as the fund.
Changing our Criminal Punishment System
Rev. Joyce’s sermon, “If you got a problem . . .” reflected the theme for November, Change. The topic was our broken criminal justice system, or, as Rev. Joyce called it, our criminal legal system. Change is needed; our system is not just, nor does it provide public safety. Instead, it intensifies the social problems of shame, isolation, and exposure to violence, fostering anti-social behavior and increasing recidivism by formerly incarcerated individuals.
Change is needed, but it won’t be easy. Many people believe as I did 50 years ago, that criminals are bad people who need to be punished for their actions. This reaction to people who cause harm to others, makes us feel better. But punishment doesn’t change the person’s behavior. People who feel shame and isolation, who are treated as though they aren’t human, don’t suddenly feel empathy and compassion for others. More likely, they feel anger toward those who impose punishment and indifference toward those they harmed.
There are other methods that can foster empathy and compassion for victims by those who harmed them. Treating incarcerated persons as worthy people who committed bad actions can turn around feelings of shame and anger. Teaching people skills and job skills to incarcerated persons can open doors after release from prison, that allow them to lead constructive lives.
Rev. Joyce has led two discussion groups on the book, Defund Fear by Zach Norris, a book which outlines some successful programs that have improved the outcome of convicted persons. And criminal behavior is a symptom of our social gap between the have’s and the have not’s, of our “othering” groups of citizens. Reducing economic inequality would also reduce the need for criminal behavior.
There will be one more discussion of the Defund Fear book, focusing on Part III, Reimagined Realities. This online discussion takes place on Wednesday, 11/30, at 6 pm. Email Rev. Joyce if you’d like to join the discussion, whether or not you’ve had a chance to read the book.
Submitted by Teresa Wilmot
Our MELD donation tree is back in the narthex this year! When you choose an ornament from the tree, you will find an item requested by a family listed on the back. You may choose more than one ornament. Once you have purchased the items listed on the ornament, place them in the bin in the Narthex designated for MELD donations. Please do not wrap the items that you donate.
Donations will be collected through Sunday, December 11.
If you are not able to select an ornament from the tree in person, you might consider ordering an item on Amazon and having it shipped directly to the MELD organization. Items can be shipped ℅ Terry Lynch 620 Kishwaukee St. Rockford, IL 61104. Items that are always in high demand are warm socks for babies, children, and adults.
Thank you for supporting Rockford MELD, a non-profit social service agency started in 1981. The organization provides programs and services for young parents and their children in the Rockford community. MELD offers emergency shelter and housing, parenting information, life and job skills training, support, resources, and prevention education.
Pretrial Fairness Act Action Items
Go to the link below to send a letter to your legislator letting them know you want them to stand strong against calls to roll back or repeal the Pretrial Fairness Act! You can also sign up for the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice’s Newsletter.
The Rehnberg Window
You will notice that the Rehnberg window is not in its place currently. It was damaged a few weeks ago and is getting repaired. We hope to have it back as soon as possible.
Blue Christmas Service Wednesday, December 14 at 6pm
Prayers Harp Candles
Our Blue Christmas Service provides an opportunity to share the losses, vulnerabilities, and despair some of us experience at this time of year. We invite those who have a special need for comfort, hope, and healing to attend this service with a friend. Music provided by harpist Nanette Felix. Service leaders, Rev Joyce, and our Caring Team members.
List of resources that may be helpful to you or someone you know.
Family Peace Center – 1-779-348-7600
Remedies Renewing Lives – 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-815-962-6102
OLDER ADULT SERVICES
Catholic Charities Long Term Care Ombudsman Program – 1-815-316-0040 or 1-800-369-0895
Mercyhealth at Home/Older Adult Services – 1-815-971-3502
Lifescape Community Services – 1-815-963-1609 or 1-800-779-1189
SERVICES/ADVOCACY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Center for Sight and Hearing – 1-815-332-6800 P
RAMP – 1-815-968-7467
The ARC – 1-815-965-3455