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Belmont United Methodist Church in Belmont Massachusetts

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The Churchlight December 2006


eChurchlight December 2006


From Larry
   Close the soa/whinsec
   Crisis in Darfur
   Globe Editorial on Venezula
   Call for End to War
From Liz
Connection Spotlight: Resources
Spoons for Project Bread
Christmas Gift Drive
"Moving" Thank You
Adult Fellowship Christmas Party
Adult Fellowship New Year's Potluck
Electronic Churchlight
Coffee Hour Schedule for Dec.
Joys and Concerns
Poinsettias Order Form
December Worship Services

through the looking glass
L. L. Wimmer 
Love is the reality of Christmas that Advent points us toward but it is the love that came to suffer. Our sins and the sins of the world can be overcome and it is love that will overcome them. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict; it is the presence of love.  
     Everything matters. Advent is a warning and a promise. God has come and is coming into the world to save us. It is love that breaks our heart and it is love that will save us and it may well be that our hearts will be broken before we will be saved because it is a broken heart that is open to confessing wrong in order to be made right and it is a broken heart that can no longer bear to witness the pain of the world and be apathetic to it. In the words of the psalmist, it is a broken and contrite heart that is the sacrifice acceptable to God . (Psalm 51.17) 
     May this Advent season bless us with a deep and serious contemplation of the truth about us so that we might be prepared for Christmas and the truth about God. The truth about us, it turns out, is that we continually fail love and cause suffering for ourselves and others but the truth about God is that God is the love that endures all things, (I Cor.13) including and especially suffering, and the promise of God's salvation is that all that is lost and broken by human sin will be one day be restored. In the meantime we seek to love more, to resist what is evil, to walk in the light, to follow the Savior with a love that suffers for peace. Perhaps at the very least we could begin with confession for the ways we do not contribute to peace on earth. 
     Loving God, we know there are tremendous problems facing the world – natural disasters, civil wars, violence, disparities in resources, and sickness – We confess that there are days when we look the other way, change the channel, or pretend the problems don’t exist. We say that the problem is someone else’s concern or displace the blame. We are not confident that we can make an impact and we fear failure for ourselves and on the behalf of others. We might even think that moving to make a difference will change us in ways that we will not like or make us uncomfortable. Before we begin, we desire to give up – on our opponents and on the victims. Forgive us for our faint-heartedness and selfishness, for failing to love others as we should, and for failing to believe that you have empowered us to protect our brothers and sisters. Remind us Holy One that some faithful persons refused to give up on us, and that You have not given up on any of us. AMEN. (copied from an anonymous source) 
     Please continue reading for witnesses to what is happening in our world. As the Church of Jesus Christ, what is our responsibility? What are we doing for the poor, for justice, for love? As Advent reminds us that once again the celebration of Christmas is coming again may we be challenged to live as those who have taken seriously that love has come into the world and that love will be resisted by the world but in the end the world will be saved by love and we are the people who have promised to go where love will take us. This will require the courage of a great faith but we carry with us the words of Jesus who also said, Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Our task is not a grim one but a glad one. Thanks be to God.

Close the SOA/WHINSEC
Submitted by Ros Paine
On November 16, I traveled to Ft. Benning located in Columbus, Georgia to attend the annual vigil calling for the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA), aka the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. With me were 10 students from Wellesley College, and together we joined 22,000 peace activists from across the Americas. This nonviolent vigil is held annually to commemorate the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their house keeper, and her teenage daughter which happened in El Salvador on November 16, 1989. The perpetrators of this atrocity were trained at the SOA. The deaths of many community organizers, peasant's rights advocates, union organizers, and peace activists throughout Latin America as well as the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador have been perpetrated by, or directly linked to the activities of, graduates of the SOA, making it the most notorious terrorist training camp in the Western Hemisphere. I traveled to this years vigil because as a person of faith I felt I had to voice my opposition to my country's hypocrisy in fighting terrorism overseas while at the same time training terrorists here in this country. This years vigil like every one since 1995 was a nonviolent call for the closing of the SOA. Congressional bills to close the school and to investigate completely the SOA's activities and the activities of its graduates have been introduced since 1993, first by former Rep Joe Kennedy and then by Rep Jim McGovern. These bills have narrowly missed passage. 
     I would just like to share one very poignant vignette that occurred at this years vigil. Several of the Wellesley students brought a large poster to the double chain link fences which now seal off the main gate at Ft. Benning. One side of the poster said in large block letters "I LOVE YOU." As we made our way, along with the mass of people there, up to the fence to sit and pray and reflect on the thousands of people who have died at the hands of graduates of the SOA, I became aware of all the instruments of force that the military displays to prevent people from breaching the fences: barbed wire two layers deep, razor wire atop both fences, armed MP's and local law enforcement agents with mace, pepper spray, tear gas, and riot sticks, as well as military helicopters hovering in the sky above. Two very different forces were brought to this drama: the message of love and the message of force and oppression. The students had simply brought with them the most powerful force in all of creation, the message of love. The military could only "retaliate" with the same failed, anemic instruments that have brought nothing but fear, suffering, and misery to many of the poor of this earth as well as to many of the people who have struggled for human dignity and equal rights and social justice. As the students pinned their poster to the fence facing into the fort and sat in front of the fence reciting a litany of nonviolence and reflecting and meditating together, I could not help but think about the obvious outcome of this "confrontation." LOVE WINS! There is nothing that can stop it. The struggle for a just world will be long and arduous and there will be much suffering along the way, but the outcome already has been determined: LOVE WINS! Nothing that the forces of domination and oppression can counter with can stop LOVE, the most powerful force in the universe, the force of God's presence. I believe that message was most clearly evidenced 2000 years ago on Calvary, but I witnessed again the transforming power of that same message at the fence at Ft. Benning on a November afternoon in 2006. The struggle isn't over by any means but we're privileged to know the fin
al outcome. LOVE WINS 

Background on the Crisis in Darfur
(from the Massachusetts Coalition to save Darfur)
Since February 2003 over 400,000 people have died and over 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. Each day, over 500 innocent people die from violence, malnutrition and disease. The people of Darfur experience horrendous crimes, including gang rapes of women and girls, burning of homes and religious buildings, killing of babies, and other atrocities. 
     Despite their efforts to help civilians, relief organizations have been targeted and aid workers have been arrested by the Sudanese government. Today, more than 2.5 million people are suffering from a preventable humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter. 
     Government-backed militias, known collectively as the Janjaweed, have systematically eliminated entire communities and continue to do so. Government air strikes frequently precede these vicious militia raids. Villages are razed; women, men, and children are raped, tortured, and murdered. 
     The Janjaweed also target and destroy Darfurian food and water supplies, threatening the victim’s chance for survival. These people are being deprived of their humanity. Many of them have lost their homes, communities, families, and dreams for the future.  The Sudanese government has failed to protect them; in fact, it is behind their annihilation. 
     Recent reports show that while violence continues, survivors in overcrowded refugee camps are threatened by disease and famine. If the violence continues and people do not receive adequate aid and protection, many more Darfurians will die. 
     The international community must approve and deploy a strong United Nations peacekeeping force for Darfur. This will take significant leadership from the UN Security Council, and significant contributions from all nations able to help get the force off the ground. The UN force will protect civilians, allow aid workers to do their jobs, and will help implement the struggling Darfur Peace Agreement.  
     Since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement on May 5 of this year, things have actually gotten worse, and the possibility of a dramatic increase in death rates looks increasingly real.  We owe them our support and prayers.
 

Response to Globe Editorial on Venezuela Sunday, Nov.26, 2006
Dear Friends ~ Here's my response to Sunday's terrible op-ed piece in the Globe. The author is with Sumate, the organization which ran the referendum campaign in 2004 with US funds, and whose leaders supported the 2002 coup. She somehow failed to mention these facts in her piece...    Mike 
     When I saw the subtitle of Ana Julia Jatar’s November 26 Op-Ed “Venezuela‘s Great Divider,” about people who turn their opponents into enemies to be obliterated, I hoped we might be offered a thoughtful piece on Karl Rove or Dick Cheney. How disappointing it was to read once again the same article that the US media have been printing about Hugo Chavez since at least 2001. 
     Having visited Venezuela four times in the last two years, I must say that President  Chavez has not created class differences in Venezuela. He has recognized them, acknowledged them, and taken a side. Every president in every country in the world does exactly the same. His “crime” is that he has sided with the poor rather than with the elites. 
     If the opposition once again this fall has presented nothing to the Venezuelan majority that addresses their real needs, that’s hardly Hugo Chavez’ fault. In Jatar’s Op-Ed, the opposition’s post-election spin is already beginning. 
     When Chavez is re-elected on December 3 by a majority of Venezuelan voters, it will be because he offers an alternative to those whom history has overlooked. It could be an opportunity for all of us to ask ourselves which side we are on.    
Rev. Mike Clark

New England Annual Conference Calls for End to War 
The New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has called for an orderly withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. United Methodists are encouraged to call their representatives in congress to let them know.  

From Liz 
“Where is everyone?”  That question came up recently at an E-team meeting, as we were discussing the fact that our weekly worship numbers seemed to be low.  And so, since October 1, we have been tracking weekly worship attendance, trying to get a sense of how often the “average” member comes, and whether we have lost track of anyone.  And we have some great news to share.  Here it is—and here is what YOU can do:
Most of us attend worship more than 50 % of the time. And for those of us who don’t, the reasons are pretty immediately evident—second homes out of state; competing family schedules; work demands; high school seniors looking at colleges…the list goes on. 
Most of us think we attend worship more than we actually do.  Those of us on the E-team were a little surprised by our numbers.  Think about what keeps you away from worship sometimes—and see if, this Advent, you can’t make it to worship a little more often!
The red books contain invaluable information for reaching out to and caring for each other.  Thanks for signing them each week—it is a big help to the E-team and the staff!
If you haven’t seen someone in a while, give them a call—and PLEASE let the staff know if you notice someone hasn’t been around in a while, or is ill or facing difficulties.
 
     Lighting Up Advent:  We all know BUMC is a special place—and it is a gift we can share with others this Advent season.  In the coming weeks, please do your best to invite someone to worship—a family member, friend, neighbor, coworker, someone who has worshipped with us that hasn’t been here in a while.  Every time you invite someone to church, please take a construction paper candle from the offering plate in the Narthex and tape it to the wall.  Even if the folks you invite do not end up joining you in worship, what counts is that you invited them!  Invite whomever you think of—and see how our light grows by Christmas! 
     Wednesday Night Potluck Dinners Are Back!  Come feast together at a potluck on the 3rd Wednesday night of each month at 6:30!  If you want, you are welcome to stay for the Church Council meeting at 7:30!  Our next Potluck and Church Council are Wednesday, December 20—take a break from the holiday bustle and come relax with friends! Questions?  See Liz!
     The Women’s Book Group meets on the last Thursday night of each month, at 7:30 PM.  We meet at Imler House, just across the driveway from the church.  Our next meeting will be Thursday, December 28; watch your bulletins for our next book selection!  Questions?  See Liz! 
     M-I-C…The LaRocque family is taking a much-anticipated vacation to Disney World to celebrate Mark and Liz’s 15 th anniversary.  They will be away December 9-18. 

 
Connectional Spotlight
Resources for Local Churches 
Last month I wrote about how we can reach out from our local church and join with others in our denomination to apply our gifts and presence in the world through the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Volunteers in Mission. 
     But Connection works the other way as well providing resources to support local churches in worship, education, evangelism, stewardship and all of the other facets of local church mission.  The primary denominational mechanism for providing these resources is the General Board of Discipleship www.gbod.org.  GBOD develops training and resource materials for worship, Sunday school, and retreats.  They organize and conduct conferences and retreats and provide grants to individuals and local churches.  At BUMC we have used a variety of resources developed or provided by GBOD, especially educational curriculum and publications.   
     Locally, the New England Annual Conference www.neumc.org  maintains a resource library of materials covering a variety of topics from alternative approaches to worship to evangelism and stewardship.  BUMC benefited from a Conference church consultants program when we were struggling with our financial restructuring last year.  And clergy and lay leaders have attended conference organized seminars on church growth and worship. 
     Learn more about UMC and New England Conference provided resources from their websites at www.gbod.org and www.neumc.org
Bill Wilson

Announcements
Spoons for Project Bread
The 5th-7th grade church school class has been hard at work decorating small wooden spoons, and turning them into wonderful little holiday ornaments.  Please visit the table at coffee hours during December where you can see their work, talk to the kids, and purchase an ornament to take home.  The ornaments will be selling for $1.00 each and all of the money collected will go to Project Bread and help in their efforts to help the hungry in Massachusetts.  The spoons, which serve as a reminder of those who are hungry have been transformed into angels, wise men, and the holy family as well as snowmen, reindeer, Santas, and of course Pooh and friends.  Thank you in advance for your support! 

Christmas Gift Drive
 
We are purchasing Christmas gifts for the children at Cooper Community Center in Boston.  There are names in the Narthex, on ornaments hanging under a “tree” on the wall.  Please take a name and purchase a gift for the child listed.  If you cannot go shopping for one of the children we will have “shoppers” from the church on Sunday the 10 th.  You may send money to the church or put it in the plate on Sunday so the gifts can be purchased.  Gift wrapping will begin on Sunday, Dec. 10th at 6:00 p.m. and continue until all the gifts are wrapped.  Everyone is welcome to come to the parlor to help wrap.  Louise Halstead   

A “Moving” Thank You
Thanks to the eight strong men who moved the Crèche from the garage to the back of Imler House.  This freed up space for the Boy Scouts to store their Christmas wreaths.  Louise Halstead

Adult Fellowship Christmas Party
 
Save the Date!  Sunday, December 3 at 5:00 p.m. for the Annual Adult Fellowship Christmas Party.  Appetizer and Dessert Potluck at the French’s home – 379 Common St. Belmont. 617-489-3656. 

Adult Fellowship New Year’s Potluck
The Annual New Year’s Potluck will be Saturday, December 30 at 6:00 p.m. at the home of Jerry and Emily Farnsworth. 

Electronic Churchlight
The church office is trying to cut back on paper and for the past few months volunteers have been sending the newsletter via email. It is now only mailed out to a few who do not have email or access to the web.  Please let the office know if you would like a paper copy mailed to you – or if you would like to pick it up at church.
     If you are not currently receiving the Churchlight by email please go to the Newsletter page on the church website at www.umcbelmont.org to subscribe.  In addition, starting from September, current and back issues will be posted on the website in the Newsletter section. 

Coffee Hour
Dec. 3: MNOPQ group, coordinated by Linda Rodi (617-489-1538) 
Dec. 10: RSTU group, coordinated by Kathy Touzjian (617-489-3153) and Donna Esposito (617-489-4698). 
Dec. 17: VWXYZ group, coordinated by Ava Walsh (781-891-4092) 
Dec. 24: ABC and DEFG group, coordinated by Lisa Courtney (617-489-5331) and Terry Grimm (781-648-6927) 
Dec. 31: HIJKL group, coordinated by Shelle Lynch (617-484-1377) 
 


Joys and Concerns
Our thoughts are with Mal Ellison, who is at Youville after a return to Mount Auburn and Mass General Hospitals for an infection in his elbow; with Joanne LeCount, who is at  Maristhill Nursing and Rehab. Center in Waltham; Dave Walsh who is recovering from back surgery; and with Erdine Ellison, who was hospitalized at Mount Auburn earlier this month. Please continue to hold all these folks in your prayers. 

Our sympathies are with Roy Bradbury on the death of his brother, George on Oct. 28.  A service was held Nov. 2. Our sympathies are with the family of Hazel Taber, who passed away on Nov. 18.  A service was held on Nov. 22.
 

Poinsettias for Christmas
Once again we shall decorate our chancel with the traditional Poinsettias which we then distribute to shut-ins after Christmas Sunday.  You may share in this ministry of beauty and love by completing this form and returning it to the office with $7.50 for each plant ordered.  Please indicate the number of plants you are ordering.  We must have your order by Sunday, December 10, 2006.  Please Print clearly. 
Your Name: ____________________________________________________________
In Memory Of: ___________________________________________________________
      Or
In Honor Of: ____________________________________________________________ 
 
 
I Will take my Poinsettia on Christmas Sunday and deliver it to: 
__________________________________________________________ 
 
 
I will leave my Poinsettia at the church to be delivered to shut-ins. 
 
              Number of Plants ______  Total $ ______    Date Paid ______  


December 2006 Worship Services
December 3 :10:00 a.m. Worship   1st Sunday of Advent              Color: Purple or Blue
Communion   Lectionary Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16, I Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36 
 
December 10:10:00 a.m. Worship  2nd Sunday of Advent            Color: Purple or Blue
Lectionary Readings: Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6  \n 
\nDecember 17:10:00 a.m. Worship  3rd\nSunday of Advent            \nColor: Purple or Blue
\nLectionary Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7,\nLuke 3:7-18 
\n 
\nDecember 24: 10:00 a.m. Worship   4th Sunday of\nAdvent           \nColor: Purple or Blue
\nCommunion   Lectionary Readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:46b-55, Hebrews\n10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45
\n
\n7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols \n           \nColor: White or Gold
\nLectionary Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20 
\n
\nDecember 31:10:00 a.m. Worship  Communion               \n           \nColor: White or Gold
\nLectionary Readings: I Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Colossians 3:12-17, Luke\n2:41-52 

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Belmont United Methodist Church is a Certified Welcoming Congregation


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