Below are the passages that are still available in our 2015 Advent Devotional Booklet. Please sign up on the board or contact the church office to let us know which passage you would like! Thank you!
Please sign up (individually or as a family) for a passage below! Feel free to write a small reflection about this passage (max. 200 words) and/or a personal story that relates to the theme. Some questions are included to spark your imagination, but please don’t feel constricted by these. Alternatively, you could write a poem or hymn text, or you could contribute artwork related to the passage’s theme, perhaps with a brief explanatory text. Whatever you choose, we suggest ending with a one or two-sentence prayer. Please return responses to the church office by November 1.
WEEK ONE: PROMISE
Jeremiah 31: “31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
[What does it mean to have the law written on your heart? How does that affect the way you live? … When the Israelites turned away, God always turned back, again and again. In your life, have there been ways that God kept returning with a new covenant, inviting you to make a new start?]
WEEK TWO: PREPARATION
Malachi 3:1-4 “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”
[Looking back on your life, do you see the work of those who “prepared the way” for your faith? Who helped prepare you to hear God’s good news? How do you help prepare others?]
Luke 3:2b-3 “God’s word came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3John went throughout the region of the Jordan River, calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 4 This is just as it was written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet, A voice crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord…’”
[Offer a reflection on John the Baptist and how he prepared the way for Christ. How do we show that our hearts and lives have been changed? How do we share that news with others and help them prepare for God’s coming?]
2 Peter 3:13-15 “13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
[When we wait for new heaves and a new earth, what is it that we are waiting for? How do we strive for peace while we wait? When is it hard to wait?]
WEEK THREE: PRAISE
Philippians 4:4-7, especially 4 “4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
[Tell of a time you have rejoiced. How do you go about rejoicing “always?”]
Psalm 126: “1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy… 5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.”
[Has there ever been a time when your tears turned into shouts of joy? For whom that is weeping now do we pray, that they may find joy?]
WEEK FOUR: PRESENCE
Isaiah 9:2-7, especially “2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder…. 6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
[How might it have felt to see the “great light” of Jesus be born? Jesus has been called my many names by many different people—are any of these names particularly meaningful for you? Why?]
P.S. By the time you read this, I will be flying to Israel with Ed and Carolyn Lowry, Debra Bryant, and her sister Beth Laine. We’ll meet up with the Browns as we tour the Holy Land. We’ll return to the States on May 8. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers! – Michael
The Campbell University Choir, under the direction of Dr. Phillip Morrow, will sing at UBC in the Sanctuary on March 4th at 6:30 pm. Please see The Word for the special Wednesday Night schedule for that evening. The choir is the principal vocal ensemble of the Music Department in the College of Arts and Sciences at CU. Their spring 2015 program consists of sacred and secular works.
Please see ‘The Word’ for the special Wednesday program schedule for that evening.
On February 1, our pastor, Michael Cheuk, delivered a “State of UBC Address” during Sunday morning worship. Here is a video of his presentation. Enjoy!
“What Shall I Return to the Lord?” – Psalm 116:12
In response to the many ways God has been generous in goodness to our church, we seek to be generous in returning our time, talents, and resources to the mission God has set before us. Your personal giving plan enables our church leaders to plan and implement our church’s ministries for the year 2015. Please be assured that this web form goes directly to Sue Walton, our office manager. No one else will access this information.
Your plan may be changed at any time by notifying Sue at the church office (293-5106). Thank you for your generosity in supporting our church's mission.
Our young adult group is having brunch this Saturday from 10:30 to 1:30 at the home of Erin and Will Brown (4000 City Walk Way, Apt. 351). All are welcome! We may have some new faces with us this month, so this is the perfect time to join us. Childcare will be provided for those with young children. Feel free to email Will if you have any questions. Hope to see you there!
Last Sunday, our youth had the chance to prepare and serve dinner at both the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospitality House. It was a wonderful chance to learn about and serve with some of the ministries in our immediate community, as well as a chance to have fun and challenge the inner chef in all of us!
At the Ronald McDonald House, 2 adults and 6 youth had one hour to make tacos for 40 people. Our two sixth-grade boys bravely took on the task of cooking 9 pounds of taco meat. Despite the fact that it was by far the hottest job in the kitchen, they worked cheerfully and neatly the whole time. And by neatly, I mean that at least 85% of the taco meat actually made it to the serving tray. Not too shabby! 🙂 The rest of us prepared rice, corn, chopped vegetables without losing anyone’s fingers, used more plastic gloves than anyone thought possible, and generally had a blast working together in the kitchen.
The staff person working that night took some time to explain to us about who the house serves, and we learned that it is not only children undergoing cancer treatments and their families, but also children awaiting heart and other transplants, and families at the hospital for other medical emergencies. As we served dinner that night and talked about the experience later, it hit home for the youth that even though we had a ton of fun cooking together, the meal we prepared was meeting a real need for families going through very difficult times, and several teenagers asked when we can go back and serve again.
At the Hospitality House, some of our older youth prepared spaghetti for the guests. After teaching one high school junior the important life skill of how to boil spaghetti noodles, and after said high school student sent shards of uncooked spaghetti flying all over the kitchen, the meal went pretty smoothly! One of the guests who ate dinner at the Hospitality House that night told our youth that she had just spent all of her money for the rest of the month on supplies for her child who is in the hospital. Before she got to the house, she didn’t know if she would get anything to eat that night, and was thrilled to arrive and find a spaghetti dinner waiting for her. When our group got back together later Sunday night, the youth who served her were excited to share with the others how they had seen God at work in that situation!
Overall, we were thrilled to serve at both the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospitality House this week. We had fun cooking together, and we also learned from the sobering but meaningful encounters with families we served. It hit us that there are so many families in great need, literally right around the corner from our church, and in one evening we were able to minister to them in a simple but significant way. We are grateful for the experience, and hope to serve in this way again soon!
As the youth leader I often struggle with ideological practice of having everything we do relate back to a religious idea or practice. I will ask myself, “Does this further the Kingdom of God?” Most often the answer is a resounding YES! But as I strolled through the Wal-Mart aisles picking up dish soap, a few buckets, and tarp – I couldn’t help but think that the 45-foot-super-awesome-slip-and-slide might just be for our own enjoyment.
Ultimately, we could have connected our journey downhill to the concepts of hope, courage, and God’s divine protection. Like – I hope I don’t break my leg, or I will take courage and get a running start, or “Oh Mercy!” this is super fast (Jesus, take the wheeeeeeel ♫)! We could have also used it as an invitation tool to help facilitate other youth joining our group – which we tried! There were a few neighborhood children that came over to see what we doing but I think they were too overwhelmed at all of the awesomeness that was taking place and really only came over to get a closer look. A small number of my other neighbors also came outside to openly view our craziness, but most stayed indoors away from all of our giggling and screaming – I imagine they were all peeking out of their windows like Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries in the movie Rear Window, waiting for one of us to slip up (pun intended).
It wasn’t all fun games though… well… yes it was. There was pizza, water balloons, water slingshots (although they didn’t work too well), card games, some sidewalk art, and of course the biggest slip-and-slide in Charlottesville (at least for today), and after all was said and done there were only a few grass scratches and bumped knees – but as I explained to the kids, that’s how you know you had fun! And honestly, that’s really what it was all about – having fun. And you know what else? Having fun is great. I highly recommend it. In fact, I’m fairly sure 9 out of 10 doctors recommend having fun on a daily basis.
Now, if only we could find some biblical basis for all the fun we had…
(insert dramatic pause)
Boom. King Solomon comes through.
Yes, according to rabbinic tradition, the book Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon in his old age and I quote:
Ecclesiastes 8:15: So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. (NLT)
There it is.
So much of what our youth have to look forward is not always going to be fun – being an adult is hard. You can ask one, I’m sure they’ll tell you all about it! Jobs, money, bills, work, etc. Think about the first things that adults talk about when they see each other! They are very rarely in the market for having some fun. There’s a great quote from the children’s book The Little Prince written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that illustrates the adult conundrum:
“Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get an idea of that house at all. You have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $400,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”
Now, I’m only 30 years old – but this already hits home with me and speaks to how I sometimes view the world.
Thankfully, I have a job – well, 2 jobs actually – that keep me young. I am regularly reminded of the necessity to not take things too seriously or get too upset about the adult method of doing things and I am so very thankful that in this moment, on this day – we can fly down the hill and roll over backwards with laughter. Thankful that we are able to create memories that will bring a smile to our face when we’re feeling down and when we’re working hard – because, ultimately, God does want us to work hard. I dare say he needs us to work hard – we are told that the mountain is steep and the path is narrow.
So for now, while we can, let’s have some fun.
Last Sunday, I met with our Church Council and Deacons, and together we discussed the job descriptions of a “Ministry Resident” (a two-year position for a seminary-trained graduate to explore and gain experience in congregational ministry) and a “Director of Creative Arts” (a part-time position for a musician with theological training that can assist in the musical, audio-visual and participatory aspects of our creative service). I also presented an initial description of the creative worship service that I’ve been proposing. Those who attended the meeting asked good questions and provided valuable input.
One point that was made repeatedly was the importance of providing more information to the congregation and garnering wide support for this venture. Our leadership is working on revising the job descriptions, and they will be distributed in time for a church-wide town hall meeting in August.
Stay tuned for more details later.
I will be on vacation from July 14-27. While I’m away, please welcome our guest preachers, Rev. Elizabeth Dowdy on July 20 and Rev. Lynn Litchfield on July 27.