A Word from Us…

Below you will find thoughts, updates, and articles from our staff.

Advent & Christmas 2016

Services and Celebrations for Advent and the Christmas Season

Christmas at UBC - 2016




A Bridge Across – November 29

A Bridge Across A Bridge Across-2i

One of the truly influential books in my young adult life was The Education of Henry Adams.  As I entered mid-life, one of the most significant sculptures to capture my imagination was Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ work entitled The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding, or as the public later more simply called it,“Grief.”

Pictured here is Saint Gaudens’ shrouded figure, head bowed, passive, enduring, caught in a forever-encounter with loss. grief

I first saw a model of the bust of Saint-Gaudens’ The Mystery of the Hereafter while touring the Musee d’Orsay on a 1997 visit Karen and I made to Paris.  There, I learned that Henry Adams commissioned Saint-Gaudens to execute this work for the grave of Adams’ wife, Marian, who had died by suicide in 1885.  Long suffering from depression, Marian ended her life by drinking a highly poisonous chemical she used for her own art as an accomplished photographer.

Saint-Gaudens’ work of its own beauty and force drew me and held me that day in the Orsay.  Learning of its inspiration and commission in the tragedy of Henry Adams’ wife’s death confirmed its importance for me.  A few years later, on a day trip to Washington, D.C., Karen and our children patiently made the search with me to find Marian Adams’ gravesite in Rock Creek Cemetery.  We found it and spent time sitting before this memorial which people call “Grief” and which the artist called, The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding.

Few people can afford to commission an artist of Saint-Gaudens’ caliber, as Henry Adams did, for their loved one’s memorial.  Not many of us can pay the price to gain what comfort this tangible, enduring statement offered Adams to declare his profound love for Marian and his deep grief over his wife’s death.

Instead, we of modest means must work our own testimonies of grief, chipping away, sculpting an inner memorial to erect within our hearts.  These self-hewn monuments are an every-person’s work of art, a commission which death compels us to execute for ourselves.  They also share the title, The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding.  They are our work called “Grief.”

Occasionally, as Henry Adams must have done, we visit the site of our testimonies of love and loss.  We make this pilgrimage and sit, wondering, remembering, reflecting, perhaps considering how our loved ones are experiencing God’s Hereafter.  We pray to dip again into this Peace of God Beyond Understanding for which we are grateful. grief-closeup

I hope this Wednesday evening’s Service of Remembrance might offer you this time to revisit, to remember, to gain what more you need from God of all grace, who comforts and cares for all hearts that bear such works of Grief.

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

~ Gary


Service of Remembrance – Wednesday Nov 30

Service of Remembrance

Wednesday, November 30

6:15 pm in Fellowship Hall

This will be a service to remember our departed loved ones, to support each other in our pain and loss during this holiday season, and
to support our  community during this time of unusual stress.

Candles will be lit to acknowledge  family and friends, our pain and loss, our worries and struggles, and God’s faithfulness in our lives.


A Bridge Across – November 15

A Bridge AcrossA Bridge Across-2i

According to the Associated Press, voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia last Tuesday cast 50% of their votes for Secretary Hillary Clinton, 45% for President-Elect Donald Trump, and the remaining 5% among the third-party candidates, Johnson, McMullin, and Stein.  If our congregation reflects the general voting public, and I think we do, then many of us voted for President-Elect Trump, many of us voted for Secretary Clinton, and a few of us voted for one of the other candidates.

Or, to put the election results in more partisan terms, among our fellow church members who voted last Tuesday, many won, many lost, and a few voted their views though they knew their candidates would not come close to winning.

All of us, though, make this location at 1223 West Main Street our common house of Christian fellowship and worship.  As our Lord chose to quote from Isaiah to defend his cleansing the Temple, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.  That included then and includes now a combustible  array of partisans of all stripes.  (Mark 11:17; Isa. 56:7)  Please remember this in the weeks ahead as we converse with one another about the Presidential election in and around the church building.

On this Sunday, November 20, I’ll offer my  post-election pastoral reflections in a sermon I’ll entitle, “The Partisan,” based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 20-24.  Since I haven’t actually prepared the sermon but sola fide trust it’s out there awaiting me, we’ll see whether that title holds firm …things tend to change in the course of sermon prep.

Whether I flop or fly in post-election sermonizing, let’s be intent on remembering God’s words of Scripture:  “… and be kind to one another, tenderhearted …” (Eph. 4:32); and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mark 12:32)

Uphold these Scriptures as worth remembering in these days:  I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives with all godliness and holiness.”  (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  And, this among several others of a similar note:  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:16-17).

I hope to see you this coming Sunday!

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

         ~ Gary


Family Evening Worship – November 13

Evening Worship Service

Sunday, November 13

5:00 pm in the Sanctuary

Participatory, Fun, Open to All Ages


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