December Monthly Messages

From Pastor Bradley Klug


We associate Christmastime with the end of the year, naturally. But on the church calendar, 
advent marks the beginning of a new year. That’s fitting. Advent is much more like New 
Year’s Eve than it is like Christmas. It’s a time to reflect upon the year we just finished, to 
prepare for the year ahead, and to make our resolutions of growth and change. 
The feeling that comes with the turning over of the hourglass, we know, is bittersweet. The 
mixed sentiment of simultaneous beginning and ending reverberates through the words of that 
New Year’s standard, Auld Lang Syne:  
Should auld acquaintance be forgot 
And never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot 
And days of auld lang syne? 
We take stock, and we decide, resolve, to leave some things behind in the year that was, and 
to find some things in the year ahead. Perhaps some forgetting should happen, perhaps not. 
That must be weighed and measured against our dreams and aspirations for the future. Old 
times past can hold us back, or they can provide for us a foundation on which to build for the 
years ahead.  
The beauty of advent, compared to that of New Year’s, is that it culminates in Christmas. 
February brings no such luck. Christmas marks the point of departure from reflection and 
preparation into celebration and bold action, into the joy of heady resolve. Let us, then, this 
Christmas season, weigh, measure, reflect, and resolve together with the help of God’s Spirit 
among us.  


Our year is coming to an end. Very soon we will be welcoming 2022, a new year with new opportunities and hopefully less COVID restrictions. I want to go back to more from Robin Wall Kimmerer's BRAIDING SWEETGRASS to illustrate the way I see Parma Greece UCC operating at present. She talks about "Three Sisters Gardens", you know, corn, beans and squash. The corn comes first and grows tall and straight. It provides some shade and a sturdy anchor for the bean and squash tendrils to hang  onto and grow up. Then comes the beans. They provide a critical ingredient for plant growth  and survival, Nitrogen. Then comes the squash with its prickly leaves that spread out and offer some protection from insects for the other two sisters. An amazing arrangement, each contributing to the survival of the garden. I see Parma Greece as a Three Sisters Garden. We have a core of people who have very different skills and strengths, people who keep us going. Some providing strength for us 
to lean on, some providing nourishment so we can grow and some providing protection.  

Where do you fit? Always in one category, sometimes in all three categories? Maybe, not in any category at present? Think about that, we are a small church and we need everyone to contribute in some or several ways. Have you sent your Time and Talent Pledge Card in? If you are not able to come to church for some reason, what can you do from home? Do you have a special skill that would be helpful at this time? Have you made a Financial Pledge? This church has been a presence in this community for over 187 years. We need everyone's help to keep it around for more years, to find what its current role is in our community. 

November 28 is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent, the waiting and preparation time for the birth of our Savior. A time of birth and joy! A time of carols and candles and celebration of this special birth and a time of our rebirth! Please join us for the celebration! 

I have not given a BLESS YOUR HEART AWARD lately. I am awarding one to Tina Zebulske this month. She keeps us on track with community missions--contributing to the Hilton Food Shelf, gathering socks for Salem Nutrition Center, providing Christmas baskets of food and gifts for community members and many other activities. She is also the patient Editor of this Newsletter, always waiting for the rest of us to get our information to her. Thank you, Tina and BLESS YOUR HEART. 


Lectionary Readings

December 5, 2021 
Second Sunday of Advent 

Malachi 3:1-4 
Luke 1:68-79 
Philippians 1:3-11 
Luke 3:1-6 

December 12, 2021 
Third Sunday of Advent 

Zephaniah 3:14-20 
Isaiah 12:2-6 
Philippians 4:4-7 
Luke 3:7-18 

December 19, 2021 
Fourth Sunday of Advent  

Micah 5:2-5a 
Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80:1-7 
Hebrews 10:5-10 
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55) 

December 26, 2021 
First Sunday after Christmas 

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 
Psalm 148 
Colossians 3:12-17 
Luke 2:41-5