Oct 01 2015

No Justice Without Mercy

Mercy, Justice, Vengeance

On Tuesday night, along with the clergy and several members of Central UCC, I kept a silent vigil in our sanctuary while the events unfolded that ended in Kelly Gissendaner’s execution. No sermons or speeches, no politics or even public prayers; only sacred silence, spiritual space for Love and Light to hold us all. While …

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Jun 18 2015

Pictures and News of Central’s Ministries: June 2015

At Central, you don’t need the Supreme Court’s blessing to be married:  inclusive rites and equal rights South Georgia Annual Work Trip Ceaser Chavez, a famous activist on behalf of American farmworkers, once said, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough …

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Jun 04 2015

Worship Quotes and Links: From Sunday, May 31

I’m a confessed “news-junkie;” I almost always have NPR on and when something interests me, I’ll have several news sources feeding my near neurosis at the same time (websites loaded, telly on, NPR streaming…).  This pattern has dramatically decreased (in truth to near zero) since my return from my summer sabbatical to India last year. …

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May 31 2015

A Summer of Spiritual Formation

You are a Soul

Nearly twenty years ago, when I was chaplain to psychiatry at a large hospital in Houston, I developed a “working definition” of “spirituality”: any belief, behavior or practice that increases our sense of connection to the Divine (awe and mystery), a truer expression of our authentic self, each other and/or the environment.   I’ve tinkered with …

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Feb 18 2015

Letting Go in Lent

Now the Green Blade Rises-2

Of all the wisdom traditions of the world (read that, perhaps, as “religions”), in my opinion, nothing carries the spiritual depth of carful observation of nature itself; in truth, many of our religious rites and ceremonies are based on natural, seasonal rhythms. Christianity’s formative years were in the “northern hemisphere,” and our liturgical year of …

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Dec 25 2014

Rocking Chairs and Hope

2014-Peggy Brodnax devotional pic

For Christmas morning, Peggy Brodnax shares a story of the power of hope in holding a baby in your arms.   I never knew that a rocking chair could symbolize hope, but I am certain of that now. I am also certain that when you lose your way, somehow you will be led to the …

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Dec 24 2014

Christmas Gingerbread

2014-Donna Hankins devotional pic

Donna Hankins shares Christmas memories of gingerbread houses–and the relationships the tradition nourished.    Whether we lived in northern Ohio or St. Louis, my mother was known as the “Gingerbread Lady.” At Christmas our house had a wonderful aroma of gingerbread—not the cake variety served warm with whipped cream or ice cream—but sturdy cookies artistically …

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Dec 23 2014

The Elderly in the Christmas Story

2014-Woody Devotional Pic

 Today, Woody reminds us that the “Christmas story” has characters that were “old and wise,” not just young and virgins.  In fact, the elderly Elizabeth cared for cousin Mary in her hour of great need and probably helped to give her the strength to make the storied journey.     “…there was a priest named Zechariah, …

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Dec 22 2014


2014-Jacob Croskey Pic

Love often involves loss; sometimes, it takes a loss to realize the depth of the love. Today, Jacob Croskey shares the tender journey of love with his grandpa.   Here I am, at the cemetery watching my toes move in my shoes. With the grass swirling around my loafers and then stop. I look up …

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Dec 21 2014

Starry, Starry Night

A view from the Hubble telescope

Rev. Ginnie invites us into the awe and mystery that are present not just during Advent, but always.   In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and …

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Dec 20 2014

Waiting Between Time and Space

The Flight into Egypt, Vittorio Carpaccio

Rev. James, who has been ordained for over 40 years, reflects on “waiting,” a central theme and spiritual task during Advent.   Waiting! It is a practice that seems almost to be anathema to the American psyche. “Why wait? Get it now!” is the accepted wisdom. Yet, Advent persists in challenging us to do just …

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Dec 19 2014

Son or Sun, Both Bring Hope

2014-Marie Autry Devotional Pic

Today Marie reminds us that the “Christian Christmas” is rooted in ancient celebrations that pre-date Christianity; humankind has been finding hope and light in the darkness for a very long time.   My family always got a little crazy at Christmas.  Not crazy with enthusiasm or holiday spirit, but really crazy. Our mom died on …

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Dec 18 2014

Grandmother’s Love Still Reaches Others

2014-Kay Coppage Advent Devotional Pic

Today’s reflection from Kay reminds us that we are called to be the Lights of Advent for others. In some tender but significant way, how can we embody Hope, Peace, Joy or Love to someone today?   When I think about Christmas, I think about time spent with family during the holiday season. One memory …

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Dec 17 2014

Preparation and Celebration

2014-Ron Smith Devotional Pic-1

With all the parties and holiday events that fill our calendars, we can sometimes forget that Advent is meant to be a time of quiet reflection and even rest. Today, Ron Smith, using lessons from his work in the garden, reminds us to notice and tend the cycles well.   The orange and black Gulf …

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Dec 16 2014

Hope in a Bag

2014-Helen F-Devotional Pic

The signature story of Advent centers around a desperate journey; today, Helen Fredrick reminds to be aware that no matter the season, many are often in despair.  Her invitation is to, at least, give them notice.  Bins for food donations to Toco Hills are always available in the Commons at Central; donations are accept year-round.   As one who …

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Dec 15 2014

Eternal Lights Around an Advent Wreath

Central Ad-Comma Globe-winter

Each week during worship on the Sundays of Advent, we relight a candle of the season.  At Central, as in many places, we pray for the illumination of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  On Christmas Eve, we share the Light from the center:  the Christ-Light.  There is value in giving each its own service; there can …

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Dec 12 2014

Singing the Steps of the Sacred Sojourn


Leona Greenlaw, Music Director at Central, will be conducting the Sanctuary Choir and special instrumentalists in a performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” this Sunday, December 14th, during the 11:00 Worship Service. For today’s Advent reflection, she muses on the impact of music as a support for our spiritual journey and gives a little history of the …

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Dec 11 2014

Joy in the Advent Journey

2014-Michelle Holtmann pic

Michelle Holtmann is a “Member in Discernment,” a church member in the supportive process of ordination exploration in the United Church of Christ. Her reflection today invites us to consider our relationship with “Joy.” Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day …

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Dec 10 2014

A Christmas Past Carried into the Present

David Miller, author of "Christian Tantric Meditation Guide"

Today, David Miller shares a story about a Christmas from his childhood.   When I think back to my earliest memories of Christmas, I remember the wonder and joy of toddling into the living room and seeing brightly wrapped presents under a sparkling decorated Christmas tree. I remember jumping into my parent’s bed and shaking them …

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Dec 09 2014

Advent Poem: Expectations

2014-Mary Ellen Devotional pic

Mary Ellen Myers, one of Central’s longest-termed members (joined in 1961), shares one of her poems for reflection today.  As ever, her poetry “looks out the window” and takes us for a walk. EXPECTATIONS As I put pen to paper, amber gilds the leaves of maple, promise of beauty to emerge; cool night air brings …

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Dec 08 2014

One Mother, All the Lights of Advent

2014-Peggy Thompson Devotional Pic

Today, Peggy Thompson reflects on how her mother incarnates the lights of Advent. On August 6, 2013, my parents lost their home and all their belongings to fire. They were pulled through a window to safety although my mother sustained a severe injury to her leg. She shed a few tears only when she thought …

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Dec 07 2014

A Gracious Outpouring

2014-Lacey Advent Devotional Pic

Our Pastoral Fellow, Rev. Lacey Brown, shares a little about her involvement with Montclair Elementary School. Today, our congregation will light the Advent Candle of Peace. We are praying for Peace in our community beyond our walls.  Proverbs 17: 22 A joyful heart helps healing. Central UCC’s relationship with Montclair Elementary School (MES) started as …

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Dec 06 2014

Arise, shine, for your light has come

2014-Gail candles

Gail McGill invites us to use the lights of the season to discover the inner Light within all of us.   “Arise, shine, for your light has come…” (Isaiah 60:1) The darkness provides the perfect backdrop to illuminate the beauty of the twinkling lights seen this time of year. There is something mysterious, almost mystical, …

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