Archive for October, 2011

November newsletter

Here is the November 2011 newsletter for Zion United Church of Christ. Get downloading.
Newsletter for website-Nov 2011.pdf


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Today’s family is falling apart. At least that’s what everyone says. But I have my doubts. Of course, all sorts of commentators, bloggers and religious leaders assure us of the decay of the family, blaming it on changes in contemporary society such as gay marriage, a move away from traditional education, cohabitation, even too much technology. They often insist that all we need to do is get “back to the Bible.” Apparently, if we would only study God’s Word, we could restore our drifting values, reset our moral compass and become God’s chosen once again.

Worried about my own moral compass (mine is more like a GPS that yells at you when you have to “recalculate”), I decided to turn to the bible for the secrets of family function. I chose one of the bible’s leading families—Abraham and Sarah—and I read enthusiastically, expecting a model of family harmony and health. And what I found was hope. There is hope for us, because our families will never be as screwed up as Abraham and Sarah. Apparently, moral decay is nothing new, and the decline of family values is as old as our oldest family.

Start with the bullying mistreatment of Hagar, add on the idea of parenting by attempted homicide (Isaac saved only by the eleventh hour appearance of an angel), factor in the casual acts of adultery, lying and greed in the denial of Sarah as wife and fraudulent representation of her as “sister,” consider Lot’s casual offering of his virgin daughters for rape, and finally, reflect on Jacob and Rebecca’s shameless theft of blessings and birthrights.

And what you have is endless material for the highest rated reality show on prime time. Abraham and Sarah would make the Kardashians look like the Waltons. And for that, I am truly grateful. It makes me feel better.

Why does the unethical conduct and total dysfunction of the biblical characters make me feel better about our own messed up world? Because it didn’t matter to God that the chosen humans were train wrecks. In the midst of their ugly humanity, God spoke to them. God gave Abraham and Sarah the wisdom, judgment and endurance that they needed (and certainly didn’t have on their own) regardless of their shortcomings, failings, and downright horrible behavior. God never stopped speaking even when Abraham and Sarah (and really awful offspring) were at their worst.

So now I don’t have to feel hopeless about our hopeless world. First of all, it’s not nearly so bad as the world of Abraham and Sarah. And second, if God stuck with them, then there is never any reason to feel that God won’t stick with us. God is still speaking.


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Janice Gibson, Burlington’s own concert organist, appears in a one-night-only Halloween concert of spooky music.

Lively and entertaining, Gibson has been described as a “Rebel with a Pipe Organ” whose concerts and charismatic talent give a new spin to classical organ music. Members of Zion United Church of Christ have received Gibson’s live performances with rock star enthusiasm. In this evening of creepy horror, Gibson will play such spooky favorites as Bach’s Toccata in D minor, “Monster Mash,” and the theme from the TV show “The Addam’s Family.”

Gibson, who is Zion’s Christian education director, Minister of Music and choir director, has been church organist since 1981. She also was organist from 1969 to 1971 before going to college. The Moller organ she plays each Sunday was dedicated in 1964. Gibson also teaches piano, and operates Kindermusik on the River, with classes held at Zion for children from birth to age 7.

The concert is at 6 p.m. Oct. 31 at Zion UCC, 412 N. Fifth St., Burlington. Admission is by free will donation, with proceeds going to support Bridging the Gap, Zion’s program that provides food, clothing, employment assistance and life skills coaching for people in poverty.

Candy will be provided for children who attend.

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Food pantry hit hard

Zion continues to make a big impact on local people in need, providing meals to help them through tough times. But that means the cupboards sometimes get pretty bare. Please help fill them back up.

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