Upcoming Service Notes for December 9, 2018, Gus Speth Speaks

We light candles of hope and peace on the Second Sunday of Advent.  There can be no peace without the things that make for peace, and there can be no hope of future peace without our nation addressing climate change as the biggest crisis it has ever risen to face.  And yet we will sing the Advent hymn, “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” and hear the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist promising that God is about to do a new thing to bring comfort and peace into the world.  Isaiah urges the people of God, “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings.”

The thing about the Hebrew prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus and us is that we are called to bring comfort and good news not when things look rosy, but when they look hopeless.  We are called to proclaim the light that shines in the darkness in the dark, when others are feeling lost and losing faith in finding a way out, and when, in truth, even we could be feeling pessimistic about the chances for improvement.

We are able to provide comfort and proclaim good news because our faith is in the highest power, the greatest force in the universe, the source of love and life and light that brought all things and us into being.  We align ourselves with that Spirit, and we make ourselves as purely and completely available to be its instrument as we can, and we do what it enables us to do, and then we can rejoice in all circumstances, and can have hope and be at peace.

This Sunday we will hear Gus Speth speak in worship before the children go back to pageant rehearsal so that they can hear him, too, because although he will be talking about a hard thing—climate change and how our government has allowed it to damage the world our children are entering—he will be proclaiming the good news of the children’s climate lawsuit, and how he is helping as an expert witness.  We will ask ourselves what we can do to help, and we will proclaim it, and rejoice and find hope and peace.

The United Church of Christ says: “Twenty-one courageous youth have filed a lawsuit against the United States government for its role in causing climate change and violating their rights to life, liberty, and property, while also failing to protect essential public resources. The youth range in age from 10 to 21, and their voices provoke a moment of moral reckoning for our nation.”  The UCC is calling for 1,000 services focusing on this case.  We are offering one this Sunday.

You can read about the children’s climate lawsuit and find links to more information here: http://www.eachgeneration.org/  You can read about Gus here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gustave_Speth

It is important for our children to know what other children are doing, and to know that adults like Gus are working heroically alongside them, and to see that their own church is also standing with them and that Strafford’s adults are willing to do all we can to create a healthy and safe world for their future.
Gus will not be speaking solely to the children as I do during Children’s Time.  We invite especially younger children to sit with their parents for his talk.  We also hope you will feel free to spend the first half of worship in the Parish Hall with your children if you would rather they not hear about the urgent need for action on climate change or the mistakes we have made in allowing it to happen.  I am guessing that the rest of the children will come back for Pageant rehearsal at around 10:30 AM.

We will have much classic Advent music: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and the oldest Advent plainchant; “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night” and “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People;” and Nicole Johnson will play “Now Tell Us, Gentle Mary,” by Cesar Franck, “Whence Comes this Rush of Wings,” also by Cesar Franck and “Christmas Song,” by Franz Liszt.  The choir will sing the Amidons’ arrangement of “This Little Light of Mine.”

We will hear two passages from Isaiah: 9:6-7 and 40:1-5, 9-11; and also two from Luke: 1:68-79 and 3:2-11.

Here is one of many YouTubes of Gus Speth giving presentations, but please note that this is not the same focus as his presentation in church, which will be on the children’s lawsuit:

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