View the Order of Worship for this coming Sunday below.
Sing to God a new song! Sing praises to God with the harp and the trumpet! Sing to God with the drum and the guitar! Sing to God with melodious song!
Let’s rejoice and express our gratitude for our ministry of music – during our Worship Gatherings and during concerts, dinner dances, and other events, celebrating this wonderful gift God has given.
There Rings a Melody is our theme for this Sunday’s Worship Gathering, as we connect with one another after another week, and seek to praise and worship God who is ever present in our midst. The Scripture for Sunday is Psalm 98, a short psalm focusing on praising God with the music that we offer as well as the music that nature offers. This psalm is actually the inspiration for Isaac Watts’ beloved Christmas carol, Joy to the World! It’s a rousing call to the human congregation and the natural world, all the earth, to sing, to praise, to rejoice, and make a joyful noise together.
This week, our Opening Hymn is “Enter, Rejoice, and Come In,” from the New Century Hymnal (#73). Our Closing Hymn is “To God Compose a Song of Joy,” also from the New Century Hymnal (#36). Our Choir, directed by John Paton, will sing their Anthem, “Many Gifts, One Spirit.”
Following Worship, we will have a Congregational Conversation about our Music Ministry. We’ll discuss what we love, what we want, what changes we’d like to consider, and how we can renew, refresh, and revitalize our church music program. Come ready to share with your ideas, suggestions, and questions! I’m looking forward to a rousing and robust discussion!
~Rev. Stacy L. Thomas
Sunday’s Order of Worship
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The chill in the morning November air would remind most everyone of the onset of autumn and the busy holiday season. In Ventura and LA Counties, however, there are more painful memories. Last year, days before the annual California wildfires would cut their path of destruction in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, there was an act of unspeakable terror that took place at the Borderline and Grill. On November 7, 2018, twelve lives were lost, including the life of first responder Sgt. Ron Helus, during a violent mass shooting attack.
There was a hush over the congregation the following Sunday. Everyone had trouble focusing, thinking…even speaking. The thoughts we had and words we tried to speak didn’t even come close to articulating our trauma, our feelings of anger and our grief for those who lost loved ones. Within shouting distance of Thanksgiving, it seemed as if everyone knew someone who had lost someone or something.
No word or gesture could erase the evil of the attack or the pain of the fires, but in the wake of such tragedy arose an act of friendship, love and support. Our dear sisters and brothers at First Congregational Church in Santa Barbara took on a labor of love in order to show us that they stood with us in our hour of need. On Sunday, December 18, two representatives brought us a “tree” made of 1000 expertly folded peace cranes and a carefully crocheted prayer shawl.
It’s true, this single act didn’t fix everything…or even anything. But it allowed a seed of peace to be planted in a time of unimaginable pain. It’s a reminder for us, one year after experiencing such tragedy, that there are acts of loving kindness that can be as small as folding a tiny crane that can grow and multiply into an acts of peace. It’s not everything, but it’s something in a world that needs some seeds of peace right now.
The letter accompanying the cranes and prayer shawl follows in its entirety:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Simi Valley United Church of Christ,
“Peace I leave with you, my friends.
Shalom, my peace in all you do.
Peace I leave with you, my friends. I give to you so you can give to others too.”
Every Sunday morning we leave our worship singing these words directly to each other. Today we offer them to you.
We were heartbroken to hear about the act of violence that occurred at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks on November 8. We want you to know that our church is holding you in our hearts. We pray that God’s comfort will surround you and that you may find hope in this dark time. Since we heard about this tragedy, our church has been diligently putting together a flock of 1,000 peace cranes to hopefully bless and help you heal during this time.
As a community that has gone through its own journey of pain and sorrow after the shooting in Isla Vista near UCSB in May 2014, we stand with you in this difficult time. We know that God’s peace “that surpasses understanding” is within our reach as we hold each other close and lift each other high.
We send you this flock as a sign and testament to our hope for peace in our world and believe that violence does not have the last word. These cranes were folded by our church family over the past few weeks and carry on a legacy that started some years ago. After the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, a flock of cranes from Pilgrim Christian Church, UCC, in Chardon, Ohio, arrived at the Newtown Congregational Church. The Chardon community had been through its own tragedy, and during those dark days received cranes from Saron UCC in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Newtown sent the flock off to Old South Church in Boston after the 2013 marathon bombing and then folded a new flock of 1,000 cranes that were sent to Santa Barbara after the Isla Vista shootings.
We have blessed this flock in worship and now send it to you. We pray these cranes will nest with you as long as needed, but also trust that you will let them fly away when another congregation or community faces an act of gun violence. As we send our flock to you, we continue our ministry of folding peace cranes. Together we hope that one day these cranes will no longer have to migrate for the cause of peace. Finally, “may the peace of that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of God.” May God protect you, watch over you, and sustain you on your journey toward healing. May you be the face of HOPE to your community, sustained by the Advent promises of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE.
Holding you close and lifting you high!
Rev. Greg Davis, Acting Pastor On Behalf of Members and Friends of First Congregational Church, UCC, Santa Barbara
from Ellen H. and Joyce S.
Edith Miller was a member of our congregation until she died. She had a second bout with cancer and did not make it through that one. When she was unable to drive anymore, Ellen asked her what could she do to lessen her suffering in any way. Edith said that going to church and being among her church family was what she longed for and that doing that gave her a sense of peace. She was the self- appointed social director of the congregation at that time. She even planned her memorial service and made provisions for a champagne celebration.
She had a large collection of turtle figurines and anything else turtle which she treasured. She felt a deep connection to turtles. After she passed, she requested that her ashes be scattered at church. We held an ashes scattering ceremony at which tine her family came down from northern California to attend. They brought the turtle. She also loved the color purple so a collection was made to buy and plant a Jacaranda tree. Unfortunately, the tree died.
The plaque that goes with the turtle says,
“And the turtles, of course
all the turtles are free
as turtles and, maybe
all creatures should be.”
Turtles are highly respected by Native American and even play a part in some of their creation stories. Having the turtle in the sanctuary not only honors the memory of Edith Miller but also reminds us of our deep connection to the Earth Mother as well, much as using the rain stick in our services does.
Joan Thompson & Christine DeKlotz, duo-pianists
Cale Olsen, baritone
Celtic Folk Duo:
Joyce Pan, fiddle & David Aks, cello
Friday, November 15, 2019
7:30 p.m. @ UCC Simi Valley
Duo-Piano selections: Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn Piazzola: Libertango Rachmaninoff: Waltz (Suite No. 2)
Voice selections: Schumann: Dichterliebe
Celtic Folk Duo: Traditional Fiddle Tunes
Suggested Donation: $15