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Desert Notes December 14, 2023

Love is our Doctrine. Service is our prayer. Justice is our calling.

Desert Notes December 14, 2023

This week we will have had both a workshop on managing grief during the holidays and a “Longest Night” service (Thursday night) for those whose grief makes the holidays a challenging time. The workshop had 14 online participants and 8 in person, and we were glad to offer this opportunity for learning both for our pastoral care team and for those managing grief. We have extra handouts for those who were online or who missed it and will have them at a table this Sunday with Janet Cantley, lay pastoral care associates co-chair. In the New Year we will propose a structure and schedule for a grief support group. If you’re interested, please contact Janet Cantley jecantley@gmail.com  or me minister@vuu.org Thanks to Pastoral Care for sponsoring the Hospice of the Valley, Melissa Bush melbear77@msn.com.  

This last weekend we enjoyed an amazing Christmas Pageant and had 205 people attend in person! It was a moving service, and I personally loved hearing the voices of our youth, the costumes, the audience participation, and the jubilant chaos of an intergenerational experience. This was Marci’s last pageant with us, and I know that made it more special for me and for many of you. Someone asked me after service what my benediction would have been (it got lost in the lovely chaos of children, songs and costumes!) and when I shared it with them, I figured this was a blessing we could all use right now, so here it is: 

“May this season be one of love, delight, and whatever it is that you most need–both spiritual and material. Community is sacred because we know we need each other–we need people to welcome us, and friends and families to love us; we need to give and receive generously from the unique gifts and resources each of us has to offer; we need hope when times are tough and we need stories that remind us that being human doesn’t have to be lonely and we don’t have to face injustice alone. May this place and these people continue to remind you that this is so. Blessed be.” 

Tuesday night I was thrilled to join thirteen VUU members who gathered for the VIP Delegates Assembly, which is a meeting where member organizations make commitments to the work of the organization for the upcoming year. We celebrated new member organizations, discussed how our work would connect with election season activities in 2024, and made plans for a Leader training on January 12 and 13 2024. We also made commitments about how many people we would send to that training and fundraising for VIP. In order to broaden and deepen our work, we will need a second organizer working with Sami Mericle and more funds available to sustain our work. This is an important year for us to make sure that the issues we are working on gain the support and attention of local elected officials and folks running for office. If you’d like to attend the leader training to learn more about this work, contact Barb Quijada at bflemingq@gmail.com. Also this week, I will be part of a housing roundtable that includes stakeholders from around the Phoenix metro to discuss housing policy and opportunities to invest in affordable housing.

Rev. Sarah