Advent has officially begun. Do you have everything you need?

Of course not. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and things are not as they should be. As I think about my own Advent this year, I’m reminded of the quandary I’m often in when packing for a trip, especially to a foreign country. I want to make sure that I have things for every eventuality. Casual clothes – do I need dress clothes? Will my charger work with a convertor? The list goes on as my tiny suitcase fills.

Seasoned travelers know that even with stellar packing, the unexpected always occurs. I’m reminded of a hiking trip we took in the Spanish Pyrenees. The views were spectacular and the trail food tasty, but my clearest memory is trying to explain to a Spanish pharmacy clerk that I needed cream for itching – caused by stinging nettles. You can imagine the problems with this conversation. We left with relief, but also with a humorous, generous connection with someone new which was also a gift.

You can’t know everything you will need. Surprises are what make life interesting; here we can learn and grow. What if we allowed Advent to surprise us this year?

One of my absolute favorite Advent hymns is called “God’s surprise,” written by the Iona Community in Scotland. Here’s the first stanza:

Who would think that what was needed

To transform and save the earth

Might not be a plan or army,

Proud in purpose, proved in worth?

Who would think, despite derision,

That a child would lead the way?

God surprises earth with heaven,

Coming here on Christmas Day.

You might not have the things you thought you needed this year — worship in a sanctuary, gatherings with loved ones, musical events, or tasty feasts. Challenge yourself to approach your Advent journey this year with curiosity and an open heart. What gifts can you bring to our needy world? You might find you have exactly what you need.


Elizabeth Busey

Here are some things to consider adding to your Advent journey with First United Church:

Preparing Ourselves for Advent

Midweek Advent Services – Short services (15-20min) with readings, prayers and music to help you focus on the coming of Jesus into the world. Two opportunities for each week’s themes:

Outdoor In-person in the courtyard Wednesdays @12:30pm (Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23)

Masks required, singing only by soloist, limit of 15 people

Sign Up at  

(For assistance, contact Lisa, Elizabeth Busey, or Mary Peckham)

Zoom Service Thursdays @5:30pm (Dec. 3, 10, 17)

Enjoy from the comfort of home. Tune into the First United Zoom channel.

Meeting ID: 946 3570 8633 Password: 879535

Mark your calendars:

• First United Advent Drive-Thru Event (December 13 – January 6)

• Candlelight and Carols Virtual Service: Sunday, December 13th @ 5pm

           (Offering to benefit My Sister’s Closet)

• Christmas Eve Virtual Service: Sunday, December 24th @ 5pm

           (Offering to benefit the Poor People’s Campaign)

Hanging the “Paper” Greens

People of all ages are invited to create paper chains in lieu of traditional greens. Choose paper that is meaningful to you, and feel free to write your prayers on them.

Drop off: Look for a long plastic box outside under the drive-thru portico entrance to the Narthex. Chains will be accepted through December 18th and hung before each Sunday’s service. Zoom in Sunday morning to see how far our chains have reached.

Pick-up of chains: If you need your chains to be picked up and delivered, contact Siri Loescher (