Worship with us Sundays at 9:30 am

Blessing of the Animals 2021

Sunday, October 3, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Rooted in Saint Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures and our love, care, and concern for our non-human animal friends and companions, the Children’s Ministry of Danville Congregational Church invites the community to a “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday, October 3. Pets of all kinds—puppies, bunnies, birdies, and kitties who wouldn’t be freaked out—are welcome to accompany their human friends to receive a blessing from one of our pastors following worship, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. And our young friends are welcome to draw a picture of their pet for our Blessing Board and take home a special memento.

Special Lenten Offering for Reparations

The Lenten Season is one of the most important seasons in the Christian faith. It is a period of 40 days, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday. During this period, Christians around the world participate in a season of penitence, prayers, fasting and self-denial, just as Jesus did when he spent 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-25 and Luke 4:1-13).

This year, Danville Congregational Church will be joining with other East Bay churches* in taking up an offering throughout Lent for a fund devoted to Black Homeownership Reparations. This idea arose in white-majority churches like ours, out of examination of our white privilege and complicity this past year.

As you know, a lack of generational wealth hinders many Black communities. Through redlining, adverse mortgage terms, and loan application rejection, Black people in the East Bay have been disenfranchised from homeownership. The Black Homeownership Reparations Fund (BHRF) will be 100% devoted to supporting increased Black homeownership in the East Bay.  A major barrier to homeownership, especially in the high-priced Bay Area, is lack of a down payment. This is especially true for Black homebuyers, who may have good incomes but no access to the additional capital they need for a down payment. The BHRF would:

  • Create a zero-percent-interest loan fund, to be paid back only when the home is refinanced or sold;
  • Be housed at the Richmond Community Foundation, as a donor-advised fund;
  • Work through local organizations to identify potential Black homebuyers who are on the journey to home ownership but who lack a down payment.

Because the BHRF will be a loan fund, money from home refinance or sale will flow back into the fund, ready to assist other homebuyers. In addition, there may be other avenues by which we can support Black homeownership through our joint fund.

Prayerfully, consider giving to this special Lenten joint offering of East Bay churches as an expression of penitence and a commitment to make reparations for the generations of harm done to our Black siblings by systemic racism.  To make your offering online, go to the DCC Donations page, select Outreach Donations / Other, and type in “Lenten Offering” or “Reparations Fund”.  Or you may write “Lenten Offering” or “Reparations Fund” on your check made out to DCC and mail it to DCC.

Faithfully,
Doug Leich and Laura Beaver
Outreach Commissioners

* Participating churches include Arlington Community Church, Kensington; First Congregational Church, Berkeley; First Congregational Church, Alameda; Good Table UCC; and Danville Congregational Church.

For more information, see the list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Gospel Lesson for Sunday, December 20, 2020

Our gospel lesson today tells the story of the angel’s revelation to Mary that she is to become the mother of the son of God. We encourage you to read this story on your own; it is found in the first chapter of Luke, verses 26 through 45. This morning, our consideration of this text again employs the ancient Jewish practice of midrash, the rabbinic method of expanding the narrative, adding details to the story which to highlight the meaning of the original text. (You might remember this is how we encountered the gospel texts this past Palm Sunday and also to tell the story of Rizpah in July.) This midrash was composed by Nikole Mitchell.

Image: A Dream Confirmed by Lisle Gwynn Garrity, A Sanctified Art


And just like that, the angel disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. Vanished. Gone. With no evidence to prove to others that an angel had indeed visited the frightened and dazed Mary. No evidence for Mary herself to force her to realize it wasn’t a dream but a reality that was taking shape quite literally within her. She was miraculously, unexpectedly, impossibly pregnant.

Her eyes were still adjusting to normal daylight after encountering the angel’s bright light and her ears were still ringing with the loaded and perplexing news he had shared with her. As her mind scrambled to make sense of what was just announced and done to her, she kept returning to the thought of her cousin Elizabeth. She had heard from the village that Elizabeth had become some sort of recluse, where she refused to leave her house, and even turned guests away when family and friends tried to visit her. People were wondering if she was becoming mentally ill. If the weight and shame of her barrenness and old age were finally overtaking her, and that maybe this was the beginning of the end for Elizabeth.

But now Mary knew. She knew why her cousin Elizabeth had been in seclusion all these months. She was pregnant! Miraculously, unbelievably pregnant just like Mary, and she was waiting for the right time to announce it to the world – not with her words but with the growing evidence of her six month pregnant belly. Oh, Mary was so grateful that there was one person who would understand her predicament.

But how would she prove to Elizabeth that an angel, indeed, had visited her? How will she prove the radical news of her own miraculous pregnancy without any physical proof? There was no baby belly or morning sickness, just her ringing ears and slight headache from the brilliant light of the angel. How will Elizabeth believe her?

Well, Mary couldn’t give it too much thought, for she was too anxious to run and be with her cousin and hope to find some form of comfort, some understanding of this bizarre and scary predicament she found herself in.

As Mary packed for her trip, she couldn’t help but think of her parents. How will her own parents believe her? They’ll think she’s become mentally ill just like her cousin Elizabeth when Mary tries to explain to them she had been visited by an angel. A poor peasant girl visited by an angel? That’s such nonsense. That’s child’s play. Yes, the people in her village believed God cared for and looked out for the lowly, but to visit and speak such radical news over a young peasant girl? That was over the top. No one would believe her. Once the village members started seeing her growing belly, they would only see the results of a promiscuous girl. There is no way they would believe in her miraculous conception. What blasphemy, in fact, they would tell Mary, for using God’s name as an excuse to be unfaithful to Joseph. This thought terrified Mary.

Oh, and what of Joseph? How on earth will she explain to her husband-to-be that she truly has been faithful to him when her belly starts to show? How will she explain it all to him?

Before Mary could panic even more, she hastily grabbed her packed bags and hurried off to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the countryside. In her haste, Mary told her neighbor to let her parents know where she went and that she didn’t know when she’d be back but that she’ll be okay. Everything will be okay. At least that’s what Mary kept telling herself, trying to convince herself, while she walked as quickly as she could to Elizabeth’s village.

Upon arrival, Mary didn’t know what she was going to say to Elizabeth. She rehearsed her story a hundred different ways on her journey but none of them seemed to do her story and the angel’s visit any justice. Before Mary could finalize on a story to tell Elizabeth, she came upon Elizabeth’s house, and before her fear could make her turn and run away in panic, Mary burst through the front door and cried out, “Elizabeth!” It came across as more of a desperate cry than an actual greeting, but, at this point, it was all Mary could do to keep herself from bursting into tears. As Mary choked back tears and wondered what words to follow her greeting, Elizabeth thankfully filled the void with her own voice, and instead of a formal greeting, Elizabeth too cried out—but into a song of joy! She knew! Somehow Elizabeth knew! Mary, relieved from not having to explain herself to Elizabeth, ran to her older cousin and collapsed into her arms. Elizabeth pulled her in close and Mary, exhausted and afraid, burst into tears.

Elizabeth, wiser and older than Mary by many years and many life experiences, held onto Mary and gently rocked their bodies back and forth. Elizabeth, too, had been afraid of the news of her own impossible, unexpected pregnancy. But she had the benefit of being married and had the past five months to digest the news, to feel the baby start kicking in her womb, and to watch her belly grow. As she prepared to tell her village of her pregnancy, she didn’t realize she was also being prepared to be a source of strength for her own little cousin from across the way. Sweet little Mary. How frightened she must be. Elizabeth felt a deep gratitude toward their God, for not only blessing them both with miraculous pregnancies that were going to change the world, but for blessing them with pregnancies at the same time. The journey ahead of them was lonely enough; Elizabeth was grateful that, at least for a few months, they could be each other’s companions on this mystical, mystery road of motherhood.

As Mary wept into her arms, Elizabeth reminded Mary that while there is much to fear, there is also much to celebrate. That their pregnancies were not just for them, but for the salvation of the world. The fact that God would use two women like themselves was almost too much to take in.

The two women were quiet for a while. At some point, Mary’s weeping ceased.

Just a few moments ago, Mary had been almost consumed with panic and fear. But now, somehow, almost as miraculous as her pregnancy, was this new peace Mary felt deep within her. Mary had been able to draw strength from the body and faith and wisdom of her older cousin. And her cousin had drawn strength from her.

Nothing externally had changed. Mary was still somehow pregnant. Mary still had to tell her parents and Joseph. Mary’s village was going to see her pregnant belly no matter how hard she might try to hide it. There was still going to be judgment, shame, and possibly even punishment by her parents and ostracization by her community.

But something had shifted inside of her….


In her earlier state of panic, Mary couldn’t see beyond the tears in her eyes. But now it’s almost like God gave her eyes for the future. She saw the bigger picture. She saw the coming of her Savior entering the world for the salvation of all people, for the healing of the broken, the liberation of the oppressed, the toppling of the empire, and she, of all people, was going to play a key role in that. She and her cousin Elizabeth. A barren elder and a young virgin girl. Mary could almost sense God’s humor in it all… that God would choose to use the two most unlikely candidates to bring his Kingdom on earth made her almost want to laugh. It seemed absurd and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time!

And, somehow, without any communication between the two, or maybe it was the communication between their two spirits, Mary and Elizabeth started to chuckle at the same time. And when they saw the other chuckling, they both couldn’t help but burst into gut-wrenching laughter! Tears streamed down their faces as they hugged and laughed and cried some more. These two women were about to change history, and nobody knew it.

Not yet at least.

So the two of them soaked it in, basked in the absurdity of it all, and found a strength and joy they didn’t know they had.

For a moment, they felt ready, as ready as they could be, whether or not the world was ready for them.

 

Swell, inspired by Luke 2:22–40

by Sara Are

You know that feeling when you fall in love?
Time-stands-still and moves too fast.
You’d give up sleep just to talk all night,
Because there’s so much to say and not enough time.

It’s that full to the brim,
Over the stars,
Living is dreaming,
Too-good-to-be-true Kind of feeling?

I imagine that’s how Simeon and Anna felt
When they saw Jesus that day.
I imagine it was that full to the brim,
Over the stars,

Living is dreaming,
Too-good-to-be-true
Good news kind of feeling.

I imagine it was love.
And I imagine that that good,
good news Swelled to the tip of their tongues
Until they could not keep silent.

So may we know what Simeon and Anna knew,
Which is that some dreams we hold close to our chest,
For ourselves to cherish and never forget.
But other dreams must be spoken out loud—
Dreams of justice and love and hope, here and now.

The Longest Night

The Longest Night
A Service of Remembrance and Grief

Monday, December 21, 7:00pm via Zoom

There’s an Advent tradition within Western Christianity of inviting people to come together for the Longest Night, a night around the time of the winter solstice—where that are more hours of darkness than light—a time to come together for prayers and laments, to mourn the losses and griefs of the year, to let the tears flow for the hurting places in our lives, as well as for our country and our world. Following a year of such great loss, grief, and despair, we invite you to join us for a Longest Night Service on Zoom.
If you are lonely, grieving, depressed, and/or just want to give full attention to the shadow side of the season, join us on Zoom for a deeply meaningful service of liturgy, music, and ritual.

DCC Camp Caz Virtual Campfire 2020

We had a great time earlier this month at our Virtual Camp Caz campfire!  It was a fun hour that included dancing (our favorite Chicken Dance!), TNT (skits & music), and an awesome slide-show of DCC Camp Caz memories.  In case you missed it, you can view it here!
We also mentioned (and showed a piece of) a Camp Caz video created earlier this summer by Brian Wetzel.  If you would like to view the whole thing (about 11 minutes), you can view it here.

A Back-to-School Blessing for 2020

This prayer was adapted by the Prayer of St. Francis by DCC member Jenn O’Neal and prayed over everyone involved in returning to virtual school, Sunday, August 9, 2019.


Congregation prays:

As your church, we will lovingly support you through our prayers and active encouragement. We stand by you as you enter into this unique — and sometimes overwhelming — school year. We hope more than anything that you will be graced by the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Creator, Mother Father God, as I begin this unique school year please help me remember the following:

When I am frustrated, please give me patience

When I feel joy, let me shout out the good news

When I feel lonely, please help me seek out connection

When I am confused, please give me guidance

When the internet goes down, please help me find chocolate

When I am stuck, please help me think outside the box

When I am all done with my work for the day, please help me rest my mind, body and spirit and help me do it all over again tomorrow.

Amen.

DCC in recent July 4 “Streaming Parade”

DCC was one of the entries featured in the 2020 Kiwanis Club of San Ramon Valley July 4 Streaming Parade. You can watch our entry here.

Thanks to Chris Rauen for coordinating and creating our entry in the parade!

Becoming an Anti-Racist Church

Many people in our congregation have reached out expressing a desire to participate in anti-racism work that has emerged from a surge of action across the country following the murder of George Floyd. As a community of people who strive to be God’s love in the world, we invite community members at DCC to join in this work.
One of the first steps in this learning journey is gathering a group of people who feel called to join in this work to serve as leadership in this journey. We invite anyone who feels called to join in this work, no matter where you are in your learning journey, to fill out this form indicating your interest in being part of this leadership group, and explaining why you feel called to this work and what your strengths are that you wish to share with the team.
To emphasize, this is a space to create plans for how to advance anti-racism work in our community, and to learn, but this is not a space to debate the existence of racism. In being part of this team, there is no expectation that you will start with all the answers, nor that you need to be at the same point in your learning journey as the other team members, but you do need to be committed to un-learning systems of white supremacy, to compassionately hold space for others, and to be vulnerable and willing to question your own internal biases.
Through a commitment to this learning journey, to be God’s love in the world, and a long term vision, we can make our community a safer and more loving place for all. If you have any questions, wonderments, and would like to learn more feel free to reach out to Fiona Klassen, Pastor Eric, or Pastor Todd.

DCC Netflix Party

DCC is hosting a Netflix Party viewing of Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th. To join us, register here. [To watch 13th without a Netflix account, you can watch it for free on YoutTube.]

Want to join our Netflix Party? Here’s what you need to know.

Requirements:

  • a Netflix account
  • a Chrome browser with the Netflix Party extension installed
    Note: This only works with a Chrome browser—not Safari or Firefox or anything else and not through a streaming box, except ChromeCast devices.

How to join:

  1. Install the Chrome plug in on your browser.
  2. Click the link to the Netflix Party we will send you, which will open Netflix on your browser. Log in if you’re not already.
  3. Then click on the NP button next to the address bar, and you should automatically join the party.

Then you can interact with other folks watching the film in the chat box.