New ORUCC: Note From Pastor Julia

A Note From
Pastor Julia
July 8, 2022
Dear friends of ORUCC,
Summertime is in full swing at ORUCC as we delve into the veggie garden with the kids, as we explore the rich theme of spirituality and the arts, as we take time to play, rest & renew.
Have you taken time to enjoy the beauty of the earth? Many of our ORUCC folks enjoyed Moon Beach together recently with the loons and the lake.
Have you watched the sun dance on a gorgeous Wisconsin lake? We have so many beautiful lakes in this state!
Have you been able to contact your representatives and protest the abortion ban and gun laws?! Add these to the list of things we wish we didn’t have to do this summer. I hope in the midst of all the heaviness of the world, you have some time for sabbath and relaxation. God invites us into sabbath rest and enjoyment of creation and one another. God wants us to be whole in this fractured world. God dreams for collective liberation. Have faith that any rest and renewal you can grab are part of God’s dream for you.
A Good Goodbye
This summer our big task at ORUCC is having an abundant and gentle and good goodbye with Pastor Tammy. Tammy is at the heart of ORUCC. We support her fully in following her call to her own rhythms of rest and restoring from the satisfying work of parish ministry and moving more deeply into her call of family systems work at Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. This summer we will celebrate Pastor Tammy’s wonderful ministry. We will say goodbye to Pastor Tammy on her last weekend with us August 6 at 5pm and August 7 with a 10am Sunday service.
Staff and lay leaders are working faithfully to make sure we have the parts in place to flow on without Tammy in the coming year. We will be sure to carry her wisdom and design forward while leaving space for newness to emerge. Tammy has been an incredible leader in this transition, showing us ways of abundance and gentleness. Thank you so much, Tammy, for all you are and have been to us at ORUCC. We treasure you.
July 17 Outdoor Worship Service: Welcoming Julie Mazer into an additional new role!
Julie Mazer is an ORUCC hero, as she will take on the role of Education Coordinator on top of being the children’s music director. She will work 10 additional hours a week to make sure Sunday School and Sunday morning programming for children and youth thrive this fall. We are so happy to welcome Julie Mazer into this role, beginning this week! Join us as we bless her on July 17, during our 10am outdoor worship service, where she will lead us in music. For our at-home crowd, the service will be recorded and uploaded later in the afternoon for you to view.
Spirituality & The Arts
I heard a story recently that I am eager to share with you, and I plan to share it this Sunday during our church worship service. It is a story about a young person working through trauma with art. We live in an age of so much global and local trauma. Art has a way of reaching recesses of the soul. Artists have a way of making beauty in the face of trauma. Art and artists can teach us something wise about this moment. ORUCC has a history of valuing the arts.
Painting in church this Sunday July 10 
We are not only going to talk about the arts: we are going to DO art! This Sunday you will be invited to paint during church. Don’t be scared- no perfectionism invited! We have one blank canvas in the worship hall, waiting for our collective creative expressions of hope. There is no wrong way to approach this. You do not have to be good at painting to participate. We encourage a “beginners mind,” even if you have some art experience. If you are worshipping at home this Sunday grab something to sketch with. Our question will be: what does your hope for the world look like? If your hope had a color, what color would it be? How might you make the first few brush stroke of expressing your hope? What does our hope in this moment look like, together?
We might have an easier time painting our despair, rage or sadness at this particular political moment. It is good to express those sentiments in healthy ways too. It might be challenging for us to express hope right now. Yet God has placed deep wells of love and compassion within our hearts, where hope springs eternal. God has placed eternity within our souls and dreams for our collective liberation as a planet and humanity. Out of this place of deep love for the world you will be invited to express: what does your hope look like?
We pray that the arts and spirituality focus has already been nourishing for the weary soul, and engaging for the hopeful soul. We will continue to wonder together, what can we learn from artists? How can we ordinary people who are maybe not professional artists be invited into creativity and play and new expression?
We had such a beautiful end-of-the-year celebration for our seniors and for our teachers and youth leaders and for Pastor Tammy at the beginning of June. My heart is still brimming over from the overflowing love for one another in this community. This is the spirit of we intend to invoke when we say transitions can be guided by abundance.
Summertime blessings!
In Christ,

Pastoral Note on Remembering

Pastoral Note on Remembering
May 30, 2022
Memorial Day

Dear Orchard Ridge UCC Community,
I want to invite you into a trifold practice of remembering on Memorial Day. First: you are invited to a Gun Violence Vigil on Tuesday evening at 5pm, hosted by many area partners whose values align with ours; partners who too crave a spiritual response with backbone and action. We do not yet have a location, but that will come soon. Here is the Facebook event—
I have been devastated by these recent events in our country, from the attempts to ban abortion, to letting the carnage of Black beloveds in Buffalo and mostly Brown children in Uvadale go unchecked. With the hollow ringing of “thoughts and prayers,” but no action, we have been enraged. It is as if those who lead our nation would prefer to go back to a time when women and people of color did not have full personhood under the law. Human rights are under attack in our nation, and it is devastating from all angles. When evil seems to overshadow Good, Oh Lord, sometimes I don’t know what to pray.
I am writing you this pastoral note on Memorial Day, because traditionally as a day to remember fallen soldiers at war, this Memorial Day I want to invite us to reclaim memory. First, let us claim historical memory. We know that this moment, while brand new, is not novel. Our nation was founded on the exploitation of Brown and Black bodies, and this disregard for humanity continues in the many layers and forms of violence we see today. Much greatness of this nation in the realm of human rights is owed to the oppressed and marginalized of the past and today, to the BIPOC and their allies who pushed, pleaded and fought for rights. For more on this read Nicole Hannah Jones Telling the truth about our past matters. We remember our past.
Our second task of this Memorial Day is to remember our humanity. So much pain comes from disconnecting from our humanity- it is what a gunman must do to murder. Following Jesus invites us to remain fully human in the face of injustice. Allowing our hearts to be soft with compassion, when we would rather numb or turn away is part of the Jesus path of seeking to embody non-violent love. Jesus was a healer and a strong mother hen (Matthew 23: 37) and protector of the oppressed. Honoring our own humanity allows us to touch our interconnectedness and the spiritual truths that: there is no such thing as “other people’s children,” and none of us are free until all of us are free.
How can we remain soft and human in our rage and tears and desire for change? Perhaps sometimes our privilege allows us not to feel the danger of this moment. Without feeling the danger and the grief, we don’t get to what lies beyond- which is deep spiritual hope and action for a new day. A day that God longs for and calls us toward.
Let us allow ourselves the time we need to rest, to grieve, to touch and honor our own humanity, to care for ourselves and to check in with and draw near to the ones we love. For more on remaining human in our fight for justice, with some action items, read Valarie Kaur’s latest blog: Let us remember our humanity.
Our third task of this Memorial Day is to remember to breathe. I have found my breath shallow and superficial, not those deep belly breaths that bring calm over my nervous system. I have been imagining the children, their peers, the teachers in Uvalde. Imagining the hatred of white supremacy in Buffalo and all over this country. It has taken my breath away. I have forgotten to breathe. Do not let the hollow and disconnected, “thoughts and prayers” co-opt your spiritual practice or allow us to forget the vitality of prayer. You may feel like I do, that when sorrow seems to overshadow Good, Oh Lord, I don’t know what to pray. Longing is enough of a prayer. Breathing it in, and allowing God to join us in our deep desire for change, is enough of a prayer. Taking action is a prayer with our hands and feet. Ours is a congregation of deep action. I know you have signed petitions and called your representatives and donated. So as we fight and grieve and feel, I want to remind us of the vitality of our spiritual practice with the simplicity of breathing.
Here is a prayer to deepen your spiritual practice and an invitation to breathe with this prayer:
God of Life,
We come to with hearts wide open. Open to perceive the beauty of this fresh new day. And open because our hearts ache for the world.
We seek to follow Jesus, the one who walks a path of non-violent love. We come to you today longing to follow the way of non-violent love.
We struggle and question how to live lives of non-violent love in a world so saturated with violence.
Show us the way, O God of Life.
This we desire with our whole beings.
On Memorial Day, we remember those who are put in harm’s way because of guns, war, prejudice, greed, and carelessness – and we remember all those whose precious lives are taken too soon, who are murdered.
Allow us the historical memory to make our actions wise and humble. Allow us memory of our own humanity and help us remain soft hearted. Help us to breathe, and mix your Spirit of Life with our breath.
We lament and approach you, O God, as we lift up the precious ones of Uvalde, of Buffalo, of Ukraine, at the border, in our prisons, and beyond. We remember, we grieve, and we turn to you, God of Life, to spur us into action to make the changes you desire, as we seek to follow your way of non-violent love.    
Here are the names of the Beloveds who have died by gun violence at Uvalde and Buffalo
The 21 victims of the Uvalde school shooting and the shooter himself:
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Layla Salazar, 11
Maranda Mathis, 11
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10
Xavier Lopez, 10
Tess Marie Mata, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10
Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, 9
Eliahna A. Torres, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Jackie Cazares, 9
Uziyah Garcia
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Irma Garcia, 48
Eva Mireles, 44
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Salvador Ramos- the shooter himself was 18 years old
In Buffalo the 10 people who were killed:
Roberta A. Drury of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 32
Margus D. Morrison of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 52
Andre Mackneil of Auburn, N.Y. – age 53
Aaron Salter of Lockport, N.Y. – age 55
Geraldine Talley of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 62
Celestine Chaney of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 65
Heyward Patterson of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 67
Katherine Massey of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 72
Pearl Young of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 77
Ruth Whitfield of Buffalo, N.Y. – age 86
With a broken heart and solidarity,
Pastor Julia