Growing up in the Southern Hemisphere in a developing country shaped my life on many levels. Doing things differently was no choice but a necessity, especially this time of year. Preparing for Christmas in South Africa was an “upside-down” experience as we tried to adapt Eurocentric Christmas traditions from a winter context to a summer experience. We had no choice but to do things differently.

Doing things differently is the reality for many people this time of year, as the Christmas season is a highly ambivalent time. This year we have a shared human experience, as we all have to do “December Differently.” For many of us, it started on Thanksgiving Day as we wrestled with the tension between tradition, family and friends togetherness, and CDC guidelines. Indeed COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down.

Rather than pretending and yearning for what we consider “normal,” Advent invites us to embrace reality and anchors us in the grace and steadfast love of God. This year our theme for Advent is “Doing December Differently” as we become more aware of the larger rhythm of the Christmas season and the subversive range of meanings it holds within the Christian narrative. During the 40 days, beginning with Advent and moving through Christmas to Epiphany, we will explore the profound depth of the mystery of God’s incarnation in the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth.

I am looking forward to joining you in the Advent Journey!

Mooi Loop,
Dries

Worship

November 29, First Sunday of Advent

Responding to the Cry for Hope from Palestinian Christians, we join our siblings in worship on the first Sunday in Advent, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. See worship information Here.

Virtual Service of Loss and Grief

Grief is debilitating at any time, but even more so during this unusual year. Holiday seasons are especially challenging for those of us grieving the loss of a loved one and many other types of losses that face us during life’s journey. This year the Deacons offer a Communion Service of Grief and Loss via Zoom Sunday, November 29, at 4:00 pm (3:40 pm for a time of fellowship before the service). All are welcome, whether grieving the loss of a loved one, life’s losses along the way, or if you desire the presence of a supporting, loving, and caring community. Click here for the Zoom Link. (The password is the same as the one for all our worship services).

December 6, Second Sunday of Advent, Communion will be celebrated

December 1 is the annual observance of World AIDS Day. On the Second Sunday of Advent amidst COVID-19, we will contemplate the intersection of two global pandemics and the importance of the church’s engagement. Now more than ever, people of faith can make a difference in ending both pandemics. See worship information Here.

December 13, Third Sunday of Advent

Putting Christ back in Christmas has become a popular slogan in the United States among some Christians. On the Third Sunday of Advent, we will explore God’s embrace of all humanity and the whole of creation in the Christ Child. Join us as we explore Christmas from the perspective of siblings from different and no faith traditions.  See worship information Here.

December 20, Fourth Sunday of Advent

The fantasy of a happy family Christmas excludes singles, people who are divorced, separated, widowed, or who find family life problematic in any number of ways. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we will hear from some of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex members and sojourners who live into the pain of exclusion to embrace the transformation the Christ Child brings, so that all can experience the warmth, welcome, and embrace a community of faith can provide. See worship information Here.

December 24, Christmas Eve

Join us for virtual worship at a time of your choosing. We will upload a prerecorded Christmas Eve worship service to the UniversityPresbyterianChurchSA YouTube Page that will be available on Christmas Eve Day.  The service will be a traditional Candlelight Service with readings, carols, and silence. While visiting our YouTube page, please be sure to subscribe to receive updates.

December 27, First Sunday of Christmas

Gather in virtual worship at 10:00 am. Hear a Christmas Story, a meditation from Pastor Dries, and sing carols. See worship information Here.

Fellowship

Sunday Joys and Concerns Fellowship Time – 11:00 am just after worship.

Join UPC and Pastor Dries for a time of community and prayer after worship.  To Join Click Here or dial 346-248-7799 and enter Meeting ID 742 807 278. The Zoom password is the same as for worship. To participate, log out of Zoom worship and start a new session following the link provided.

Tamale Happy Hour, Sunday, Dec. 13

The Welcome & Fellowship Committee will host UPC’s first Virtual Advent Event on Sunday, Dec. 13th from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Pre-order and pick up tamales the day before, then join the Zoom fellowship Sunday afternoon for music, story sharing, and a family Christmas reading.  Zoom information and sign up Here

Prayer and Spirituality

Pick Up A Prayer Shawl And Join For Prayer

If you or someone you know needs a tangible sign of God’s love and care during this difficult time of COVID-19 and the holiday season, please stop by to select a shawl or lap robe. Shawls are a tangible expression of Christ’s love. (We practice “safe shawls.” All knitters will be masked and gloved. Hand sanitizer will be available.)  One of our pastors will be present as well if you would like to meet with them. Please practice the Golden Rule and wear a mask to the pick-up.
Dates are:
Saturday, Dec. 5, 10:00am-11:30am
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 11:30am-1:00pm
Thursday, Dec. 10, 4:00pm-5:30pm

Advent Devotional

Pick up your Advent Devotionals from the table outside the Sanctuary Narthex during daytime hours, Monday-Fridays. Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s 2020 Advent Devotional –Singing our Advent Joy! — is a gift during this special season. The hymns and songs are from Glory to God, The United Methodist Hymnal, African-American Heritage Hymnal, and Santo Santo Santo.  For Christians, Advent marks a time of great anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child. We adorn our homes, reflect on the year, and sing with joy as a way of preparing our hearts and minds for the hope, peace, and love promised by God through the gift of Jesus Christ.  Click here for more information

Alternative Gift Giving

Virtual Alternative Gift Market

Make a difference with your shopping by supporting our Virtual Alternative Gift Market. CLICK HERE for the link to the online shopping page that will be open from Nov. 8 – Dec. 8.  Contact the church office for the password. CLICK HERE to print out a shopping page to mail in with your check.

Inner City Toy Sale

Drop off non-violent, moderately priced ($12 max.), new or gently used toys to the basket outside the Sanctuary Narthex door under the TV screen Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, through Monday, Dec. 7.  Toys are collected for parents in the Inner City neighborhood to purchase for their children at 10% of the original price.