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Saturday, November 28th, 2015

This month's Word from our Pastor

Pastor Audrey Ward






The sum of a day how does it feel?—I ask myself. And if there’s something missing, find a way to make it right. When there’s time. So I have to begin that summation by late afternoon, still early enough to call or write the message.

          Accounting for life makes a difference as we see the day dwindling; thanks giving seldom comes naturally. Some uncommon moments stun us, of course, with a rush of gratitude for something found or a homecoming, and our expressions fountain out of us like a volley of Alleluia choruses, but that’s not usual, is it.

          One of the ways I treasure our sanctuary, circles the experience of prayers that have lived here for over 150 years. Communion with saints who’ve gone before us, ordinary people who trudged in bearing cares and let them waft away as they met smiling eyes, raised their voices in song, or absorbed the care for their prayers. And they let this Spirit abiding here carry them for awhile.

          The Advent Season, beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day, will usher in a time of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. These are the titles for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, but they do express this season. Especially the music.

          Christmas Eve promises as much or more delight than Christmas morning in the songs sung by Katie Sculatti and Cynthia Ermshar, accompanied by cello and piano, in the softened atmosphere of candlelight and kindness. Since this will be my last Eve in this sanctuary before I retire in June, I am especially anticipating the evening, beginning at 5 PM with music from 4:45.

          In summing up the hour, the day—the year—let’s figure on the inspiration of music in this shelter: you’ll always be grateful you did as you travel the road ahead. Remembering and experiencing the beauty all over again adds expressions of thanks giving creating a patina of pleasure to cover our years.

Following, is our Advent schedule. Invite a friend or neighbor to come with you!

I’ll see you in church, with love,


Pastor Audrey Ward


Celebrate Advent Season       with us Christmas 2015

                         Love was born... at Christmas 
Sunday, 29 November 10:00am Hope guitar & flute

Sunday, 6 December 10:00am Peace   Praise Band Reunion
                                                                                                   Ron & Esther Brunswick +

Sunday, 13 December 10:00am Joy Napa Valley Duo, piano & cello

Sunday, 20 December 10:00am Love Jeanine Keller, piano

Thursday, 24 December

Christmas Eve 5:00pm 
Come over to Our House
& join the music in the air!
star and angels gave the sign  

1310 Adams St. Helena, California

(707) 963-2839




With Alexa Moghina                               Annie Lee Hardee's Meadow

Songwriter's Camp

 Here is a link to Audrey's website for her ongoing blog about her memoir
















Don't you just love it when the truth pops out of your own surprised mouth?  I wonder if that's like the blues singer - Keb Mo - promises, that it's "jus God tryin ta git your attention."

Anna Quindlan writes a moment like this into her latest memoir, "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake."  After her country house was barely missed by a tornado, her college-aged daughter called to say she had been frantic regarding her mother's safety, worried her mother would die young.  And Anna quickly responded, "Oh honey, I'm too old to die young, now!"
Aha. There it is. And what an interesting marker for our years:  too old to die young.  Which means, of course, still here, alive in the world for whatever will come.

May Sarton, the poet, speaks of "the inexhaustible flame" that kept her mother alive until she died.  Going on, in the poem "August Third"  (Printed in full below) to say, "if you taught me one thing, it was never to fail life."  And I pass this on to all of us as our calling, every day.

See you in church,


         August Third

These days
Lifting myself up
Like a heavy weight,
Old camel getting to her knees,
I think of my mother
And the inexhaustible flame
That kept her alive
Until she died.

She knew all about fatigue
And how one pushes it aside
For staking up the lilies
Early in the morning,
The way one pushes it aside
For a friend in need,
For a hungry cat.

Mother, be with me.
Today on your birthday
I am older than you were
When you died
Thirty-five years ago.
Thinking of you
The old camel gets to her knees,
Stands up,
Moves forward slowly
Into the new day.

If you taught me one thing
It was never to fail life.




Here is prose poem about joy and plenty from Mary Oliver in her most recent book “Swan,” seems like one Virginia might write. It’s the one she expresses through her 90 + years of life all the time.

Don’t Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be.  We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

 ~ St Helena United Methodist Church
St Helena, California, USA