December 9, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

As we get ready for our third week of Advent – we focus on the theme of joy. On Sunday we’ll be celebrating Cindy with joy, we’ll be hearing scriptures about the prophecies foretold of one who will bring great joy, and Mary names the joy she feels knowing that God has chosen her for such an incredible purpose.

So I wonder, what is joy? How would you describe it? How do you know that it’s joy you’re feeling? Does joy have something to do with being present in the moment, naming and laughing at the silly things that happen throughout the day?

Do you experience joy when you feel fulfilled in your life’s work? Or when you finally get to take a breath and pause to be present with God? Is there joy in parenting? Or grandparenting? Are there moments when you are acutely aware of God’s joy for and with you – with God as a kind of DJ playing your life’s songs, helping you to dance and celebrate the little victories?

Is joy a spiritual practice? Does joy feel like a spiritual practice? Is it something that we tend to, and consciously have to remind ourselves of, especially these days? I think it is a spiritual practice. And I think we need to be mindful of joy just as much as we need to be attentive to everything else we’re feeling.

This week, I invite you to look for joy, to find some ways to experience joy and to name that God-gifted joy. And start reflecting on what happens when you start paying attention to it.

Happy Advent!
Pastor Kyle

December 2, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

How are your Advent seasons going? Are they busy enough yet? Are you finding time to reflect on where you are finding and experiencing hope, peace, joy and love?

A little bit about how it’s going here at the church –
Our first potluck went off without a hitch! We had 8 LAUCCers come together for a wonderful meal, fellowship and discussion together. We hope to see even more next Monday! And if there are any dietary restrictions or needs – please let me know so we can make sure there’s something for everyone!

Rehearsals will begin for our Christmas Even Pageant on Sunday, December 11 during Sunday School time.

We look forward to spending time in prayer and meditation with our sibling UCC congregations for our Blue Christmas service on December 14 at 7pm.

Our choir is working hard on a great Cantata program for Sunday, December 18th. There will not be any Sunday School that morning so all ages can enjoy the wonderful music!

With so many exciting opportunities coming up to participate, to give, to share presence and presents, I invite you to please take some time to really read through this month’s newsletter. Please ask questions if you have them, call the office for information, or email me or call 562-596-6718

With Christ’s Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Advent Season,
Pastor Kyle

November 25, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

And so we begin to retell the story of how God’s Love became incarnate and lived and breathed, and walked, and slept, and ate among us that we might know that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

As we enter into this holy season of reflection, of gratitude, of celebrating and offering our gifts – we have some opportunities to spend time together in ways that we haven’t been able to for the past couple of Christmases.

This Sunday, November 27 – we’ll kick off the season with a multigenerational “Hanging of the Greens” Service.

Monday, November 28 from 6:30pm-8pm will be our first of 3 Monday potlucks with a video study called “Wait Training” – which will have some interesting interviews, and questions for conversation as well as a good bit of fellowship.

On December 14, we will be hosting a Blue Christmas Service that will be led by not just us, but folks from several of our neighboring UCC congregations.

Then, on December 18, our choir will lead us in scripture and song through the cantata, “One Noel”.

And last, but certainly not least, we’ll have 2 services on Christmas Eve – a 4pm family service and an 11pm (more) traditional Lessons and Carols service.

Oh, and we have been invited to join Community Congregational at 3pm on Christmas Eve for their service as well.

We have so much to look forward to this Advent Season and we hope that you will join us as we discover and discern the places where God is still speaking through hope, peace, joy and love.

(I think that covers everything? – Leadership, Music, Congregation, if I missed anything, please let me know)

With Christ’s Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Advent Season,

Pastor Kyle

November 18, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

I know we’re swiftly approaching a year together and a year in California. It’s crazy to think how fast time has gone. And one thing I’ve noticed is that every time we drive down Ximeno toward 2nd street to then pick up Ocean Blvd. and as I start to see the palm tree lined streets, I can feel my spirit move within me almost viscerally. My heart relaxes and I smell, hear, sense and taste the ocean in the air.

I begin to relax into a state of gratitude for the ability to wander to the water’s edge, bask in its wonder as my heart gives thanks for the water, the waves and all of life’s blessings. Being in that place refreshes my spirit and feeds my soul as I give thanks for all of it; though it reminds me, I should probably find time and space every day to give thanks…not just at the beach.

Gratitude is a spiritual practice and a spiritual discipline; one that takes conscious and conscientious effort. It’s a practice that takes time and intention to develop. When practiced consistently, it can help focus our energies on what really matters and maybe even translate into how we live our lives. Maybe our gratitude shows itself in grace and mercy toward and with others, maybe through generosity, acts of kindness, the possibilities are endless.

As Thanksgiving swiftly approaches, we take time to reflect on what we are thankful for, celebrating all of life’s myriad blessings and discern ways to express that gratitude.

So, what are you thankful for? How do you want to live out that thankfulness? And how are you going to live out and into that thankfulness?

With Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Kyle

November 11, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

I know Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but sooner after that Advent begins!

We will be kicking off Advent on Sunday, November 27 with a “Hanging of the Greens Service”. We’ll learn more about the symbols of the holly and the ivy, poinsettias, even the Christmas Tree and why they are important for us during this time of year.

Then Mondays – 11/28, 12/5 and 12/12 from 6:30-8pm we’ll have a potluck and video study and discussion called “Wait Training” at the church.

Wednesday, December 14th at 7pm will be a Blue Christmas Service. Blue Christmas is a service for those whom this isn’t the most wonderful time of year.

Sunday, December 18 the choir will share their talents with the cantata, “One Noel: Sing the Song of Christmas”.

THEN on Christmas Eve we will have a 4pm Family Service and an 11pm (more) traditional Lessons and Carols Candlelight service.

Finally, we will NOT gather at LAUCC on Christmas Day – rather I will reshare the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and say hello to those who want to watch together at 10am from wherever we may be.

With Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Kyle

November 4, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

This Sunday I will be wearing a stole made by Rev. Mitchell Young’s wife, Nitaya Luckanavonaporn Young and gifted by him and his congregation at Montebello Plymouth Congregational Church; and made with fabric purchased here in California.

The print on the stole is in celebration of Día de Los Muertos with a rainbow skull design.

Gifted with the stole was information on Día de Los Muertos or Día de Muertos, which I share with you now:

“The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, especially the United States. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.”

“Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed into other deep traditions in honor of the dead. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools.

The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is similar to other societies’ observances of a time to honor the dead. The Spanish tradition, for instance, includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.”

So as we remember our saints this Sunday, we remember the traditions of remembering all those who have gone before in our communities and our world.

With Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Kyle

October 28, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

It’s always helpful to be reminded, even for myself that there are other ways of doing things. A while ago Billie Grace sent me a version of the Lord’s Prayer translated directly from the Aramaic into the English.

This translated version goes like this:

O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration, soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your Presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission. Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire. Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish. Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes. Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment. For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power, and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again. And so it is!

Hearing, and praying these words differently than the way we’re used to can be refreshing, disconcerting, thought provoking, insightful, troublesome, disruptive, and all of these things simultaneously. Hearing a different way of something so familiar can be fraught with complexity that takes us away from routines and allows us to experience something different that could be just not for us, or it could be wonderful.

I’m pretty sure it was my neutral pulpit weekend where I learned that the church would be moving from pews to chairs. I was so excited to hear this because it meant there was going to be some opportunity, possibility, potential and imagination built into the worship space.

We’ve seen that imagination and potential already. In our early days of returning back to the sanctuary, we adapted the space to ensure safety and so social distancing could be maintained. Back then, we created space because of need. Now, now, we get to be creative with the space because we want to be.

As I mentioned during worship last Sunday, for All Saints’ we’re looking at some new configurations of the sanctuary. Given the tenor of the day, it feels important to face one another during worship. I hope that this reconfiguration of the sanctuary will help provide the spatial and spiritual awareness in a more literal way that we are lifted up by the congregation as we lift up those who have gone before.

I’m also hopeful that as we change seasons just a few short weeks later, that we’ll try this new or a new configuration for the Advent Season. But for now, let’s try it for a Sunday, and see what happens…

Much like with The Lord’s Prayer, we have some opportunities to intentionally disrupt (in a positive way) the flow of the familiar in our worship space. We get the opportunity to play, imagine, explore and make meaning out of our worship on Sunday mornings; discerning how we as a congregation experience the Divine together and then maybe even share that experience with others!

I hope you’ll join us for these new adventures.

With Christ’s Peace,

Pastor Kyle

October 21, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

Ummm…where did October go? September for that matter?

There are times when life seems to happen at a snail’s pace. And then there are other times where we blink and a month has passed by, or perhaps even years. And we get caught in the rhythm of the music propelling us forward whether we want it to or not.

Around here, our stewardship season will be kicking off soon, All Saints’ Sunday, thanksgiving, and in just over a month, Advent starts and before long with Monday night potlucks, the Cantata, a Blue Christmas Service and then Christmas will be here.

This is one of those seasons that I’m pretty sure will be gone in the blink of an eye. Knowing this may be the case, I invite you to try to find some time to slow down, if not pause; allow yourself to breathe and be present to, with and for all that is going on and all those around us. And know that we will be working on this spiritual practice of presence as well.

We hope you’ll share this time with us.

With Christ’s peace in these busy days,

Pastor Kyle

October 14, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

Revisiting our Lenten book study, Barbara Brown Taylor talks about the spiritual life stages from James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith”, published back in 1981 in her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, and she describes Fowler’s “stages of faith” like this:

“the fantasy-filled, imitative faith of early childhood, followed by the more literal faith of schoolchildren; then the conventional faith of adolescence, largely inherited, followed by the individuated faith of young adulthood.”

Brown Taylor says that there are stages beyond these as well.

What we get out of this description is a broad understanding of how faith takes shape. I also recognize that this is from 1981 and our culture has changed pretty radically in the ways that people not only experience faith, spirituality and religion – but even how people encounter faith. We have access to instant knowledge and places of worship both physical and meta-spaces abound. People can access any type of spirituality at any given moment and people don’t engage with specific faith communities here in the US the way they used to. I’d be curious as to how age-specific/age-relevant these spiritual stages are some 40 years later.

That being said, if you eliminate the age categories and identify them alphabetically or numerically, this outline can help us get a sense of where we might be on the journey and perhaps, where we’d like to go.  For reflection, if you were to look at this as 5 different stages of faith, which feels the most honest for you: are you in the fantasy-filled, imitative faith? More of a literal faith? Conventional/practical faith? Or do you feel like your path is pretty uniquely your own? Or are you ready to develop a deeper spirituality beyond these stages?

If you’d like to talk about these stages further, please let me know or if you’d just like to talk about where you are on your journey, let’s set up a time to talk.

With Christ’s peace,

Pastor Kyle 

October 7, 2022

Greetings Los Altos Friends,

It’s been a few weeks already since our mission statement retreat. Thank you to all who participated both in-person and through the survey!

Please know the online survey is still open as we want as much feedback as possible so our mission statement can reflect who we are as a whole, who God has called us to be and how we do and will serve God in the world.

You can find the link to the survey here:

Along with that, here are the top 5 words used to describe Los Altos UCC from the visioning retreat: Accepting, Welcoming, Music, Caring/Family

What do you think of this list?  Are there others?

One of the other questions is: what comes next?  My hope is that more will respond to the survey, then we can identify a couple of people that are willing to work on re-developing, re-writing, re-working our mission statement. What that entails can be explained more later.  Know that it will be a meaningful process that will take time, and it should, and that’s okay.  I invite you to listen to your heart and see if this is a call God is asking you to answer.

At the very least, I invite you to consider, pray over, reflect on and share with someone your thoughts about this experience I had following the retreat:

Someone asked, “if we were to have conversations with other LAUCCers who weren’t at the retreat, what question could we ask/say?”

I said, “I think the question we can ask that will help direct us, help us to understand what people want for, hope for this community is “What dream do you have for Los Altos UCC?”” Now, I would add a follow up question, “How can you help make that dream of yours a reality?”

If you have any questions about our mission statement, discerning your call to serve LAUCC in this way, or even have a response to what your dream for LAUCC is – please connect, email, call, we can meet for coffee.

With Christ’s peace,

Pastor Kyle