Sunday, November 26, 2017


Totenfest is the liturgical ceremony that remembers before God those who have died since this time last year. This ceremony is observed on the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent, which is to say it happens on the last Sunday of the church’s liturgical year. Along with naming those from the church who have died, the ceremony allows people the opportunity to call out the name of anyone whom they choose to remember. Along the way, candles are lit and a bell is tolled. Our 2017 Totenfest Roll Call includes: Verna Baumgartner, Yvonne Herfel, Nancy Homb, Clara Lingard, Vance Nelson, Shirley Riley, Ginny Schwartz, Millie Whiting, and Donald Wuthrich.


Monday, November 20, was Transgender Day of Remembrance. Observed on the 20th of November every year, Transgender Day of Remembrance solemnly honors, often with a candlelight vigil, the transgender persons who have been murdered over the previous twelve months. This year there were 325 names on the list. Can we please remember to hold in prayer these souls, those who love them, and those who live now in fear. May God lead us to the end of bigotry and hatred.


Sanctuary decorations will go up on our church after worship on November 26. But they will not go up on their own. Your help is requested. If at all possible, please reserve some space on your calendar that day to help ready our building for the Advent and Christmas seasons. Thanks!


The Women’s Guild is hosting its annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 2. The hours are 11 to 1, with a drawing for raffle prizes beginning at noon. Raffle tickets are available and can be purchased after worship on Sunday.


One of our Sunday School teachers reports she had a glimpse of Jesus Sunday morning. It lifted her spirits and helped her to know that what she does is not done in vain. What happened? After she ended her class with a closing prayer, a little girl exclaimed, “I love this church! I want to go here for the rest of my life!”


Our annual observance of Totenfest, a service in remembrance of the dead, calls to mind our faith in the reality of the spiritual realm. The Christian faith holds that life as we know it takes place on the border between the material world and the spiritual world. The two realms touch and interact. But if we let our focus rest only on the material, then we miss the spiritual. If we miss the spiritual, we think we have only the material, which is temporary, ruled by the fleeting moment, and all we can do is pursue that which is immediate and passing. It is no wonder people feel as though they are running on empty, for that which they pursue is always ending. Regular worship cultivates the ability to see the spiritual and to draw upon the eternal, rescuing us from the tyranny of the present.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


The worship bulletins on Sundays contain a form to use for ordering a wreath or poinsettia for the church for the Seasons of Advent and Christmas. Wreaths are $33 and poinsettias are $10.


Sanctuary decorations will go up on our church after worship on November 26. But they will not go up on their own. Your help is requested. If at all possible, please reserve some space on your calendar that day to help ready our building for the Advent and Christmas seasons. Thanks!


We are asking folks to share – either by way of a return email or a note in the collection plate – an anecdote or vignette of an occasion they felt the presence of God. We are calling these “Glimpses of Jesus.”
Here is one that came in last week in response to our first appeal for stories. One of our members suffers from periodic bouts with atrial fibrillation. The bouts manifest themselves with a pounding heartbeat and general feelings of nervousness, both of which are uncomfortable. A bout came upon her the other night in the early evening before she readied for bed; it continued for a couple of hours. She went to bed, hoping the a-fib would stop; but it didn’t. She said a prayer, and immediately the sensations stopped, she felt relaxed, and she could sleep peacefully. This was the first time relief was immediate. We can be grateful for a God who hears and answers prayer.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


This week’s weekly mailing is coming a day early for the sake of this announcement. Mark will be leading short prayer services on Fridays, starting tomorrow at 11:30. These will be opportunities to connect with God for ourselves, our families and friends, our church, our nation, and our world. We will meet in the Conference Room and follow a simple order of service drawing upon scripture and a variety of prayer forms.


The phrase “thoughts and prayers” is increasingly becoming battered and bruised. It has been criticized especially after the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX. The criticism is taking many forms. Some call it a pious platitude that evades the kind of action really needed to end gun violence. Others call it a powerless and pointless gesture because prayers are foolish and meaningless exercises in the first place and can accomplish nothing. We can agree with the critics if thoughts go unthought and prayers go unsaid after the phrase is spoken, for then indeed it is an empty platitude. But thoughts thought and prayers prayed are powerful if they have action and life behind them and real devotion to God in them.


            9:00 – Sunday School for all ages
            10:15 – Worship in the sanctuary


We shall gather for our annual Congregational Meeting this Sunday, November 12, at 6 PM. A potluck supper will precede the meeting and begin at 5 PM. 


This Sunday is your last opportunity to contribute a Thanksgiving bag through the church to the Badger Prairie Needs Network.  The bags we have collected will be taken to the pantry after worship. As of this writing, there are 63 bags at the base of the altar. They are hoping for 17 companions so our goal of collecting 80 will be achieved.


The worship bulletins on Sundays contain a form to use for ordering a wreath or poinsettia for the church for the Seasons of Advent and Christmas. Wreaths are $33 and poinsettias are $10.


Life with its pressures, whether from daily schedules and routines or sudden and unforeseen challenges, can leave souls feeling fatigued, pulled in several directions, and completely without strength. The weariness of it all can tempt people to clip the church from their schedules because it is the one thing that can be clipped. But it is the church that nurtures the faith that in God you have resources for the road, strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Regular worship can help souls see that God is standing with them with the same strength that brought Creation into being and Christ from the grave.


Salem UCC, St. James Lutheran, St. Andrew’s Church in the  St. Christopher Parish, and Sugar River UMC will gather for a Community Thanksgiving Service on Monday, November 20. This year the service will be held at the Catholic Church on the corner of North Main and Harriet Streets. The prelude, featuring music from the various church choirs, will start at 6:30 PM and the service will begin at 7. The ecumenical spirit of this service is such that we draw upon the worship tradition of the host church. Mark Yurs is designated to be the preacher this year. Salem almost always has the best attendance at this service; let’s see if we can repeat that in 2017!


The two disciples who enjoyed a quick vision of Jesus in their home after their walk to Emmaus are not unique, because Jesus is the same, yesterday, and tomorrow. The Lord Jesus appears to you – it may be in fleeting glimpses – along the way of your days and nights. When the Emmaus disciples reconnected with the rest of the disciples and told them of their strangely wonderful experience, it energized the whole church. We’d love to hear about your glimpses of God’s action in your life, even if you think it something small and mundane. Drop a note about it, signed or unsigned, in the collection plate. They can be included (simply) in these weekly mailings and/or read aloud during worship. An exercise in faith such as this can help energize us with the thought that God is indeed on the move in our midst.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


1.      Worship services are easy to follow and traditional without being stuffy.
2.      Sermons connect the Bible to life along subject lines of importance to people today.
3.      Quality music speaks to the heart and helps convey a sense of the presence and power of God today.
4.      A spirit of welcome extended to all whether first-timer or long-timer.
5.      A community of people who wish to represent a positive Christianity that is faithful, relevant, open, and striving to improve.


9:00 AM – Sunday School for all ages
10:15 AM – Worship, with music by the Handbell Choir and the Children’s Choir


No one on our nursery staff is available for this Sunday. Please contact Sarah Pundt at if you are willing to volunteer. Without two volunteers we shall not be able to offer childcare this Sunday morning.

SUNDAY MORNING ADULT CLASS: Thinking Theologically

What does it mean to think theologically? What is the character of your God? What is the content of your faith? What is the function of your church? What is the purpose of your worship? If any of these questions intrigue you, please join the Adult Sunday School class as we begin a new 3-week study Sunday. We will examine these questions and many others to gain a better understanding of our ever growing faith.


5:00 – 7:30 PM – worship, meal, fun, and reaching out to kids in the PALS program at LaPuente. This is a pen pal project.


We are sharing the love of God this Thanksgiving through food donations. Thanksgiving bags, to be donated to the Badger Prairie Needs Network for distribution, are accumulating rapidly at the base of our altar in the church chancel. We are aiming for 80. Will you be able to donate one or more? November 12 is the last day for this year’s collection. Here is the grocery list: One 13.8 oz can chicken or turkey gravy; two 15 oz cans of whole kernel corn; two 15 oz cans of green beans; two 15 oz cans of mandarin oranges; one 20 oz can of pineapple chunks; one 32 oz can of vegetable oil; one 15 oz canned pumpkin; one 12 oz evaporated milk, plus $15 for the purchase of a turkey and fresh produce (make checks payable to Salem United Church of Christ).


The Badger Prairie Needs Network is appealing to our church for volunteers to staff two-hour shifts helping with Thanksgiving Bag Distribution Day. Distribution happens at the Badger Prairie Needs Network building on the east edge of Verona. There will be a schedule available at the church this Sunday listing tasks and open shifts. Distribution day is Wednesday, November 15.


Hurricanes, Wildfires & Climate Change is the title of an event to be held Thursday, November 9 at Sugar River United Methodist Church. The people of Sugar River have invited WKOW-TV meteorologist Bob Lindmeier to speak and lead a discussion on global warming. There will be light refreshments following the program, and child care will be available. The event is set for November 9 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.


Our church will gather for its Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, November 12. The meeting will be preceded by a potluck supper beginning at 5; the meeting itself will begin around 6. We will elect officers for the coming year, set our 2018 budget, and hear reports concerning planned activities and ministries. Child care will be provided. All members of the church, including youth who have been confirmed, are eligible to vote. This is an important night in our life together. Please do not miss it.


Please remember the Community Thanksgiving Service to be held on Monday, November 20, at the Catholic Church here in Verona. Prelude music by the various church choirs in the community will begin at 6:30 PM, and the service will start at 7:00. Much of the service will follow a Roman Catholic pattern, which will be new and interesting for us. Mark is the preacher for the evening, and he is going to be guided by this focus text from 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3: “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, especially remembering before our God and Father your of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Salem is asked to supply a scripture reader for this year’s Community Thanksgiving Service. Is there a volunteer who would like to do this? Fr. John Sasse at St. Andrews has selected this reading: Galatians 4:4-5. Please let Mark know as soon as possible if this is something you would like to do.


Two disciples, beleaguered and bewildered by life, and trying to find their way forward once caught a glimpse of the Risen Jesus (see Luke 24:13-35). It was only a glimpse, something that occurred in just a fleeting moment. But it was enough to reinvigorate them with new strength and fill them with joy. We believe these glimpses are available to us today, often through an ordinary worship service on a Sunday morning. Come to worship this Sunday morning. Christ will be present, and waiting to speak with you, if only through a momentary and powerful glimpse. It can be strengthening for your way ahead.