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Advent Blog Dec. 7: By Mary Kay Totty

OK, yes, I admit it -- I love the Christmas season and all the trappings and customs and music that go along with it. Some traditions are so deeply rooted with me that it would be hard for it to feel like Christmas without them. Christmas stockings are one such tradition -- I know, I know, my mother rolls her eyes and shakes her head that her nearly 50-year-old daughter still wants a Christmas stocking. Peppermint nougats are the taste of Christmas -- the Brach's soft peppermint taffy with a Christmas tree design.

I love Christmas cards and Christmas trees. And Christmas would not be Christmas without Bing Crosby's "Merry Christmas" album (though why he included "Faith of our Fathers" on the album is beyond my comprehension). My all-time favorite song of the season is "O Holy Night" -- I love the music and the words. I love the blending of the hope of the season with the commitment for justice. The last verse of  "O Holy Night" includes these words:

Dec. 6 Blog: Without a Song. By Mike Doan

My dad sang loudly in church. He wasn't just loud, he was really loud. People stared at him. As a teenager, I was so embarrassed! My father, Philip Doan, had been a tenor in the San Francisco Opera chorus for about 15 years and didn't want to sing softly.

As years passed, his mind went. Before he died in 2001, it felt as if we had already lost him a little at a time. I was pretty stoic about his death. I was surprised by how little I was grieving.

Maybe a year later, I went to the family church in Placerville, Calif., with my mother, and it was time to sing the first hymn. The music started but there was no loud voice. No towering high notes to ring through the rafters. No stares.

I completely lost it. I had to leave the church. My mother came out to find me.

The song was over.

Editor's Note: No, it wasn't, Mike.

-- Mike Doan

Advent Blog Dec. 5: By Walter Schmidt

When I was about 8 years old and at Woolworths 17 days before Christmas, I saw a record for sale ($0.99) entitled "Messiah."  Somehow, the singer and orchestra were anonymous.  From that year on for a decade, it was played while assisting my Mom making Christmas cookies.  The two lines in one of the songs captured pristinely what Christmas was about:  "Why do the nations so furiously rage together?  And why do the people, why do the people imagine of vain things?"  War was why my Dad lost his business, nearly died on the Russian front, why they were a family among a million or three refugees who lost whatever they could not carry, famine was rampant, and three years later I was born.  Another three years later, we were in America, starting an enti

Advent Blog Dec 4: Waiting. By Angela Maves

After Dad died four years ago and Mum moved into a retirement home, our house of 60 years was rented out for the first time. Every stick of our furniture was removed, and strangers moved in with their children and six dogs. Yes six. And two were mastiffs. When those two reclined on the kitchen floor, there was no room for furniture!

I visited this family each time I went to England. They were good tenants and their children are bright and polite. However, nothing stays the same for very long. I received notice from them last month and they have moved out. Now we are waiting for new occupants. I’m working diligently with the property management company, and the neighborhood bush telegraph is helping out. I trust that there will be someone who will care for our home lovingly and enjoy living there

Advent Blog Dec. 3: By Judy Birch

I will praise you God...with my whole heart, with each breath...
        For what I can fathom, for what I can't fathom-- Psalm 146

Advent Blog Dec. 2: Reflections on the Season

I love the invitation to write our stories for Advent.  I had never identified with Mary until Thew suggested we might reflect on the Magnificat. Mary was just a statue for me.  So I will melt that statue and stand in the messy puddle of Mary – the human mother Mary.

I, like Mary, am a mother!  I too was pregnant and gave birth in December. My precious daughter Emily was born during one of Dumbarton’s baby booms.  We have a photo of 8 or 10 babies all propped up on a pew for their photo op – looking bewildered.

Advent Blog Dec. 1: By Phil Wogaman

Edtor's Note: This is the first in a series of ruminations on the season by people in our congregation: 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art



Advent is the season of hope and expectancy.  Note: Hope and expectancy are not always the same.  We don’t really expect all the things we hope for.  I don’t play the lottery.  But if I did, I would hope to win but not really expect to.  We hope to see the polarization of American public life overcome, but do we expect it—anytime soon?  We hope for world peace, but our expectations have so often been frustrated, and conflicts continue to loom on the far horizons. 

 So how do these terms, hope and expectancy, fit together during Advent?

Helping Out A Needy School in D.C.

By Kathie Hepler

Dumbarton’s history with J.O. Wilson School dates back to 1997. As founding members of Washington Interfaith Network, we pledged to partner with a school that could benefit from grass roots organizing. We selected J.O. because one of our members already had recruited friends to volunteer there and became involved in a WIN-supported after-school program at J.O.

Some of you will remember the name Rayful Edmonds—a notorious drug dealer who did business in the J.O. neighborhood. Despite many challenges, the principal and its dedicated staff persevered and guided the school through rough times.

Today, The school serves 400 students from pre-school to fifth grade. Much has changed since we first met the children at J.O., but challenges remain. Nearly 90 percent of J.O. Wilson’s students are African-American and 75 percent receive free or subsidized meals, so the school has the responsibility of nurturing the whole child.
Yet, there’s much to be proud of:

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