I have this idea of writing a reflection on “Occupy Boston” but keep being “overtaken by events”, in this case an October Nor’easter. So, instead, I have found myself reflecting on “Occupy First Parish.” This is not a protest movement but a search for lights, heat, and internet access. In the aftermath of snow, wind, and downed trees, of power outages that extended one, two, three, four or more days, First Parish became a literal sanctuary. I would come into work to find people dispersed around the building, with laptops and cell phones recharging. A community of sorts began to emerge: pots of coffee were made; a pineapple cake, a loaf of bread, crackers, soup, and soda appeared with notes to please eat; people chatted a bit as they worked in shared quarters; music wafted through the halls. Tom Coffey and I agreed to leave the building open so people could get in and out. It reminded me of the story “Stone Soup” that Russ shared a couple of Sundays ago.
We will discuss in the Standing Committee how our building can serve intentionally as a sanctuary, should an event like this happen again (which, given the preponderance of weird and bad storms we have had in the last year, seems quite likely.) I know too that those with power opened up their homes for those without for a warm shower and a hot meal. As the week went on, the numbers went down as people got their power back and life began to slowly return to normal. But I was struck about our human capacity to create routines that will get us through difficult or unusual times together, to adapt to the discomfort and disruption. We are truly relational creatures, and our ability to survive depends upon hospitality and a spirit of sharing and abundance.
Speaking of which, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. We will have our annual intergenerational Ingathering Service on Sunday November 20th. I plan to focus this service on how we help feed our community. We will, as is our tradition, collect food for the Greater Lowell Open Pantry food bank. Please bring non-perishable food donations, which we will bring to the front of the sanctuary as part of our service. We will also hear about Community Table and have guest speakers from Table of Plenty.
We also have a couple of special evening services coming up. Our evening service is at 5:30 pm and meets in the chapel. Wonderful music is provided by volunteer musicians from the congregation. Generally, the sermon is the same as the morning service, only given in a smaller, circle worship setting. However, we will have some different evening services. This Sunday, November 13th, we will hold a healing service. We welcome anyone who feels they need support, prayer or healing thoughts. On November 20th, we will have a bread communion service. And on December 18th, we will hold our Longest Night Service, to bring some light to this time of cold and darkness. I hope that you join us.