First, a big congratulations and exhale for another wonderful Holiday Fair. Thank you to each and every one of you who contributed time, talent, and/or treasure to make this such a success. I offer my deepest appreciation to Bonnie Rankin and Ami Hughes, who co-chaired this whole event. The Holiday Fair is much more than a fundraiser. It is a community builder on several levels. It brings together members of the church to make the Fair happen. I saw a wonderful mix of experienced hands and new faces working at the tables. It also brings back people year after year, within and beyond our congregation. The vestry especially was packed all day, and the positive energy was palpable.
I would also like to thank you for your donations to the Greater Lowell Open Pantry and the Table of Plenty at our Thanksgiving service. In addition to a van load of food, we raised $2000, which we split evenly between the two. I would also like to acknowledge Gail Pickering, who has overseen our monthly Open Pantry collections for the last few years. She has stepped down, after doing a marvelous job. We welcome Patience Merullo as the new coordinator for this work.
The Holiday Fair, the sanctuary decorated with greens, preparations for the Pageant on December 18th, our upcoming Christmas Eve Candlelighting services: we are definitely jumping into the holiday season with both feet. But bustling activity and bright lights are not all there is to Christmas. With the cold days and the long, dark nights, this is also a time of vulnerability as well as wonder, fear as well as hope, longing and sadness as well as joy. At our evening service on December 18th, we will hold our annual Longest Night service, to bring some light to the dark night of the soul.
At this time of year and at any time of year, I want to let you know that I am here to listen and to be of support. Our church is growing, with a lot of things going on. But I am not too busy—especially to provide a listening ear. Please, please know that. If it is not silly or small to you, if it is hurting, then it won’t be silly or small to me. It is one of the important reasons you called me to be your minister. We also have a wonderful Pastoral Care Team: Chris Boucher, Erica Boucher, Lynne Cole, Carrie Little and Liz Peterson. They meet regularly with me for training and outreach, and they are also available to listen. And we are blessed to have Russ Menk, our intern minister as well. This is a place where we are asked to care for others, but it is also a place where people care for us.