Where to begin? There is so much happening! First, thank you so much to the Religious Education children, youth, and volunteers for putting on such a wonderful pageant this past Sunday. It was truly a grand intergenerational effort, with much work behind the scenes. The actors were poised. The musicians rocked the house. The set was terrific. The costumes were outstanding and creative. And it has all been captured on whatever it is we call film these days by the documentary crew. Once again, the congregation received a lovely Christmas gift from our children and youth.
We had a wonderful Holiday Fair this past Saturday—the unofficial kick-off to our Christmas/Winter Holiday season. Our doors and our sanctuary are beautifully decorated with greens and the scent of donuts lingers in the halls. I would like to thank Bonnie Rankin for chairing the event, ably supported by a wonderful leadership crew including Joanna Paulsen Carlene Merrill, Joan Keane, and Jane Collins to name a few. (I apologize for any folks I forgot.) I would also like to thank all of you who baked, crafted, made donuts, volunteered, played, sang, and shopped at this important community fundraiser. It was fun to see some new First Parishers volunteering at the Fair.
December is a month of special services. For the morning service on December 19th we will hold our annual pageant. This year, it will be an intergenerational play, “The Tailor of Gloucester” by Unitarian and well-known children’s author, Beatrix Potter. The December 19th evening service will be a Longest Night Service, a time of quiet reflection during this busy season. On December 24th, we will have our two traditional Christmas Eve candle lighting services at 5:00 and 8:00 pm. This year, we will do “Lessons and Carols” for both services. For the 5:00 service, I am asking for 4th through 8th grade volunteers to do the readings with me. They will read the traditional biblical passages and I will re-tell the Christmas story for all ages. For the 8:00 pm service, I need readers for both the traditional biblical readings and the modern reflections on the Christmas story. We will have wonderful music from our choirs, and favorite carols to sing together. And of course, we will recess with our candles to “Silent Night.” I hope you will join us as we celebrate the story of the birth of Jesus and the Spirit of Love. Please note that we have moved the second service to 8 pm so that all the choirs have a chance to warm up and so those who are working at both services have enough time to eat dinner.
We will have church on December 26th only in the morning. The service will be in the vestry: a pancake breakfast with music provided by Erika Taylor, Matthew Bliss and, of course, all of us there.
And finally, I offer you this prayer, if you wish it, to consider as you go through these pre-holiday weeks. It is from Night Visions by Jan L. Richardson, a book of prayers, reflections, and art for Advent:
From her reflections on “Hope’s Disguises”
We see signs but cannot always divine their meanings.
You call us to move forward not always knowing whether what we grasp in our hands will prove to be a seed of hope or a thorn in our flesh.
Train our fingers, that what brings life we may with persistence hold, and that which wastes our souls, we may with grace release.”