Reflections 12/18/11


First, congratulations to the Religious Education participants for their wonderful pageant: the publicity, the photography, the music, the costumes and props, and the play itself. Many thanks to all who made it happen, especially Peggy Stephens-North and Jill Hayes. Each year, something beautiful is created by our children and youth to tell the stories of the season, and this year was no exception.

A couple of notes about upcoming services and holiday schedules. In addition to our traditional Christmas Candle Lighting Services this Saturday, we will have Sunday morning services on both December 25th and January 1st. There will be no evening services. December 25th, we will meet in the vestry for a “Pancakes and Carols” service. January 1st, we will turn from the old year to the new.

I will restart the Bible classes again, on Sunday January 8th through February 5th.This round we will meet AFTER church, in Room 3, at 12:15. The focus will be on Jesus and the Gospels. Both adults and youth are most welcome. We have a good time!

At our Longest Night Service, Sally Seekings read the following as a chalice lighting. It is by the Reverend Mark Belletini, from his meditation manual, Sonata for Voice and Silence:

Grey skies over my head,
Throw yourselves like quilts over my busy life
And remind me to sit down and rest.
Stars of winter,
Orion’s sash sparkling across the heavens,
Remind me by your distance that,
Compared to the infinity of the universe,
Every single thing I struggle with on earth is small, parochial and hardly universal in scope.
Great music of the season, glowing with angel songs and filigreed with great mysteries,
Remind me that my own birth, like the births of all the people in this room, was no less
mysterious than that ancient and celebrated birth, no less brimming with wonder,
For all children that come into the world have lives as precious to them as Jesus’ life was
precious to him. So now, come, Love greater than my longing,
Silence greater than fatigue of tongues,
And haul my heart away from the undue frenzy of the season,
And bestow it to rest, proportion and the haunting dark beauty of winter’s long nights.

Josh, Sam, Henry, and I wish you all the wonder and mystery, music and grace of this season. Remember to step back from the frenzy to embrace both the light and dark beauty around us.

-Rev. Ellen

Reflections 12/04/11


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.

-Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824