Let me begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year! We have had some special services over the last three Sundays, as well as two on Christmas Eve. They were all wonderful, as they celebrated different aspects of the holiday season. We also took a break from some of the conversations we have been holding about worship and our building. Now it is time to return the "normal" routine. As much fun as the past couple of weeks have been, I am looking forward to preaching again!

You may have noticed, or will notice if you have missed the last couple of weeks, the two porticoes being built in front of the office and kitchen entrances. Many thanks to the Long Range Planning Committee, particularly Jeanne Thompson, Walter Cole, and Johan MacKenzie, for driving the process: getting the necessary permissions and permits from the Historic District Commission and the various other town boards, collecting bids, and hiring the contractor. Whenever I look at these two porticoes, I smile, because I think of Norm Osberg. Seven or eight years ago, either the first or second year in my ministry here, Norm came to a Standing Committee meeting to express his concerns about the two entrances, noting that both become very slippery and icy in the winter. He then presented his sketches of two porticoes, meticulously measured and drawn, that could be built in order to remedy this situation.

Sue Philips noted at our "Leading Congregations Through Change", church time moves in dog years. We are not structured, so to speak, to make changes in a timely manner unless there is a major crisis to fix. We have a classic example right at our doorstep.

Norm would ask me from time to time about his portico plans. I am sad that he did not live long enough to see us follow through with his idea. But knowing Norm, I imagine too that he forgives us and is just glad that we finally got it done! And I am glad to have this reminder of him every time I walk up to the building, as well as less slippery steps to negotiate. If faith is hope in things not yet seen, we have kept faith with Norm. May we continue to keep faith in what we hope to be and become.


I will be offering the "Healing Conversations" course on loss specifically for teens, beginning Tuesday, January 11th from 7 to 8:30 pm. It will run for four Tuesdays. Any teen who has experienced a loss, whether recent or in the past, is welcome. Loss refers not only to a death of a loved one, but could include a divorce in the family or any other significant life event change. If you have not already contacted me or my co-facilitator, Kathy Deschenes, to sign up, please contact me at 978 256-5555 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In faith,

Rev. Ellen



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 also held our longest night service in the evening. I appreciate so many people coming out on a cold, December night. Everyone was treated to just such beautiful music by the Tervo family and Jessica Gist. While the morning captured the joy and fun of the season, the evening service offered the meditative and quiet side.

On the national scene, Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that has prevented gays and lesbians from serving their country openly. These are not easy times—economically, politically or otherwise. I am glad that senators and representatives from both parties were brave enough to vote on the side of human rights.

Finally, I would like to share from an email conversation between our First Parish team of cooks and Pat, the head cook, for Table of Plenty. Every Tuesday, the Table of Plenty teams of volunteers come to prepare, serve, and clean up a meal for anyone who comes. We have welcomed them to use our vestry and kitchen. Together, we have had to learn to share space and equipment. I know it is not always easy.  But I have watched as we have learned to work together for the larger good of providing some hospitality and a little economic or social support through food. And I have watched as a camaraderie has developed between our cooks and Pat. I have enjoyed watching the trust develop between us as we came to recognize in one another our shared love for making food as our form of prayer or spiritual practice. And I, for one, have learned how to bake rice, create decorative florets from green onions, and whip up “emergency” bread pudding from Pat. After the last evening we cooked, Paul forwarded our feedback to Pat, who sent this email response:

“Dear Friends, I would like to send you all a BIG THANK YOU for all the help you have given to the Table of Plenty and to me. We all do what we can to help out others that are in need.  We do it from our hearts, because that's the kind of people we have become. Caring and sharing is like walking and talking. It's part of us all. God has given us each a special skill. It's how we use it that really counts.  Thank you again for all your help and I am looking forward to working with you in the coming year. Have a wonderful holiday.  PAT SCHROEDER    (GOOD FOOD FEEDS THE BODY. GOOD FRIENDS AND FAMILY FEEDS THE SOUL)”
She has defined “right relationship” as well as anyone I have heard so far. I hope that we continue to find similar ways to experience right relationship in our larger community.

Josh, Sam, Henry, and I wish you all a sane and meaningful Christmas/Solstice, and a wonderful New Year.

In faith,
Rev. Ellen