If you are visiting us for the first time, please allow us to extend our warmest greetings. We are an open and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. We look forward to having you join us in worship.
We are open for in-person Sunday Worship services for those who are fully vaccinated and masked. We strongly encourage those who have not yet been fully vaccinated to continue joining us via Zoom.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! First, two reminders: We will have a potluck Thanksgiving luncheon following worship tomorrow, with turkey generously prepared by Lisa Groo. Please bring your favorite side dishes as we continue the holiday season on this first Sunday of Advent! Please also mark your calendars for December 10th, when we will have our Quarterly Meeting following worship.
There are ways in which the church (liturgical/worship) calendar leaps out at us in the secular world, even while sometimes more subtle things happen during worship. Advent this year is not one of those subtle shifts, with the movement from Matthew’s Gospel to the Gospel of Mark coming as a bit of a jolt. In Mark, we meet apocalyptic predictions and harsh words of judgment. Still, we know this quiet season to be one in which we look for hope, and hope there is. In days that grow shorter, afternoons feeling like evening, we long for light and are promised that light. We begin moving toward Christmas in that spirit of hope. Knowing that the vocabulary of our faith is new to some people and, at best, unfamiliar to some of us, during Advent I will preach on some of the terms that may give us pause. From where does our light come?
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! After a filling and fulfilling Thanskgiving holiday, we can look to tomorrow as a kind of New Years’ Eve in the Christian calendar. As such, we read texts assigned for what is variously called The Reign of Christ Sunday or Christ the King Sunday. I prefer the former, because of considering the entire world as God’s realm, and because of considering God’s “rulership” through Jesus to be so counter to our usual earthly notions of kingship. Still, elements of the texts from Ezekiel and Matthew do remind us that our sovereign requires of us behavior that is just and merciful. It is in regard to this that we hear familiar mention of sheep and goats–mention that may make us uncomfortable. That is the paradox of Jesus’ claim on our lives. We are asked to be uncomfortable if the way we live runs counter to the ways of justice and mercy. Let us move together from thanks giving to a deep desire for God’s reign on earth as we move toward the season of Advent, when we make ourselves ready for Jesus’ coming into the world in peace.
A reminder, too: our children will gather during worship to create Advent wreathes for their homes, leaving after the Children’s Message. Also, please mark your calendars for December 10th, when we will have our Quarterly Meeting following worship, accompanied by cookies and cocoa.
“Gratitude” It’s an easy emotion to feel when we are the recipients of a kindness or a present or words of approbation. It doesn’t come so easily when we are grieving or have been wounded by a loved one’s anger or treated unjustly by a someone in authority or are overwhelmed with more responsibilities than we have the time or energy to manage. We have been given gifts, some of which we can immediately recognize as gifts, and some of which may seem more like curses than gifts. All of these, however, are worthy of our gratitude. At Sunday worship we will hear Jesus’ parable of the three servants given “talents” by their master and what they do with those talents. We can learn through this parable how God would have us care for the gifts/talents we have been given.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” You may be familiar with this quotation from the 5th chapter of the prophet Amos. It is a rallying point for social action groups and has been for some time. Hearing it in the context of the longer pericope (section of text) that makes up our Hebrew Bible lesson for tomorrow might draw a less comfortable or encouraging reaction, however. What exactly are we called to say and do when the world around us appears less than just or righteous? Amos in his time and Paul in his offer us different kinds of encouragement or fire under us, even when it isn’t easy to hear. I look forward to pondering this with you during our worship this week.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! I hope that many of us will gather this evening for Dolly’s Coffeehouse entertainment at 7:00, with a number of varied performers during the first hour of open mic and a set to follow from Bill Schubeck and his band Moment’s Notice. I look forward to joining that group this evening as further trumpet backing to a wonderful vocalist. We might consider this sort of social gathering evidence of a phrase in which I believe: “the people that pray together stay together.”
So, of course we also look forward to our Sunday morning worship, during which we will celebrate the sacrament of Communion and through our worship remember the saints who have gone before us. The first Sunday following November 1st is set aside for All Saints’ worship, and this year we will focus on the text of what have come to be known as the Beatitudes. You’ll recognize these “blessed are they” sayings. What may not have struck you before is just how powerful is the good news they carry for all who struggle with any kind of adversity. We also look at the model of the people from whom we have learned our faith tradition and may see that they must be blessed, indeed, because of the goodness of their lives. While we may be wistful in missing them, we also recall with the writer of the book of Revelation that they now know a brilliance we may long for. Let’s worship together and know the ways we bring that light here among us, as well.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! I want to add to what I had already written here two notes to keep in mind for tomorrow: one is that the afternoon “spooky concert” IS tomorrow, Sunday the 29th, at 4:00pm.
The other additional note follows on what has been a nerve and spirit-racking time for all of us in Maine. Several individuals had expressed concern about our gathering for worship while the perpetrator of the tragedy in Lewiston was still at large. Sadly, for his family, he was found dead last night, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. So, that immediate concern is allayed. While Card’s death eases the worry people around the state have been feeling, we continue to pray for the victims and their families. We pray as we look forward with the earnest intent of making necessary changes to stop incidents like this being repeated. I hope that we can be a center for conversation and action to end gun violence of any kind and certainly on this scale.
We do this as people of faith in a loving God who calls us to love, which is the challenge presented in this week’s scripture lessons. Although the leaders of the temple pose questions to Jesus with the intention of tripping him up, of making him appear sacrilegious or ignorant, his responses steer them and us in a different and challenging way. What does it really mean to love others as ourselves? We will have the opportunity to consider this together during our worship, which also invites us to sing together an old and familiar song as we pray in harmony.