Sunday after Epiphany

 


Children of the Earth, Nordkapp, Norway.jpg

The season of Epiphany shines the light of the nativity into affairs and circumstances of life. We learn things and recognize the gifts and talents of others. We learn what we are meant to be as children of God. In the Gospel for Sunday. Jesus draws Philip into his life and gives him a new identity. Then Philip calls his friend Nathanael and says to him: You won’t believe what just happened to me. Then Jesus enters into a dialogue about important things with Nathanael. John 1:43-51

The spirit draws each of us into the environment of God’s kingdom. There our existence takes on new colors and shapes. The light of God’s love, brought to us in the name of Jesus, allows confession, forgiveness, healing, peace.

The choir meets at 8:45 am.

Faith formation at 11 am.

Adults are invited to join the confirmation students for a viewing of the PBS film: Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. Thank you to Nancy Meshon for buying the DVD for us. The program will be shown in David Scheidemantel’s room, the first room on the left.

Thank you to Mary Ann and Libby for their work with the flowers and worship appointments.

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Epiphany

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

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Christmas

Because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6.

Children of God! Paul’s letter to the Galatians claims that Christians are children of God.

Children of God is a phrase used, loosely and broadly, to mean everyone: all people are children of God. In some sense this might be true, but Paul means something more specific. Christians are children of God because they know the language of God. The things they do look like the sort of thing that God would do, based on God’s word. Children of God seem to be working for God. They bear the name of Christ–God’s Son–out into the world. They live in families that speak a biblical language of God’s law and God’s gospel. Etc. We will explore the phrase “children of God” and try to determine if that is what we are!

The Christmas season continues in the church. We’ll sing Christmas songs and see the Christmas colors around the altar. If you would like to take your poinsettia home, please do so on Sunday. Thank you to Mary Ann, Carol and Barbara for decorating the church for Christmas.

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am. Thank you to our music director, Kathryn, to the members of the choir, the brass group, the Christmas soloists and all the children who played during the program.


 

 

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In the Bleak Midwinter 2017

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Advent 2017


The gospel for Sunday morning is the annunciation to Mary. When Mary heard what the angel said, she replied, Here I am, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word. Luke 1:38. The story continues with the birth narrative, on the Eve of Christmas. (other feasts of the church year have lessons appointed for their “eves”-Pentecost and Easter for example-but we only get around to celebrating the Eve of Christmas.)

Mary’s servant-spirit is the heart of the Christian faith. What Mary says in the first two chapters of Luke describe the receptive, humble spirit of a Christian. Without Mary’s example, the faith we share is all mind and no soul; it tries to be all business-plan and enthusiasm without wisdom or self-reflection. Christians bear Christ into the world. We do not bear ourselves or our own ideas. There is only one saint who shows us how to receive God’s word and bear Christ into the world. It is not John the Baptist, not Simon Peter, not the Apostle Paul. It is Mary alone. Mary brings Christ to us and teaches us how to worship God and serve others.

We stand at the turn of the seasons. Our fourth Sunday of Advent worship will begin outdoors. Feeling uncomfortable and out of place for a few minutes puts us into the proper relation to creation, and to the world around us. We are not the givers of orders. We are not the bosses. We are not overlords of our little worlds. If we are servants of God’s word in creation, and servants of our neighbors in need, then we need to stand ready to listen and to serve. So be ready to begin our service outdoors on Sunday morning.


As we continue our walk through Advent, we are joined by John the Baptist. It’s always good to have him back. He brings focus and intensity to sleepy Christians like us. John the Baptist wants to shake us out of our spiritual stupors so that we recognize, and are prepared to receive, the gifts that will be given to us.

John the Baptist as an Ohlone Indian, San Juan Bautista, California

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

Young people rehearse their program during the faith formation hour. Instrumentalists, bring your instruments. Readers, bring your script. The dress rehearsal is Saturday, December 16 at 10 am. Following the rehearsal at church, we will all go to Newbury Court, near Emerson Hospital, to present your program to the residents there. Ursula and Perry Smoot live in Newbury Court.

Florence House gifts will be picked up Monday, December 11. Return your gift Sunday, unwrapped, with the tag taped on. Thank you to everyone who participated in this annual appeal. A special word of thanks to Corinne for organizing it.

Sign up to give a poinsettia. The cost is $8.50. Friends of Peace may send an email to me and I will order a poinsettia for you. Include a note, in honor or in memory of someone.

Sign up for the potluck, please. It is December 17, after worship and the Christmas program.

The council meets Tuesday, December 12 at 7:30 pm.

Evening prayer for Advent Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30 pm.

December 24 Fourth Sunday of Advent worship at 9:30 am.

December 24 Christmas Eve worship at 7:30 pm.


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

The second lesson for Sunday is the beginning of Paul’s 1st Letter to the Christians in Corinth. It’s a greeting, a salutation, an introduction that settles us down and directs our attention to words about to be spoken. The season of Advent is like a greeting, an extended announcement that a proclamation is about to be heard. Grace to you and peace from God. These words put us in the right frame of mind and quiet our hearts so that we can hear what is about to be said.

I hope that you all feel the grace of God in your life. I hope you understand that you are loved and appreciated.

New members at Peace: John Van Alsten and Shirley Koulopoulos will join the membership of Peace. Both of them come to us by letter of transfer from Lutheran Church of Framingham. In January, before the semiannual meeting, we will officially receive them. John and Shirley come with gifts of faith and commitment. Both of them will bless our congregation. If you have not introduced yourself to them, please do.

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

The lighting of the first candle in the Advent wreath follows the confession and the Kyrie. We omit the hymn of praise in Advent. We’ll help one another keep a devotional silence as the candle is lighted.

Thank you to Carol and Warren for adorning the Advent wheel with seasonal greens. They have performed this creative service for many years.

During the faith formation hour at 11 am, the children and older students will meet in the worship room to rehearse the Christmas program. Instrumentalists should bring their instruments and their music. Everyone who would like to be in the December 17 program should be there for the rehearsal.

Allen Simon, our intern last year from Harvard Divinity School, will return to speak to us about beauty and movement, art and athletics. Chairs will be set up in the first room on the left (Mr. Scheidemantel’s room). Jordan Mueller will introduce Allen. Thank you to Mary Ann for picking up Allen at the Lincoln station. If someone can help Allen get to a station for a ride back to Cambridge, that will be fine.

There are two sign-ups on the table in the narthex. If you would like to send an email to me, I will put your name on the sign-up sheet(s).

1.) Poinsettias. The cost is $8.50. Checks should be made out to Peace.

2.) Holiday potluck Sunday, December 17. How many people will come and what will you bring.

Bring in paper goods for the Wayland Food Pantry.


Dates for your December Calendars

December 3 Christmas program rehearsal 11 am

December 6 Advent Quiet Prayer 7:30 pm

December 10 Christmas program rehearsal 11 am

December 13 Advent Quiet Prayer 7:30 pm

December 16 Christmas program rehearsal 10 am followed by caroling at Newbury Court in Concord

December 17 Christmas program during morning worship, 9:30 am. Potluck lunch follows the service. Bring a dish to share

December 20 Advent Quiet Prayer 7:30 pm

December 24 Morning worship Holy Communion 9:30 am

December 24 Christmas Eve candlelight Holy Communion 7:30 pm

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November weeks after Pentecost

The great day of the Lord is near…the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the warrior cries aloud there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish. Zephaniah 1:14-15

Last week it was the prophet Amos, and Sunday it will be Zephania telling about the Day of the Lord as judgment and destruction on God’s beloved people!

The end of the world and the cosmic battles that surround it account for many hours of video and movie entertainment for contemporary Americans, for young people especially. We can’t get enough presentations of massive destruction and ear-splitting violence. With a video game controller, every teenage kid can be a virtual conquering warrior, annihilating civilization.

Sometimes when we are afraid and feel powerless, we make big noises and insert ourselves into violent dramas. This is cathartic and relaxing for sheltered people who are not in immediate danger of being caught up in actual violence. In a quick survey of our entertainment choices, it would follow that nearly everyone alive in America is afraid of the future and powerless to create a better world. We entertain ourselves with images of civilization destroyed, and of the created world scorched.

We have a role to play here. I am not big on censorship. If these feelings are out there, let them play out. I prefer looking for and listening to those who offer constructive visions of existence, better images, truer, stronger, braver ways of life. The day of wrath (or days of wrath and destruction that come one after another to our movie theaters and game systems) are cheap thrills that take our minds off the better things of life.

Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians: God has not destined you for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore encourage one another….

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

Council members will meet during the faith-formation hour with those who have indicated their intention to join Peace.

Florence House gift tags are in the window of the fellowship hall. Take a gift tag and return the gift unwrapped.

Bring in feminine hygiene products and place them in the collection basket. They will be distributed to homeless women through Dignity Matters. http://www.dignity-matters.org. ;

Wayland Community Thanksgiving service Sunday, November 19 at Congregation Or Atid, beginning at 7 pm. There will be a collection at the door for Dignity Matters.

November is stewardship month. The congregation council is preparing a budget for the coming year. Our congregation touches the lives of many people. By making a member or friend pledge you make our ministry possible. Consider increasing your pledge this year. Complete a pledge card and place it in the offering plate.

Thank you to everyone who finds ways to help around the church. This morning I was reminded again–as I often am–of how we are a community, sharing life together. These are a few examples: Mary Ann continues her work on the grounds, clearing brush and removing it. Stephanie planted strawberries in the small plot next to the building. Ron installed lights for the walkway. Late in the fall, Emilie still tends the Peace garden. Kim Canning folds the Celebrate inserts. There are other things that many of you do regularly, and things you do anonymously, to make life better for everyone. Thanks for all you do.

 


Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13

The farmer/prophet Amos told the children of Israel that they should not be smug and self-assured, certain that they were keeping God’s law, and sure of God’s favor to them. Jesus told his disciples that the fullness of the kingdom of heaven would come like a thief in the night, without warning, to the disciples. Therefore they should keep awake, spiritually speaking.

The Gospel readings for the end of the church year turn to the end of days. Sunday we will think about the biblical ideas of the Day of the Lord and listen to Jesus teach about the fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven.

The executive committee meets Sunday at 11 am for preliminary discussions of the budget for the coming year. The council meets Monday, November 13 at 7:30 pm. Think about your level of giving to the church in calendar year 2018 and return your pledge card.

Family Promise weeks end Sunday. High school and confirmation youth will collect your quarters again and take the laundry to Maynard to wash it. Students should bring money for lunch.

Bring in canned goods for the Wayland food pantry.

You will note a change in the place of Sunday morning announcements. Greetings and brief announcements may be made within the service, but extended announcements about our life together and ministry in the world will be made at the coffee hour, allowing for discussion and clarification and immediate response. Let’s see how it goes.

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Sunday of the Reformation 2017

Martin LutherĀ  –Albrecht Aldorfer, 1480-1538
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

On our liturgical calendar, All Saints Day is November 1. The evening before All Saints Day is All Saints Eve (Halloween). Luther posted his ninety-five theses concerning the sale of indulgences on the eve of All Saints, 1517. We celebrate the Protestant Reformation on the Sunday closest to Reformation Day. This year many churches have planned commemorations of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s famous posting. There will be solemn processions and beer drinking contests, prayers of confession and music festivals. Luther’s reforms broke what he and others determined was the tyranny of Rome’s spiritual authority. Eventually Reformation principles opened wide, world-changing doors of learning, exploration and religious freedom. The Christian church splintered into denominations. Religious authority was relocated from Rome to the hearts of every baptized Christian. Spiritual energy was unleashed. People tried to read the Bible. Everyone became an expert. The secular world evolved. Atheists came out from under rocks. Spiritual insight as well as spiritual complacency followed.

The founding of nations, establishment of constitutional governments, pursuit of scientific research and new patterns of learning appeared. When Luther posted those 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church, he opened the door to the development of the Western world as it has been experienced for 500 years, for better and for worse.

Our service on Sunday will depart from normal patterns in favor of readings from Luther’s works (and from parts of the Bible that have become associated with the Reformation), singing of hymns by Luther and by one or two other Reformation-era hymn writers. Our service will be in-large-part the same as the one followed at St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Newton Lower Falls. Thank you to Kirsten Johnson for designing the service and for sharing it with us, and to the Rev. George Stevens and the Rev. Bruce Jacobson for their Christian friendship.

Periodically we take a moment to honor a long-time member of the congregation, or someone who has served the rest of us in an extraordinary way. Sunday, just a couple weeks after her birthday, we will thank Jane Olson for her many years of devotion to her faith through involvement at Peace.

Family Promise host weeks begin Sunday. Pray for the families who will come into our church and for the volunteers who will serve them. Family Promise is a core ministry of our congregation. I hope that all our members will try to find a way to help with the tasks of hospitality that fill the weeks.

Parents have been taking a poll about the Christmas program. If you have not yet voted, do so this week.

Bring in offerings of food for the Wayland Food Pantry. This is a good discipline for you when you come to church every week. Take something off your own pantry shelf and bring it with you. Before you go in for worship, place what you brought in the basket. Someone who does not have as much as you have will eventually take the item home.

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