First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church
December 2021 Newsletter

Our Vision:
We aspire to be a beacon of
liberal religion, strong community,
and transformative service,
rooted in Love.
Liberal Religion
Sundays in December at 10:30 a.m.  The Inn: Making Room for the Holy
The pandemic has laid bare, and widened, economic disparity locally and globally. In this season, we will imagine how our church can become a house where the Holy will be born anew. 

Services are now indoors. Everyone attending must be masked and are asked to be vaccinated if that is possible. Windows and doors are open to allow for air circulation, so dress warmly. The service is also streamed each Sunday on the First Parish Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account to watch it. 
Sunday December 5 How the Shepherds Made Room
Our Advent worship series The Inn: Making Room for the Holy continues with the story of the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks and how making room for the holy changed their lives and could change our own. Pamela will preach and lead a children’s conversation using the large box again. Becky, Seth, Max, and Olivia will bring in the Advent candle of Peace and lead us in lighting the menorah for the 7th night of Hanukkah.

Elizabeth will play The Snow Lay on the Ground arranged by James Denton and Gentle Mary Laid her Child arranged by James Southbridge. The choir will sing More Than Welcome Here by Bryan Sirchio and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan.

Sunday December 12    The Music of Joy
In our annual service celebrating the music of the season, our choir will sing two anthems, When the Poor Ones by Jose Antonio Olivar and Miguel Manzano and Hear the Joy by Arcadelt arranged by Patrick Liebergen. Accompanied by Beverly on flute, Elizabeth will play Sheep May Safely Graze by J.S. Bach. Readings will reflect on how Mary made room not just for a baby but for courage and joy. Lin will share this week’s box story with the children.
Sunday December 19 Welcoming the Holy
What happens when the holy arrives in our lives in ways we hadn’t expected or maybe don’t even want? The story of Joseph making room for a child in his life gives us some ideas. Pamela preaching.
Sunday December 26 Dwelling with the Holy
How do we put into practice the ways we’ve envisioned for welcoming the holy? Pamela will lead this multigenerational service. And we’ll sing lots of Christmas carols. Our collection of hats, mittens, and socks ends today. Please bring them to fill our box.
Christmas Eve Services Friday December 24 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
As of now, we are planning on in-person Christmas Eve services in the sanctuary. If our Health Task force closer to the date feels that is not safe, plans will change.  

Both services will be candle-lit. The 4 p.m. will be shorter, with children acting out the Christmas Eve story Room for a Little One by Martin Wadell. At the 7 p.m. service our choir will sing. Pamela and Elizabeth will lead both services. If you would like to read at one of the services, please speak with Pam. If you would like to usher, please speak with Cathie.
From the Minister
I’m using Haphazard by Starlight by Janet Morley for my contemplative reading this season. The book offers a poem a day by authors such as Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, and Emily Dickinson for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. As you might guess from these poets, for the most part these are not specifically Christmas poems, and even the ones using seasonal imagery aren’t what you might think of when you think of Christmas poetry. These are poems about darkness - the darknesses of the self, the season, and the society. Some offer the hope of light breaking in; others encourage the reader to sit with and in the darkness. These poems feel appropriate to me not just for the season but for this season - Advent 2021 - when we are facing so many challenges in the context of the never ending pandemic. We need to recognize the darkness this year especially, not just put lights up to counter it. So each evening I am taking time to sit with one of these poems, read Janet Morley’s reflections on them and let my own bubble up. How might you sit with the darkness this month? If you’d like to talk about practices or about how the darkness feels to you, please remember I am here.

Here is the title poem: BC:AD by U.A. Fanthorpe

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

May you find yourself walking haphazard by starlight at some point this month.

See you in Church,
December 2021 Notes from the Music Director
The music chosen for the services this season highlight the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love, as we Make Room for the Holy. Amanda Udis- Kessler composed the beautiful songs the congregation will sing each week : Hope Waits for Us at Advent, and Make of My Life a Stable.   
Choir rehearsals continue Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the sanctuary. 
Our choral anthems for the month of December:  

12/5  More Than Welcome Here by Bryan Sirchio and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan.
12/12 When the Poor Ones by Jose Antonio Olivar and Miguel Manzano
Hear the Joy by Arcadelt - arranged by Patrick Liebergen, Lin Haire-Sargeant, drummer.

12/19 O Ancient Love, words by Michal Joncas set to the tune of Finlandia.

12/24 7:00 pm service: The Manger is Stranger by Amanda Udis-Kessler
How Far Is It to Bethlehem ( English carol) arranged by Mark Hayes

12/26- No Choir Rehearsal

Thank you to Beverly for playing the flute for the Thanksgiving service. She will join us again for the music service on December 12th. We will play Sheep May Safely Graze, by J.S. Bach, arranged for flute and piano.  

Noah will sing How Far Is It to Bethlehem at the 4:00 pm Christmas Eve service. 

Beverly will add flute music for the 7:00 pm service.

From the Religious Education Coordinator
Happy December!

PreK/K-6th grade RE children began a 4-week Advent series with teachers Carey, Cara, and Tom on Sunday, November 28th. With Hanukkah beginning at sunset Sunday, November 28th, we read The Chanukkah Guest, a charming book by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Giora Carmi, about the first night of Hanukkah. In the story a blind and nearly deaf woman, who makes the best latkes in town, is expecting the Rabbi for dinner. The story takes a fun twist when she mistakes a big hungry bear for the Rabbi. Fish made a super-sized blue pipe menorah for class and we talked about the significance of the menorah and the eight candles in the Jewish culture. On Sunday, December 5th, Fish will set up the menorah again for us to light all the candles. Finally, we embellished brown paper bear paw cutouts with glitter, markers, and crayons to decorate the inside of the church.

Every Sunday we"ll read a book that highlights the joyous season of Christmas and the importance of generosity: The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and pictures by Gail de Marcken, The Mitten a Ukrainian Folktale adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett, and Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell. (At the earlier service on Christmas Eve, the children will act out this story.) Each week we'll talk about generosity coming in the form of a smile to someone who is sad or lonely, sharing cushions with others who don't (RE) have a place to sit, asking a new classmate to join them at lunch, or sharing toys so everyone gets a try. And we'll continue to make more ornaments to decorate the church.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) for children grades 7-9, continues with teachers Jenn and Brian for one double class in December . This month OWL will meet Sunday, December 12th at the church at 4:30 pm. Teachers send out emails to parents after each session to inform them of topics discussed. The OWL curriculum teaches responsible sexual health and behavior, focusing on a range of topics including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.

RE Committee Update: On Thursday, November 18, 8:00 pm: Co-Chair Becky and RE Coordinator Eileen talked via phone briefly after technical difficulties interrupted the planned zoom meeting. The main topics covered were finding teachers for the Winter session (Sunday, January 9- Sunday, March 6) and Spring session (Sunday, March 14 - Sunday, May 8), and the upcoming Christmas pageant for all who attend to participate.

Our next meeting is Thursday December 9 at 8:00 pm, via Zoom.

Strong Community
First Parish Needs:
The holiday lights fixed on the pine tree in the front yard
Small trees planted to winter in the pots on the front steps
Readers for Christmas Eve services (adults, youth, and children)
Tea with the Minister  
Thursdays December 2, 9, 16 and 23 
 4:30-5:30 p.m. 

Zoom in with a cup of your favorite beverage for tea and conversation with Pam and other members of the First Parish community. You are welcome to drop in for a few minutes or stay for the full hour.
Thank You to the Congregation
Thank you all for the lovely flowers and poster that was made for my fifth year anniversary! It was very unexpected and appreciated!

Stephanie, Parish Administrator
Are you a morning person? Do you wake up on Sundays with a smile on your face? Do you enjoy collecting money from strangers and friends? Then we have the opportunity you have been looking for! Join the Usher Team at FPUUC!

We are looking for people to volunteer to usher for 2022!*** We will have a rotating (and abbreviated) schedule from January through June. Although the routines for indoor services are still evolving, we will provide the training! You can serve with a spouse, friend, family member or let us pair you with one of our friendly ushers! We welcome high school youth too! You need to be at church by 10:00 am on your Sunday, and stay after about 15 minutes straightening up the pews, etc.  

***If you are an RE teacher, this is not a good fit, but we would gladly use your talents for our Christmas Eve services! (Teachers make excellent child-wranglers!) The details are still being worked out for this December (2021) but please let us know if you are interested.

Ushers greet at the door, make sure everyone is masked, direct people to open pews (we are socially distancing and pews are marked), light & extinguish the candles, collect the Offering, assist in any special set-up that Sunday (Joys & Concerns, etc.) and straighten hymnals and pews after the service, as well as other small duties.

This is a great way to get involved, meet and greet new people and participate in one of our ministries of hospitality. You do not need to be a member of First Parish to be an usher.

If you are interested, please email Cathie for more information, or to "join the team"!

Snowflake Fair -December 4, 2021 - 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Come pick up a gift or something for yourself. Bring friends and neighbors! 

We have:
  • Freshly cut Trees and hand-decorated Wreathes l
  • Jams, Jellies and Pickles
  • Warm knitted scarves;
  • Favorite jewelry
  • Home-made fudge and candy
  •  Newly published books, signed by the author.

Members and Friends Directory
Our Directory is regularly updated. Please check to make sure your entry is up to date and send any changes or corrections to the Parish Administrator.
...Transformative Service
Filling the Box
Our Story for All Ages on Sunday mornings this month features a box. The box will engage our imaginations each week by being used as anything but a box - until Sunday December 26 when we hope to fill it (and it’s BIG!) with hats and mittens to be distributed to children in Massachusetts through Cradles to Crayons and socks for unhoused women and men to be distributed through Haley House. Please bring your contributions throughout the month and place them on the shelf behind the communion table. And then on December 26 help fill the box.  
Sponsor A Woman
Shannon is part of a fundraising campaign called Sponsor a Woman. The group provides holiday gifts to women in local shelters due to domestic violence, widowers, and the elderly in nursing homes. This time of year can be incredibly difficult and isolating for many adults. Sponsor a Woman was created to make sure that every woman receives a gift during the holidays. A reason to smile and a bit of hope can go a long way. 

Shannon is collecting donations to sponsor women at two local shelters, Safe Harbor in Hyannis and The Renewal House in Boston run by UU Urban Ministry.

Because of a donation match, each donation of $25 gifts one woman with $50 worth of self-care products. There will be a donation plate out on Sunday Dec 5th and Dec 12th if you would like to make a contribution to the cause.

For more information, contact Shannon.
Social Justice News
Please join the Social Justice Team at any of our regular meetings on the first Monday and third Tuesday of each month from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. This month we meet on December 6 and December 21. Among other topics, we will be discussing plans for activities related to the draft Land Acknowledgement statement presented to the congregation in October. We hope to engage the congregation in activities such as learning about local Indigenous Peoples through book groups, movie nights or researching relevant Scituate history, or finding out how we can support two current legislative items that benefit Indigenous Peoples. Let us hear your ideas on the best ways to make the statement meaningful to you and others in the congregation. We also are interested in hearing about the social justice topics that most interest you and how we can help connect you with others with similar goals. We’d love to see you at one of our meetings!

-Ellen, Social Justice Team
December Calendar 2021
Wed.  1st 
6:00    pm      Wreath Decorating
Thurs. 2nd 
4:30    pm      Tea with the Minister (Zoom)
Fri.     3rd
4:00    pm      Fair Drop-off
Sat.     4th
9:00    am      Snowflake Fair
Sun.   5th
9:00    am      Choir Rehearsal
10:30  am      Worship and RE
Mon. 6th
7:00    pm      Social Justice Committee (Zoom)
Wed. 8th
7:30    pm      Parish Committee
Thurs. 9th 
4:30    pm      Tea with the Minister (Zoom)
8:00    pm      RE Committee (Zoom)
Sun.   12th
9:00    am      Choir Rehearsal
10:30  am      Worship and RE
4:30    pm      OWL
Thurs. 16th 
4:30    pm      Tea with the Minister (Zoom)
Sat.     18th 
2:00    pm      Memorial Service for Dean Morrissey
Sun.   19th 
9:00    am      Choir Rehearsal
10:30  am      Worship and RE
Thurs. 23rd 
4:30    pm      Tea with the Minister (Zoom)

Fri.     24th 
4:00    pm      Christmas Eve Service
7:00    pm      Christmas Eve Service
Sun.   28th 
10:30  am      Worship