Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone:
An "Open & Affirming" Church
(781) 334-3050;Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email: Office@Centre-Church.org
The Rev. Dr. Dennis
C. Bailey, Pastor - Pastor@Centre-Church.org
December 20, 2006
Finding Love and Christmas in the Strangest of Places
I am mindful of how hard many of us work to prepare for Christmas. I am mindful of how I have worked so hard to prepare for Christmas some years. Is it worth it? Most of the time, it has been worth it for me, but by the time Christmas Day arrives I can be thoroughly exhausted. Yes, in my case, some of it has to do with my job, but I see some people a lot more exhausted than I am by the time Christmas Day arrives. Most important, I don't want the preparations and the exhaustion to prevent us from experiencing and enjoying the day and the event of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, child of God, Messiah of the World, our Savior. That would bother me.
Yet, Christmas can come anytime, anywhere, 365 days and nights a year and, every four years, 366 days and nights a year. Jesus was born in a place that was NOT prepared for him. Jesus was born in a time that was NOT prepared for him. Jesus was born a Savior NOT like the world expected. So, even as we work hard to prepare for Christmas, it will most likely NOT come as we expect.
People have come to the Christmas Eve Service hoping to feel the very presence of God in the atmosphere of family and friendship. Some of us attend once or twice a year just for this very thing, hoping we will get back on track.
It was the end of the Christmas Eve Service. People had attended the service in the hope of finding the Christmas Spirit, of finding it in the music and sermon, of seeing it in the nicely decorated church sanctuary, which included a Christmas Tree, simply decorated with a set of white lights.
The sanctuary had mostly emptied and I was taking a deep breath knowing that my work as pastor was done, or so I thought. I turned around to find a young man in his late teens. He and his family had been attending the church of late. They were not well off and were struggling. He asked me, there, on Christmas Eve, if I knew where he could get a Christmas Tree for his family's Christmas. I said, No, I don't know where you can get a Christmas Tree at this late hour but, and I turned to look at the one in the sanctuary, you can have this one. He said, Are you sure? I said, Of course. It's for Christmas. It's for you.
Do you know what? No one ever asked me what happened to the Christmas Tree that year. I recently had a discussion about whether the Christmas Tree is of Christian origins or not. It was that year!
Merry Christmas, my friends,
expected and unexpected.
P.S.: Dear members and friends of Centre Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Lynnfield, MA: Thanks for welcoming me to your church for this very special Christmas. Thanks for making others, visitors and friends, also feel so very welcome. You have the heart of Jesus, born on Christmas. You have, oh so generously, shared it with me and I say with pride, with so many others.
IN THE SANCTUARY
10:00 a.m.- 4th Sunday in Advent - Christmas Pageant
Led by the children of the church.
The Pageant tells the story of the Birth of Jesus through our unique dramatic interpretation.
5:00 p.m. Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary
Designed with children in mind.
Music by the Youth Choir and a Christmas Message for Children of all ages by Rev. Dr. Bailey
Familiar Carols, Christmas Scriptures concluding with Silent Night in candlelight.
11:00 p.m. Candlelight Service in the Chapel
A joyful celebration that tells the story of Jesus Birth with the aid of Scripture, Preaching,
our inspiring Senior Choir, Instrumentalists and Familiar Carols.
The service concludes with Silent Night in candlelight.
Dec. 23in the Sanctuary. No costumes needed.
Dec. 24 - in Todd Hall. Players should wear the colors listed on the paper sent home.
Theres always room for another shepherd or angel in the Christmas Pageant! Please call Linda Ladd with any questions 781-334-6170.
Each year our special Christmas Offering is divided between local Centre Church needs and a recipient designated by the Missions Commission. The Missions portion this year will be divided between My Brothers Table in Lynn and Church World Service targeting African concerns. Please make your check out to Centre Church with the notation Christmas Offering. You may use the special Christmas Envelope in your envelope packet or in the pew racks.
Youth Group News
The High School Youth will be meeting on Friday, December 29 at 4:00 p.m. to go serve dinner at My Brothers Table in Lynn. Please call Mrs. Langill at the church office if you plan to attend but have not yet turned in your permission slip.
No Youth Group Meetings on Sunday, Dec. 24 or Sunday, Dec. 31.
Tower Day School
Tower Day School is accepting applications from Church Members and present Tower Day school families for enrollment for the 2007/2008 academic year. We have programs for 3 year olds, 4 year olds and kindergarten students. Please call the school office (781-334-5576) to receive an application.
Harvey and Jean Card
Chuck, Debbie and Jason Cotting
Ed and Barbara Ericson
Henry and Sally Flickinger
The Gehret Family
The Hal Holappa Family
Lola and Stephen Leggett
Bud and Shirley Orr
Jack and Charlotte Orrall
Edie and Earl Richard
The Spear Family
The Triffletti Family
Bradlee and Larry Troy
Carl and Olive Wood
Please notice the cards on the tree in the narthex from your friends who are opting to send a gift to City Mission Society instead of sending individual cards.
Its not too late! Cards will be added to the tree as they are received and another list of names will be in the next issue of Tower Notes.
On Sunday, January 7, we will be having a special Epiphany Celebration. Each child is asked to bring a canned item or non-perishable food with them when we leave to go to the Chapel. These will be offered as gifts and later donated to a local food pantry.
Come to the FAIR!!
Its not a Christmas Fair; not a Craft Fair; definitely not the Holiday Bazaar, though some might describe it as bizarre. Its the No Fair. However, you can say yes at the No Fair which will be held in the narthex after church on January 7. The Christmas season is full of wonder, so if you are wondering what this No Fair is all about stay tuned!
Thank You to Joe Gallo of Plantscape Designs for the beautiful poinsettias we had in church on December 17. Thanks to Pinky Warnock, Nancy Loyd and Marcia Stevens for arranging the spectacular display and to Shirley Orr for organizing the deliveries that so many people made to shut-ins and those recently bereaved.
Many Thanks to all those who baked such delicious goodies for the Christmas Concert. Debbie Cotting
Thank You to everyone who brought cookies for the Cookie Swap and for all those who purchased our decorated boxes to fill with cookies. With your generosity we were able to raise $480.00 for this years High School Mission Trip.
We are looking an environmental expert/enthusiast to talk with our 8th Grade Class on Feb. 11 about environmental issues. If you, or someone you know, is willing to come talk to our group in the morning during church, please contact Jill or Barbara.
From the Mailbox
My many thanks for the lovely altar flowers given to me last week and for the pleasant visit from Phyllis Robinson. She was most kind and thoughtful. I am improving gradually and certainly look forward to being out and about again.
Candlelight Service Sanctuary
Candlelight Service Chapel
|Church Office Open 9am Noon|
Study Pastors Office
Sr. High Youth Group to My Brothers Table, Lynn
|10:00 am||Morning Worship Sanctuary|
|Happy New Year!|
Council Pastors Office
Knitting Group Fireside Room
& Roses Meal Prep-Kit.
Membership Pastors Office
|7:30 pm||Sr. Choir Choir Room|
Our thoughts and prayers are with Steven Stantial, Lewiston, ME; Marion Edkins at Renaissance Gardens, 400 Brooksby Village Dr., Peabody, 01960; Hal Holappa at the Veterans Hospital, 200 Springs Rd., Bedford, 01730; Mildred Lisi at SunBridge, 134 North St., N. Reading, 01864; Catherine Newman at Oostermans 93 Laurel St., Melrose, 02176; Jack Turner at Arnold House, 490 William St., Stoneham, 02180; and Marge Cole, and Barbara Wright Watson recuperating at home.
We also remember Michael Blute in Iraq.
The next Tower Notes will be the week of Jan. 2