Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An Open and Affirming Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email: Office@Centre-Church.org
The Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey, Pastor - Pastor@Centre-Church.org
Advent: Full of Surprises
The Advent story is full of surprises. The Hebrew people knew that the prophets had foretold of a Messiah who would be coming, as per texts like the following:
"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3, NIV).
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
And yet, when it happened, they were surprised. It was difficult for many to realize and believe. Maybe John the Baptist made it hard to believe, given he wore “clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:9).
Maybe people were surprised because John told them that they had to do something to prepare for the coming of God. I can imagine that some might have said, “What are you talking about, John, you mean to say to us that God expects us, needs us, to do something as a way of preparing the way? Why doesn't God just come and fix things, making peace, giving us all the food we need, etc.?”
And, no doubt, some were surprised that God would actually come in the form of a child. Yes, the birth of a child was part of the prophecy, but given this was the Messiah who was coming, it was only natural to think and expect, some might argue, that heaven and earth would literally open, and the earth would shake, mountains tremble, and the oceans rage on the occasion of the arrival of the Messiah so that there would be no doubt on the part of everyone on earth that God had arrived. You know, like “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” But of course, while there were reports of angels singing and a star shining and leading, and such, there are no reports of natural or supernatural events in the heavens and/or the earth that would have made it possible for the whole of the human race to know of God's arrival.
In my experience, there are differences between our expectations and the reality. When someone tells me that they've bought a new home and described it to me, I immediately draw a picture of it in my mind of what I think it looks like. But, of course, the reality is always different. Surprise!
When I was a child, I thought about what I would look like and be like later in life, what I would be doing. But of course, the reality has been and is a lot different. Surprise!
No doubt, many of us have ideas and visions of how Jesus does and will come to us. Surprise, but the reality is usually, if not always, different.
We expect God to come to us with lots of noise and fanfare. We expect God to walk up to us and show us God’s credentials, ie., thunder, lighting, instant peace on earth, the poor no longer poor, the homeless having a shelter…. Someday, I pray!
But in this Advent, I know, again, I will be surprised by the presence of Christ, how God comes to me and to you. And so, I look, watch, pray, stay attentive, prepare, set aside quiet time at home, remain attentive in every encounter I have with people, in worship, in the mundane, in the amazing, in all of the in-between. I expect to be surprised, by God.
I remember and read these words from the Gospel of John, 1:26-27, John the Baptist, speaking to the Pharisees, said, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
Were they surprised to hear this from John? Probably. I know that I would be surprised if it were actually true. Not sure that I would have believed John, at the time. Jesus standing among us and we don’t even know it??? That we don’t recognize Jesus’ presence doesn’t surprise me. It happens every day. That we fail to prepare for his coming, doesn’t surprise me. Happens every day.
What surprises me is that Jesus keeps on coming, walking among us, keeps forgiving us, loving us, and giving us new life. Happens every day.
Where is Jesus standing among us? Is it the one in the well-groomed suit? The one who washes our feet in the hospital, the one who waits upon us at the restaurant, the grandmother who never gives up on us even though we make bad choices??? Surprise!
Let’s just pretend that everyone we meet is Jesus and then, I know that they will be surprised by the wonderful way we treat them. And, thinking that we might be Jesus, well, we’ll all be surprised.
Have a blessed Advent!
Yours in Christ,
IN THE SANCTUARY
December 7, 2008
Second Sunday in Advent
Candle of Peace
Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8
10:00 A.M. Holy Communion
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
“Can We Do Both: Comfort and Repentance?”
Children’s Message: “Music in Worship”
Children may worship with their families for the entire service.
Nursery is open in Room 14.
Advent Celebration – December 7
Join the Fun!
Advent Lunch Fundraiser: Stewardship will be hosting a lunch this coming Sunday, December 7th after church service. Please join us in our second fundraiser, enjoying Christmas fellowship over a cup of soup; lunch of lobster rolls, ($10.00) or pizza, ($2.00); beverage and dessert. This is a great opportunity to welcome in the holiday season and support our Supplemental Pledge Drive Campaign.
Advent Workshop: Please join us for our annual Advent Workshop which will be held immediately after worship in Richards Hall on Sunday, Dec 7. There will be crafts and activities for all ages, as well as caroling with Doug Hodgkins on piano.
Cookie Swap: On Sunday, Dec 7, the High School Youth Group will be holding their 4th annual Cookie Swap fundraiser. The youth have been hard at work decorating the cookie containers which will sell for $5.00 (small) and $10.00 (large). We are asking that everyone help by donating two dozen cookies on or before Dec 7. Youth will be on hand to bring your cookies down to Richards Hall Sunday morning. After worship, come down, buy a decorated container and fill it up with a variety of yummy treats. All money raised will go toward this year’s Mission Trip to New Orleans.
Mini-Fair:Browse the tables of crafts and like-new gifts which will be available in Richards Hall following worship on December 7. Many beautiful items will be offered for your shopping pleasure!
News for Youth and Children
Nursery continues to be held each week in Room 14. We welcome infants through age 3 for stories and playtime. Trained staff and volunteers are on hand to welcome you and your little ones. Stop by today to say hello. Please note that pagers are available for all parents.
We welcome children and youth to join us in the sanctuary this Sunday, December 7 to celebrate communion and to learn about the importance of music during worship time.
There will not be any youth group meetings this Sunday, December 7. Please plan to help out at the Advent Workshop and Cookie Swap instead!
Opportunities for High School Youth
We have several service opportunities scheduled for the month of December to help youth see some of the agencies the church supports. You may choose one, two or all three. Please call the church office and let us know you are able to volunteer.
Sat., Dec. 6 9:15 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.: Bread and Roses, helping prepare for Christmas.
Sun., Dec. 14 11:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Cooking a meal here at church for My Brother’s Table
Friday, Dec. 19 4:15-7:15 p.m.: Haven from Hunger, serving evening meal.
Adult chaperones/drivers are needed for Dec. 6 and 19. Please let Barbara Langill know if you can help.
Christmas Concert – December 14
Plan to join us for a concert on Sunday, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. All are invited to enjoy the music of the Christmas season with us. Come and bring a friend! Refreshments will be offered following the program.
News From Around the Parish
We extend our love and sympathy to Jane Thompson and her family upon the death of her husband, William on November 29. His funeral was held at Centre Church on Wednesday, December 3.
Animal Shelter Donations
The 7th & 8th Grade Class will be collecting donations for the Northeast Animal Shelter through Sunday, Dec 14. Please leave your donations in the box in the Narthex. Items needed include: Canned dog/cat foot, dry puppy/cat food, dog/cat treats, chew toys, squeaky toys, Dog Kongs, Kitty Kongs, felt mice and Catnip, Digital thermometers, Frontline, Heartguard Plus Chewables, Dog/Cat beds (new), paper and cloth towels, blankets, cat litter, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, Q-tips, cotton balls, and laundry detergent. For a more details, go to: www.northeastanimalshelter.org/help/inkind.php
Hatha Yoga Class
Two Yoga classes are held each Tuesday evening in the narthex. These drop-in classes are offered at a discounted rate for church members. Call Kathy Riese, 781-334-2341 for more information.
Shopping with Spirit
Simplify your holiday shopping and support Centre Church! You can purchase shopping cards from a wide variety of retailers and restaurants. Just stop by our table in the narthex on Sunday morning to place your order. To view the list of participating retailers, visit the Great Lakes Scrip Centre website www.glscrip.com.
If you have questions, please call Debbie Cotting (781-593-3120) or Sandi Watson (781-334-7032).
The Giving Tree
We will be collecting the following items under the Christmas Tree in the narthex for residents of the Crombie Street Mission in Salem, MA: socks, underwear, sweatshirts/pants, hats, mittens and gloves of all sizes. Please leave the gifts unwrapped.
In addition, instead of sending individual Christmas Cards to your church friends, why not send a single card to the church office with a contribution which will be sent to City Mission Society in Boston? A Christmas Greeting with the names of those contributing will be published in Tower Notes and your card will be displayed on the Giving Tree in the Narthex.
Thanks to Phil Johnson, Chuck Cotting, Bob MacKendrick and Jeff Langill for setting up the crèche on the front lawn. It looks beautiful! Thanks to Pinky Warnock and Marcia Stevens for putting the wreaths and candles in the windows and to Mary Ann and Allie Parker who arranged the beautiful new advent wreath at the front of the sanctuary. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
If you would like to donate poinsettias to help grace the sanctuary this Christmas, please fill out the form available by clicking here and returning it to the office by Monday, December 4.
|Second Sunday of Advent
|Morning Worship - Sanctuary
Nursery – Room 14
Children Worship With Families
Advent Workshop/Cookie Swap/Mini-Fair – Richards Hall
Advent Luncheon – Todd Hall
|7:00 pm||Planned Giving - Pastor’s Office|
|Caregivers – Fireside Room
Knitting Group – Fireside Room
|**Poinsettia Order Deadline**
Stewardship – Pastor’s Office
Outreach Comm. – Fireside Room
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study - Pastor's Office|
Our love and prayers are with:
We also remember those who are in Iraq: Kristofer Jenkins, Derek Cataldo, Brian Bisacre, and Alec Leung.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Head Usher: Linda Ladd, Carie Pericola, Jeff Law, Bruce Weaver
Greeters: Al & Jo Farnsworth
Lay Reader: Brittany DeSantis
Provide Communion Bread: Melinda & Cory Johnson
Provide Altar Flowers: Charlotte Kilgore
Deliver Altar Flowers: Ray & Julie Aslanian and Marjorie Potter
Lights Out beginning November 7: Drew Taylor
Cable Broadcasts of Worship
Our Sunday Morning Services can be seen on local access television each week. Below is the schedule:
DVD and VHS recordings of the services can be borrowed from the Church Office at any time.