A Year in Photos

2020 has been a difficult year. Even though we’ve been apart, it’s our relationships that have brought us even closer together. As the year draws to a close, and we look hopefully into the future, enjoy this slideshow of photos throughout the year!

Note: any photos with large groups of people, lacking masks and social distancing, were taken before mid-March 2020.

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Virtual Christmas Eve

Join us as we celebrate Christmas at home this year! There will be brass, organ, candlelight, and all the sparkle and warmth of our usual Christmas Eve services. While we wish we could be together in person, we know this is the way we can love ourselves and our neighbor by staying at home.

You can join us in a few ways!

We will be streaming live at 4 PM EST on Thursday, December 24 on Zoom, Facebook and here on our website. Can’t make it at 4 PM? Don’t worry. You can watch the video later at any time on both Facebook and the website.…

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Advent Blog 2020 – Devotional Download

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked on the humble estate of his servant… God has brought down the mighty from their throne, and exalted those of humble estate; the Holy One has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich God has sent away empty.” — the Gospel of Luke

The final Advent Candle is the candle which symbolized Love. This is appropriate as we recognize the Christ child as Love incarnate (since, after all, God is love). This has been a difficult year for love. We have found so many ways to be divided and “take care of our own.” Mary’s Canticle when she is carrying her child speaks of how God’s love will lift up those who are hungry for love, for justice, for well-being. We are called to be that love in action in the world. Let Christ’s light remind you that love is not scarce – there is enough for all. And love never decreases as we share it. It only multiplies.

Adapted from Dr. Marcia McFee’s Advent Resource

In the days following Christmas, invite love in.
Practice a “Loving Kindness” meditation.
Consider where love has moved you in this difficult year.
Write a card to someone that you love.

“Love came down at Christmas” by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.…

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Advent Blog 2020 – Music Moment

Our final Tuesday Music Moment features this anthem from our Virtual Choir directed by Rev. Chad Kidd.

First Congregational Church of Reading, United Church of Christ
Virtual Choir, directed by Rev. Chad Kidd
“In Silence We Wait”
Words by John Parker; Music by Lloyd Larson; 2000 Hal Leonard Corporation. OneLicense.net #A712439

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Blue Christmas Service – Dec. 21

Blue Christmas is a time when we hold tenderly the difficult emotions the holidays bring. For many of us (especially in 2020), the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year. If you are grieving, lonely, isolated, tired, weary, angry, or just need a place to be on the Longest Night of the year, you are welcome to this virtual service of prayer, music, and virtual Communion.

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Advent Blog 2020 – #MissionMonday Wrap Up!

Our last #MissionMonday Advent Blog post is a huge thank you to all our volunteers and to all who participated in our various projects!

We collected boxes and bags packed to the brim of toiletries for Emmaus, Inc., pantry items for Reading Food Pantry, and toys, hats, games, and more for City Mission Boston’s Christmas Shop!

From our Christmas Shop inventory in particular we learned:
We had 94 hats, with the majority (perhaps 90%) of those being hand knit. We also received 13 beautiful hand knit baby blankets. We received 76 toys and books for children. Overall there were 343 items

We all know generosity begets generosity. Thank you for being a blessing to others! And thank you in particular to Cindy Crampe, Sharon Ofenstein, Carol Patterson, Joann Sanford, Larry Piper, Linda Ananian, Betsy Schneider, Gay Williams, Shirley Holden, and all involved in helping make this socially distanced collection safe and possible.…

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Advent Blog 2020 – Devotional Download

“… the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” — the Gospel of Luke

The third week of Advent we light the candle of Joy (the pink candle!). This Sunday is also know as “Gaudete” Sunday. Gaudete is latin for “rejoice!” and comes from the first word of the Latin Mass from the 3rd Sunday of Advent (clearly a very ancient tradition to mark this Sunday as a joy-filled one!).

Joy is not the same as happiness, which may seem elusive in a time of loss. Joy is the deep river of assurance that is always there for us to dip into in spite of circumstances. Joy is not about denying suffering, but rather it is the embracing of the depths of all of life’s emotions that is the very thing that allows us to eventually feel the heights once more. The shepherds were very afraid when angels appeared and so they encouraged them, after they got over the shock, to rejoice because a baby had been born that would change hearts and help us find a better way.

Adapted from Dr. Marcia McFee’s Advent Resource

What is giving you joy this week? What are you celebrating in your heart?

“Somehow, not only for Christmas”
John Greenleaf Whittier – born Dec. 17, 1807

Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing,
Returns to you glad.…

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