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. #A712439

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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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Advent Blog 2020 – Musical Moment

Did you know that our church recorded a CD of Advent and Christmas songs? This CD features our orchestra, bells, and choir and was recorded in 2007 & 2008! You may have this CD somewhere in your home. Go ahead and give it a listen this week to hear familiar sounds and voices in our sanctuary.

Don’t have a copy? We still have a few in storage and would be happy to share this musical gift. Just let us know!

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Advent Blog 2020 – #MissionMonday with the Reading Food Pantry

Our local food pantry is one of the most immediate ways that we can care for our neighbors. Currently, the Food Pantry serves over 100 clients, of which many are seniors. The COVID-19 Pandemic has seriously affected pantry clients as well as the pantry volunteers. Currently, the pantry is offering a curbside pickup system for clients, who are currently able to come twice a month so that numbers are staggered. Donations are able to be dropped off at the pantry at 6 Salem Street from 4-6 PM on Wednesdays. All the work of the pantry is done by dedicated volunteers.

Items the Reading Food Pantry is always in need of:
coffee, tea, cooking oil, sugar, flour, shampoo/conditioner, laundry detergent, soap, four-packs of toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels.

Did you know that the Food Pantry uses monetary donations to purchase items that they don’t get by donation? The Reading Food Pantry is able to purchase from the Boston Food Bank, but some items can’t come from that source.

In addition to food, pantry, and toiletry staples, clients also receive a Market Basket gift card ($15 for individuals and $30 for families) which can be used to help stipend the cost of groceries. The pantry can always use donations of Market Basket gift cards in $15 increments to help hand out.

How to donate to the Reading Food Pantry

Donate money
Donate online to the pantry by visiting its PayPal page here.
Or send a check made out to Reading Food Pantry, 6 Salem St., Reading, MA 01867

Donate pantry items like those listed above at the following times and locations:

  • Wednesdays from 4-6 PM at the Reading Food Pantry (located at Old South Church, 6 Salem Street, Reading, MA)
    • Please note: the last 2020 drop off will be December 16th, it picks back up again in the new year.
  • This week from 9 AM – 1 PM, Monday through Thursday, until December 17th at our office door on Sanborn Street (there is a box just in the doorway for drop-offs)
  • Any time at the Reading Stop & Shop and Market Basket locations

And follow the Reading Food Pantry on Facebook here.

Normally, prior to the pandemic, we collected pantry items weekly in a basket just outside our office and music room. Community members using our building as well as church members on Sundays knew they could leave items at that spot whenever they could. Just as COVID has affected pantry clients and volunteers, it’s affected how we are able to help take donations, too. Every once in a while a stray donation will still appear in that basket by someone who happened to be in the building as we are socially distancing and limiting time in the building.

We are taking a collection of bottled and canned items throughout December until December 17th as a part of our December Mission Ministry. You can drop those off just inside the Office Door on Sanborn Street. There is a …

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Advent Blog 2020 – Devotional Download

“A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for Davids throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever.” — the Book of Isaiah

During the second week of Advent we light the Peace candle. Jesus was called “Prince of Peace.” We can think of this as the metaphor of royalty in the Reign of God. This name as applied to Jesus points us to our role as those who help bring about a peaceful existence in which all people thrive. This is our prayer for our community, our nation, and our world.

Adapted from Dr. Marcia McFee’s Advent Resource

What is your prayer for peace this week? What was a moment this week that, looking back, you experienced a feeling of peace?

“from spiralling ecstatically this”
+ e e cummings

from spiralling ecstatically this
proud nowhere of earth’s most prodigious night
blossoms a newborn babe:around him,eyes
— gifted with ever keener appetite
than mere unmiracle can quite appease —
humbly in their imagined bodies kneel
(over time space doom dream while floats the whole
perhapsless mystery of paradise)
mind without soul may blast some universe
to might have been,and stop ten thousand stars
but not one heartbeat of this child;nor shall
even prevail a million questionings
against the silence of his mother’s smile
— whose only secret all creation sings
+ e e cummings…

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