- Winter Solstice Celebration – Music Sunday
Music, ritual and poetry come to the forefront on Sunday morning, December 18 at 10:30 AM, as the First Parish Sanctuary Choir, under the direction of Rip Jackson, presents a special music Sunday celebrating the Winter Solstice. Through beautiful music, poetry and readings from books of ancient wisdom, the powerful transformation from darkness to light will be uplifted. Soprano sax player Katie Runde and bassist Ben Green will be the guest instrumentalists for this service. Together with Rip Jackson on piano and organ, they will play some of the music from the Paul Winter Consort that can be heard at St. John the Divine during the Winter Solstice Concerts there each December, including the rousing piece “Dancing Day.” The Sanctuary choir and soloists will sing deeply beautiful solstice-themed anthems by Eric Whitacre, Morten Johannes Lauridsen, Mark Hayes, John Purifoy and Rip Jackson. Tegan Waite will share liturgical dance during the ritual. Poetry by Diann L. Neu, Edward Hayes and John Philip Newell will be shared during the Solstice ritual. For more information call the church at 781-862-8200 or visit www.fplex.org.
- Church Closed December 26th – 31st
As in the past, First Parish will be closed from the day following Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve. During this period, not only will staff be on vacation, but necessary work will be done to repair damage from a roof leak and to address other issues. The building will be closed to everyone except the contractors doing the work.
- From Your MinisterThis week my husband Simon and I began to take stock of where we are and what we need to do in preparation for the holidays. Because our house in Lancaster has not yet sold, half of our belongings are there, and half are in our local apartment. I began our holiday preparations with a stoic approach – “let’s not make a fuss, dear,” I said. “Let’s just fly to see your parents in England on Christmas Day, and not worry about the decorations…. or their years of memories…. which are safely packed away six hours from here….”
But the growing darkness in New England began to weigh in on us. The sun sets much earlier here than we are used to, and we need to prepare our home for the lengthening evenings of winter.
So on Saturday we boldly decided to buy a small tree at our local Lexington market….even though we had nothing with which to decorate. And as we walked though that market, I spied a box of local cranberries, and suddenly had a joyful memory of my youth. My three sisters and I would string cranberries and popcorn for our tree every year! And so it was that Simon and I found ourselves that evening with needle and thread at the ready, working through that box of cranberries, and making our small apartment as festive as it could be. And I found a rising tide of joy coming into the room – unexpected – but as welcome as any joyful wave of love and connection can ever be.
The presence of memory and of hope is a powerful thing. We can take the opportunity to shape our intentions for how we choose to be in these days, now during the darkening evenings. We can claim the moments which bring us joy as an audacious moment of hope. It is an act of defiance to declare joy and love and gratitude in this world of worry and fear- an act which I encourage you to consider for yourself.
I hope that you will take time over these next few weeks to claim what you need for your spirit. Our hard working staff will be taking vacation between Christmas and New Years. I am grateful that Brenda Prusak accepted my invitation to offer a worship service on New Years Day that will help us worship with our bodies and our spirits as we explore the ancient practice of yoga under her expert guidance. Come and set your intention for how you want to greet the coming year.
- Christmas Eve Services
All are welcome to the First Parish candlelight services at 5 and 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, December 24th.
At the 5:00 pm family service, come for carols and candlelight, Children’s Choir, and a new twist on the telling of the Christmas story. The children’s choir will sing music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The congregation will be invited to sing beloved traditional Christmas carols during the service. There will be two boy soprano soloists, a group of high school musicians from the church will sing a calypso carol, and there will be jazz Christmas music for the centering and postlude.
At 7:00 pm, Rev. Anne Mason will deliver a Christmas Homily and the Sanctuary Choir will sing Christmas carols by John Rutter. The congregation will be invited to sing beloved traditional Christmas carols during the candlelight service. Elizabeth Walsh, Julia Jaffe, and Jamie Willis will sing solos with accompaniment of harp, flute, horn, clarinet, and piano. Martha Moor will be the guest harpist, and we will end with our traditional singing of Silent Night while lighting our candles of hope.
- Social Action Committee Meeting this Sunday
The monthly meeting of the Social Action Committee will take place this Sunday, December 18th at 12:00pm in the Minister’s Office. All are welcome to join the conversation and action on programming such as Amnesty International, Communities without Borders, Justice Advocacy, Lexington Food Pantry, and others. Any questions, please contact Elaine Hylek, Chair of Social Action at email@example.com.
- News about The Engagement Project
The Committee on Leadership and Service is embarking on a project to connect with all the members and friends of First Parish on a one to one basis for a dialog around what brings you to First Parish and how you engage in the congregational fabric of the community.
These interviews will be relatively brief (about 30 minutes) and very key yet engaging. When members of our team reach out to you over the coming weeks, please find time for this important opportunity to connect and let us and the rest of the congregation hear about your values and interests.
As part of this project, we would are looking for volunteers to have their interviews recorded on video for publication on our church’s website. Please let us know if you’d be willing to participate. In the short term, we’re also looking for 4-5 young adults (college age) members and friends to participate. If you have a son or daughter coming home for the holidays in the next week or two and can spare 30 minutes, we’d love to interview them for this project.
Thank you all for your consideration.
Yours in Leadership and Service,
Erik Svenson & Elisabeth Jas
Committee on Leadership & Service Chairs
- Save the Date – Martin Luther King Community Day Activities
Monday, January 16th, will be the fourth annual Martin Luther King Community Service Day, and congregants can join with more than 400 volunteers from throughout Lexington for a variety of services to Lexington and to our surrounding communities: making cards for hospital patients, veterans, and disabled adults; making goody bags for homeless children with senior residents of Waltham Crossing; serving lunch at senior villages in Lexington; joining in activities with homeless children and adults at the Waltham YMCA; making scarfs for those in need; helping deliver donations to such organizations as the Lexington Food Pantry. Many of these activities are family-friendly, and lots of fun.
Many First Parishioners have participated in this day since it began, and found it moving and community-building. It will provide many ways for us to share in the work of providing concrete resources and hope to our nation’s most vulnerable residents.
More information will be provided in January’s Focalpoint. In the meantime, go to Facebook: Lexington Community MLK Day. To volunteer: go to lexingtonmlk.org For questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Helen Cohen at email@example.com.
- New Year’s Morning at First Parish
Start your new year off doing the ancient practice of yoga and meditation. Gather New Year’s morning at 11:30 am in the warmth and quiet of Parish Hall for this interfaith and intergenerational service, where Brenda Prusak, an experienced yoga teacher, will lead you on a spiritual journey through gentle yoga poses, meditation, and offerings from Rumi and other visionaries. No prior experience of yoga is necessary. All poses can be done from a chair or from the floor. If possible, please bring a yoga mat and a small warm blanket. Wear loose clothing and warm socks. Bring your spouse, your partner, or your best friend. All are welcome but you MUST sign up before December 28th so Brenda can create an appropriate class for all. You will leave Parish Hall feeling relaxed in your body, quiet in your mind, and renewed in your spirit.
You can also sign up at the piano.
Email Jane Foley in the office with any questions.
- Holiday Workshop a Success!
The Holiday Workshop 2016 was a great success! Thanks to the 75 First Parishioners of all ages who helped to set up, lead tables, clean up, and turn lots of yarn, Popsicle sticks, pom poms, tissue paper, colorful card stock, cookies (galore!), frosting, sprinkles, cider, paint, recycled Christmas cards, sea shells, salt, chalk, Victorian paper cones, glitter, glue guns,and wood into great gifts for family, as well as for the UU Urban Ministry.
Thanks to organizer Margaret Counts-Klebe for all her hard work!
- Munroe Saturday Nights
Five Lexington and Metro West writers working in different genres will discuss the creative process in “Pen to Paper: An Exploration of Writing” for the next Munroe Saturday Nights presentation on December 17. The panel will take place at 7:30 PM at First Parish in Lexington, 7 Harrington Road. Participating are Cynthia P. Anderson (non-fiction/memoir), Don Cohen (short stories and playwriting), Abby Hafer (non-fiction – science), Erin McCormack (novel), and Jane Sutton (children’s literature).
- This Week at First Parish
Wednesday, December 14 History Committee 1:30 p.m. Parlor Choir rehearsal 7:30 p.m. Common Room Thursday, December 15 Meditation 4:00 p.m. Parlor Friday, December 16 Roaring Jelly 7:00 p.m. Parish Hall Saturday, December 17 Youth Group Bread Making 9:00 a.m. Kitchen Stewardship Team 9:00 a.m. Common Room Choir Rehearsal 4:30 p.m. Sanctuary Munroe Saturday Night 7:30 p.m. Parker Hall Sunday, December 18 Music Sunday Solstice Service 10:30 a.m. Sanctuary Children’s Choir Rehearsal 11:45 a.m. Sanctuary & Parlor Pageant Rehearsal 12:15 p.m. Parker Hall Social Action Committee 12:00 p.m. Minister’s Office OWL 6:30 p.m. Parker Hall SHYG 7:00 p.m. Common Room Monday, December 19 LYFS Board Meeting 7:00 p.m. Parker Hall Tuesday, December 20 B&G Meeting 7:30 p.m. Parlor Insight Meditation 7:30 p.m. Common Room