TCC Flash - Weekly News
Advent-Good News Despite the Headlines| Rev. Baxter Chism.
Dear TCC Family,
I've battled illness this past week so I'm going to share a wonderful article by Dr. Jack Graham. I'm looking forward to writing next week.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – except not for everybody.
There are many people whose Christmas wish is probably for this year to be erased from their memories.
I think of the parents in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, who will be having their first Christmas without a son or daughter who was killed at one of this year’s tragic mass shootings.
Or the victims of the fires in California, who might not even have a home to spend the holiday.
Or those who have lost relatives to the epidemic of drug overdoses or those who are spending Christmas day in a hospital room, at the bedside of a loved one.
And the list goes on.
For these people – and perhaps for you and me as well – the best present this season is not the newest Apple device or fine jewelry. All we want is some hope.
Human beings have always yearned for a reason to hope, to believe things will get better. In other words, we want to hear good news. This was true even 2,000 years ago.
Around the turn of the era, there was a lot of talk about universal peace, a so-called Pax Romana, that would bring order and prosperity to a world which had long been embroiled in chaos and warfare. The man behind this new world order was Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, and people thought he would be the one to make universal peace come true.
In fact, a tablet found in the ancient city of Priene, now modern-day Turkey, captured the zeal people felt for Augustus. The tablet asserted Augustus’ “birthday signaled the beginning of good news for the world,” and the inhabitants of Priene believed this to the point of rearranging their calendar so it would begin on the emperor’s birthday. You can go today to the State Museum of Berlin and see the tablet for yourself.
Yet there was another birthday which wasn’t announced across the empire or inscribed in tablets of stone. The people who first took note of it were actually the unlikeliest audience you could imagine: a group of lowly shepherds and their flocks.
This is how the Gospel of Luke describes the scene:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:9-11)
Far away from the emperor’s palace in Rome, in a nondescript village south of Jerusalem, a baby was born who would change the world and split history in half. He would be named Jesus, and though Augustus claimed to be divine and demanded allegiance to his name, the Western world would base its calendar on Jesus’ birth, not the emperor’s.
The Gospel literally means “good news,” though perhaps a better way to describe it would be unbelievable news. God loves you and me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ so we could have meaning, purpose, and a future with Him. Through his life, death, burial and resurrection, Jesus would make a way for us to have hope for this life and the one to come.
The Apostle Paul, reflecting on the hope that is in Jesus, wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39). That’s the kind of hope Jesus gives to those who are desperate for good news.
You might have missed it because of last weekend’s busy news cycle – the passing of President George W.H. Bush, the G20 summit, NASA’s probe landing in Mars – but Sunday, Dec. 2, was the start of the Advent season. During the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day, millions of Christians around the world gather in hopeful expectation for the birth of Jesus. We remember how the world awaited the arrival of the Messiah promised of old, the one who would bring “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
You may be waiting for Jesus too without even knowing it. Perhaps you’re looking for someone to bring peace to the chaos and confusion of your world, or for someone to bring joy to replace the hurt that won’t go away or to give you the power to live the life you know you were meant to live. To you, Jesus proclaims good news now as he did then.
This Advent could mark a new beginning and a fresh start for you through Jesus. That’s the best news the world has ever heard.
Interfaith Choir Christmas Concert| Interfaith Choir.
The Tewksbury Interfaith Choir will present its annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 16, at 7:00 pm at St. Williams Church in Tewksbury. The program features a wide range of favorites like O Holy Night, The Little Drummer Boy, Silver Bells and Let It Snow. The choral pieces and solos are sure to please and should inspire the true Christmas spirit. As always, the concert is free and there will be refreshments afterward. Escape the hustle and bustle of the season as the choir shares the joy an evening of beloved Christmas songs can bring!
Blue Christmas Worship, Thurs., 12/20, 7pm| Board of Deacons.
TCC will host its second annual Blue Christmas Worship Service on Thursday evening, December 20th at 7pm. We have invited clergy representing all of our Tewksbury sister churches to officiate with Reverend Baxter, like last year. It is sure to be a service of promise and hope for those whose hearts ache during the holiday season.
Warm thanks to our Carillon Bell Ringers for offering their gift of music to this solemn worship service. Facebook users are welcome to invite their friends to the Blue Christmas Worship event thru this link.
Pie Social & Christmas Fair 2018| Carol Sturtevant.
Another great success for our two events!
There were many people attending, especially on Friday. We were very fortunate for the great weather, considering the heavy rains we have had since September. Our approximate total for both events at this time is $6780.00.
Many thanks to our TCC family for all the work and effort making these events a success. The Pie Social & our Fair bring the community to our church following the Lighting of the Common. Having Santa in our beautifully decorated Parlor also draws families to our church and our many Fair tables set up for business both days. Thank you to Amanda, Ashley and Will for greeting and assisting with families waiting to visit Santa!
The Pie Social & Holiday Friends chairpersons begin their planning and work early in the season. Some of the tables, especially Ladies Aid & Andy’s Woodworking, are creating items throughout the year. Many tables begin collecting items for sale early in the season as well. Let us also remember our volunteers behind the scenes working on publicity, creating signs & posters, decorating, setting up & taking down tables & chairs, which are all important parts of these events. Donations for the tables & snack bar were awesome! The Bake Table had quite a variety of baked goods, soups, jellies, candy and much more!! The creative displays on all the tables had quite a variety of items and beautiful piano music set a festive tone! A huge thank you to all the chairpersons, their “elves” and all those involved in both of these events!
In order to access the Sunday School curriculum information, important dates to remember or about particular programs designed for youth, please visit our Crib Sheet page.
Secret Sisters Update| Trish Keddie.
Tis the season to connect with others! As you create and sign your Christmas cards, please add one for your Secret Sister. If by chance you have misplaced your sister’s information or have not heard from your Secret Sister, please call Trisha Keddie @ 508-633-1645.
Pie Social Update| Trish Keddie.
Once again we had a successful Pie Social Gathering! We competed against many community events, and as a result, had lower attendance numbers. However, we were still able to raise over $1000.00! The success was due in large part to the people of this congregation that came together to help. From the shoppers & set-up crew to the bakers, greeters, money collectors, pie cutters and kitchen help, you were all instrumental! Thank you so much for your participation!
Called to Care
As a community of Faith, we are Called to Care for one another. Please visit our Called to Care page to learn how you can offer or request care for yourself or for a member of our church family.
Mary Heart in Martha World begins 1/4/19| Board of Deacons.
The Board of Deacons is pleased to offer a 12 week Women's Devotional Study centered around the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, and beginning on January 4th. The sessions will alternate between Friday evening (7-8:30pm) and Saturday morning (8:30-10am) and will be facilitated by Beth McFadyen, Susannah Trudeau and Laura Holmes.
Each week, we will focus on one chapter of the book. Participants are welcome to attend all 12 devotional studies or just pop-in when schedules permit. The chapter assignment and meeting date/time/location will be posted on FLASH each week, and a Sign-up Genius link will be available soon to track expected attendance and send reminders.
The book is widely available, including thru Amazon (using this link) for under $9. The Deacons are happy to assist with the ordering process or with funding the purchase if that is a hardship.
All church women are warmly encouraged to participate in this devotional study, and all are welcome to invite a friend, as well. Let us "Connect and serve all through God's love."
Lost & Found Update| Mercy Delgado.
Are you missing an earring? Please check in with the church office if you're missing this gold hoop earring! The church office also has a bin full of lost and found items: keys, glasses, clothing, scarf, mittens, umbrella, even beach towels! Come take a look.
2019 Offering Envelopes Are Here!| Mike Wildeman.
You may pick up your Offering Envelopes for 2019 in the Narthex.
If there is no box for you, please contact Mike Wildeman at 508-341-3193.
Click HERE to view all TCC Sign-ups!| Church Secretary.
Click HERE to launch our TCC Sign-up Genius page. Use the tabs to switch between the sign-ups. Thank you for lending a helping hand!
Snow Removal Volunteers Needed!!!| Mercy Delgado.
Winter is upon us, and with it, the need to keep our church safe and open for service and worship by removing snow from critical access areas. We are very fortunate to have a Custodian (Dawn Surette) and members (thank you Mike Wildeman and Ed Henderson!) who take such loving care of our church grounds, walkways, and parking lot, especially at this time of year. WE ALL BENEFIT FROM THIS EFFORT. Please consider helping out with this task. As we say around here, "many hands make light work". This would only be on an "as needed" basis.
PLEASE contact the church office if you can help out, even a little. Training is available!
What Is Advent? History & Meaning| Rev. Baxter Chism.
The Advent Season is upon us once more! I am going to share with you a great article by Justin Holcomb of Christianity Today, perfectly describing the Season of Advent. If Advent is new to you, I'm blessed to know you are going to learn something new. For many of you, Advent is a season you have celebrated many times. May what Justin has written be a reminder of what the season means!
For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. (Advent begins on Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year.) Advent 2018 begins on Sunday, December 2 and ends on Monday, December 24.
Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.
Advent Liturgy and Practice
To balance the two elements of remembrance and anticipation, the first two Sundays in Advent (through December 16th) look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays (December 17th – 24th) look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. Over the course of the four weeks, Scripture readings move from passages about Christ’s return in judgment to Old Testament passages about the expectation of the coming Messiah to New Testament passages about the announcements of Christ’s arrival by John the Baptist and the Angels.
While it is difficult to keep in mind in the midst of holiday celebrations, shopping, lights and decorations, and joyful carols, Advent is intended to be a season of fasting, much like Lent, and there are a variety of ways that this time of mourning works itself out in the season. Reflection on the violence and evil in the world cause us to cry out to God to make things right—to put death’s dark shadows to flight. Our exile in the present makes us look forward to our future Exodus. And our own sinfulness and need for grace lead us to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew his work in conforming us into the image of Christ.
One catechism describes Advent spirituality beautifully: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’”
Advent Wreath and Candles
The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.
Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red color points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. Families begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday.
The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is rose-colored. Sometimes all the candles are red; in other traditions, all four candles are blue or white. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Advent and the Christian Life
While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated, and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming that Karl Barth penned these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.
Music Ministry Corner| Lucinda J. Ellert.
It’s Advent! A time of fellowship, warmth, anticipation … and singing great music! For all those commitment-shy people out there, Advent is such a wonderful time to join the choir for a limited time, either to try it out to see if you’d like to become a permanent member, or to just enjoy the season. We rehearse Thursday evenings from 7:00 pm to roughly 8:45 pm in the Fairgrieve Room. Come give it a try – there’s much laughter and togetherness and a little bit of hard work.
Board of Ministries Corner| Board of Ministries.
Your Board of Ministries meets twice a month. Improving communication and outreach are discussed at every meeting. The BOM is always open to hearing thoughts and concerns from Tewksbury Congregational Church members. Our first order of business this month has been to kick off and recap the annual Stewardship Campaign and Stewardship Dinner. New business involved beginning the budget process for 2019. Current BOM projects include: Church Safety, Outreach and Connection, Church Membership On-Line, Website Content, and Governance Structure.
Upcoming UCC Events| Christopher Jenkins.
We are coming into the busy season for our churches as there is a plethora of concerts, fairs, etc. to choose from. This is a great time of year to visit neighboring churches. We continue to pray for and support our neighbors, including a couple of churches, which were impacted by the gas explosions. See https://www.macucc.org/newsdetail/conference-and-local-churches-respond-to-gas-explosions-in-merrimack-valley-12288711 for more information.
We welcome Rick Durance as our new Administrative Assistant in the Winchester office and thank Rev. Beth Spaulding for filling that role during the search process.
LOCAL CHURCH PUBLIC EVENTS
Friday – December 7, 2018; 6:00-9:00 PM
Saturday – December 8, 2018: 8:00 AM-2:00 PM
Christmas Fair, Basket Raffle, and Jewelry Open House
Central Congregational Church of Newburyport
Friday – December 7, 2018, at 7:30 PM
Christmas Pops Concert at Dane Street Church (Beverly)
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 9:00 AM
Christmas By The Sea Fair at Nahant Village Church
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 4:00 PM
Mistral Holiday Concert at West Parish Church (Andover)
Info and Tickets ($35) at www.mistralmusic.org
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 8:00 AM
Pancake Breakfast at FCC-Rowley
Tickets: $8 for adults, $6 for children and seniors
Saturday – December 8, 2018; 8:00 AM-2:00 PM
Christmas Fair at CCC-Newburyport
Saturday – December 8. 2018 at 11:30 AM
Free Community Luncheon at Groveland Congregational Church
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 7:00 PM
Sunday – December 9, 2018, at 7:00 PM
Christmas Cantata at Byfield Parish Church
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 7:30 PM
Old Sloop Coffeehouse at FCC-Rockport
Christmas With Chelsea Berry
Info and Tickets at https://oldsloopcoffeehouse.org/concert/chelsea-berry-2018
Saturday – December 8, 2018, at 8:00 PM
Sunday – December 9, 2018, at 2:30 PM
Newburyport Choral Society Concert
Belleville Congregational Church
Tickets at www.newburyportchoralsociety.org
Sunday – December 9, 2018, at 12:00 PM
Dracut Community Band Concert at CCU-Dracut
Sunday – December 9, 2018, at 3:00 PM
Christmas Concert at CCC-Chelmsford
Sunday – December 9, 2018, at 4:00 PM
Advent Dinner, Crafts, & Fun at First Church in Ipswich
Friday – December 14, 2018, at 6:00 PM
Polar Express at 2CC-Boxford
Tickets: $12 by 12/12 at http://www.secondchurchboxford.org/event/polar-express-movie-dinner
Saturday – December 15, 2018, at 5:00 PM
Outdoor Christmas Pageant at West Parish Church
Saturday – December 15, 2018, at 5:00 PM
Roast Beef Dinner at 2CC-Beverly
Saturday – December 15, 2018, at 8:00 PM
One Night of Grace with Danny Smith
Main Street Congregational Church (Amesbury)
Tickets: $20 at the door
Sunday – December 16, 2018, at 2:00 PM
Carol Sing at 2CC-Beverly