Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Advent 2: Peace

The First Congregational Church of Somerville

UCC service opened with us singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" --  "O come thou Rod of Jesse" and "O come, thou Dayspring" verses (complete with refrain) and then the Lighting of the Peace Candle and then singing the refrain.

The Call to Worship was:
    One: God is good!
    All: All the time!
In my head I did the complementary "All the time" / "God is good"

I love Molly's really creative and interesting Welcomes.  I think she always opens with welcoming long-time members and visitors and yadda yadda.  Today the welcome included: "Christmas and Easter folks .... good pagans and bad Christians ... those of you who are eager for Christmas Future and those who are eager for Christmas to pass."

In the Invitation to Confession, Keith talked about the "We replace holy days with holidays" line and how we are replacing one good thing with another good thing and invited us to think about the valuable things standing in the way of other valuable things.

Unison Prayer of Confession
O God, we offer you our repentance.
We replace holy days with holidays.
We hurry past opportunities to give the gifts of kindness and honesty,
We do not prepare the place for your birth in our lives.
We do not listen to angels in our dreams,
forgive those dearest to us,
or welcome into hearts and homes the poor, the stranger.
Accept our humility and guide us to your grace.
    [Maren Tirabassi]

In the Assurance of Grace, he said: "God loves us ... whether we are ready or not, God is coming ... God may come humble as a shepherd or unforgettable as angels singing Hallelujah."

The Scripture Readings were Mark 1:1-3 ["Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" - Isaiah] and Matthew 5:21-24 ["if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift"].

Sermon: "Room In the Inn: Relationships and Grudges"
I had some quibbles with pieces of the sermon, but I really liked Molly's idea about us needing to "make the paths straight," to clear away the disarray, so that the Lord can come.
She talked a lot about about reconciling relationships (and made sure to say that that does NOT mean taking more abuse) and said the one piece of advice she had was one some clergyperson(?) had once told her: "Don't try to do it all on the first visit" and then said (echoing the story she had opened her sermon with -- about newborns) "You know what to do -- a little patience, a little trust, a lot of will, laughter if you can manage it."

Offertory Response [Tune: MENDELSSOHN]
Hail the Bearer of God's peace!  Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life our Savior brings, ris'n with radiant, healing wings.
Mildly laying glory by, born that we may no more may die,
Born to raise us all from earth, born to give us second birth.
Ever in our hearts to dwell, come, O come Emmanuel!

From the bulletin:
Sharing the Elements
Our table is open to all who, in faith, wish to share in the sacraments.  At First Church we hold with the Congregational tradition of taking communion in two elements, bread and grape juice (as a sign of support for our brothers and sisters who are in recovery from alcoholism).  You are invited to come forward in either aisle.  When you receive the bread you may dip it into the cup of juice, and eat it immediately.  If you would prefer not to receive communion at this time, you may cross you arms over your chest and receive a blessing.

And the Sung Response was "Ubi caritas et amor," which meant I could sing it while walking around the sanctuary, unlike sometimes at CWM when I don't know enough of the words.

During Coffee Hour, various people I know from Rest and Bread said how nice it was to see me on a Sunday morning (not in a guliting or pressuring way at all).  I said to Keith and Ian that I was here through Advent because they're doing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and "We can renegotiate after Epiphany."  One of them joked that we could do that hymn every week to keep me attending :)

When I left, I told Laura Ruth how I'd been joking about how I'm here through Advent and "We can renegotiate after Epiphany."  She said, "You're free to do what you need to do.  We know that about you."

I felt really good about and engaged in so much of the service that I am actually seriously considering staying come the new year, because I just don't feel nourished and energized and engaged in that way at CHPC most of the time.

[Am I being too demanding to want the worship leaders to vocalize something like "And now we will all join in singing hymn number such-and such, {title}" though it's in the bulletin and the organist does a full verse intro before we sing?]


Cambridge Welcoming Ministries

The Opening Hymn at CWM was "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (all verses).  Yay!

The Scripture readings were Isaiah 40:1-9 and Genesis 1:1-13.

The Special Music was the song Trelawney wrote last November using Isaiah 40.  It opens "Comfort, o comfort, my people..." and I really like it.  She played piano and sang and also singing were her twin sister Tallessyn, their half-sister Trevanna, Tallessyn's husband Dan, and Trelawney's husband Eric.  The music was so energetic and like just the right notes to feel like, I dunno, a blanket or a hug or something... it was really filling and comforting and inspiring -- like really good church music is supposed to be I imagine.

I didn't Pass the Peace to Trelawney, because she was at the back with baby Endelyn (and while the chapel is a lovely space, the single center aisle makes Passing of the Peace cumbersome), but during Prayers of the People Eric mentioned that they suspect she has post-partum depression, so after I took communion I walked back up a side aisle all the way up to the back where she was sitting with Endelyn and hugged her until Eric and Michele came to serve her communion.

During dinner, Susan-from-Danvers was talking about how at CWM the whole community participates in the blessing of the elements at communion and how Annie Britton's Extraordinary Ordination [see Church Within a Church] has been questioned, in terms of whether she's allowed to preside over sacraments, because CWAC is a "movement" rather than a "denomination," so they [edited to clarify: "they" = the United Methodist Church] don't recognize her ordination.  Later I asked Tiffany about the rules for presiding over communion 'cause I'd been thrown when Laura Ruth, so used had I gotten to CWM's literal "priesthood of all believers."  She talked about the ecumenical document the BEM [Baptist, Eucharist, and Ministry], explaining that when ecumenicism made a resurgence, you ran into sticky issues of, you want to have church together, but you have different theologies...  She said that Methodist rules are that an elder has to be present (though the elder can bless the bread in advance -- which then gets you into discussions about how long the blessing "lasts") but she said that in Methodism that's not about "hocus pocus" (her term) but about order -- a safeguard against bad theology... and that personally she trusts that this community has a strong understanding of communion and she doesn't need to worry about that when she does away on vacation.  (She also said that in Latin America, they don't believe in the priest blessing the bread in advance, so in places where there is no priest they developed a radical laity system because you have to have eucharist to have a church service and if there are no priests...) [edit: the "they" in this Latin America scenario are the Catholic laity, and I imagine that the Catholic hierarchy would disapprove]

I somehow got talking about going to class right after Rest and Bread and how I'm not going to take any classes next semester because I just don't have enough time and how much work Recruiting is and how I'm going to San Francisco in January for work and she said I should go to Glide United Methodist.  She said Karen Oliveto's there (I remember her preaching at CWM once) and that it was this dying church and Cecil Williams came and said they were going to minister to the people outside in the community (the Tenderloin District!) and now it's this huge vibrant church that does work with homelessness and addictions and the congregation is multi-racial/multi-ethnic and you have people who come in off the streets and you have rich people who fly great distances to come to the worship services because they're like rockstar.  I was reading the website and omg, it's a radically lefty MEGACHURCH.  "Glide Celebrations take place every Sunday at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Celebrations usually last from an hour-and-fifteen-minutes to an hour-and-a-half. [...]  The sanctuary fills up every Celebration, and so we recommend that you arrive at least 30 minutes early to ensure seating. Additional overflow seating is available in Freedom Hall with a live video feed."  I was assuming I would go to Sarah and Kevin's church when I was in SF, but I have GOT to check this out.  And OMG, it's like one and a half city blocks from our fancypants hotel.  I still don't know quite how much I'm gonna be obligated to be at the hotel working, but I think I should be able to make it.

Talking with Tiffany, I was actually feeling like maybe I should join this church, because when I'm not thinking about all the specific details of this church and its broader denomination and what the implications are of explicitly identifying myself with that in a more solid sense than I already do... this feels so much like "my church home."
Tags: church: somerville: cambridge welcoming, church: somerville: first church ucc, communion, liturgy: directive worship, people: pastors: laura ruth, people: pastors: molly, people: pastors: tiffany, planning ahead

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