Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An "Open & Affirming" Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email:
Douglas W. Hodgkins: Organist/Choir Director
November 28, 2007
Ever been afraid of something? I was afraid of failing for many years. I was afraid of not making it, of not measuring up, of not pleasing.
After my first year of college was a bust, I kept at it anyhow. I was afraid of college but I was more afraid of not succeeding in this chapter of my life. The college was gracious and allowed me to keep trying. It was hard and I was doubtful that I could make it. I did not feel good about myself and had a very poor self-image.
Yet, I felt God was with me. I had good friends, a family that loved me, and I had a feeling that God had something for me to do with my life that would make a difference. So, I kept plugging away in the hope that I would survive the dark days of failure.
Success! The success of my second year of college gave me hope, but not enough to allow me to transfer from Junior College to a University. I had to do better. Fear Not! I boldly informed my mother that I had to move out of our home in order to live closer to the college, removing the distraction of the long commute for my third year of college. It was a bold move on my part but I knew I had to get better grades. I knew that I had to remove every distraction that I could so that my college work had my full attention.
I rented a room from a family near the college, even though I was afraid of living with people I did not know. Would they like me? Would I do better academically as a result of this? Would this work?
I tried even harder my third year of college. I began to believe in myself, that I could do the work, that I could succeed. Again, I kept feeling that God was calling me to make a difference in some way. I kept feeling that I had to succeed in order to escape my fears that I would never succeed in a significant way. I gave my third year of college everything, every minute, and every ounce of energy I had. It was hard and I was afraid.
How do we cope with our fears? One way is to look fear in the face, confront our fear, and stare it down. I did that knowing that unless I tried to succeed where I had failed before I would regret it for the rest of my life. The hope and confidence gained as a result of the success of my second year of college gave me the courage to try.
My best friend, Harry, was not present with me during that third year of college as he had been the first two years. He was off traveling around the world on his own spiritual journey with a musical group, “Up With People,” playing a guitar and singing. Harry was gaining strength and courage to return to join me later, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to enroll in a pre-med program. This was a very bold move on his part, given the lack of any previous high school and college work to prepare for such a move.
Harry's absence during my third year of college was very hard for me. I had counted on him to speak words of encouragement to me when I had my doubts, when I was waffling, when I was ready to give up.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
I asked God to give me the strength, hope, encouragement, and resources I needed. The resource of my faith, given to me by my parents and the church in which I had been raised, made me believe that God had a plan for me. I also believed that if going to and succeeding in college was part of the plan that God would give me all that I lacked, personally, and help me see it through.
One of the hardest things that I've ever done took place at the beginning of my third year of college. I enrolled in the Public Speaking class I had failed in my first year of college. Talk about looking fear in the face and walking right toward that which gave me my greatest scares. It felt as if I was Daniel of the Bible, throwing myself into a den of lions that were about to tear me apart, and make a fool out of my feeble efforts to do something that felt impossible.
I was victorious over my beastly fears! While my first year was a bust, my third year of college was worthy of a gold medal! God had given me what I needed for my battle against my fears and I had survived, achieved, succeeded where once I could not. It was one of my proudest moments and has served to give me confidence for every challenge I have faced ever since. I could not have done it without God in my life, without my family, without the church that gave me the gift of my faith, without a friend like Harry cheering me on, and without my own decision to have courage.
One of the messages of Advent is that God wishes good for us, personally, and for our world, corporately. God comes to us in Jesus to bear light where there is no light, to give hope where there is no hope, to bring success where there has been failure, and to give life where there has been death.
You may remember from my previous articles that death had visited me. My father had died just 3 days after my sixteenth birthday at the age of 37. The lack of his presence in my life had left me feeling lost and without a valuable resource that I needed in my life. Yet, like me, my mother looked fear and necessity in the face, also. She went to work full-time in order to support my brother and me. Again, this was very hard for her, but she did it. It was not easy, and financially we were always just making it. Fear and failure lurked around every corner.
How did she do it? She did it out of her unconditional love for us. She did it because there was nothing else to do. She did it through her own faith that God would see us through. I salute my mother for all that she did for my brother and me, even while she deeply grieved the loss of her husband, our father.
Do not give up, my friends! God's love is very real and can be trusted. As we light candles in the season of Advent we are reminded of how the light of God cannot be extinguished. Some of us have waited a long, long time for hope to return. Boldly put your trust in the resources of God, in the birthing of Jesus, and in the knowledge that God will give you what you need.
Yours in Christ,
IN THE SANCTURY
December 2, 2007
First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44
10:00 A.M. Holy Communion
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
“Is There Anything New?”
Children may worship with families before going to Richards Hall for the Advent Workshop.
Centre Church’s Worship Services are broadcast on Lynnfield Cable Channel 10 (Comcast) or Channel 28 (Verizon) on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and also on Peabody Cable Channel 10 on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m.
Heifer Market on Sunday, December 2
We will be holding our annual Heifer Market on Sunday, December 2, following worship. At the Market, you can “buy” animals such as chicks, bees, llamas, and goats. The animals and training in their care go to struggling families, making it possible for them to eat better and to become more self-reliant. Each family receiving animals will, in turn, pass on the gift to others in their community, giving them offspring from the animals you send. What a powerful thing, to give a gift that multiplies!
At the same time, you can honor someone you care about by giving a living gift in his or her name. For each animal you buy, you will receive an honor card to give your loved one, describing the animal and explaining Heifer’s work.
You are all invited to join us for this alternative giving opportunity. You’ll have the chance to give a meaningful Christmas gift to someone special in your life and simultaneously give an extraordinary, life-altering gift to someone you will never meet. What holiday sweater could do all that? Change the world in the name of someone you love! - Sandi Watson, Heifer Coordinator
Cookie Swap Dec. 2 after Church
We would also like to remind everyone of our Cookie Swap next Sunday after church. For just $10.00 you will be able to a purchase an artfully decorated box to fill with the cookies of your choice. In order to have a large variety of cookies on hand, we are asking everyone to please bake a dozen or so of one of your favorite cookies to donate to the cookie swap. Just bring the cookies to church next Sunday and youth will be on hand to bring them downstairs.
Youth Group News
There will be no youth group meetings on Sunday, December 2. All youth are invited to participate in the Advent Workshop during worship. We have a special mission project planned for 6th-12th graders.
On December 9 we will be holding our Youth Group Christmas Party for all youth in grades 5-12. We will be holding a Yankee Swap, so please bring a wrapped gift which would be good for either a boy or girl. Please do not spend more than $10.00.
The High School Youth Group would like to thank everyone who supported our Recycling Fundraiser. Right now it looks like we made close to $3,000.00! Special thanks to the 17 youth who volunteered their time on Saturday and to all the adults who helped during the day: Dave Nasson, Diana Gerbick, Camille Ernest, Steve Furey, and Marty Hagerty.
A Concert by “Blue of a Kind” Don’t miss this evening of excellent musical entertainment by “Blue of a Kind”, a North Shore A Capella Men’s Choir. Please stay after the performance for dessert and coffee in the Fireside Room.
Saturday, December 8, 7-8 pm in the Chapel
Don’t miss this evening of excellent musical entertainment by “Blue of a Kind”, a North Shore A Capella Men’s Choir. Please stay after the performance for dessert and coffee in the Fireside Room.
News From Around the Parish
We extend our love and sympathy to George Robinson, Jr., Bradlee Troy and Merrillee Fontaine upon the death of their mother, Dorothy Robinson on November 26. A Memorial Service will be held at Centre Church in the spring.
A special Advent booklet is being sent out this week to all our church school families. To complete the Advent calendar, you will need to pick up the accompanying wreath (it was too big to mail). These will be available at the advent workshop, or stop by the church office. If you did not receive your booklet, please let us know and we will be sure to get one to you.
If you would like to donate poinsettias to help grace the sanctuary this Christmas, please fill out the form available by clicking here and returning it to the office by Monday, December 4.
Thank You from Mark Meehl
Thank you everybody for making the “Open and Affirming Video Film Festival” a success. We have just completed the series for 2007. Altogether we had seven video presentations in the Fireside Room following Sunday Service with attendance ranging from 10 to 43, and lively discussions afterwards. Now I am wondering about 2008. Would people like to continue the “ONA Video Film Festival”?
I have a lineup of possible films for 2008 as a handout on the ONA table in the Narthex. Would a monthly program using the church’s theater in the evenings be agreeable? We can still show short videos after Sunday Service if desired. I welcome your ideas for 2008.
Thank you. Mark Meehl firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Get-Together Wheel will have Claxton Fruitcake for sale following worship for the next few weeks. Both the light and dark varieties are available for a cost of $4.00 per bar.
|Holy Communion - Sanctuary|
Children’s Advent Workshop
Cookie Swap/Heifer Mrkt - Richards Hall
Confirmation – Todd Hall
Youth Choir – Choir Room
|Confirmation – Pastor’s Office
Stewardship Committee – Pastor’s Office
|Get-Together Wheel – Fireside Rm
Knitting Group – Fireside Room
|8:30 am||Bread & Roses Meal Prep - Kitchen|
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study - Pastor's Office|
|Gingerbread House Display - Narthex
“Blue of a Kind” Concert – Chapel
Dessert & Coffee – Fireside Room
Our thoughts and prayers are with:
We also remember Greg Lengyel and Paul Folkins in Iraq.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Head Usher: Michelle Hagerty
Greeters: Roger and Peggy Batchelder
Coffee Hour: Chuck and Debbie Cotting
Altar Flowers: Charlotte Kilgore
Flower Delivery: Barbara Ericson & Barbara O’Connell