Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An Open and Affirming Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email: Office@Centre-Church.org
The Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey, Pastor - Pastor@Centre-Church.org
The Secrets Within
This time of year we have special places where things are hidden. That place in my childhood was often at my grandparent's house, next door, especially if what was hidden was too large to hide at my house. Sometimes we talk of “special” security systems that will set off an alarm if the doors of certain rooms or closets are opened. Of course, growing up in a house, playing hide and seek, and knowing more about the house and its hiding places than our parents think we do, is all part of the fun, eventually.
In our adult years we also try to find those special places where we can hide things from our partners, spouses, and adult family members. It's a bit more challenging and we often have to depend upon others to hold and hide those special gifts for us until the right time. We have the most fun when we can hide such things right in front of another in places where least expected.
It can be fun surprising another. It is especially fun surprising another in an unexpected way, with a special treat, a surprise visit, an expression of something that is also, often hidden from public view. It is often hard to tell another person how much we love them, how much they mean to us. We try to do this in words, songs, poems, smiles, hugs, and in gift giving.
Gift giving is a way of showing another how much they mean to us, feelings and thoughts that are often hidden in special places in our hearts and souls. Gift giving is an opportunity to make expressions of friendship and love in addition to words, or, when words are hard to find. Gift giving is a way of showing appreciation of a friendship, a “thank-you” gift. It can also be a way of speaking of how we wish for the bond of friendship and family to continue to have meaning for us.
Perhaps God has a hard time showing us how much we are loved. Perhaps it's not always easy getting through to us just how important we are to God. While the words of the prophets and psalmists communicate much to us about our value in the eyes of God, we apparently and obviously are often slow to understand it. While we cannot see God, we can see what God has done and continues to do for us. We have life. We have life every day. We have the breath we breathe, the wonders of creation. We have the love of family and friends. We have been given purpose and the promise of how more is yet to come, of how “the best is yet to come,” to quote Frank Sinatra's lyrics.
Passing by people as we go about our lives is not enough to discover the special places where gifts of love, life, and faith are kept hidden. It is important that we stop and take time to discover what special gifts are kept in the heart and soul of each person. It's not always easy. Some of us keep those gifts more fully hidden than others. And yet, I have discovered, they are there, inside the heart and soul of every person. Why? I believe it's because we are all created in the image of God, whose love for us is unconditional, persistent, forgiving, and life-giving.
In Christmas, God makes it easier for us to know of that special gift of love through the birth of Jesus. The way that Jesus was born, the place and parents of Jesus, the humble nature of his birthplace and life, and the manner in which he related to people all tell us something important about the powerful and wonderful love that is kept and shared for and with each of us by God.
In the birth of Jesus we, too, are invited to take the gifts that God has given to us out of hiding and to share them with each other, on Christmas, but not just on Christmas, but every day. Turn off the security systems that we set up around those special places in our hearts so that others can know of our love for them. Bring the gifts of our faith out of hiding. Tell others, show others, and reveal to others in whatever way you can, how important they are to you. They will be forever blessed by it.
In my previous parish one elder woman would greet me at the end of worship every Sunday and tell me, “Do you know how much we love you?” Whenever I needed a boost of encouragement, I could stop by her home and visit, share a cup of coffee and conversation, knowing that she would tell me again just how special I was. The coffee pot was always loaded and ready to go at a moment's notice. And when this woman spoke to me it was as if I was hearing the very voice of God, seeing the very face of God, and knowing the heart of God.
It's nice to know where God hides special gifts for us. God hides them in human hearts, souls, and minds. And, when we occasionally let our guard down, others come to know where God's gifts can be found, too.
I pray that you don't have to search too long or too hard to find what God has for you this Christmas season, or every day, for that matter.
Yours in Christ,
IN THE SANCTUARY
December 14, 2008
3rd Sunday of Advent
Advent Candle of Joy
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 and John 1:6-8, 19-28
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
Children’s Message: “Spreading Christmas Cheer”
Children may worship with their families before going to rehearse for the Christmas Pageant.
The Nursery is open in Room 14.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
5:00 p.m. Sanctuary
11:00 p.m. Chapel
Have you done your year-end tax planning? Gifts to Centre Church by year-end can mean tax savings next April for those taxpayers who itemize their returns. In order for your gifts to result in tax savings this year, you must make your gift by midnight, December 31st.
What can you give?
Things to Remember for Year-End:
This may be an appropriate time for you to review the bequests you have included in your Will. Naming Centre Church – 1720 Founders Fund – as a beneficiary of your estate (designating a dollar amount or percentage of your estate), or naming Centre Church - 1720 Founders Fund - as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or IRA, will support mission and ministry far into the future.
Consult your attorney or professional tax advisor about how year-end giving may be of benefit to you. For additional information, contact: Phil Johnson, 781-598-5678 or Rev. Dennis Bailey, 781-334-3050.
Planned Giving Committee
Join us at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 14 in the Sanctuary for Centre Church’s Annual Christmas Concert. The Senior and Youth Choirs will present a variety of anthems which will be accompanied by piano, bass and drums. Plan to attend and enjoy singing some of your favorite Christmas Carols. Refreshments and a time of fellowship will follow the concert.
We would like to thank the volunteers who helped with the Advent Workshop These people include: Susan Gilfix, Emma Gilfix, Sue Durkee, Perry Hayden, Ray Couillard, Jeff Couillard and Emily Couillard. Thank you for making it a memorable morning for the children of Centre Church.
We would like to thank everyone who helped to make the HS Youth Group Cookie Swap a success. We raised $350 to put toward our Mission Trip in the summer.
News for Children and Youth
Rotation Sensation: All children in grades Pre-K-6th will be dismissed to go to the chapel following children’s time on Sunday, Dec. 14. The nursery will be open in Room 14.
7th and 8th Grade Class: On Sunday, Dec. 14, the 7th & 8th Grade Class will be traveling to Salem to bring the donations they have collected to the Northeast Animal Shelter. Students should plan to meet in the library at 9:45 a.m., along with a parent to fill out the permission slip.
Youth Group: There is no Youth Group on Sunday, Dec. 14. Please plan to attend the Christmas Concert here at church with your family.
On Sunday, Dec. 21, all Youth Groups, 5th-12th, will be meeting for our annual Christmas Party. Please bring a gift suitable for anybody (non gender-specific), not to exceed $10.00, for our Gift Exchange.
My Brother’s Table: The High School Youth Group will be meeting to cook a meal for My Brother’s Table on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 11:30 a.m. in the Church Kitchen. Thanks to the generosity of the congregation, we have enough funds to cover the cost of the ingredients to provide a meal which will serve 200 guests.
The Giving Tree
Gifts for Crombie Street Mission: We will be collecting the following items under the Christmas Tree in the Narthex for residents of the Crombie Street Mission in Salem, MA: socks, underwear, sweatshirts/pants, hats, mittens and gloves of all sizes. Please leave the gifts unwrapped.
“In Lieu of Christmas Cards” Donation: Instead of sending individual Christmas Cards to your church friends, why not send a single card to the church office with a contribution which will be sent to City Mission Society in Boston? A Christmas Greeting with the names of those contributing will be published in Tower Notes and your card will be displayed on the Giving Tree in the Narthex. Your donations are greatly appreciated for the on-going programs at City Mission Society.
Last Call December 21
I won't be available to take Heifer orders on Sunday, December 14, but I will be here the following week. Sunday, December 21 will be our deadline for this year's Heifer International orders. Thanks to all who have already participated!
Sandi Watson, Heifer Coordinator
The Christmas Pageant Is Coming!
All children are invited to take part in the Christmas Pageant which will be presented in the worship service on Sunday, December 21. We will be assigning parts and passing out information on what to wear for costumes, this Sunday, December 14 during church school. There will be another important rehearsal in the sanctuary on the morning of Saturday, December 20.
If you are interested in being in the pageant, but will not be in church this week, please contact Linda Ladd (firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-334-6170) and mention if you'd like a speaking or silent role. Parts with just one line are very popular, so mention if you'd like that too!
We are looking forward to involving ALL children in our church school in this annual event!
We are now deep into the Advent season and it is a good time to pause and reflect on the blessings that this time of preparation and anticipation brings to us. Last month we sent a letter out describing Centre Church’s financial needs and inviting members and friends to contribute to a supplemental pledge drive, with a goal of rising $30,000 for our operating expenses. As of December 4th we have received $6380 in supplemental pledges. It’s a good start, but we will need many others to contribute to the drive.
We also challenged members of the church family to help think of creative fundraising ideas. Stewardship sponsored a very successful breakfast in November and Advent luncheon on December 7th, with a combined profit of nearly $750 to add to our budget. To all of those who contributed by purchasing, cooking, serving, pouring, stuffing, organizing, setting up, cleaning up and attending these times of fellowship – THANK YOU!! Special thanks go to Bob Shorey who organized and made our lobster roll sale so successful. Thanks to Donna Marino and her fellow crafters for their tireless enthusiasm in organizing the Mini Fair. And what fun it was to be around our youth during their Advent Workshop and Cookie Swap! The spirit is catching! If you have an idea – tell someone else and make it happen! In these uncertain times, more than ever, we all need to “Join Hands and Share the Journey”.
Ann Decker, for the Stewardship Comm.
News From Around the Parish
Our congratulations to Kevin and Meredith (Everson) Lamont of Cambridge upon the birth of a son Kiernan Markham Lamont on November 29. Proud grandparents are Janet and Bill Everson and proud great-grandmother is Margaret Markham.
Bread and Roses
On Saturday morning, 6 youth and 4 adults traveled to Bread and Roses in Lawrence to offer our time and service. We washed down all the tables and chairs, walls, and woodwork to be sure everything was clean and ready for Christmas. We then helped to sort socks and get them ready for the gift packs Bread and Roses hands out to their guests at Christmas. It was great to see the facility and wonderful to hear how much the meal Centre Church provides each month is appreciated by everyone there.
From the Mailbox
Dear Friends of Centre Church,
I am still floating on air over my 90th birthday celebration. At the same time I am overwhelmed and humbled by the number of cards I have received from you and their gracious and warm sentiments. The first phone call on my birthday was from Dennis, singing “Happy Birthday” to me. Thank you, Dennis. And thank you, one and all, for your part in making my 90th birthday a glorious, happy occasion.
Tax Deductions Available for 2008
If you have questions about where you stand on your current pledge or giving, please leave me a message at my home (978-532-3185) or at the church office (781-334-3050) and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Even though our pledge year is from July 2008 to June 2009, any donations you make by December 31 may be deductible on your 2008 tax return.
Jim Marshall, Financial Secretary
Laser Quest Lock-In
The High School Youth Group Lock-In which was originally scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, has been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 2. We need 30 youth to make this event happen.
Friends are welcome to attend, but they will need to fill out a permission slip and medical form. We need a final count by Sunday Dec. 21. Call Mrs. Langill at the church office if you plan to attend. Any of our recent youth group graduates are invited to come join in the fun.
|3rd Sunday of Advent
|Morning Worship - Sanctuary
Nursery – Room 14
Pageant Preparation - Chapel
Sr. Highs Cook for My Brother's Table
Confirmation Class – Library
Christmas Concert – Sanctuary
|Get-Together Lunch – Todd Hall
Knitting Group – Fireside Room
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|Scripture Study - Pastor's Office
Sr. Highs to Haven from Hunger
Our love and prayers are with:
We also remember those who are in Iraq: Kristofer Jenkins, Derek Cataldo, Brian Bisacre and Alec Leung.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Head Usher: Michelle Hagerty
Greeter: Betty Hayter
Lay Reader: Seavey Bowdoin
Advent Candle: Power family
Coffee Hour: Marcia Stevens and Pinky Warnock
Provide Altar Flowers: Dick Evans
Deliver Altar Flowers: Doreen DiFillippo
Lights Out beginning December 12: John Walsh
Cable Broadcasts of Worship
Our Sunday Morning Services can be seen on local access television each week. Below is the schedule:
DVD and VHS recordings of the services can be borrowed from the Church Office at any time.