Florence Congregational Church

                                               Parish Visitor
                                                     December 2010
                           October                  ♦ Christ ♦ Community

    In This Months Issue:
                                                                         Upcoming Events
    A.C.T. Update ………….……………………………………. 3                                   Saturday, Dec. 4th
    Bazaar News …...…………………………………..………. 6                                    Church Supper
    Bazaar Celebration ………………………………..………. 8                                Beef Stew - 5:30pm
      In This Circle ……………………………………………. 4
    Friendship Months Issue
    Historian ……………..……………………………………… 3                                   Wednesday, Dec. 8th
    Holiday Concert …………………………………………….. 5                            Friendship Circle Christmas
    Lectionary Readings .……………………………..….…….4                              Program (see pg. 4)
    Living Nativity ……….………………………….………….. 7                                    7:00pm
    Music Director ………………………………………….…... 5                               Saturday, Dec. 11th
    Parish Nurse .……….……………………………………….. 7                              Holiday Concert (see pg. 5)
    Pastor‟s Corner..……………………………………….……. 2                                     3:00pm
    Upcoming Events ..…………………………………………. 1                                 Sunday, Dec. 12th
                                                                       Pageant Sunday – 10:00am
                                                                          Monday, Dec. 13th
                                                                         Christmas Flower Order
The missing piece:                                                       Deadline (see order insert)
                                                                        Wednesday, Dec. 15th
It‟s frustrating trying to complete a picture puzzle and realizing      Parish Visitor Deadline
a piece is missing. The same is true when we try to make sense        Saturday, December 18th
of our lives and discover something‟s missing within.                Living Nativity 5:30pm-7:30pm
                                                                            (see pg 7 for more info)
Each of us has an emptiness that only God‟s Spirit can fill.
Philosophers speak of a “God-shaped hole,” and Augustine                   Friday, Dec. 24th
wrote, “Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”       Living Nativity 6:00pm
Until we rest in God, inner peace and “completeness” will evade      Christmas Eve Service 7:00pm
us. Drugs, drunkenness, riches, travel, sexual escapades and
social activities won‟t suffice.
That‟s why the psalmist wrote, “‟Come,‟ my heart says, „seek his face!‟ Your face, LORD, do I seek”
(Psalm 27:8, NRSV). That‟s also why Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it
abundantly” (John 10:10, NRSV). Being filled with God is the only way to fill in the missing piece and
have a truly fulfilled life.
Pastor’s Corner

December is only a few days away, yet we of Hampshire County have seen no snow. For some that
is just fine, for others it‟s sad. I guess the kid in me still likes to see the first few flakes drift down
from the sky making all the brown drabby looking lawns and leafless trees beautifully white.
Advent season is here (actually beginning November 28th) bringing with it all the expectations of
festivals, parties, decorating Christmas trees, presents and family gatherings. Many folks I know
like to see a light snowfall before Christmas to make everything magically white, clean and full of
wonder. There is something about the magical sparkling snow that speaks to the beginning of our
Advent season and it never seems quite right to begin it without a few fluffy flakes. It has a way of
orienting us to our Christian calendar year.
Advent is a very special time of year for us as Christians. It is when we anticipate and celebrate the
birth of Jesus. It is a time when life can get very confusing, crazy and chaotic. A time, if not
carefully planned will sap every bit of energy from the body. I think part of this is our changing
cultural pace, and possibly the adrenaline rush of the wonder and excitement of children, family and
friends in family gatherings, feasting, extra treats, candy and lack of sleep.
Perhaps this year might be different. Think about new ways you might honor and celebrate this
wonderful and yes spiritual time of year. Are there things you could do differently that would make
it even more special? Perhaps sitting down with your child, niece, nephew or grandchild by the
Christmas tree in a rocking chair and talking about the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe you
would find a new peace in beginning a devotional reading time each morning or evening? There
are devotionals available at the church and many special books of poems, devotions and stories at
local bookstores.
Perhaps in combination to reading you might decide to share in the Advent worship services here at
the church and the Christmas Eve service. This is a special time that we gather as God‟s people
recognizing the peace and wonder God has given us in the birth of his son. We can share the Good
News of Christ birth with each other and people we have never met. This year we are putting
together a special outdoor “living” nativity for the Florence Holiday luminary celebration and
Christmas Eve. If you are interested in participating, let me know. We will celebrate the birth of
Jesus in a new creative way with many members of the church participating in the Christmas Eve
service with special music and drama. Please plan to be here for this joyful experience of Christmas
What ever you do, spend some time in quiet reflecting on the wondrous hope, love, joy and peace
offered to you in the Christ child, God‟s special gift to you, a gift that in our brokenness we might
find the joy of wholeness, comfort and calm. Observe the light of Christmas candles symbolizing
the light of Christ which illuminates our world… a light conquering the darkness that sometimes
overshadows life as we know it. Celebrate life in the light of Christ!

                                                                     Love In Christ,
                                                                           Pastor Irv

ACT Update
      The Anniversary Celebration Team has prints of the 1865 Lithograph of the
Florence Village for your purchase. The price is $15.00; please contact Nancy McNulty or
Pastor Irv. Proceeds from the sale will be used for our 150th Celebration.
      The Anniversary Celebration Team has purchased a handsome banner for use
during our 150th anniversary year and beyond. It will make its first public appearance in
the Florence Thanksgiving/Christmas Parade on November 27, then will be displayed on
the exterior of the church, to help keep the larger community aware of our presence,
now and from the earliest days of the village.
      The members of ACT thank you for your support of our projects, which made this
publicity possible.

                        Nancy McNulty, for the Anniversary Celebration Team (ACT)

                 A Hundred Fifty Years Ago

                     As the year 1860 came to an end, the Florence Church Society
                  continued to advance plans for the new church. The Building Committee
                  had identified the land next to the village schoolhouse, where Park and
                  Pine Streets met, as a desirable site. Upon it grew a grove of pine trees
which had long served as a gathering place for summer Sabbath School activities. The
Greenville Manufacturing Company donated this piece of land to the Society. Not
coincidentally, the three officers of the company were members of the Williston family,
two of whom were members of the Building Committee.
   In the meantime, the Society appointed a committee "to confer with persons who
might be disposed to join with such a church of Christ, in accordance with
Congregational Polity." As a second function, it was, with the assistance of Rev.
Theodore A. Leete, to draw up a Confession of Faith and a Church Covenant. The men
who made up this committee - Anson B. Clark, Julius Phelps, Thomas Pomeroy, Plympton
H. Smith, and Joseph B. Whitehouse - all became charter members of the Florence
Congregational Church.
                                                     Nancy McNulty, Historian

         Friendship Circle ~ Holiday Christmas Program
                    Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 7 p.m.
        Florence Congregational Church, 130 Pine St., Florence, MA
               This years entertainment will be provided by the:
                     Goshen Congregational Church
                             Praise Team
       This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served
        after the performance. Thank you to the Friendship Circle for hosting
                       what is sure to be a memorable evening.
          A collection for the “Toy for Joy” Gazette Toy Fund will be taken.
              Please invite a friend & join us for this fun-filled evening!
Friendship begins and has no end, when it goes around in a circle of friends.

            Lectionary Readings for December 2010

      December 5th- 2nd Sunday of Advent            December 19th -4th Sunday of Advent
    1st Reading – Isaiah 11:1:10                   1st Reading – Isaiah 7:10-16
   Psalter – Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19                  Psalter – Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
   2nd Reading – Romans 15:4-13                    2nd Reading – Romans 1:1-7
  Gospel Lesson – Matthew 3:1-12                 Gospel Lesson – Matthew 1:18-25
   December 12th – 3rd Sunday of Advent                      December 24th
                                                             Christmas Eve Reading
   1st Reading – Isaiah 35:1-10
    Psalter – Psalm 146:5-10                             1st Reading – Isaiah 9:2-7
   2 Reading – James 5:7-10                              Psalter – Psalm 96
 Gospel Lesson – Matthew 11:2-11                     2 Reading – Titus 2:11-14
                                                    Gospel Lesson – Luke 2:1-14
                                                             December 26th
                                                    1st Reading – Isaiah 63:7-9
                                                        Psalter – Psalm 148
                                                  2 Reading – Hebrews 2:10-18
                                                 Gospel Lesson – Matthew 2:13-23
                                     MUSIC @ FCC Holiday Edition
                          For Advent, on Sunday December 19, the Congregational Chorus will be
                          singing a collection of seasonal favorites. If you're not yet
                          familiar with the Congregational Chorus, it's an ensemble that meets at
9am on the third Sunday of every month, learns music together, and then sings it in service that
same day. On December 19, we will sing "O Holy Night," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," "Joy To
The World," and "We Three Kings." Anyone of any age or skill level is welcome to join in - just
show up at 9am on Sunday December 19!

John Henry Hopkins Jr, composer and writer of "We Three Kings," was born in 1820. The son of
John Henry Hopkins Sr, who was later the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, Hopkins Jr graduated from
the University of Vermont. After school, he moved to New York City with the intent
to become a journalist or lawyer. Instead, he enrolled at the General Theological Seminary, where
he later became the institution's first music teacher. He wrote "We Three Kings" in 1857, as a
Christmas gift to his many nieces and nephews. That same year, he included the song
in a giant pageant that he organized at the seminary. It wasn't published until 1863, in his
collection "Carols, Hymns, and Songs." He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1872, and became a
national leader in the church, becoming Bishop of Vermont (like his father), and delivering the
eulogy at Ulysses S. Grant's funeral in 1885. While "We Three Kings" is his most famous
composition, he wrote two other songs that are still popular today: "Gather Around The Christmas
Tree" and "I Sing A Song Of The Saints OF God."

On December 19, come and sing "We Three Kings," along with "O Holy Night," "Go Tell It On The
Mountain," and "Joy To The World" as a part of the Congregational Chorus. Hope to see you there!

Jonathan Harvey and Sue Stanley

                          Celebrate the Season in Song
                                 Southampton Community Chorus

                                  This Christmastide
                                        A Holiday Concert
                                     Directed by Kathy Marks

                                Saturday December 11th at 3:00 pm
                              At the Florence Congregational Church

                                        Suggested Donation $6

                               Bazaar News
Shopping cart raffle
1st Prize   Grocery Basket                       Sue Moors
2nd Prize   $50.00 Gift Card Big Y               Alice LaPrade
3rd Prize   $50.00 Savings Bond                  Anne Warner

Quilt raffle                               Janice Clark

Afghan                                     Pastor Irv

                         Holly Daze Snowflake Auction
                                 Basket winners

  1. Travel Basket                               Shereene Robinson
  2. Laser Tool Kit                              Lucille Crowther
  3. Chopping in the Kitchen                     Diane Barrett
  4. Wild Kingdom                                Sandra Trombley
  5. Christmas Treasures                         Anne Warner
  6. Kitty’s Scratch & Play                      Alexa Flinker
  7. Snuggle & Friends                           Kristen & Lisa Stawasz
  8. Bird Lover’s Basket                         June Upham
  9. Spa Party                                   Cindy Larareo
  10. Coffee for One                             Alexa Flinker
  11. Christmas by the Sea                       Marie Durant
  12. Heavenly Garden                            Diane Russell
  13. Pampering Pleasures                        Charlene Moran
  14. Strawberry Sensations                      Jane Chapman
  15. Grill Daddy                                Lily Rigali
  16. Christmas for Kitty                        Sue Moors
  17. Rockin Raggety                             Maureen Uhlig
  18. Kids Craft Time                            Susan Robbins
  19. Science Adventure                          Lucille Crowther
  20. Relaxing Bath Time                         Carleen Bigelow
  21. Deck the Halls                             Nancy Powers
  22. Snowmen Galore                             Jacob Sherwood
  23. Gardner’s Starter Kit                      Jacob Sherwood
  24. Cuddly Storytime                           Shereene Robinson
  25. Fall Cornucopia                            Janet Mollison
  26. Patio Party                                Delia Crocker
  27. Candles & Chocolate                        Jacob Sherwood
  28. Holly Berry Basket                         Lisa Stawasz
  29. Far Away Christmas                         Carrie Nuttelman
  30. Winter Warmer                              Cynthia Redeker

From the Parish Nurse

      As we move through the Advent Season and on to Christmas, I thought of sharing some
coping strategies to help make the season more joyous.

       First, if you do not have the same excitement or joy this year because of the loss of a
loved one, know that it is O K. It does not mean you are not healing or moving on. Sometimes a
loss of many years ago will suddenly overshadow our sense of joy. You may want to talk to
family; they may be experiencing the same feelings of emptiness. Be open to changing your
holiday traditions for this year. Make time to remember your loved one, sharing stories can be
healing. You may want to do something special in their memory. You can return to old traditions
in another year.

      Secondly, keep this holy season simple with prayer. Prayer is very healing.
            Pray for attentiveness to what really matters
            Pray for opportunities to learn something new
            Pray for grace to be able to rest and become aware of God‟s presence
            Pray for freedom from all that burdens you- past mistakes, fears, and
               destructive habits, hurts others have inflected on you and more…..
            Pray for joy and humor
            Pray for confidence in God‟s love for you and trust in God‟s power to work out
               the best life for you.

      May you find Peace, Love, Hope and Joy this Holy Season.

                        God’s blessings to all,

                                                  *** NEW This Year ***
                                       FCC will be presenting a Living Nativity Scene,
                                     outside in front of the Church this year. The first
                                    viewing will be on December 18th 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
                                       The second viewing will be on Christmas Eve,
                                         beginning at 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm when
                                            the Candle Light Service will begin.
                                             Openings are still available for performers.
                                              Please call the office if you would like to
                                                 participate during one of the shifts.

                                      HollyDaze Celebration

                     Wow! It was a wonderful day of Bazaar. Months of hard work
                     brought us to another day of delight and joyous celebration. I
                     marvel at the day’s activities. It is wonderful to participate in an
event where so many people, both members and friends of the church work together side by side. I have
no idea how many years this Christmas fair has continued. I recall my first year, second month when the
wheels of preparation began to crank in October: “Wait until you see what we do with the HollyDaze
Bazaar; it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen,” said Andrea Uhlig. I was the brand new settling pastor at the
time. She was right, I had no idea what I was to discover at the Bazaar. It is so much more than the
typical church Christmas fair. I think it is different because of the people putting it together. The Bazaar
is about the commitment and affection of a variety of people who love the church. It is about people
contributing to the work of God’s kingdom in a fun loving way. It is about working and serving together
as a people of God. I have said it before, I think, the HollyDaze Bazaar is about people sharing in life
together. Mondays throughout most of the year are filled with the voices of many folks eagerly crafting,
talking, laughing during the early afternoon. While there is an importance on fundraising on the day of
the HollyDaze Bazaar, the energy of the day is focused on having holy fun- being together, sharing in
life’s journey, supporting one another, greeting the community and in my case sampling the many treats
for sale at various tables.
         The HollyDaze Bazaar is exceptional in that it is supported by people from all over. Friends and
members of the church from Maine, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, California and a host of other
places offer support. People come with curiosity, love, desire, hope and joy to celebrate the gifts of the
congregation and friends. This year I was away the first two weeks of November missing out on the
chance to help in the pie making. My marble rolling pin lay quiet on the shelf. My place at the elevated
pie crust rolling table was filled by none other than my mother from Warren, Maine. Additionally
Jessica, Brenda and my daughter drove from Rangeley, Maine to assist. Mom shared her excitement and
thrill of working with many of you this year. She noted your loving and joyful spirit throughout the
week of final preparations. Under the organized leadership of Carrie Nuttelman (Thank you Carrie!!!!),
the creative spirit of nearly eighty people pulled the fair together with beautifully decorated tables of
wonderful gifts. The luncheon was well attended with usual delight.
         Pies, pies and more pies were available for a modest charge. Pumpkin, chocolate cream, pecan,
lemon, blueberry, mince and lots of apple pies filled the tables. And, we must not forget the extra sharp
cheese for “apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze” according to Evie Cooper. I like to
share that story every where I go, always getting a chuckle and “I’ll have to remember that.” I try to
suggest one only needs to come and buy an apple pie, “You’ll remember then, we sell cheese.”
         All in all, what a glorious day of fun, fellowship and creativity! I believe we all experience
something new every year. We get to know each other a little more. We grow. We love. We play.
We work really hard. And we get really tired. Like the disciples, like Paul, like thousands of Christians
over the years, we serve with a heart for Christ’s church. You are a special people, a unique people
devoted to one another, the community and to God. I am most pleased to serve with you… and to love
you. I pray for you often. I was at the Wailing Wall in Israel during the final week of HollyDaze
preparations. I tucked a prayer in the wall for FCC- that we might continue to serve with creativity, love
and joy for God’s Kingdom. Thanks for making the day a blessing to us all. Thank you all for making
this celebration such a great success. And, thank you Carrie for your support as director.

                                                               Love in Christ,
                                                                     Pastor Irv


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