North Greenwich Congregational Church
Weekly Pastoral Update
December 22, 2017
From the Backcountry …
I am a huge fan of Italian Renaissance art, particularly 14th century renderings of the Nativity story. Interestingly, the masters never place Mary, Joseph and the babe in a Bethlehem stable. They set the entire scene in Florence, Bologna, or Cortona surrounded by familiar sites. They also include friends, neighbors and colleagues. For example, Sandro Botticelli’s “Adoration of the Magi” (pictured above) has many Medici sons, grandsons and associates pressing in on the holy family – it’s a virtual “Who’s Who” of the Florentine banking community.
The artist is reminding us that - no matter where or when - the divine is manifest in the midst of human experience, within our everyday joys and sadness, ecstasy and disappointment. The baby is often naked and lying not in a protective manger, but on the hard, cold ground - yet another reminder that no matter how great or small, the divine meets us at our most vulnerable and helpless points - working its redemptive power and making us whole.
And, look again! You’ll invariably find the artist somewhere in that mass of humanity ( man in beige bathrobe on far right.) For if the truth be told, we all want to be a part of this story. Each of us, in our own way, will find our way to the Sanctuary on Christmas Eve - pondering in the silence, and once again painting ourselves into the masterpiece.
Sunday, December 24 Christmas Eve 5:00 p.m.
At the magical twilight hour, we gather to hear the story of Christ’s birth. Our traditional service of Lessons and Carols will include special music. Ellen Vassallo and Carolyn Tyson will sing the German carol, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming and Don Bessig’s haunting arrangement of the English carol, “What Child Is This?” We again welcome cellist Mihai Marica, who will join pianist Carlos Avila in an interpretation of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words.”
My meditation is entitled, “Comfort and Joy.” Even though Christmas brings tidings of great joy, we don’t always find our own moods reflecting the jubilation of the celebration around us. And yet, the Christmas story reaffirms that even in the most troubled times, the Christ Child is born …a light shining in the darkness… bringing its comfort and hope … and pointing us in the direction of everlasting peace.
Please note that there will be no morning service of worship this Sunday.
2017 Christmas Mission Offering
Neighbor-to-Neighbor Food Pantry
Here’s a quick reminder how our donations to the Christmas Mission Offering make Fairfield and Westchester Counties stronger and healthier:
Neighbor to Neighbor provides healthy foods to prepare over 344,000 meals each year, including protein, dairy and fresh produce.
Neighbor to Neighbor’s nutritionist-designed food pantry builds in dignity and respect for every needy client.
Over 300 school children receive summer lunches - keeping them healthy when school is in recess.
Over 200 Greenwich seniors receive nutritious food each week, supporting their strength and independence.
Thousands of local residents have the benefit of 18,500 shopping bags of quality clothing, warm blankets, and winter coats on an annual basis.
260 children receive new backpacks and school supplies for the first day of school in the Fall.
400 children are opening new toys this holiday, not only putting smiles on their faces …but easing anxiety for so many financially-strapped parents.
Hundreds of local teens will be able to attend local proms “in style” – thanks to Neighbor-to Neighbor’s Prom Project distribution of dresses, tuxedos and accessories.
The Christmas Eve Offering will be given in its entirety to Neighbor to Neighbor. Please give generously.