From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

December 29, 2017

 From the Backcountry

Those with Scottish backgrounds are, no doubt, preparing for Hogmanay – the festive New Year’s Eve celebration.   I am one of the few die-hards who believe the word Hogmanay actually comes from the French phrase: “Homme est né – meaning, “Man is born” - a fitting message for this magical turning of the year.  Hogmanay is a night of torch processions and bonfires to purify and drive out lingering “evil” spirits.  And, of course, at some point during the night you  invariably join hands with friend and foe alike for a rousing round of “Auld Lang Syne.”

Hogmanay is a wonderful tradition.  Rich food, good drink, lively music and dance give the spent year a proper send-off, while welcoming all the new possibilities that lie ahead.  And should your celebration get a wee bit riotous, it may be worth remembering the Scot motto that it’s better to leap the divide between one year and the next … than crawl over it.

Sunday, December 31  First Sunday after Christmas  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 148; Luke 2: 22-40

Text:  “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel.”  Luke 2:34

Sermon:   “Baby … It’s You!”

Tease:  We share a tender moment as Jesus is presented in the Temple and the aged prophet Simeon takes the infant Jesus in arm and makes an astonishing claim regarding the child’s future.  If true, his words introduce us to the entirely new and unexpected way God acts in the world.  Simeon’s predictions not only place trust in God, they place considerable  trust in us, as well.

God Bless Us, Everyone!!

What a truly joyous Christmas we shared together!   From the lighting of the first Advent Candle to “passing the light” to each other on Christmas Eve, our celebration included many time honored traditions and even introduced some new ones!!

I want to begin by thanking Peter and Kerry Linderoth for proposing and organizing our first Christmas Banquet!!  It was such a joy to see everyone bustling about the kitchen getting ready for the turkey dinner - with all the trimmings.  Thanks to Larry Broadbent for cranking up the old stove in order to receive all the amazing side dishes and breads.  We really got a sense of our strength and vibrancy as a congregation.  And, it was a special honor to share the day with regional minister, Michael Ciba!

Christmas Eve is always beautiful. My heartfelt thanks to Trish and Larry Broadbent, who served as worship leaders for the evening.  Gladys Caterinicchio’s bulletin was lovely. Carolyn Tyson and Ellen Vassallo’s three anthems were inspiring.  Our readers:  Kerry Linderoth, Jeff Junker, Caroline Vassallo brought the story of Christ’s birth alive for us.  And, a special nod to Peter Linderoth who did a beautiful rendering of the prologue to John’s Gospel.   Carlos Avila and Mihai Marica’s interpretation of Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words” was breathtaking.   And, once again Seth Garren’s trumpet descants enabled us to soar with the angels.

I want to take this moment to thank Carlos Avila, personally.  The Christmas Eve service is a virtual marathon of music.  Carlos is not only an accomplish musician, but maintains such an amazing calm under intense pressure.  It is truly a joy and a privilege to minister with him.

Finally, I want to thank all the members of the congregation who supported the Christmas Mission Offering.  Many of you gave multiple times during the campaign.  We collected $1,765.00 for the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Food Pantry.  Well done, good and faithful servants!

Haug Hogmanay to All!!