The Unitarian – November 29, 2016

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Sunday Worship — December 4

Being Born and Letting Go — Rev. David Bryce

Prelude: Improvisation on Picardie; Simon Andrews, organ

9 a.m. Nova Choir Anthem: Call to Advent; J. Jerome Williams

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: TBA

Postlude: Dialogue, Peter Hurford (b. 1930); Simon Andrews, organ

The flowers on the Chancel Table this Sunday are given by Janet Young.

  • Services at 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • This week’s offering will benefit the Partner Church.
  • Sermon archive:
  • Directions and parking information at

Sunday, December 11 — Major Music Sunday

One service at 10:30 a.m.

Join us for J.S. Bach’s famous Cantata #140, “Wachet Auf.” Admission is free and open to all! Bring your friends and family to enjoy this wonderfully uplifting piece. 

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

When you get to be my age, the time between breakfast and breakfast is fifteen minutes

The statement above was made to my mother about forty year ago when she was in her fifties and was working as the director of a program for seniors. She remembered that comment—and quoted it often—over the course of the rest of her life.
     Each time the holiday season rolls around I find myself recalling that statement; and recognizing the truth of it. Somehow each year seems shorter than the year before; the cycle of the year seems to run faster; time seems to compress.
     That is especially true if I am engaged in “busy-ness.” To the extent that my life is filled with meetings and writing and traveling, the time goes quickly.
     It is when I pause within my own mind, or when I look around me at nature, or when I pray, or when I pause to be grateful (and is that not a form of prayer) that time slows down. In the Bible there is the story of Mary and Martha:
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
     I love cooking meals for family gatherings, I love the bustle and the creativity—even when I am only being “creative” by making the same things I did the year before.
     But I also want to heed the message of time and of Jesus, the message of Sabbaths and of holy days: slow down; enjoy the gathering; take time to be with people; in the midst of the Doing take time to Be. It will not be taken away from you.

Among Us

Our deepest condolences to Nancy and Mark Davis and family on the death of Nancy’s mother, Constance Hanscom, on November 17, just 3 weeks short of her 100th birthday. 
Our deepest condolences to Scott Ferson, Lucy Pullen, and family on the death of Scott’s father, who passed away on November 27.
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Social Action Holiday Gift Fair – Sunday, December 4,
10:15 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Do your holiday shopping…and help others. Buy gifts for everyone on your list by choosing from an array of products featuring the work of both local and international artisans and craft makers.
     Items for sale will include crafts, clothing and accessories, bags, baskets, children’s items, jewelry, coffee, note cards, calendars, photography, specialty food items, and more.
     This year’s Social Action Gift Fair has been expanded to include a bigger selection of gift items and will benefit a greater number of charitable causes, including the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Amnesty International, the Coral Reef Alliance, the Sharing Foundation (Cambodian children), Tilonia (rural poor in India), Zienzele Foundation (villages in Zimbabwe), Chalatenanto Province in El Salvador, and our very own Youth Group and Social Action Committee! It’s a not-to-be-missed longstanding, new and improved holiday tradition at First Church!

Worship Committee Seeking Leaders for Lay-Led Services on Christmas and New Year’s Day

As many of you know, there is traditionally a lay-led service planned in the time between Christmas and New Year. This year is unusual in that both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday. This has happened only twice in the last 20 years.
     Lay-Led Services have become an important aspect of our shared ministry. They provide opportunities to gather in less formal ways and smaller numbers to engage in worship led by members and friends of First Church.
     If you are interested in leading a service or in partnering with someone else to develop a meaningful experience for fellow parishioners, please contact Ariane Frank at 617-484-2149 or

Hanging of the Greens: Saturday, December 3

Please join us from 10 a.m. – noon on Saturday, December 3 and help us decorate the church for the holidays.
     We will have 23 small, large and gigantic wreaths and we will be hanging them all around the church. Tasks range from tidying up the bows to climbing ladders. No need to sign up ahead, but if you have questions, please contact the Flower Committee at

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

As Advent gets underway, and the days get still shorter, it’s time to look at the musical offerings in the church for the Christmas season. As always, the second Sunday in December will be our Major Music Service. This year we will be performing Bach’s famous Cantata BWV 140, “Wachet Auf,” as well as a few movements from other Bach works.
     We will be joined by an orchestra anchored by concertmaster Ken Stalberg, and many other talented professional musicians. If you are interested in knowing more about this wonderful piece of music, I will be providing a lecture/pre-concert talk on Wednesday evening, November 30th, at 7:30 in the Parish Hall.
     This Christmas Eve we will continue the tradition of having the music at each service provided by our Children’s Choirs. The 2:00 p.m. service will be sung by the Junior Choir (K-4th Grade), the 4:00 p.m. service by the Chancel Choir (5th and 6th Grade), and the 6:00 p.m. service by the Youth Choir (7th and above). These three services will also feature a Christmas Pageant provided by the youth in the community.
     At the 11:00 p.m. service, we will welcome back young people who have participated in our choir program in previous years, and hear an Alumni Choir of young adults from our community. Please join us in celebrating this joyful season!

December 7 Mass. Rivers Alliance annual meeting at FCB: All are welcome to attend

The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance will host Jamie Williams, the President of the Wilderness Society, at its annual meeting and dinner on December 7, 6-9 p.m. in the Parish Hall. The event is open to the public and information and tickets are available on the Mass Rivers website;
     Jamie Williams is a national conservation leader who will speak about the challenge of protecting our natural treasures in a challenging political landscape.
     Please note, this event is not sponsored by The First Church; they are renting our Parish Hall and invite all church members and friends to attend; tickets are available online at

Adult Programs News

Theatre Discussion Series of The Scottsboro Boys — Jane Minasian, Downing Cless, Debbie Dobbins
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall
We are pleased to have cast member Maurice Parent with us to discuss this very interesting play. For more information contact

The Scottsboro Boys at Speakeasy Theatre performs Oct. 21 – Nov. 26
In this, their final collaboration, legendary songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) bring to light one of the most infamous events in American history: the shocking true story of nine African American boys jailed in Alabama in 1931 for a crime they did not commit. Featuring a mix of gospel, jazz, and vaudeville, this audacious musical uses the construct of a minstrel show to tell the harrowing true story that provoked a national outrage and helped launch the American civil rights movement. Approximate running time: 1 hour 45 minutes; no intermission. Tickets are going fast!

Hootenanny/Jam Session — Jon Svetkey and friends
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Parlor
Are you a closet guitar hero with no band? A great shower singer? Then we’ve got just the thing for you: a good old fashioned Hootenanny. Bring along your portable acoustic instrument (i.e., guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, shaker, suitcase, jaw harp, spoons…), your voice or just yourself and — most of all — bring your enthusiasm. And your iPads, iPhones etc. so we can access words to the songs. All levels encouraged!

First Church Book Group — Karl Klasson and Anne Stuart
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Library
We will be meeting to discuss the poetry of Walt Whitman. We have selected three short poems for all to read and discuss. The poems are:
“I Saw In Louisiana a Life-Oak Growing”
“A Noiseless, Patient Spider”
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”
These other poems by Whitman can be found at: and
     We hope that many of you will join us for this special evening to discover, rediscover, and savor Walt Whitman’s work. We ask that participants select at least one other Whitman poem to share with the group that evening.

Prequel to Major Music — Ian Garvie
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall (back to its original date)
Ian will help us to appreciate and more fully enjoy J.S. Bach’s Cantata #140, “Wachet Auf”.

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Thursday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Many people are juggling jobs, families and their parents’ or other family members’ increasing medical needs, frequent emergencies and ongoing need for care. How do we cope with the needs of our loved ones and find some balance in our own lives? What do we need to learn as we take on this task? How do we find information and community? If you find yourself in this position, you are welcome at this group for discussion and support. This is a drop-in group so please attend when it is convenient for you.

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
Meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday — December 1 and 13, 8:00 p.m., Location TBD
Enjoy the fun and fellowship of crafting with a genial group on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month. If you knit, crochet, quilt, bead or dabble in other low-mess crafts, please come join us. Projects could include creating items for non-profit organizations such as Caps for Kids, making small gifts for the Holiday Fair or working on personal projects. Everyone is welcome and no commitment is necessary. Contact with questions and for location.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, December 2, 7:30 p.m., Library
Does your child have special challenges? Has he/she been diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, or sensory problems? We will offer support and share experience in a non-judgmental space. Childcare upon request. Snacks provided.

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural and Racial Separations — Social Action Committee
Sunday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m., Parish Hall
Please join Belmont Against Racism, The First Church in Belmont Social Action Committee, the Belmont Religious Council, the Belmont police department and graduates of Youth Build as we continue our discussion about how to end racism in Belmont and in the wider world.

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch & Program — All Women & Men Welcome
Wednesday, Dec. 14: 12:00 Lunch; 1 p.m. Program
Please join us on Wednesday, December 14 for the Alliance lunch and program. Bring a sandwich — soup, fruit and dessert will be provided. The suggested donation for the meal is $1-2.
     Nicole Bernstein will present “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain for Artists and Non-Artists.” The participants will be shown how to see differently when they draw pictures leading to results they might not have expected. Please bring a photo of a person whose image you would like to create.
     R.s.v.p. to Janice Zazinski at or call 617-484-1054 (ext. 201).

Facing Illness Together — Kathy Lind
Thursday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m., Tinkham Room
We welcome you to join our ongoing group as we explore ways to live bravely while facing health challenges – either of our own, or of loved ones for whom we act as caregivers. Our group provides a safe place for us to talk about our concerns and our ideas for moving forward. We share strategies for setting goals and living positively with the medical issues in front of us. By nurturing our connections, we comfort and support each other. Through compassionate listening, we help one another understand his or her own challenges.

Science and Spirituality — Ken and Nicole Bernstein
Thursday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room. NOTE we are back to our regular schedule, meeting on the 3rd Thursday
Bill Zinn will lead the discussion based on excerpts from Why the World Exists? by Jim Holt. The author interviewed scientists, philosophers, and theologians to answer the question posed by the title. We will focus on the views of one scholar who seeks to use his deep faith in the existence of God to explain the scientific evidence of the origins of the universe.
     The excerpts can be downloaded from the Sci & Spi drop site at:

Social Action News

Click here to sign up for the Social Action e-newsletter.

Belmont Food Pantry
Members and friends of The First Church have done it again! Your generosity on one single Sunday resulted in those paper turkeys gobbling up more than $850 in contributions to the Belmont Food Pantry’s holiday meal effort!
     This money will be used to provide Star Market holiday gift cards to families and individuals served by the Belmont Food Pantry, and to meet the needs of those they serve beyond the holidays, as well.
     If you haven’t yet contributed to this effort and would like to, please send in a check to First Church — with “Belmont Food Pantry” on the memo line — and your donation will be forwarded on to the Food Pantry. Many, many thanks to all of you for your participation in this annual social action tradition!

Info Session about Driving an Electric Vehicle in Belmont
Sunday, December 11, 12-1 p.m., Parish Hall
Switching to an EV can cut your household’s greenhouse gas emissions almost in half and save you money too! Please come to this short info session in the Parish Hall after the major music service to learn about the Belmont Drives Electric program, a new community run program that aims to switch people over to electric cars and help reduce our carbon footprint in Belmont.
     The program will be hosted by FCBGreen group members Phil Thayer, Martin Plass & John Koltermann and will provide valuable information about:

  • The Belmont Drives Electric (BDE) program
  • Environmental advantages of EV’s
  • Economics of EVs (cheaper than almost any other gasoline car)
  • Current State and Federal Incentives (up to $10,000) and Group Buying Discounts (up to $7000)
  • Belmont Light incentives for EV-chargers and off-peak charging
  • Experiences from EV owners (Fahrvergnuegen, practicality, range anxiety, maintenance, charging, winter driving, …)
  • How to arrange for test drives right from your home
  • Q&A session with EV owners
  • Please check out the BDE website for more information, to arrange a test drive or to get in touch with one of us:

You can also call an EV coach at 617-855-5405 with any questions or email us at:

In the spirit of the season, please join in the Holiday Gift Program…
First Church’s holiday gift program is underway and you can pick up gift giving information at both coffee hours on Sunday, November 27. The program benefits children and adults at four different organizations:

  • Heading Home – serving homeless adults through housing and support services that lead to self-sufficiency
  • Bristol Lodge – serving homeless in various sites
  • Mary’s House – serving homeless families with children
  • The Grow Clinic – serving failure to thrive kids and their families at Boston Medical Center.

     Gift-giving information will also be available during the Holiday Gift Fair on December 4, with the gifts due on Sunday, December 11. Don’t miss this chance to involve your kids in giving to other kids! For more information, contact Joan Stoddard at 617-347-3037 or We look forward to your participation and seeing those gifts piled high! Happy Holidays!

Collecting travel-sized items for Bristol Lodge
First Church is collecting unused/unopened travel-size or hotel-type toiletries for Bristol Lodge Homeless Shelters, where they are greatly appreciated by Bristol Lodge clients. A collection basket is on our Social Action table. Thanks!!!

Needed: Second First Church Delegate to Belmont Religious Council (BRC)
The Belmont Religious Council is a coalition of all Belmont Faith Communities. It provides a means for their congregations, clergy and staff to communicate with one another and share ideas and concerns relevant to our Town. The BRC also organizes community service projects and provides a way for people of different faiths to come together in support of common goals. The BRC runs Belmont Serves, an annual day of community service. Every other year the BRC takes a group of interfaith high school students on a mission trip during February school vacation to help with construction projects in underserved communities (most recently in Birmingham, Alabama).
     The BRC also provides support for Town wide initiatives led by area churches, for example the two Belmont Gun Buybacks in 2016 and 2014 and the recent Resettle Together initiative connecting Belmont congregations with agencies helping welcome and resettle arriving refugees. And it has provided important support for the Belmont “A Path Appears” program. In the past year, it has co-sponsored panels on homelessness and on “Muslims in America: What We Can Do to Counter Bigotry.”
     Priscilla Cobb is a First Church delegate to the BRC. A second delegate is needed. Now, more than ever, interfaith groups that bring people together on issues of common concern should be supported. It meets once every other month. If you have questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Priscilla Cobb: Thank you!

VDAY 2017
The Social Action Committee will be presenting our 2nd VDay event on February 16 and 17 or 17 and 18, 2017. V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler. Our 2014 event, readings from A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, was well received.
     This year’s theme for the National VDay movement is “Solidarity”.
     We are currently forming the Planning Committee. If you are interested in supporting expanding awareness of violence /abuse against women this is the place for you. The meetings are fun, productive and informative. We anticipate that planning meetings will begin in late October, early November.
     Auditions will consist of readings from the essays in the book A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. These will be scheduled in January with rehearsals beginning soon after, continuing periodically until the performance dates in February. No experience necessary.
     If you are interested in being part of the Committee please contact Jackie Neel at Both men and women are welcome.

Continuing Volunteer Opportunity — Grow Clinicalt
As a community we are placing food on a high chair or a table to fill the stomachs of someone desperately in need of sustenance. In that one act we are being our brother’s and sister’s and children’s keepers. Thank you. Please pick up a shopping list or bring a Special Request:

  • November and December: Start the Day Strong (Infant rice cereal, cold and hot non-sugared cereals, Flintstone chewable vitamins, Polyvisol with Iron liquid vitamins)      
  • Collection baskets are in the Lower Hall and Sanctuary vestibule.
  • Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Team Monthly Note (November 2016);
A Post-Election Message Excerpt from Tom Andrews, President and CEO, UUSC:
It is important to remember that we who are privileged to be part of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee stand on the shoulders of extraordinary champions of human rights and human dignity. They have shown us that while there may be suffering and even unfathomable setbacks along this path — hope and the thirst for justice have extraordinary power. With your support, we will continue to unleash this power in the fight for the rights, dignity, and quality of life of the most marginalized … We cannot afford to shrink or even pause from the task before us. That task is now more difficult, but it could not be clearer.
     Thanks to all of you who are already contributing to the effort by taking part in the Guest at Your Table Program.

Membership Committee Updates

Newcomers Breakfast December 11 at 9:15
If you are a newcomer to First Church or would like to meet and welcome a newcomer, come enjoy a bagel and coffee at the Newcomers Breakfast in the Parish Hall at 9:15 before the Major Music service on December 11. For more information, contact Mark Thurber at

Winter Ushers Needed
Ushers are needed to welcome our church community to the winter Sunday services and to light our way into the holidays. You can sign up online at, on the ushering sign up poster at coffee hour, or by contacting Mark Thurber at

Volunteer Sign-Up Form
Share your time, talent and interest with our church community. Volunteer opportunities can be one-time activities, limited short-term projects or serving on an on-going committee.
     Click on this link and take a minute to complete the survey so the Membership Committee can match your interests and talents with volunteer opportunities at the church. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Membership Committee at

Caring Connection
The Caring Connection provides support to members of our community who need short-term help. Please let us know if you or someone you know would benefit from our support. Contact Laurie Graham at or Janice at the Church, 617-484-1054, ext. 201.

Lay Pastoral Care Team
The Lay Pastoral Care Team works with and supports the senior minister in reaching out to members and friends of the First Church who are adjusting to change, loss, illness or death. We share in moments of celebration and happiness. We reach out to those who are unable to get out and who would like a visit. Please contact us through the Web site or the church office if we might be of help or comfort.

A list of all church committees & groups is online. ]

Connect with UU actions, events & resources

Next issue: December 6

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, December 6. Please email items to by noon on Wednesday, November 30; submissions may be edited for space and clarity. Below are deadlines for the remaining two issues of the calendar year:

  • Issue: Tuesday, December 13
    • Deadline: noon on Wednesday, December 7, 2016
  • Issue: Tuesday, December 20
    • Deadline: noon on Wednesday, December 14
      • Note: this is the last issue of the calendar year. Include information for events from December 15 through January 6, including both lay-led services; office closed that week.

  • First issue of 2017: Friday, January 6
    • Deadline at noon on Wednesday, January 4

New Publication Schedule for The Unitarian begins in January 2017
This fall, the Program Council voted to distribute The Unitarian only by e-mail, beginning with the January 6, 2017 issue. This e-mail will be sent on Fridays, rather than Tuesdays. Print copies of The Unitarian will still be available in the church and a printable version will continue to be online.
     The deadline is still Wednesday at noon and will now be for events, news, and programs that will occur in the next few days/subsequent week, rather than 10 days in the future. Please click here for an updated production schedule (PDF file). Please contact Janice at with any questions.

Church Staff — click here for directory

404 Concord Ave., Belmont | 617-484-1054 |
Office hours: Monday – Friday, 9 – 3

Parish Board, 2016 – 2017 — click here
Parish Board minutes are available online and are posted on the Upper Gathering Hall bulletin board.

Reverend Bryce’s Spring 2017 Sabbatical
Please visit for details about pulpit and pastoral coverage while Rev. Bryce is away, from January to June 30, 2017.

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