The Unitarian – December 1, 2017

The Unitarian – December 1, 2017(pdf)

Sunday Worship — December 3

Faith in the Future — Rev. David Bryce

In this season of the year as daylight shortens, we enter into ever deepening darkness. Yet it is in this physical darkness that people are most certain that light will come again. In the same way, those in the darkness of despair or sadness can hold faith in a future of bright joy.

Prelude: Nun komm’, der Heiden Heiland by Johann Heinrich Buttstedt (1666 – 1727); Simon Andrews, organ

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: A Spotless Rose by Herbert Howells (1892 – 1983)

Offertory: Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion by George Frederick Handel; Melanie Bacaling, soprano and Simon Andrews, harpsichord

Postlude: from Chaconne in D minor by Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706); Simon Andrews, organ

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by Pam Andrews, dedicated to Paul Murphy, father of Holly and Peter. Paul lived intensely, with humor and compassion.

Sunday, December 10: Major Music Sunday — one service at 10:30 a.m.

Next Sunday, December 10, the Senior Choir will present Haydn’s Mass #13, the “Creation Mass.” The piece will feature soloists Chuck Claus, Melanie Bacaling, Davron Monroe, and Irina Kareva, and will be accompanied by a full professional chamber orchestra, led by Ken Stalberg.

This piece was written in 1801, when Haydn was at the end of a successful and illustrious career. The mass takes its nickname from the brazen musical quote that he puts into the second movement. His famous oratorio, The Creation, had premiered just a few years earlier, and Haydn borrows one of its most recognizable melodies, from Adam and Eve’s gorgeous duet ‘The dew-dropping morn, how she quickens all!’

In the mass the familiar tune accompanies the phrase ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’ (‘Thou that takest away the sins of the world’), making the wry connection between the ‘sins of the world’ and its original sinners. It’s even in the same key!

The piece alternates between moods of beautiful, sublime calm, and pure, ecstatic joy. Join us at 10:30 for one service that celebrates life, joy, and music!

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


This past Sunday, November 26, was “stir up Sunday”.

That phrase, “stir up Sunday”, has meanings both sacred and mundane.

The sacred meaning is that in the Anglican Church service on the last Sunday before advent the last “collect” of the service begins (or began) with the words from the Book of Common Prayer: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.

This is the sacred level, the prayer that human beings be motivated to follow the will of God.

But it is also the Sunday when it is traditional for those who make Christmas pudding to “stir up” the batter.

That is the mundane level, although those who love Christmas pudding might consider it sacred.

Growing up I was told that my grandmother made it her habit to mix her puddings on the Sunday closest to Saint Andrew’s Day, which is November 30. If so, that would mean that on occasion she would do so on the First Sunday in Advent. Sacrilege! But then, she was not Anglican.

That mixture of sacred and mundane (some would say “profane”, but I don’t like the modern implications of that word) fills the world. So much of our modern celebration of the Great Midwinter Festival—by whatever name it is called and by whatever means we may celebrate—is infused with both.

For me, the distinction between Sacred and Mundane is meaningful but not real. I understand the differences between the two. Some religions have made the line between them very clear and rigid, and then have condemned the mundane, even claiming that it distracts us from the sacred.

But for me, the mundane is suffused with the sacred. Rather than being a distraction from, it leads (or at least, points) towards the sacred.

Yes, we can become over-focused on the foods and presents of the season, but I think that most of us appreciate the true meanings of this time of year: light that lives beyond darkness, love that lives beyond hurts, hope that lives beyond despair.

I will seek to celebrate this season with both a stirred up pudding and a stirred up will.

Acting DCRE becomes Permanent!

NateThe Parish Board is pleased to announce that Nate Sellers has accepted our offer to be our Director of Children’s Religious Education, effective immediately. We are so excited about the energy and collaborative spirit that Nate brings to the position. The Parish Board thanks everyone who participated in the hiring process for the CRE position.

Nate has been our Acting Director of CRE since August 2016. He joined us from First Parish in Framingham where he served as the Director of Religious Exploration. Prior to Framingham, Nate served for four years as a Youth Director for a UCC congregation in Pennsylvania.

Nate has taught preschool, worked in Autistic support, led teen programs for the Anti-Racism Institute, and served as a graduate lecturer at Lancaster Theological Seminary and at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Eastern University, and more recently received a Master’s Degree in Religion from Lancaster Theological Seminary. Nate lives in Milford, New Hampshire with his wife, Typhany, and their children Auden and Leif.

Please join us in congratulating Nate!

Thank You!

Members and friends of The First Church have done it again! Your generosity on one single Sunday resulted in those paper turkeys gobbling up $880 in contributions to the Belmont Food Pantry’s holiday meal effort!

This money will be used to provide grocery store 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! You may also donate directly to the Food Pantry online.

Belmont Unitarian Universalist Alliance Members & Friends: Rev. Doris Hunter: UUs and Interfaith Initiatives

Wednesday, December 20; Lunch at Noon & Program at 1 p.m.

All men and women are invited to join us on Wednesday, December 20 at noon for the Alliance lunch and program. Please bring your own sandwich. We will provide soup, fruit, dessert and beverages. The suggested lunch donation is $2.00 per person. Lunch will be in the Upper Gathering Hall.

Rev. Doris Hunter will discuss the International Association for Religious Freedom which began as the first interfaith organization over one hundred years ago. It has developed into a dedicated interfaith outreach with chapters in the US, Europe, Asia, and including our own US chapter. She will discuss the history of IARF and some of its unique chapters in Asia.

R.S.V.P. to, or 617-484-1054 (ext. 10). Please contact Alice Trexler with questions:; 781-643-8032

Ushers Needed for Winter, December – March

Thanks to everyone who helped make our fall ushering a success. Now please consider volunteering to usher for the winter. You can sign up at or on the Ushering Sign-Up Poster in the Upper Gathering Hall during coffee hour. Thanks for your help.

Second Friday Coffeehouse presents Jonny Kringle & The Wondaland Band’s Fifth Annual Holiday Rock Concert For Kids Of All Ages!

Saturday, December 9 @ 1 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Newcomers’ and Community Breakfast – December 10, 9:15 a.m. in the Parish Hall

Come to the Newcomers’ and Community Breakfast at 9:15 before the Major Music Service on December 10. If you are a First Church newcomer, or would like to meet and welcome a newcomer, please join us for bagels and coffee before enjoying some wonderful music at the Major Music Service. Everyone Welcome! For more information, contact Mark Thurber at

Adult Programs News

Call the church office about adult programs: 617-484-1054, ext. 10. Sign up for the weekly Adult Programs newsletter at

Meditation — James Hencke
Mondays, 8:00 p.m., Library
In meditation practice, we allow ourselves to dwell in the present moment. We find that by developing our awareness and compassion we can open ourselves, relax into situations, and enjoy our life!

Mindful Yoga — Jessica Hicks
Saturday, December 2, 4-5:30 p.m., Library
Mindful yoga for adults of all ages, abilities, and experience levels. Jess is a registered yoga instructor with a lifetime of practice to share. Just bring a mat, or a twin-sized blanket, and a curious mind. Drop-in. Meets on the first Saturday of each month.

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Tuesday, December 5, 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
1st and 3rd Thursdays, 8 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 any questions.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, Dec. 15, 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. Snacks provided. Meets monthly on the 3rd Friday.

Science and Spirituality — Ken and Nicole Bernstein
Thursday, December 21, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky upended the understanding of human decision making by demonstrating the systematic errors and biases of human intuition. Their work created the field of behavioral economics.

Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Moneyball and The Big Short, explores the collaboration of these two intellectual giants in The Undoing Project. For the December discussion group we will read Chapter 6: The Mind’s Rules, which investigates some of the pitfalls of human decision making. Presented by Bill Zinn.

Social Action News in Brief

Sign up for the Social Action newsletter at

In the spirit of the season, please join in the Holiday Gift Program

After Sunday’s service, pick up gift giving information during coffee hour. 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 adults 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 be available at coffee hour on December 3, with the gifts due on Sunday, December 10.

Don’t miss this chance to involve your kids in giving to other kids! For more information, contact Joan Stoddard at 617-347-3037or Happy Holidays!


This Sunday! Social Action Holiday Gift Fair!
Sunday, December 3, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to 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 will benefit charitable causes including the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center, New England Home for Little Wanderers’ Waltham House for LGBTQ youth, the Refugee Immigrant and Assistance Center, the Appalachian South Folklife Center, Tilonia (rural poor in India), Zienzele Foundation (villages in Zimbabwe), residents of Chalatenanto Province in El Salvador, and more! It’s a not-to-be-missed longstanding, new and improved holiday tradition at First Church!

V-Day in December
Come see Karl Klasson, Kristin Phillips and Jackie Neel performing in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer at Haley House Bakery Café in collaboration with V-Day Belmont.

  • December 12 & 13 – 7:30 p.m.
  • $10 admission. Tickets sold at the door only.
  • Seating is limited, so come early to guarantee that you will have a seat.
  • Dinner served starting at 6 for an additional cost. Special menu offerings.

A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer is a collection of essays written by well-known authors, journalists, poets, writers, playwrights, and others that describe violence and abuse against women.

Funds raised from ticket sales will benefit New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc. a program designed to support woman transitioning from incarceration to citizens. For additional information contact

SAVE THE DATES- February 2 & 3 – The Vagina Monologues at First Church
This is a totally different performance then we have ever had at First Church!!

SanctuaryIf you are interested in volunteering or would like additional information, please contact Eva Patalas, or Liz Keating

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

Thank you to the generous families at Waldorf High School for their collection of more than 20 boxes and bags of great food for Grow Clinic families. Pictured below with Gloria are parent volunteers Deb Gold and Christina Cheng, who delivered the food.

In addition to our regular shopping lists, we are highlighting SPECIAL REQUESTS. November and December: Start the Day Strong with infant rice cereal, cold and hot non-sugared cereals, Flintstone chewable vitamins, Polyvisol with Iron liquid vitamins.

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

The popular UUSC Holiday Cards will be on sale at the First Church Holiday Fair on Sunday, December 3, along with other holiday gifts items. You can also order cards online:

In the Community

Annual Theodore Parker Lecture — December 3
Samer Naseredden, MAS Youth Programs Director at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, will deliver the fourth annual Theodore Parker Lecture on “Islam and the Beloved Community.”

“Daring Democracy” —December 7, 7:30-9 p.m. at First Parish in Concord, 20 Lexington Road
Legendary Diet for a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé and organizer Adam Eichen will share highlights of their empowering new UU Common Read Daring Democracy.

We will learn and discuss ways to engage in the movement to save our democracy. Their presentation will be followed by a book signing reception (books available for purchase).

Sponsored by Reclaim Our Democracy. Suggested donation: $5. Contact for questions.

Coffee and Conversation with Clergy
All are welcome to join in monthly coffee and conversation with Belmont clergy at the Black Bear Café (inside Belmont Books).

  • Second Wednesdays of the month, through June
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
  • 79 Leonard Street
  • Sponsored by the Belmont Clergy Association

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. 10.

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.

Ways to connect with the First Church in Belmont.

UU actions, events & resources

In Case of Severe Weather

If a service is to be canceled a message will be placed on the church’s website, voicemail and Facebook page. However, in any weather condition which concerns you or your family, it should be clear that no one should ever feel pressure to come to the church if their travel conditions seem unsafe.

First Church Lost & Found

Missing some glasses? How about an insulated tumbler or a coat? These and other items are in the church’s lost and found, outside the Church Administrator’s office in the Lower Hall. Items are taken to a donation center every three months, so come by soon if you think you’ve left something behind.

Next issue: Friday, December 8

Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, December 6. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

Support & stay in touch with FCB

  When you shop at AmazonSmile, First Church in Belmont receives 0.5% of the purchase price.
  Updated news, events & programs:
  Second Friday Coffeehouse is on Facebook! Like the page, check out upcoming shows and “share” great music for great causes with your friends!
  The UUA stands with its congregations and is ready to provide assistance to help congregations recover in the aftermath of natural disasters through the UUA Disaster Relief Fund.