The Unitarian – December 8, 2017

The Unitarian – December 8, 2017 (pdf)

Sunday Worship — December 10

One service at 10:30 a.m.

This 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.

Homily: Creed and Covenant — Rev. David Bryce

The flowers on the Chancel table this Sunday are given by Carla Kirmani-Taylor and Edwin Taylor.

Newcomers’ and Community Breakfast – December 10, 9:15 a.m.

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

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


I am writing this column on Saint Nicholas Day. Well, kind of.

St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 through most of Western Europe, but on December 5 in Holland. He is celebrated on December 19 in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, which on the Julian calendar happens to coincide with December 6 on the Gregorian calendar, so it is the same date as in Holland unless one uses the Revised Julian calendar, when it fall on December 19 on the Gregorian calendar. And, of course, Saint Nick is well celebrated on December 25.

My, my; how we do complicate things.

For someone such as myself, who loves celebrations, this is not a problem. I have often said that I celebrate every one of the world’s festivals except for the fast days. And so I happily enjoy a visit from St. Nick on each of his dates. (He left licorice on my kitchen counter this morning.)

In religious and folk traditions the time from Halloween to the Gregorian January 7 (Orthodox Christmas) is crowded with visitations by saints and beings, many of whom come bearing gifts. And I readily accept gifts from any and all.

I try to remember, as I do so, that all individuals, and all religious traditions, have gifts to give us if we are willing to accept them.

Each person has wisdom to share, or kindness—or provides us with a chance to practice tolerance.

And each religion has wisdom to impart, whether through its sacred texts or through its practices and holy days.

In this season of multiple holidays, may our hearts be open to wisdom from whatever source it may arise; may we be open to the truths that life in the stories, myths and legends of every tradition

And may the goodness, kindness and hope of this season fill our lives

So let it be.

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

The First Church music program has many events coming up for your enjoyment! This Sunday, the First Church continues its annual Major Music tradition with Haydn’s Mass #13, the “Creation Mass.” The piece will feature soloists Chuck Claus, Melanie Bacaling, Davron Monroe, and Irina Kareva, as well as the Senior Choir, and will be accompanied by a full professional chamber orchestra led by Ken Stalberg. There will be one service at 10:30. Don’t miss this wonderful, joyful piece of music!

On Wednesday, December 20, the Second Friday Coffeehouse and the music program present “Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony” — a holiday concert for the whole family! The concert features Jennifer Kimball, Rose Polenzani, Mariel Vandersteel, Deni Hlavinka, Hannah Read and Valerie Thompson.

Leaping gracefully from indie/folk into Christmas carols, traditional fiddle tunes to Tchaikovsky, Sinatra to more recent pop, Wintery Songs redefines the holiday soundtrack -both sacred and secular — with reverence, humor and joy! Tickets available at the door — cash, check or card accepted. All proceeds will go directly to one of the First Church featured holiday charities: the Waltham House at the Home for Little Wanderers.

And finally, as always, the First Church in Belmont celebrates four Christmas Eve candlelight services. At 2:00 p.m., the music will feature the Junior Choir (Kindergarten through 4th grade), at 4:00 p.m. the music will be provided by the Chancel Choir (5th and 6th grades), and at 6:00 p.m. the music will be performed by the Youth Choir (7th through 10th grades). These first three services will also feature a full Christmas Pageant! At 11:00 p.m., the service music will be provided by the Alumni Choir. Come ring in the holiday season with music provided by our talented children’s choirs!

Among Us

Congratulations to Marion and Sean Westgate on the birth of Michael Oliver Westgate on Wednesday, November 30. Sean and Marion report that everybody’s healthy, pretty happy and big brother Thomas is very excited about the new addition.

Rev. Dr. Victor Carpenter, Minister Emeritus, wishes to give his and his family’s heartfelt thanks to everyone for their cards, calls, wishes, prayers and thoughts as he deals with his illness.

Our deepest sympathy to Eliza and Doug Burden and family, on the recent death of Eliza’s father at age 80.

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 Christmas Eve Services

Our candle-lighting Christmas Eve services are a wonderful experience and our ushers are critical to the services running smoothly. Please consider signing up online at or on the Ushering Sign-Up Poster in the Upper Gathering Hall during coffee hour. Thanks for your help.

Tomorrow! 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

Adult Programs News

Call the church office about adult programs: 617-484-1054, ext. 10. Sign up for the weekly Adult Programs newsletter at Download the Winter 2018 brochure

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 awareFCB Winter 2018 brochureness and compassion we can open ourselves, relax into situations, and enjoy our life!

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

Holiday Gift Program Reminder
Bring all holiday gifts to church this Sunday, December 10. It’s Major Music Sunday so there is only one service at 10:30 a.m.! Gifts delivered to church after 12:30 p.m. on Sunday may not make it to their intended destination! Tables are set up in the lower hallway and you can leave gifts there. Please remember – do not wrap the gifts and attach the cards you were given to the gifts so we know where they are meant to go. Thank you!

Social Action Holiday Gift Fair
Many, many thanks to all the shoppers and vendors that made this year’s Holiday Fair the most successful ever! There was great energy in the room and all vendors reported they were pleased with the experience and their results. Full report coming when all expenses have been tallied.

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!!

Guest At Your Table
Guest at Your Table boxes are still available in the Upper Gathering Hall. This year’s theme, “Small Change is Big Change,” celebrates the bravery, innovation, and reach of UUSC’s grassroots partners. Please go to for more.

Story Starters – A New Racial Justice Program for Families!
SAC and CRE are excited to support a new racial justice program for families in grades PreK – 4. Story Starters uses children’s literature to give families the tools and support to talk about race and racism and to engage in family-centered social justice conversations. Check out their website and register here:

Belmont Books
This month Belmont Books is partnering with Story Starters, which is seeking book donations. You can donate by placing an order through their website for books on the organization’s wishlist and marking it as a donation in the comments section of your order. Thank you, Belmont Books, for helping support Story Starters!

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

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

Another reminder of the Multigenerational Holiday Service on December 17th and the chance to share your holiday spirit with the children and families of the Grow Clinic. There will be a special time during the service to place gifts of food under our community Christmas tree. Pick up a list of preferred foods at one of our displays. Baby foods of all stages, Enfamil with iron, and Flintstone vitamins are always appreciated.

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Bristol Lodge
Many thanks to all of you who continue to fill our small yellow basket on the SAC table with travel toiletries. Something small from you can be quite special to the Bristol Lodge clients. Bristol Lodge Men’s and Women’s Shelters offer a total of 57 beds to homeless individuals from Waltham and surrounding communities.

UU Urban Ministry
There are many opportunities for holiday celebrations at the Urban Ministry:

  • Christmas Carol and Tree Lighting Event Please join us at 6 p.m. on December 12
  • A celebration of Black Nativity, Langston Hughes’ song-play of joy, hope and liberation — the Black community’s Christmas Gift to the world. Sunday December 10; reception at 2:15 and curtain at 3:30.
  • Please contact Marvin Venay ( if you can donate: new board games, gift cards (Target, Amazon, DollarTree, Walmart), or 2-3 artificial Christmas trees and all the trimmings.
  • Books wanted for our new UUUM bookshelf:
    • SAT/ACT Test Prep Books (Year 2017 or later, that haven’t been written in)
    • AP English, History, Calculus, and Science Test Prep books dated 2014 or later with little to no writing in them
    • Young adult novels written featuring multi-cultural and multi-lingual authors and characters
    • Historical books centering on multi-cultural perspectives across the United States, as well as Boston and the rest of the New England area. Contact: Kathryn at

In the Community

Belmont’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast — all are welcome

  • Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, 8:45/9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
  • Belmont High School Cafeteria
  • Keynote Speaker: State Representative Byron Rushing, Boston, Majority Whip
  • Performances by the BHS Chamber Singers

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

Check the bin outside the Church Administrator’s office in the Lower Hall for your missing items. Contents are taken to a donation center every three months.

Upcoming Unitarian Deadlines

Next issue: Friday, December 15. Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, December 13. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

Following Issue: Friday, December 22
The deadline for the Dec. 22 issue is Friday, December 15. Please send submissions to by noon on December 15. This issue is the last issue of the calendar year and should include events and information through Friday, January 5.

First issue of 2018: Friday, January 5
Deadline: Wednesday, January 3

Support & stay in touch with FCB

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  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.