The Unitarian – December 15, 2017

The Unitarian – December 15, 2017 (pdf)

Sunday Worship — December 17

In this Multigenerational service we will tell stories of those who needed to find safety and shelter, including Mary and who fled to Egypt with their child Jesus.

9 a.m. Music

Prelude: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, arr. Joel Raney; Simon Andrews, piano

Junior Choir Anthem: Ring Out, Wild Bells; words from Alfred Lord Tennyson

Nova Choir Anthem: Sans Day Carol; Cornish traditional, arranged by John Rutter

Junior Choir Anthem: The Children of Far Distant Lands; English traditional, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams

11 a.m. Music

Prelude: Angels Carol by John Rutter; Youth Choir

Chancel Choir Anthem: O Jesu So Sweet by J.S. Bach

Youth Choir Anthem: Good King Wenceslas, arr. David Willcocks

Chancel Choir Anthem: Come with Hearts and Voices Sounding by J.S. Bach, arr. K. Lee Scott

Offertory: Ding! Dong! Merrily On High, arr. Lloyd Larson; Simon Andrews, piano

Today’s offering of monetary and food gifts will benefit The Grow Clinic.

The flowers in the Parish Hall this Sunday are given by Jeanne and Michael Widmer.

Sunday, December 24 — Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

  • 2 p.m.: Junior Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 4 p.m.: Chancel Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 6 p.m.: Youth Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 11 p.m.: Alumni Choir; Lessons and Carols

There will not be a worship service on Sunday, December 31.

Christmas Offering

We invite you to consider a gift to The First Church or a gift to the charitable projects of the First Church for the Christmas offering on December 24:

  • The Youth Group has chosen The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
  • The Social Action Committee has selected New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc., which supports and empowers formerly incarcerated women to successfully navigate the complex challenges of reentering their communities.
  • The Program Council has selected Waltham House, the first residential group home designed specifically for LGBTQ youth in New England, and provides a safe and supportive living environment with 24-hour staffing for up to 12 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender youth ages 14–18.

Please make checks payable to First Church and note on memo line of your check “gift” (for The First Church) or “Xmas Charities”.

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


Today is the first day of Hanukkah.

Genie and I always celebrate with brisket and latkes. I am not really sure that the Maccabees did so, but we do.

Hanukkah is a holiday that ought to be more widely acknowledged, though even within the Jewish tradition it takes a rather minor place.

But if not for the Maccabees, Judaism might not have survived. And if Judaism had not survived, neither Christianity nor Islam nor the Baha’i Faith would exist today.

There are those who would dismiss that claim, who would say that God would have ensured that their prophet (whether Jesus, Muhammad or Baha’ullah) would have lived, would have preached, and would have brought the true faith whether the Maccabees had won or not. But I am more open to the events of history as having an impact on all things.

So I think everyone who is part of one of the Abrahamic Faith traditions ought to celebrate Hanukkah, celebrate the Maccabee victory, and express gratitude to them for their achievement.

And so whether you celebrate with brisket or not, whether you light the candles by adding one each night as the House of Hillel recommended, or remove one each night as the House of Shammai recommended, or light no candles at all, may we remember the Maccabees, and may our inner candles burn brightly at this time of year, and all year through.

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

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!

Please note: There will be NO Hootenanny on Wednesday, December 27. See you on the last Wednesday of January!

Among Us

Our deepest sympathy to Marion and Sean Westgate and family on the recent death of Marion’s grandfather in Germany.

Get in the holiday spirit by coming to a concert — or singing one — with Mary Beekman!

Saturday, Dec. 16, Musica Sacra presents Mother for the World: Songs of Mary with works by Pärt, Tavener, Britten, Verdi, Schütz, Clemens non Papa and others. The concert takes place at 7 p.m. at 1st Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, and is followed by a singalong of carols as well as a free reception. See for tickets or contact Mary Beekman.

Sunday, Dec. 17, come sing Handel’s Messiah in the Belmont Open Sings annual reading of this holiday favorite, with full orchestra and soloists. Tickets to the event, which takes place at Payson Park Church in Belmont, are $10 and scores are provided.

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.

Open Heart Pre-Christmas Eve Yoga Flow with Miranda Pool

Come share in this free special one-hour yoga flow to cultivate peace, joy, gratitude and sacred space in this season of light and dark. Move through a gentle, loving practice of yoga and meditation focused on opening the your heart and inviting in the light and true spirit of Christmas together with others. All levels and ages are encouraged.

  • Saturday, December 23, 2 – 3 p.m.
  • First Church in Belmont Library
  • Please bring your own yoga mat

Miranda Pool is a lifetime First-Church-er and the daughter of Parrish Dobson and Eugene Pool. She is a yoga teacher in Nashville. She will be home for the holidays and is thrilled to share calm, light, gratitude and peace with the community that raised her.

Annual Coming of Age Winter Clothing Drive, January 1 – 17, 2018

Donation boxes will be in the Lower Hall starting December 18th. Click for details.

Second Friday Coffeehouse Presents Youth Group Open Mic Night — Friday, January 5 @ 7:30pm

The night will feature performances from members of our First Church Youth Group (along with alumni and friends).

The second part of the night will feature The Saplings! — FCB Youth Group Alumni Rowan Wolf’s band! Click for details!

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 awareness 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.

Small Group Ministry Groups!
Give yourself a gift for the new year and join a Small Group Ministry (SGM) group!   Joining a small group ministry (SGM) is a powerful way to explore important topics with a small group of people over time. (SGM) is a program that gives First Church members the opportunity to build relationships with one another while exploring topics related to spiritual and life issues.

Facilitators Robert Donaghey and Joan Loewenburg meet monthly on the fourth Thursday at 7:30pm in the parlor and they are eager to add a few new members. Their next meeting is on Monday, January 22, 2018.

If you are interested in joining please contact Joan at

If Monday night is not possible for you we also have groups that meet on 1st & 3rd Tuesdays evenings; 1st & 3rd Thursdays evenings; 1st & 3rd Friday late afternoons.

If you are interested in finding out more about SGM’s please contact Lillian Anderson, Adult Programs Advisor at

Coming Up in January:

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Tuesday, January 2, 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.

Mindful Yoga — Jess Hicks
Saturday, January 6, 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 monthly.

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry — Peter Guthrie
Sundays, January 7, 14, 21, 28, at 3 p.m., Parlor
Robert Frost once defined a poem as a “momentary stay against confusion.” Good poems can help us see ourselves and our lives more clearly. We will read and discuss poems that deal with spiritual issues in the broadest sense of the term.

Social Action News in Brief

Sign up for the Social Action newsletter at

Holiday Gift Program  A huge thank-you to the First Church congregation for your generosity in giving gifts to Bristol Lodge, Mary’s Place, Heading Home and the Grow Clinic.  As a result of your opening your hearts and your pocketbooks, there are many who will have a very Happy Holiday!

From FCBGreen

A podcast on our decision to divest from fossil fuels is posted on our website: FCBGreen will be rolling out information on how you can adopt Social Responsible Investing in your own portfolio, so stay tuned.

FCBGreen seeks volunteers to assist with a variety of “sustainability” programming and initiatives in the church. If you are interested, our next meeting is Sunday Jan. 7, 12:30 p.m. in the Conference Room.

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 available in the Upper Gathering Hall. This year’s theme 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:

Belmont Books
Belmont Books is partnering with Story Starters to provide book donations. You can donate by placing an order at 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!

Sanctuary — “Accompaniment Training” on Jan. 7
On Sunday January 7th, Laura Wagner of UU Mass Action will be preaching at First Church. She will also do an accompaniment training session at 12:30 in the Library. Everyone is invited to learn how we can stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Light refreshments will be served. Questions to or

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 Jeanne and Michelle Johnson who delivered your travel toiletry donations to Bristol Lodge this week. Something small from you can be quite special to the Bristol Lodge clients. Bristol Lodge Men’s and Women’s Shelters offer 57 beds to homeless individuals from Waltham and surrounding communities.

Belmont Food Pantry
First Church members staff the opening of the Belmont Food Pantry on the second Tuesday of every month, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Sign up at or send questions to

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. 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. 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.

Next issue: Friday, December 22

As noted last week, the deadline for the Dec. 22 issue is Friday, December 15. Please send submissions to 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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