News & Views ~ December 2012
Driving back and forth to Vermont Law School allows me time to listen to more NHPR stories and news reports. Just today, for example, I heard about “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, “Cyber Monday”, and a new entry – “Giving Tuesday”. These targeted days are all about consumerism, of course, including “Giving Tuesday”, which seeks to remind people of the importance of charitable giving during this holiday rush of buying and selling. I suppose it’s always a good idea to remind people of the needs of organizations that depend upon charitable donations, but it still feels a little – well – perfunctory, kind of like eating celery for an entire day after over-indulging in the rich foods of Thanksgiving weekend. It’s good for you, but it’s a drag.
December is, of course, the month of significant giving. At CCDC we are asking for your financial pledges to our church’s 2013 operating budget. We’ve asked for gifts for LISTEN’s holiday giving program, and we’ll be asking for significant contributions to our Christmas Eve offering – this year to be divided equally between Church World Service, and LISTEN for their capital building program. Many people give year-end gifts to a variety of organizations – just ahead of the deadline for tax benefit. We’re asked to drop money into Salvation Army buckets, contribute to Toys for Tots, and all of that is on top of the giving we do to friends and family for Christmas gifts! It’s overwhelming, and it feels as if all we’re ever asked to do is give money. It puts me in mind of the scene from the beginning of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when Scrooge is asked for a Christmas contribution. “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
It’s difficult to remember (though we should make every effort to do so), that Joseph and Mary were extremely poor when they had Jesus. That there was no room for them in the inn (Luke) was as much about their meager wealth as their tardy arrival in Bethlehem. When they did receive gifts (Matthew), the gifts were wildly inappropriate – gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Gee, thanks. I can wrap my baby right up in these. Moreover, the entire Christmas story is based on God’s anguish over the plight of the oppressed. It’s as if God is saying – how shall I demonstrate my love for my people, my hopes for their empowerment, their freedom? How will they know I am with them? And so the stories of the Christmas miracles grew.
I worry, as I do every year, over our annual church financial pledge campaign. I don’t want to guilt people out, but I do want them to know that giving is as much about the condition of their moral heart as it is about the needs of the church. On the other hand, I am not impractical. I want pledges to adequately support our church budget, so, the condition of your moral heart be damned – make a pledge! On the other hand, if the church is just one on the list of worthy charities receiving donations on “Giving Tuesday”, isn’t that a sign that the church is not uniquely important in the lives of our members? On the other hand, if people tie their giving to the services they receive, maybe we need to do a better job providing services. On the other hand, the church is not a pay-for-service enterprise. On the other hand…
Here is my primary December personal commitment – I will give as much as I can whenever I can and wherever the need is important to God’s hopes for humanity, and I will begin by tithing to CCDC. Here is my second December commitment – I will remember that Jesus came into the world with nothing and when he became an adult, he did not choose to accumulate wealth, goods, or security.
What December commitments are you willing to make? When you make them, remember that God is with you.
Love to us all ~ Carla
Worship Schedule for December
Unless otherwise noted, Sunday worship begins in the Sanctuary at 10:00 AM
December 2 First Sunday of Advent
Carla Bailey, preaching
Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
December 9 Second Sunday of Advent
Carla Bailey, preaching
Malachi 3:1-4; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
December 16 Third Sunday of Advent
Carla Bailey, preaching
Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
December 21 Longest Night Vespers – 6:00 PM
December 23 Fourth Sunday of Advent
Service of Lessons and Carols
Micah 5:2-5a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]
December 24 Christmas Eve Worship – 5:00 PM
During this service, the children will present their annual Christmas Pageant.
Christmas Eve Worship – 9:00 PM
Candlelight service, Carla Bailey, preaching
December 30 First Sunday after Christmas
Carla Bailey, preaching
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52
The Season of Advent
Potluck Supper, Ornament-making, & Hanging of the Greens
Friday, December 7 – 5:30 PM
Advent is such a special time – a time to prepare the way and prepare our church for the season of remembering Christ’s birth. We hope you will join us for this festive event. We will begin with ornament-making at 5:30pm, followed by food and fellowship, the hanging of ornaments and decorations, and caroling with Ernie accompanying on the piano.
Bring a main dish or side dish to share; dessert will be provided.
If you need more information contact Gail McPeek (, or 643-6327).
Service of Lessons & Carols
Sunday, December 23 – 10:00 AM
The Chancel Choir will give us our annual Service of Lessons and Carols, in which the story of the loving purpose of our God is unfolded once again, through scripture and music. Always a powerful, delightful service.
Blue Christmas Vespers ~ The Longest Night
Friday, December 21 – 5:30 PM
It isn’t all ho ho ho and “Merry Christmas!” For many of us, the dissonance between the cultural celebration of Christmas and life’s sorrows can be especially difficult. Some of us are grieving, others filled with dread. The world is war-torn and people are homeless and hungry and struggling with debt, depression, and family stress. This Blue Christmas Vespers Service will offer a place for sorrow and a word of comfort. Join us for a quiet time of prayer, candle-light and solace.
Christmas Eve Worship Services ~ 5:00 PM & 9:00 PM
Hamilton Library Happenings for Advent & Christmas ~ Jean Keene
Advent is “preparation” for THE season to follow! It is a special time - somber melodies, daily meditation, stories, and prayers. The stories and the music remind us of what is to follow. Finally, it’s Christmas – uplifting stories, joyous carols and glorious music!
This Advent, in the corner of the alcove near the magazine rack in the Batchelder Lounge, there will be displayed several books to guide your “preparation”, both on the shelves and on the table there. (Please sign the books out if you would like to take them home.)
- Prepare the Way: Daily Meditations for Advent by Mark Liebenow and Yards of Purple: Stories for Advent by Sarah Foulger for adults and older children.
- Night Visions : Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas by Jan L. Richardson. These include beautifully illustrated meditations for each of the four weeks of advent
- The First Christmas: What do the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’s birth by Marcus Borg and John D.Crossan.
Family Christmas Stories for older children and adults.
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Do you remember it from high school days? If you can’t find your copy, we have a new beautifully illustrated one.
- The Midnight Clear by Vermont author, Katherine Patterson is a collection of short Christmas stories, just perfect for sharing.
- Christmas Sonata by Gary Paulson is a short book told by a 7 year old boy who’s father is a soldier in WWII in Europe. It’s Christmas – and he’s trying to sort it all out. Is there really a Santa or is it the grumpy old man who lives down the hall?
- The Lost Christmas Gift by Andrew Beckham is also a story told by a young man who finally receives a Christmas gift decades after it was sent to him. In the package is a book of memories written by his father about the strange and scary adventure they had had one Christmas Eve long ago while searching for just the right Christmas tree. Amazing illustrations!
- The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate. This illustrated book is based on a true story by Janice Cohn, D.S.W. It describes events that took place in the town of Billings, Montana in 1993. One evening during Hanukkah, a rock was thrown through a child’s bedroom window where a menorah was displayed. This act and other acts of bigotry and hate were naturally very upsetting to the residents of Billings. The community banned together as neighbors and friends who would not tolerate the actions of those who were the bullies and the bigots in their town.
Christmas Picture Books
There are many, many beautiful Christmas picture books that will be enjoyed by children of all ages. Take a quiet minute to enjoy a “new” one either in the library or in the Batchelder Lounge.
In this reviewer’s opinion the #1 Christmas picture book for 2012 is entitled Who Built the Stable? by Ashley Bryan. This New England author, illustrator and friend lives on Cranberry Island, Maine. In years past he has come to Hanover several times and once as Dartmouth’s Artist in Residence for a term. During that stay he spent a few days at the Bernice A. Ray School regaling our 4th Graders with many of his vast collection of African Folk tales, some of them he told with his wonderfully creative homemade puppets.
Merry Christmas and Happy Reading to you all!
from the Board of Deacons for Outreach
The members of the Outreach Board once again have had the privilege this year of deciding upon the recipients of the UCCDC’s annual Christmas Eve offering. The organizations we have selected, after much careful deliberation, are organizations whose values and mission we feel are consistent with those of our church.
Church World Service works with local partner organizations to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. Together we reach out to neighbors in need near and far--not with a hand out, but a hand up. So, if you’re looking to help build a better world—a world where there’s enough for all—you’ve come to the right place! Around the world, Church World Service supports sustainable grassroots development, disaster relief, and refugee assistance, and we educate and advocate on hunger-related issues. In the U.S., we help communities respond to disasters, such as Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, resettle refugees, promote fair national and international policies, and provide educational resources.
In January the Outreach Board will also be inviting you to join us in helping CWS by putting together school kits, which have been depleted from their warehouses following Hurricane Sandy. These kits, along with others--such as clean-up kits, baby kits, etc. are sent out to respond immediately to pressing needs after such catastrophes.
The other organization we have chosen to support is the Listen Community Services Building Fund. For more than 30 years, the Listen Thrift Stores have made essential programs possible for countless Upper Valley residents. The grassroots non-profit has grown along with the Upper Valley region; adding programs like Community Dinners, Summer Camp Scholarships and “Heating Helpers,” to meet emerging needs. As Listen prepares for the next decade, they are developing the River Point property in White River Junction. A new facility will allow for increased revenues from our Thrift Stores, Listen’s own Community Dinner Site to include food storage and a commercial kitchen as well as program space for things like after-school programs and teen services. This project will serve the Upper Valley for many years to come. The Christmas Eve Offering will go directly to help fund this building project.
If you are not able to attend our Christmas Eve service and you would still like to make a donation, you may do so by sending a check to the church designated for “Christmas Eve Offering”.
We hope you will join us in choosing to support these organizations that provide such valuable services to those in need, both near and far.
Christmas Market with a Difference 2012 ~ Amy Smith
• 20 organizations making a significant impact in the lives of families in need
• 17 committee members
• 125 volunteers
• 21 soup makers
• 27 bakers
• 1,230 volunteer hours
• 989 shoppers
• 2,598 sales slips
• $65,263 sent to improve the lives of families worldwide
THANK YOU, THANK YOU , THANK YOU to all who helped with this year’s Christmas Market with a Difference!!
We need a couple new people to join our planning committee for 2013. If you have a few hours to give in the weeks prior to the market and want to take on a behind the scenes role in this important outreach mission of our church, please speak to Amy Tietjen Smith ().
from Our Church President ~ Evan Smith
It is that time of year again when we make our annual pledges to the church, and when the church prepares its goals, plans and budgets for the coming year. While words like “planning” and “budgeting” typically evoke anything but a sense of spiritual mission, your pledge is in fact your tangible promise of support to the ministry of the church, and it is by securing these promises from each of us that we are able to set our course and focus our full energies and talents on living our church’s mission.
On the subject of giving, I know that I personally tend to default to a financial management decision mindset emphasizing careful personal asset planning balanced against “charitable investment” goals. Perhaps you do as well, whether by training or by upbringing. But in our giving decisions, especially in church giving, we must remind ourselves that God owns all, that we are all but humble caretakers of God’s gifts to us, and that stewardship is an opportunity – in fact an imperative – to use the gifts God has given us to do the work that God is calling us to do. As Carla put it to us in her last sermon, in this respect, we should seek to give without counting the cost – that is to say, unreservedly.
At a time when we witness the membership and financial struggles that other churches even in our own conference face, we need also remind ourselves of how abundant our gifts are as a congregation at CCDC. Are we not thus individually and collectively called upon to use those gifts and to put them forward generously to serve the unmet needs within our congregation, within our community and towards our church’s wider mission? With the tremendous talent assets that we enjoy in our congregation and staff, are we not called to furnish the resources to fulfill our greater potential in ministry and outreach?
Even at CCDC, our financial condition can never be counted as secure. There is no surplus, and even with tight budgeting, every pledge dollar is critical. The church counts on your promise of support to maintain the health and vibrancy of our church. But we can also strive for more. Generous and timely pledging will allow us to put our ministry even more at the forefront, and planning and budgeting safely in the supporting role where it belongs. Please share your gifts as generously and unreservedly as you can.
In hope and fellowship,
Religious Education Update ~ Rob Grabill
Thanksgiving this year was the earliest that it could possibly be, but that didn’t keep the commercial interests that drive the Christmas consumer colossus from cranking up the holiday shopping season to full bore before November was even half over. We had it all: non-stop schlocky “Xmas” tunes on the radio channel of our choice, aisles full of candy and wrapping and decorations at That Drugstore With The Three Consonant Name, and the catalogues, oh, the catalogues. Maybe there’s a bright side to all of this. Maybe we will actually be burned out on secular Christmas by the start of Advent!
More than ever, I look with longing toward Advent as a way to hide out from the commercialization of Christmas. Here in church, starting with the simple liturgy of lighting a single candle in an unadorned wreath, maybe we can recapture the sense of expectation, anticipation and preparation that grew from the yearning for a Messiah, for a release from oppression, for deliverance from the evils in the world. My hope for Advent is to try to feel some measure of the pain suffered by those who experience injustice, and to also feel an equal portion of their hope for deliverance by a God who hears their cries.
Longing for deliverance can be complicated, as the prophet Amos reminds us, because the justice that God brings comes to all people, and few of us can say that we are not contributors to oppression. That’s why Advent ought to contain equal measures of penitence and preparation. But Advent begins our church lectionary year, and it is proper for it to begin with expectation, and that expectation has every right to be joyous. We light candles to remind ourselves that Jesus is the light of the world, coming into the darkness of our lives, and bringing us newness, life and hope.
One of the best ways for us to observe Advent as a community is the annual Hanging of The Greens on December 7th, beginning at 5:30 p.m. We’ll spend an hour or so making decorations for the Christmas trees in the Batchelder Lounge and the lobby outside the Sanctuary, and continue our annual quest to construct the World’s Longest Paper Chain. After the ornaments have been hung, we will join together for a potluck supper in Sanborn Hall, and then adjourn to the Batchelder Lounge afterwards for a carol sing led by Ernie Drown. We’d like to emphasize that although this is an event designed to welcome families with children, it is also expressly for church members of all ages. Feel free to drop in for any or all segments of this festive, friendly evening of fellowship and good cheer.
Because of the school vacation calendar this year, we will not be able to offer our traditional pre-Christmas Vacation Church School. However, that same calendar will allow us to invite all of the K-5 kids in the congregation to spend a morning together at the end of vacation week for some crafts, music and games. Who knows, by then there may even be some snow on the ground for some outside play; the better to earn our hot cocoa! Stay tuned for details, especially those parents who may be looking for a bit of a respite after a long week of vacation!
We hope that you will be able to join us for a Second Hour presentation right after church on Sunday, December 2nd. I will be leading a discussion about the role of the United Church of Christ in promoting the concept of Just Peace. This idea came out of a discussion at the recent Elders’ Retreat, and will provide a great opportunity to learn about how our denomination has been particularly active in leadership toward establishing a new paradigm between pacifism and the outmoded and discredited concept of Just War. We need look no further than Iraq and Afghanistan to demonstrate the futility of Just War as an effective tool in international relations. We will define and discuss the concept of Just Peace, examine the history of the UCC’s advocacy for this third way, and then begin the process of discussing what possibilities exist for us as a congregation. That’s a pretty ambitious agenda for a 45-minute meeting, but it’s a start, and there’s more where that came from. Please make an effort to join us!
I will close with the fond hope that all of us can find the time in this busy, busy month to slow down and claim a quiet corner, whether in our church or in our hearts and minds, and create some space for the promise the Advent holds.
from Our Parish Nurse ~ Ann Bradley
At one time or another in all our lives, we have difficult decisions and choices to make. It so happens I am beginning to write this article on November 6, a big decision day for this country. Perhaps for you voting presented some difficult decisions, or perhaps not. But no matter. Making decisions is a basic life skill and all along the continuum of life, we humans face decisions of greater or lesser magnitude. My own life is greatly enriched when I am brought into some of these life changing decisions that some of you are making. I always come away from those discussions with great humility and gratitude for being allowed to be part of the conversation. Recently, I was reading the book Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Life Decisions. This book provides a good model for decision-making. It helps to see both the tangible and the intangible aspects of one’s situation more clearly. “PrOACT” is a mnemonic that stands for the five key elements in the model:
• Problem statement. (Behind every decision one makes, there is a problem one is trying to solve.)
• Objectives. After you have a clear definition of your problem, you must have absolute clarity on what you are trying to accomplish with your decision. Clarifying objectives greatly improves our understanding of the problem and helps us see what the expectations might be for the possible solutions.
• Alternatives. With a well-defined problem and clear objectives, now is the time to see what the alternatives might be. Make lists. Don’t hurry through this step.
• Consequences. Look at the advantages/disadvantages of each of these alternatives. This is the hard part. We can’t predict the future, especially our own. It’s important to talk to others who have already “been there, done that” and get as much information from them as possible. But in examining these alternatives, it is also important to imagine yourself in a future where you have already chosen one. Hmm. . .now how do I feel about those objectives I set? Is it what I first anticipated?
• Finally, trade offs. . .if you get this far without a solution, it’s probably because there is a really difficult decision to make. And maybe there are some conflicting objectives—requiring difficult trade offs. It may feel like comparing apples to oranges, but this is the time to revisit your objectives in order to come up with a systematic way to address the trade offs.
If you are facing some big decision, this book is definitely worth looking at as just one more tool to examine the issues. Meanwhile, I suppose I should perhaps have chosen a winter or a holiday theme for this December News and Views. But some of these issues of decision-making of late have at times lead to some introspection and inertia on my part and today just happens to be a crisp and beautiful Fall day with no hint of winter in the air. I know I must soon turn my thoughts to snow tires and the holidays. And as I do that, do know that I am wishing you all a joyous holiday season and pray that we may live in a time when there is peace and love all around the world.
What is a Just Peace Church?
Is the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College a Just Peace Church?
What is the role of the UCC in promoting Just Peace?
Come, learn, and discuss
SECOND HOUR PRESENTATION
Sunday, December 2 ~ 11:15 AM ~ Sanborn Hall
Sponsored by the Board of Deacons for Religious Education