There will be two Christmas Eve services: one at 7 pm and another at 11 pm.
881 First NH Turnpike, Northwood, NH 03261 603.942.7116. Our regular worship is Sunday at 9:00am.
This week was our children's pageant and it was wonderful. It included cows almost falling off the podium, a busy angel who guided Mary, the shepherds, and the Wise Men, and our great children. What particularly struck me about this week's worship service is how much we mean to each other. It was not just the parents of the children who delighted in the pageant. It brought back wonderful memories for me when my three sons were the Wise Men in our church pageant, but we referred to them as the Wise Guys. Many of us watched our children retell the story with their actions and we were moved. And I think this points out one of the great strengths of a faith community. We live in a world divided by so many things; wealth, age, gender, interests, educational experience. EXCEPT IN THE CHURCH where we share a common faith in Jesus Christ and that helps us cross a lot of uncommon ground. Grandmother smiles at the high school student who just received an award. Grouchy, tired workers pass the peace to someone who has just come back from a mission trip. Young adolescent teaches the middle aged man all about his world view. You are so good to have made the commitment to be a part of this congregation. You are people who are motivated by your faith to be transformed by the wonder of our relationship with God. You reflect the differences that there are in people everywhere. But we are a community together because our love for God is stronger than our differences and the community feeds each other. Thank you.
Recently, I heard the Christmas standard, "Little Drummer Boy." I remember loving this song as a little girl because I didn't have much I could have given Jesus, but I loved it that the drummer boy gave him what he had, his drumming. Pretty sappy, but true.
This year when I heard the song, another section in the verse about the wise men jumped out at me. "The Child, the child shivering in the night. Let us bring him silver and gold." I listened to this in the context of knowing that the Federal Government has slashed the Heating Fuel Assistance to our nation's poor, and there are or will be many children shivering in the night.
We all know that the Wise Men brought their silver and gold because they believed this child to be someone special. But hearing the line isolated of that meaning said there is a child shivering in the night, let us respond.
The New England Congressional Delegation is active in trying to restore level funding to the Fuel Assistance Program, but we can raise our voice in their support when we contact your Congressman and Senator. I have been told that it is important to voice our concern to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid because our local representatives understand already how important this funding is.
Email or phone calls are the way to go because snail mail takes up to a month to get through security in Washington. Here are the contact information for each of them (email is now done exclusively through their web sites.
Senator Kelly Ayotte 622-7979 www.ayotte.senate.gov
Senator Jean Shaheen 647-7500 www.shaheen.senate.gov
Senator Harry Reid 202-224-3542 www.reid.senate.gov
Representative Frank Guinta 641-9536 www.guinta.house.gov
Representative Charlie Bass 226-0064 www.bass.house.gov
Representative John Boehner 202-225-0600 www.boehner.house.gov
What they need to hear is that it is cold up here in New Hampshire and that there are people who need help with their heating. I would like to see us restore at least enough funding to serve the people who were served last year.
Every day some of our neighbors are shivering in the night and hungry in the day. We respond generously to those needs, but some of the needs are bigger than our individual responses, and that is what we need our government to help with. Thanks for your caring.
-Reverend Gayle Murphy
Winter is beginning with a vengeance and it comes our way as we prepare to gather for worship. So Catherine Dill and I spoke concerned about power outages and unsafe driving conditions. The predictions of snow are growing to 9 inches in Northwood and the snow is predicted to fall until about noon time.
So we decided to cancel church for tomorrow, October 30. We will try to get the word out as effectively as possible, but please let anyone that you know about the cancellation. And, check out this week's announcements from the bulletin in the "This weeks announcement's" tab from the home page.
Please be safe in this New England weather pattern. And be reminded that if we do hold church, you are the ultimate judge about whether you should venture out or not. We love to have you worship with us, but never at your peril.
Catherine suggested that I give you "homework." Something to think about and pray on during the time we traditionally would have gathered. Let us know what you think about this kind of an exercise.
The sermon was to be about God's grace and the Scripture passage is II Corinthians 12:7-10.
Ponder these ideas and questions:
1. This is the cover explanation of Annie Lamott's book, Grace (eventually) "Wherever you look, there's trouble and wonder, pain and beauty, restoration and darkness - and sometimes all at once. Yet amid the confusion, if you look carefully, in nature or in the kitchen, in ordinariness or in mystery, beyond the emotional muck we all slog through, you'll find it eventually; a path, some light to see by, moments of insight, courage, or buoyancy. In other words, grace. It's been an erratic journey, and some days go better than others. "I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of thing," she writes. "Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark." "
A more traditional definition of grace is: "free, unmerited act through which God restores God's estranged creation to God's self"
So what do these statements say about grace?
And what does grace mean to you?
2. Frederick Buechner says that grace is something that is so wonderful we can only "catch a glimpse of it", and yet those glimpses are enough to convince us of its reality and move us to look for it all around us.
So grace is lived out, impartially now, in our every day lives, but pointing us towards what can be.
Where have you seen a glimpse of grace in your life?
What does grace point you towards?
3. Read II Corinthians 12:7-10. This passage says that in human weakness, we find divine strength, and that is grace. Then God reminds the writer that God's grace is all we need. In our weakness, God is made strong. And so we can take our limitations in stride because Christ takes over.
Grace is a resource for us in our suffering as well as a reminder of God in our lives.
"Still Here" by Langston Hughes
I been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has froze me
Sun has baked me.
Looks like between 'em they done
Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'.
But I don't care.
I'm still here.
When are the times in your life when you have needed grace?
When were the times in your life when "I'm still here" because of God's grace.
4. To end the session, ponder what a grace-filled life looks like.
How can you open yourself up to that becoming a reality in your life?
Commitment Needed by September 11 for Deerfield Fair!
There are still volunteer slots in order for the church to fulfill our commitment to the Fair for 2011. We must fill these slots, so the Fair will seek us out for next year (in jeopardy at this time) and in order to meet our fundraising goal to balance the church's budget. An added plus, it's a fun time.
Our days to volunteer as Ticket Scanners are Thursday, Sept. 29and Saturday, Oct. 1. We still need 5 people for Thursday morning and 8 people forThursday afternoon. Shift times are 7:30am to 2:00pm and2:00pm to 8:30pm. Sixteen and older may volunteer. If you have volunteered for the church at the fair in the past, we really need you this year. Please call Pam English at 942-8501 or email her email@example.com, or call the church office no later thanSunday night, Sept. 11 to sign up.
Good people of the Northwood Congregational Church, UCC,I am sending this email to let you know that our worship service will be canceled tomorrow, August 28, thanks to Hurricane Irene.We don't want anyone to put themselves in danger, and my understanding of the weather pattern is that the worst of the rain and wind will be from 8:00 am - 11:00 tomorrow morning - just as we will be gathering for worship.Please be safe and contact the church if the storm causes any damage to you or your home. We want to be there for you in any challenge.I hate canceling church, but I do know that with a hurricane coming through, few of you would want to be anywhere other than in the safety of your home.Please know that in God is in the wind, and the rain, and in each of your homes, so find the peace of God in this time. Come worship with us next Sunday when we can worship in safety and thanksgiving.With love,Gayle Murphy