This week’s Santos Family Movie Night feature was Wonder Woman (the first one). We’ve all seen it before so there weren’t a ton of surprises but there was one theme that I hadn’t caught the first time around (possibly because I spent the entire 2 hours enamored by this incredible superhero woman!) Diana (aka “Wonderwoman”) spends the majority of the movie looking for Aries, the God of War, so she can kill him and therefore end human hate and violence forever. The context is WWII so she takes aim at a commander in Hitler’s army. When killing him does not stop the war she realizes that “Aries” is actually the hate, rage, and violence that lives inside every human being. She then understands that fighting and violence cannot destroy THIS Aries – only love can do that.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
We know this love that drives out both darkness and hate (and Aries!) as Jesus and how we channel the love that is Jesus through our actions and communications and relationship is how we can finally bring peace to this broken nation, community, and society.
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wrote, “But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.“
I find hope in being called to such love, especially now when divisive rage is ripe for the picking and love and mercy, at a premium. And I know that you do too!
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CHURCH! Sometimes, with all that’s happening nationally, globally, and even in our own households it can be hard to focus in on something that appears settled and healthy. I am so grateful for the 30+ volunteers and staff who have remained connected to the church, offering care and assistance, dressing up and down the sanctuary, writing and rewriting space usage rules, replacing/repairing our typical winter pipe bursts, showing up at Cuppa Faith Formation, learning new technology, participating in worship, delivering Advent gift. bags, recording very scary solos that will be joined with other solos so we can have a digital choir on Sunday mornings, and all the other things you all have been busy doing to keep Allin church functioning through this pandemic SO WE CAN CARE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS AND THE COMMUNITY.
… which we did, thanks to Jo-Ann McDonagh and the Missions Ministry writing checks for thousands of dollars of your donated funds to local organizations like St. Vincent de Paul Society, Dedham’s COVID Relief Fund, and Dedham’s Food Pantry.
All of this is to say that this church has not stopped being active in faith despite that everything is different and hard. And we will keep creatively pushing through until we can be together again HOWEVER, to do this WE NEED YOUR HELP.
Coming up on Sunday, February 21st is our Annual Meeting. Gathered as one communion in Christ we get to recall the hard and faithful work we’ve engaged in the past year, the gifts we’ve all offered for the sake of Christ Jesus, and envision where our hope will guide us in the year to come; recommit ourselves to our faith and to one another; celebrate our history and God’s faith in us as a church for nearly 400 years.
And we need EVERYONE to attend this year! This past year has been one for the history books. We were courageous and creative and hopeful when it felt like hope was not helpful. So, come to Annual meeting to celebrate your generosity! Come as gratitude for others’ generosity! Come to recommit to a year of reconstruction! Come to remember why you ever made a commitment to Allin in the first place! Or just come to see the people you miss and love – and who miss and love you.
An “evite” invitation will be sent out soon. Please watch for it and, when it comes, RSVP! Because we will need a quorum to hold our meeting.
I can’t wait to see and celebrate you all, to reconnect, and to together recall all that we’ve done in unprecedented times!
I pray you all had a blessed and joy-filled Christmas day!
I will be taking this week off and so am not holding a Zoom worship from our sanctuary. However, the Southern New England conference of the United Church of Christ (the local affiliation of our national denomination) has put together a 30 minute worship service as a gift to the churches within our conference.
And so, I present to you WORSHIP as offered by the administrative and ministerial staff of the SNEUCC!
This year is tragically and blessedly different. Tragically because we are grieving. This ought not be overlooked. The story of Christ’s birth includes a king who would have all first born babies murdered rather than risk his own power being challenged or the influence of the Roman empire being disputed. We gather around our Christmas tables including empty chairs for loved ones who are sick, in the hospital, or have died this past year. There is tragedy and trauma from this past year that gathers with us around our trees, at our dinner tables, and in the candle light of our hopefully sung carols.
But also, this year is blessedly different. Because our tragedy, isolation, and grief have made us keenly and divinely aware of what is truly holy in our lives and church and world. This year we have come face to face with fear and have realized that God saves us from it. That, while our traditions and habits are important, they can be put aside for the sake of life. We’ve realized that power of hope and faith in a world that is desperate for peace that is built in love.
These past months we too took a harrowing journey to Bethlehem, with nothing but what we could carry in our hearts and the hope for Christ in the depths of our bellies. This year we gather, not in the lofty hallows of our historic churches and sanctuaries but in the sacred spaces of our humble homes. And in these spaces, among our most beloved children, animals, or even just the spirit of memory, we give birth to love.
This year I pray tears of joy for you, for us, and for the future of a church that has held itself together on the rock of your faith and hope in God’s vision. I pray for each of you sharing an entire spiral cut ham between two of you, Zoom gathering with grandchildren, or having a single serving turkey dinner delivered to you in your room. Know that the gathering of the saints today and tomorrow is grander than any one of us can imagine. Know that it is indeed a Heavenly host of angels.
We are in the blessings of the last days before Christmas day. Blessings? you ask. Which I appreciate because I’m sure that not ever in my adult life have the seven days before Christmas felt like a blessing of any kind. And this year especially as I spent most of last week sick with something that wasn’t COVID but felt equally yucky. If you are like me I know you’re thinking that you’re running out of time to finish shopping, planning, cleaning, calling, and “carding” (Christmas Cards, that is) and so feeling the anxiety of the season weighing more each day. And for what? Because most of us cannot travel to see grandchildren, or parents, or other family and friends we love to gather with this time of year. If you’re like me you’re doing it all so you can set your table for 2 (or 5) with enough of the roast to last well into Spring.
And yet we are blessed. Blessed because this year, maybe for the first time in the history of ever, the “why” to our efforts and preparations are so much bigger than one morning, a dozen gifts and a dinner. This year our efforts to celebrate Christ’s birth will mark the FIRST DAY of our commitment to a Christ of peace and hope. This year, as stripped down as it is, has the power to begin -or maybe renew- our work as Christians to put aside this binary worldview and to take up a new way of being and doing and loving.
This year, we claim our Christ and enter into the process of Life eternal. This year, we celebrate!
So, yes. Blessings abound!
… ESPECIALLY SINCE WE GET TO WATCH A CHRISTMAS PAGEANT THIS WEEK! That’s right! Our kids and the MacNamees, have been working SO HARD to bring a Christmas pageant to YOU on this day! So PLEASE LET’S SHOW UP for these kids! Because I have an idea that it’s exceptionally cute, exceptionally thoughtful, and exceptionally theological.
In loving memory of my dear mother, Trudy Macon by John, Beth, & family.
Pastor Cheryl’s Message:
It seems hard to believe that we are less than two weeks away from Christmas day and, thus, nearly through our sacred time of preparation for the coming of the Emmanuel. I don’t know about you, but my greatest holy preparation this week was to drive from Dedham to Quincy (South Shore Plaza), to Natick (The Container Store) back to Dedham (Play It Again Sports) buying all the things and spending all the money. Still there are so many Things that remain undone – bread for teachers, cards for parishioners, calls to loved ones, and a Very Holiday Dinner for 5. I have a lot on my “To Do” list; maybe too much to make space for contemplation and preparation for the sacred promise that is peace on Earth.
And yet, I know – WE KNOW – this is what it’s all about. And especially this year when there is less traveling, less parties, less Yankee Swaps and corporate parties, I wonder if this year might be THE year to actually take the time for these divine preparations. Preparing for the coming of Christ could be as simple as believing that things could be different – that things could be better!! A wise woman once said, If you can visualize it you can make it happen. What if we ALL believed in the Christ? What if we ALL believed that Christ’s birth meant that that Love would win and hate would die and justice would come for all of those suffering an oppressing or impoverished existence.
What if we all BELIEVED EVEN WHEN it felt as if the world around us was crumbling and failing and suffering like never before? After all, we have a model for that… 2000 years ago, when the people of Israel believed in Jesus even as governing powers did not.
This is all I am asking for your prayers this week… that we work towards belief. Let us believe even when so many the world over do not. Let us believe even when it feels as if nothing is working for our favor. Let us believe even when we ourselves are hungry, poor, or lonely.
Let us Believe, even when…
Check out the announcements below! And JOIN US THIS WEDNESDAY EVENING AT 6:30pm on the church steps for our Longest Night service where we will lament the emotional pain and loss that is everywhere this Christmas season while holding the Good News that is Christ’s birth.