Midweek Update: 2nd Sunday of Christmas/Epiphany

Dear friends in Christ,

I hope you’re all doing well this week and that everyone’s Christmas was safe. Things are quieter for now at the church, but there are still a few announcements:

Sunday School Updates

As previously planned, throughout the winter and spring, our older children (grades 4th and above) will remain in the worship service on the first Sunday of the month.  This allows the children to participate in the rituals of a worship service, in addition to partaking in communion.

Just as with the sanctuary, we will keep the windows in the classrooms open during Sunday School to help with ventilation.

In times when we do not have coffee hour, parents and caretakers should come to the classrooms and/or nursery to pick up their children following the worship service, as we will not all be meeting in the Social Hall.

COVID Updates

We are continuing to monitor the rise in COVID cases in the state, and at this point, we are continuing to offer in person worship plus streaming to YouTube. We have put Coffee Hour on pause for the time being, windows will be partially open in the sanctuary for ventilation, and masks will continue to be required for worship. We will also keep the balcony open to allow for people to spread out in the sanctuary. Additionally, all in person church board meetings will require masks and a virtual option will be provided for those who aren’t joining in person.

There are also things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves and others during this surge in cases:

  1. Get vaccinated and get your booster
  2. Upgrade from cloth masks to surgical, KN95, or N95 masks
  3. Have rapid tests on hand in case of exposure or if you start to feel unwell

Videos from Christmas Eve Services

This year the music at the 5pm and 11pm Christmas Eve services was different, so I’ve made videos of the music from each service. (Thank you to John D for streaming both services!)

5pm Introit (Choir): https://youtu.be/ORI1-tEwEYM

5pm Anthem (Choir): https://youtu.be/mW2WJbl4zFs

11pm: Introit (Anna & Audrey): https://youtu.be/0aFLohPBb7k

11pm Anthem (Anna & Audrey): https://youtu.be/r9PzoN1ACcI

Thank You!

A special thank you to all our musicians, ushers, deacons, readers, staff, and volunteers who enabled us to have our Christmas Eve services this year. It takes a team effort to put everything together, particularly after not having had indoor Christmas Eve services since 2019, and I’m very grateful for everyone who offered their time and talents this Christmas so our church could offer Christmas Eve worship for our community.

General Comments

I’ve attached some pictures from Christmas Eve. The outside of the church looked lovely with the new paint and the dusting of snow. Indoors, we added a new light into the mix. If anyone has pictures of Christmas Eve you’d like to share, please send them along to me so we can share them with everyone.

This Sunday we’ll be celebrating Epiphany! Technically, Epiphany is January 6th, but as we’re not having an extra service on a Thursday, we’re transferring the celebration to the nearest Sunday in Christmastide. Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the magi  to the nativity and in general people recognizing the birth of the messiah. There’s a question King Solomon asks when he’s dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem in 1 Kings 8: “Will God indeed dwell on the earth?” Christmas, culminating in the feast of the Epiphany, is an emphatic “yes” to Solomon’s question; God has indeed come to dwell upon the earth in the person of Jesus. Church Father Ephrem of Syria said of Jesus: “Blessed is he who became small without limit to make us great without limit.”

As we look with some uncertainty to the coming New Year, I thought this prayer by Anglican monk John Charles, speaks well to this moment:

“For all the possibilities ahead in this new year, make us thankful, O Lord. Give us wisdom, courage and discernment in the face of so much chaos, despair and fear. Help us to see how, in our circumstances, we can contribute towards peace, faith and love, and give us the will to translate our desires into actions.”

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year,

Pastor Katrina

Midweek Update: Christmas Eve & 1st Sunday after Christmas

Dear friends in Christ,

I hope all of you are doing well as we approach Christmas. I have a few announcements to share:

Christmas Eve Services in Person or Online

  • 5pm: Children’s story, choir, carols, and candlelight
  • 11pm: Communion, carols, candlelight, and music sung by Anna K and Audrey F.

COVID Updates:

We’ve been following the news of the rise in COVID cases in our state and around the country, and our church leadership has decided to continue offering in person worship. Our Christmas Eve services were planned with some adjustments for COVID risk mitigation already (e.g. we’re singing fewer carols, choir at only one service and doing fewer pieces, and masks for everyone.) Our church staff is fully vaccinated, and all of us have gotten our boosters. If being in person isn’t the right choice for you or your loved ones, we have our services streamed to YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/middleburycongregationalchurch

But, in light of the concerning public health developments we are doing the following:

  • Coffee Hour is suspended for the time being.
  • Like this past Sunday, windows will be partially open in the sanctuary during all services to increase ventilation.
  • We encourage everyone to utilize the available space in the sanctuary to spread out. The balcony will be open for all services.
  • We are continuing to wear masks for all worship services.

I know I’m feeling weary of the pandemic, and I certainly had hoped that we’d not have another Christmas colored by COVID. But, unlike last Christmas, we do have a widely available, safe, and effective vaccine, and I know the vaccination rate in our church is high. I encourage everyone to be careful, get vaccinated/boosted, and we will make it through this dark winter, just like we made it through the last one. Christmas is all about the light shining in the darkness and the darkness not overcoming it. We will continue to share any updates we have as we continue to monitor the situation.

General Comments

I want to thank our Christian Education Coordinator, Valerie B, our volunteers, actors, and musicians for offering a wonderful Christmas Pageant this past Sunday. I’ve attached some photos Valerie took during the pageant.

Thank you to everyone who donated gifts for the Star Tree and for the Christmas Baskets for Middlebury families. Usually, each year there are some items left over that the Mission Board donates, but this year pretty much everything was covered by all of you. Thank you.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Friday and on Sunday as we celebrate Christ’s birth and the miracle that our God came to dwell among us. In preparing the Christmas Eve sermon, I found this quote from St. Augustine, which didn’t end up making it into the sermon, but I think he manages to capture in words some of the mystery and miracle of Christmas:

“God so loved us that for our sakes he,
through whom time was made, was made in time;
older  by eternity than the world itself,
he became younger in age than many of his servants in the world;
God, who made man, was made man;
he was given existence by a mother
whom he brought into existence;
he was carried in hands which he formed;
he was nursed at breasts which he filled;
he cried like a baby in the manger in speechless infancy—
this Word
without which human eloquence is speechless.”


Pastor Katrina