Dear friends in Christ,
I hope you’re all doing well this week. We had a lovely Palm Sunday. Thank you to our Faith Formation Board, volunteers, and all those who made donations so we could have a lovely egg hunt and Easter craft workshop after worship. I’ve attached some pictures from the day. (Thank you, Valerie!). As we continue through Holy Week towards Easter this Sunday, we have a number of things happening:
Final Soup and Scripture: Lent Bible Discussion on Parables of Jesus
Tonight, Wednesday 4/5 there is a soup supper at 6:30 preceding the 7pm scripture discussion. We’ll be in the Social Hall.
Maundy Thursday: 7pm Service (childcare available)
Join us on Thursday at 7pm in the sanctuary as we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal and death. We will have communion followed by Tenebrae, which is a service where we read the passion story in ever increasing darkness, remembering Jesus’ abandonment by his followers. We’ll also have special music from the choir.
Holy Week and Easter Schedule
4/5: 6:30pm Soup Supper, 7pm Bible Study
4/6: 7pm Maundy Thursday Worship
4/9: 10am Easter Sunday Worship
The Virtual Swear Jar (only a few days of Lent left!)
Is your truth a tad less than couth? Your table talk too salty or spicy?
We have a solution! Give up cussing for Lent!
In a variation on the family Swear Jar, we invite you to drop a dollar or two whenever you let fly a naughty word. You can pay as you go, or book in advance.
How much is up to you. We suggest $1, $2, or $3 depending on the circumstances. It’ll be our little secret, unless, of course, the kids get wind of this. Maybe you’d better get the Sailor’s Special, just in case!
Or, if you prefer, you can always pick your donation and fill in the blankety-blank.
We can’t promise forgiveness, but we guarantee you’ll feel better after your donation to our Virtual Swear Jar! Check it out at middleburyucc.org/jar today!
(I’ve purchased a “can’t say that in church” to make up for the umm…accidentally colorful langue in the sermon on Sunday.)
Vacation Bible School 2023
Vacation Bible School is back! Mark your calendars! Children entering K-6th grade (for the 2023-24 school year) are invited to join us at the Hero Hotline Headquarters June 19-23, 2023. Registration coming later this month!
Strawberry Festival Planning Meeting. Wednesday 4/12@7pm
One of the focus areas identified at the Planning Breakfast this winter was to work on fundraising. In response to that, we’re thinking on ways to build up the Strawberry Festival this June. Join us at 7pm on Wednesday 4/12 to help us brainstorm and plan!
Interim Faith Formation Coordinator Position Posted
As many of you are aware, Valerie Beard, our Faith Formation Coordinator, is stepping down at the end of this school year. Church leadership has decided to search for an Interim Faith Formation Coordinator for the 2023-2024 program year, and there is possibility that person may be eligible for the permanent position. We’re beginning a search for that position which is open to people outside of MCC and people affiliated with MCC. The job posting is available here: https://www.middleburyucc.org/job-openings-at-middlebury-congregational-church/
Spring Clean Up: Saturday, April 29th
Our annual Spring Clean Up of the church and parsonage grounds is scheduled for 4/29, starting at 8am. Tools and Supplies Needed: rakes, shovels, pitchforks, edgers, brooms, loppers, pruners, leaf blowers, tarps, wheelbarrows, trailers, and pickup trucks.
We’ll also be looking for a few volunteers the week prior to do some more detail oriented garden work prior to bringing in all the mulch on the 29th.
MCC Players Present As You Were
Dinner theater is back at MCC! Play rehearsals are in full swing. Mark your calendars for a performance like no other this Mother’s Day weekend. See attached promotional poster. We will soon sell tickets after coffee hour, and provide further ticket information soon. As You Were is the play written by our very own Chris A., which was scheduled to be performed in Spring of 2020. After three years of pandemic delays, the show will go on!
Charles P. Luckey Scholarship: Deadline May 31st
The application for the Charles P. Luckey Scholarship is available and is on our website:
Scholarships are open to any high school student entering their freshman year of college that is a member of Middlebury Congregational Church and will be attending an accredited college or university.
All applications must be postmarked by May 31, 2023.
Mission Project: Thank you!
Thank you to everyone who donated to the Easter baskets for Middlebury families! Town Social Services picked them up on Monday!
Each day of Holy Week has a name and has a particular event associated with it. Monday, Holy Monday, is when Jesus throws the money changers out of the temple. Tuesday, Holy Tuesday, traditionally is when Jesus curses a fig tree (that’s one of those weird lessons people throughout the centuries have had questions about.) Wednesday, Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday, is the day Judas agrees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The option for calling the day “Spy Wednesday” is a reference to Judas agreeing to betray Jesus and look for a time to hand him over to the authorities. Thursday, Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, is the day of the Last Supper and when Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment: to love one another as Jesus loved them. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for command, so it’s referencing that Jesus gave the new commandment that night. Friday, Good Friday, is the day Jesus is crucified and dies. Lots of people do all sorts of linguistic gymnastics to justify why we call this day “Good” Friday. However, the simple, true explanation is the word “good” in older English usage was a synonym for the word “holy.” So, Good Friday is really just us saying Holy Friday. It’s just a piece of church terminology that’s stayed with an older use of language. Saturday, Holy Saturday, is when Jesus is the in tomb. A traditional teaching of the church is that on Saturday Jesus descends to hell to free all the souls trapped there, and that he raises them up to heaven in the resurrection. And then of course, Sunday is Easter, the day Jesus is risen from the dead. The fact that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, a Sunday, is why Christians worship on Sundays and why Sunday is also called the Lord’s Day. Each Sunday we worship, we’re celebrating a mini Easter.
I know I’ve shared it before, but I’ll leave you this week with this reading from a hymn from the Syriac Church commemorating Christ’s descent into hell on Holy Saturday.
“I stretched out my hands and offered myself to the Lord.
The stretching out of my hands is the sign of my offering,
The stretching out on the wood
Where the Just One was hanged, there by the roadside.
Hell saw me and was vanquished.
Death let me depart, and many with me.
I was gall and vinegar to it.
I descended with it into the depths of hell.
Death could not bear my face.
I made of the dead an assembly of the living.
I spoke to them with living lips
So that my word should not be in vain.
The ran towards me, the dead.
They cried out, ‘Take pity on us, O Son of God!
Deliver us out of the darkness that fetters us.
Open the gate for us that we may go out with you.
We see that death has no hold on you.
Deliver us also, for you are our Savior!’
And I heard their voices and I traced my name on their heads.
So the are free and they belong to me.