Mission Tidings Newsletter

December 2014 

In This Issue
Reverend's Reflections
Christmas Flowers
Concert- Dec. 7th
Blue Christmas
Common Cathedral
Christmas Celebrations
Wish List
Last Call for Oaxaca
Vestry Nominations
Recycling Sign Up
Smoke in the Kitchen

St. Luke's Links


Church Website 




Dec. Service Schedule


 Christmas Schedule


December Birthdays


Got News? 

Reverend's Reflections
St. Luke's Mariner's Cross


So, "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!"? I'm going to say this is a win/win choice.


The choice regardless is based on a combination of religious belief, cultural shifts, loss of traditions, the meaning of the past, hope for the future...and not necessarily in the straightforward ways you might think.


I remember back when someone explained to me why Easter was the most important observance for Christians. But..but, but...what about Christmas???? (Actually, privileging Easter over Christmas is not so simple either depending on how you regard theologically the Incarnation.)


I really, really like Christmas. The lights, the carols, the food, the joy. More than one Christmas I can remember coming outdoors after the late Christmas eve service and seeing just the right amount of snowflakes falling, enough to be pretty, not enough to make driving a challenge.


A hundred years ago in many observant households the children would have all gone to bed on Christmas eve in a regular house and awakened to not just gifts under the tree, but the tree too! If you think back, I bet you've seen 'antique' images of Santa delivering a tree as well as presents.


Christmas means the mass for Christ, so just as with Easter it is a specific day. Christmastide, like Eastertide, then is celebrated for the next days. For Christmas that would be the twelve days of Christmas that end with the visit of the magi on Epiphany, January 6th (which in many, many countries is the big holiday, not Christmas). With this tradition it would make no more sense to say "Merry Christmas" to someone before the evening of December 24th than it would to say "Happy Easter" during Lent or Holy Week.


To keep Christ in Christmas would then mean actually going to church, keeping the feast. If you are really concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas it would more properly mean not taking down the tree the day after, in the kind of anticlimactic funk that so many experience on the 26th, but instead really starting the celebration, visiting family and friends, eating great food, being joyous.


Now, 'holidays' like the words which give us mass for Christ, Christmas, is a combination of 'holy days.' The holy days, holidays, actually start more or less with the Feast of St. Nicholas, on December 6th. He is a traditional gift giving saint to children because he saved three young girls from being forced into prostitution from a destitute father who could not afford their dowries; Nicholas, of Myra in present day Turkey, threw bags of gold into their house one night to provide the proper dowry. St. Thomas and St. John, both apostles, have their feast days around Christmas time, as does the first martyr, Stephen. In most eras of the West laborers did not get two or more weeks off for vacation. Instead, each holy day was a feast set aside from regular work.


Culturally, and significantly driven by shopping for gifts in the weeks leading up to the day, we've really changed the observances and celebrations also to mean the weeks leading up to the day. Instead of just meaning the 24th and 25th as Christmas, and the season the days following, we think of it as the time before, sort of loosely defined about the start time: after Thanksgiving? After Halloween? Two weeks before the day? Regardless there is great meaning, nostalgia, and redress to the bad things of life in observing the light of God, the baby Jesus. Great emotional and spiritual resonance is packed into the touchstones of Christmases past and present.


Culturally we're also trying to respect that in our modern world not everyone is a Christian. Jewish Hanukah for example always falls during December whether it overlaps with the school break or not. Here is where things can get dicey. Relabeling the Christmas season...not the 12 days, but coinciding with the lights and music and shopping in December...as the holiday season seems to some that we're being forced to give up something essential and important.


So here's where I come down ultimately on the matter. Saying 'happy holidays' to someone in a store has this secret meaning...I'm really saying holy days. Maybe it's more of a priest thing but my saying Merry Christmas before Christmas feels awkward, although when someone says it to me I understand the spirit behind those happy words and honor it. But saying "Merry Christmas" on the celebration of it...well, no one could take away the warm and happy feeling that gives me no matter what they might call it.


After all, we're celebrating the birth of a baby-who of course by definition has no power-as the Prince of Peace, to poor parents who couldn't find proper lodging. This is not the picture of demanding to get its own way.


I hope to see you on the 24th, at 4 p.m. or 9 p.m.; Christmas Day, 10 a.m.


Yours in the Incarnate One,



Christmas Flowers
Would you like to remember a loved one in a special way this Christmas?
Please look for the Christmas Flower envelopes in the pews...simply note your dedication and return the envelope with your donation during the collection or stop by the Office by Monday, Dec. 15th.
Choral Art Society Concert: Dec. 7th

The Choral Art Society of the South Shore, now in its 56th season, will perform Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols and Conrad Susa's Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest, at 4pm, on Sunday, December 7, 2014, at Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, 465 First Parish Road, Scituate, MA.


Also on the program is Serenade for a Christmas Night, a short, beautiful, and not often performed piece by Conrad Susa, written for organ, harp, and vibraphone. And the audience will get to sing, too, during our ever-popular carol sing!


Danica A. Buckley, Artistic Director and Conductor, is celebrating her 10th year with Choral Art Society of the South Shore.  Sarah Tocco, accompanist, will perform on organ. Joining us will be Sarah Stuart on harp, George Little on guitar, and Donald Albro on marimba/vibraphone.


Proceeds from each concert help fund our scholarship, awarded each year to a high school senior from the South Shore who is going to college to major in music.  The chorus also serves South Shore communities by singing for residents of nursing homes, and since 2010, Choral Art Society of the South Shore has been the choir for the Annual Hospice Remembrance Service of the Norwell Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice.


Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students. Tickets may be purchased on our website, www.choralartsociety.org from chorus members, or at Buttonwood Books in Cohasset, The Sunshine Pet Parlor in Hull, at the door or by calling 781-500-0021.  Get your tickets soon!  We always fill the church.
Blue Christmas: A Service of Hope in Troubled Times- Dec. 14th
let your light shine

For some the holiday season is not the wonderful, warm time that others enjoy. Losses of loved ones, unemployment, illness, loneliness: some find themselves on the outside looking in on all of the hoopla.


On December 14th, in a time when the nights are the longest, at 3 p.m. at First Trinitarian Church - Grant, Michael Dunfee, the UCC minister and Pamela Barz, the Unitarian Universalist minister, and our congregations, invite you and anyone else, no matter religious affiliation to a service of light and hope.

St. Luke's to Help at Common Cathedral, December 14th 
Common Cathedral is an outreach to the homeless of Boston. Each Sunday ecclesia ministries provides a meal, a birthday cake for those with birthdays the coming week, and a short Eucharist outdoors on the Boston Common. A group of us will leave right after the 11 a.m. service to provide lunch and worship with the homeless gathered that day. We seek donations of food (sandwich meat, bread, PB and J, fruit, chips, hot/cold cups, plastic baggies, hot chocolate mix, coffee) as well as volunteers to help make the sandwiches on Saturday the 13th at 9 a.m., as well as people to go up to help serve the meal. Sign up sheets are in the narthex, or you can call/email Grant or Martha at the office.
Christmas Celebrations   
Nativity scene

December 21st: Children's Pageant at the10 a.m. service. All children are welcome to participate.

Haven't been around much this fall? This is a great opportunity to reconnect! Have children at church on Sunday, December 7th to start sorting out angels from sheep, shepherds from wise people. Can't be there on the 7th? Give a call to the church office or drop an email to make sure you get the rest of the rehearsal schedule.


December 24th:


4 PM- Family Eucharist, focus on children, with blessing of the cr�che. We make every effort to keep the service to 45 minutes.


9 PM- Choral Eucharist, with special choir carols and anthems.


December 25th:


10 AM- Eucharist without music. A quiet, centering service.

Wish List                 
  1. A new Keurig type coffee maker for the Gordon Room. The one that had provided steady use for the last three years has died. Use of the machine allows for a variety of choices and reduces the need to brew a whole coffee pot full for a smaller group.

  2. We have regular janitorial care for our building. In the past we've hired a professional service once a year to strip and buff Dutton Hall floors and to clean the carpet in the church. Dutton Hall was taken care of for now with the construction project. If anyone feels so moved to rent a rug cleaner and do the carpet in the church, especially the center aisle and front, then it would be a great gift of time and energy.

  3. Move big granite benches: we have two granite benches in the front, outdoors, but they are pushed back away to the walls and so are not that usable or visible. We'd like some folks with strong backs to move them to more central positions outdoors, still in the same space, just to the right of the front door as you enter.

  4. A good, reliable electric pencil sharpener

Last Call for Oaxaca, Mexico Sign Ups      
We will return to Oaxaca next summer, August 1 through 9. Projects will include working with street kids in a school program and helping rehab a building in the village of San Miguel del Valle to house a library and computer center. This is an intergenerational event. The goal is to have 10 people going, but could be more. We have three teenagers, two adults in their twenties, and three other adults committed to going. There is definitely room and the need for more. We will start meeting as a group in January. Please let Grant know if you are interested in joining!.
Parish Vestry Nominations

We will begin this month to consider who among us might serve on the Vestry, which is the lay board which meets once a month to help run the parish. We try to represent as much of the constituency of the congregation as we can, so balance of men and women, those who've been members for 50 years and those who have joined recently, married, single, widowed, divorced, parents of small children and teenagers, choir members, people who attend both the 8 and 10 services.


Interested in serving? Know of someone who would be great to do so? It is a 3 year commitment, with meetings the second Tuesday of each month, save one during the summer if it is not needed. Sometimes there is a Saturday 9 to 3 retreat time in lieu of a that month's regular meeting. Opportunities to offer leadership outside of the regular meetings occur regularly.


Let a current vestry member know of your interest or suggestion of someone else.

Sign Up for Recycling Duty 
St. Luke's has agreed to fill in a gap in the Town's coverage of the cans and bottles recycling center. Some years more groups want to do this fund raising than there are months for; other years, gaps in the schedule concern the powers that be. We'll be taking on January. Sign up in the narthex, or let the office know if you can do a shift or three.
Remember the Smoke in the Kitchen?
During a recent Community Dinner and then during the Harvest Fair our brand new fire and smoke detectors worked really, really well, as did the loud alarm system. We also found out how calm and cheerful our fire department is...repeatedly. Turns out that for the second time, and really still a mystery why, the electric polarity had been changed on the fan: it was blowing in, not drawing the smoke out. It's fixed now. Still, to anyone using the range in the future, do not prop open the door from the kitchen out into back entrance hallway, at least to vent smoke...that's where one of those great, sensitive smoke detectors is located. Is the issue not smoke, but temperature? Then fine to prop open.