In-person worship is on hold again, sadly, as the Covid-19 numbers continue to rise.
I’m Reverend Dominic Taranowski and I’d like to welcome you to the First Congregational Church in Melrose, United Church of Christ. A lot of churches say “come as you are,” but we really mean it. It doesn’t matter your age or your background or your story: you are welcome here. We’re an intergenerational church with something for everyone: from our vibrant worship service on Sunday morning, to our Sunday school program, to our mission work, to our public advocacy presence. We’re always about the work of faith formation and discipleship.
We strive to create a deeper relationship with God but also an outward expression of that faith in the wider world. The church provides opportunities for both of those. You can renew and strengthen your relationship with God and also find ways to live out that faith on a daily basis. We are a casual, committed, progressive church and we welcome you here.
See you in church!
Audio and VIDEO Updates
Here’s a great way to check in: Reverend Dominic is posting regular updates to connect with the congregation. You can find these under the “AUDIO & VIDEO MESSAGES” tab at the top menu on any of our website pages.
Mariko’s music recordings
Want to experience our music ministry from home? Please go to the tab “WORSHIP AND MUSIC” at the top menu to listen to recordings made by our music director, Mariko Matsumura. You can view Videos posted on our private friends-and-members Facebook page, the Virtual Narthex of First Congregational Church in Melrose UCC.
Please join us by watching the broadcast on MMTV or as we live stream from the sanctuary at 10 on YouTube. The link is:
The hymn #s for this week are: 159 (v1, 3) “As with Gladness Those of Old,” 448 (v1,4) “Take My Life, God, Let It Be,” & 495 (v1,4) “Called as Partners in Christ’s Service.” Sing along using your borrowed hymnal, or access the password protected hymns on our Google Drive (link provided in the Messenger).
Virtual Worship at 7 pm on YouTube & MMTV
Christmas Eve (with communion), December 24, 2020 link:
Special Note about Christmas Eve service:
This is a communion service, so be sure to have your bread and juice elements available. Please remember the hymns are uploaded weekly to our google drive. You may wish to download the lyrics sheet for the familiar Christmas Eve carols in addition to/in lieu of the sheet music, here. In following our tradition, please light a candle and sing along during the singing of the final carol, Silent Night.
Christmas Eve Offering
By tradition, our Christmas Eve Offering is received as a straight mission offering during the service. That is, it is divided equally between Bread of Life, The Servant’s Heart Food Pantry, and The Pantry of Hope. This year, because we are unable to worship together in person, we are asking folks to make a direct donation to either or all of these important ministries. The addresses and websites for each are as follows:
Bread of Life: Click here 54 Eastern Avenue, Malden, MA 02148
A Servant’s Heart: Click here 200 Franklin St, Melrose, MA 02176
Pantry of Hope: Click here to donate through First Baptist, 561 Main Street, Melrose
Like every holiday since St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas this year is another strange one; not least because we are still unable to gather for in-person worship.
But, we will get through this! I say that because people got through a very similar kind of Christmas during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918.
That Christmas, people did not attend worship at our church either. And, unlike today, there was no live streaming of anything so people just missed out altogether!
The Spanish Flu was handled on the local level much more than Covid 19 is today. Remember, the CDC didn’t come into being until 1946. Still, the methods used to combat the Spanish Flu were remarkably similar to what we are advised to do today: Wear a mask. Limit social gatherings (including worship). Wash your hands. Quarantine if you have been exposed.
Back then, people were much more likely to obey directives from local, state and federal authorities than they are today. After all, the war effort was still an active part of people’s lives. So compliance was high.
Unlike today, however, there was no vaccine on the way. The Spanish Flu ended because it eventually could not find enough hosts to spread any further. For those who, today, might advocate for “herd immunity”, it is important to remember that while 1.5 million people worldwide have died of Covid 19, the Spanish Flu took 30 million lives.
So Christmas in 1918 was a somber one and it may be for you as well this year. One thing that they had going for them back in 1918 was that the “pods” that people lived in (the people with whom they lived and essentially quarantined with) were much larger. Extended families still got together for Christmas because they got together every day. Generations lived together in the same houses. That’s not the case for us today and I am aware of how lonely this Christmas will be for many who will literally be on their own.
Yet the truth of Christmas in 1918 and in 2020 remains the same and it’s meaning is more powerful than in other years: God is with us as one of us.
I hope that truth sinks deep into your heart this Christmas; especially if you are alone or struggling with your health. God is with us as one of us. That means that God is born anew in your life this Christmas like never before. You don’t have to go searching for God because God could not be closer.
There is no need for physical distancing when it comes to the incarnation. And in that nearness there is comfort, healing, light and love.
It may not be a raucous Christmas this year and that’s okay. In the subdued spirit of this year, remember that it was into the most challenging of times that Christ was born.
And because of his arrival, a new life and a new world are possible.
In depth review
Church blogger George Parks recently attended our congregation and had this to say: “This is a warm, active, community church, that provides space for personal growth and contemplation, as well as advocacy for the greater good of the community. Melrose and the surrounding communities are very lucky to have FCC of Melrose contributing to the greater good.” Read his review here.
Join us weekly at 10 am for worship
Join us in-person Sundays at 10 am (by pre-registration), or live on MMTV and YouTube at 10 am.
All links to services can be found here: https://fccmelrose.org/our-worship-and-music-ministry/