Latest Blog

  • Maundy Thursday Service Thursday, April 18, 7 pm at First Congregational Church of Melrose (4/9/2019)

    Please join us for a musical meditation on the Seven Last Words of Christ on Maundy Thursday evening, April 18 at 7 pm to be held at the First Congregational Church of Melrose.  This classical musical worship service will be led by Reverend Dominic Taranowski and co-officiated by Reverend Beth Horne of the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church.

    Joseph Haydn was commissioned in 1786 by the bishop of Cadiz in Spain to create a work for orchestra depicting the Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross.  It was originally performed at a Good Friday Service.  The original performance took a full afternoon, as the bishop spoke each word and delivered a discourse thereon in between each movement of Haydn’s music.  Some years later, other versions of the piece were created by Haydn, one with chorus, and another one just for string quartet – the form which will be presented on this occasion.

    There is one introductory movement, followed by seven movements, each one expounding upon each “word” of Christ.  The final movement depicts the Earthquake that followed the death of Christ on the cross.  It is usually surprising to most modern audiences just how picturesque and symbolic the music actually is.  The Latin form of each word is clearly outlined in the melody of each movement.  Then the music further portrays the emotions very explicit to each word spoken by our Lord.  It is a very rich and expressive experience that never fails to move all generations of worshippers.

    Jamie Buswell and his wife, Carol Ou have performed this music quite a number of times in the past quarter century in the Boston area at various churches.  On this occasion they will be joined by two former students and colleagues of Mr. Buswell:  Amy Galluzzo and Tom Mayo.

  • It’s a Small World (or at least it should be) (3/26/2019)

    They say that the world has shrunk because of the internet.  We can contact someone across the globe instantly now.  People can.  Businesses can.  Governments can.

    News travels fast, too.  When something happens on the opposite side of the planet, we know about it immediately.  We know about it right away, but there is still a significant difference in how MUCH we know, how quickly we forget, and how measured is our interest and compassion.

    In some significant ways, the world is still enormous.

    For example, a cyclone struck Mozambique last weekend.  It killed hundreds, displaced hundreds of thousands and completely destroyed the city of Beira (population 1.5 million).

    This is a story that hit the headlines for maybe a day and then fell by the wayside.  The world is small in the sense that we found out about this instantly, but it is still very large in terms of the gulf in our interest.  Of those who took an interest in this story, I’m betting a good many were wondering where Mozambique is (it’s in Africa, by the way).  Can you imagine the focus on this story if this devastation had happened in our country?

    No matter the size of the world, our hearts are still pretty local.

    Or take the mass killing in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Worshipers of all ages at a Mosque gunned down because of religious hatred.  Days after, we have already moved on.  Maybe it makes sense in some ways.  Maybe it is too painful to remain focused on tragedy.  To avoid “compassion fatigue,” we switch things off.  I get that.

    This Lent, however, I would encourage us to think of every nation in the world as a different state in our country.  Maybe that would really help to shrink our world and extend our hearts.  Think of the people of Africa and Asia, for example, are citizens with us in one country in the same way as people living in New Hampshire.  I’m betting we would see the world quite differently.

    Using nationalistic math, the farther away a tragedy occurs the less concerned we need to be.  That is not the math of Jesus Christ or the Kingdom of God.

    Divisions fall away for Christ and for the Christian faith.  In Christ there are no Jews or gentiles, no slaves or free, no women or men, no Africans or Americans, no Muslims or Christians, no black people or white people, no old or young.  There are only children of God who are trying to make their way in this world the best way they know how.

    And we are eternally linked to one another; no matter the geographical distance between us.

    See you in church,

    –Rev. Dominic

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hhX2-6tPtzc-gQmQ3BlxzmvujzjsRICc/view

  • College Cheating Scandal (3/19/2019)

    As one who has kids who are college-aged, I was shocked by the news last week of the cheating scandal—that wealthy families paid huge sums of money to assure that their kids were admitted to top universities around the country.  This was done by paying people to falsify student profiles, change test results, and even present as disabled when they were not in order to get preferential treatment.

    The bottom line is that these extremely wealthy people kept out others who were playing by the rules.  They bought their kids the school enrollment that they wanted.

    As upsetting as this is, it struck me that it is not so unusual.  Throughout history there have always been those who have felt entitled; those who felt that the rules don’t apply to them.  There have always been those who have tried to buy their way to whatever they wanted.

    That’s actually true in the realm of religion too.  Like those parents who were willing to pay whatever it took to get their kids into the best universities, there were also those who, at one time, were willing to pay whatever it took to get themselves and their families into heaven.  It was called “indulgences” and it was a linchpin of the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s.

    At that time, the Catholic church had set up a system whereby one could curry divine favor through financial payments.  One could have one’s sins forgiven, assure a place in heaven, and even post bail for someone in hell (essentially) by means of financial contribution to the church.

    It certainly did a lot to line the pockets of the church at that time (and probably some chosen members of the hierarchy too).  It was a workable system for the rich.  It did not work so well, however, for the poor.  You see, they believed the same thing that everyone else did: that you could pay your way into heaven as it were.  Only they couldn’t afford it.  So they were stuck.  What the poor didn’t realize is that they were in better shape spiritually by not paying indulgences than the rich who were.

    The bottom line is that tricking your way into the life you want is no life at all.  The foundation is dishonesty.  Thankfully, this college fraud was exposed not only to help end it and allow everyone the fair shake they deserve, but also to prevent the children of these wealthy families from starting their adult lives based on lies.

    Likewise, we are thankful that the Protestant reformers had the courage to expose an unjust system some 500 years ago and thereby prevent more people from adhering to a twisted theology based on divine bribery.

    See you in church,

    –Rev. Dominic

     

     

     

     

  • Pastoral Letter on Unity (2/19/2019)

    Our General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Rev. John Dorhauer, has shared the following Pastoral Letter with our churches.  His important words speak to the role of the church in reclaiming community and hope in these challenging times.

    See you in church,

     

    –Rev. Dominic


    Dear Partners in Christ:

    The vision of a body united – in purpose, in mission, in vision – is one that inspired the birth of our denomination. All of our spiritual impulses reverberate in an effort to call us into a more perfect union. Throughout our shared history as a people of faith and as a part of the Body of Christ, we have challenged ourselves to widen the circle of inclusion. Widening the circle has always come with growth pains as we shed old skins and welcome those whom we had previously thought unwelcome. And, with each new articulation of a more fully expressed Body of Christ we have realized new joy. Through it all we remain focused on the call to be one and committed to meeting the challenges inherent in that call.

    We are now living in and through a season when the threats to unity are legion. Talk of walls that mark refugees as threats, labels like ‘terrorist’ that attach too easily to Muslims, overt racial bias that normalizes fear and hatred, a pandemic of abuse to women with the trigger reflex to forgive the men who author that abuse have turned America into a land many of us no longer recognize and that too many of us are finding harder and harder to reconcile with our faith.

    Now more than ever, the Holy Spirit of the Living God and the Risen Christ is seeking to partner with anyone committed to unifying the human community. The gospel mandate to love our neighbor as we love ourselves resonates deep within us. It calls for the better angels among and within us to always resist impulses to hate, to condemn, to vilify, or to castigate. In such a time as this, the United Church of Christ’s call to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, that they may all be one, stands as an urgent mandate to disciples who envision a just world for all.

    United with you in God’s service,

    The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
    General Minister and President, UCC

  • Stating the Obvious (2/5/2019)

    Late last December, Congress unanimously passed legislation to
    make lynching a federal crime. Now, you might think that such a
    horrific act would already be on the books as a crime, but, until last
    December, it was not.

    With the recent hate crime-attack on actor Jussie Smollett, which
    had many hallmarks of a lynch-attack, it becomes readily apparent that
    this law is deeply needed.

    Interestingly enough, there was opposition to the bill. Even more
    interestingly, it came from Christians (or at least those who claim to be
    Christian).

    The Liberty Counsel, an evangelical legal organization known for
    its political lobbying on behalf of Christian conservatives, lobbied
    against the legislation. Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty
    Counsel, asked legislators to remove language from the bill that
    explicitly includes protections for people on the basis of sexual and
    gender identity.

    Why, you ask? Simple: An anti-lynching law is, according to
    Staver in an interview he gave to the Christian news siteOneNewsNow,
    only a baby step to one day passing employment, housing and health
    care legislation that would offer protections to LGBTQ people. Because
    gay and lesbian people go against God’s will, they should not be offered
    these protections. That said, he is generally opposed to lynching.

    Wow.

    The idea that we are even having a political argument about
    whether people should be legally protected from lynching is utterly
    ridiculous. I cannot fathom anyone who would not want to see
    extrajudicial, identity-based killings of any sort outlawed.
    Fortunately, these lobbying efforts were unsuccessful but it
    highlights just how organized and influential hate has become. The fact
    that this kind of discrimination comes in a Christian package is even
    more troubling.

    When people of faith forget that Jesus called us to empower the
    marginalized, to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, to not judge lest you
    be judged, and to include everyone at the table of God’s grace,
    something has gone wrong.

    When people of faith forget that Jesus was essentially lynched by a
    crowd of politically frenzied religious zealots because he didn’t fit in,
    their faith has no heart and they assume the title “Christian” as only a
    label and nothing more.

    It may be stating the obvious, it may sound redundant, it may be
    simplistic, but the truth is this: Ours is a God of love and inclusion not a
    God of hate and violence.

    See you in church,
    –Rev. Dominic

  • Snow Cancellation Procedure (1/18/2019)

    Dear Friends,

    Now that we are in the heart of winter, I want to share with you an update on how you would know if we should decide to cancel our Sunday morning worship service due to snow. This is simplified from what we have set up in the past.

    In the event of a significant storm, Rev. Dominic will consult with our Senior Deacons and together they will make a decision. If the decision is to cancel, a notice will be placed on the church’s website. Additionally, the outgoing message on the church phone will also be updated to notify of a cancellation of worship. The following will be contacted directly: All staff, Facilities Deacons, Worship Deacons, Fellowship Deacons, Christian Education Deacons.

    So remember, if a storm is upon us on a Sunday morning and you are unsure if there is a worship service, keep checking the church website
    at fccmelrose.org and the outgoing message on the church phone at 781-665- 2111.

    Thank you, –Rev. Dominic

    snow

  • (12/4/2018)

    FCC-Concert-2018-2