Parish News

The Parish News provides you with the latest news, information and inspiration about First Presbyterian Church and its ministries.

To read the December 2017 Parish News, please click here: December Parish News

Pastor’s Peace – Rev. Ellen Clemot

The Blessing of Christmas with Hope for the New Year

The Holly Fair, with its red and green theme, its stocking stuffer sales, and fellowship dinner for a community of shoppers and servers alike, has now been carefully dismantled and put away.
It is the first sign that Advent season is nigh. Our worship services are filled with excitement. We’ve had our first frost. The
social center is booked for weeks ahead with Christmas parties,
new member receptions, community gatherings like the Fucille
Foundation cookie walk, and our own 300th Anniversary Fashion Show finale. Even
as we plan for Christmas day, we can acknowledge our congregation’s achievements
of the past 12 months, and look forward to the new year with renewed hope and
There are challenges ahead, for sure, but our church is strong and our community
is growing. We have increased our community partnerships. Whole Foods
Market is now in town – committing not only its fresh produce to our weekly food
pantry donations, but also joining us on the first Sunday of each month to bring a
service team and fair-trade coffee to our coffee hour after church. (As if communion
was not enough to get us out on those first monthly Sundays!)
Community volunteers have joined us from beyond our membership. Our
neighbors now assist with food pantry distribution, health and wellness educational
forums on the opioid crisis, and mission forums on immigration concerns. We have
grown our outreach activities to include monthly, wonderfully successful, all-town
community dinners and a “client-choice” food pantry program. Just as the needs of
our community have changed, we have found the places where we can carry out
Christ’s work in the world to address them.
But even in the face of this progress and the hope for more, there are the
occasional fearful voices. Some of us plead for no more change. That things would
stay as they’ve always been, or that we might go back to a time of how things were
done before. Of course, we want to preserve and maintain our traditions of Christmas
joy, our worship style, our vibrant community life, but some change is impossible
to avoid. Our society is changing around us. The challenge for us is to maintain
Christ at our center, as the beacon for how we direct our lives and the decisions that
we make, both as individuals and as a church.
Sometimes the changes we face are forced upon us – a job loss, a sudden
illness, a broken relationship, a broken heart. Change brings with it the fear of the
unknown. No wonder it makes us fearful. But whatever our fear, be it a child’s suffering,
the mounting bills we face, or our own mortality, we can look to Christ for
the courage to see us through.

There is a helpful story attributed to Jesus, although it is more folkloric than scriptural, that
addresses our fear of change. It is Jesus’ response to someone who prays for freedom from a sense of
foreboding about the future. “Whatever you fear, may very well happen,” Jesus says. “But it is nothing
to be afraid of, for I am by your side.”
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas day, the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus the
Christ, let us face both our hopes and our fears with courage. For this is the season when together we
greet the unknown future with one bright light of hope: the promise of a newborn babe, Emanu-el, born
in a manger, given shelter in a stable, our Savior and our saving grace, of whom we sing: “the hopes and
fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Christmas is our promise that Love has come to live among us once again. And this is Good News
of great joy!

With best wishes for a very Merry Christmas,
and a Happy New Year!
Pastor Clémot