Weekly update

FIRST CHURCH

Watercolor classes
with K.T. Morse
Join this popular class for its second Six week session
February 21 – March 21
Tuesdays 9:30 am to 12 noon
$175At the Meeting House
Contact:  Katie Morse.  ktmorse@yahoo.com
Work for Peace and Justice and Healing
in the World
Address homelessness.
Several homeless families will be in Ipswich the week of April 16 and May 21, staying at the First Presbyterian Church.  Helpers and volunteers are welcome as we work with Family Promise to provide meals, fellowship, and tutoring. To sign up, email Kalapi Johnson kalapijohnson@gmail.comAddiction Recovery in Ipswich:
Are you an addict? Ipswich has adopted a Gloucester-style addiction and recovery program, based on the framework that addicts can ask police for help, rather than arrest, and find funding and support to get to treatment. The Ipswich police are standing by, along with 15 volunteer angels who serve as allies to the addict seeking recovery, to locate and transport to residential treatment. Funds are available, through the PAARI, for treatment, in the event that the individual doesn’t have health insurance. At the moment, three addicts have been assisted into treatment this year. Please come to the Ipswich police station, or call Rev. Rebecca, and we will help you get to recovery, even if you don’t have any money.Refugee and Immigrant Resettlement and Hospitality:
Do you have a heart for refugees? We need your help with administration, social media, fundraising, and friendship for newly immigrated families. Last month we welcomed our new refugee family to Ipswich, and these Middle Eastern neighbors to First Church are among the friendliest travelers you will ever meet.  Interested to get involved? Let Rebecca, Ann Shannon, Lynn Lenhart, or Anne Brown know if you want to get involved.Collect material goods and gifts for Haiti:
Partners in Development is collecting soap, wash cloths, tooth paste, and tooth brushes for Haitian relief as they seek to prevent the spread of cholera. We have just sent our fifth shipment with them to Haiti, and we are preparing our sixth.
All donations welcome.

FIRST CHURCH NEWSLETTER
is now on our website:
firstchurchipswich.org
Check it out!

Support First Church

with Your Pledge

We are grateful to the pledges which help the church keep the lights on and the water running. Would you like to join the team? We are collecting the last few pledge cards for the life of the church in the coming year, and cards are available in the pew pockets, or you are welcome to pledge on line.
and in Your Will

Leave a legacy that lasts, for the congregation of First Church and its outreach to the world, with a simple note in your will to leave the Church a percentage of your savings when you no longer need them. For more information, speak with the Finance Committee.

and in Your Affinity
Many members of the church who bank with TD Bank have called them to ask for a First Church link, which means that TD, as part of their charity work, gives First Church a grant once each year. This year we received $150 from TD Bank. This money comes from the bank itself, not from your account, and your account is secure. Our affinity code is AG 701.

Ministers Column

Minister’s Column…

Advent is a series of snapshots: angels visiting ordinary folks, swords forged into plowshares, shepherds praying for help, babies showing up unexpected. Every year it catches us again, coming so soon after Thanksgiving, and bringing us chances to make food for each other, to pray for each other, to see in each other the arrival of an surprise child. Zechariah was no exception to the wildness of the holy story: he prayed in the temple, but when his prayers were answered, he didn’t have context for the answer. The answer was “wait a bit,” but he said, “No”, and so the angels suspended his speech. Ever resourceful, he called for pen and parchment, which probably made things worse for his relationship with the angels.

The call of the Advent season is both to silence and to voice, and therein lies our most perfect challenge. At the beginning, this year more than ever perhaps, we, with Zechariah, find ourselves struck by stillness, and this stillness brings us to a holy place. It may be that our fear has driven us here. It may be that the Advent story is so vivid for us that we find ourselves speechless. For Zechariah, it was that he had so much doubt that the angels gave his imagination a chance to catch up to his mouth. Whether it is fear or doubt or some other inroad that brings us to a stillness before God, we are lucky if we find ourselves here. And we are luckier still if we do not call for pen and parchment, but sit with God in the quiet, listening.

In our country, people have been rushing forward with hasty speeches and busy pens, but a bit of quiet is a good thing for us, as we reflect and seek our next steps. We are lucky that our tradition has given us Advent this week. It has the potential to slow us down, seek our deep selves, seek God’s deep Self, listen.

Of course the dynamic in Advent is also to be busier, bigger, more than any other time of the year. We spend more than usual, eat and drink more than usual, worry more than usual, and suffer for it. Zechariah may be our most perfect teacher. Perhaps we, like him, can feel ourselves to be called out by the angels for our doubts and fears. Perhaps we, like him, can take on the reluctant discipline of silence. Perhaps we can even suspend the instinct of more, and ask God’s goodness to fill us instead. And in the times to come, there will be speeches, and fine essays written by pens on parchment. I, for one, as the minister, would love to see where this will go for this congregation.

But in the meantime, I invite you to the Advent stillness that is our great summoning.

Join us for prayers, for rock climbing, for a book group, for healing, for silence, for worship. I would love to see you here.

Sincerely, Rebecca Pugh