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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want to be a more giving and forgiving person."

 

 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."

 

Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.

We share our church home with Ivoryton Congregational Church. They worship at 8:45 am on Sunday, and we worship at 10:30 am.

Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.

 

 

 

December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

 

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

Reflection on Luke 3:7-18:
by Kathryn Matthews

Let's get to the story we love

It's a very interesting exercise to sit down with the New Testament and read the way each of the four Gospels begins. There are striking and important differences, and each one gives us a rich and reflective way to approach the story of Jesus.

We know, from our reading of Mark's Gospel this past year, that he begins his account right here, with John the Baptist a grown man, a messenger preparing the way for the adult Jesus, who appears in the ninth verse of the very first chapter of that Gospel. John's Gospel, after setting the scene from the very "beginning" of all time, when "the Word was with God" (1:1), immediately introduces John the Baptist as the one who "came to testify to the light" (1:8). Matthew and Luke, however, take more time to get to this point, as they tell the beautiful and familiar stories surrounding the birth of the baby Jesus.

We would like to get to those stories, steep ourselves in them, share the joy and hope with which they reassure and comfort us. But the church makes us listen first – not instead, but first – to this rough-voiced, almost reckless, prophet who wouldn't last five minutes in most of our pulpits.

A different kind of joy

That's Advent. Right alongside the "merry" of the season that calls us to shop and decorate, cook and celebrate, is this other kind of preparation for the coming of the One promised to us. But this season of preparation in the church is not burdensome or depressing to our spirits. On the contrary, we're led slowly and thoughtfully toward this great celebration of the Incarnation, the mystery of God taking on flesh and being among us, with us in the most ordinary of our days, the most overwhelming of our griefs, our most profound joys, our deepest hopes.

This life, our lives and communities and the world as we experience it, right here, is where that long "church-y" word, "Incarnation," happens. Maybe it's a word that we don't use very often in our day-to-day lives, but we experience the Incarnation every moment of our lives in our relationship with Jesus, that "Word made flesh" that dwells among us. Or, as in Eugene Peterson's version, "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14, The Message).

Right here, in our midst, day in and day out, not just at Christmastime. Fred Craddock encourages us to immerse ourselves, then, in this season of preparation, and to find meaning in the journey itself, and its anticipation of what is to come (Luke, Interpretation).


Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.