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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.




November 18, 2018

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time



1 Samuel 1:4-20
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25
Mark 13:1-8

Reflection on 1 Samuel 1:4-20

In those days, things were rough: at the end of the book of Judges, we hear that "there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" (21:25). This is not a good situation, but it does sound familiar to us in our own culture, when many of us are old enough to remember the motto of the 1960's: "Do your own thing." As the fabric of our society loosened and frayed, more and more of us went it alone, doing what we wanted and focusing on our own needs and desires.

Perhaps "authority" had earned the distrust and disdain in both settings, and ancient Hebrews and modern Americans alike reacted against bad leadership. Still, it seems to be human nature to gravitate, especially in chaos or on the edge of chaos, toward having someone "strong" in charge, so it's understandable that the people of ancient Israel decided that they needed a king to rule over them.

A very ordinary person

Telling the story later, the Scripture establishes the significance of this development, so the blessing and guidance of God are important to its success. And God often blesses and guides--and works--through human agents.

Not just human agents, but humble human agents. True, Elkanah is prosperous and important enough to have two wives, many children, and the means to travel with them. Still, there's nothing particularly charismatic, nothing special about him that we might expect of the father of the great prophet Samuel, who would end the period of the Judges and begin the story of the monarchy.

John C. Holbert points out that the "nondescript" Elkanah was even the great-grandson of "Tohu (Hebrew for 'waste')" (The Lectionary Commentary: Old Testament and Acts). And Elkanah's words in the story illustrate the ordinariness of his own preoccupations while his wife dreams of a son whose whole life would be dedicated to God.

Another remarkable woman

Samuel, the son of Hannah and Elkanah, is one of those "change agents" that God uses, in this stage of the long story between exodus and exile, to initiate the monarchy that would produce the great king, David. In the two books that bear Samuel's name, we learn more about the prophet as we read the entire story, but not here, in this short passage.

In our text this week we hear that Samuel's birth, indeed his conception, is remarkable because of a woman, his mother Hannah. After two weeks of hearing the story of Ruth and Naomi, we spend another week seeking--and finding--God at work on the margins of society, where the women of the Bible lived. (Alas, too many women live on those margins in every age and every society.)

Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.