— Parsonage for Rent —
The Trustees would like to make you aware that the tenant in the parsonage will be leaving in early February and returning to the west coast to be near family due to ongoing medical issues. If you know or hear of anyone that might be interested in renting the parsonage please let Mickey Thaisz know as the church depends on that income. Mickey's phone is 413-458-4947.
Greetings! Here we are in April. Palm Sunday will soon be here, and then we will be entering Holy Week and Easter. Oh my goodness, it is so hard to believe that we will not be worshiping together! This is a startling reality of the virus. Once I stopped running in circles like Henry Penny in my dismay about this, I got quiet and came up with a few thoughts. First, God does not leave us comfortless. If we take time to open our hearts to God we will find not only comfort but spiritual direction. 2nd, Beginning every worship service you have heard me say: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." I say this to remind myself and you that we didn't make this day, that we are not the captain of the boat, and this line infers that God is with us today not in our looking into the past or projecting about what tomorrow may bring but rather right in this 24hrs. It is in this day that God is present to guide our every step. 3rd, We can still worship together but just not while sitting in pews. Willinet will continue to broadcast my sermons. Their generosity has been just wonderful. Ron has also been helpful in sending out emails to you all. He will continue to email my weekly written service. Another aspect of our worshipping together is to reach out and be in touch. Please call one another. Always feel free to call me. Just the sound of a voice can break down the walls of isolation and fear. 4th, Starting on Palm Sunday I am going to put a candle in my window to remind me that the light of God's love is untouched by the virus, and it is that light that I want to see and have be seen as I/we walk through Holy Week. I invite you to join me. 5th, This is the day the Lord has made. How can we rejoice and be glad in it?
Blessings upon blessings, Pastor Belle
— Music Notes —
The adult choir is looking for more members! We are very happy to welcome part-time members or occasional members. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 and Sunday mornings at 8:15. But if you can't make it to Wednesday rehearsals, feel free to just come on Sunday mornings! Or just visit once to see what it's like. Singing in our choir is lots of fun and it's good for your health, too!
Important Notice regarding Sunday Services for April
All in-house activities are cancelled until at least May 4th. Pastor
Belle will be on WilliNet Channel 1303 Sunday 9am, 4pm and Wed 10am, Fri 7pm.
Matt Alcombright was born and raised in North Adams, MA. He is a graduate of Drury High School class of 2001. He attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed his Bachelors Degrees in Music Education and Piano Performance. He later went on to study at St. John's Seminary in Brighton earning a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Divinity. For the past seven years he was active in parish ministry in the Diocese of Springfield before taking a leave of absence and now resides back in North Adams where he is a caretaker for his grandmother as well as working at Flynn & Dagnoli Funeral Home. He also serves as the organist/choir director at St. John the Baptist Church in North Bennington, VT.
Matt began his career in church music at the age of 13 at the former Holy Family and Notre Dame Parishes in North Adams. He would later become an organist and choir director for many parishes in the North Berkshire area. He served as Music Director for the Newman Center at UMass, the former Sacred Heart Parish in Easthampton and St. Mary's Parish in Longmeadow. Matt also served, throughout his years in music ministry, as a substitute for many other faith traditions and denominations. Said Matt, "I very excited to be with the community at the Second Congregational Church in Williamstown, and I'm grateful for their warm and kind welcome."
The Sunday School led a wonderful Sunday Advent Service which included readings, personal accounts, hymns, and beautiful vocal and instrumental music performed by each of the kids. It was a very special time for our congregation and we thank you all!
A Note from Pastor Belle
81 Hancock Road • Williamstown, MA 01267 • (413) 458-3467
Our Virtual Worship Service — Together in Faith
on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020
Welcome: Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
Welcome to our new
Music Director /Organist
Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
We are delighted to introduce Belle as our
new Bridge Minister! She joined us in
October and will lead our congregation until
we have found a settled minister.
Belle has been a minister with the United
Church of Christ for over 20 years. She
served as Pastor to the West Stockbridge
Congregational Church, UCC, and the
Housatonic Congregational Church, UCC.
Belle was born and raised in New York
City. She and her wife, Cheryl, live in
Stockbridge, MA, with three unruly but loving dogs. As well as being a minister, Belle is an artist, an author of several collections of poetry and micro stories, and she is a Substance Abuse Specialist having worked in NYC with the homeless .
Please join us on Sundays as we welcome Belle Fox-Martin to our church community!
No in house services on 3/29 and 4/5. Services on WilliNet Channel 1303 at 9am and 4pm Sunday. Wed 10am, Fri 7pm Link to service https://vimeo.com/400673730
There will not be an Easter Sunrise Service or breakfast this year.
The following events are being planned for April BUT are subject to change based on government restraints and safety concerns.
4/9 Deacons: 3:30pm Zoom Meeting
4/12 Morning Worship: 9am Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
Coffee Hour following worship
4/16 Trustees: 4:30pm
4/19 Morning: Worship: 9am Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
Coffee Hour following worship
4.25 Winter Farmers Market: 10am-2pm
4/26 Morning Worship: 9am Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
Coffee Hour following worship
The Trustees are looking for help with this years spring clean-up outside. Rather than have a "workbee" on a given date they will post a list on the side door facing the office with sections that you can rake at a time that works for you. When you complete an area cross it of the list and leave the pile to be picked up. Their hope is to have all areas completed by 4/12. Once we are able to worship together again the Trustees are going to remove all the books from the sanctuary and sanitize them to be handed out by the Deacons when you enter. After the service the books will be picked up and sanitized again prior to the next service. They would also like to remind you that the church expenses continue while we are not meeting together. You are encouraged to send your offerings to Jean Richer, 124 South Hemlock Brook, Williamstown MA 01267.
The Mission Committee will be postponing the One Great Hour of Sharing collection planned for this March until we are back worshipping together and settled in to a routine. Perhaps this offering will be done in June. The Easter Food Pantry will not be collected as usual at our church with Easter Egg tags. We are asking members to donate items directly to the pantry when it is convenient, keeping in mind that the need is greater this year. The lobby of the St.Patrick's/St.Raphael's Church Parish Center has shelving for your non-perishable food items and is open until 4:30 pm. You can also send checks to Williamstown Food Pantry % the church 54 Southworth St. Williamstown, MA 01267. Thank you to the Dorcas as Mickey Thaisz will be assisting in their donation of 2 Hams as they do annually. The committee thanks you for being flexible with this months mission project. We ask for prayers for the people donating to the food pantry and also to those who are sick or unemployed and unable to get food. Also for the volunteers that are supplying the shut ins and to Carol DeMayo who continues to do a tremendous job overseeing the pantry. If you know of anyone in our church community who needs food assistance please let the Mission Committee know. Thank You, Caroline Martel, Janet Mayer, Chris vanLuling and Virginia Nicklien.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day called Passion Sunday as well as Palm Sunday the day we shout “Alleluia!” as our humble savior rides down the road strewn with palm leaves and on the back of a donkey having only one thing to offer to the curious and the well-wishers. It is the same thing that we are offered this morning and that is the perfect love of God.
Loving God, on this day of remembrance and celebration, on this day as we enter into the week we call Holy, we pray for a continuing and constant spirit of openness. Give us the spiritual steadfastness that enables us to follow the course of our faith. Involve us in our beliefs and in so doing may we serve You with purpose and with passion. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
ANNOUNCEMENTS, JOYS & CONCERNS
1. I had hoped that perhaps the sheltering mandates would be lifted so the we could worship together on Easter, but I highly doubt this will happen. Plan to make Easter a special day. Think of a way to praise the Lord: say a prayer together even if it’s on the phone, make a special meal, be in touch with one another, take the time to reflect on this day of hope beyond hope.
2. If you would rather hear my sermons than read them, you can do so through the community TV station Willinet or by going to their website.
3. Please know that I am always available for a chat: 413-298-0673
The One who gave courage to Jesus long ago promises to accompany us on our entire
lifelong journey of faith. Upon straight ways, at crossroads, through difficult turns,
our loving God remains steadfast and true. So let us all find peace in this knowing.
Let us find strength and joy in the love of God and comfort in his company.
Lectionary Reading: Psalm 130
21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Sermon: "From Another Perspective", Rev. Belle Fox-Martin
It is Palm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday - the Sunday that begins holy week - we have heard the scripture telling of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. It is a story that the youngest as well as the oldest of us knows very well.
This morning I thought that we would explore this story from a different perspective - Not from Jesus’ perspective or that of the town’s people, not from the vantage point of the disciples, but rather from the perspective of the donkey.
As you listen you will be hearing the donkey’s story on that day so many years ago. Here is his story:
Yes, I am old now, even a blind man could tell that. I spend all of my days grazing, going from the sun to the shade. No one throws heavy bags on my back anymore for me to haul. No one climbs on me and the children don’t even tease me with branches. But it wasn’t always this way. It used to be when I was young that I was chosen to carry the heaviest loads. My day started at sunrise and ended at dusk. There was always work to be done. As a beast of burden I was created to haul and tote and carry and that’s just what I did.
I have only had one owner - a farmer. He worked me hard - not to be mean but because he had to in order make his way in the world. He was a rough man but he had a kind side. He would whisper things to me - his worries, hopes, gentle dreams. I suppose you could say I was his confidant - someone to be trusted since I couldn’t talk back.
I suppose that I’m making him sound like a sentimental man. He wasn’t really. If anything I think he was a lonely man with no one to talk to except for me, his donkey.
There was one day, a day that I’ll never forget, when two men came walking up the road. They approached the farmer and talked to the farmer. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but there was allot of gesturing and pointing and the farmer kept shifting his feet and scuffing the earth with his shoe but after some time I heard one of the men say to the farmer “The Lord needs this donkey” Then they stopped talking and the two men came and took me by my lead. They lead me off the farm and down the road further than I had ever traveled. I didn’t know if I should refuse, if I should buck and pull back, but I didn’t. Donkeys are curious by nature so I followed them.
We came to a place where there were many men and some of these men took off their cloaks and put them on my back. They were warm from their bodies and felt warm on me. I had never felt such comfort before. Another man came forward who they called Jesus.
He touched my ear and then mounted himself on my back. Unlike other men his weight didn’t make me brace my muscles. I didn’t have to flex to support him. It was the strangest thing - having this Jesus on my back was as if we were one being instead of two. With this Jesus’s disciples following behind us, we began to ride into Jerusalem.
There were people lining the street. They took off their coats and laid them in the road for us to walk over. They were breaking palms off of the trees and setting them in our path. They were shouting: "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Over and over the people yelled this out as my hooves touched down on the carpet of palms.
I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I knew that Jerusalem had no shortage of impressive displays when kings and Romans arrived here. I had heard that they tried to out do one another in their pomp and circumstance by riding great horses, dressing in rich garb and having their well polished soldiers following behind.
But this man, this Jesus riding on my back, on the back of a tattered beast of burden with his motley group of followers, following behind --who was he? What kind of king was this? Who was this man who climbed on my back instead of onto the back of a great stallion? Who was he that people shouted: Hosanna! Hosanna! as we passed?
And then it dawned on me - our humble procession was a proclamation that God chose to work not through displays of power but through displays of humility. If there is anything that a donkey knows about its humility. We are the most humble of creatures who do the most humble work. We were made that way and I suppose that Jesus chose my back to ride on for this very reason.
This Jesus was displaying his humility not his power. God had no interest in installing Jesus on a throne in the temple. He cared about installing Jesus on the throne of our hearts - In our hearts where humility lives - in our hearts where faith lives. To demonstrate this Jesus rode into Jerusalem on my swayed back. It was another humble beginning in which he awoke our own humility - the humility of the people of Jerusalem and our own.
When it was done - when our procession was over -I was led back to the farmer. The promise of the Hosanna’s rang in my ears for days to come. The feeling of a deep warmth on my back has never left me. Humility is nothing more and nothing less than being true - Being true is something that is not hard for donkeys, but it is hard for humans. I have had time to think about it and I know now that humility lives in the heart - it lives in the heart that doesn’t hide itself from God. It lives in the heart that opens itself to God. If you can do this then the word Hosanna will ring in your ears too and your back won’t tire from your load because you will be living in the sunlight of the spirit. You too can live in the sunlight of the spirit. Alleluia!