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First Church Congregational

United Church of Christ

26 Pleasant Street

Methuen, MA 01844-3119

TEL: 978-687-1240

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"Getting Parsonal" December 2019



Change is a constant in life. Yet, I was surprised by my resistance to it all. Later on, when I stopped to consider the strength of my reaction, I marveled that such strong feelings arose from what, in the broader scheme of things, is a really fairly insignificant. But still, I was annoyed. Greatly. And I didn’t suffer in silence, either!


What was it that evoked these strong feelings, and even thoughts of taking my business elsewhere? It’s almost embarrassing to admit. The owners of my gym were remodeling of the gym where I work out and have my membership!


Now, change is a constant in gyms, most often the result of a fellow member neglecting to put something back where it belongs. Equipment gets shifted, rooms get rearranged, things get broken, repaired, replaced. No big deal. From time to time you go on a bit of a hunting expedition and find (or don’t find!) what it is that you’re looking for, usually somewhere very much out of place.


But my gym was having an all-out renovation. One section of the building got sold off to a neighboring business, and a chain link fence was being installed inside, to cordon off a large area for classes. My beloved spin bikes were cut down to one third in number and relegated to a spot I didn’t like. And it was a long process. Just about everything got moved multiple times throughout the renovation. Changes happened daily. Lots of disruption. Lots of noise. And lots of annoyance, especially by me.


Now that the remodeling is complete, I can report that I do rather like the changes. Of course, I do! Granted, I don’t like where they have the spinning bikes now, and I can’t find everything I want just yet. But I’m adjusting. And truly, now that it’s all complete, everything makes sense, especially for the health and growth of their business.


Change comes whether we seek it or not, and not always to our liking. The process of change itself can be annoying, if not excruciating. But when we’re lucky, we move through the process and find what’s good about the new, even coming to appreciate the blessings of how things have changed.


At Advent, the four Sundays preceding Christmas, we prepare for Christ’s coming. We make room in our hearts to welcome the birth of Jesus. We ready ourselves to receive Emmanuel, God with us, in the little child of Bethlehem’s manger. And like the coming of any child into any family or community, anywhere, the birth of Jesus into our lives brings inevitable changes. Even after years and years of celebrating Christmas, the welcoming of the Christ child brings something new. It shakes things up. It causes a moving around of the furniture of our lives. It changes our perspective, perhaps heightening our awareness of responsibility to do God’s work in the world. It impacts what we do, how we live, what we share, what we keep, where we go, where we don’t go. The coming of the Christ child changes our lives, forever.


Change is a constant in life. This is true of our faith lives, too, and the life of our church. The four weeks of Advent give us pause to consider what Christ’s coming to us this year will require of us, and how things might change as a result — for us, for our church, and for the world around us. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!”


See you in church!

~Bill