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If you haven’t heard, Poquonnock Bridge Baptist Church can be found on Facebook! We have posts of pictures and videos from worship services and other church happenings! Visit us at…

https://www.facebook.com/PBBCGroton/

…and don’t forget to like the page!

“Blessings at Year’s End”
Written by the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman

I remember with gratitude the fruits of the labors of others,
which I have shared as a part of the normal experience of daily living.

I remember the beautiful things I have seen, heard, and felt –
some, as a result of definite seeking on my part,
and many that came unheralded into my path,
warming my heart and rejoicing my spirit.

I remember the moments of distress that proved to be groundless
and those that taught me profoundly
about the evilness of evil and the goodness of good.

I remember the new people I have met,
from whom I have caught glimpses of the meaning of my own life
and the true character of human dignity.

I remember the dreams that haunted me during the year,
keeping me ever mindful of goals and hopes which I did not realize
but from which I drew inspiration
to sustain my life and keep steady my purposes.

I remember the awareness of the spirit of God
that sought me out in my aloneness
and gave to me a sense of assurance…
that undercut my despair and confirmed my life
with new courage and abiding hope.

As the new year begins, filled with both hopes and fears, with both possibilities and realities, and as I write the most unusual Annual Report for church that I have ever had to write, I want to thank all of you…for your labors of love that have had no end; for beautiful things I sought after, and those that just came my way; for meaning and dignity, for inspiration and purpose. You have warmed my heart and rejoiced my spirit; you have brought calm assurance to my loneliness, solid courage to my living; you have sustained my dreams and kept steady my path.

These are my blessings as the new year begins. “I try to count them - they are more than the sand; I come to the end – I am still with you.” (Psalm 139) Happy Epiphany…Pastor Claudine

“Star-Giving”

What I’d really like to give you for Christmas is a star…
brilliance in a package,
something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
something you could hold in your hand,
something for wonderment,
something for pondering,
something that would remind you of
what Christmas has always meant:
God’s Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God’s for giving,
and I must be content to give you words and wishes
and packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
as radiant as the Star
that announced the Christ Child’s coming,
and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood
beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
that has been given to me,
ignited countless times by others
who have knelt in Bethlehem’s light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.

(from Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems)

As the season after Christmas moves into the season of Epiphany, as the story of Mary and Joseph moves into the story of Herod and the Magi, and as this hard year moves into the next, we realize once again how much we depend upon the light of God’s star…reminding us that we do not journey alone, that more glory and goodness will be revealed among us, and that light and love have been sent to this world, so that in comfort and hope, we can worship and adore.

Following the light of every new star, let us prepare to celebrate Epiphany and communion this Sunday. You are invited to partake of your own bread and juice there at home, perhaps light a candle to symbolize God’s star, and may our hearts be so warmed by Bethlehem’s promise that we are filled with the life and the love that are still sent to this world…Pastor Claudine

The Fourth Week of Advent

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2: 1-7)

Familiar words tell a beloved story. It goes on to tell of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, of angels appearing with good news of great joy, of curious travelers making their way to Bethlehem, of Mary treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart.

We are also curious travelers journeying to Bethlehem…to see this thing that is happening, wonder what it means for our lives, wait for love to be born and watch how it comes to pass. This year our waiting and watching have an urgency to them…will it feel like Christmas at all, will our holidays be safe from harm, will the vaccine finally arrive, will relief and comfort come?

We try to hear the words of the angel, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” We recall the words of an old hymn, “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord.” We think about our journey through Advent: hope, peace, joy, love. We believe in the promise of Christmas, that Christ comes even as we cancel plans, keep our distance and miss one another. We search for the star of Epiphany and long for the blessing and beginning of a New Year.

This week we gather in spirit for worship on Christmas Eve (a service will be posted by 6:30pm) If you are not able to listen, I hope you are still able to hear the songs and stories in your hearts. On Sunday we will record a service that includes a dramatic dialogue between angel and child. And on January 3rd we will celebrate Communion by sharing bread and juice in our own homes.

Like we did for World Communion, we will individually partake in the Lord’s supper but this time you are invited to provide your own elements for the shared meal…they are symbols so any bread and “wine” will do! I am including a recipe if you’d like to try making your own communion bread; Heidi and her seminary classmates use this bread for their virtual services.

With gratitude for test results and self-quarantine, we rejoice in leading worship once again. And with prayers for all of you, we journey to Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.” Merry Christmas, dear friends. And glory to God in the highest….Pastor Claudine