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The Unitarian: Thursday, December 7

Upcoming Worship Services

Sunday Worship | Major Music Service: Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass This Sunday at 10:30 am, the First Church senior choir and orchestra will perform Franz Joseph Haydn's Missa Angustiis, now commonly known as the Lord Nelson Mass. This Mass in Time of Anguish was composed in Vienna during a time of upheaval and war. Napoleon and his armies were advancing on the city; it looked like a siege and occupation was inevitable. In spite of the anxiety of the time, this amazingly beautiful piece captures some of the glory and beauty of life.


A Message From Your Intern Minister, Sophia Doescher: From You I Receive, To You I Give

Attention is the rarest and the purest form of generosity" -Simone Weil

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend CityReach at Common Cathedral with our Youth Group. CityReach is an urban ministry program that aims to bridge the gap between housed and unhoused individuals by building relationships. Youth groups are invited to join CityReach staff (who are unhoused or have experienced homelessness) to do street ministry by offering hospitality, food and clothing. We also had moments for the youth to share and reflect on what impacted them most from the experience.

Luckily, our congregation will get to hear some of those insightful reflections during the Multi-Gen services on December 17th, the Sunday after our glorious Major Music Service this week at 10:30 am!

What a way to begin living into our new worship theme of Generosity! There were so many moments with the Youth Group at CityReach when I was struck by expressions of kindness and generosity and the moments of connection and relationship that came from it. During our time for reflection, I was reminded of the power of giving and receiving. Ultimately, these acts go beyond any tangible items: the pants and coats, the sandwiches and drinks. It is the time and energy given to the act of giving and receiving, the attention given to recognizing someone else’s humanity. As Simone Weil reminds us, “Attention is the rarest and the purest form of generosity.”

In a reflection on Weil’s quote, Robert Zaretsky notes:

"Compassion... means that I identify with the afflicted individual so fully that I feed him for the same reason I feed myself: because we are both hungry. In other words, I have paid him attention… We do not fully understand a fellow human being by staring, thinking, or even commiserating with her. Instead, understanding comes only when we let go of our self and allow the other to grab our full attention. In order for the reality of the other’s self to fully invest us, we must first divest ourselves of our own selves."

When we let go of ourselves and allow the other to grab our full attention, when we can take the time to meet someone where they are and see them in their wholeness, we glimpse a reciprocal and empowering generosity.

A simple example of this shows up in our daily life: giving "thank yous" and "you're welcomes." So often, I find that my knee-jerk response to "thank you" is something more deflective, like "no problem, happy to help." Yet, as the youth reflected beautifully over the weekend, truly valuing and receiving someone's "thank you" is a way of valuing their wholeness and their humanity.

As we enter into a season of giving and receiving, I strive to be as generous with “you're welcome” as I am with “thank you,” and I invite you to join me. How might we use this season to deepen our attention to one another?



Intern Minister


News From The Message Board

Please bring to church your donations of new adult women's and men's coats, hats, socks, and gloves. Leave donations in the box labeled "Bristol Lodge" next to the elevator on the lower level. Drop something off on your way to the Holiday Fair!

The Committee on Ministry reminds you we are available to discuss your thoughts-positive or negative-about all aspects of life at First Church. We'd love to hear from you! Reach out to Kathy Crawley at

A generous member of First Church in Belmont is offering a matching donation of up to $5,000 to help the Bakhshi family in the coming year. They continue to need our financial support and appreciate the generous support of many.

The Belmont Council on Aging is looking for teens and adults willing to help with some basic snow shoveling for Belmont seniors. The program coordinator matches volunteers with seniors right in their neighborhood so folks aren't traveling far in bad weather. Belmont High School students can apply their snow shoveling hours to their community service requirements.


Upcoming Events

DATE CHANGE! Join us on December 7 at 7:30 pm.

With First Church Historian John Howe

Expereince Second Friday concert with Jonny Kringle and The Wondaland Band playing classic rock holiday tunes, supporting the Maher Family Toy Drive for Children's Hospital - all donations from the concert help families spending their holidays at Children's, plus a holiday music surprise awaits!

Saturday, December 9, 7:30 pm, Zoom

Please join us for a not-to-be-missed holiday tradition where you can do your holiday shopping and help others at the same time. Find gifts for everyone on your list by choosing from an array of products featuring the work of both local and international artisans.

Ring the church bell to call attention to the urgency of the climate crisis

Every Monday at 7:30 pm, over Zoom year round.

Are you facing health challenges, sudden diagnoses, or living with chronic conditions? Join our support and discussion group, meeting every 2nd Tuesday from November 14 to May 14, for a 1.5-hour Zoom session starting at 5:30-7 pm.

A chance to connect and deepen over hot soup

Dec. 14, 2023: John Howe- "The Boston Religion" Learn about the 19th-century flourishing and 20th-century decline of Unitarianism in the city of Boston


In Case You Missed It

Rev. Chris unpacks Jesus's parable of the rich man, the needle, and the camel. Don't miss this thought-provoking exploration during our single-service simulcast at 10:00 am.

Donate flowers to beautify the SanctuaryDonate

Sign Up to be a Sunday morning UsherSign up Volunteer at the Newcomer's Welcome tableSign up

Next issue: Thursday, December 12. Deadline: noon on Tuesday, December 14

We are here for you Remote office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. The church office is closed on state and federal holidays.

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