Murray Church Notes

December 12, 2019

Volume 8,  Issue 19

In this Issue:


Holding On to What is Good 

Rev. Gretchen Weis

I don’t know how my Dad did it, but each year, he’d pick out the Charlie Brown-iest Christmas tree on the lot.  He was a magnet for those poor, pathetic specimens.  My brother David and I would point out any number of other, more fluffy, full bodied trees for our Dad’s consideration (coached by our mother to dissuade him from bringing home yet another scrawny, twisted tree).  Yet, despite our best efforts, the tree salesman would end up tying yet another gnarled, misshaped tree to the top of our car.

The adventure would continue at home.  Trying to get a twisted tree to stand up straight in the metal tree holder required the entire family.  My mother was the director, calling out, “Gretchen, pull the top part of the tree a few inches towards you.  No, that’s too much.  David, pull it about an inch or so back towards you.  OK, that looks good side to side.  Now let me look from front to back.  Gretchen, you need to tip the tree a few inches towards the picture window.  Slowly…..slowly.  OK, stop!  Now freeze!”  And my Dad would twist the large metal screws of the Christmas tree holder into the bottom trunk to try to hold the tree in some relationship to straight.  I have to report that more than one tree would fall over at this point when we all let go.

Then there was the challenge of decorating a tree that had huge multiple gaps with no evergreen branches.  “Holes,” my mother called them.  She’d sigh, “What are we going to do with this huge hole?”  “Turn it to the wall,” my Dad would advise.  “We don’t have a wall,” she’d sigh again.  “We can only turn the holes out towards the picture window, or into the living room,” she reminded him. “Either way, the holes are still visible.”  “I don’t care,” my Dad would say, rapidly losing interest. “Throw some tinsel on it. Everything’s better with tinsel.”  And the decorating would begin! 

The other morning, my mother and I were sharing “remember when” stories of Dad and those danged trees.   “We laughed so hard, I found myself gasping for breath, tears running down my cheek.  My Dad has been gone for more than a year now – he is an empty chair at our holiday table.  Yet I hold on tight to the good -- grateful for those wonderful memories of him and his darned Charlie Brown Christmas trees.  The warm memories help me hold the bittersweet “both/and” of his empty chair at this time of year.

Christmas can be complex.  Not all our holiday memories are holly or jolly.  For some, happy memories may be few and far between.  Still others may be experiencing deep loss, facing an empty chair, a difficult health challenge, or financial hardship, making it difficult to feel merry and bright. If you find yourself struggling this holiday season, please reach out and let’s talk.  I am in town over Christmas – just a quick phone call away.  Or set up a time to visit in my office Tuesdays through Thursdays.  

Christmas is almost here.  Be tender with yourselves, and with one another.  And, no matter what feelings you are experiencing this holiday season, may you find a good holiday memory to hold on to – something good that brings joy and a little bit of comfort to an aching heart.

All are invited to join us this Sunday, when we will explore a number of the popular myths about that little baby born 2,000 years ago who would grow up to transform the world with his messages of love and inclusion.

In love and faith,
Rev. Gretchen    
"A Child is Born"
What do we actually know about Jesus’s birth?  Not a lot.  The early church originally picked January 6th to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Some scholars suggest Jesus might have been born in the spring, when shepherds would have been more likely to be outside with their flock by night.  Other Biblical scholars suggest that the Roman census would have been held in the summer or fall, when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to register. Still others theorize that Jesus might have been born in the early summer of 2 B.C.E., when Venus and Jupiter came together to create a brighter than normal night sky — an actual astral event that might have served as the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem.  Let’s explore some of the more interesting myths surrounding the birth of a poor peasant child who would grow up to change the world.   
"A Pagan Solstice Service"
This evening will be the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, known as the Winter Solstice.  People have celebrated the solstice to mark the return of the sun for millennium.  How did the ancient pagans celebrate the solstice?  What rituals, which gods and goddesses were worshipped to assure the coming of the warmer weather and life-affirming fertility of spring?   Kevin Dumont and other pagan members of our congregation have been invited to help co-lead worship.

Dec. 24:

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Prelude Concert: 6:30 PM
Service: 7:00 PM

Come join us on Tuesday evening, December 24th for our traditional candlelight service.  Our Murray musicians have prepared a beautiful concert, which will begin at 6:30 PM, followed by our candlelight service at 7:00 PM.

Calling All Auction Donors!

Donors Wanted   


*** Feb 29th ***
A Leap Year Spectacular!

The date is Saturday, February 29,2020. The time will be 5:30 pm to about 10 pm. The auction will consist of a silent auction, a fully catered buffet and a live auction.  The ticket price is $25 per person.

But first we need donationsonly with lots of great items to auction off will our fundraiser be successful. Do you have:
                                                     *   Time to give
                                                     *   Talent to create or
                                                     *   Treasure Items to share

Everyone has something to contribute! 

Examples that may generate ideas:
  • Assorted items: original jewelry, handmade comforters, oil paintings and lithographs, maybe even a large-screen TV or a canoe. Lots of possiblities!!
  • Baskets of goodies: bath basket, cook's basket, craft basket, pasta lover's basket, liquor basket, whatever would be fun to assemble.
  • Dinners/Parties: cocktail party, ethnic dinners of various sorts, picnic party, wine or beer tasting party, board game evening, movie and dinner, garden party, BBQ, soup supper (soups breads deserts & salad), luau, poetry party, craft party
  • Lessons: tennis, knitting, flying, crochet, computer, photography, golf, bridge, magic, baking, painting or drawing, language, quilting, sewing, skiing, jewelry making
  • Food items: cookies, other deserts, fresh garden vegetables delivered, bread, soup delivered, pies, cakes, soup/bread/pasta of the month, freshly brewed and award-winning beer
  • Services: pet or plant sitting, house sitting, babysitting,  tax preparation, editing, singing lessons, musical performances, handy man, Reiki, haircut/style, lend your house for a function, provide yard clean up, knitting of sweater or other item, photo portrait, household repairs, will written, furniture repair, house cleaning, chauffeur for day/week, calligraphy, scrap/memory book from loose pictures, transfer your albums to CD
  • Outings: to various places in the city, tennis outing, golf outing, hiking trip, sports game tickets, amusement park, canoeing, biking, tubing, bowling, concerts, or plays, fishing
  • Vacation Home: do you have a vacation home to share, Sail boat
The auction table will be at coffee hour every Sunday!!!  

If you have other ideas and want to discuss them, stop at the auction table, where you can also pick up a donation form.
Religious Education for Sunday, December 15

Nursery will begin at 9:45 am. 

Kavita, our DLRE, is off this Sunday.  John Reinhagen will be the Acting DRE.
Please note Sunday, December 29 there will be no RE and no Nursery.  We would like our teachers to enjoy their Christmas weekend.

This Sunday we will learn about Fannie Farmer.  Did you know she was born in Boston, MA and introduced the concept of standardized measurements? She also introduced the concept of nutrition in cooking.  Fannie was a Unitarian throughout her life and attended the church in Medford, MA.

****Our children will be cooking with our teachers this Sunday.  If you have any allergy and/or dietary concerns please email Kavita****

Youth Group:
This Sunday we will be making get well cards for our Caring Circle and discussing what the New Year will bring forth for us.

Ends this Sunday, Dec. 15:
Giving Tree 

All donations are due back at church this Sunday, December 15th. Please attach your ornament to your donation.    Boxes are located in the Unity Room and near the welcoming table in the entrance.

If you have any questions please contact Laura Gustafson or Kavita Vansant   
This Sunday, Dec. 15:   

Soup Sale

This Sunday is the much awaited first soup sale.  In addition to quarts of delicious homemade selections for $8 each, the second edition of Soups from the Heart, the Murray UU collection of soup recipes will be available for $10. Take this opportunity to take home recipes for 60 congregation favorites, update your messy first edition, or buy as a stocking stuffer for the special cook in your life -- because soup is good food!
This Sunday, Dec. 15:               

Murray Holiday Outing

Just a few tickets left!

Want to experience some fun holiday music?  Membership & Welcoming is attending the Providence Gay Men's Chorus holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 15th at 4:00 p.m.  It is at Beneficent Congregational Church in Providence, RI.  Tickets for our group are $20 each.  We'll carpool from the Murray parking lot at 3:00 p.m.

After the concert, we'll walk two short blocks down to Coal Fire Pizza at 385 Westminster Street for eating and chatting.  Felices fiestas!

RSVP to Sandy Stuart   
Dec. 18:

Blood Drive

Winter Wonder

The Memorial Garden receives a snowy dusting on Wednesday morning.
Jan 11:  Save the Date!

A Minute to Win it evening!    

Come play fun movement games, board games and share a meal!  The RE Committee has planned exciting Minute to Win It games, plus you can bring a board game too!

Bring a dish to share and enjoy the evening!

When:  Saturday, January 11, 2020
Where: Unity Room
Time:    5-7 pm
Please let Kavita know if you are planning to attend. 

Thank you, Students!

Studley School Student Council helpers                                                  Murray Food Pantry volunteers.

The annual Attleboro Public Schools Holiday Food Drive was an outstanding success!  Students from Studley Elementary School and Brennan Middle School partnered with Murray Food Pantry volunteers to distribute and transport the donations destined for Murray.

Sentiments of the Season

This lovely holiday display was put together by Mary Whelan and Dick Bonin for the December 1st worship.  Many thanks to Mary and Dick for this beautiful arrangement!

General Assembly Registration Now Open

Please Join Us For General Assembly 2020!
General Assembly is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists for conducting business of the Association, exploring the theological underpinnings of our faith, and leaning fully into our mission and principles. Please join us Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, June 28, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island for this 5-day immersive experience themed "Rooted, Inspired & Ready!" Join your faith family at inspirational worship services, informative workshops and a bustling exhibit hall. We anticipate that 4,500+ UUs will gather for this unforgettable experience and leave with renewed energy and innovative ideas for congregational and community engagement.

Shopping Online?  
You Can Help Murray Church with 

As we immerse ourselves in the busiest time of year for online shopping, you can benefit Murray Church by using  

To sign up, go to the login page here.

Select Murray UU Church as your charity, and Amazon will donate a half percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Murray Church.

Food Pantry Donation Suggestions      

The food pantry is in need of hearty soups, snacks, e.g., cookies or chips, and cooking oil.

Donations of personal care items would also be most welcome, including deodorant, toothpaste, and feminine care products.

Thank you from the Murray Food Pantry team.

Newsletter weekly schedule

Please e-mail all newsletter submissions by Tuesday end of day for inclusion in the following Thursday's Murray Notes.

The next deadline is December 17th  Please include 'NEWSLETTER' in the subject line.  
If the weather outside is frightful, the minister and board president will confer to determine if worship services must be cancelled by 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV5, FOX25 and WPRI-12, FOX Providence will air any Sunday Service cancellations during the morning news.

Websites for cancellations:,,
Cancellations will also be posted on our website and Facebook page: 
Be sure to "Like" us to see updates in your news feed. 

What's going on at Murray? Click the calendar!

Our mailing address is:
505 North Main Street Attleboro, MA 02703