“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go.” I will soon be going over several rivers and through many woods but, alas, not to Grandmother’s house. However, I will be going to my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia, to spend the holidays with family.
It’s times like this that I’d like to be in two places at once – with my family in Virginia but also with my Cleveland Park Church family here in DC.
I’ll miss our Poetry, Lessons, and Carols Service on the 22nd, our Christmas Eve Potluck and Fireside Service on the 24th (one of my favorites), and even our Year’s End Service in the parlor on the 29th. But at least I did get to enjoy with many of you our annual Nativity Pageant this past Sunday, always a highlight of our church year. Images of angels, shepherds, wise people, donkeys, sheep, Mary and Joseph, and, of course, baby Jesus – and our magnificent star (!) – continue to bring a smile to my face. A big shout-out to the children and youth, families, and volunteers for making this, once again, such a treat. And speaking of treats, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank our Fellowship Committee and all the bakers for our cookie potluck during coffee hour following the service.
BTW, you probably know by now that I often use my Moderator’s Memo to explore the background of some of my favorite hymns and poems. This week is no different. It turns out that that children’s poem and song, “Over the river and through the woods,” which many of us have repeated over the years, dates back to 1844. Written by Lydia Maria Child, considered one of the most influential 19th Century American women writers, the poem actually was a Thanksgiving poem titled “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.” At some point, the original 12-verse poem was modified to the version we repeat today, substituting Grandmother’s house for Grandfather’s house as it was in the original, and woods, not wood, which was in the original. It is now usually included in Christmas poems and songs, with the words “Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day” replaced by “Hurrah for Christmas Day.”
I think the poem resonates regardless of the version familiar to you, however, because it brings up memories of home, family, and reunion.
Whether you are going over the river and through the wood this holiday season, or staying put in the DC Metro area, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
Peace and Joy,
As the end of the year approaches, please remember to submit your 2020 pledge. As of December 15, we had 47 pledges for a total of $188,224. We need your pledges to reach our 2020 pledge goal of $261,500. Each of your gifts to the church enable us to live out our mission to nurture love of God and love of neighbor in the world.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Poetry, Lessons, & Carols Service, 12/22—We’ll celebrate the coming birth of Christ with a service of poetry, scripture and song.
Christmas Eve Potluck and Fireside Service, 12/24—If you’d like to gather for a potluck supper at 5:45 pm, RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Fireside Service of traditional lessons and carols will begin at 7:30 pm.
Year’s End Service, 12/29—Join Pastor Ellen in the parlor for an informal service focused on our own year’s end. What are the joys we have celebrated, the concerns we have endured? How has this year shaped us, and in what ways have we changed and grown?
2nd Century Campaign, 1/12—We’ll gather after worship to hear the Board of Trustees’ Recommendations for proposed projects along with an update on fundraising. Please plan to attend in preparation for our congregational vote at the annual meeting on January 26.
FaithLife, 1/12—Join us from 5:30-7 pm in the parlor. This winter we’ll read Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, by Barbara Brown Taylor. For more information, email Dan Sack, email@example.com.