Saturday December 24, 2022. Christmas Eve. Service of Lessons and Carols. Music starts at 5;30 p.m. Service at 6:00 p.m. Please take a pointsettia home with you!
Sunday December 25, 2022. Christmas Day. NO SERVICE at United. Enjoy the day with your families.
Sunday January 1, 2023 New Year’s Day. Joint Worship Service with Center Church at Center Church 10:00 a.m.
Sunday January 8, 2023 Epiphany Service. Worship with Communion at United Church on the Green 10:00 a.m.
In case you missed our joint worship with Center Church on the Green, you can check it out below from our YouTube channel.
In a world where Christianity is too often associated with intolerance, exclusion, and hate, the mission of United Church on the Green is to proclaim Christ through faith, hope, and love. We are a community of many races, ethnic backgrounds, religious experiences, ages, sexual orientations, and gender identities. No matter where you are on your journey of faith, you will have a home here at United Church on the Green.
Come join us for Worship!
They say that Christmas is for Children and there is no denying the magic in their eyes as they see a lit tree, visit Santa, make cookies or open a present wrapped just for them. That magic was visible as we watched the children decorating the tree in our Meeting House last Sunday afternoon. I like to think that we are all a little childlike in our celebration of the Nativity. Certainly we cannot help but be transported to our own childhood traditions as we watch the festivities. So I believe Christmas is a time of year for remembering as well, and in a way staying connected with those whom we hold dear in our hearts who are here in Spirit only.
United is definitely a place where those who have been alienated from their own religious institutions can find a welcoming home. Since we come from so many different churches and cultures we often find ourselves sharing our stories at this time of year. For me celebrating Christmas as a child was very family centric. On Christmas Eve we would gather at my maternal grandparents’ house, a triple decker that my grandfather Alfred Mandino had built himself just after WWI. My grandparents lived on the first floor and there was always a small tree with big C9 lights, hanging boxes of Chiclet’s gum and popcorn balls. Each of my aunts and uncles would bring presents that nearly overwhelmed the tree and perched atop were the envelopes. My godfather would be in the pantry frying fish. There were tiny smelts that we ate like crackerjacks, spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and anchovies, fried pulpo, squngilli, calamari, eel and baccala. It was a smoky night between the frying and the candles, but no one cared. After dinner we’d adjourn to the tree where my Uncle Paul would play Santa reading out each label on each gift ending with the ever popular envelopes. We’d wait an an hour or so to head just up the street to midnight mass in the same Catholic church where I had been baptized. I joke that for years afterward, I would expect to encounter the same smell of fried fish and garlic wherever I attended service on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards we would all drive the few blocks to my parents home for coffee and pastries while we watched a very old version of A Christmas Carol on our small black and white TV set. Usually by 2:30 am we’d be in bed waiting for Santa. While we went to another uncle’s house on Christmas Day for dinner, it was almost anti climactic after Christmas Eve.
After attending the Christmas Eve Service at United, I still head up the road to eat smelts and renew our family traditions, albeit modified with mostly different fish. Though I celebrate with a small nucleus of descendants of the ancestors from America Street in Waterbury, I am truly blessed to have my church family at United. Whenever I think of Christmas here, I immediately see a vision of late choir member George Buchanan with his big baritone voice wearing a huge set of wings as part of the United Angel Band. There are so many United friends now who have passed, and I feel very close to them all at this time of year. It was this family after all that taught me the importance of giving back to the community in which we live. And it was this family that accepted a gay man so fully that I was able to marry my husband here years before it would become legal. Gotta love the UCC—at least those that are Open and Affirming, recognizing that the Love of all God’s children should be celebrated.
This Advent I happened to turn on the television one afternoon and witnessed Vice President Harris introducing President Biden on a cold afternoon on the White House South Lawn where a ceremony for the signing of the Protection of Marriage Act was taking place. The luminaries in the audience included Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, an attorney involved in the Loving v. Virginia lawsuit that legalized interracial marriages and many many other lesbian and gay couples who had finally won the right to marry. I was moved to tears, waterworks really. I’m getting too sentimental as I age. I am glad that this country has finally caught up to the position that United Church on the Green has held since at least 1989. That was the best Christmas present that I could have gotten.
Come celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with us at United Church on the Green at our Service of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. I promise that the scent of beeswax candles will replace that of fried fish and the music will be phenominal.
Let me close by wishing everyone the merriest of Christmases. Let us all commit ourselves to making the world and especially New Haven, a better place in 2023.
Al Forino, Moderator