Posted in Prayers and Reflections

Youth: Lessons in Love for Lent

  • February 27, 2018

“All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”     –  Charles M. Schulz


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” –  Luke 10:27

“Love is a song that never ends.”     – Bambi

“Love can move mountains.”    – Celine Dion

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”     – George Sand

“Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that.” – MLK Jr.

“Love is patient.  Love is kind.” – Corinthians 13:4

“Welcome everyone, to the love of God.” – WCUC

These are just a few of the “love quotes” generated by the youth to be used at WCUC’s Ash Wednesday prayer service:  “Marked by Love”.  The youth have been exploring the promise of God’s unconditional love and it’s power to inspire us to put our faith into action as we share that love with our neighbors.  During vacation week, several youth volunteered to help out at Household Goods in Acton, an organization that receives donations to be given to people who are in need of home furnishings.  Later in the week, even more youth came to church to paint some bulletin boards that will be hung in the downstairs hallway to hold pictures of our congregation.

“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” 

                                                                                                                                            Mark 1:12-13 

These verses from Mark, traditionally read at the beginning of every Lent, inspired a youth art project that illustrates the answers to two questions:  What “wild beasts” challenge you in life?  and Who are the “angels” that support you along the way?

Stop by the Youth Room when you get a chance to take a look at the creative results!


Walking Prayer at Walden: Lent, Love, Life….

  • February 27, 2018

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.                                                                                              Mark 1:12-13

“Holy Spirit, drive me out of my comfort zone and into the fullness of life.  And thanks for the angels.”                                                From the UCC Lent Devotional:  “Lovers and Fools”

Just as winter begins to move towards spring at Walden Pond, so also our lenten journeys wander towards Easter and its promise of new life.  We carry with us hearts full of joy and sorrow, questions and certainty, anxiety and peace.  We, like Jesus, walk in the wilderness of life encountering all sorts of “wild beasts” and praising God for the “angels” in our midst.  Our prayer walks at Walden this season have served as reminders of the power that can come from community, nature, and the abiding presence of the Spirit.  Join us on the beach at 9:30am on Tuesdays.  Newcomers are always welcome!

Strong is the hand that holds our own, firm the arm around our shoulder, for the Spirit is a support in time of sorrow, a very real presence in the hour of our need. What is holy is as real as the Earth on which we stand. We can feel it. We can see it. We can breathe it. Especially when we are brought low by the weight of our lives, grieving or afraid, then most of all the tangible presence of love takes shape, lifting us up. The face of God we may imagine in a thousand ways, but the hand of God is always the same: life-giving strength, warm comfort, steady reassurance. No dogma can contain the memory of the touch that holds fragile life in the palm of eternity.

– Steven Charleston,  Native American elder, author, and retired Episcopal bishop of Alaska.

Stillness Speaks: Finding Hope for our Hearts

  • December 20, 2017

On Sunday, December 10th, people filled the parlor after worship seeking stillness – time to pause, ponder, and pray.  Through contemplative music, short readings and reflections, lighting candles of individual and collective hopes, and silent meditation, we drew closer to God and to one another.


• Hope opens us to the future but releases us into the present.

Advent draws our eyes toward the horizon as we watch and wait for the Christ who comes to us. In this season, we sing with Zechariah, By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us(Luke 1:78). When we are in grief, looking toward the horizon with hope and anticipation is no small feat. Instead of luring us away from the present, however, Advent invites us more deeply into it, where the kingdom of God is at work even now. This is the nature of the hope that Advent cultivates in us. Rich with memory and infused with expectation, hope calls and enables us to work here and now, in company with the Christ who is already about the work of heaven in our midst.

Jan Richardson

This Luminous Darkness:  Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas  

Advent Prayer Walks at Walden Pond

  • December 20, 2017

Tis the season for making cards, going shopping, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, mailing packages, preparing for special meals…in the midst of all of this, what a treat to take time out to be in nature, to share our hearts, and to walk in peaceful solitude listening for God’s wisdom.  Here are a few scenes from recent Prayer Walks and some reflections that were shared to bless us on our way.  We meet every Tuesday on the beach at 9:30am.  Newcomers are always welcome!

First Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

~Mary Oliver~

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare you way.”  Mark 1:2

Blessing the Way

With every step you take, this blessing rises up to meet you.  It has been waiting long ages for you.  Look close and you can see the layers of it, how it has been fashioned by those who walked this road before you.  How it has been created of nothing but their determination and their dreaming, how it has taken its form from an ancient hope that drew them forward and made a way for them when no way could be seen.  Look closer and you will see this blessing is not finished, that you are part of the path it is preparing, that you are how this blessing means to be a voice within the wilderness and a welcome for the way.

Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace



Youth Advent Adventures: Joyful Noise, Completive Prayer, Inspirational Reflections

The youth are traveling through Advent with a variety of opportunities to connect with God and with one another.  Opening our hearts and minds to the messages of Advent, we find inspiration and encouragement to slow down, to be more patient in our “waiting”, and to trust that the light of God’s Love really does overcome darkness.

In early December, the youth visited Harvard’s Memorial Church to attend the Kuumba Singers Christmas Concert:  “Voice in the Night”.   This gospel choir, which has been singing since 1970 in celebration of Black creativity and spirituality, beautifully captured the power of Christmas story – both the peace that Jesus brings and the hope that he inspires to continue in the struggle for justice.

That same weekend, youth were invited to experience “Journey in the Light” at WCUC – an evening for contemplative prayer walking in a 12-circuit labyrinth that covered almost the entire floor in the sanctuary.  Youth members engaged the program as participants and also as helpers so that the younger children could enjoy the evening too.

In recent weeks, the youth have been learning about Advent in their Sunday morning classes, exploring its history and its context in the larger liturgical church calendar.  Themes such as “waiting”, “balancing stillness with active preparing”, and noticing “light in dark places” have all been prominent in our Bible study and class discussions.  Particular attention was given to the virtues represented by the candles of the advent wreath:  Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace as we wrote, reflected, and shared on these four prompts/questions:

  1. “I really hope that…”
  2. Where have you experienced love/kindness in recent days?  Given and received.
  3. What brings you joy?
  4. Who in your life especially needs to feel God’s peace right now?  (We held a minute of silence to pray for these people.)

Finally, we celebrated Gaudete (Joy!) Sunday in style with donuts and a viewing of this incredible documentary about Walden Pond and the life of Henry David Thoreau.  A local treasure and a man who was inspired by nature to believe in God’s transformative power as well as the power of people working together to transform the world.  If you have 22 minutes to spare, this will be well worth your time!

May you experience many blessings during this Advent season and may you find moments of unexpected Grace as the Prince of Peace arrives yet again.

Walden Wisdom

  • October 16, 2017

“The heavens are telling the glory of God;  and the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands.”

Psalm 19:1


Beannacht / Blessing
by John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.



God speaks to each of us before we are,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me. 

Nearby is the land they call life.

You will know it, when you arrive, by how real it is.

Give me your hand.

  • Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m stepping out from wooded shadows and into the bright arrival of a fresh day.  Beyond the forest, rugged trees give way to a clearing as I walk beside new possibilities.  Along the path, I gather tattered pieces from seasons past to place with care upon the mantle.  And to my surprise what I discover, resting nestled and preserved, are scattered dreams now recollected, their colors vibrantly reminding amid the slender pines.  Entwined twigs and fallen needles, I find childhood dreams that have lost their way, I uncover wild dreams yet unbroken, and dreams that used to keep me up at night, restless and alive.  Now is the time I pick them up, dust them off and let them breath into a wider opening.  Let their pulse race free with promise.  Let them blend with each morning’s faithful light.

From Susan Frybort’s Open Passages:  Doors and Windows to the Soul












Walking Prayer happens every Tuesday at Walden Pond.  Meet us at 9:30am on the beach for some centering time and conversation, followed by a meditative walk around the pond (or along the beach, for whatever distance is comfortable for you), and a closing circle to share insights, inspirations, and reflections.  Newcomers are always welcome!

Celebrating the Life of Dennis Lin

  • October 10, 2017



On October 8, scores of Dennis Lin’s family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. Dennis grew up locally and graduated from Concord Carlisle High School where he met many of his friends. After high school, Dennis achieved his goal of living independently and resided in West Concord for the past three years.

Dennis died on September 25 after a life-long battle with Prader Willi Syndrome. The love-filled memorial service was hosted by Sunday Fellowship, a ministry for people of all abilities at West Concord Union Church (WCUC), both of which Dennis was an enthusiastic participant. In addition to his many friends at WCUC and Sunday Fellowship, the service was attended by Dennis’s mother, Woahyih Lin, his father, George Chia-En Lin, his brother, Samuel and his aunt, Jenny. Many of Dennis’ former classmates and teachers at Concord-Carlisle High School, gathered with friends he made at local businesses, among Concord’s first responders and on the commuter rail to remember Dennis’ enthusiasm, his love of dancing and his inexhaustible friendliness.

Members of Sunday Fellowship led the congregation in a reading of Psalm 139 affirming that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God regardless of how our bodies move, communicate or think. Samuel read the story of the Good Samaritan, a scripture Dennis referenced in his testimony. George spoke gratefully of several notes he found among Dennis’ papers in which Dennis expressed deep love and faith. As the coordinator of Sunday Fellowship for the past three and a half years, I couldn’t help but think that Dennis would have LOVED the idea of his friends all meeting each other, especially at a Sunday Fellowship gathering. While I and so many others will always wish we could have had more time with Dennis, we are comforted to know that his time was so very full of love and joy. We love you Dennis!


Sink a Worry, Float a Hope: New Beginnings for WCUC Youth

  • September 11, 2017

The youth kicked off a new year in our beautiful Welcome Garden with some time to get to know one another, some sharing of summer experiences, and then some “slow down” time to reflect on our worries and hopes for the new year and on God’s promise to walk with us always.  We used verses from Isaiah 43 to center our discussion and a few questions to help us see where life and faith might connect.  In closing, the youth experienced prayer walking in the labyrinth where they were invited to sink their worries and float their hopes.

These words of Isaiah are a good reminder for young and old alike!

Isaiah 43:

1 But now thus says the Lord,

    the One who created you, O Jacob,

    and formed you, O Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; …

4 You are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you. …

5 Do not fear, for I am with you always. …

16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters…

18 Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old.

19 I am about to do a new thing;  now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.


Our reflection questions might be good for all generations too!

  1. As you begin a new year, there’s usually a mix of fears and hopes, anxiety and excitement.  No matter what we feel or face in life, God promises to be with us always.  What does this mean to you?
  1. What are some of your worries or fears right now?

     3.  What are you most excited about?  What are you hoping for?

We highly recommend taking these and other questions on your heart into the labyrinth sometime soon.  You might be surprised by what God has to say to you!