Holidays and Traditions
Special services marking holidays and holy days set the rhythm of the church year.
We begin our church year in the fall with an ingathering service, bringing together water collected from (or symbolic of) the places we spent the summer months – traveling to a new place, returning to a familiar place, or staying close to home in Watertown.
An annual meditative evening service, with a fire in the sanctuary’s fireplace, marks the Winter Solstice.
Two Sundays before Christmas Eve, the children and youth of the Religious Education program present a pageant in the Sunday morning service. The pageant sometimes tells the story of the birth of Jesus, sometimes a modern adaptation, and sometimes a Hannukah story. There are always sheep – played by the toddler set – and a sword dance choreographed and performed by the youth group.
Two services are held on Christmas Eve, both with the same order of service. This service traditionally includes carols, anthems by the choir, readings from the gospels’ accounts of the birth of Jesus, and a homily by the minister. The service concludes with passing the light from the chalice to candles held by the congregation to “Silent Night.”
The annual lay-led Seder uses an adaptation of the Oranges and Olives Haggadah to tell the story of the flight of the Jews from Egypt and lead us in contemplation its message of liberation today. Children, adults, and elders gather together to tell the story and share a potluck meal.
Though music is an integral part of our worship every week, Music Sunday in early May features the choir, instrumental and vocal performers, and a homily inspired by music.
We close our church year in June with a Unitarian Universalist ritual begun in 1923 by Reverend Norbert Capek of Prague. Everyone is invited to bring a flower to the service, and they are gathered in vases at the front of the church. At the close of the service, the flowers are distributed; everyone is invited to take home a different flower than the one they brought. At First Parish of Watertown, this final service of the church year is also celebrated with music by the FPW Band!
New Member Welcome
Twice a year, in the winter and spring, the congregation welcomes and celebrates new members in a ceremony incorporated in the service. New members are introduced and formally sign the membership book.