First Congregational Church

Camden, Maine

An open and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ

2021 Advent and Christmas Worship Services

Christmas Wishes to all from the First Congregational Church of Camden, Maine. Our 2021 Advent and Christmas activities are open to all in person and via Zoom—please join us! To add your name to the all-church email list and get the Zoom worship links, contact the office during business hours Mon-Fri 8:30-3:30.

Sunday, Dec. 5: The sermon by John Bell was highly enjoyable. To see a video of the service itself or to download his printed sermon, "God and the Oldies,” go to our Sermons page.

Worship December 26

Laity Sunday & Carol Sing

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

6:00 pm Christmas Eve Family Candlelight Service
(In-Person only and Child friendly)

We are pleased to announce the addition of this earlier festive service with a focus on children and families. People of all ages are invited as we welcome the Christ child through singing and storytelling. Please note that this service is in-person only. Given the current COVID spike, we will continue to require the provided KN95 masks and keep every other pew taped off to provide safe distancing while singing. This will limit our seating capacity. Please email Becky at to reserve your seats no later than December 23rd at noon.

9:00 pm Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
(in-Person and Via Zoom)

Midcoast Brass Prelude Begins at 8:45

Please join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service in an atmosphere of candlelight and festivity. We will be featuring lessons and carols. Our music will include the Midcoast Brass Quintet with live offerings. Please note that in-person attendance requires pre-registration! Given the current COVID spike, we will be limiting seating capacity for in-person worship. We will continue to require the provided KN95 masks and keep every other pew taped off to provide safe distancing while singing. Please email Becky at to reserve your seats no later than December 23rd at noon. The Zoom invite to the Christmas Eve service will be given to those who try to register after the seating limit is reached, and also emailed automatically to all who already participate via Zoom on Sundays.

2021 Advent and Christmas Activities

November 28, December 5, 12, 19, January 2

Weekly Sunday Course: Teachings of Henri Nouwen. In-person discussions held following worship. To register call 236-4821 or email

Join Ute Molitor and Mark Burrows as they facilitate a once a week, in-person (masked), one-hour discussion of beloved author and spiritual master Henri Nouwen’s teachings, as we move through the Advent season. Participants will be provided with five short free booklets, one to be read each week prior to class. Our discussions will follow the booklets as they focus Nouwen’s teachings on:

  • Identity: Finding Myself in God
  • God: Discovering the Divine
  • Love: Experiencing Deep Connection
  • Suffering: Transforming Our Pain
  • Freedom: Finding Peace in Anxious Times

Holiday Expectations During the Time of COVID

MaryEllen Ostherr, MA, member of our Care Team

There are many wonderful and positive triggers around the holidays. Turkeys cooking, the lingering smell of pumpkin pie spice, chilly air, the prospect of snow, trick or treating, gatherings of family and friends to name a few. This year our holidays will be overshadowed by the pandemic we are living through. It has been nearly two years now, with even more dire predictions almost daily. So, as I was preparing this piece, I wanted to create a sense of hope and also reality for this upcoming season. I came across an interesting term that was new to me: "Caution Fatigue”. Our brain is wired to deal with short term dangers like a predator or nor’easter and we deal with it and then go back to our daily routines. But as we deal with the invisible threat of the virus, we end up with months of cautious behavior. And many are getting tired of this long-term drill of mask wearing, social distancing and lack of gatherings—even if unaware of it.

Under short term circumstances our bodies and minds activate the stress response, fight, flight, freeze. It helps us survive, or run or become immobilized. When we have our stress response activated for long periods of time, it causes chronic stress. Now there is a term for what has been going on for all these months: "Caution Fatigue”. It was coined by a behavioral science professor, Jacqueline Gollan. Knowing that, we can see how this long-term high level of stress could cloud our judgement around staying safe for ourselves and others.

Now, having found a new term to filter the holidays through, let’s look at what we can do. Now is the time for healthy self care. See if you can add some of these daily: Keep moving—get outside daily, get adequate sleep, read inspirational items, talk to others, avoid too much news, and pay attention to your monkey mind—you don’t need to believe fearful thoughts! Pray and meditate to the best of your ability.

Our minds are like a powerful computer. It links sight, sound, touch and taste with feelings, thoughts and memories. It links our senses—and we remember. So, we can prepare ourselves by addressing unspoken and unmet expectations. In my preparation I found some helpful information.

5 Steps to Avoid Unmet
or Unspoken Expectations

  • Voice your expectations and ask others to share theirs. This offers everyone a chance to be heard and state wants and needs.
  • Be clear about any confusion of each other’s process; clarify any confusing statements.
  • Adjust expectations. We need to do this even under ordinary circumstances. Being flexible will increase the likelihood of satisfaction.
  • Be selective in meeting expectations—just because someone wants something does not mean it is good for the whole family.
  • When listed, go above and beyond expectations as possible—this can add to joy, surprise and delight for others.

Expectations can make or break this upcoming season with all the added stress. Eliminating assumptions and clarifying expectations can change every relationship in our lives.

I want to share an author I value for her insights and wisdom, Brene Brown: "There is a complex relationship between our expectations, vulnerabilities and fears. When we develop expectations, we paint a picture in our head of how things are going to be and how they are going to look. Sometimes we go so far as to imagine what they are going to feel like, taste like and smell like. We put a picture in our head that holds great value for us. We set expectations based not only on how we fit in that picture, but also what those around us are doing in that picture. We are wired for connection. It’s our biology.” During this time "connection means thriving—emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. Connection is critical because we all have the basic need to feel accepted and to believe that we belong and are valued for who we are.”

So, my wish for you at this odd time on our planet, is that you take this opportunity to
and re-create your holidays.

Feel free to share this article with family & friends. December 2021

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