“Advent 2013” – Peter Crysdale

Advent 2013

By Peter Crysdale

Come with me to a little town in the mountains in Austria. The year is 1816. There’s a little church in the town called St. Nicholas. The story goes that the organ was broken. It was Christmas Eve. The pastor Joseph Mohr had written a poem a year or two earlier. He gave it to his friend Franz Gruber and asked him to compose some music — simple music that could be played on the guitar. The music and the words for ready in time for midnight mass. “Silent Night” was born, perhaps the most wonderful Christmas carol of all.

Silent night holy night,

All is calm all is bright.

Round yon Virgin mother and child,

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace. ———————-

Come with me, we will leave Austria and go to Spain, the year is somewhere in the middle of the 1500s. We’re off to visit a Carmelite monk named John; here are some of his words. They are best read aloud.

One dark night filled with love’s urgent longings –

Ah, the sheer grace. I went out unseen— everything was still—

there was no other light or guide – than the one that burned in my heart.

This guided me more surely than the light of the moon to where He was waiting.

Him who I knew so well.

Oh guiding night more lovely than the dawn oh, night that has united the the lover and his beloved

I went out from myself I left my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Now come with me to Washington, D.C., and meet a man named Gerald May, a psychiatrist who wrote several important books on the spiritual life. In 1995 he was diagnosed with cancer and began a heavy-duty course of chemotherapy. The cancer was put into remission. However his heart was damaged by the chemo and he spent the last few years of his life waiting for a heart transplant. He wrote a book on the dark night of the soul. Then he died. He had discovered the monk named John, the Spanish Carmelite monk — John of the Cross. The dark night of the soul has a kind of morbid reputation in Christian circles. However Gerald May discovered it to be profoundly beneficial. He described it as a process of the Spirit freeing us from the deceptions and attachments that keep us from knowing our true selves.

Silent Night Holy Night The darkness is not sinister Just have to sing Silent Night to experience that. A freeing is going on beneath what we can put into words. Silent night bestows hints of a deeper Divine activity. From the obscure (the dark night) a guidance rises and moves gently through our lived experience – comforting, and steadying through all and sundry. I expect you’ve been there while you were singing or listening to that carol. it brings a deep stirring and awareness of our longing hearts. Advent is the season of the longing heart.

Silent night, holy night,

Shepherds quake at the site.

Glories stream from heaven afar.

Heavenly hosts sing alleluia.

Christ the Savior is born,

Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night holy night,

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus Lord at thy birth, Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends

November 17, 2013
Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends convened in worship on Sunday, November 17, 2013, at 12:40 p.m. with 13 people present. Clerk Sarah Sprogell read from the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Faith and Practice (page 102): “Group Worship Differs from Private Devotion — Those who persevere in group worship know that is differs from private devotion, as the music of an orchestra differs from the music of a single player.”
1.) Susan Rice brought a preliminary budget for 2014 as prepared by Finance Committee. This draft raises a number of questions, which we will continue to discuss in December. At this time we look toward adopting the 12-month interim pastor budget option, with the understanding that it will be modified when we come to clarity on the permanent arrangement. It was suggested that we separate out the annual appeal from monthly contributions in our income projections.
2.) Betsy Muench reported that the Finance Committee brings the question “What percentage of full-time ministry can we afford given the past three years’ history of our income flows?” 3.) Sarah Sprogell is talking with potential members for the pastoral search committee, but the committee has not been filled yet. Names will be brought to the December meeting.
Friends have suggested that before we begin the search process that we take time to discern what we hope for the future of the meeting, for a new minister, where we see ourselves going as a meeting, what kind of financial remuneration can we offer, and other questions. This is a moment of opportunity for the meeting as a whole to help guide us forward with our visions and dreams. It was decided that we ask Ministry and Counsel to formulate a process and shepherd us through this discernment.
4.) Nancy Marstaller reported for Ministry and Counsel.
a. A new telephone tree is available.
b. Isaac Wood has requested to be removed as a junior member
5.) It was approved that Isaac Wood be removed as a junior member.
6.) Daphne Clement gave her pastoral report. (Her move from the parsonage to her new home in Brunswick is complete.) Everyone she has been visiting is doing well.
7.) David Marstaller reported for Trustees.
a. The loggers plan to be finished in the woods by the end of November.
b. One of the abutters to the Lunt Road property is very interested in purchasing the land.
Negotiations are in process for a sale of the land for $31,500.
8.) The meeting approved the recommendation made by Christian Education Committee that the Christmas Program be held in the evening of Sunday, December 22, with a pot-luck (time to be decided). It was further approved that the offering taken at the Program be given to Ramallah Friends School. Monday, December 23, will be the storm date.
9.) Edwin Hinshaw made a preliminary report for Nominating Committee.
10.) The appointment of David Marstaller to the Nominating Committee to begin in 2014 was approved.
11.) Clarabel Marstaller reported that Durham Meeting’s three representatives to Quarterly Meeting were in attendance there. A more complete report will be in the newsletter.
12.) The minutes of Monthly Meeting were approved during the meeting.
The meeting adjourned in the Spirit at 2:45 p.m.
— Susan Rice, Recording Clerk

Durham Friends Woman’s Society Meeting

November 18, 2013
By Angie Reed
Twelve women met at Margaret Wentworth’s apartment for our monthly meeting. Jo-an Jacobus offered the devotions and program from this year’s Blueprints. It was titled “Listening for the Voice of God” and was written by Mary Glen Hadley about a time when God gave her courage. We were asked to share times when we needed to look to God for courage in our lives.
In business, we approved last month’s minutes and the treasurer’s report. The Tedford Meal for November was ham steaks, baked beans, pasta salad, green beans, corn bread and a desert. We have two new members for Tedford teams who have lost members, but we could use more help! If any Durham Friends attendees or members would like to join a team, please speak with Kitsie Hildebrandt or another Woman’s Society member.
Prayers were asked for the Barber family in Belize, who have had many trials and tribulations in their family and the students they serve. A few women at the meeting also asked the group to pray for others they knew who are in need of prayers. The card ministry was done. Our member who leads the card ministry is moving to another state and Woman’s Society is looking for another member to take on this role and coordinate the card ministry. It was confirmed that Woman’s Society will sponsor Christmas Bags for up to 10 individuals or families. We will also request donations of mittens, hats, scarfs and gloves to be hung on the mitten tree so these items may be donated to local organizations that serve populations in need. We all agreed we will have a homemade Christmas gift exchange at our next meeting. Fudge is encouraged.
The Meeting ended with a closing poem by Kitsie Hildebrandt. We adjourned to refreshments of caramel apple pudding, grapes, mixed nuts, crackers and tea provided by Margaret.
The next Meeting will be our annual Christmas Party, which will be held on December 16 at Angie Reed’s home at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting held October 26 at Windham

By Clarabel Marstaller

Falmouth Quarterly Meeting met Saturday, October 26, at Windham Friends Meetinghouse. Three representatives from Durham Monthly Meeting attended, plus others of our Meeting.
Brian Drayton of Weare, N.H., Meeting led the program on “Recording Gifts of Ministry.” Brian traced the history of recording; most individuals have been recorded in recognition of their spoken ministry, acknowledging that the person is endorsed by his/her monthly meeting and then by the quarterly meeting. Several recorded ministers of Falmouth Quarterly meeting were present and spoke of their experiences as recorded ministers. Three of these were from Durham Meeting.
In the business meeting, first approval was given to laying down Oxford Hills Monthly Meeting, which has only two or three members, no property, and few assets (already distributed). The Quarterly meeting adopted a budget of $675 for the year. Income is from constituent monthly meetings and from offerings at the business meetings.
The meetinghouse in Casco, Maine, which is under the care of Windham Meeting, will be a feature of the celebration of the town of Casco, “Casco Days,” in 2014. Friends of the Quarter will be involved in the July 4 parade and gather for a picnic afterward.


December 2013 to February 2014
Thank you for being willing to prepare refreshments!
Please switch if needed.
Directions are posted in the kitchen. Supplies need to be donated- check what is already available in the kitchen. “Basic” refreshments are coffee, milk and/or half & half, tea, juice, and crackers. People appreciate having cheese, sweets, veggies, or fruit, but it can be as simple as you like. The Woman’s Society makes this schedule with people who come to Meeting regularly and have been willing to prepare refreshments in the past. We have not checked with each person regarding dates. If you would like to be added to or taken off this list, see Nancy Marstaller. Thanks!


1 Kathy & Harmony Brown
8 Jeannie Baker Stinson & family
15 Linda Muller & Jim McCarthy
22 Eileen Babcock, Mildred Alexander
29 Nancy Marstaller, Jo-an Jacobus

5 Margaret Wentworth, David Dexter
12 Dorothy & Ed Hinshaw
19 Brenda Masse, Wayne Hollingworth
26 Kitsie Hildebrandt, Sarah Sprogell

2 Sukie Rice, Don Goodrich
9 Dotty DeLoach, Susan Wood
16 Angie & David Reed
22 Dorothy Curtis, Daphne Clement

New Address

Friends, as of Dec. 14, I will have a new address:

Phyllis Wetherell Apt. 206, Friends Fellowship Community 2030 Chester Blvd., Richmond, IN 47374

It is difficult to think of leaving this terrific Meeting and all you nifty folk but sometimes one doesn’t have another choice. I am having more and more difficulty walking and even standing so need to be someplace where I can have help. Friends Fellowship is a retirement place of 300 folk, some of whom I already know from the 20 years I lived in Richmond. Part of my heart will always be with Durham Meeting but I know how fortunate I am to be able to start this new venture. With much love and much good cheer to all, Phyllis

Christmas Gift Bags

By Angie Reed

Please bring in notepads, pens, pencils, calendars, hygiene items, various small gift items and candies to help the Woman’s Society fill its Christmas Gift Bags. This will help continue the tradition of providing a package stuffed with goodies to people in our meeting community who are unable to share in the holiday festivities at the Meetinghouse. If you have someone in mind that may benefit from a bag, please let a Woman’s Society member know and we will try to honor the request. Donations for the bags will be accepted from now until Sunday, December 15. Thank you for your help!

Christmas Offering To Go to Ramallah

By Clarabel Marstaller

The offering taken at our Christmas program, December 22, will go to Friends School in Ramallah, Palestine. The Girls School was started first, the result of a girl in Ramallah asking Eli Jones (visiting from South China, Maine, in 1869) if he would open a school for girls in Ramallah (a small school for boys existed in Ramallah at that time). Schools were started in homes and in 1882 a building was completed — which was the start of the Friends Girls School. Meanwhile, a boys’ school was held in a home in Ramallah. In 1914 a building was in place. However, it was used as a hospital during World War I, first by the Central Powers and, as England prevailed, by English troops. In 1918 it began serving its original purpose. Today the girls’ school is the Lower School and the boys’ school the Upper School, both coed. New England Friends were very much involved in the early years of the schools. Joyce Ajlouny, director of Ramallah Friends School, visited our Meeting a few years ago. The schools are very up-to-date in their academic and technological life, thanks to their value in the Mideast. Our offering will help them meet the challenges they face.

Swap Before You Shop on Dec. 1

By Brenda Masse

Special Events will be hosting the Durham Friends annual Re-Gifting Swap on Sunday, December 1, during refreshment time after Meeting for Worship. Please bring GENTLY used items to swap and get a jump-start on your holiday shopping! It is a great way to save the earth and your wallet! See Brenda Masse for further details.

Mitten Tree

By Angie Reed

Please bring in any homemade or purchased mittens, hats and scarves and pin them to the Christmas Tree Banner in the vestry of the Meetinghouse. After the Woman’s Society’s December meeting the gathered items will be donated to local groups whose clients are in need. Donations will be accepted from now until December 15. Let’s warm those fingers and ears!

Christmas Potluck and Program

By Dorothy Hinshaw

The Christian Education Committee would like to announce that the Christmas Potluck and program will be held on Dec. 22, Sunday evening, at 5:30 p.m. The Christmas tree 2013snow date will be the next day, Monday. Supper starts at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m.


Contemplative Prayer Group will be meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at 24 Cedar St., Brunswick. There will be a Christmas Eve worship service at 7 p.m. on Dec. 24.