A church service to remember

  • Narragansett High School seniors Elysia Witts, Eryn Witts, and Emily Jordan hold decorated toilet paper from when they were recognized at a special outdoors event Sunday at the Phillipston Congregation Church. The event also celebrated Mother’s Day using health safety guidelines. CAROLE GARIEPY

  • Musicians are set up in front of the Phillipston Congregational Church for Sunday’s outdoor event. CAROLE GARIEPY

For Athol Daily News
Published: 5/12/2020 2:38:33 PM
Modified: 5/12/2020 2:38:28 PM

Sunday, Mother’s Day 2020: No church services allowed, but did that stop Pastor Stephanie Flynn of the Congregational Church of Phillipston from gathering her church family? No. People liked the Easter outdoor drive-up service on the common when everyone could worship together safely-distanced in their cars, so she planned another one to celebrate mothers and also to congratulate the church’s high school seniors who soon would be graduating.

Cars decorated with blue and white ribbons to recognize the Narragansett High School seniors filled the parking spaces around the common and the parking area beside the church, and carnations were on the common to be distributed to mothers at the end of the service. To add to the festive atmosphere, one member passed out small bottles of bubbles to blow when the seniors passed by later in the service. The podium and speakers were set up outside, also chairs and music stands for the musicians. It was an occasion that takes extra preparation and becomes even more challenging on a cold windy day.

But the coldness and high winds did not hinder the service. Pastor Flynn, with her usual cheerfulness, commented that we wouldn’t be bothered by mayflies, and she was able to laugh when the wind took off with her sermon notes and the loud speaker blew over; fortunately, some fast-footed graduates rescued the notes and a parishioner quickly set up the speaker. When she read from the Bible, her son Andrew got down on his knees so he wouldn’t block her from the parishioners’ view while holding the pages in place. It was inspirational to see the spontaneous response of assistance from these young people.

Pastor Flynn prayed with gratitude for the women in our lives, also for the frontline people and those who are grieving at this difficult time. In her talk she compared the nurturing of mothers to the nurturing of Jesus — how a mother watches over her children as Jesus watches over us, how a mother will never forgets her child as Jesus will never forget us, how mothers give us physical life and Jesus gives us eternal life ... also, a humorous comparison of how we say a mother’s work is never done, that Jesus even had to get up after He died because He had more work to do!

Scout leader Jenny Chase closed with a prayer for the graduates, commending them with their achievements, reminding them that the challenges in their paths develop strengths, praying for them to have patient and caring hearts, and blessing them as they spread their wings and go forward in life.

Graduates Elysia and Eryn Witts and Emily Jordan were presented precious graduation gifts, ones never given to seniors before — toilet paper! Blue toilet paper with 2020 embossed on it.

Dressed in their ceremonial gowns with added attire never worn by graduates before — gloves and masks — they walked around the common giving flowers to mothers as Jane French, Lauran Witts, Pastor Flynn and Andrew Flynn played Pomp and Circumstance.

It was a cold day, but the most important part of our bodies was warm — our hearts.

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