Love One Another

The scripture lesson for Sunday is taken from the First Epistle of John, Chapter 4, verses 7 through 21. The focus of John’s message is Love: God’s love for us and our love for God and one another. The lesson contains some wonderful memory verses: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (v.7); “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them”. (v.16b) ; “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (v.18a); and “We love because he first loved us”. (v.19)
In a commentary on this passage, the Rev. Dr. N.T. Wright observes, “At the heart of this passage we find, repeated, a little word which means a whole world to John, as in his gospel it means so much to Jesus himself. ‘Those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. The word is a simple one, meaning ‘dwell’ or ‘remain’ or ‘make one’s home'; but the reality is profound, going to the heart of what Christian faith is all about…. It is a mutual indwelling: we in God and God in us.”

Jesus Breathed on Them

I apologize for not posting this sooner. Here’s the sermon from Sunday, April 19…

This Sunday’s scripture lesson is from John 20:19-31 in which we find Jesus’ disciples huddled fearfully behind locked doors. They have heard Mary Magdalene’s witness to her encounter with the Risen Christ along with Peter and the Beloved Disciple’s (likely John) report that the tomb was indeed empty, but the primary emotion they are all feeling is fear. Bishop William Willimon, in a sermon delivered at the Duke University Chapel, comments, “Look at them! For long, painstaking chapters in John’s gospel, Jesus has been preparing his disciples for his departure. He has gone over, then over again, his commandments to love one another, to be bold, to trust him, to be the branches to his vine, to feed on the Bread of Life, to be ready to follow him at all costs. Somebody wasn’t paying attention. Look at them, cowering like frightened rabbits behind closed, bolted shut doors! Some disciples, some First Church Jerusalem!”

The good bishop may be overly harsh on those poor souls. Given all that they had experienced over the past few days, I’m inclined to cut them some slack. I suspect that few of us have ever experienced quite that same kind of fear.

In the midst of their turmoil, Jesus appears, shows them his wounds, extends God’s peace to them—and he breathes on them, giving them the Holy Spirit. It’s a very quiet giving of the Spirit, in contrast to what we read about in the account of the first Pentecost, with the rush of a violent wind, divided tongues as of fire, and the disciples speaking in other languages.

In our lesson for Sunday, “Jesus breathed on them and said to them, ‘receive the Holy Spirit.” I think Jesus knew that they weren’t quite ready for fireworks, so a gentler approach was more appropriate.

Crossroads for May 2015

Helping Hand
by Amanda Moak

Providing food to those in need is not the only way to lend a helping hand. Often, it is what you do with the food that helps families the most. When food is stored and prepared properly, its usefulness stretches further and people are able to enjoy the benefits for longer. For this reason, I am proud to say the pantry’s first nutrition and cooking classes were an extreme success.

The nutrition class was held on Thursday, March 19th in the basement of St. Marks church. Harriet Wollman, a pantry volunteer and registered dietitian, lead our clients in a discussion about the “my plate” food chart. She answered general questions and was able to start planning future classes. The next class will be on Thursday, April 23, and we will be learning how to effectively read nutrition labels.

Our first cooking class was Thursday, March 19th. Nancy Hogan, who also teaches cooking classes at the recreation department, spent about an hour showing 23 clients how to make turkey tacos, refried beans, and homemade salsa. We shopped for most of the ingredients in the pantry. It is something we will continue to do so we can show our clients how easy it is to put together a meal with the foods they pick up on our shelves. The clients seemed to especially enjoy this class because we got to taste the product at the end. Many clients expressed an eagerness to attend more classes. They threw out suggested additions to the tacos and even requested meals to try out in the future.

It was very encouraging to see people so excited to learn about healthful eating and food preparation. I think it was a sign that I am doing exactly what I was meant to be doing this year. Hopefully, our success will continue and these classes will be happening long after I am gone.

God, from my youth you have taught me
Psalm 71:17

The Pentecost Offering will be collected on Pentecost Sunday, May 24. The ministries supported by the Pentecost Offering teach young people to make faith, fellowship and service part of their lives. Your gift to the Pentecost Offering unites young people in Christ and inspires them to share their faith, ideas, and unique gifts with the church and the world.

The Pentecost Offering is distributed so that the gift does good, near and far:
Globally: 25% supports the YAV program
Locally: 40% stays with your congregation helping youth in your community
Sustained Impact: 25% goes to ministries with youth
10% goes to ministries for children at risk

Please give generously!

BPC SPRING CLEANUP – MAY 30, 2015
9am to 1pm
The Board of Trustees has scheduled the church’s spring cleanup for Saturday, May 30th, from 9am to 1pm with a rain date of June 6th. We encourage everyone who can make it that day to assist in sprucing up the church property, both inside and out. Please bring all the equipment you need to help, including rakes, shovels, gloves, brooms, garden tools, wheel barrels, small step ladders, window cleaner and paper towels.

There will be a job for everyone, either working on the lawn and shrubbery, sprucing up the atrium or sweeping the winter debris from the play yard. We have a lot of windows to clean, both inside and out. If you don’t like doing yard work, helping out with the window cleaning will be greatly appreciated. This is a great opportunity to give a few hours of your time and maybe work with someone who you don’t know.

Spring Retreat

This year’s Spring Retreat is scheduled for Saturday, May 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It will be built around William Bridges’ book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. We all experience times of change in our lives, some planned and some unplanned: unemployment, changes in health, loss of a loved one, becoming caregivers for aging parents, the end of a marriage, retirement, moving to a new community, and so on. Using Bridges’ model of what happens during transitions—Endings, The Neutral Zone, the New Beginning—Pastor Mike will explore the intersection of our faith and Bridges’ model. Group discussion, individual reflection, Bible study and sharing our own stories will assist us in discovering where God is in the midst of our transitions.

Books are available from Linda Roscoe. They are $10.00. Please read the book prior to the Retreat. Sign-up sheets are in Fellowship Hall.

Post Office Food Drive
Volunteers Needed

On Saturday May 9 the US Post Office is conducting its annual food drive. Volunteers are needed at St. Margaret’s Religious Education Building, 109 Winn St., Burlington, on Saturday May 9th from 1-6 pm to sort and date check food donated.

On Friday, *May 15th from 8 a.m. – 1pm help is needed to transport the food from St. Margaret’s Religious Education Building and put onto the shelves of the Food Pantry. Volunteer hours can be used towards community service hours for teenagers. If you are interested in helping and making a difference in your community – Contact Judy Walsh at judyw621@gmail.com or 617-797-6786. For more information about People Helping People go to http://www.peoplehelpingpeopleinc.org
*Please note change in date!

People Helping People

Taste of Italy, a benefit event for People Helping People, will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 4 at Tuscan Kitchen, 24 New England Executive Park. The event will feature samples of food from the restaurant. A cash bar will be available. Cost: $25. For information, contact sullivanfh@comcast.net.

End Hunger
Project Bread brings a fresh approach to ending hunger. These are its goals: to promote sustainable and reliable access to healthy food for all, to invest in the strength and resiliency of local communities, and to collaborate with others in building a robust regional food system.

With the support of donors, corporate sponsors, individuals—and tens of thousands of Walkers—Project Bread works to break the cycle of hunger and poverty by devising, funding, advocating for, and facilitating solutions that change lives across the Commonwealth. It is the only statewide anti-hunger organization.

Hunger exists all across our state, but because it is concentrated in specific areas it is not always apparent. By reframing how hunger is perceived, by putting it within a larger economic and social context, and by empowering those who are served to take part in solutions, Project Bread removes the stigma, connects more people with the support they need, and, ultimately, enables those in need to give back to their own communities.

In 2014 Project Bread supported over 400 community food programs – soup kitchens, food pantries (including Burlington’s), food vouchers at health centers, summer meals for kids, subsidized CSA shares, community gardens, double-value farmers market coupons, food rescue programs, etc. – in 130 communities in Massachusetts.
How is BPC involved?

The annual Walk for Hunger is the largest fundraiser for Project Bread. For more than 28 years BPC has sent a team of walkers and raised thousands of dollars. In 2014 our team ten raised more than $4,000. This year we hope to do as well, and we can, with your help!!

There is a rolling start on May 3rd at the Boston Common between 7:00 A.M. and 9:00 a.m. You can start there, or at any point along the route and register at any checkpoint. If you want to return early, there are free buses available from each checkpoint to shuttle you back to the Boston Common finish line.

If you’d like to walk this year – anywhere from 3.5 miles to all 20, you can register online for our team, or speak to Linda Roscoe, our team captain.

If you need more information, please contact the church office at 781-272-9190 or office@burlingtonpres.org.
How can I donate?
• Sign the team’s pledge sheet on the bulletin board outside the front classroom. Give cash or checks (made payable to Project Bread) to Linda Roscoe.
• Online at http://support.projectbread.org/goto/bpc
• Donations will be accepted after the walk on May 3rd.

Anything else we can do?
Pray for good weather on Sunday, May 3, for the folks who work to alleviate hunger, for a successful fundraising effort and for the thousands of folks who will be served by Project Bread.

Call for Congregational Meeting

By action of the Session, a meeting of the Congregation and Corporation of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington has been called for Sunday, May 3, immediately following worship, for the purpose of voting on the proposal to sell the Church Manse, with the proceeds of the sale to be dedicated to the housing needs of the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington. The proposal will also include a motion that a sub-committee of Trustee Mark Wells, Elder Tara Goss, and Clerk of Session James McIninch (a former Trustee) be authorized to negotiate the final selling price on the Church’s behalf.

Background Information on the Proposal to Sell the Manse
At a joint meeting of the BPC Session and Trustees in December 2014, the Session considered several options concerning the future of the church’s manse as the church searches for a new installed pastor. After exploring the options, Session voted to take steps toward the sale of the manse, with the proceeds being set aside for the future housing needs of BPC’s pastor. In a straw poll the Trustees concurred in that decision.

The next step was to submit a proposal to the Trustees of Boston Presbytery, and have the proposed sale approved at a meeting of the Presbytery. At its March 21 meeting, Presbytery did grant its approval. The final step is for the BPC Congregation to approve the sale.

The two documents that follow provide important information to read before the meeting. The Manse Subcommittee of Trustee Mark Wells, Elder Tara Goss, and Elder/Clerk of Session James McIninch have prepared these to try and anticipate questions that church members may have. The first document explains the concept of how Presbyterian churches “hold property in trust” for the denomination, but are free to use the proceeds from the sale of property for the ministry of the local church. The second document is the letter that was written by the Manse Subcommittee to the Presbytery Trustees explaining the rationale for selling the manse, and how the proceeds of the sale will be used.

Hard copies of this information will be available at church on April 26 and at the meeting on May 3. Please take time to read this material, and if you have any questions, you can send them to office@burlingtonpres.org

Purpose:
The intent of this document is to explain how property is handled by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and how it applies to the sale of the manse for the Presbyterian Church in Burlington. The subcommittee was asked by the session to write this document to provide information to the congregation to assist in their decision process. The subcommittee also wrote a proposal that was presented to the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery of Boston defining our intent to sell the manse. This other document is also provided to the congregation for their review.

Definitions:
Presbyterian polity is documented in the Book of Order. For our purposes in this situation, the section of the Book of Order that refers to property is G-4.02. The relevant paragraphs have been outlined below. Property owned by legal title by any Presbyterian entity is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The main reason for this is defined in paragraph G‐4.0201:

G‐4.0201 Property as a Tool for Mission
The property of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), of its councils and entities, and of its congregations, is a tool for the accomplishment of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.

The PC(USA) wants to ensure that all property owned by its entities is used for the mission of the church. The PC(USA), through its presbyteries, retains control over the property owned by the churches primarily to ensure that the property is used as intended. The definition of this is stated in paragraph G-4.0203:

G‐4.0203 Church Property Held in Trust
All property held by or for a congregation, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a congregation or of a higher council or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Summary:
The Presbyterian Church in Burlington finds itself in the position where it wants to sell the manse. The ownership of the manse is in the name of the Presbytery of Boston. In order to complete the sale of the manse, our congregation is required to follow the process defined by the PC(USA). We have already begun this process by obtaining the approval of the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery of Boston as well as a vote by the member churches of the Presbytery of Boston on March 21, 2015. The final step in the process is a vote by the congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington to approve the sale.

Proposal to sell the Manse owned by the Presbytery of Boston and maintained by the Presbyterian Church in Burlington, MA

Background:

The Presbyterian Church in Burlington plans to sell the church manse. The decision to sell was not an easy one. The manse was purchased by the Presbytery of Boston (POB) in 1960 and was recorded in the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds Southern District on November 15, 1960 in Book 9713 and Page 402. The manse was intended for use by the organizing pastor sent to Burlington by the Board of National Missions. The Presbyterian Church in Burlington (PCB) was subsequently organized on May 27, 1962. The manse served the first two pastors of the church, covering a time span from 1960 until 2014, when the second pastor retired.

After the second pastor retired, the manse was left vacant, awaiting a new pastor. However, when the Interim Pastor arrived he asked for a housing allowance as part of his compensation instead of making use of the manse. The added manse carrying expenses in the church budget precipitated a deficit budget and an evaluation of the future of the manse had to be made. In looking at the trends within the Presbyterian Church (USA), and after analysis of the options, the session of PCB voted to recommend to the congregation that the manse be sold. A manse subcommittee was formed to perform the bulk of the work needed to complete the sale.

Therefore, this document is presented to the POB Board of Trustees requesting their agreement in this decision and assistance in completing the sale.

The Manse
The manse was built sometime in the mid 1950’s. It is a two story house typical of the period with three bedrooms and 1 and ½ bathrooms. The house is in good shape, livable in every sense of the word, but a potential buyer would most likely want to perform some upgrades.

Included with this document is a copy of the residential card from the Town of Burlington. On this card is the assessed value, both current and historical, a list of building permits issued and the legal location of the property. A floor plan and picture of the manse are included on the card. The ownership of the house is listed as the Presbytery of Boston and, in error, the Presbyterian Church in Burlington. Other relevant information is also listed.

There are no mortgages on the property and the loan documentation proving that they are paid can be provided. A copy of the deed is available too.

Proposed use of the proceeds
The plan is for the proceeds to be used for the mission of the church in the same way that the manse provided housing for the pastor of the church. These funds would be used to provide assistance for the housing needs of the pastor. This assistance could come in different ways. The exact method of the assistance will be part of the salary negotiations of the new pastor. The proceeds could be invested and the income used for housing allowance or the proceeds could be loaned to the pastor to help in obtaining a home. Currently the budget of PCB includes a housing allowance and it is anticipated that future budgets will be much the same. It is not the intention of PCB to use the proceeds from the sale of the manse to balance the budget or any other one time purpose.

Summary
The Presbyterian Church in Burlington requests that the POB Board of Trustees recommend to presbytery that PCB be allowed to sell the Manse. It is understood that this request will require a vote of presbytery and we would like to have the vote taken at the March meeting of presbytery if possible. Assuming the sale is approved by presbytery, a vote of the congregation will be required to formally approve the sale. That vote can happen sometime in May, at a duly called congregational meeting.

The Ascension of Christ & next pastoral steps

Dear BPC Members and Friends,

On the liturgical calendar, we’re still in the Easter season, celebrating the Apostle Paul’s declaration in Romans that “Christ Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of God, so that we too might walk in newness of life.” Before the month of May is finished, we will be celebrating Pentecost, when the gathered Church in Jerusalem received the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tucked in between Easter and Pentecost is the Ascension of Christ. To be honest, for most Presbyterians the Ascension is often overlooked, and not given the attention it probably deserves. In the Acts of the Apostles, which is the second volume of Luke’s history, he writes, “So when [the apostles] had come together, they asked him ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times of period that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The apostles are asking the time honored question that parents often hear from the back seat of the car, “Are we there yet?” ☺ To which Jesus answers, “not exactly”, in fact “you have work to do in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.”

At BPC, the equivalent question that is asked is “When will we elect a Pastor Nominating Committee and search for a new pastor?”, and the answer is “we have work to do…” on a Mission Study. Boston Presbytery, through its Committee on Ministry, has shared its wisdom, based on experience across the denomination, that any church after a long term pastorate should take its time before jumping into a Mission Study. Well, the time is now and we will be moving forward. The first step will be a Session retreat on May 2, the formation of a Study Team, and then information gathering and planning for events in the fall. The basic questions we will be asked to answer are “Who are we? Who is our neighbor? What is God calling us to do?” We’ll look at internal and external Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities as you set a vision for what you hope the new installed pastor will help BPC accomplish, with God’s help. We’ll identify how “being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth” translates into BPC’s context. Here’s a hint: Jerusalem? This is us. It is the people who are already here as members and participants of this congregation. These are the people whose names we know, whose faces we recognize. We are comfortable with these people. But God’s call doesn’t stop there—the mission we are called to begins as we leave the church each Sunday.

In the coming weeks my preaching will focus on the Acts of the Apostles and lessons we can learn from the early Church as they asked and answered these kinds of questions. Perhaps we can have some discussion/feedback times after those sermons as we take those first steps into the future that God is calling us to.

In Luke’s report on Jesus’ Ascension, he writes, “While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Jerusalem, why do you stand looking up to heaven? The next chapter begins in Jerusalem…….

Took, Blessed, and Gave

My sermon for this week, apropos of the Family Communion Education, is entitled “Took, Blessed, Broke, and Gave.” Those are words that are associated not only with the Last Supper, but also with other occasions such as the Feeding of the Five Thousand. How important were Jesus’ actions in “taking, blessing, breaking and giving?”  Very important!  So important that the Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle (excluding the Resurrection) that appears in all four gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report on that event use the language of Jesus “taking, blessing,  breaking and giving”.

Fast forward to the Resurrection. Luke 24: 13-35 tells the wonderful story of two of Jesus’ followers (small “d” )disciples, not any of the Twelve (Big “D”) Disciples, encounter a stranger on the road to Emmaus.  It’s Jesus, of course, but Luke tells us “their eyes were kept from recognizing him”.  They continue walking with the stranger, who informs them of the Good News they had missed in Jerusalem earlier in the day.  Reaching their destination, they invite the stranger to eat with them–and then, and only then, as the stranger “took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them”,  their “eyes were opened and they recognized him”.

Presbyterian author and pastor Eugene Peterson has written,  “Jesus’ Resurrection takes place in the company of friends who know each other by name, some of whom we know by name. The Resurrection is not an impersonal exhibit put on display before crowds. Resurrection is experienced in a network of personal relationships. The named people remind us that the Resurrection takes place among men and women like us: puzzled, bewildered, confused, questioning and even stubbornly doubting friends. And yes, also singing and believing and praying and obedient friends.”