My Kingdom Is Not of This World

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday is taken from John’s Gospel, chapter 18, verses 33 through the first half of 38.  The subject matter may be surprising—it is Pontius Pilate’s examination of Jesus following Jesus’ arrest. Pilate was the Roman governor of the Holy Land.  In Pilate’s attempt to understand who Jesus is, and what kind of king he might be, Jesus proclaims to him that “my kingdom is not of this world”.  It is of a higher order, and it calls for a higher loyalty not to a particular state or country, but to God. Pilate has trouble understanding that, as he himself is part of a kingdom that answers to Caesar, which has unparalleled power, and which could anything that it wanted to until a stronger power came along. Pilate helped build the Roman kingdom with brutality, torture, abuse, force, and manipulation of certain Jewish leaders who wanted to maintain the peace and not provoke Rome.

In John’s telling of the story of Jesus’ appearance before Pilate, it looks at first glance as if Pilate is interrogating Jesus, but in reality it is the other way around: Pilate is on trial before God and Jesus, and it is Jesus who is interrogating him!  The two kingdoms stand face to face: Rome with its power, coercion, abuse, and torture, and on the other side, Jesus with his love, grace, mercy, peace and justice. Pilate reveals all we need to know about him when he sent Jesus off to be tortured, scourged, mocked, abused, and beaten.

In my sermon on Sunday, I’ll talk about how we can live out our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom which is “not of this world.”  As we bring food for People Helping People’s Thanksgiving program, as we dedicate our offerings to the work of the church, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving around our family tables, we show what it means to be citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Love Has Its Own Power

I’m sorry that it took me so long to get this podcast up. – James

In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, author Philip Yancey writes these words by way of contending that God does not want to overwhelm us with God’s power, but instead wants us to respond freely in a spirit of love: “Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us. Love has its own power, the only power capable of conquering the human heart.

Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a day for us to celebrate our roots in the Reformed tradition, along with an opportunity to consider the power of God’s grace and love for us that give us freedom. In another part of the book quoted above, Yancey writes, “The more I get to know Jesus, the more impressed I am by what might be called the ‘miracles of restraint’. Most amazing is Jesus’ refusal to perform and to overwhelm (which Satan tempted him to do during his Temptation in the desert). God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though he did not exist, to spit in his face, to crucify him.”

The Reformation brought along with it an emphasis on human freedom to respond to God with love, in gratitude for God’s amazing grace. Our Scripture lesson for Sunday is from John’s Gospel, chapter 21: 9–19 in which the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and has an important dialogue with Peter, who had denied him. Peter’s freedom gave him the opportunity to deny Christ, but that same freedom also made it possible for Peter to express his love and commitment when he sees Jesus once again. In the lesson, Jesus showed no coercion, no overwhelming power, just a simple request for a freely given love, because Jesus knew that “love is the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart.”

November 2015 Crossroads


Mark December 5th on your calendar. We will be having an Advent (International pot luck) Dinner and Christmas Sing-a-long to enter into the Advent season. It will take place from 5:30 – 8:00 pm. Children are encouraged to attend. There will be activities for the children. We will also be having a mitten and glove tree. So please be sure to bring a pair with you. The Sing-a-long will follow dinner.

Burlington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
Monday, November 23, 7 pm

The Burlington Interfaith Community will be gathering in thanksgiving at St. Margaret’s this year on Monday, November 23. This longstanding tradition will include leaders and worshipers from Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faith communities. This joining of religious traditions in Burlington is itself an occasion for gratitude in our broken world – added to the seasonal American holiday which recognizes our Creator’s goodness to us.

The preacher has not been determined at this writing. As usual, an offering will be received for the work of People Helping People.

Deacon’s Corner

We are so happy to report that sisters Caitlin and Kathleen are back in the fold! Here’s to the power of prayers!

The Deacons are readying for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Please note the sign-up sheets in Fellowship Hall let us know if and when you are able to help. On November 22nd, we will be collecting our annual Harvest of Offerings. We will need sorting and transporting items to St. Mark’s after worship. A list of items needed will be published in our church bulletin. Our church will also be participating in People Helping People’s Wish Tree located at the Burlington Mall. Our volunteer times and dates are Tuesday, December 1 between 10 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 6 between Noon and 6:00 p.m. Please consider volunteering for an hour slot or more. In addition, we will also help People Helping People with the PJ and underwear drive, Linda Roscoe will have cards with ages and sizes soon.

We also want to thank all of you for your generous contributions to our recent Emergency Fund drive.
Your thoughtful donations will help our church community during difficult times.

Stewardship Report
Sue Hadsell

November is the month we give thanks for what we have and for giving to those who don’t have with our annual harvest offering for the next year. Starting the second week of November, look for documentation that will explain what we plan for the coming year, along with your pledge card and your time and talent questionnaire.

Come Sing With Us!
Nancy Timmerman

All voices are welcome to sing in the BPC Chancel Choir. Regular rehearsal times are 7:30 to 9 pm on Thursdays and 10 to 10:20 am on Sunday mornings during the school year. Regular choir members who are going to miss practice or Sunday morning need to notify the director ahead of time.

The ability to read music is not required. However, for skilled singers who need to miss practice, arrangements can be made to provide the music for individual study. We are a friendly group who sing a variety of musical styles. It should also be noted that, since the choir sings the offertory on communion Sundays and the anthem (before the Word for Children), students in the upper grades can participate, and Sunday School teachers can sometimes participate.

In addition, instrumentalists or not regular members of the choir are encouraged to provide special music (usually during the offertory), as they were during the summer months. This also needs to be coordinated.

Food Pantry Needs
Volunteers needed at the Food Pantry. Can you volunteer a couple hours per week, or biweekly, or monthly? There are many tasks that we need help with, including helping clients to their vehicles with their groceries, organizing, shelving, and so many others. Find out more by calling 781-270-6625, or email:, or Thank you!

Women’s Bible Study

Women’s Bible Study meets on Thursday mornings at 9:30. All women of the church are welcome! Our study is titled Encouraging One Another. Please join us! We will be meeting in the front classroom.

We need you
…to drive George to church
…to be a Worship Assistant
…to be a Greeter
Training available for Worship Assistants and Greeters
Please sign up today!

Library News
One new series in our new fiction section is called a “continuity series.” This means that there is an overall story linking the six books but each book is by a different author. In Her Surprise Sister, Violet discovers she has a twin sister named Maddie and the mystery only deepens from there. The series is shelved at the end of the Fiction shelf.
New in nonfiction: Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.

Safe Child Training
NOV 15 SUNDAY 11:30-2PM (lunch provided).
On behalf of the acting heads of Christian Education, Safe Child Training will be presented after church in the back of the fellowship hall. Anne Boyden, social worker, will describe the elements of child abuse, followed by training on the Safe Child Program at Burlington Presbyterian Church.

Burlington Food Pantry
The Burlington Pantry will be giving all the food for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to over 180 families, including elderly shut-ins and veterans, on Sunday, November 22nd. We hope you will participate in the food collection for this project.

Again this year, the collection and distribution will be at the United Church of Christ, Congregational, on the corner of Bedford and Lexington Streets. Please bring the food you have collected to the UCC church between 12:00 and 1:00 on Sunday, Nov. 22nd. If you have questions about the collection or the delivery, please call Rev. Angela Wells at 781-272-4547.

We are requesting the following specific list of foods for a Thanksgiving dinner. PLEASE ONLY NEW PURCHASES, NO EXPIRED DATES!!!

Stuffing (bag or box)
Cranberry Sauce
Chicken Broth
Cornbread Mix

This is a relatively short list – but we need many of each item. Fresh vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green beans, squash, etc.) will be purchased, so if any of you would like to contribute money instead of food items, such donations would be welcome. Checks should be made payable to People Helping People. Rotary will be providing the turkeys again this year. Cub Scout families will be providing pies.

“Wish Tree” Volunteers Needed
Our church has been asked to provide volunteers for the Wish Tree table at the Burlington Mall on 2 days: Tues. Dec 1, 10 am – 5 pm and Sun. Dec 6, 12 pm – 6 pm. There will be a sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall soon.

Please sign up!!

The “Wish Tree” gives shoppers the opportunity to provide gifts for children in need in Burlington. For more information, see Colette Greco.

Bad News / Good News

Dear BPC members and friends,
First, the bad news: on Sunday, November 1, sunset will be at 4:38. That’s always a jolt to my system.

The good news is that “the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” As November begins, we will celebrate All Saints Sunday on November 1, remembering the faithful who have witnessed to the light of Jesus Christ in their lives.

What is All Saints Day about? A recent Washington Post article on “5 Myths about Hallowe’en” tells us that “the origins of the holiday can be traced back to a pre-Christian Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced “SAH-wen”). For the Celts, Nov. 1 marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the new year. They believed that the souls of the dead mingled among the living at that time. And so they associated the fruits of the harvest with death, the afterlife and the supernatural.

Later, after Saint Patrick and other missionaries converted Ireland to Christianity, Nov. 1 became All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Day, and the eve of All Hallows became known as Halloween. It featured feasts, the blessing of the hearth, and the lighting of candles and bonfires to welcome wandering souls. It was and remains a family celebration in Ireland.” My communion meditation for All Saints’ Sunday is “Dinner with Jesus and Uncle Charlie”.

Midway through November, I’ll be preaching a sermon entitled “Bethlehem or Bedlam”, inviting us to reflect on our Christmas celebrations and traditions while encouraging a simpler celebration of the holiday.

As November ends, we will begin lighting the candles in the Advent Wreath, as we prepare for our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Light will indeed continue to shine in the darkness as we move forward through December to the shortest day of the year, followed quickly by Christmas. My sermons will look at Jesus’ family lineage, the meaning of the Christmas Tree, and two sermons focused on Mary’s role in the events of that first Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve we will light the Christ Candle during the church’s traditional Christmas Eve service with tableaux.

Even as the days get shorter and the sun sets earlier, there is much to be thankful for and much to celebrate! May the light of Christ shine through our every celebration.

The Peace of the Lord be with you,