What’s the story?

Someone—and this quote has been attributed to everyone from Dostoevsky to John Gardner—someone once said that there are only two possible stories that have ever been written: “A stranger comes to town” and “Someone goes on a journey”.

In a real way, Burlington Presbyterian Church and I are living out those stories. My wife Pam and I have arrived as strangers who are excited to be among you, and with Rod MacDonald’s retirement, BPC has embarked on another chapter in its journey. To be honest, it is probably a time of disorientation for all of us. Pam and I are adjusting to life in a new apartment in Braintree, finding stores and walking trails, but certainly we are missing our walks along the waterfront in Plymouth, checking the growth of the fledglings in the osprey nest, my four mile commute to the Beacon Hospice office and the less than 5 minute walk we made to the Church of the Pilgrimage on Sunday mornings. We are now getting oriented not only to a new home and community, but also a new church and its history, culture, traditions, and core values.

I won’t presume to know the depths of your disorientation after Rod’s retirement, a succession of pulpit supply pastors, and the necessary “radio silence” maintained by the Interim Pastor Search Committee and the Session as they did their work. I do know that you are each, in your own way, grieving (and that’s not too strong a word) your particular relationship and memories of Rod and Cathy. As with any time of grief, no one can set a timeline for moving beyond those feelings. I’m here to honor your feelings and in God’s time help you take some steps forward. I’m not here to “replace” Rod, but I am a stranger coming to town to accompany BPC on its journey, and over time we will all be able to say as Paul said in Galatians, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God”.

There are a few thoughts I need to share with you right from the start about the role of the Interim Pastor. First of all, I want to emphasize the “Pastor” part of the title. I am going to be your Pastor, and I am fully committed to providing pastoral care to members and friends of the congregation. My cell phone and home phone are published in our crossroads, and my email is pastor@burlingtonpres.org. If there is a pastoral need, let me know. I will be taking Fridays off, but you can always reach me. And yes, I live in Braintree, but I have a car!

Now let’s visit that word “Interim”. It means what it says: I am here for the time between Rod’s retirement and the calling of a new pastor, and I will in fact probably leave before a new pastor starts. I have signed a contract with the BPC Session and the Presbytery which clearly states: “It is understood by all parties that the pastor under contract may not be considered for the installed pastoral position in this congregation.” I am not now, nor will I ever be, a candidate. Period. My work is to accompany you during this transition time, help prepare you for a new pastor, and then ride off into the sunset. My contract is initially for 12 months, but that can be and is often extended in 3, 6, or even 12 month periods, depending on circumstances.

The contract further stipulates that “It is understood that the Interim Pastor will not be involved in any way with the Pastor Nominating Committee, except to facilitate that committee’s regular reports to the Session”. I will not coach, advise, direct or otherwise interfere with the work of the Pastor Nominating Committee that you will elect.

What I do plan to do once the “program year” begins is to set up some opportunities for church members and friends to meet with me and Pam in a small group setting. I shared with the Interim Pastor Search Committee that I was intrigued by the statement on the church’s website that “we are dreamers and doubters, seekers and believers. We don’t have all the answers, but we are on a journey together trying to follow Jesus Christ. We’d be glad if you would join us.” I asked the IPNC members to share some of their dreams and I look forward to hearing yours.

I often joke with my fellow Presbyterians that “we Presbyterians are not very nimble.” We value our process and procedures, and friends from other denominations are amazed when I tell them how long it sometimes takes for a church to call a new pastor. In BPC’s case, that’s not all bad. You have been blessed with 35 years of caring, compassionate, thoughtful leadership. Presbyterian process and procedure are important, but so is attentive listening for God’s “still, small voice”. I have a poster in my office from my college days, with two large footprints on it and the words “A sign of God is that we will be led where we did not plan to go.” Let’s open our hearts and minds to God’s leading in this interim time.

Most of all, Pam and I are glad that we accepted the invitation on the website: “we’d be glad if you would come with us.”
The Peace of the Lord be with you,

Mike O’Brien

But wait, there’s more!…………….

I’m grateful to Ken Dewar for sharing his “letter of introduction” from the Interim Search Committee, printed elsewhere in the Crossroads. Let me add just a few more personal details.

Pam has worked for the last four years as a Special Education Assistant at Furnace Brook Middle School in Marshfield, having worked in a similar position at Ellicott Mills Middle School in Ellicott City, MD for seven years. She’s a lifelong Presbyterian, except for the past four years when she joined the UCC Church of the Pilgrimage in Plymouth. She’s happy to be Presbyterian again!

Pam and I have a wonderful blended family of four adult children and four granddaughters. Daughter Kelly and her husband Brian have their doctorates in clinical psychology, work for the Veteran’s Administration in Bedford, and live in Chelmsford with their dog Oscar and cat Cashmir. Daughter Katie and her husband Bryan live in Flanders, NJ with 2 year old Zoey and their boxer, Riley. Katie works as an underwriter for an insurance agency and Bryan does high level computer stuff that I can’t begin to understand. Son James and wife Nicole live in Hackettstown, NJ with daughters Isabel (Bella), 10 years old, and Ava, who will be three in November, and dogs Lady and Darby. James works for the same insurance agency that Katie does, and he is in fact her boss. Occasionally Katie acknowledges that. Son David lives in Jackson Township, OH and his daughter’s name is Riley (yes, we have a granddaughter and a granddog each named Riley!). Dave is the crime and courts reporter for the Record Courier in Kent OH, and Riley lives with her mother Brandise in Akron, OH.

I have a great Irish Catholic name: Michael John O’Brien. My father was John Joseph O’Brien and he was Catholic but not necessarily a real strong one, and he married a stubborn Scots woman named Margaret Isabel McCullough Hunt, who insisted the children be raised Presbyterian. That was that, and so I’ve been Presbyterian all my life, and I have the old Sunday School Oak Leaf with cluster and bars attesting to my good attendance for quite a number of years. My parents are deceased, but Johnny still talks to me (you know what I mean). You’ll find Johnny O’Brien popping up in my sermons from time to time.

Welcome to Reverend Michael O’Brien!

To the congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington:

The Interim Search Committee, having met nine times, reviewed the qualifications of five candidates, three of whom were interviewed directly. We also wrote a position description, interview and reference questions and terms of call for the position of Interim Pastor.

We are pleased to announce that our unanimous choice, Rev. Michael J. O’Brien, was appointed as our Interim Pastor beginning on August 19, 2014 by vote of the Presbytery of Boston held at our church on August 18, 2014.

Rev. O’Brien is a graduate of Gettysburg College, holds an M.Div. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a MSW degree from Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work. He did his Basic Clinical Pastoral Education unit at Worcester State Hospital and completed 4 Advanced units of Clinical Pastoral Education in a Chaplaincy Residency program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, CA. He has served as either Senior Pastor, Pastor, Assistant/Associate Pastor or Interim Associate Pastor at four Presbyterian churches in New Jersey and Maryland from 1977 to 2009. From July, 2010 to July, 2014, he served as Chaplain at Beacon Hospice in Plymouth, MA, having been Chaplain at Sutter Medical Center for the prior year.

The Interim Search Committee did reference checks on Rev. O’Brien and all were found to be very satisfactory. Our direct interview with him revealed a very competent, enthusiastic and compassionate individual committed to serving the whole church in its many facets. His preaching, which we viewed on YouTube, was lively and presented the Gospel in a relevant and personal way. He is an effective administrator and has a true gift for empathic listening We would encourage all to introduce themselves to Mike, and his wife Pam, in the coming Sundays.

- The Interim Search Committee

Summer 2014 Crossroads

A Word from the Interim Search Committee

As I write this article, it’s been almost exactly 8 weeks since our beloved Pastor has retired to the gentle breezes of old Cape Cod. As the date drew near, Mark Vogel and the Worship Committee started making calls to arrange coverage for the Sunday services and a small group of us were asked by Session to form an Interim Search Committee (ISC).

I presume that most of us aren’t familiar with the Presbyterian protocol for finding a new pastor, since I had no idea before I became involved. Like everything else Presbyterians do, there’s a process, and that process starts with the selection an Interim Pastor. The role of Interim Pastor is simply to fulfill the regular pastoral needs of a church, and help prepare the church for the transition to a new permanent pastor. The departure of a Pastor can leave people with feelings of anxiety, apprehension, or a slew of other emotions and Interim Pastor’s role is to provide support and reassurance through the process and assure that the church is ready to welcome a new Pastor. It’s not the Interim Pastor’s role to help decide on a new Permanent Pastor, nor guide the selection process outside of helping communicate with Presbytery and making sure that a Pastoral Nominating Committee has whatever resources they may need, and an Interim Pastor is not supposed to be considered as a candidate for permanent Pastor – the role is, by design, temporary.

For its part, the ISC’s only job is to find an Interim Pastor. On behalf of the church, the committee searches for a candidate and, once identified, refers a candidate and suggested terms of call to Session, who ultimately make the decision to call (or not) the candidate. The Presbyterian Church asks that the search process itself be kept confidential. This is in part to keep the process quick, fluid, and free of outside influence, but also out of respect of potential Interim candidates, whose eligibility for the position might change during the process and force the committee to go back and consider other candidates. If you asked any members of the ISC how long until we have an Interim Pastor and they seemed cagey in their response, that is why.

For our part, the ISC has had wonderful help from the Committee on Ministry in the form of Jill Auger, who has guided us through the process and been our principle contact. The ISC has met weekly to discuss the needs and priorities of the church in considering candidates, to create a job description and terms of call, to collect and review resumes, to conduct interviews, to listen to recorded sermons, to contact references, and to record and report all that needs to be so that the process is conducted prayerfully, fairly, decently, and in order. Once the committee has come to a unanimous decision on the candidate that they choose to refer to session, several other things happen: the candidate is asked if they are still available and if they’d be interested in the role; the Committee on Ministry is contacted and asked to vet/background check the candidate; if the candidate is not a member of Presbytery, they must join the Presbytery and then… then the ISC can formally present the candidate and terms of call to Session for their consideration. I believe that we are all very happy with our progress to date and hopeful that we’ll be able to present an excellent and experienced candidate to the Session expeditiously.
I would like to thank all the members of the ISC that have given up numerous Wednesday nights to the cause: Nilo Hennings, Linda Roscoe, Brad Morrison, and Ken Dewar.
– James McIninch, ISC Chair

Deacon’s Corner
A heartfelt thank you to all who sent birthday cards to George for his special day!
And to those who have been bringing him to church.

Summer Music
Members of the congregation are invited to provide special music during the summer months. Please contact Nancy if you want to be on the schedule.

No Carillon or Chancel Choir practice until September.

Christian Education
We are still in need of teachers and assistants for Summer Celebration. Please help out and give our regulars teachers a summer break. They work very hard throughout the school year. See Marti to sign up. Thank you!

YAV Report from Alex
Pick some Basil! The basil in the church garden is trying to bolt and make flowers, which stops leaf production. Come pick a handful of Basil on your next time at the church. Pick leaves from the top first. It stores several days in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Since my time as your Food Justice YAV is winding down, here is my two months’ notice. August 15 is my last day here. But there’s still plenty of time for a good conversation on food and faith, time to share a meal, and several more events I have planned. I really have enjoyed my experience here and I will leave you with some parting words in the September newsletter, but for now I leave you with some summer thoughts on compost.
We are now Composting at Church!

As of June 9 we have a compost bin at the church. It sits outside the playground fence at the forest’s edge. Feel free to bring your kitchen scraps from home to compost. Just drop the compostables in the black bin and cover it with a handful or two of dead leaves from the ground. That’s all it needs to become compost for the church’s flowers and the Manna Monday garden. We will start collecting food scraps at coffee hours for compost. Signs and instructions will be available at the church, or just ask one of the Farmer Dave’s volunteers for help. (Jane, Kathleen, Mary Lou, Stefanie, or Alex)

Compost is a better way to dispose of vegetable scraps that get left behind from Farmer Dave’s pick up, and also food scraps from church coffee hours and events. Coffee grounds and tea bags are excellent for compost. If we move to compostable napkins and plates, we could really cut down on trash!

Food scraps such as greens and coffee contain high levels of organic matter that generate high levels of methane gas when decomposing in landfills. Landfills are the third largest source of atmospheric methane, and methane has over 10 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Food waste is the single largest category of trash in our nation’s landfills. In a small way we are contributing to a larger environmental problem each time we throw food in the trash can.

Composting can significantly reduce the amount of waste we put in the landfills, reduce the stench of your trash can, and it provides a natural nutritious soil amendment. Consider composting in your own yard, or adding to our bin at the church starting this week! It’s a very simple process.

Theological reflections on Compost by Alex, with thanks to Ashley Goff of Washington, DC:
I’ve been in contact recently with some folks from the Presbyterian Hunger Program known as “Food Justice Fellows”. I’m beginning to understand why God wants us to do these things with food and compost. I’m seeing that we don’t just care about where our food comes from, and protect the Earth and people on it because it’s trendy right now, but because we are told to from the very first stories in the Bible.

So in explaining, “Why Compost?” I want to step just beyond the statistics about landfills. This may be a stretch for some folks as it was for me. One of our partners in the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Ashley Goff of Church of the Pilgrims in Washington DC, has some interesting liturgy on compost.

They started a verma-compost bin (worm bin) where members could bring vegetable scraps that earthworms could turn into valuable potting soil for the church garden—which supplies some food to their weekly meals program. Their trash could feed worms that feed some plants that feed hungry people in their community. The trash deemed for disposal and death was rescued, saved and made into new life. Kind of like how God rescues and saves us from the death of sin, and through Jesus Christ makes for us a new life.

This church dove more into the theology and liturgy. They came up with what they called a “God story for the garden” with three parts: 1. Compost is an act of resurrection. 2. Growing is an act of resistance. 3. Eating is an act of remembrance.

Compost is an act of resurrection? Hmm? “Dying with the old to create the new,” as Ashley Goff from the church in DC said, that’s what compost does to plants. Living things we put in the bin die, rot, and decay to welcome the way for new life. Ashley likened this to Christ dying on the cross so our lives become new. We must die completely from sin, so that God can fill us with new life, His life and his spirit. I see it as a clever Sunday school lesson or even a sermon illustration, but this church did something I never would have thought with the theology of compost and new life. They used the compost pile as a communion table. Yes, you heard me correctly.

Here is the story:
During a special fall sermon series on food and faith, they had a wheelbarrow of veggie scraps at door, midway decomposed compost in the Baptismal font, and in the front of the sanctuary, the bread and cup sitting on top of a pile of fully composted compost. Symbolically this represented the journey of transformation we go through as Christians. In Christ we are transformed from one thing, perhaps a bunch of scraps, into something better. At Baptism we know this and we have started to be transformed, but we are only midway there. Like the partially rotted compost you can still see there is work to be done before our minds and hearts are entirely God’s. And at communion we are completely transformed, like the compost ready to feed someone else.

The church sat on the floor around the compost pile and shared communion recognizing the mortality of our bodies we usually only recall on Ash Wednesday; remembering the adamah, the soil that God made into Adam. They also shared the eternity we have through Christ that we will be transformed through him. God’s love and spirit will become new after death. Likewise this compost is dead, new, and ready to feed next year’s garden.

That is the image I share with you. I learned of this church’s composting liturgy on a PHP webinar June 9, the day we put in the church’s compost bin. I’d encourage you to watch it for yourself to learn about what this church and others are doing with food and faith. Or to learn more without the internet, please also visit the bulletin board in the side hallway at our church.

Link to the Presbyterian Hunger Program webinar recording featuring Church of the Pilgrims in DC along with others: Food Justice Webinar: Churches & Camps-Food Growing and Greening Initiatives https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2CzNgFtv88&feature=youtu.be. (Church of the Pilgrims starts at 48 min.) More info on church bulletin board!

Cooking with Alex
On Sunday July 27 from 5-7 pm, there will be a Food Potluck and Cooking Demo at BPC.
See Alex for details.

Rocket Stoves and Solar Ovens: Cleaner Cooking Technologies Workshop
Thursday July 10 from 6-8 pm.
Location to be determined. See Alex for details.

Join Boston YAVs for Table Gatherings Dinner!
On July 13, 4-7 pm at Church of the Covenant (67 Newbury St, Boston), enjoy an evening feast with the Presbytery’s four Young Adult Volunteers! The YAVs will teach participants to a cook tasty dish learned during their year living and cooking together in intentional community, and then all will come together for dinner to celebrate their ministry among us. Please join us! Tickets are $50 per individual, $80 per couple, and will support living expenses for our 2014-2015 YAVs.

To purchase tickets: Send a check made out to the Presbytery of Boston, with “BFJYAV Dinner” in the memo line, to:
The Boston Food Justice Young Adult Volunteers Program
c/o Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church
155 Powder House Blvd.
Somerville, MA 02144

Questions? Contact Maggie Holmesheoran, Site Coordinator, at bfjyavprogram@gmail.com. You can also learn more about us at bostonfoodjusticeyavprogram.wordpress.com.

Church Picnic
Our Church picnic is scheduled for July 13, after worship, at Springs Brook Park in Bedford. Meat will be provided, please bring a side dish, a salad, or a dessert to share. Please bring your own beverages…no alcohol allowed! There are grills available, and a snack bar. Activities include swimming and a playground. The park opens at 10:00 a.m. There is a fee of $8.00 per person as long as we have at least 20 people, children 1 and under and over 65 admitted free. If you have folding lawn chairs or beach chairs you may want to bring them. If you have a fun outside game to share, please bring it!

Your Hospitality Committee at work!

Turn left out of church onto Route 62/3A towards Billerica. Turn left onto Francis Wyman/62. Continue to follow 62 into Bedford for about 4 miles at which point 62 is also Page Road. Turn right to continue on Page Road (departing 62) to 4 way stop at Springs Road. Turn right onto Springs Road for 0.1 mile to access road to Springs Brook Park.

Three Surprises in Transition

We are a church in transition. What should we expect? After my recent transition to wintering in Florida I’d say, expect the unexpected. So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? The answer is that no one can predict the future. We have just as much evidence for a future “good” surprise as for a “bad” surprise; which is to say, we have no solid evidence that either will occur!

But change can be scary, so people often develop negative expectations. People like me.

One reason for selecting Safety Harbor FL for my winter home is that my brother lives there with his wife and son. Although Valarie is Jewish, she told me that she had heard that there was a really great church near my condo and she was pretty sure that it was Presbyterian. She couldn’t remember who had told her, but they had said that it was very active and had a lot of activities in addition to the services on Sunday. She told me how to get there, so I went to check it out. Indeed it was Presbyterian. Northwood Presbyterian is also quite a large church. Uh-oh.

I grew up in a small church in Tarpon Springs, FL. Later it became a really big church; when I attended the new church it felt like a concert, not worship. So I decided that I could never feel comfortable in a big church. Surprise! Northwood Presbyterian has three Sunday services so it is less overwhelming, and everyone made me feel welcome. I played in the bell choir, attended a monthly Bible Study and a sewing group, and went to several church dinners. Loved it!

I doubted that I would really enjoy Thanksgiving in FL because “I’ll miss my (MA) family and our traditions so much.” I did miss them, but celebrated “Thanksgivingkuh” at Valarie’s parents’ home. Last year, the first night of Chanukah coincided with Thanksgiving. My friend Janet and I joined the extended family and a friend of Valarie’s mother, Sally (who said she wasn’t Jewish either) for a wonderful dinner. After the meal, we watched the ceremony of lighting the first candle on the Chanukah menorah. Talk about memorable! Another negative expectation not realized.

When I went to my first Bible Study, I got the third surprise. The leader was the last to arrive. She asked me what had brought me to the church. “Well, my Jewish sister-in-law recommended this church to me.” The leader asked for my sister-in-law’s name. I wondered why but I told her, and she laughed saying, “Marti . . . . . Sally! I just knew that I knew you from somewhere. Thanksgiving!” I had been meeting so many new people since moving to FL that I hadn’t recognized Sally, but she knew me.

And the circle was closed because now I knew who had recommended the church that I thought I wouldn’t like, and I had already met her at the Thanksgiving that I had not looked forward to.

I suppose that I could sum this up with, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Instead, during this transition period I will encourage you to “Trust in the Lord.” And be open to surprises!

-Marti Huff

A letter from Rod

Dear Burlington Church Family,

What a wonderful, never-to-be-forgotten weekend you provided for Cathy and me! From the pre-weekend “conspiracy” to get things ready…to the stunning decor of fellowship hall, replete with giant balloons and the message banners…and the ingenious placement of the tables to accommodate the crowd…to Millie’s excellent MC-ing…to the wonderful generosity of the gifts, financial, and pictorial (the beautiful book and the slide show will always remind us of James’ time and talent, as well as giving great memories of several “generations” of BPC-ers)…Ken’s “poet laureate” verses…to the surprise of Sunday morning bagpipes and the Bells’ clever Postlude offering…and the Voices of Ghana…Shelly’s able assistance in “sending” us…and the astonishing cake with replica of the stained glass cross (James, again!)…

You could not have done more to provide us with an everlasting sense of the love and caring of the BPC family. It was also a genuine proof of your strengths as you enter this interim time.

THANK YOU!

Of course, the very best gift you can give is yourself, remaining active and committed to the life and work of BPC, and encouraging others to do the same.

We will always look forward to hearing from our friends, of course, and welcoming your visits to Brewster.

Our address is: 74 Woodview Drive, Brewster, MA. 02631.

My new EMAIL ADDRESS is: rodmac.ret {at} gmail.com.

We will provide the church with a new phone number soon.

Hope this finds you all well — enjoying the goodness of Spring, and the grace of our loving God.

Blessings and peace,

Rod

The Parable of the Persistent Widow & the Stripy Orange Cat

My family includes two cats: an orange stripy one named Tiberius and his all-black brother Data. Those two cats LOVE food. They practically hop up and down while you’re getting their food and get so excited that they’ll knock your hand aside when you try to put the food in your bowl. (This is ok since after they finish their servings, they’ll diligently sniff the entire room to see if any kibble rolled away.)

The persistent cat

The persistent cat

My cats will begin the process of begging to be fed seconds after they finish hoovering up their last serving. They’ll whine piteously. They’ll stare pointedly at their bowl. They will sit on your newspaper, or your head. Sometimes I give in and feed them just because they have begged so much!

The other day, I was feeding those two cats between their mealtimes when I suddenly thought of the Parable of the Persistent Widow. In the book of Luke, Jesus tells a story of a widow who bothered a corrupt judge so much he finally gave in and gave her justice. Jesus says that if a corrupt judge will eventually give justice if you keep bugging him, how much more will a loving God listen to persistent prayer? I love my cats and I tend to their needs even when they don’t bug me. But when they ask me for what they want so persistently, I give it to them – if it’s good for them. No matter how much they bug me, I won’t give them something that’s bad for them, or will harm them.

My cats have literally eaten themselves sick. Eating too much almost killed Tiberius this fall. So I can’t always give them what they desperately want. They don’t understand why I say “no” to their pleas, though. I found myself in front of their food bowls, wondering if there was any parallel to God answering prayers. What do I not know or understand?

Jesus says, “…will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:7&8.

Brenda Flynn

June 2014 Crossroads

Deacon’s Corner
If you have any concerns or prayer requests during this time of transition, please feel free to call one of the deacons or the office. We are here to help you or find someone who is able to help.

Thank you to all who have been bringing George to church every Sunday. His birthday is coming up again on the 22nd of June. There will be cards and labels on the table in the front of the church so that you can send him a card.

The Food Pantry is in need of tea and coffee. They would also be grateful for personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, individually wrapped bars of soap, razors, baby food and diapers.

Pentecost Offering
One of the very special offerings of Presbyterian Missions is to the annual Pentecost Offering. This offering is focused on youth-oriented activities. Here at Burlington Presbyterian, we have been blessed this year to experience one of those programs – the Young Adult Volunteers. Our YAV, Alex Haney, jumped right into church activities in the fall by working with the Community Supported Agriculture Program (Farmer Dave’s)and now in the Spring is continuing that plus adding teaching of classes for adults (Lazarus at the Gate) and for children (Manna Mondays). His enthusiasm and fresh perspective add a new dimension of service to our church life.
The Pentecost Offering also supports children at risk and various youth events which encourage discipleship engagement and youth worker formation. One of our youths, Angela Wantate, will be attending a week-long event this summer and we look forward to seeing what she will bring back to our congregation.
This year’s offering will be gathered on June 8th, the Day of Pentecost. We send 60 % of the funds to the Presbytery, but keep 40% to use for our own programs. Please give generously to support this vital part of our church mission.

Thank you,
Millie Wiegand & Sue Hadsell
Stewardship Committee
Christian Education

On June 15, we will be honoring our teachers and celebrating the end of our regular church school program. The Sunday School classes will participate in the Worship Service. Following worship there will be a cookout. Hot dogs and hamburgers and rolls will be provided but we are asking that others provide some side dishes such as potato salad, pasta salad, chips etc. See the sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall.

Beginning June 22 our younger children will attend a Sunday activity called Summer Celebration. The Christian Education committee organizes this to educate and entertain these children, and to promote peaceful summer church services. With Summer Celebration in place, parents are free from the stress of keeping young ones quiet, and the rest of the congregation benefits as well.

We give our regular Sunday School teachers a summer vacation and ask that YOU (yes, YOU reading this right now if you don’t regularly teach!) sign up as a leader or assistant. You will receive a folder with a program module and a bag with resources for that module. There are 10 Sundays so we need ten leaders and ten assistants. Please help on more than one Sunday if you can!

See Marti Huff with the sign-up sheet, or call her to sign up or ask questions. (978)667-3892

YAV Report from Alex
Eating Together
This year has been full of experiences that show how important a shared meal is, and I share some with you here. Most of these thoughts are inspired from reading Eat with Joy by Rachel Marie Stone (InterVarsity Press, 2013). I’d recommend that for further reading. She is very good at connecting her experience with food with her faith in Christ. She talks all about her eating disorders, dieting, feasting, and fasting and references the Bible at least every 2 pages. It’s very good.

Stone says on page 67, “Our English word companion comes from the Latin for ‘with’ (com) and ‘bread’ (panis)—a companion is one with whom you eat your bread.”

Our companion Rod moved away, but two of my fondest memories were at a meal with him; one at his house, one when he met me at True North. How many of your stories with Rod involve a meal? How many of your stories with other people? I only have one with Rod that didn’t involve food in some form. Most of the stories we told about my friend Gus at his memorial service involved eating together in some way: Gus struggling to cook a bear arm in his college dorm, Gus getting Long John Silver’s every time he had a day off from camp, Gus falling down while salsa dancing in his socks at Tony’s house holding a slice of pizza, I could go on forever. He was a funny guy and taught me a lot, mainly about edible wild plants and how he understood God. I would guess many of your memories of family and friends both living and past involve food. We remember these times because we need food often, and when we share it we realize how much we need each other; how much we need God.

Eating together has a special healing power. After my cousin Sarah’s recent death, her husband Mark and my other cousins have identified making family dinner with her kids as a priority. We all know that’s important. Eating dinner with their dad every night can bring them closer in this tragic, sad time. In Eat with Joy by Rachel Marie Stone there is an entire chapter on the healing power of communal eating. For anorexia, family-based-treatment or the intentional act of eating family meals and making patients eat their food with others has had success rates around 90%. Communal eating has healing power!

Most of Jesus’ conversations were at meals with people of various economic and social statuses. Eating with the “unclean” is mostly what upset the Pharisees. If you remember the stories after the resurrection, the disciples, and others didn’t recognize Jesus until they were sharing a meal with him. They could see who God was when they ate together. God reveals himself during shared meals and shares the meal with us.

In March, I volunteered at “Hearty Meals for All,” where volunteers cook a healthy community meal from scratch with as many local ingredients as possible at the Somerville Community Baptist Church. They open it up to anyone who walks in the door. They don’t check to see if you’re homeless before you get food, or if you “deserve” it. Anyone can come and dine together. Eating there, I conversed with some volunteers and a homeless guy named Eliot, but there was something powerful about the table that put us all at the same level. It was just as awkward to talk with the homeless man I didn’t know as the other volunteers I didn’t know. We could all share something intimate trying to talk with a mouth full of food, and talking about the weather. The same thing happens every day at the Women’s Lunch Place downtown on Newbury Street where another YAV, Audrey works. No need to distinguish class, race, just come and get food if you need it, if you want it, if you’re hungry. And when you sit at a table with other people you are all the same vulnerable people who depend on this earth and food and God for sustenance, nourishment, and survival. We all share equally in that place of feeding and conversation.

Jesus’ table is open to us a lot like that, but better. We are all invited. We are all sinners. We don’t have to show proof of income, check the box with race, and check if we’ve been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. He knows us, takes us as we are, feeds us and makes us whole; makes us who he created us to be. We can remember our welcome place at God’s table when we eat with others, and we can get closer to them and to God when we break the bread.

Because it’s so important I have a challenge for you. For the rest of this week or this month have more meals with other people than meals alone. Invite someone from your job or church out for coffee or for lunch. Take a meal to a shut in and eat with them; or even to a neighbor who isn’t shut in. Sit down with everyone in your family for dinner around a table. We know it’s important. Let’s eat bread with our companions in Christ. We may even recognize him among us like the disciples.

For more on food and faith check out the Presbyterian Hunger Program website blog where the YAVs post regularly (http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/foodfaith/) , the YAV program website (www.bostonfoodjusticeyavprogram.wordpress.org) , or just ask me, Alex, to get a meal with you and we can talk about food and faith. I’ll even help you cook it!

Other Food Reminders:

Want to eat healthy local Massachusetts food this summer AND get it delivered to you at the Church? Want to get your food from a farm that takes care of the workers and God’s creation? Don’t forget to sign up for the Clark Farm Egg CSA, Lilac Hedge Meat CSA and/or Farmer Dave’s Fruit and Vegetable shares starting in June! Local eggs raised on pasture and fed soy-free organic grain, and pasture raised beef, pork, lamb, and poultry will all be available this summer right here at the church with Farmer Dave’s fruit shares and vegetable shares. Place your order today for enough food to replace most of your grocery shopping!

For Clark Farm eggs fill out a form from the table at the church or talk to Alex, Jane, Kathleen, or Mary Lou to sign up. E-mail the church (burlpres@aol.com) with questions.

For Lilac Hedge Farm’s meat CSA, and Farmer Dave’s fruit and veggies, order online: http://www.lilachedgefarm.com, http://www.farmerdaves.net.

For more information on the quality of the food, farm practices, etc. contact our farmer friends:
Kristen Cummings Tom Corbett Bethany Bellingham
Clark Farm Lilac Hedge Farm Farmer Dave’s
(978) 369-0308 (978) 257-2207 (978) 349-1952
info@clarkfarmcarlisle.com lilachedgefarm@gmail.com farm@farmerdaves.net
http://www.clarkfarmcarlisle.com http://www.lilachedgefarm.com http://www.farmerdaves.net

Yard Sale!
June 21, 9am-3pm

If you have items to donate you may bring them to the church during the week of the 15th. Sunday is all right if that is the only good time for you. Monday the office is not open but if you have a key you could drop items then. If you are dropping things off, please put your name on them so in case there is a problem we will know whose “stuff” it is. We need volunteers to help sorting and pricing items for the sale, Tues – Fri. On the day of the sale, we need helpers to set up, tear down and we need cashiers and general staff. There are sign-up sheets at the front of the church. Please help, if you are able!!!

We have enclosed “Yard Sale Donation Suggestions”.
Yard Sale Donation Suggestions

Appliances Radios, mixers, bath scales, CD players, (must be
in good working order). No TVs, no computers or
computer components.

Arts & Crafts Pictures, supplies and/or creations.

Baby Furnishings Pac-n-plays, potties, porta-cribs, safety gates,
back packs, baby monitors.
No child safety seats.

Books Children’s books are good sellers…

Camping Equipment Tents, stoves, lanterns, sleeping bags, back packs.

Clocks & Watches In working order or only needing a battery.

Household Items Lamps, rugs, chairs, kitchenware, wall hangings,
curtains, dishes, pots and pans, crystal, etc.

NOTE: Do not bring large items to the church until a few days before the sale. Any large items that do not sell must be picked up by the donor after the sale.

Jewelry Earrings, bracelets, cufflinks, necklaces, tiaras. Please separate items into plastic baggies..

Musical Instruments From Kazoos to Trombones.

Pet Supplies Toys, beds, crates, leashes, collars.

Plants All sizes, fresh (indoor or outdoor) or silk.

Records, CDs, In good condition.

Sports Equipment (Small Items only), tennis rackets,
basketballs, footballs, baseball
gloves, roller blades, . No
weight benches or barbells. No skis, poles or boots.
No hockey equipment.

Tools Hand and power, garden, mechanic, tool boxes.

Toys Fisher-Price and Playskool items, dolls, balls, board
games, puzzles, outdoor play equipment, sleds,
video games.

Vehicles Bikes, trikes, big wheels, wagons.
!