Written on the Heart

Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Written on the Heart”, a reflection on Jeremiah 31: 31-34 where God proclaims “Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt……I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” 

We know that this passage from Jeremiah is very important, because it is the longest single quote from the Hebrew Bible (which Christians have called the Old Testament) that appears in the New Testament, in the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 8. We’ll take a look at the meaning of two key words: “covenant” and “heart”, and how they apply to us in the 21st century.

Are our hearts in the right place? Having survived World War II, the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn found himself right back in Hell when he was thrown into Stalin’s Gulag. When he found out what had happened to his very best friend after the war (hint: the friend wasn’t thrown into the Gulag) Solzhenitsyn offered this reflection: “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by evil, and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various stages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood.”

Thanks Be to God

This Sunday my sermon is entitled “Thanks Be to God” and the scripture lessons are Second Corinthians 9: 6-15 and Mark 12: 41-44. The focus is on how we express our Gratitude to God, and I’ve been pondering the meaning of Gratitude for us in our life together at church. I’m capitalizing Gratitude because it is indeed a very Holy and special attitude. So, I invite you to ponder along with me as I share some of the words that others have expressed about gratitude:

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
- A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves–that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.”
– N.T. Wright, Anglican bishop and Biblical scholar

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us–and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of Hi love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefor takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
– Thomas Merton

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
– Maya Angelou

November 2014 Crossroads

News of our Church Family
Special thanks…
To our Retreat Committee, headed by Mary Lou Lynn (and including Jennifer Dewar, Joan Ross, Linda Roscoe, Mark Vogel and Mike O’Brien) for our Seeking God’s Guidance retreat on October 18. Also a big thanks to our guest speaker, Rev. Judy Proctor.

…And to the Hospitality Committee, along with Farmer Dave, who provided for another terrific Pumpkin Party on October 24!

Deacon’s Corner
This year the deacons will be selling CDs from Legacy Christmas again. There is a new one this year… Nativity Carols and Hymns. The music is beautiful. Last year’s will also be available. More info further down in the newsletter.

Once again we would like to thank everyone who has been providing rides for George.

Don’t forget our monthly pantry needs of 20 oz. bottles of dish detergent and individually wrapped bars of soap. We will also be collecting food for the Thanksgiving In-Gathering of Food. More info further down.

Thank you to all for your generous giving.

Stewardship Report
Sue Hadsell

First, let me thank all of you for your wonderful contribution of $595.0 (as of October 5, 2014) to the Peacemaking Offering. 50% or $297.50 will go to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, a 25% or $148.75 will go to presbyteries and synods to support projects focused on peace and 25% or $148.75 is kept in the congregation for their peacemaking ministries. Again, my thanks.

Secondly, 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.

Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) REPORT by Amanda Moak
At the end of August, I arrived to a pantry that was in the full swing of its summer season. I was new to the world of out-of-the-garden-fresh fruits and vegetables, CSAs, and community gardens. As an outsider, it felt like I was going to be the untimely hitch in a well-oiled machine. My fears were not unexpected or surprising, though. Uncertainty is always my first reaction before I start doing something new. As per usual, my hesitations were unwarranted. A single volunteer is the least of a pantry’s worries when they are trying to make healthy food accessible to over 100 families. And besides, it doesn’t matter how organized a pantry is, there will always be a surprise waiting just around the corner to keep the coordinators and the volunteers on their toes.

To my surprise, and probably my parents’ as well, I was a pretty quick study on the fresh foods. Vegetables that I used to believe looked the same, smelled the same, or tasted the same have now taken on unique qualities that are easily differentiated. This was great news because I immediately jumped into distribution days with the fresh foods, encouraging clients to take fruits and vegetables from Farmer Dave’s CSA and the Burlington Community Garden. I even had the chance to work on a picture produce guide for the pantry. Basically it will be a group of laminated note cards that we will take out on distribution days and attach to different shelves under the foods they represent.

Along with the produce guide, I am also working on different events between the pantry and the Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation that bring together elements of cooking, preserving, and the use of different fresh foods. In the future, we will hopefully see cooking demonstrations, classes on the importance of understanding expiration dates, and more movie nights and book discussions. The idea is to educate people on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and also to encourage clients to use what we have available from Farmer Dave and the Community Garden.

My first few months here have been a wonderful whirlwind of activity. You have all been so welcoming and I truly feel like a part of this community. My work has been so fulfilling and so has getting to know the members of this church family. I am very excited to see what the rest of the year holds and I can’t wait to share it, not only with my parents back in Mississippi but with all of you.


The Burlington Food Pantry will provide food for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner
to over 200 families, including elderly shut-ins and veterans, on Sunday,
November 23rd. The collection, sorting and distribution will take place at the
United Church of Christ, Congregational, on the corner of Bedford and Lexington
Streets in Burlington. Please arrange to bring your congregation’s food donations
to the UCC church at 12:00 noon on Sunday, November 23rd. Representatives
who drop off donations should check in with either Deana Tredeau or Tina Brierley,
so that we can keep track of the many deliveries to be made that day.
If you have questions in advance about food collection or delivery, please call
Bobbie Killilea (UCC Administrator) at 781-272-4547.

We need the following specific foods. This is a short list – but we need many of

  • Stuffing (bags or boxes)
  • Canned Corn
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cornbread Mix
  • Gravy
  • Mayonnaise
  • Chicken Broth
  • Fresh vegetables will be purchased, so please know that your monetary donations
    are also welcome. Checks should be made payable to People Helping People.
    The Greater Boston Food Bank will provide most of the turkeys this year, and the
    Cub Scouts once again will provide all the pies. BPC needs volunteers to help sort and deliver to UCC after worship.

    Thank you for your assistance with this community-wide effort.

    Burlington Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
    Monday, November 24, 7 pm

    The Burlington interfaith community will be gathering in thanksgiving at Temple Shalom Emeth this year on Monday, November 24. 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 this year will be Rev Mike O’Brien. As usual, an offering will be received for the work of People Helping People.

    Meet with Mike & Pam

    We are invited to sign up for a chance to meet with Mike and Pam in small group gatherings as they continue to get to know their new church friends. We will have a chance to share our memories, hopes and dreams for Burlington Presbyterian Church out loud or in writing, and we’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Mike and Pam. Because we were blessed with Rod and Cathy’s 35 years here, that means that we probably haven’t had much experience with what Interim Pastors do, and they can answer questions we might have. Most of all, they hope that our time together in a small group will help us all get to know one another better. There is a sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall (of course).
    Meetings will be held Sunday(s) Nov.2 and Nov. 16 following worship
    Meetings with just Mike Sat., Nov. 1 9:30 am
    Web., Nov. 5 10:00 am
    Tue., Nov.18 10:00 am
    If you would like to host a meeting at another time at your home with some friends, contact Mike at pastor@burlingtonpres.org.

    “Wish Tree” Volunteers Needed
    Our church has been asked to provide volunteers for the Wish Tree table at the Burlington Mall on 2 days: Sat., Nov 29 and Wed., Dec 3. There are 2-hour shifts from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 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 Niloo Hennings.

    Young Presbyterian Scholarship
    Westminster College
    New Wilmington, PA

    If you have a young adult ready to attend college, please see the flyer about this opportunity for young Presbyterians, hanging on the board outside the children’s classroom.

    From the Deacons

    The carols of Christmas touch our hearts in ways beyond any other music-reminding us of our past, bringing joy to our present, promising hope for our future.

    From the Bethlehem hills, where angel songs ring, to a lowly stable where a mother sings to her newborn babe; we journey in song through the miracle of the Nativity. Legacy Christmas, created by acclaimed instrumentalists and vocalists, connects us, defines us, reminds us.

    Millions of God’s children thirst for clean healthy water to drink. To help address this need, proceeds from Legacy Christmas will assist Living Waters for the World and the Presbyterian Women Birthday Offering in providing clean, sustainable water and enhancing the quality of life for women and children throughout the world.

    We will be selling the new CD Legacy Christmas-Nativity Carols and Hymns this year during Advent. There will be limited copies of last year’s CD also available. The cost is $15.00 each. These make wonderful Christmas gifts.


    What would you do with three extra hours every day?

    The bigger question is, what could those who are forced to walk miles for water each day do? Help give this time back through water-related gifts found in the Presbyterian Giving Catalog. Items like the sand dam, which is an effective method of water conservation in dryland communities, provide a sustainable source of clean water for entire communities. Together, we can help change the lives of countless people by giving them a reliable and convenient source of water.

    With your support, gifts from the Presbyterian Giving Catalog can lessen the burden for those in need of help. Start flipping through the catalog, or give online at http://www.presbyteriangifts.org. There are catalogs on the table at the front of the church.

    Bridges Together
    Are you recently retired or are you an older adult with a flexible schedule? Do you like to work with kids? The Burlington Public Schools are seeking volunteers to participate in the “Bridges Together in Burlington” intergenerational program this year. The goal of the program is to build new caring relationships between older adults (55+) and children in the schools. The commitment is one hour a week for six weeks, plus one follow-up session a few months later to reconnect. The activities include sharing stories of family traditions, comparing (and contrasting) experiences of school, and sharing hobbies.

    Volunteers do not have to live in Burlington. If you have a friend or spouse you think would make a great volunteer, please share this info with them. To sign up, please call the Burlington Senior Center at 781.270.1950 or contact Bridges Together Burlington by using the web address listed below. The program dates, times, and location are listed on the online form.


    Bridges Together has been in Burlington for three years and is a very rewarding program for the volunteers and the students. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. In Burlington, this is run as a partnership between the Senior Center and the Public Schools.

    Memorial Service

    There will be a memorial service held at the church on November 22 for Kay MacLeod. Many in the congregation knew her and her husband Ross. You are welcome to attend the service. Kay entered God’s care in October and leaves behind her husband, Ross and three children Alan, Joanne and Karen.

    Presbytery of Boston
    Proposed Resolution
    For vote at Presbytery Meeting of September 27, 2014

    Whereas, The Presbytery of Boston in 1993 stated its opposition to any expansion of the use of lotteries or other forms of gambling to fund public expenditures in and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and again in 2007 the Presbytery of Boston resolved to oppose gambling in all its forms, including the legalization of casino gambling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and,
    Whereas, The Presbyterian Church through its General Assembly has voiced its opposition to legalized gambling in the United States at least five times, that is in 1950, 1975, 1992, 1994, and 2000; see
    http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/101/gambling/; and,
    Whereas, We continue to believe that the earth’s resources have been put in our hands to be used productively for the good of all, and that gambling represents an abdication of this stewardship responsibility; and,
    Whereas, Experience shows that the social costs of gambling include addiction, crime, and disproportionate participation and deprivation of those in poverty; and,
    Whereas, The legislature has passed legislation legalizing the establishment of casino and slot parlor gambling in our Commonwealth; and,
    Whereas, The citizens of the commonwealth have succeeded in proposing to repeal this legislation, to appear as Question 3 on the November 4 ballot which, if approved, will prohibit the legalization, past and future, of casinos and slot parlors in the Commonwealth;

    September 27, 2014
    The Presbytery of Boston reaffirms its opposition to gambling in all its forms, including those currently legalized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and firmly supports all efforts to repeal and prohibit the legalization of casinos and slot parlors in the Commonwealth. The Presbytery of Boston further directs the Stated Clerk to send this resolution to the major news media publishing and operating within the bounds of the Presbytery and to its member churches asking them to join the Presbytery in its support of repealing the legalization of casinos and slot parlors in Question 3 on the ballot of November 4 and sharing this resolution with its members.

    by Shelly Henderson

    On Sunday October 12, we learned about our major religious leaders who ask us to take action:

    • On September 27, the Presbytery of Boston resolved to ask each of its member churches ask their congregations to support repeal by voting Yes on Question 3 to prohibit casinos and slot parlors.

    • On Thursday October 9 the leaders of nearly every religious group in Massachusetts were similarly asking their believers to vote YES on Question 3. Visit http://www.FaithforRepeal.com

    Why? As stated in the resolution: “Experience shows that the social costs of gambling include addiction, crime and disproportionate participation and deprivation of those in poverty.”

    More specifically:
    • Casinos actually kill jobs.
    • Addiction increases destroying families
    • Crime increases destroying communities
    • Disproportionate participation and deprivation of those in poverty

    1. Casinos Kill Jobs
    Casinos propose over 8,000 slot machines.
    Each machine removes more than $100,000 from the economy, killing 1-2 jobs every year.

    2. Addiction Increases, destroying families
    Personal bankruptcies increase by more than 18% in surrounding communities.
    In Cleveland, where 4 casinos opened just two years ago, addiction increased 700%, from 93/year treated before to almost 700/year treated after the casinos opened.

    3. Crime Increases destroying communities
    Assaults, larcenies, burglaries, robberies, murders, and auto theft increase between 22-114%.

    4. Disproportionate participation and deprivation of those in poverty
    We know from the lottery purchases, that the average per capita expenditure is $43/year in Weston versus over $1100/year per capita in East Boston where the per capita income is $15,000/year.

    If you can find it in your heart, here is what you can do to get involved:

    1. Vote Yes on Question 3 on Tuesday, November 4
    2. Educate others – try to find five more people who will vote and educate others.
    3. Make copies of the Faith For Repeal Flyer and give one to everyone you know.
    4. Enlist your neighbors, friends, book groups, social groups, other churches.
    5. Put a sign in your front yard, and wear a sticker on your lapel.
    6. Join our Chili Party on Saturday Oct 25 to Rally the Vote – RSVP to Shelly.
    7. Contact Shelly Henderson 617 964-3429 to get involved.

    BPC Parents and other Adults
    Please remember that at coffee hour all food and beverages are served and to be consumed in Fellowship Hall. This includes the juice and snacks for children. It is important that the children do not take juice and/or food into the double classroom or any other rooms in the church building. Encourage the children to enjoy their snack time with their friends in Fellowship Hall before going to either the play yard or the classroom to play. The carpet in the classroom is showing signs of spilled food and drinks and cleaning the carpet frequently is an extra expense to be avoided. Thank you!!

    Mike’s Musings………..

    I don’t know how you feel, but for me one of the worst days of the year is the day that Daylight Savings Time ends, because turning the clock back on Saturday means that it will be dark around 5:00 p.m. or so on Sunday. Even more depressing, there will be a day in the future when the sun sets over Boston at 4:11p.m. Lord, have mercy.

    This year we will turn our clocks back on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 1, which is All Saints’ Day, and the next day we will observe All Saints’ Sunday. We Presbyterians do not have “capital S” saints, as other churches do, meaning we don’t have faithful persons from the past who have been elevated to a higher spiritual status than “ordinary” Presbyterians. That doesn’t mean you won’t find Presbyterian Churches named “Saint Andrew Presbyterian” because you will find many of them, especially where Scottish heritage is strong. Google “St. Patrick Presbyterian Church” and you’ll get the same result. Believe it or not, you can also find “Saint Andrew Baptist Church”. While we may not revere or pray to those Saints, we often recognize their place in our larger Christian heritage.

    Full disclosure: I do have some Catholic DNA, so among my favorite Saints are Patrick, Francis of Assisi, St. Jude (patron Saint of lost causes), St. Nicholas (the REAL St. Nick) and St. Joseph the Worker (my union roots are showing). I’m also partial to the sainthood candidacy of Rose Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughter, who founded the “Hawthorne Dominicans”, whose hospice gave my father such comfort and peace in his final weeks.

    When Presbyterians speak of saints, we’re usually speaking of the “communion of saints”, that “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us especially when we celebrate Communion. When Paul wrote his letters to churches, he sometimes addresses them to individuals, but also to “all the saints”, meaning all the believers, all the Christians in a given location.

    On All Saints’ Sunday, we will take some special moments to remember the “saints” in our lives who have passed away over the past year. And we will do that by lighting candles as worshipers offer the names of the “saints” dear to them who have passed on.

    It will get darker each Sunday, but throughout November we’ll recall that Jesus said “I am the light of the world. The people who follow me will not walk in darkness, but they will have the light of life.” And at the end of the month, Nov. 30, we observe the First Sunday in Advent, lighting the first candle in the Advent wreath, remembering that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

    The Peace of the Lord be with you,


    Grace-Full Christians

    In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott has this to say about grace: “W.H. Auden was right when he wrote, “I know nothing, except what everyone knows–if there when Grace dances, I should dance.” Lamott continues, “I do not al all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. It can b e received gladly or grudgingly, in bit gulps or in tiny tastes, like a deer at the salt lick. I gobbled it, licked it, held it down between my little hooves.”
    This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a time to remember and celebrate our Presbyterian roots. The sermon is entitled “Grace-Full Christians”, based on Ephesians 2:1-10 and its proclamation that “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast”. I like Eugene Peterson’s translation and paraphrase of portions of the lesson: “Saving is all God’s idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we had done the whole thing!”
    As we look at grace, we’ll be joined by Philip Yancey, who went to a Christian college but didn’t experience grace there; Kathleen Norris, who will help us understand the word “wretch” in Amazing Grace (which we will sing); and Friedrich Nietzsche a critic of Christianity who asked “Where’s the joy? If God is so great, if grace is so profound, where’s the joy?”
    We’ll sing “A Mighty Fortress”, have our souls nourished by the Choir’s singing of Bach’s “Jesu, lead my footsteps ever”, and enjoy James McIninch’s creativity during the Children’s sermon. 

    Prayer Partners with God

    Last week I invited you to think about why we worship. This week, I’m asking you to think about prayer, specifically, how it is that we are “prayer partners” with God. We’ll hear a scripture lesson of selected verses from Romans 8, where the Apostle Paul writes about the new life that is ours through God’s Spirit. Because Paul’s writing can be dense at times, we’ll listen to Eugene Peterson’s translation and paraphrase of Paul. Here’s a couple of sample sentences: “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle, but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them–living and breathing God.” And what does Paul tell us about the Spirit’s role in our prayers? “God’s Spirit is right alongside, helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. The Spirit does our praying in us and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Alongside that passage from Romans, we’ll hear Luke’s words describing Jesus’ very human agony while at prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was arrested, and we’ll reflect on the meaning of his prayer for us.

    Jane Vennard, a United Church of Christ pastor and spiritual director, led a week-long seminar that I attended based on her book “The Praying Congregation.” On Sunday, we’ll consider her words about how God partners with us in prayer: “Praying with God is simply honoring the presence of God in every aspect of my life. I pray with God, and God prays with me. I pray in God, and God prays in me. We are one, and we honor that reality. I pray with God when I dance with joy, when I weep in despair, and when I speak out for justice. I pray in God, when I sit, silently gazing out the window at winter’s first snowfall, enveloped in the silence of creation. God prays in me when I feel a longing to be still in the presence of God, when I am moved to reach out to someone in need, or when I am filled with love that I cannot keep from overflowing into the world. God is simply about presence–my presence in God and God’s presence in me.”

    Praying isn’t just for the spiritual giants among us. It’s for all of us who can probably relate to what Paul said: If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter–the Spirit does our praying in us and for us. So, bring your wordless sighs and your aching groans to worship as we all enter into God’s presence.