February 2015 Crossroads

Ash Wednesday Service
February 18, 7:30 p.m.

Quiet reflection, music and prayer will be the focus of this service to assist our meaningful entry into the season of Lent. The service will provide a time of peaceful renewal in the midst of our challenging days.

Join the church family, and help us welcome others, to this traditional service marking the start of Lent. There will be ashes and an opportunity for placing them on our foreheads as the sign of our humility and dependence upon God’s grace (use of ashes will be voluntary).

This can be an important start, in the right spirit, to the journey of Lent toward Holy Week. Please plan to make it part of your life.

Announcing our new officers….
If you didn’t make it to the Annual Meeting, here are the names of the new Officers for the Class of 2018. Their ordination/installation will take place on January 25.

  • Ruling Elders: Beth Denier (1 year), Brad Morrison, Ann McGrath, and James McIninch
  • Deacons: Caitlin Rivet (2 Year), Jackulin David, Linda McCusker and Colette Greco
  • Trustees: Ken Dewar and Patrick Doody
  • Pray for them as they fulfill these callings to special service in the church.

    Deacon’s Corner
    Niloo Hennings will be retiring from active service as a deacon this month. Niloo has each served for three years. She has served as our secretary and as the deacon representative to the Personnel Committee. We thank her for all her hard work over the past few years. It has been challenging to all as we have served without a full board for the past 2 years. She will be missed.

    Don’t forget our monthly pantry needs of 20 oz. bottles of dish detergent and individually wrapped bars of soap. We always collect on the first Sunday of the month…Jan 4th this month.

    Stewardship
    Each year the Presbytery of Boston requires member churches to pay a “Per Capita Apportionment” to support the mission and ministry of the Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly. “Per Capita” means a certain amount to be given for each adult confirmed member of the church (children who are below confirmation age are not included.) This year’s Per Capita is $51.07. Two adult members in a household would each contribute $51.07; a family with two adult members, one confirmed youth and two younger siblings would be asked to contribute for only the three household residents who are church members. The Session invites you to use the Per Capita envelope in your envelope sets (if you use envelopes) or to use the Per Capita envelopes that can be found in the narthex. Please make checks out to the Presbyterian Church in Burlington. Every Per Capita payment received will free up money for use elsewhere in a very tight 2015 budget

    YAV REPORT
    Amanda Moak

    After our successful book study on January 22, the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation will be taking a much-needed break for the month of February. Don’t let that worry you, though, because we have big plans for the upcoming months.

    Our first event will be on the evening of Monday, March 2. We will be having a speaker, Brian Donohue, from Brandies University, present on the New England 50×60 food plan. There will also be a panel as part of the presentation, to answer any questions we may have about CSAs and the ideas behind farm-to-table marketing. There will also be displays from the Burlington High School Science Center and different organizations about composting and greener living. I will continue to make announcements at church in greater detail about the upcoming event and what we can expect. Right now, I can only ask that you mark you calendars for what is sure to be a great evening and event.

    Also, be on the lookout for different events surrounding the Burlington Community Garden and all of our favorite food and gardening holidays. As soon as we can dig our way out of all this snow, the foundation will hopefully start hosting more events outdoors as a way to bring our community together around the garden.

    Women’s Bible Study

    The Women’s Bible Study has been studying, “A Deeper Look at Fruit of the Spirit” by Hazel Offner. It’s not too late to join in. If you are interested in attending Bible Study, please come on Thursday morning at 9:30. All are welcome.

    Leadership Training

    Boston Presbytery is offering Leadership Training at our church on Saturday, February 28, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. With sessions for Ruling/Teaching Elders, Deacons, and Finance leadership, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the role you are playing in your congregation and connect with others in similar positions. The morning sessions will focus on the basics and after lunch will focus on deepening and learning helpful skills. Elders will explore how to lead change and transformation in the congregation and Deacons will explore the aspects of visitation and prayer. Ten dollars covers materials and lunch provided by the Presbytery.

    The Rosebud
    By
    Pastor Darryl L. Brown

    It is only a tiny rosebud
    A flower of God’s design;
    But I cannot unfold the petals
    With these clumsy hands of mine.
    The secret of unfolding flowers
    Is not known to such as I.
    The flower God opens so gently
    In my hands would fade and die.
    If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
    This flower of God’s design,
    How can I have wisdom
    To unfold this life of mine?
    So I’ll trust in him for his leading
    Each moment of every day,
    And I’ll look to him for his guidance
    Each step of the pilgrim way.
    For the pathway that lies before me
    My heavenly Father knows.
    I’ll trust him to unfold the moments
    Just as he unfolds the rose.

    Mike’s Meditations on Snow

    Dear BPC members and friends,

    As I write this, I’m sitting in the dining room area of our apartment in Braintree, watching the snow fall, following small birds flitting back and forth in the wooded area outside our windows, listening to quiet music from the TV, enjoying the Nativity scenes lining the window sills around me and the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. Sure, it’s January 24th, and next week we’ll think about (maybe) taking the tree down, but it’s an important part of our celebration, our tradition, and our “routine” for Christmas and the month following.

    “Routines” are important for us, as they give structure and provide a sense of security for many of us. One of my routines is to pick up a copy of the Boston Globe every day, because I’m “old school” and I need an actual paper in my hands. It’s just not the same if I read the paper on-line on my computer or iPhone.

    Embedded in the word “routine” is another word: rut. You’ve all probably heard the saying that a rut is “a grave that’s been kicked open at both ends”. Like that old story about putting frogs in a pot of water and slowly increasing the temperature until it’s too late for the frogs to know what’s happening, we don’t always know that we’re in a rut until it hits us in the face.

    As I’m preparing for the sermon that I’m preaching tomorrow (January 25), I’m looking at Jesus’ call to his first disciples. Good fishermen all, they certainly had a routine that they needed to follow each and every day to maintain their nets, boats, and other equipment, not to mention catching the fish and then preparing them for market. Along comes Jesus saying “Follow me” and their lifelong routine is broken and they are off on an adventure which wasn’t routine in any sense of the word.

    I recently shared with the children and the congregation the framed poster that hangs on the wall in my office, as it has hung in all of the pastor’s offices I have occupied. It shows two big footprints and a quote from the Christian writer Louis Evely: “A sign of God is that we will be led where we did not plan to go.” I’ve experienced the truth of that saying in some very dramatic ways in my life. Let me quote from a sermon I preached a couple of years ago at the Church of the Pilgrimage in Plymouth where Pam and I worshipped while I was serving as a hospice chaplain:

    “I went to college believing I was meant to be a history teacher, but during college that changed and I was headed for a journalism career, but the next thing you know I was in seminary. I considered chaplaincy, but was led to parish ministry for over 30 years. Several years ago, I began to feel that there was something else God wanted me to do. I thought about it, prayed about it, did a spiritual retreat, and talked to friends and colleagues and a small group of trusted members of the congregation I was serving at the time. The next thing you know, we had sold our house in Silver Spring, MD and moved to a garage apartment on 20 acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California where friends welcomed us to live. We heated with a wood stove, split wood, cut down trees, drove our friends’ tractor, saw lots of wildlife and birds, and in Pam’s case, she helped them build two stone pillars and learned how to weld as part of the process of putting snow chains on the tractor. I commuted 104 miles round trip each day to Sacramento for a whole year of Chaplaincy training as we lived off a “stipend” that was dramatically less than what I had been earning at the church. Pam couldn’t find a job in the midst of California’s 12% unemployment. Crazy, right? Well, it was one of the best years of our lives, with incredible learning professionally and personally. It was a combination of work, education, sabbatical and vacation. And when it was over, God brought us to Massachusetts where I serve as a hospice chaplain, and Pam is fully employed in her true calling, as a special education assistant.”

    It was truly God’s doing, and in “breaking the routine” of the kind of ministry I had been doing for over 30 years, God led me in a new direction. In the same way, after several years of hospice chaplaincy, God has led me to Burlington to accompany you during this interim time of transition.

    Which leads me to think about how we can make sure that as a group we don’t fall into a routine that keeps us from different ways of expressing the faith that binds us together in worship, fellowship and mission. Worship is really the most important thing that we do, so this month I’m going to try a couple of things that will break our routine. In place of the Gloria Patri as a response of praise after the assurance of pardon, we’re going to sing a verse of a familiar hymn tune. The Gloria Patri isn’t disappearing, but it will take its place in a rotation of a number of ways we can express our thanks for God’s forgiveness. We’ll do the same with the Doxology, another song of praise, and use other words and tunes as we present our gifts to God. Part of the reason is that the words that many of us have routinely sung all our lives aren’t necessarily known by the growing number of unchurched folks who don’t have the same history as we do. But part of it is also that some elements of worship can become too routine and it doesn’t hurt to explore some fresh words and tunes.

    To round out this “Trinity” of different words, we’ll also put into our rotation the “Ecumenical” version of the Lord’s Prayer, which is distinguished by its use of the words “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”, and “save us from the time of trial” instead of “lead us not into temptation”. It also omits the words “thy” and “thine”, which is actually usage that dates back to 17th century English, and is not from the original biblical text, which the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates as “you”, as in “your kingdom come, your will be done”.

    So, some words and tunes are changing. As we continue on the church’s transition to its next installed pastor, there will certainly be other changes that will be made. There may be things we need to let go of and there may be new mission directions that we pursue. This coming week I’m off to a seminar sponsored by the Interim Ministry Network. On the third page of a book I’m required to read in preparation for the seminar the author makes a distinction between change and transition. Let me quote what author William Bridges writes: “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. They aren’t the same thing. Change is situational: the move to a new site, the retirement of the founder, the reorganization of the roles on the team, the revisions to the pension plan. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological; it is a three-phase process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about.”

    I think of a dear church member from New Jersey named Mabel Cox. She was our oldest member and a plain-speaking soul from Maine, where she knew L.L. Bean (not the store, the person!). I always walked baptized babies back to Mabel’s last row seat so she could see them. She was poor and lived very simply, but she always graciously welcomed the newcomers moving into the big houses on what used to be farmland. When the church had outgrown a very small building, the members voted to buy 10 acres down the road and build a new church. A couple of months after we moved into the new church, Mabel was giving a “testimony” during the Stewardship campaign. In her very direct way, she looked out at the congregation and said, “You know, when we moved to this new church, I wasn’t really sure I liked it. But then I looked around me and I saw all the people I loved, and everything was all right.”
    May it be so.

    The Peace of the Lord be with you,

    Mike O’Brien

    Singing Valentine

    SingingValentine

    The Burlington Presbyterian Church and The Gentlemen Songsters are teaming up to raise funds to improve our church community.

    This year, when you purchase a Singing Valentine Delivery from The Gentlemen Songsters, 50% of the purchase will be donated to The Burlington Presbyterian Church

    A sharply dressed barbershop quartet will be escorted directly into the home or place of business of the unsuspecting loved one. They will sing a song that reflects your personal feelings and then present a single long stemmed rose, a Valentine’s Day card containing your words. A digital photograph of the occasion to help preserve the moment in time forever. The best part? Your sweetheart will be the envy of all that see what you did for them. That means big points for you!

    The reactions of past recipients of these singing telegrams are wonderful and varied. For many, it is a deeply moving experience, often with a tear. For others, it is an unusual and funny gift of love. For all, it is unforgettable!

    Valentines will be delivered FRIDAY 2/13 & Saturday 2/14, 2015
    (other dates by request)

    Packages Start at $79
    PLACE YOUR ORDER TODAY

    http://www.harmonize.com/gentlemensongsters/bpcvalentine/

    email: gentlemensongsters@gmail.com phone: 978.267.1644

    Serving Lowell, Chelmsford, Dracut, Billerica, Andover, Haverhill, Burlington, Bedford, Tyngsboro…..and More!

    Building the Team

    Our Gospel lesson for this week is Mark 1: 14-20, which is Mark’s account of the calling of the first disciples.  Jesus begins the process of “Building the Team” of those who will serve as his closest disciples. You remember the story: Jesus calls fishermen from their nets by the Sea of Galilee, telling them that from that time forward they be “fishing” for men and women who will join them in following Jesus. Scholar Bonnie Thurston in her book “The Spiritual Landscape of Mark” believes that it’s no accident that this all took place by the Sea of Galilee.  She writes,

    “The ancient Hebrews were shepherds and city dwellers, no sailors/explorers like the Phoenicians. For the Hebrews, the sea is an image of chaos…..everything comes from the sea and everything returns to it. It is an image of transformation and rebirth and the transitory condition of life. The presence of a lake or a sea in the life of Jesus is a reminder that life is, like the sea, constantly in flux.”  She goes on to say that Mark uses the image of traveling upon the sea as a transitional device in his narrative. She concludes, “What this suggests is that the sea is also an image of transition, of moving from place to place…..I am much moved by the idea that Jesus and the disciples had many transitions to undergo.. . .they are ‘on the way times’, times when we are moving to a new place, and new places are always, in part, places of promise.”

    Within BPC’s life, the most obvious transition is the interim time between pastors. But other transitions are happening all the time. Last week the congregation elected new Elders, Deacons and Trustees and thanked the officers whose terms are ending for their service to the church.

    A Civil Response

    “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me’. . . .Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth’. Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’. John 1: 43, 45-46.

    Nathanael apparently had a low opinion of Nazareth. Why was Nathanael so harsh on Nazareth? Perhaps it was because Nazareth was an obscure, isolated town from Galilee, a part of the Holy Land where people like Nathanael suspected that the family trees of the residents didn’t have quite enough branches, where the gene pool was a bit on the shallow side, and where nothing much had ever happened. The kind of place where you hope your car doesn’t break down or run out of gas; the kind of place where “those people” [insert your own prejudice here] live and you didn’t care to interact much with them. 

    At first, Nathanael sounds like a lot of people who populate the “comments” section of websites (check any major newspaper website) where, under the cloak of anonymity, respondents come forth with all kinds of foul and vile thoughts. To Philip’s everlasting credit, he does not respond to Nathanael in kind. Instead, he issues a simple, heartfelt invitation: “Come and see”. Upon seeing Nathanael, Jesus disarms him by offering a compliment of the highest order. In no time at all, Nathanael proclaims his faith in Jesus.

    On this weekend which honors the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my sermon is entitled “A Civil Response”. How can we draw on what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” and model civil discourse by surrendering to Philip and Jesus’ model of encountering others?

    On Monday evening, the Burlington Clergy Association is sponsoring a “Peace Meal” at Temple Shalom Emeth on Lexington Street, beginning at 6:00 p.m. It’s a pot-luck format (vegetarian, nut-free dishes welcomed) but even if you can’t provide a dish, come and participate in a program which will include some Burlington residents sharing their experiences with prejudice. Discussion around the tables will give us all a chance to interact with people from different backgrounds. There’s a sign up sheet in Fellowship Hall if you are interested!

    Crossroads January 2015

    Per Capita Offering
    Each year the Presbytery of Boston requires member churches to pay a “Per Capita Apportionment” to support the mission and ministry of the Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly. “Per Capita” means a certain amount to be given for each adult confirmed member of the church (children who are below confirmation age are not included.) This year’s Per Capita is $51.07. Two adult members in a household would each contribute $51.07; a family with two adult members, one confirmed youth and two younger siblings would be asked to contribute for only the three household residents who are church members. The Session invites you to use the Per Capita envelope in your envelope sets (if you use envelopes) or to use the Per Capita envelopes that can be found in the narthex. Please make checks out to the Presbyterian Church in Burlington. Every Per Capita payment received will free up money for use elsewhere in a very tight 2015 budget

    Deacon’s Corner

    Once again we would like to thank all who have been providing rides for George.

    The Deacons would like to thank everyone who gave generously to the many causes our church supported this holiday season: donating food for the Burlington Food Pantry, giving pajamas and underwear to People Helping People, volunteering at the Wish Tree at the Burlington Mall, and purchasing CDs for Living Waters for the World. We collected $360.00. 182 families were able to give gifts to their children because of the success of the Wish Tree. Some of you did it for the first time, so we hope you got hooked on the Christmas spirit and will be back in 2015!
    We would also like to thank the ladies of the Billerica Senior Center, especially Shirley Thornton, for their donations of hats and mittens. Your gifts helped make a merry Christmas for many people in our community.

    Don’t forget our monthly pantry needs of 20 oz. bottles of dish detergent and individually wrapped bars of soap. We always collect on the first Sunday of the month…Jan 4th this month.

    Annual Meeting – Come All Ye!
    Saturday, January 17 2:00 p.m. Fellowship Hall
    Ice cream sundaes – 1:30 p.m.

    The Annual Meeting of the Congregation of our church is one of the most important times we gather outside of our regular Sunday worship. All members of our church family are most Presbyterian-ly urged to come, for business and fellowship! Be sure to come in time for sundaes at 1:30!

    According to church bylaws, the meeting is held on the third Saturday of January. It is in the afternoon, for easier winter traveling and to avoid a late evening for families with young children.

    Moderator Mike O’Brien will call the meeting to order. Following brief devotions there will be reviews of the life of our church in the year just past, election of officers (candidates for elders, deacons, trustees, and next year’s Nominating Committee are due to be presented by the Nominating Committee); review of the budget for 2015 and approval of pastoral terms of call.

    Annual Reports will be available to the congregation by Sunday, January 11. Nominees for office to be presented by the Nominating Committee will be included.

    Stewardship Report
    Sue Hadsell

    Our last program for the year was The Christmas Joy Offering. We’re happy to report that we have received $1684.00!!!!

    The Christmas Joy Offering has been a cherished Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s. It helps fund the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, which provides current and retired church workers with the help they need to get through life’s unexpected challenges. The Offering also supports education at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges, promoting a commitment to higher learning and leadership development for all students regardless of race or economic standing.

    YAV REPORT
    Amanda Moar

    As we all know, pantries are the best and sometimes only way to provide food for families in need. They are an easy way for community members to come together and support one another either through volunteering or food drives. But it is not always enough. Most of the food being donated is canned goods high in sodium or sugar, not the best for people trying to remain health-conscious about their diets. As with every dark cloud, a silver lining does appear. In this case, it comes in the form of CSAs and community gardens.

    A great example of this silver lining is Mark Winne’s, “Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty”. Winne takes time to address the differences in society we witness every day, “the demand for fresh food raising in one population as fast as rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in another”. The book is filled with personal anecdotes and the stories of others’ about community gardens, CSAs, and food pantries that are receiving and distributing healthier foods.

    Please join the library, the food pantry, and the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation for a book study and discussion on “Closing the Food Gap”. The study will take place Thursday January 22, at 7:30pm. Books can be checked out and read beforehand from the library. Thanks and we hope to see you there!

    Women’s Bible Study

    The Women’s Bible Study will be starting up again on January 8. They will be starting off with a brunch and distributing the new study, “A Deeper Look at Fruit of the Spirit” by Hazel Offner. If you are interested in attending Bible Study, please come to the brunch. All are welcome.

    Christmas Tree Burning Fundraiser
    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    Boy Scout Troop 11 in Billerica will be accepting Christmas trees to burn at Grigg’s Farm on Saturday, January 10th. Burning begins at 6 p.m. Drop off dates are Saturday, January 3; Sunday, January 4; and Saturday, January 10, 9:00am to 4:00 pm.

    For more information contact: troop11info@gmail.com or visit http://www.troop11billerica.org.

    January Worship Themes

    January 4: Don’t pack Christmas away just yet! We will celebrate Epiphany, with a look at the visitors who came bearing gifts from the East—but we’ll also think about the Shepherds. The Scripture is Matthew 2: 1-12, and the meditation is entitled “A Celebration of Giving.” Don’t panic when you see the Shepherds in a painting on the bulletin cover. ☺ We’ll gather around the table and the stable for Communion.

    January 11: The Baptism of the Lord. Fast forward 33 years as Jesus presents himself to John the Baptist for baptism in the wilderness. Why the wilderness? What did it mean for Jesus to be baptized? What does it mean for us to be baptized? Mark 1: 4-11 is the scripture, but check out also Isaiah chapter 35, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall blossom like a rose,” and in chapter 43, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

    January 18: The scripture lesson is John 1:43-51, and the sermon title is “A Civil Response”. We don’t have a lot of civil discourse these days, but that’s not unique to our time. The scripture tells us how a man named Nathanael, upon hearing about Jesus, says sharply “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Ouch! But it gets better, thanks to civil responses from Jesus’ disciple Phillip and from Jesus himself. A pretty good lesson in defusing what might have been a nasty situation.

    January 25: The sermon title is “Building the Team”, based on Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 and Mark 1: 14-20. One scholar writes, “The ancient Hebrews were shepherds and city dwellers, no sailors/explorers like the Phoenicians. For the Hebrews, the sea is an image of chaos…..everything comes from the sea and everything returns to it. It is an image of transformation and rebirth and the transitory condition of life. The presence of a lake or a sea in the life of Jesus is a reminder that life is, like the sea, constantly in flux.” In that context, Jesus begins building the team.