March 2014 Crossroads

Interim Search Committee formed

The Session has appointed a committee of 5 persons who will seek a minister to serve in an interim capacity. Ken Dewar, Niloo Hennings, James McIninch, Brad Morrison and Linda Roscoe have agreed to form the committee. Brad will serve as convener, at least initially. The committee will work closely with Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry in finding a minister trained in interim work, to begin at some time following Rod’s retirement (April 30) and serve until a new pastor is called.

Part way through the interim period a pastor nominating committee (PNC) will be elected by the congregation to do the work of finding a candidate for the church’s next installed pastor. The interim period typically lasts 1.5-2 years.

Congratulations… Angela Wantate has been chosen to represent the Boston Presbytery in Detroit during General Assembly in the role of Young Adult Advisory Delegate. This will take place in June. This is an exciting opportunity for her. Wish her well when you see her.

Mark Vogel has been appointed chair of the Committee on Preparation of Ministry by Boston Presbytery. It is a wonderful opportunity for him to share his knowledge with a greater audience.

Coffee with Rod

As you all know, our pastor is retiring as of April 30. He would like to visit and talk to each one of us individually, but that is not practical. We have devised a plan so that all who wish to will have a chance to have coffee/tea with Rod. We envision small group gatherings for sharing memories, hopes for the future, and maybe prayers together. We have set up a schedule of days and times to choose from. You will find sign-up sheets in the usual place in fellowship hall, or you can call the office to let the secretary know which of these times you would like to meet with Rod.

Coffee with the Pastor
Wednesday, March 19, 7-8 PM
Saturday, March 29, 3-4 PM
Thursday, April 3, 1:30-2:30 PM

(Those who would prefer to meet with Rod individually before his departure should also feel welcome to contact him at the church.)

Deacon’s Corner
The deacon’s held their first meeting a little late because of being snowed out on our original date. New assignments were distributed. Once again, we ask you to give generously to the food pantry on the first Sunday of each month. The winter is a difficult time of year for many families.

Thank you all for the rides for George. He appreciates it and so do we.

Friday Night at the Movies!
Friday, March 14, 7:00 pm
Feature Presentation to be announced

Free! Bring friends! Popcorn!

The Hospitality Committee

YES, of course there is a party being planned to celebrate our years at the Presbyterian Church in Burlington with our beloved pastor, Rod MacDonald.

Planning is just in the initial phase, but the evening of Saturday, April 26th can be marked on your calendar.
The event coordinators are Vida Pipim and Jane McIninch. See them for more information.

There will also be a special coffee hour after Rod’s last service with us on April 27th.

Winter Retreat Recap

On February 1st, eighteen good folks experienced a refreshing retreat about Seeking Simplicity. Sixteen folks were from BPC and two were friends of the church from Burlington and North Andover. The morning was spent in worship, praise, and in finding ways to simplify our lives. After small group discussions about what simplicity could look like, groups decided to tackle three themes in more depth: (1) Simplifying their minds and lifestyles, especially from the complexities and distractions of technology; (2) de-cluttering and simplifying homes and possessions; and (3) focusing and discerning priorities. Vigorous discussions ensued and some strategies and solutions were formed and then shared with the whole group.

Some of the solutions we came up with simplifying lifestyles in the complexities of today’s world and technology were defining your priorities, being able to articulate and communicate them, and stick with them. Be comfortable asking for help, it’s OK to let some projects/tasks fail, and never lose your “inner river otter” (always have fun and find enjoyment in life). Solutions for de-cluttering our physical lives were to schedule a time as a family to go through stuff and get rid of it, use the time to tell stories on why items are important to each family member, and learn about each other’s attachments as you clean up. You don’t have to say yes all the time. Ask yourself why you’d say yes to something? Think about what you are doing and determine why it is important. O.H.I.O. = Only Handle It Once (complete a task as you think of it and don’t set it aside for later). flyady.net is a helpful on-line resource. Find affirmation when you do something good. Solutions for discerning priorities and de-cluttering minds were to find out what you are drawn to, align your needs with others, trade certain times and spaces for personal Sabbath and keep your mind at rest at these times. Hopefully these can be starting points for others thinking about simplicity.

After a delicious pot luck lunch, the first part of the afternoon was enlivened with a class in making pesto, a class in Qigong, spiritual reflection, and “doodling” and conversation. This was followed by a presentation from our YAV Alex Haney about the Boston Faith and Justice Network’s take on simplicity as a tool for discipleship. Groups considered how we can respond to Jesus ‘call to care for the hungry and oppressed by taking stock of our basic needs and finding ways to share with others while simplifying our own lives. Participants also discussed the influences on how we think about money and how we think about our resources. The day closed with worship and the delightful haunting notes of “Simple Gifts” as played on a recorder. It was a lovely day for those who attended.

Legends of the Celtic Harp with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter at BPC
Sunday March 23, 3:00 pm
Admission: $15.00

LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC HARP – with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter
Three of the premier Celtic harpers in the world, Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter have created a dramatic ensemble that takes you deep into the myths, magic and fabled history of this most captivating instrument. You will hear three harps, Swedish Nyckelharpa, Cittern, Irish Bouzouki and more. History, humor and heartwarming stories are woven together with enchanting music both ancient and new. http://www.LegendsOfTheCelticHarp.com

Spring is in the Air

If spring is coming that means it is time for Farmer Dave to return. The spring shares will be starting March 3, 2014. Pick-up time for spring are 4-6:30 pm. If you have not signed up yet, hurry! You don’t want to miss out on the tender baby vegetables that will soon be here. It’s not too late. For more information, see Jane or Alex.

YAV Report from Alex Haney
Manna Monday
President’s Day 2014 at the church was very exciting for 7 of our youth and their parents. With a visit from my friend Ezekiel we heard a first-hand account of God giving Moses’ people what he called “Bread from Heaven” and what they called manna which is translated “What is it?” There are two biblical accounts of manna given to the Israelites in the desert: Exodus 16 and Numbers 11. The Israelites in their hunger and impatience lost faith in God and wanted to go back to Egypt, where even though they were slaves, they had plenty to eat. God gives them plenty of manna to keep them going. Enough each day so they wouldn’t need extra. Every morning there was more food so they didn’t need to store it or hoard it away for later. There was always enough. (Except for the Sabbath when there was none, but they were allowed to save up for that on the sixth day only).

The story was echoed by a Rod MacDonald original song about Manna, followed by a Burlington original Bible and botany lesson. We learned about the versatility of manna, how it was a wafer-like substance, similar to coriander seed, and scattered on the ground like frost. The Israelites could eat it plain or smash it into powder with a mortar to make cakes that tasted like a wafer cooked in oil or dipped in honey. It was a versatile substance with several end uses much like flour is for us today. We use flour for bread, taco shells, doughnuts, cakes, pancakes, noodles, biscuits; the list goes on.

After some very fun food related games, the kids journeyed through the process of sorting out the wheat grains from other things, and pounding it into flour with a mortar like the Israelites did with the manna. We also made pasta from scratch with just flour, eggs, salt, water, and lots of love and care of everyone’s hands. Some of the longest noodles I’ve ever seen were made right here in our church! It made a tasty snack for us, but was kind of bland without any pasta sauce. I guess that’s ok because Moses’ people never got any tomato sauce from God with their manna (at least none I’m aware of) and it got them through the desert to the Promised Land!

Mark your calendars for the next Manna Monday on April 21, Patriots Day! While the church is celebrating new life in the season of Easter and Massachusetts celebrates our historic birth as a new nation we will discover biblical themes on seeds, sprouting, and new life together with other kitchen-crafting activities. More information to come. Just let me know if you or your kids want to get involved. (alex@bostonfaithjustice.org) Many thanks to Sally, Beth, Jane, James, Amy, Barbara, Steve, Rod, Kim, Millie, and everyone who let us borrow your stuff and your kids to make “manna.” I really enjoyed it!

Lent and Our Real Journey

Lent begins in Ashes, on Ash Wednesday, March 5 this year. Ashes are symbolic of the human struggle. We don’t like to think about the evil in and around us, but we know that it is real. Just as are our conflicted relationships, and our perishability.

Why be intentional about these during Lent, when our impulse is to fasten on the pretense that we can be above and outside them? Is it because with Jesus, we are able to journey through the human struggle and learn about dignity and hope? Is it because Jesus faced the worst the world can offer, but did not surrender love? Because with him is our hope of life that is stronger even than death?

During Sundays of Lent this year, we will go with Jesus as he meets up with folks who are facing the kinds of questions and troubles we also know: Nicodemus, the questioning Pharisee; the Samaritan woman thirsty for more than water; a man born blind; and sisters Mary and Martha, grieving the death of their brother, Lazarus.

We will meet again these folks, and reflect on how Jesus ministered to them in ways that opened real life. And we will meet them in ourselves – and maybe find anew that our hurts and challenges can be transformed into something new, and beautiful.

I recently came across this poem by Wendell Berry that speaks to this hopeful paradox:

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

And that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

There are rocks in the streams of each of our lives. During this Lent, with Christ, may we find the singing waters flowing in and through us.

Peace,

Rod

February 2014 Crossroads

Legends of the Celtic Harp with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter at BPC
Sunday March 23, 3:00 pm
Admission: $15.00

LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC HARP – with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter
Three of the premier Celtic harpers in the world, Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter have created a dramatic ensemble that takes you deep into the myths, magic and fabled history of this most captivating instrument. You will hear three harps, Swedish Nyckelharpa, Cittern, Irish Bouzouki and more. History, humor and heartwarming stories are woven together with enchanting music both ancient and new. http://www.LegendsOfTheCelticHarp.com

Lazarus at the Gate: An economic discipleship study
Are you interested in learning what the Bible says about our gifts of wealth, and learning practical ways to more effectively serve our neighbors and fight poverty?

This year, The Presbyterian Church in Burlington is exploring these ideas with the Boston Faith and Justice Network (BFJN), a gathering of Christians from many different traditions sharing a common concern to love our neighbors through economic discipleship: following Jesus with our money.

The church will be exploring this idea of economic discipleship with BFJN’s Lazarus at the Gate Bible Study during Lent. This 8-session curriculum will take place following worship each Sunday from February 9 – April 6 (no workshop on Feb 16-holiday weekend). Each session will include a light lunch (soup and salad) and last about 1 ½ hours. It is best if participants commit to the entire course.

Lazarus at the Gate allows small groups to explore economic discipleship by studying biblical themes on wealth and poverty; sharing personal budgets; making changes, small and large, to live more simply and spend more justly. The program ends with participants contributing to a group gift to fight poverty in the name of Christ. The Lazarus program helps groups make four commitments:

  • Spend joyfully Regularly give thanks for the blessing of what we have
  • Spend justly Make one lifestyle change to consume more justly
  • Spend less Make one lifestyle change to spend less for ourselves
  • Give more Make a gift to fight poverty

    Our group will be challenged to make personal changes to spending choices to save money and with the savings, give more effectively toward a few charities of the group’s choosing.

    Just as an example, six members of the Lazarus at the Gate study group at Cornerstone Church of Boston recently donated over $19,000 to sponsor children in the Congo through Covenant Kids Congo, a partner of World Vision! Only six people! You can read about that here: http://blogs.covchurch.org/covenantkidscongo/cornerstone-called-to-restoration-work/. Stories of other groups that have gone through the study can be found on the BFJN Website: (bostonfaithjustice.org.)

    Please talk with Millie (emlydgrammy@comcast.net) or Alex (alex@bostonfaithjustice.org) if you have any questions or would like to sign up.

    Deacon’s Corner
    As most of you know, the deacons have an Emergency Fund that helps members of the congregation in times of duress. We have had to tap into that fund a few times in 2013. The fund is diminishing. We are asking your help in replenishing it for 2014. You will find envelopes in the pockets in the pews marked Emergency Fund. Please try to give what you can to help.

    Thank you!

    Confirmation Classes

    Confirmation classes will be beginning on Sunday February 9. Youth of eligibility age should have already been contacted. More information to follow. Please see Rod with any questions.

    Seeking Simplicity

    Are you feeling stressed out after the holiday frenzy? Do you feel like you have lost control of parts of your life? This is just the time to take a break and come to a retreat. On February 1st, from 9:30 AM to 3 PM we will discuss together what steps we can make to simplify our lives. We will enjoy a pot-luck lunch together. Each person will have a chance to de-stress by enjoying a choice of activity. Plans are still in progress but likely to include the following: low-impact movement and meditation called Gigong; livelier music and dance; an art project; or learning to cook something new. And of course there will be times of worship and praise.

    As a bonus, all will have a chance to preview the Lazarus at the Gate discipleship curriculum. This will give folks a chance to see whether they want to sign up for the eight week course which will begin on February 16th and continue through Lent. Be assured, however, that even if you are not able to attend the retreat, you can still sign up for the course.

    Because we want to maintain a fairly calm, quiet environment, we do not plan to offer child care at this event. However, if you really want to attend and this is an issue, please talk to Rod or Millie and we will see if we can work something out for you.

    Begin thinking about what simplicity means to you. Here are a few quotes to start you off: “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” ~ Charles Warner
    “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

    We look forward to seeing you on Feb 1st (snow date – Feb 8th)

    YAV Report from Alex Haney
    Simplicity
    Before this year, my idea of simplicity has always been about being cheap, conserving resources and helping the environment; it was never a church thing. Yet the last few months of retreat planning, bible study with the YAV program, and work with BFJN, I’ve seen that simplicity is something God wants us to do also.

    It goes beyond being a hippie and riding your bike. In fact, it goes way back to before there were hippies. The Old Testament prophets have been shouting God’s command for us to take care of the poor, the orphans, the widows, and those who can’t take care of themselves since they first heard God’s voice. Some sound pretty harsh on what happens if we don’t. Commandment #10 says not to covet, and we are told to love our neighbor. Jesus asked the rich man to sell his possessions give the money to the poor and follow him.

    As Christians, we are to seek ways to help those in need. How simply we can do this by loving thy neighbor, sharing resources, and not taking more than our share. These are just a part of “simplicity.” Freeing ourselves from our own wants and complexities, inside and out, brings us closer to God and allows us to be aware of and love our neighbor. In today’s world most of the economic activity we support can exploit the poor, the oppressed, the widows and orphans. That’s where local food and fair trade comes in the picture. God wants us buying things that build up the earth and the people involved rather than exploit them for profit, leaving people and the planet poor, desolate and homeless.

    Simplicity is not easy. It’s complicated. It’s all about being self-aware of your motivations, your actions and your thoughts and then being intentional about what you do, and how you treat one another. That’s the spirituality of it. It is an inward simplicity and an outward simplicity, and a corporate simplicity as a body of Christians. The simple life isn’t the easy one, but the self-aware and intentional one.

    Yes, God does want us to conserve our energy resources, to use less stuff, to throw away less, and to think about things before we do them because that builds up the widows, the oppressed, the poor, and the hungry. I now live simply not only to be cheap, not only to use less fossil fuels, but because these are ways I can love my neighbors more. These are ways I can focus on God more than my stuff. Simplicity allows me to ignore distractions so I hear and feel God, and the love of those around me, and I can show this love more freely.

    Our retreat all about simplicity is fast approaching for Saturday February 1 from 9:30 am to 3:00pm. I’d encourage you to come share your own thoughts and hear others about simplicity. Whether you make it or not, I’d encourage you to refer to the bibliography of resources from the retreat to learn more about living simply as a Christian discipline. I’d recommend Living More with Less by Doris Jane Longacre and Richard J. Foster’s Freedom of Simplicity. Those inspired this article.

    Other Food Justice News
    Manna Mondays
    Are you ready for a President’s Day like no other?! Sign your kids up for the first ever Manna Monday on February 17 (1pm-4pm) for an afternoon of pasta-making and wheat-milling! We will explore the biblical stories of manna from heaven, grind flour from wheat berries, and make pasta from scratch! As the Hebrews in the desert depended on manna from God (a starchy wafer substance) for sustenance, we depend on the earth, and the long process from start to finish for eating things like noodles and bread. Have your kids join us to learn all about, manna, pasta, and flour! School aged kids, (K-12) are welcome. A mid-afternoon snack will be provided. Sign-up in the fellowship hall or by phone with the church office (781-272-9190) by February 10 to reserve a spot. Contact Alex if you’d like to help supervise. alex@bostonfaithjustice.org

    Boston Faith and Justice Network (BFJN) Update
    Millie and Alex will begin teaching BFJN’s Lazarus at the Gate Curriculum on Sundays for 1.5 hours after worship starting February 9. It will last for 8 weeks until March 30. The class will examine the biblical themes of wealth, poverty, and generosity with real life ways to make a difference for the kingdom of heaven through our spending choices. Personal spending habits will be shared. The goal of this candor is to create an opportunity for a change in lifestyle to more effectively fight poverty and to make that change with the support of the group. A light lunch of soup and salad will be provided. Sign up in the fellowship hall. See Alex or Millie with questions.
    For those who cannot attend Lazarus at the Gate but would like to learn more about economic discipleship, BFJN is looking for participants in a brand new initiative to get Christians thinking about generosity with our tax refunds! Contact Alex for more information.

    Local Farm Connections
    Keep an eye out for brochures from local farms. This summer we hope to offer connections with more farms than just Farmer Dave’s! If things go according to plan we hope to have eggs, meat, cheese, and other farm-fresh products available to Burlington area residents on Mondays during the Farmer Dave’s pick up. See Alex or send him an E-mail if you know of local farms or growers you want to see involved. alex@bostonfaithjustice.org.

    News from the Philippines
    January 8, 2014

    Dear Friends,
    Today marks the second month since the most powerful and destructive typhoon on record devastated the central islands of the Philippines –- over 6,000 dead, 2,000 missing, I million homes destroyed, 4 million displaced. You responded in several ways — through clothing donations and funds for shipping costs, donations to Project C.U.R.E., funds to support a health clinic in one of the central islands, financial aid for students at Silliman University who lost family members and livelihood in the islands of Leyte and Samar. Thank you for your continuing prayers, long after the typhoon is no longer in the news cycle of international disasters.

    Here are some updates:

    Bart and I shall have sent 10 big boxes of donated clothing by the end of this month. They will be distributed by church groups to survivors in Leyte and towns in Northern Cebu. Those who survived the storm lost everything. Several of my relatives who were spared the fury of the storm are helping with the distribution process.

    Project C.U.R.E. (www.projectcure.org ) has sent two 20-foot container vans of medical supplies and equipment to a heavily-damaged hospital in Tacloban, Leyte, and the epicenter of the storm. This hospital continues to see hundreds of patients a day despite overwhelming limitations and welcomes the arrival of donated emergency supplies and equipment.

    The funds for financial aid to students in need at Silliman University, where Bart and I have done volunteer work recently, will be used specifically to help senior students graduate this March. This Presbyterian school is committed to finding ways of keeping 200 college students in school despite the incalculable loss of their homes and their parents’ livelihood.

    In one of the islands that the typhoon missed by 15 miles, there is a grassroots health clinic that needs basic medical supplies and is run by volunteer doctors and nurses. Bart and I are advocating for this Christian-based outreach to rural folks with no access to medical care. Some of you designated your financial contributions for this on-going project with a future.

    What to pray for in this period of rebuilding and reconstruction: The United Nations estimates that the recovery period for a disaster of this magnitude is 5 to 6 years, so the Philippines has barely just begun. These are some of the immediate needs:

    That the primary need for shelter be made available to the thousands of displaced families.
    That those on the ground who are helping (doctors, social workers, nurses, and volunteers) will be given the strength to persevere, as they too have to deal with their own trauma.
    That honest government officials handling foreign aid will put the people’s welfare first.
    That the survivors will not lose hope in the midst of unimaginable loss and tragedy.
    Our deep gratitude for your partnership,

    Priscilla and Bart Kelso

    Friday Night at the Movies!
    Friday, February 14, 7:00 pm
    Feature Presentation to be announced
    (watch your bulletin)
    Free! Bring friends! Popcorn!

    Crafter’s Group
    The Crafter’s Group will suspending their meeting in Feb, Mar & Apr. Please plan on joining us in the Spring. Bring those projects you’ve been meaning to finish, but just haven’t gotten around to.

    Bridges: Growing Older, Growing Together
    “The Burlington School System is privileged to incorporate the “Bridges: Growing Older, Growing Together” program into some of our 4th grade classes. This wonderful program pairs volunteer senior citizens with small groups of children in the classroom for an hour a week, over a 6 week session. During this time, the children have the opportunity to get to know a senior and to learn from their experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about a different generation and for seniors to have the opportunity to see how children learn today. So much has changed in our schools and our approach to teaching. For this program to be successful, we need seniors who are willing to volunteer an hour of their time once a week for a 6 weeks session. Many enjoy it so much they ask to do more than one session! Sessions take place at different times over the course of the second half of the school year. (Depending on the school). If you know a senior, grandparent or neighbor, who would enjoy getting to know some fourth graders, please encourage them to fill in an application at the Senior Center.

    Any questions may be emailed to Caroline Mallard at cmallard1@hotmail.com, list “Bridges” in the subject line. For more information on this nationwide program: http://www.bridgestogether.org/”

  • Winter Scenes, Church Vitality

    Having just come home after an afternoon of giant flakes and tricky driving – one of New England’s little surprises – and an annual meeting at which 26 hardy souls managed to gather, I’ve been recalling some past winter scenes at BPC. I’ll share a few here, not merely to reminisce, but because they are signposts of the vitality of the church family:

    Snowy Sunday mornings – I remember one in particular – when the group of us who gathered in the entryway really enjoyed seeing who made it, and who had come the farthest, and the fellowship was so good nobody moved toward the sanctuary until finally time for worship.

    Shoveling off the church roof…there have been 3 or 4 times during these 35 winters when the trustees deemed it important to clear off the 3 feet or so of heavy stuff. The first couple times it was definitely all volunteer, young and old up on the roof, quite a lot of us, pushing the stuff over the side, and the atrium filled all the way up to the roof line and above.

    Cold spells, really cold, when the concrete floor beneath the pews just wouldn’t warm up and the assembled worshipers were urged to stomp their feet in rhythm to warm themselves up a little.

    An Advent Sunday, my first December here, I think, when I set off to walk to church through a foot or so of the white stuff (with a backpack carrying bread and grape juice for communion). A snowplow stopped, asked where I was headed, invited me into the cab and dropped me off right in front of the church. Nobody came…but I was ready!

    I do remember a long time ago sledding at Simonds Park with the youth group; at the time, someone had a toboggan or two. I’m sure we headed back to church for cocoa.

    A snowy Christmas caroling expedition when we couldn’t make it all the way up one especially long, steep driveway, but left our cars and walked the rest of the way to enjoy singing to Marjorie Murphy.

    This is not a church that calls it quits at the first sign of winter challenge. It is a vital church, full of good will and “doers,” blessed as it is with the presence of God’s Spirit. And I know you can look forward to many more winter adventures in the years to come!

    (Thanks for letting me reminisce…you might expect some more in the next few months!)

    LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC HARP – with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter

    LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC HARP – with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter
    March 23rd 2014
    3 pm
    Burlington Presbyterian Church
    335 Cambridge Street – Burlington MA

    Legends of the Celtic Harp

    Legends of the Celtic Harp

    Three of the premier Celtic harpers in the world, Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter have created a dramatic ensemble that takes you deep into the myths, magic and fabled history of this most captivating instrument. You will hear three harps, Swedish Nyckelharpa, Cittern, Irish Bouzouki and more. History, humor and heartwarming stories are woven together with enchanting music both ancient and new.

    Contact Burlington Presbyterian Church to reserve your place for this amazing concert at burlpres@aol.com or 781-272-9190.

    www.LegendsOfTheCelticHarp.com

    After the Star…

    We will soon be peering beyond the glow and celebrations of the holidays into the new year. We eye its coming with expectation and uncertainty, hope and anxiety. We know for certain that change is on the way – for you, and for me. The church family will be entering an important time of both saying goodbye and affirming its strengths as my time for retirement approaches at the end of April. More importantly, we know that the challenges of staying faithful to the meaning of the Incarnation, of Christ’s presence in human life, of the message of his coming in peace and with good news for the hurting, will go on. It was his work; now it is ours.

    I’ve used this quote from Howard Thurman many times, so I hope you’ll be patient with my offering it one last time. Thurman was the Dean of the Chapel at Boston University for many years, the first African American to hold this post at a mostly-white educational institution:

    “When the song of the angels is stilled,
    When the star in the sky is gone,
    When the kings and princes are home,
    When the shepherds are back with their flock,
    The work of Christmas begins:
    To find the lost,
    To heal the broken,
    To feed the hungry,
    To release the prisoner,
    To rebuild the nations,
    To bring peace among brothers,
    To make music in the heart.”

    — from The Mood of Christmas

    Another quote from Thurman points toward the hope we can have as we try to follow the Christ of Bethlehem into a struggling world:

    “In the conflicts between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation, the loneliness of the seeker for community is sometimes unendurable. The radical tension between good and evil, as man sees it and feels it, does not have the last word about the meaning of life and the nature of existence. There is a spirit in man and in the world working always against the thing that destroys and lays waste.”

    This “something” we know as God’s Holy Spirit. It is at work in you and me, in the Burlington church, and everywhere people are trying to do “the work of Christmas”.

    Good hope for this new year!

    Rod

    Crossroads for January 2014

    Deacon’s Corner

    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, baking breads for The Dwelling Place, volunteering at the Wish Tree at the Burlington Mall, providing supplies for the School Kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and purchasing CDs for Living Waters for the World. We collected $435.00. We would also like to thank the ladies of the Billerica Senior Center, especially Shirley Thornton and Betty Anderson for their donations of hats and mittens. Your gifts helped make a merry Christmas for many people in our community.

    Annual Meeting – Come All Ye!
    Ice cream sundaes – 1:30 p.m.
    Saturday, January 18 − 2:00 p.m. Fellowship Hall

    (If weather appears to be a factor, there’ll be a message on the answering machine by 11 a.m.; snow date: January 25).

    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. Childcare will be available.

    Moderator Rod MacDonald 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 2014 and approval of pastoral terms of call.

    New Business: At this meeting the congregation will be asked to approve the request from Rod that the presbytery be asked to dissolve the pastoral relationship between him and the church effective April 30, 2014. The Rev. Diane Cusamano of the presbytery will be available to answer questions. We hope many of will attend for this important opportunity.

    Annual Reports will be available to the congregation by Sunday, January 12.

    Nominees for office to be presented by the Nominating Committee will be included.


    Are you feeling stressed out after the holiday frenzy? Do you feel like you have lost control of parts of your life? This is just the time to take a break and come to a retreat. On February 1, from 9:30 AM to 3 PM we will discuss together what steps we can make to simplify our lives. We will enjoy a pot-luck lunch together. Each person will have a chance to de-stress by enjoying a choice of activity . Plans are still in progress but likely to include the following: low-impact movement and meditation called Gigong; livelier music and dance; an art project; or learning to cook something new. And of course there will be times of worship and praise.

    As a bonus, all will have a chance to preview the Lazarus at the Gate discipleship curriculum. This will give folks a chance to see whether they want to sign up for the eight week course which will begin on February 16th and continue through Lent. Be assured, however, that even if you are not able to attend the retreat, you can still sign up for the course.

    Because we want to maintain a fairly calm, quiet environment, we do not plan to offer child care at this event. However, if you really want to attend and this is an issue, please talk to Rod or Millie and we will see if we can work something out for you.

    Begin thinking about what simplicity means to you. Here are a few quotes to start you off:

    “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” ~ Charles Warner

    “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

    We look forward to seeing you on Feb 1st

    (snow date – Feb 8th)

    Lazarus at the Gate: An economic discipleship study

    Are you interested in learning what the Bible says about our gifts of wealth, and learning practical ways to more effectively serve our neighbors and fight poverty?

    This year, The Presbyterian Church in Burlington is exploring these ideas with the Boston Faith and Justice Network (BFJN), a gathering of Christians from many different traditions sharing a common concern to love our neighbors through economic discipleship: following Jesus with our money.

    The church will be exploring this idea of economic discipleship with BFJN’s Lazarus at the Gate Bible Study during Lent. This 8-session curriculum will take place following worship each Sunday from February 16 – April 6. Each session will include a light lunch (soup and salad) and last about 1 ½ hours. It is best if participants commit to the entire Lazarus at the Gate allows small groups to explore economic discipleship by studying biblical themes on wealth and poverty; sharing personal budgets; making changes, small and large, to live more simply and spend more justly. The program ends with participants contributing to a group gift to fight poverty in the name of Christ. The Lazarus program helps groups make four commitments:

    • Spend joyfully – Regularly give thanks for the blessing of what we have

    • Spend justly – Make one lifestyle change to consume more justly

    • Spend less – Make one lifestyle change to spend less for ourselves

    • Give more – Make a gift to fight poverty

    Our group will be challenged to make personal changes to spending choices to save money and with the savings, give more effectively toward a few charities of the group’s. Just as an example, six members of the Lazarus at the Gate study group at Cornerstone Church of Boston recently donated over $19,000 to sponsor children in the Congo through Covenant Kids Congo, a partner of World Vision! Only six people! You can read about that here: http://blogs.covchurch.org/covenantkidscongo/cornerstone-called-to-restoration-work/. Stories of other groups that have gone through the study can be found on the BFJN Website: (bostonfaithjustice.org.)

    VNA Hospice Care needs volunteers!

    Hospice volunteers play a key role in helping to provide caring and compassion to patients and families facing life-limiting illness and loss. A volunteer may provide patients with company and emotional support, give the spouse, partner, or other caregiver a needed break from care giving, and/or help caregivers run errands or get to and from appointments. A strong need exists for volunteers who can also visit on weekdays. We also seek: musicians who would like to sing or play music quietly at the bedside of nursing home residents; Reiki practitioners who would like to offer Reiki to patients and/or caregivers; and people who are interested in visiting with their therapy dog. Volunteers who speak both English and a second language are also helpful. We provide volunteer training and ongoing support.

    Call 781-569-2888 and ask to speak to a volunteer Coordinator for more information. Or email LPalaos@vnab.org

    Become a blood donor -call 1-800-Give Life to schedule an appointment.  No experience necessary!

    Friday Night at the Movies!
    Friday, January 9, 7:00 pm

    An Irish couple and two young daughters move to New York City for his dream of being an actor.

    Their adventures are comical, harrowing and heartwarming.

    Free! Bring friends! Popcorn!

    Crafter’s Group

    The Crafter’s Group will be starting up again on January 17th, 7 pm. Please plan on coming to join us.

    Bring those projects you’ve been meaning to finish, but just don’t get around to. We still have blankets to work on if you don’t have a project of your own.