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:
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 (email@example.com) or Alex (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or would like to sign up.
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.
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.
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
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
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. email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the Philippines
January 8, 2014
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!
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 email@example.com, list “Bridges” in the subject line. For more information on this nationwide program: http://www.bridgestogether.org/”