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.

Christmas Eve Service

Image

Hello Friends

Hoping you will come – and invite friends and neighbors:

Tuesday, Christmas Eve, 7:00 p.m. – Our traditional Family Service for all ages with Nativity tableaux (scenes), carols and candlelight. The nursery will be heated for any parents and young children who need a break.

A great time to invite others!

Reminder for all those who are part of the tableaux – rehearsal is Monday night, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 29 – Worship at 10:30 (no classes except for preschool)
A visit from Bethlehem’s innkeeper

A blessed Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

Let us worship together

Brothers and Sisters:

There will be an opportunity for worship this morning, 10:30.
   No choir
   No Sunday School

It was a challenge digging out our cars – so we want NO ONE to feel they must come. We’ll have a simple service for anyone who arrives.

CAROLING is cancelled for this afternoon – since the forecast is for increasing cold and possible icing.

Snow for December 15

Hi Friends

As of now, we are not cancelling worship for the morning.  If there is a decision to close, it will be made and posted by 9:00 am.

The Adult Class HAS been called off, since we figure that at best folks are going to be slower getting up and out of their driveways.

If we do go ahead with worship, NO ONE should feel obligated to come, even if you have are scheduled to teach, sing, light candles, do coffee, whatever. We would want no one to feel unsafe in coming to church.  You can always reply to this email, or call the church, if you want to send regrets.

One more note: The gun buy back we helped sponsor in Burlington was more successful than the clergy and police had guessed it would be – at least 15 guns were turned in. There may be coverage on the Channel 4 news at 11.

Crossroads for December 2013

News of our Church Family

Outreach to Lord Baron fire victims…
Thanks to all who contributed to the special offering to help support the Basic Needs Fund of People Helping People, which has been helping to fund the stays in temporary quarters of those dislocated by the October 23 fire. Our giving came to: $600 and was added to that of other congregations. The Basic Needs fund has provided at least $11,000 in combined assistance for hotel accommodations, gift cards for food and clothing, etc.

And thanks to those who helped set up and clean up from the Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner for the Lord Baron folks on Monday, November 25, prior to the Community Thanksgiving Service at our church. Special thanks to Sally Morrison, our coordinator. The main meal was provided by Teddy Menounos of Lester’s Barbecue Restaurant.

Final meal served at Dwelling Place…
There was a good team there on November 20, when we served supper to diners at The Dwelling Place for the final time. Jennifer Sullivan, current DP coordinator, was there to express thanks for our many years of service. She understood that it has become more of a challenge to our servers to fight traffic, etc. after all these years.

On Sunday, November 17, all BPC members who have served, cooked, or otherwise provided for the DP over the years were asked to stand and be acknowledged. It look like most of those in the sanctuary were standing!

Deacons Corner
On November 20, we had our last supper at the Dwelling Place. It was a bittersweet event. Many thanks to all who have given so generously for so many years to this special mission of our church. We served 13 guests.

Once again we are volunteering our time to the PHP Wish Tree. Our dates are Nov 30 and Dec 4. Thank you to all who have signed up. We are also continuing our tradition of donating to the Pajama and Underwear Drive. Thank you to all who took cards. The gifts MUST be in the office by Dec 8th.

As you all know, George loves receiving mail. We will have Christmas cards available for you to send to him on the table in the narthex.

See more info under Mark Your Calendar for something new for Advent from the deacons!
Mark Your Calendars

Community Christmas Sing-a Long
December 6, 2013
7:00 p.m.

Please come! Invite family, friends and neighbors!

Family Advent Event
December 8, 2013
11:45 am

All Sunday School families invited! Make stained glass windows for church and home.

Come A-Caroling!
Sunday, December 15  2:45 p.m.

Fun for all Ages
The rallying time will be 2:45 p.m. in the church parking lot. Join a caroling caravan that will take us to various places such as senior residences, nursing homes, and homes of shut-ins. If you have suggestions for places to carol this year, speak to Rod soon! We will finish by 5:00 or 5:30 with a simple but nose-and-toes warming supper. If you’d like to be our host for supper this year, and you live not far from the church, we’d love to have an invitation. Otherwise we will share a meal at the church. It’s a truly intergenerational and heartwarming time. Look for signup on church bulletin board.

Christmas Eve Service
A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight

Tuesday, December 24 – 7:00 p.m.

It’s a long-lived tradition at BPC. There will be nativity tableaux vivants (or living scenes) featuring young folks in the roles of Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men. Choir and congregation will join in many carols. The service will end with a spreading of candlelight throughout the sanctuary. Mr. MacDonald will give a brief message. The Christmas Joy Offering will be received. This service is a wonderful way to introduce friends and neighbors to the church – and maybe to make a difference in their lives.

Dine for a cause
Friday December 13 at 6:00pm at the Presbyterian Church in Burlington
335 Cambridge Street
Take an evening off from the Holiday rush and join us for a Filipino inspired dinner with lots of Filipino dishes and other types of food, so there will be a little bit for everyone.

Donations will be accepted for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for the Philippines. Make checks out to ʻthe Presbyterian Church in Burlingtonʼ, memo ʻPDA-philippinesʼ Please RSVP to Sally Morrison at sallymorrison19@gmail.com, even if you cannot make it but still would like to contribute please mail checks
to The Presbyterian Church in Burlington, 335 Cambridge St, Burlington, MA 01803

Brought to you by the Deacons

Legacy Christmas is a collection of Celtic-inspired Christmas carols important to Presbyterians throughout the generations—-“treasured carols of the Kirk”. Produced by Living Waters for the World (LWW) through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Legacy Christmas is performed by some of Nashville’s and Ireland’s top musicians; it features acclaimed vocalist Alyth McCormack (of the Chieftains) on three of the ten tracks.

These CDs will be on sale in Fellowship Hall during Advent for $15.00 each. The money will go to support Living Waters for the World, a ministry of the Synod of Living Waters, PC(USA) and the PW Birthday Offering. While the income generated is important, the real story is in the ministry itself—clean water—and PW’s partnership with LWW, improving the lives of women and children throughout the world.

Women’s Bible Study
Thursdays at 9:30 am

Our Women’s Bible Study group is acting as a field test group for next year’s Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study, Water. This is a nine week commitment and an agreement to provide feedback on each lesson. A confidentiality agreement must be signed in order to attend. If you would like to learn more about how you can participate, please see Marylou Lynn.

Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Report from Alex Haney
On Friday November 8, the sanctuary was filled with about 30 members from the Burlington community, to watch A Place at the Table—a film highlighting some of the widespread systemic causes for hunger in the United States. The film addressed some impacts that our food system, the federal food stamp program, farming policy, and individual food choices have on hunger and health.

I’ve seen this film three times now, as it brings up a lot of the problems my fellow food justice YAV’s and I are working on—getting affordable, healthy food to all people and treating the many hands that prepare our food with justice, kindness and mercy while caring for God’s creation that provides the food. After the film, Rod opened up a discussion to the floor as well as to our panel of experts to discuss what we each found shocking or surprising about the film. In my prior experiences with this film the discussion usually leads to policy, and specific ways each of us can petition the government to respond to this.

This time the subject of education took over the conversation, not policy. A general agreement with our audience was that parents aren’t teaching their kids how to cook healthily any more—parents may not even know how themselves. Neither are most schools with the removal of Home Ec. and kids aren’t learning about healthy food, like how to make soup from scratch for instance, and the convenience foods are taking over our diets. Billboard advertisements, commercials, and even grocery stores are promoting the boxed, canned, shelf stable foods, and especially the junk foods and sodas which have become much cheaper than the healthy whole fruits and vegetables. Shelf stable processed foods also fill food pantries because of their shelf life. Farmer Dave mentioned noticing that at farmer’s markets older generations buy more of the vegetables, while younger generations go for the baked goods or ready to eat fruits, because that is what each is used to cooking. There is a generation gap and education gap in our food system. This is having terrible health effects leading to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease all related to diet. This film and conversation called each of us to work to change our own choices, and the broader public’s choices on healthy foods, and learning how to use fresh produce is one way to go.

So what is being done to educate Burlington on healthy foods? Peter Coppola is working diligently to set up community gardens and school gardens in Burlington to teach kids about their food. Jane McIninch and Christine Ventura are doing their part to educate the food pantry clients on what the Farmer Dave’s leftover produce is and how to prepare it so they can eat healthier. We also teach the senior center about the fresh leftovers as necessary to feed their members.

For next year with farmer Dave’s CSA, I hope to get the church involved with bringing more education to the members about what to do with this healthy food members may have never seen before. Recipes, cooking lessons, and other kitchen skill sharing events can do this. The more people share ideas on how to eat healthily and justly, the better we can fight hunger in this area. I would encourage you to watch the film at some point and join this conversation about addressing hunger and health in America and in Burlington. Consider sharing your cooking expertise with the CSA members. Help those misplaced by the area fire through offering a healthy meal and monetary donations. Put something in the food collection bins for the food pantry. Maybe we could start gardens, or advocate for community gardens to donate fresh produce to the food pantry during the growing season instead of only non-perishables. Share your own ideas with other church members. There are many ways to show the love of God to our neighbors through food justice, so let’s keep this work going together!

Burlington Clergy, BPC, and Burlington Police Co-Sponsor Gun Buy Back Program

What do Burlington residents do if they have guns or other dangerous weapons they no long want? The Burlington Police Department will be holding a gun buy back on December 14, 2013.

The timing is to coincide with the first anniversary of the shootings in Newtown, CT last year. The Burlington Clergy group initiated this idea, and it has had the immediate and active support of Police Chief Michael Kent.

Some incentive for those who might consider turning in guns will come in the form of gift certificates supplied by the Wegman’s Supermarkets company, which is building a new store in Burlington. But BPC’s Session has also participated: About 50 “Project Child Safe” gun safety locks have been purchased with $100 from this year’s directed mission line in the church budget.

“Burlington is a safe community and the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and law abiding. This initiative of collecting unwanted guns and weapons, addresses a vital public safety and public health issue” according to Chief Kent.Unwanted firearms are a potential ha zard in any home. Unwanted firearms can be stolen, used in accidental shootings or a suicide. When guns are used in criminal attacks, the outcomes are often irreversible and fatal.

Any unwanted guns or weapons can be brought to the Burlington Police Department on December 14, between 9am and 1pm or can be picked up during those hours by the Burlington Police Department by calling 781-272-1212

The Session hopes that the church family will find this a meaningful part of our mission, and pray for its success during this Advent season when we welcome again the child of Peace.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Had it been a big year in the Empire? Caesar Augustus maintained his grip. It was the year of the first Empire-wide census, which was sure to bring taxation to support his wars in the north. Astrologers might have proclaimed the discovery of a new star. Herod and Quirinius, meanwhile, had kept things quiet enough near the eastern frontier, with its ever-present threat of Jewish rebellion.

Hardly anyone had noticed the coming of the child of a Nazareth carpenter and his wife, born in a stable in an over-crowded town.

So much has happened in our world in 2013 A.D. The Marathon bombing, the Philippines typhoon, Edward Snowden’s revelations, Syria’s agony, the health care rollout, the Red Sox… all important in their different ways.

Advent, though, is a time for recalling that long-ago stable birth, and to search today beneath the headline events, in the quiet shadows, for the revealing of the God of the simple and the small. The God who acts through barely-noticed deeds of kindness, love, and justice – person-to-person, like the gradual spreading of a candle’s glow.

This will be the last Advent and Christmas for Cathy and me here in Burlington. I look forward to sharing their traditions with you. But this is not the real news for us as people of faith: for that, we look to the ongoing work of God in Christ, giving birth to the way of hope for us and for all people, today, tomorrow, and always.

O come, O come, Emmanuel!