This Sunday at Gateway Presbyterian!

Just a reminder that this Sunday, the 23rd of July, there will be no morning service at our church. We will be joining with the Kenyan congregation at the Gateway Church in Beverly, who worshipped with us earlier this summer. The service begins at 12:00 pm. They are located at 300 Cabot Street. Directions are below:

Take route 128/95 North. Continue on 128 N when 95 breaks off. Take Exit 20B (1A Beverly). This exit will put you onto Cabot Street. It is about 2 mi. At the first set of lights, bear to the left. (There are 4 or 5 streets intersecting there.) Stay on 1A. There will be a few more sets of lights. The church will be on your right. There is are two signs on the side of the building, one says “Pilgrim Church”; the other says “Jesus Lives”. As far as I know, it is all on street parking. There is a laundromat next door, but I don’t think you can use that lot.

There is a lot of roadwork going on. There was a detour. If that detour is still there, you would take a right turn follow to the end of the street, turn left at the end onto Elliott Street. Stay on Elliott St through a red light. Ate the end of the street, turn right onto Cabot. The church is a short distance on your right. This detour may be different on Sunday or may be gone.

This Grace That Scorches Us

While the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit filled the house where they were staying with the sound of rushing wind and divided tongues of fire, which rested upon each of the disciples. And then, in verse 4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” The crowds gathered there were from every nation, and they were amazed to hear the disciples speaking in their own native languages asking, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is like a reverse Tower of Babel story, where rather than separating people from one another based on different languages and cultures, God brings the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, in their own native languages, so that all may hear and understand. The Good News is not for one race or people; it is for all people, everywhere, as is made clear at Pentecost. We are living in a time of great division between people; a time when deep fears and hatred toward “the other” have been stirred up and encouraged to fester. Pentecost reminds us that God calls us all to be one; to love one another; to share the Good News of God’s love for the world through Jesus Christ through our words and actions.

This poem, written by Jan Richardson, is a beautiful reflection on the blessing that Pentecost offers us, to look beyond ourselves and our own limited world-view, and to be open to the gift of the Spirit at work in our lives and in the world.

This Grace That Scorches Us
A Blessing for Pentecost Day

Here’s one thing
you must understand
about this blessing:
it is not
for you alone.

It is stubborn
about this;
do not even try
to lay hold of it
if you are by yourself,
thinking you can carry it
on your own.

To bear this blessing,
you must first take yourself
to a place where everyone
does not look like you
or think like you,
a place where they do not
believe precisely as you believe,
where their thoughts
and ideas and gestures
are not exact echoes of
your own.

Bring your sorrow. Bring your grief.
Bring your fear. Bring your weariness,
your pain, your disgust at how broken
the world is, how fractured,
how fragmented
by its fighting, its wars,
its hungers, its penchant for power,
its ceaseless repetition
of the history
it refuses to rise above.

I will not tell you
this blessing will fix all that.

But in the place
where you have gathered,
wait.
Watch.
Listen.
Lay aside your inability
to be surprised,
your resistance to what you
do not understand.

See then whether this blessing
turns to flame on your tongue,
sets you to speaking
what you cannot fathom

or opens your ear
to a language
beyond your imagining
that comes as a knowing
in your bones
a clarity
in your heart
that tells you

this is the reason
we were made,
for this ache
that finally opens us,

for this struggle, this grace
that scorches us
toward one another
and into
the blazing day.

Crossroads for April 2017

Holy Week
The season of Lent leads us to the joyful celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, April 9 with a procession led by the church school children carrying palms. There will also be celebratory music as well as a look ahead to what we call Holy Week.

On Maundy Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. we will remember the Last Supper with communion received by intinction around the Communion Table.

Good Friday evening, April 14, come at 7:30 p.m. for our traditional Service of Shadows, or Tennebrae Service. It will be a time of prayer, readings and quiet vigil remembering the dark day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Then at last comes joyous Easter Morning on April 16. Easter Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. precedes Easter worship at 10:30 a.m. and culminates in the choir singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”.

If you would like to join the choir to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, please speak to Nancy Timmerman and arrange to get the music and come to practice with the choir.

If you are used to only worshipping on Palm Sunday and Easter, this year consider making Maundy Thursday worship and the Good Friday service part of your observation of Holy Week.

It will add to the meaning of Easter celebrations to walk with Jesus through the darker days of his journey to the cross and then his glorious resurrection. Also, we will need readers for the Good Friday service and please speak to Jennifer if you would like to participate.

As always, you are invited to sign up to be a worship assistant on a given Sunday. Kathleen and Rev. Trina provide the printed words you will need to assist in worship and can answer any questions you may have about helping in this way. If you would like to give a Word for Children some Sunday, sing in the choir or play an instrument please speak to James McIninch, Rev. Trina or Nancy Timmerman.

Thank you!
Jennifer Dewar, Worship Chair

Looking ahead…
On May 7th, we will share a joint worship service with Gateway Church, a new Presbyterian fellowship of Kenyan Christians in Beverly. Members of the Gateway congregation will join us here at our church for worship at 10:30, followed by a potluck lunch so we can get to know one another better. Led by Rev. Dr. Lawrence Mgbara, who will be our guest preacher on that date, the Gateway Church seeks to be a Presbyterian witness to Christ on Boston’s North Shore. We will find a date in the summer when we can join the Gateway Church to worship at their church also. We encourage all to stay for lunch, and bring a dish to share that represents your own cultural identity. Sign-up sheets will be in Fellowship Hall during the month of April.

Are you looking for a church home? Are you considering joining the church or transferring your membership from another congregation? Would you like to know more about what it means to be a Presbyterian? If you are interested in exploring these and other questions, please join us for an Inquirers’ Class on May 21st, following worship. For those who are interested in becoming members of the church, we will set a date to receive new members in June. Please speak to Pastor Trina if you would like more information about how to become a member of Burlington Presbyterian Church.

Christian Education
The Christian Education Committee, in conjunction with Pastor Trina, is hosting a Communion Workshop on Thursday, April 13th at 6:15 p.m.

We will start with a simple supper of pizza, then learn about the meaning of the Sacrament of Communion. After the workshop, we will attend the Maundy Thursday worship service, where participants will have the opportunity to partake in Communion. This workshop will be geared toward 2nd – 5th graders, but people of all ages are welcome. Please contact Ann McGrath (annrmcg@juno.com) if you plan to attend so that we can plan for enough pizza.

Something to keep in mind for the future – in the Fall, we plan to hold a confirmation class for youth who want to know more about church membership.

Have you heard about Camp Wilmot? It’s a Christian overnight summer camp program in Wilmot, New Hampshire for children entering grades 3-8. They have two one-week sessions, July 9-15 and July 16-22. Some of our youth have attended in the past and loved it. You can find out more about the camp from their website, http://www.campwilmot.org/youth-camps/. Registration is now open.

This year, thanks to a bequest from Duncan Cruickshanks, our church is offering parents a $200 per child scholarship to attend the camp. For more information, see Ann McGrath.

A Teaching Supper about Communion:
Maundy Thursday, April 17, 6:30

The Christian Education Committee and Pastor Trina will offer this opportunity for families with young children. There will be pizza and learning activities about the meaning and practice of the Lord’s Supper in our church. This event is planned primarily with elementary-age children in grades 2-5 in mind, but is open to families with children of all ages. All who come are welcome (but not obligated) to stay for the church’s Maundy Thursday communion service – which is typically briefer than most services, and is one of the times when we gather around the communion table for the sacrament.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order states “Baptized children who are being nurtured and instructed in the significance of the invitation to the Table and the meaning of their response are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper, recognizing that their understanding of participation will vary according to their maturity.”

Join the 49th annual Walk for Hunger

Join tens of thousands of people on Sunday, May 7th for the 49th annual Walk for Hunger, a Boston tradition of neighbors helping neighbors around the Commonwealth. The Walk for Hunger is a 20-mile Walk, which begins and ends at the Boston Common and weaves through Boston, Brookline, Newton, Watertown, and Cambridge. Walkers do not need to walk all 20 miles to participate. There are checkpoints approximately every two miles along the course, with complimentary shuttle buses back to the Common.

Why Walk?
We strongly believe that good food is a basic right! Although you may not always see it, there are nearly 675,000 people in Massachusetts who can’t reliably predict where their next meal is coming from. Among them, children are some of the most vulnerable to hunger.

The Walk for Hunger is a vehicle for people of all ages to make a real difference in people’s lives and take action against the local issue of hunger. Donations from money raised by Walkers, Runners, and Volunteers provide the funds for grants awarded to hundreds of hunger relief programs across the state, helping to ensure that people and families of all income levels have access to nutritious food throughout the year. Your fundraising and participation in the Walk is critical for the continued support of these programs.

What’s the connection to BPC?
Project Bread supports our local food pantry and more than 430 other community food programs. For many years now, our church has sent a team of walkers and volunteers and raised thousands of dollars.

How can I get involved?
If you would like to walk with this year’s team, contact Linda Roscoe, the team captain.

All are welcome, young and older, whether you walk 1 mile or all 20.
Volunteers are needed at registration and checkpoints. Make a pledge to one of our walkers or to the whole team. We’ll have a team pledge sheet posted.

How can I get more information?
There will be pledge/registration sheets on a table in the narthex.
Much more information is available online at http://www.projectbread.org

Belhar Confession

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Godself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ…”
(2 Corinthians 5:17-20a)

Throughout the season of Lent, a small group has been meeting to discuss the Confession of 1967 and the Belhar Confession, in both their historical context and their meaning for us in the church today. One of the things I appreciate most about these two confessions is their unflinching stance against all forms of discrimination and injustice, and the church’s responsibility to resist injustice wherever we encounter it. When we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, it means that all earthly powers and principalities are secondary to Christ’s power in our lives.

The predominant theme through both confessions is reconciliation, both in terms of God’s saving act of reconciliation through Christ’s death and resurrection, and in terms of how we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation in the world. The word, reconciliation, can be defined as 1.) the restoration of friendly relations following a disagreement or 2.) the act of making one view or belief compatible with another. It feels quite relevant to our present moment in history to be discussing reconciliation.

At a time when many of us have a hard time discussing opposing points of view, even with some members of our own family or circle of friends, it is important to remember that we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, as we read in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We are ambassadors for Christ, and that is an incredible responsibility. The Confession of 1967 states “The members of the church are emissaries of peace and seek the good of all in cooperation with powers and authorities in politics, culture, and economics. But they have to fight against pretensions and injustices when these same powers endanger human welfare. Their strength is in their confidence that God’s purpose rather than human schemes will finally prevail.” (C ’67, 9.25)

Acknowledging that we may have differences in how we respond to the social, political, and economic issues of this present moment in history, we must also ask ourselves how we can be ambassadors of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in and for the world. Not just for those who think as we do, who agree with us on the issues we think are most important, or who share our same belief system; but even with those from whom we feel most distant or divided, by ideology, religion, race, or socio-economic circumstance. As we prepare to walk with Jesus down that road to the cross once more, let us remember that it is through Christ’s sacrificial love that we find wholeness, and are empowered to be agents of God’s reconciling love in the world.

In Christ,
Pastor Trina

December 2016 Crossroads

Deacon’s Corner
Advent is truly a wonderful time of year, but it is busy for all of us. Your deacons are involved in several holiday projects and are grateful for the support of the church family.
We wish to thank all who came out on Saturday, Nov 26th for the “Hanging of the Greens”. We enjoyed a festive atmosphere with beverages and snacks and beautiful decorations for the Advent/Christmas Season.

Poinsettia order were due Nov 27. If you would still like one, call Jackulin David at 978-821-4184 by Dec 6. Each costs $10. Proceeds will go to the International Institute of New England which is the organization that we are sending welcome bins to for families new to this country.

Linda Roscoe is coordinating our volunteers for the Wish Tree at the Burlington Mall. This is a People Helping People holiday program in which children are given “wishes”. It involves a table on which cards with the wishes written on them are displayed. When someone obtains a gift he/she puts a snowflake on the tree. Gifts are given out to families the Monday before Christmas. Our days to staff the Wish Tree are Tuesday, November 29 (10 – 5), Saturday, December 3 (10 – 8) and Monday, December 12 (4 – 5 p.m. only). If you can take a two hour shift, please sign up or contact Linda, OR if you’d like to take a shift and our slots are full, also contact Linda.

Pajamas, sweatshirts and underwear are also part of PHP’s holiday program. On Sunday, November 27 and Dec 4. Linda McCusker will have cards with sizes and ages of the children who need them. We are asked to bring the gifts unwrapped to the church office no later than December 11.

Through mid-December we will also be collecting gently used or new coats, jackets and other winter clothing for Elm Brook Place in Burlington. Their clients are both men and women, aged 18 and older, some of whom wear larger sizes. There are marked boxes near the coat rack in the front hallway and in Fellowship Hall.

Stewardship Report

The Christmas Joy Offering celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ, the “wondrous gift” of God with us. Jesus arrived in a humble stable in a small and insignificant Bethlehem, to lead and teach in truth and love, and bring about God’s salvation to the world. What a “wondrous gift” indeed! This was a gift so profound that the only response was the bringing of more gifts; the Magi arrived with gold, frankincense and myrrh to honor the Christ Child
Half of the Christmas Joy Offering supports the continued ministry of educating and forming Christian leaders. The other half of the Offering honors those leaders who serve and have served us well. Through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, current and retired church workers who experience need because of tragedy, health concerns, or financial hardship can receive assistance from the church they have served so well. You will be hearing Minutes for Mission the next few weeks. Please listen carefully to the stories told and please give generously.

Harvest of Offerings Update: On November 20, we received 16 pledges. There are extra cards and sheets available on the table in the Narthex If you have not yet turned yours in, you may mail it to the office or place it in the collection plate on Sunday.

Youth see Heifer
On November 11th, nineteen members of Burlington Presbyterian traveled to Rutland, MA to visit the Heifer Farm. In the Global Village, we learned how families in various countries benefit from raising different animals – everything from worms to yaks! Did you know that snail slime is a valuable product? Or that you can drink yak milk? We also visited the one-acre farm and learned about sustainable, organic farming practices. We cooked our own lunch over a wood stove in a house with no running water or electricity, because that is how many families in the world manage. We learned that Heifer provides animals, seeds and training, and that these three gifts can empower families to become self-sustaining and entire communities to improve their standard of living.

If you want to know more about our experience, ask one of our many youth and adults who participated!

If you are interested in visiting Heifer Farm yourself, (it’s just a little over an hour from the church), check out http://www.heifer.org/visit/Heifer-farm. They will be having a Holiday Open House on December 3, 4, 10 and 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Free with a canned good donation!

As part of our effort to raise money to help Heifer with their program, some of the Sunday school classes will be decorating gingerbread houses on Sunday, December 11th and raffling them off during Coffee Hour.

An Invitation

“Comfort, comfort my people, says God”

There are many moments in our lives when we need comfort. There are tough times when we yearn for consolation. The suffering people who looked for the long-awaited Messiah were given a hope-filled image of God in the writings of Isaiah. It expresses the belief that no matter what happens to us, God will be there to comfort and support us.

Advent and Christmas can be a painful time for many in need of that reassurance and comfort. The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or have never had. The death of a loved one, whether recent or long ago, the anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation – all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.
We need comfort and encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

For these reasons, we are offering a special meditative Advent Service of Wholeness and Healing, Monday evening December 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the church.

Come out, and join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle – and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness. Everyone is welcome.

The short service will be followed by time for walking a canvas labyrinth in
Fellowship Hall. For those who are uncomfortable walking the labyrinth, there will be ‘finger’ labyrinths available to “walk” while seated, and chairs for those who may wish to just sit quietly near the labyrinth.

Pastor Nominating Committee
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) recently elected by the congregation has been meeting weekly since our election, and is hard at work. The PNC is being chaired by Elder Brenda Flynn, and includes eight members: Brad Morrison, Brenda Flynn, Caitlin Rivet, Chuck Anderson, Ferdinand Akombe, Judy Brunner, Kim Oey-Rosenthal and Vijay Johnson.

Our Presbytery Liaison is Jane Wilson, the current co-chair for the Committee on Ministry.

The PNC is currently working hard on writing our job description (aka Ministry Information Form or MIF). You can see the kinds of questions we’re thinking and praying through here: https://www.pcusa.org/resource/ministry-information-form/ . Once the MIF is complete, both session and presbytery will need to approve it before we can submit it.

The process is a highly confidential one, so don’t worry if you don’t hear a lot. We are working hard in hearing and seeking God’s will for our congregation!

Here we go a-caroling….

Meet at the church on December 11 at 2:45 pm. Join a caroling caravan to senior residences, shut-ins and other friends. All ages are welcome-singing ability optional. We end by 5:00-5:30 with a warming supper. Would you like to host? Sign up on bulletin board in Fellowship Hall.

Christmas Eve Tableaux
The long-standing Burlington Presbyterian tradition of the Christmas Tableaux is coming up quickly! Mark your calendars for 7 pm Christmas Eve! (Rehearsal will be 6:30 on Friday the 23rd!)

Our young actors hail from 2nd grade through high school readers. Most eligible kids should have gotten an invitation to sign up. If you lost your form or failed to get one, reach out to Brenda Flynn (brenda@tiltedworld.com) to let her know what part you’d like to play!

We’re also looking for some adult assistance. We need some wranglers to help make sure the kids are dressed and ready for their big entrances. We also need some additional outfits. The biggest need is for white angel outfits (to fit a wide variety of angel-sizes). We could also use more shepherd’s costumes.

The service will end with our traditional Joy to the World as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the living Christ!

Christmas Eve Service
A Family Tradition with Crèche, Carols and Candlelight
Saturday, December 24 − 7:00 p.m.

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. Pastor Trina 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.

Women’s Bible Study
Women’s Bible Study will begin a new study in December. We will be studying the book of Colossians and learning good study skills at the same time. Please come and join us on Thursday mornings at 9:30!

Pumpkin Patch Report
Thank you again for all who helped out at the fourth annual Pumpkin Patch held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church during the month of October. Approximately 21 church and community organizations participated in the staffing over a 29 day period, including 3 rainy days. Total sales were $10,621with an average day sale of $367. The highest daily sale was $955 and the lowest was $16. This effort resulted in a check for $4,700 given to People Helping People last Tuesday night at the appreciation dinner.

Proclaiming the Mystery: Advent 2016

So much of life is, indeed, a mystery to us. My Gran had a chronic form of leukemia, with which she had lived and managed quite well for several years. But eventually, the treatments that were available became less effective and then unable to prevent the progression of the disease. We knew that she was dying, and with the help of home hospice services, we were able to keep her comfortably in her own home, where she wanted to be. One afternoon, she was feeling well enough for a visit from her next-door neighbor, who had recently had a little girl. She brought the baby over, and my Gran held her quietly, staring into her sleeping little face. After a while, she whispered, “Isn’t it something? One life ending and a new one just begun.”

Every birth, every new life, is a mystery. And death is a mystery to us as well. And both are a reminder to us of how we are all connected to the mystery that is greater than ourselves. None of us knows how it will all work out. None of us has all the information we would like. Sometimes we don’t have all the information we would like, but we have to make a decision anyway. And in those moments, the best we can do is to step out in faith, like Mary, a young woman faced with carrying that mystery into the world, and trust in the promises of God to catch us.

Mary’s song is one of resistance, of hope, of mercy, of joy. In her reflection on how to live in hope even in the midst of a world filled with pain, Lindsey Anderson writes: “Active Advent waiting, hopeful resistance, shining on means, in the face of that which would destroy, we choose, again and again, to live. And to live fully, to embrace all that it is to be in this wide world. To resist the evil agendas of injustice, greed, fear that seek to steal away our humanity. To reject the lie that to be unaffected or impervious is best; instead we choose to be open to beauty, mystery, risk to the brokenness and suffering of others and so to the redemption that has been seeded into each of us.”

She continues, “There is a power, a light, a resistance in choosing, choosing our humanity, choosing to inhabit our life. In Advent, we live into the reality of our dying selves, knowing that weak and vulnerable, finite form is where the miracle of God’s Love chose to come and do its work.”

We are called to proclaim a mystery. A mystery in which the very heart of God was made manifest in a tiny, fragile baby; born to a young, vulnerable mother; of an occupied and oppressed nation. In the words of Isaiah, the desert shall burst forth with life, and streams of water will flow in the wilderness. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees,” says Isaiah, “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.” (Isaiah 35:3-4, NRSV)

This Advent season, let us proclaim the mystery of our faith. Let us, like Mary, step out in faith, leave our fears behind, and believe that every word God has said will come true.

Pastor Trina