Pastor Trina talks about Abraham and Sarah, an unlikely couple to become the root of the the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In a world that divides itself by it’s ideologies, it is important to remember that collectively we are one extended family.
This week Rev. Trina talks about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He did not just teach, bought he taught teachers and built up a new movement that became the Christian church built out of dark times, he led a people to question authority and stand for what’s just.
Every year we celebrate the birth of Christ with a telling of the Christmas story by our kids. This year was no exception! Here are some of the pictures of our congregation in joyful worship together!
On Baptism of Christ Sunday, Rev. Portillo speaks on the transformative nature of baptism and how it is borne out in the story of Jesus’ own baptism as an inflection point in the life of Christ.
Happy New Year, all!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a podcast, but since people have asked, I’m going to make an effort to keep up. Here’s the meditation from the New Years’ Day service…
While Rev. Portillo was visiting family, James provided a meditation on the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
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.
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.
“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 (email@example.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.
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.