Be the church

What does it mean to “be the church”? I recently read a beautiful essay called “Church Is What We Create with Each Other” by Erin O. White that really captured the blessings of being a smaller church. In it, she describes how her church does announcements at the beginning of each service, which can be anything from the mundane to the joyful, as when an 89-year old member announced the birth of his twin granddaughters one Sunday. People share reminders about upcoming events in the life of the church and community, or ask for donations or volunteer help with something.

“For a long time announcements bothered me,” White says. “I thought they kept us from what mattered, that they were housekeeping, business best conducted somewhere else. Was now really the time to talk about pancake breakfasts and broadband networks? But I’ve since come to understand that yes, actually, now is the time. Because I’ve learned — over many, many years — that church isn’t about order or quiet or even ritual so much as it is about showing up. For yourself, for God, and for the people around you who need to feel — just as you do — that the blessings and burdens of being a human are not theirs to bear alone.”

Indeed, church is about showing up for one another, in many ways. In the small ways perhaps even more so than the big ones. Church is when someone picks you up and gives you a ride to church on Sunday mornings; or when someone brings a home-cooked meal to your house when you are sick. Church is sending cards or flowers; it is going to the memorial service for your loved one. Church is helping someone else’s child get a glass of juice at coffee hour; it is a phone call to make sure you are okay when you haven’t been at church for a while. Church is about sharing our joys and concerns, not just during prayer time in the service, but at other times as well.

“When you are part of a church you accept people’s offerings, even the ones you don’t necessarily want,” White goes on to say. “One week their announcements will bore you and the next week they will make you weep, and sometimes it will be the same announcements. And sometimes during a hymn they’ll start a harmony and you’ll join, and your voices will become a conversation, an expression of love between people who by many measures barely know each other at all.”

So, let’s keep showing up for each other, as we move into this Eastertide season filled with new life and new possibilities. Let’s create the church we want to be, together.

Mission Team

We are approaching the second anniversary of the first time I came to preach at Burlington Presbyterian, and yet we are also setting out on a new phase in our journey together, as pastor and congregation. I am excited about celebrating my installation as your next called and installed pastor on February 4th! While I feel that I have gotten to know many of you individually, and as a church, I also still have much to learn. In many ways, we have been in a holding pattern over the past two years, as you grieved the loss of Pastor Mike and prepared the search process through the PNC. We have done well at keeping the basic functions of the church going strong – and have even made some changes here and there! – but we have not delved too deeply into what really makes you passionate and energized to serve Jesus Christ beyond these walls.

As a church, you have supported many missions and ministries both here in your local community, such as People Helping People, Camp Wilmot, and Elmbrook Place, and in the wider world, from Heifer Project International to special offerings for disaster relief and in many other ways. We are a small church, but we can make a significant impact on the lives of those in our pews and in the world around us when we work together. I would love to hear from you about where you think we can make a difference, whether on a local, or larger scale issue.

We will be putting together a mission team to determine where we want to focus our efforts as a church for the upcoming year, and determining some ways we can serve God together in our communities. If you know of opportunities or organizations that would benefit from a group service project, we are open to suggestions! And if you are interested in joining the mission team to help guide our focus and narrow things down, please let me know. This is a time for dreaming new dreams and seeing new visions! What new thing is God doing in the life of Burlington Presbyterian Church, even now?

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Trina