Grace to you and peace, from God Our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! Our hearts are full this week in response to the unfathomable loss of life in Turkey and Syria. It may be that devastation in this degree might make the sermon title this week, taken from our lesson from Deuteronomy, feel extreme when speaking of God’s law, of God’s commands to God’s people. “So that you and your children may live” is given as a reason to be obedient, and we know that even good and faithful people experience calamity. So, what are we to do? How are we to feel? Our coming together in worship begins to help us answer the question as we forge a way of living in mutual support. Let us pray and sing together!
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! I hope very much that everyone within reach of this email is inside, safe and warm! Writing to you from the basement of St. Francis, I pray that the reason this “warming center” has not been utilized is that all are cared for indoors on this bone-chilling weekend. Figuratively warmed as well, by the good conversatIons I have been having with the few other people gathered here, I give thanks that we come together as one community to serve those in need.
Meeting the needs of others is what we are called to do in response to God’s love for us, which is a point highlighted in the texts this week (and every week?). In the Gospel of Matthew we move beyond Jesus’ description of those who are “blessed” by God–now and when God reigns on Earth–to a fuller development of God’s commands to us. To love our neighbor is not an easy task; forgiveness is not easy. The prophet Isaiah spells out in very direct terms how we are to live, what we are to do for others, and on this frigid weekend, we may follow those commands very literally.
We have spoken of turning the heat down in the sanctuary. Rest assured, the heat is on this weekend!! In fact, we have determined to keep it at the usual temperature through the winter, as some people are, indeed, uncomfortable with cooler temps. So, look forward to coming out of our temporary hibernation tomorrow for the warmth of fellowship in worship, including the sacrament of Communion. Those of you at home may wish to bring your own elements to your table to partake together with those in the sanctuary. Until then, please stay safe and warm!
With temperatures predicted to be well below 0 degrees over the weekend, we will be helping to host a WARMING CENTER at St. Francis Church on Hinckley Ridge Road. Please spread the word to anyone who is without shelter this weekend or who has lost power or heat. Likewise, if you are willing and able to take a four-hour shift in offering hospitality, with a second person as well, please reach out to Milissa LaLonde, who is their Chief Warden. You may contact me for her phone number. Thank you for your help! Stay safe and warm!
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! After a week of dark skies, fluffy snow and then thawing rain, we have a glorious Saturday, albeit with the return of true winter cold! Grateful for the participation of many in the congregation who attended a meeting Tuesday night to discuss how we do the work of ministry together, I turn to this Sunday’s lectionary texts with similar thankfulness. We learn in each of the three readings just “what the Lord requires” of us and what the Lord also prepares for us. So, we are invited to consider the way that our lives lived faithfully is the way we worship, and to consider that when we live as God asks us to live, we get a glimpse of heaven on earth. That may seem hyperbolic, as if we throw around the concept of heaven lightly. What we learn may surprise us, though, and certainly will challenge us. Our Wednesday evening Zoom meditation group took as our focus an interesting quotation: “Bless us with wise patience and wise impatience, Good Lord.” We need to know when to act and when to wait; we need to look for the good we can do as we respond to God’s goodness to us. Isn’t that what a life of faith should be, and isn’t the church meant to be a vessel for the goodness we can do together? Come, let us worship together on Sunday and throughout the week.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! This Sunday is what is known as Ecumenical Sunday, which begins A Week of Christian Unity. I am thankful for this reminder of the way that God wants us to be in communion with one another, not at odds with one another, and particularly not about our faith! So, our service will include a focus on how we view others and how we may work to include others as true neighbors, whether next door or around the world. We also will begin to look at fostering our ecumenical relationships in town as I reach out to church leaders in neighboring churches to plan for worship and study in the months and years ahead. Come celebrate together!
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! One of the great pleasures of serving for years in the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was making music with a good friend, saxophonist Willie Sordillo. Part of a group we gathered together to perform music by the band U2, we shared with congregations around the state the songs that celebrated good news with its origins in scripture. Many of you are probably familiar with their song “40,” though you may not have known with certainty that its lyrics come from Psalm 40. Thanks to Dave Quinby for saying yes to playing it with me for our worship tomorrow as we look at the things that sometimes challenge and sometimes bolster our faith. Faith can be slippery and our assurance often rocked. So, we are invited to come together for mutual uplifting and communal conversation around the subjects that concern us. See you in church!