Centre Congregational ChurchUnited Church of Christ
We Welcome Everyone: An
“Open & Affirming” Church
(781) 334-3050;Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email:
The Rev. Dr. A. Rand Peabody,
Interim Pastor - Pastor@centre-church.org
September 20, 2006
As the fifth anniversary of the passing of the last of my Uncles drew near recently, I found myself doing one of those "find-files-containing-text" searches that are particularly inclusive on the computer of someone who’s deleted very few files since the late summer of 1991. My search-phrase was simply "Uncle Hal", and one of the items that emerged was a piece that I’d written for a church newsletter a decade ago. I had even sent it to Hal at the time, and I’ve decided that it contains what I most want to say to you in what will be my final "regular" word in this space. So here it is:
I just had another warm and affirming talk on the phone with my Uncle Hal, and I find myself wishing that I could spend more time with him than the distance between Boston and Denver allows. Harold is my late father's younger brother. I first got to know him at my grandmother's home in Maine when I was a child, and I learned quickly that Hal is a person who emphasizes the positives about people and situations. "Aren’t you a nice-looking nephew!" he would say to me time and again when I was six. And it isn’t just with me, by any means. Hal will typically exclaim, "Wasn't she a wonderful person!" or "Wasn’t that a beautiful thing to see!" or "Didn’t we have a lovely time that day!"
It isn't that Hal hasn't experienced plenty of negatives. He was nearly killed in a plane crash during World War Two, after which he spent months and months in a cramped military hospital. And after he had finally managed to get back to civilian life, he struggled perpetually to make ends meet as a traveling salesman traversing the great unpopulated reaches of the West. And now sadly, in the past few years, he has developed a near-crippling condition of osteoporosis. And his heart’s weakening. And there have been some difficult challenges in his family.
I recall an excerpt from a speech given by the famous novelist, Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut told his hearers, "I had a good uncle named Alex, who’d say -- and it could be just a pitcher of lemonade in the shade-- he would say, ‘If this isn't nice, what is?’"
"If this isn't nice, what is?"
Yet how often do we tend to favor the opposite tonality: to emphasize what’s wrong, to fear the worst, to grow malcontent. Of course, that's our right-- and there is a responsibility, surely, to be appropriately critical of ourselves, as well as of our institutions, our leaders, our society, and even our dear ones.
But there is ALSO a right and a responsibility to affirm ourselves and others (and ESPECIALLY our dear ones). We can build up instead of tearing down, and we can simply rejoice in the fact that, as the writer Robert Louis Stevenson once expressed it:
The world is so full of a number of things
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
And indeed, where more than in a congregation of Jesus Christ should the prevailing sentiment be tilted toward the positive in a way that my Uncle Hal would appreciate? Where better than a beloved church like this one to cultivate a constant Spirit of mutual affirmation and beneficent joy!
Because: "IF THIS ISN’T NICE, WHAT IS?"
What I wrote way back then absolutely applies to you, as well. And believe me when I say that what I have found here at Centre Church in this brief slice of interim-interim time has been very, very "nice", indeed! As Mike Dunfee put it to me the first time we talked, "THIS IS HOLY GROUND."
Mike was right.
Yours in the Spirit—
IN THE SANCTUARY
September 24, 2006
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
De-Commissioning of Pastoral Search Committee
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. A. Rand Peabody
"Iron, Steel, and Roses"
Children may worship with their families before going to
Service broadcast on Lynnfield Cable Channel 10 (Comcast) & Channel 28 (Verizon)
and Peabody Cable Channel 10 at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.
Golf Tournament – September 22
It’s not too late to register for the 4th Annual Centre Church Golf Tournament to be held on Friday, September 22 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Net proceeds will benefit our Missions program. The cost of $100 covers the greens and carts fees. Call Phil Johnson (781-598-5678), Chris Parker (781-334-4335), or Rick Carey (781-595-9402) to register.
Sunday, September 24
Not surprisingly, Rand Peabody has turned to some words of Bob Dylan’s for the title of his final sermon as our "Interim-Interim Pastor". If you want to be ready to sing along in church on Sunday, then listen ahead of time to a song called "Never Say Goodbye" on the relatively obscure album, Planet Waves. And while Rand will definitely be saying goodbye to Centre Church as of September 30th, he wants to leave us with an image of the never-ending work of upbuilding our congregational life as a calling that includes "Iron, Steel, and Roses." The supporting Scriptures are Paul’s concise description of the fruits of God’s Spirit at Galatians 5:22-23;25, and Jesus’ well-known parable of the two builders at Matthew 7: 24-27. The service will also include a "De-Commissioning of our Pastoral Search Committee".
Thank You to Rand Peabody
On June 18th I signed an agreement with Rand Peabody. At the time neither he nor I knew if this would be a short term or long term call for him to be our Interim Pastor. Despite that uncertainty we plowed ahead knowing that whatever happened would happen. I appreciate Rand's willingness to take us on not knowing what the future would hold. His faith that this was the right thing to do made me feel it was the right thing to do as well.
This has been a marvelous three months. Rand slipped seamlessly into this role. He has held our attention during worship, been involved with the life of the church in deaths and weddings, held some very intriguing bible classes, kept us moving in the right direction and given some helpful insight to our new settled pastor. Beyond that he has even managed to not only participate with our golf group, but come out on the winning end more than once!
Rand, on behalf of Centre Congregational Church I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to you for your time and energy; for your companionship and warmth; and for your willingness to be a part of our congregational life for this short tenure. We will always be grateful that we had this time to spend with you and that we have traveled on this journey together. May God be with you in all of your future endeavors.
Phil Johnson, Moderator
There will be NO Youth Group Meetings on September 24. Instead, plan to attend the Mission Trip Appreciation Dinner with your family.
We will be meeting at the regularly scheduled time on October 1 (6:00-7:30 p.m.)
Mission Trip Appreciation Dinner
Please join the High School Youth on Sunday, September 24 at 6:00 p.m. for an appreciation dinner thanking all those who supported our fund raising efforts for the New York City Mission Trip. After dinner we will be giving a presentation of the highlights of our trip. Please call the Church Office by Thursday September 21 (at the latest) if you are planning on attending so that we will be sure to have enough food for all.
P.S. Rumor has it that all of our "flocking flamingos" have not left town. Come see what is in their future.
Missions Notes for September
Reminder: Our September Collection of School Supplies to be passed on to the clients at Haven from Hunger in Peabody is rapidly coming to a close. If everyone donates a few things, it will add up to a tremendous help to those families who find it hard to manage the extra expense that the new school year brings. You will find a collection cart in the narthex when you come to church on Sunday.
Non-perishable foods are also most welcome.
Welcome back! We are happy to have the opportunity to work with the children and youth of Centre Church. We were very pleased to see so many familiar faces and equally as pleased to see some new faces in the crowd. Nursery is once again being offered for infants through age 3. Drop by and meet our kind and caring nursery staff in Room 14.
We welcome all children and youth to participate in the workshops being held for Pre-K-7th Grade each Sunday following the Children’s Time in the sanctuary. This fall our main focus is on the book of Exodus. Please call Jill Couillard or Barbara Langill in the church office for more information.
The 8th Grade Class will meet each Sunday (except for Communion Sundays) following the children’s time in the sanctuary. They will meet in the Pastor’s outer office. Please remember the 8th Graders will stay in the Sanctuary for the entire service on days of Communion.
Calling All Bakers
We are eagerly awaiting Dennis Bailey’s first Sunday with us here at Centre Church. As you know, we have planned a welcome luncheon after the service on Sunday, October 1st. We could use a few people to provide some easily handled desserts (cookies, bars or squares.) If your talent involves baking and you would like to be a part of our welcome, just call Ann Decker at 781-334-3927. Thanks!
8 O’Clock Wheel
The 8 O’Clock Wheel will gather in the Fireside Room on Tuesday, October 10 at 1:00 p.m. for a Fall Tea. All members are invited and encouraged to bring a friend.
Interim Pastor Rand Peabody will lead his final Thursday Morning Scripture Seminar on September 28. The Seminar will run from 10:30 to approximately 11:45 a.m. in the outer Pastor’s Office.
The focus, as announced last week, will be on the multiple "I-AM" statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Those statements are these:
"I am the Bread of Life"-- John 6: 35, 41, 48, 51 ("I am the living bread which came down from heaven").
"I am the Light of the World"— John 8:12; 9:5
"I am the Door of the Sheep-fold"— John 10: 7, 9
"I am the Good Shepherd"— John 10: 11, 14
"I am the Resurrection and the Life"-- John 11: 25
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (or, "I am the True and Living Way")--John 14:6
"I am the True Vine" (and "you are the branches")-- John 15: 1, 5
We will examine these unique metaphors of Christ’s with an eye to better understanding Jesus’ own sense of His mission as God’s "Messiah" (a word which means, "the one who is sent").
No prior knowledge of Biblical content is required, although Rand recommends that those planning to attend the session prepare by reading the passages cited above.
From the Mailbox
Many thanks for all your cards, flowers, and other expressions of sympathy shown to us during our great loss of husband, father, and grandfather.
Ginny Davis and Family
Thank you so much for your "get well" wishes. The shoulder is improved by a piece of titanium (I hope). Now it’s up to me.
A Huge thank you for all of the kind thoughts, cards, flowers, visits, and friendship while I have been homebound recuperating from foot surgery. Both George and I have benefited from your warmth and caring. Pretty soon I will be able to fend for myself and I look forward happily to that day.
Morning Worship- Sanctuary
Child Care – Room 14
Youth Choir – Choir Room
Worship Team – Pastor’s Office
Shareholders’ Dinner – Richards Hall
Get-Together Wheel Lunch-
Knitting Group – Fireside
Parish Council – Pastor’s Ofc.
Scripture Seminar – Pastor’s Office
Senior Choir – Choir Room
Our thoughts and prayers are with Hal Holappa at the Veterans’ Hospital, 200 Springs Rd., Bedford, 01730; Mildred Lisi at SunBridge, 134 North St., N. Reading, 01864; Catherine Newman at Oosterman’s, 93 Laurel St., Melrose, 02176; Jack Turner, at Arnold House, 490 William St., Stoneham, 02180.
We also remember in our prayers, Dana Robinson in Kuwait and Dana’s cousin Michael Propeck in Iraq.
Rand Peabody will continue to be available at the Church Office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings from 10 to noon, and at other times by appointment. He will remain on call for pastoral emergencies through September 30.
Church Office Hours are 9:00 am – 3:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.
Deadline for Tower Notes is Monday before noon.
Sunday, September 24:
Lay Reader: Seavey Bowdoin
Flower Delivery: Nel Mitkus and Barbara Ericson
Coffee Hour: Judith Potter