Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone:
An "Open & Affirming" Church
(781) 334-3050;Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email: Office@Centre-Church.org
The Rev. Dr. Dennis
C. Bailey, Pastor - Pastor@Centre-Church.org
April 18, 2007
Discipline and Running
It's not easy training for the Boston Marathon or any other marathon, for that matter. Yes, I, like you have heard of stories of people partying the night before and then, lacing up their sneakers on the morning of Patriot's Day, going to Hopkinton, and at the back of the pack, running the 26.2 miles without any difficulties. And yes, maybe there was a time when I could have done it. I'll never know.
I know what running the 3.1 miles Cross-Country in High School was like. In my senior year, after my Phys. Ed Coach suggested it, I ran the High School's Annual In-House Cross-Country Race in front of the whole 6 grades of our High School. To everyone's surprise, none more than mine, I came in second out of the whole school! Now, let's face it, those who were on the cross-country track team were not permitted to compete that day. It was still a surprise to everyone because I was not involved in any sports teams.
I didn't do anything with the knowledge that my legs might be adapted to long distance running until 1997 when, after returning home from a cross-country bicycle trip I started to give thought to running the 1998 Boston Marathon. I started training, keeping my form and strength from the bike trip. I realized then, that training for such an event was not child's play! I spent many hours running, realizing that earlier in my life I did not have the discipline to train for such an event and challenge.
My ministry started in Jamaica Plain, in Boston, where lots of runners train by running around Jamaica Pond. Marathoner Bill Rogers was known to have trained there. And yes, I used to run around the Pond with visions of running the Marathon. But, I did not have the discipline in those days to train thoroughly enough. Let's face it, a lot of us don't, in our younger years. I struggled early in my college career to have enough discipline to complete my studies. It was not something that came naturally to me. I had to learn how to have the kind of discipline to succeed. Fortunate are those who learn such discipline early in life!
My appreciation grew in this when one of my young parishioners in my previous parish had such discipline. Michael had a dream and the passion to run the Boston Marathon. I helped him acquire an official number via one of the B.A.A. Charities, the then Massachusetts Association for the Blind (now MAB Community Services). Michael would wake himself around 5 a.m. and go outside to run and train, no matter the weather, for a year in advance of the race. He trained at the gym and used Tae Kwan Do to help him prepare. His parents marveled at their son's discipline and self-motivation. I marveled that a 20 year old who wasturning the required age 21 the day before his first Boston Marathon, would do this of his own accord. I knew I didn't possess such a drive when I was age 21.
The Christian life can also make good use of such discipline. Having just come through Lent, Holy Week, and now, Easter, we are reminded of the demanding journey of discipleship. Even Jesus' closest disciples struggled to have the discipline to follow all the way to the cross.
Christian discipleship doesn't mean that we have to be perfect. It does not guarantee happiness, but growth. It is often painful but, fortunately, we are never alone. We are given directives via scripture:
From Isaiah 40, "...run and not be weary, ...walk and not faint." (RSV)
From 1 Corinthians 9, "Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."(NIV)
From I Timothy 4, "Keep yourself in training for a godly life. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future." (TEV)
The rewards of physical and spiritual discipline are many. It's not about coming in first, but serving God in all circumstances in a consistent and persistent fashion. It's about serving even when we are not clear on the rewards. It's about keeping at it, believing that God will use our efforts for good. It's about doing it day in and day out, no matter the "weather" knowing that by doing what God asks of us what we accomplish can never be taken.
I trained for and ran three Boston Marathons, 1998, 1999, and 2000. The 1999 run was my worst and yet, my best for learning and growth. I had not trained well for the 1999 run, resting on my laurels. I learned that year that I needed to get some advice. I consulted two professional trainers who told me what I needed to do if a) I wanted to run better and b) if I wanted to prevent injuries to myself.
So I trained 6 days a week. Three of those days I went to the gym for strength training. The other three days I went outside to run at least 5 miles (Saturdays, at least 10 miles.) The discipline required that I put this training as one of the most important 3 things in my life, aside from family and work. No frills. Not much spare time. And yes, it was not all that exciting. It was discipline in which I found myself satisfied to achieve something that no one could take away from me once accomplished. No one was forcing me to do this. I had to do it because I wanted it.
I raised thousands of dollars for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, becoming the top fund raiser for the agency's marathon program, "Team with a Vision," in 1999 and 2000. That was a discipline of another kind, asking people to give in sponsorship of my run. Yes, I had to run and raise money at the same time. Asking people for money is not easy for me, either.
In Christ I have learned that I can do things I never dreamed of doing until somewhere along my journey it came to me. God is still giving me dreams to accomplish. My training is not over. It is ongoing. The discipline is hard, but eternally rewarding. Meeting the people along the running route is often felt by me to be the best reward, especially immediately gratifying. Others have also practiced disciplines in order to accomplish great things: birthing, growing, loving, and supporting families; supporting churches; participating in educational endeavors; supporting worthwhile causes of many kinds without thought of self reward.
I am proud to run and work with such people as yourselves.
A Runner's Prayer: "Lord, I jog my course daily, sometimes with dread. In early morning stillness I open my soul to you, pleading for your strength to fill my legs. Am I running from the persistent pains of life? Am I training with you to conquer adversities? Am I running for self-centered attention? Strengthen me, Lord, in total joyous stamina to pursue the race of service you want for me." (Based on a prayer By Charlotte Adelsperger, Alive Now Magazine, July/August, 1979. P. 38.)
Yours in Christ, Dennis
Prayers: For those murdered or injured in the Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, massacre, along with families and friends who mourn. We also remember others for whom such violence brings back painful memories of other such violence. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
IN THE SANCTUARY
April 22, 2007 – 3rd Sunday of Easter
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
Presentation of Heifer Ark Award
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
"Getting Our Attention"
Children’s Message: "Earth Day Celebration"
Children may worship with families before going to Rotation Workshops.
Service broadcast on Lynnfield Cable Channel 10 (Comcast) or 28 (Verizon) at 7 p.m. on Thursday or Peabody Cable Channel 10 at 8 am on Sunday.
Heifer to Present Ark Number 6
On April 22, Heifer International volunteer Christine Elliott will join us to celebrate Earth Day and present Centre Church's sixth Heifer Ark award. Each Ark represents a donation of $5,000 or more to Heifer, with each ark helping about 30 families directly. Because the original recipients of our gift animals then pass on the gift by sharing offspring with others, many more families are helped over time. Through the many transitions of the past few years, your generous support of Heifer has been one of the loving, meaningful constants. Deep gratitude to all who have contributed to Heifer and special thanks to Rhett Batchelder, who did such a great job representing Heifer at our GiveAPalooza Fair. -- Sandi Watson
Earth Day Birthday
We hope you have been practicing the Earth Day Birthday song. All of us will be singing together this Sunday, April 22. The children of the church are asked to meet Mrs. Couillard and Mrs. Langill in the chapel at 9:30 this Sunday to practice. The tune of the song is: The 12 Days of Christmas and the verses are: On the first Earth Day Birthday the wide world gave to me: a bald eagle in a blue sky, 2 grizzlies sleeping, 3 panthers creeping, 4 salmon leaping, 5 spotted fawns, 6 owls hooting, 7 whales a breaching, 8 cranes a dancing, 9 turtles hatching, 10 bison grazing, 11 seals a swimming, 12 wolves a howling.
Lay Preachers Needed and Welcome
Would you be willing to preach a sermon or lead worship one Sunday? We will need preachers and leaders on Sundays when Rev. Dr. Bailey is away (June 24 when he will be at the United Church of Christ General Synod in Hartford, CT and four Sundays when he takes his vacation weeks, dates yet to be determined.) Please call Dennis or speak to one of the Deacons.
Spring Day of Renewal - Satuday, April 28
Plan to join us as we spend some time with the Rev. Pat Bade. Pat is a teacher, wildlife rehabilitator and ordained minister of the Congregational Bible Church/Native American Church. She is a storyteller of Irish and Native American (Penobscot) ancestry. We will gather at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation. Pat will begin to share her stories with us at 10:00 a.m. Lunch will be provided and we will conclude at 1:00 p.m. with the Seneca Prayer of Thanksgiving and a song. A freewill offering will be taken to defray costs.
All are invited to this event – it’s not just for women. Please call Donna Marino (781-581-2022) or Susan Spear (781-334-3050) by Tuesday, April 24 to let us know you can come.
Both Youth Groups will be meeting at the regular time on April 22, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
All middle school youth who will be going on the white water trip should have received their paperwork in the mail. You are kindly asked to turn in your liability waivers at this time.
The new rotation: Ruth will start this Sunday, April 22. Workshops for this rotation include: Art, Upper Room and Games, Cooking and Movie. We hope all of the children and youth through grade 7 are able to join us.
Children and youth of rotation sensation are asked to meet in the chapel at 9:30 to practice the Earth Day Birthday Song.
All eighth graders who are participating in the service on April 22 should meet in the chapel at 9:30. Grade 8 will be staying in the sanctuary for the Earth Day Service this Sunday.
We ask that you continue to pray for the High School youth who are away on the mission trip. They will be returning home soon. If you would like to look at some pictures and daily updates you may log onto:http://picasaweb.google.com/rcrotts1951/mp2007.
Safe Church Conference
Room is available for up to 5 people from Centre Church. Saturday, May 5 – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Bedford Presbyterian Church, 4 Church Rd., Bedford, NH. If you are interested in getting up-to-date information on Safe Church Policies and Procedures, call the church office and join the group attending. (781-334-3050)
|Morning Worship –
Confirmation Class – Pastor’s Office
Youth Choir – Choir Room
Youth Groups – Lower Level
|6:00 pm||Confirmation Class – Pastor’s Office|
|Get-Together Wheel –
Knitting Group – Fireside Room
|Craft Group – Kitchen
Council – Pastor’s Office
|---------||No Senior Choir this week|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study – Pastor’s Office|
|9:30 am -
|Spring Day of Renewal – Todd Hall|
Our thoughts and prayers are with Marge Cole, 400 Brooksby Village Drive, #1118, Peabody, 01960 (new address, same phone number); Gladys Davis, Haven Health Care, 20 Chester Road, Derry, NH 03038; Hal Holappa at the Veterans’ Hospital, 200 Springs Rd., Bedford, 01730; Catherine Newman at Oosterman’s 93 Laurel St., Melrose, 02176; Jack Turner at Arnold House, 490 William St., Stoneham, 02180. We also remember Michael Blute in Iraq.
Sunday, April 22:
Head Ushers: Marge Robins and Linda Ladd.
Lay Reader: Mark Meehl.
Coffee Hour: Marian Orfeo and Frank Scott.
Altar Flowers Provided by: Giunta Family.
Altar Flowers Delivered by: Sue Gustavsen.