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
May 23, 2007
Joining Hands Project
My life has sure changed. Recently I traded in the 1993 Dodge Intrepid I loved. I bought it new, a first edition. It was hard to let it go but it was not providing me with dependable transportation. I nursed it along as long as I could. I bought a used Honda Odyssey. I love it. It's dependable.
I left my job as Pastor of First Congregational Church in Billerica, MA. It was a job that I loved because of the wonderful people there that I loved. I realized that I needed a professional change, a new challenge, a position with new opportunities. It was very hard to make that decision but it was a decision I knew I needed to make about 3 years before I made it. I love my new position as Pastor of Centre Congregational Church, Lynnfield, but mostly, I love the wonderful people and staff here. Like the people of my previous two parishes, they are/you are people of deep faith and commitment.
And then, the hardest change in my life was to go through a divorce after over 33 years of marriage. This I did not see coming or plan for. I knew I would have many cars in my lifetime. I realized that I would not work as a minister in the same church all of my career. I knew that people to whom I was close to, including family members, would die.
So, what does God say to us about these things that change? God says that sometimes we must die to our old self, to our old dreams, our old realities and memories in order to live in and into God's new hope-filled present and future.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans how death no longer has mastery of Christ (Romans 6). So, if we live and believe in Christ, death no longer has mastery of us, either. The losses we go through that bring change to us do not spell eternal sorrow. Rather, God takes our losses, our failures, and/or our sins, and promises us new life, new opportunities, second chances, and forgiveness.
I know that many people who are reading this have been through many types of loss. It's hard. Grief is hard. It is also hard to make a decision to make a change that will mean breaking away from something and/or someone that has been important to you. There are times when we must change if we are to have the gift from God of new life. It is so hard to let go, trust, and believe that God will provide a way.
When I decided to leave my home state of Maryland to move to Massachusetts, to start a new life as I studied for the ministry, I was starting all over. I knew no one here. But, I trusted God's call to leave my old life and start a new life. I was not disappointed! After my father's death several years earlier, I wondered what would happen to me. We sold the family farm, built a new house and moved. We survived. In fact, in some ways we flourished. God made a way, opened doors, and granted new life. I was not disappointed.
I do not believe that God plans tragedies and losses in our lives to force change upon us. I do believe that God takes the “deaths” and losses in our lives and transforms those times into new opportunities and new life. When my father died 3 days removed from my sixteenth birthday I feared that nothing would come of my life. And yet, through the support of the new minister who came to our church after my father died, through a close friend, through prayer, my new life began to take shape.
In fact, as I look at it all now, I have had so many new and wonderful friends, so many opportunities, so many occasions to celebrate, that the new life that God has given has far outweighed the losses.
Imagine, if you will, taking seeds to your garden, to freshly tilled soil. Pretend that each seed is a loss, an unwelcome change. Name the loss and plant a seed. Name the heartache you have had and plant a seed. Name an unwelcome change, plant a seed. Just keep doing that over and over again until you have exhausted yourself, your losses. Then, name the sins you have committed, the things you promised and never fulfilled. Name each and plant a seed for each one. You can also name the sins that have hurt you, the people who have disappointed you, name them and plant a seed for each. Forgive and plant a seed. You might make a list of the hurts you have caused other people. If possible, ask those people for forgiveness. After each request for forgiveness, plant a seed. You get the idea.
Now let God do what God does in the garden. Yes, water, watch out for weeds and remove them. Eventually, your garden will grow to new life and perhaps you will forget some of the things you mentioned in your planting stage. Perhaps you will remember some of the things and rejoice in the new opportunities that are now presenting themselves to you.
Let go. Let the old things die and pass away. Let God give you new doors to walk through, new people to meet who will love you and greet you with the warmth of Christ. You will meet people who have stories to tell about how God's transforming power blessed them when they thought that all was lost.
It wasn't too long ago when, in my life, I thought that all was lost. But, then it happened. Doors started opening and I decided to do the work required to walk through them: therapy, career counseling, prayer, trusted friends, good professional help in a number of areas, and a desire on my part to continue to be a responsible and contributing person in my favorite line of work, Pastoral Ministry. My garden is back! I now sing a new song, live a new life, and have a lot of new friends. It has not been easy, but made possible by the unconditional love of God and the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection is real, my friends. Oh, how I can testify! Thank you, Jesus!
Now, give it a try. Plant a seed, mention a loss...., wait. Every day with Jesus brings something new. I opt for walking through the open door. I believe that the open door is often Jesus Christ. In John 10:7-8 Jesus refers to himself as the “open gate.” He says that whoever comes through him, the open gate, will be saved, given new life.
I invite you to consider this in the midst of the changes you face. Is there a door, a gate, a new opportunity? Perhaps Jesus is standing there inviting you to enter. Give it to prayer. Plant, wait, pray, water.... Ah! A sprout, a joy, a newness in Christ.
Yours in Christ,
IN THE SANCTUARY
May 27, 2007 - Pentecost
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
Sacrament of Baptism
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
"My Way or The Spirit’s?"
Children may worship with their families before going outside to plant flowers on the lawn.
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.
The Pony Express is off and running! Please keep those binders moving. All binders are due back by June 1. Call your Team Leader if you have any questions.
Coffees: Many thanks to our gracious hosts, presenters, and to Linda Ladd for the terrific posters. All who attended reported that they enjoyed good conversation and the opportunity get to know each other a little better.
Intention to Give cards: You’ll notice on the card that there is a spot to designate funds for Our Congregation’s Ministries and a spot for Our Congregation’s Wider Mission. Donations to Our Congregation’s Ministries provide support for Centre Church programs, building maintenance, utilities, salaries, insurance-everything in our annual operating budget. Money designated for Our Congregation’s Wider Mission goes to outreach programs beyond Centre Church. A few of the programs we’ve supported in the past include Our Church’s Wider Mission, City Mission Society, and the Lynn Shelter Association.
Some folks have asked questions about how to split their pledges between our congregation’s ministries and our wider mission. Since we’ve never had any guidelines for determining that split, I consulted with our Missions Chair, Chris Gehret. Some people have told Chris that they use a form of the tithing guideline and donate 10% of their pledge to missions. Some probably give a larger percentage. Others say they allocate a smaller percentage because they know they will boost their missions giving by contributing to special offerings throughout the year.
When our Financial Secretary, Sue Johnson, analyzed 21 pledges she received last week, she saw a 12% increase in overall giving. But, missions giving from those 21 pledges increased 50% and local giving increased only 7%. Twenty-one pledges may not constitute a trend, but those numbers do raise a red flag. Parish Council’s initial pass at the budget for next year assumes pledged income needs to be increased 15 to 20% in order to balance the annual operating budget. As important as missions giving is, we cannot afford to give so generously to missions that we ignore our local church’s needs. It’s really all about striking the right balance.
As you contemplate how you can increase your financial commitment to Centre Church and how you will apportion your pledge, please remember that funds allocated to Our Congregation’s Ministries support our church school and youth programs, the music program, our dedicated staff, the cost of operating and maintaining our building, and so much more.
I’m pleased to report that, according to our Financial Secretary, the pledges we have received so far have been very generous. The Stewardship Committee asks you to continue that generous giving when the pony express arrives at your door. We will Join Hands and Celebrate our Shared Stewardship Journey on June 3, Celebration Sunday.
Debbie Cotting, Chair
Sunday, May 27 is Flower Planting Sunday. After the Children’s Message, we will be going outside to plant flowers around the church. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Please bring a watering can and/or trowel if you have one.
Youth Group News
There will be no Youth Groups on Sunday, May 27.
Middle School Youth Group permission slips for Canobie Lake Park are due back by Friday, May 25. If you didn’t get information about this trip, kindly call Jill Couillard in the church office.
Laser Quest Lock In
The Youth Groups will be meeting this Friday night (5/25) at 10:30 in the parking lot to travel to Laser Quest to play all night laser tag. This event was rescheduled from March. If you have any questions as to whether or not you are signed up, please call Jill or Barbara in the church office. We ask that you pick up your children at Laser Quest at 6 a.m. sharp! Be prompt please –chaperones will be exhausted. Also, do not forget to bring a snack to share.
Hope Springs Eternal
For 100 Danversport homeowners and businesses, building and repairs are replacing the "rubble" that left their neighborhood "stunned". On Thursday, June 14, join us in providing a second dinner of fellowship to Danversport friends and neighbors at our sister UCC Maple Street Church. We will need a couple of volunteers for food preparation, about 4 servers to accompany us to Maple Street Church, several bakers that could drop some "goodies" off at our kitchen, and of course any financial support you would like to contribute. Please contact Chris Gehret at 781-334-6737 or Mary Ann Parker at 781-334-4335 for further details.
Are You Up-to-Date?
While we are thinking about pledging and planning for next year’s budget, please be mindful of fulfilling your pledge for the current year ending June 30. The church is counting on everyone getting their pledges paid up in order to pay all of our bills for the current fiscal year. If you have any questions about where you stand, please call me at 781-598-5678.
You Are Invited to Lunch
Save the Date! The Youth who went on the April Mission Trip invite everyone to lunch on Sunday, June 3 at 11:30 a.m. in Richards Hall. Highlights of their trip “Journey to Understanding” will be shared
You Can Help!
The Middle School Youth Group is participating in a mission project that will run through the summer months. We are holding a “beach-towel drive” as part of a larger effort through the Warm Blankets Orphan Care organization in Cambodia. They run a number of homes for orphaned children and requested beach towel donations. The towels make nice blankets because they are just the right size for the smaller children, they are easy to clean, dry quickly in the sun and can be used to make cool tents in the dorms. Our goal is to collect a minimum of 60 beach towels (new and gently used). There is a donation box in the narthex. Warm Blankets Orphan Care is a non-profit Christian mission dedicated to the rescue of orphans and widows through third world church orphanage outreach. To learn more, you may log onto: www.warmblankets.org.
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
This past Saturday, the weather did not cooperate with our planned craft fair and bake sale. Even though the craft fair and geranium fest were cancelled due to flooding on the common, we had our sale inside the narthex. Even without all of the activity across the street, we still managed to raise $468.50.
Thank you to all the bakers, shoppers, volunteers and the craft group. A special thank you to Harvey Card, Bob Shorey and Jack Marino for the cutting of our wood projects. Without all your participation this would not have been possible.
We did have one minor glitch as my husband, Jack, ended up in the emergency room on Friday night. He was working on a last minute project and ended up having a chisel go into the palm of his hand. Four hours later he returned from the hospital room with 12 stitches and a wrapped hand. Bob Shorey took the project home and finished it. See what dedicated volunteers we have?
Our Craft Group is now over until late August or September. This has been a wonderful group and it certainly has provided the fellowship and laughs that were the original intention. We welcome new members to our group so please consider stopping by when we start up again.
Thanks again to everyone involved in this sale.
News From Around the Parish
We rejoice with Anthony Reynolds-DiMicco and Robert DiMicco of West Lynn upon the baptism of their son, Detric Ja ‘Kai Reynolds on Sunday, May 20.
We extend our love and sympathy to Sue and Hugh Penney upon the death of Sue’s father, Vinton Pratt. A Memorial Service was held in New Britain, CT on May 19. (The Penney’s new address is 64 Cold Spring St., New Haven, CT 06511)
Our love and sympathy go to Arno and Marilyn Bommer upon the recent death of Marilyn’s brother.
We remember Dick and Barbara Anderson upon the recent death of Barbara’s mother, Esther Kohr.
Lynnfield High School Class of 1977 is planning its 30th Reunion in August. They are looking for missing classmates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark Reed at 781-844-8600 if you can be of help. (For more information, see the notice on the bulletin board outside the library.)
Protestant Chaplaincy Council Meets
At the April meeting of the Chaplaincy Council, Chaplain Leo Poirier of Melrose Wakefield Hospital gave his report for 2006 and the first three months of 2007. He tallied 1,487 church contacts (phone calls) to area churches and 931 patient visits during this period. Chaplain Leo’s stipend depends on the donations of area churches. His assistant Florence Hutchinson who trained as a Stephen Minister is a volunteer. The Chaplain has performed Bedside Ministries for the dying and answered Code Responses during hospital hours. In addition, he has filled in for failing Catholic Chaplain Sister Eunice, conducting funerals, attending visiting hours etc. He has also served on seven Melrose Wakefield Hospital committees. No one could ask for a better, more active or concerned Chaplain than Leo Poirier. At meeting’s end, your representatives were approached by the Council Treasurer who thanked us for Centre Church’s generous donation this year.
Centre Church’s Representatives to the Council,
Betty & Clayton Conn
Attention Young Adults (ages 18-30)
The Mass Conference of the United Church of Christ requests your help in gathering data pertaining to young adults. Please help by going to: www.surveymonkey.com and completing the survey. All the information will be kept anonymous.
|Morning Worship – Sanctuary
Children Plant Flowers on Lawn
No Nursery or Youth Groups Today
|________||Church Office Closed in observance of Memorial Day|
|7:00 pm||Knitting Group – Fireside Room|
|7:00 pm||Health Insurance Task Force – Pastor’s Office|
|Golf Group– Reedy Meadow Course
Senior Choir – Choir Room
|10:30 am||Scripture Study – Pastor’s Office|
Our thoughts and prayers are with Lew and Elva Batchelder at Rosewood Nursing and Rehab. Center, 22 Johnson St., W. Peabody, 01960; Martha Nelson, Madge Swartz, and Helen Ogilvie at Renaissance Gardens, 400 Brooksby Village Dr., Peabody, 01960; 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; and Barbara Warburg recuperating at home. We also remember Michael Blute in Iraq.
Sunday, May 20:
Head Usher: Marge Robins and Linda Ladd
Lay Reader: Kathi Martin
Coffee Hour: Kathi Martin and Laurel Caputo
Altar Flowers Provided by: Caroline Walsh