Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An Open and Affirming Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email: Office@Centre-Church.org
The Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey, Pastor - Pastor@Centre-Church.org
The New Year When the Way is Uncertain
We face a very uncertain new year, don't we? Actually, life is always more uncertain than we realize.
I think of the time when Moses was leading the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, how hopeful they were and yet, how terrifying it must have been. They were glad to be free of the tyranny of Pharaoh and yet, how on earth and heaven were they going to escape Pharaoh's army? Did Moses have a band of freedom fighters, armed with horses, chariots, spears and other weapons around the corner waiting to defend the “helpless” Hebrews? No! Were there truckloads of Red Cross supplies ready to feed, clothe, and shelter the refugees as soon as they crossed the border? No! Was there a fortified fortress with its gates open to keep them safe as soon as they arrived? No! Add to that, were there boats, ships, or another Ark to get them across the Red Sea? No!
So, what did they have to provide safe passage for them? They had a wavering faith in God and a skeptical belief in Moses that “The LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night” (Exodus 13:21).
We all face times when the way is very uncertain. Those of you who lived through the Great Depression experienced this in a huge way. A late parishioner in a previous parish was a retired, successful business man when I met him. He had a comfortable home and, a nice RV in which he and his wife had traveled to most of the continental United States. He was a happy, grateful, and generous man. When he died I sat and listened to his family tell me about some of the challenging sides of their father's life. He had been a successful machinist, very talented in his trade. During his career, though, his business had gone bankrupt during the Great Depression, like so many others. It was a huge personal disappointment to him and very demoralizing, of course. But, facing an uncertain future, having a family to support, and being a very hard worker, he kept working at whatever jobs he could find. I don't know how he did it, but eventually he got his business back up and running again, becoming very successful.
I know, from my own experience of him, that he had a deep and abiding faith in God. I know that he felt that if he didn't do it, no one else would do it for him. I know that he loved his family very much and was willing to do anything to earn money and support them. He believed in himself and that God would see him through. Eventually, his company was successful, again, and he had enough money to buy a small plane and learn to fly and, later, a beautiful cabin cruiser boat. These, after the bankruptcy. (continued on page 2)
I never noticed that he had any regrets about his life in our conversations. I never noticed any jealously or anger. There was never a word of despair over the losses. Only gratitude. I know that he loved the church to which he belonged, as he said so to me frequently. After his wife died, he did something that he had always wanted to do but never had: joined the church choir, while in his late 70's. He said, “Dennis, I always wanted to sing in the choir but my wife wanted me to sit with her in church.” What joy we all felt and experienced to see him standing and singing in the choir in his robe, big smile on his face.
On many an occasion he faced an uncertain future with his business, even more tragically with the sudden death of one of his twin daughters in an auto accident when she was in her early 30's, leaving her husband and children, and eventually, with the illnesses and death of his wife. He had his own medical challenges but he also handled them with faith and trust.
One of the last things he built was a ship in a bottle. This was not a small project. I guess that it was two to three feet long, about 12 inches high, inside a bottle with an opening of no more than 1 inch. How did he do that? It was so beautiful, taking great patience, skill, and perseverance. When I saw it, I thought at first that he had bought it, and so I asked him, “Where did you get that?” And then he said, with a great smile on his face, “I bought the kit and made it myself. I had to make some special tools and things and it took me a while.” It was absolutely stunning! After the funeral, back at the family home, that ship was on display in the living room, still being admired by everyone, in awe of this humble man's great talent, even in the last year and a half of his life.
Ships are full of spiritual meanings. We think especially of the Ark which was built by Noah to symbolize new life, new beginnings. It carried everything that was needed to start a new life, designed and protected by God. Ships were one of the primary means by which merchandise was transported and traded. King Solomon built ships and had his sailors bring back about 16 tons of gold. Ships would go to far away places and bring back exotic treasures. Sailing a ship was always an act of faith given the uncertainty of wind and weather. The captain and crew never knew what they would face while at sea: storms, sea monsters, illness, disaster.
Great skill and the finest of materials were used in the building of ships. They were often things of great beauty in and of themselves. The sailing of ships brought great stories, myths, and legends. The Apostle Paul survived a shipwreck on the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean, the account of which is in the book of Acts 27-28.
We, as God's people, are like ships at sea. We give ourselves to God's wind, the Holy Spirit, to power us and guide us. If we wish to have a successful voyage, we must trust God to direct us into an uncertain future, giving ourselves fully to God's call. The Lord goes ahead of us day and night, from beginning to end. We prepare ourselves as best we can, but, we must trust God to give us most of what we need to be successful in our journey. The forces and powers around us are, in fact, much stronger than we are.
In 2009 we set sail again, into an uncertain future. What do you feel God wants you to do? Where do you feel God wants you to go? May the Holy Spirit fill us with faith, strength, and the wind of God to serve boldly.
Yours in Christ. Happy New Year!
IN THE SANCTUARY
January 4, 2009
Matthew 2:1-12 and Isaiah 9:6-7
10:00 A.M. Holy Communion
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
“What Shall We Call Him?”
Children’s Message by Barbara Langill & Jill Couillard
“Scripture in Worship”
Children may worship with their families for the entire service.
Nursery Care provided in Room 14.
Our Nursery continues to be open each Sunday to give the little ones a place to hear stories and play during worship time. Please stop by Room 14 with your infant or toddler and say hello to our experienced Nursery staff.
We welcome children and youth to join us in the sanctuary this Sunday to celebrate communion and to learn about the importance of the Scripture readings during our worship time.
Greetings for the New Year to All Our Friends at Centre Church
|Arno and Marilyn Bommer||The Durkee Family||Martha Emerson|
|Phil & Sue Johnson||Barbara McCormick||Carl and Olive Wood|
These additional donations to City Mission Society in Boston are much appreciated for their continuing work.
Save the Date – January 11, 2009
Plan to join us after church on January 11 for what we are calling a “Pre-Inauguration Breakfast.” The menu will include pancakes, eggs, juices and coffee as well as other festive and hearty selections. The cost will be $10.00 per person, children $5.00 and young children under 5 are free. Come and join the Centre Church family to kick off 2009 and to benefit the Centre Church Supplemental Pledge Drive.
Mary Ann Parker for Stewardship Commission
Youth Group News
There are no Youth Group Meetings scheduled for Sunday, January 4.
Laser Quest Lock-In: Youth who are participating in the Laser Quest Lock In will be meeting at the church at 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2 in Todd Hall. We will car pool to Laser Quest at 11 p.m. for all night Laser tag. Pick up will be PROMPTLY at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning at Laser Quest in Danvers.
It was unfortunate that our Christmas Party was cancelled due to the weather, however, rest assured another party is planned. We will have an Epiphany Party at our next meeting on January 11th where we will exchange our $10 gifts and have some fun.
Tower Day School
Tower Day is accepting applications for the 2009-2010 academic year. We have 2 or 3 day classes for 3 year olds, 3 or 5 day classes for 4 year olds, a Transition Class for students before Kindergarten and a full day Kindergarten program. Centre Church members have priority for enrollment before January 15, 2009. Please call the school office for an application (781-334-5576) after January 5.
Sally MacDonald, Director
Northeast Animal Shelter
The Shelter has sent a sincere thank you to everyone for their donations. They also extended a special thank you to the youth and leaders who took time to deliver the donations and learn more about their mission. Thank you to all.
The Sanctuary looked so lovely on Christmas Sunday. We extend our thanks to all who purchased and donated the poinsettias and to Joe Gallo of Plantscape Design for providing them. A special thanks to Shirley Orr and her team of caregivers who distributed the poinsettias to our shut-ins and those recently bereaved. With much appreciation to all who helped things run so smoothly.
Laurel Caputo for the Flower Committee
Many, many thanks to the children of Centre Church for participating in this year’s Christmas Pageant. You did a wonderful job! Also, thank you to Linda Ladd for pulling this together once again. And thank you to Emily Ladd, Becky Ladd and Caroline LaRosa for helping out behind the scenes. Volunteers like you help the children create lasting memories. Thank you.
News From Around the Parish
Our love and sympathy are with Sara Perkins and her family upon the death of her son, Peter on December 20. A memorial service will be held at the First Parish Congregational Church in Wakefield at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 3.
Dear Friends of Centre Church,
Thank you for your cards of concern and prayers and for the poinsettia. It gives me hope for a speedy recovery.
Supplemental Campaign Update
Someone was listening to the Stewardship message about "unnecessary sweaters and scarves", since we collected a little more than an additional $1,000 in Supplemental Pledge Dollars. Thanks to all who made the effort to join others in pledging before the end of 2008. However, there is still time and we encourage anyone and everyone to make a donation of any amount to keep us moving towards the goal of an additional $30,000 amount.
Mary Ann Parker, Stewardship Committee
Ongoing collections include Aluminum Can Pull Tabs, Used Eyeglasses, Non-Perishable Food, Travel Size Toiletries, Knitted Squares, and Used Cell Phones (with numbers erased and charger).
|Holy Communion - Sanctuary
Nursery – Room 14
Confirmation Class – Kitchen
Youth Choir – Choir Room
Eagle Scout Court of Honor
No Youth Groups This Evening
|7:00 pm||Knitting Group – Fireside Room|
|8:30 am||Bread and Roses Meal Preparation|
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study - Pastor's Office|
Our love and prayers are with:
We also remember those who are serving in Iraq: Kristofer Jenkins, Derek Cataldo, Brian Bisacre and Alec Leung.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Head Usher: Linda Ladd, Jeff Law, Kathi Martin, Michelle Hagerty
Providing the Communion Bread: Kerry Lewis and family
Greeters: Hagerty Family
Coffee Hour: Liz and Bill Seelig
Lights Out beginning January 9: Camille Ernest
Cable Broadcasts of Worship
Our Sunday Morning Services can be seen on local access television each week. Below is the schedule:
DVD and VHS recordings of the services can be borrowed from the Church Office at any time.
Church Office Hours of 9 a.m. – 3.p.m. will resume on January 5