Note from Pastor Rick (2/15/2017)

More time this week with the Sermon on the Mount. The lectionary also gives us material form the Torah (Leviticus) and the Psalms. This week we find Jesus instructing his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love enemies, and to “be perfect as God is perfect.” It’s a challenging set of assignments. Clearly we need disciplined spiritual practice to be able to live into this reality Jesus envisions. But it is important, part of the law or life-giving guidelines God lays out for those who want to claim their membership in God’s Beloved Community.

In our Adult Spiritual Formation we will continue our study of the Parables of Jesus. Some of us been engaged in provocative reading on this topic that we will share on Sunday. You don’t have to have participated in the first session to join in the conversation. We’d be delighted to share with you.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.
Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (2/8/2017)

Come Sunday we will continue our exploration of the Sermon on the Mount. This week we have some of Jesus more challenging words on what it means to hold a clean heart and practice right living. “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” Yes, we know what it means to obey the law, to follow the rules, to do what is expected of us, but Jesus asks more of us. He asks that we turn our attention fully to God and to walk God’s ways. The demands of righteousness are more than any legal or social system can sustain. To ground our lives in deepest love for God and neighbor is both a challenging and rewarding way to live – especially in these days when love is needed more than ever.

In our Adult Spiritual Formation we began our study to the Parables of Jesus with a spirited conversation about what parables are and what function they serve in Jesus’ ministry. We also talked about how each of us, whether scholar, preacher, lay person, comes to this material with a point of view that helps (or hinders) how we read the texts. In the next couple of weeks we will look at some specific parables, both the beloved and the problematic to see if we might cultivate a new and enlivening perspective on this familiar material. Feel free to join us. I’m sure you will fit right in.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship and Sunday School. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (2/1/2017)

Thanks to everyone who has sent well-wishes on this my 70th birthday. I used to think 70 was old but you all have given me a new perspective on aging as I watch you live life to its fullest. It was a delight to have Thelma Parodi in church Sunday and to hear her words of greeting and affection for her church home.

Sunday we continue exploring the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus encourages his followers to be salt for the earth and light for the world. Clearly he thought his followers should have something to say and do about the inbreaking Beloved Community of God. He trusted that their witness – and ours – would be able to turn the world right side up and bring it back in line with God’s original creation. What would it mean for us to seasoning and light for our world in these troubling and needful times? What will be our witness to the love of God as the world cries for justice, peace and righteousness?

Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (2/1/2017)

Note from Pastor Rick (1/25/2017)

This Sunday we begin, once more, to journey through the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s compilation of the wisdom sayings and teachings of Jesus. Much of this testimony has made it into the vernacular. Matthew has Jesus, like Moses before him, ascend the mountain to receive and proclaim the word of God. By the time we’re through chapters 5, 6, and 7, Jesus will have laid down the law. Still it’s significant that Matthew Jesus begin his discourse with blessing. So much more than controlling us and punishing us for our failures, Jesus teaches that God wants to bless us. Basically, he’s saying blessed are those who see God’s design for creation and choose to embrace it as their way of life. They will be rewarded with an ever closer walk with God. Surely these are words of responsibility, possibility, and blessings for our times.

Adult Spiritual Formation will not meet this week in lieu of our annual meeting. Please be here for important updates on the state of our congregation. The flowing Sunday we will begin a study of the Parables of Jesus in ASF, so you may want to read up on that subject.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for worship and Sunday School, followed by the Annual Meeting.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick

PS We’ve started to gather some greeting cards for church use. If you have any your willing to donate, they will greatly appreciated and put to good use in a card ministry for our congregation and friends.

Note from Pastor Rick (8/10/2016)

Thanks to Pastor Gregory for his excellent sermon explaining the “Rapture” to us and to Anthia Lee Halfmann and their beautiful music Sunday. We had a good group at Lunch Bunch, concluding with a birthday celebration for Dona Smith-Powers’s friend, Larry, complete with chocolate cake and strawberries and whipped cream. After Nana’s ample Patio Hour, we all went home “well-fed” in every way.

This Sunday we will continue our consideration of “Coming Home,” this time focusing on Jesus’ parable at the very end of the “Sermon on the Mount” in which he encourages his followers to “build their homes on solid rock.” Again we will ask what is meant by home and how we might construct such a “home” for ourselves and our congregation. We have a fine building but is that enough? Is it even what Jesus is looking toward we he exhorts the work crew? Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (8/10/2016)

May is for Peace

Earth in your handsAs we wrap up Earth Month, it is important for us to keep in mind that this is not the end. Rather it is the beginning of an ongoing emphasis we will continue throughout the life of our congregation. So, stay tuned for further reflections on and suggestions for loving the earth and caring for creation. Special thanks to Pastor Gregory for taking the lead on this kick off and for everyone who contributed.

Our focus for the month of May will be peace. This is the month we take our special offering for the Baptist Peace Fellowship pf North America. Our theme will be, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers.” In the Sermon on the Mount, one of the Beatitudes or blessings that Jesus lifts up is this, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Sunday’s lectionary readings offer two relevant texts. In John, the writer has Jesus say to his followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give you as the world gives” (John 14:27). What does it mean that Jesus promises peace but not in the way we are most likely to expect it? And what is our role as peacemakers. Then at the end of the great apocalyptic book of Revelation comes a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, complete with the New Jerusalem, God’s Holy City. In the center of the city is the tree of life, planted by the river of of the water of life. Its leaves are for the “healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-5). Must we wait for the end of time to gather by that river, beneath that tree, to collect and apply its healing powers?

It is Communion Sunday with Worship for the Whole Family. Afterward we will hold our second Quarterly Business Meeting of the year. I also want to alert you that we are planning a church work day for sprucing up our facilities on Saturday, May 14. Please plan to participate. We will go from 9:00 am until 2:00 PM. It will include lunch.

Come Sunday morning at 10:00 AM for worship, study and shared community. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us as we begin to explore the things that make for peace.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!
Pastor Rick

Coming up

Sunday we will welcome to our pulpit, Liliana Da Valle, Interim Pastor at Shellridge Community Church and former Executive Minister of the Rhode Island region. Her text is Hebrews 4:14-16 and her title is “With Bold Determination.” So, we will be away from our journey with Brian McLaren this week, but you can read above about the theme and scripture from his book with an attached commentary. This concludes our consideration of the Sermon on the Mount. The coming weeks will focus on Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. Both Palm Sunday and Easter will entail worship for the whole family and communion for April will be on Maundy Thursday, April 2 in the context of a meal.

We continue our study in Adult Spiritual Formation of nonviolent resistance and what our faith tradition asks of us in this area. One important resource on which we are drawing is The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium by Walter Wink. Join us on Sunday for serious reflection and spirited discussion.

Come at 10:00 AM and stay for Adult Spiritual Formation. Bring others along to share the day.

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.
Pastor Rick