From The Pastor’s Pen (Page 3)

From The Pastor’s Pen (Page 3)

From the Pastor’s Pen

“Christian stewardship begins not with an inventory of what we have, but from a recognition of whose we are.” These words by author Donald Joiner remind us that financial support for the ministry of the church involves partnership. The initial partnership is found in the relationship between God and God’s people. God, who created and redeemed us, has also called us to share in the work of ministry. That ministry requires an investment of our spiritual gifts and our material…

History of the Massachusetts Conference

The churches of the Massachusetts Conference represent the oldest and largest Protestant denomination in the Bay State. Most of our churches are of the Congregational tradition, and direct descendants of the churches founded by the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Forty of our churches were organized before 1699, and another 150 before 1799. Until 1833, the Congregational Church was the official, tax-supported church of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Conference itself finds its roots…

Syrian Refugee Crisis Surrounds the Middle East

The news has been filled this first week of September with chaotic scenes. 3-year old Alyan Kurdi, along with his brother Galip, their mother, and nine other Syrian refugees drowned during an attempt to pass the Aegean Sea in hopes of finding safety (over 2500 others have been lost in recent months attempting similar escape). Outside of the Hungarian capital of Budapest, trains packed with Syrian refugees have been halted at the order of the authorities, while the migrants inside…

From the Pastor’s Pen:

Will Willimon tells the story of a high school commencement speaker he once heard. This person was giving a rather conventional address. “It is important for you, as you go forth,” he said, “to have a great dream. Dream big things, great things.” Willimon describes his response to the speaker’s message: “The speaker didn’t quote any Scripture, but I immediately thought of Jacob’s dream the night he was on the run from his angry brother. A great ladder was let…

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 Once upon a time, a monastery stood in a mountain pass alongside a rarely traveled road. The monks who inhabited the monastery had very little contact with the outside world. Still, they were quite fulfilled in their life together. Like most monks their days were filled with work and prayer, and of course the keeping of the appointed times of the day for worship.…

It was those who were the last to give up hope, who were the first to see

The stories of Holy Week and Easter are retold year after year, usually to congregations that are swelled  beyond their usual numbers. Hence, the Passion and Resurrection narratives are some of the most familiar of all. So, here’s a little Holy Week “Pop Quiz” to test how well you have been paying attention all these years. This is an open book test, so feel free to consult your Bibles. What group of people stayed with Jesus the longest when he…

“Return to God with all your heart.”

Our theme for Lent this year is “Return to God with all your heart.” God’s “wholehearted” love is available to us through grace. But there are parts of our hearts that we withhold from God. Lent is the season to be mindful of what you might be giving your heart to, instead of giving it all to God. Throughout Lent there will be ash grey paper hearts available for you to take and use to identify the pieces of your…

Your Church in 60 Seconds

The Joy of Obedient Worship   “Free us for joyful obedience.” You may recognize that phrase as part of the congregational prayer that we pray just before we celebrate communion. That prayer describes why you and I exist: joyful  obedience. You and I exist to worship. The more we realize that, the more we approach the experience of pure joy. Tithing and giving has less to do with money than with freedom. Tithing is not about percentages. Tithing and giving are…

Our Church in 60 Seconds

A friend of mine, Gilbert Davis, tells about a “defining moment” he had in seminary. One day an elderly gentleman he had never met stopped Gilbert in the hallway. “Young man, are you studying to be a minister?” the man asked.When Gilbert replied that he was, the stranger asked if he might talk with him a few minutes. Although unsure of what he was getting into, Gilbert consented. (Several weeks later, he learned that Arthur A. Everetts owned what at…

Please plan to worship with us during this holy season.

Welcome to Lent. No kidding. I say “no kidding” because not everyone thinks of Lent as a welcome experience. This is probably because for many of us, the focus of Lent is on self-denial, fasting, and “giving something up.” Preferably, giving something up that we’d rather not do without. Chocolate, coffee, and meat are typical casualties of Lent. But another way to approach Lent is to see it as a time to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection. When…

Snowshoe Spirituality

On the third Sunday of Advent, we lit the candle of Joy in worship. Then we experienced the joy of the wonderful Christmas Pageant – “Countdown to Christmas” – with its Living Advent Calendar. Maybe some of you kept an actual Advent calendar through the month of December, each day opening another little window to uncover each piece of the story of our Savior’s birth. I recently came across a similar idea for use in the month of January. Instead…

Transformation & Redemption

Ever notice how so many of the stories we associate with Christmas are tales of transformation and redemption? Scrooge “Humbugs” his way through ghostly guided tours of Christmases Past, Present and Future, only to wake up on Christmas morning determined not to be the man he once was. The Grinch’s “two-sizes-too-small heart” hatches a plot to plunder Whoville’s holiday celebration, but is surprised to discover that the coming of Christmas cannot be prevented with the theft of decorations and presents,…

“Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Several years ago I was part of a mission team sent to a remote mountain village in Honduras. Our purpose was to improve the educational system in the village, and to provide the children with school supplies and uniforms. In Honduras, children must supply their own uniforms and supplies to be allowed to attend classes. Children whose families are unable to afford those items are prevented from getting an education, thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Sometime after my trip…

Faithful Stewardship

A cowboy from Oklahoma had been in Kansas City seeing things he had never even imagined. He went back to Oklahoma with this message for his friends, “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City; they’ve gone about as far as they can go!” He then proceeded to describe just how far they had gone. He saw 23 gas buggies on one day, he said. He put his ear to a strange apparatus and heard someone talking. They called it a…

The following is a true story that emerged from a championship college women’s softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington in 2008.

The following is a true story that emerged from a championship college women’s softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington in 2008. Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky was small; physically not the kind of player that was capable of generating much power at the plate. In fact, she had never hit a home run in her career. That all changed when Sara stepped into the batter’s box with two runners on base and the score tied 0-0. Sara hit…

An Expectation Is A Premeditated Resentment

An old saying states, “An expectation is a premeditated resentment.” Many of us expect the church to be a place of unwavering harmony and then feel resentful when that expectation is disappointed. But did you know that much of what is written in the New Testament Epistles addressed problems and conflicts in the early churches? The Bible holds no expectation that churches are exempt from misunderstandings and conflicts, but it does presume that Christians will follow the example of Jesus…

Jesus Had A Knack For Never Being Where You’d Expect To Find Him

Jesus had a knack for never being where you’d expect to find him. He always seemed to be hanging around on the wrong side of the tracks, with tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners. Finally, they crucified him, a death sentence that the Romans used to punish the worst criminals. Which meant a Cross was the last place anyone ever expected to look for the savior of humanity. They laid him in a tomb, and rolled a huge stone in…

Without Easter, The Christian Faith Is Hopeless.

The Apostle Paul said as much when he declared, “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain, and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). The reason for this is that Christ’s resurrection not only gives us hope for eternal life, but it also confirms that what Jesus taught during his earthly life was true and reliable. Jesus said he would rise from the dead. If he hadn’t been resurrected, the hope that…

Lent Season

It was the First Sunday of Lent, and the minister called all the young people to the front for the children’s sermon. She asked if anyone could tell her what Lent is. An 8 year old boy raised his hand and said, “Yes, it’s what we get out of our pockets.” Which is not such a bad answer, actually. Lent is a time for reaching deep into our pockets and cleaning out what has collected there without our noticing. Not…

I Am About To Do A New Thing; Now It Springs Forth, Do You Not Perceive It?

Inevitably at this time of year, my brand new calendar teases me with its unmarked pages, seemingly pregnant with possibilities for the next twelve months. There are few things that evoke a sense of optimistic resolve like the beginning of a new year. Yet, life does not conveniently reset itself to zero on January 1. Before the new year has even arrived, I realize that much of that unoccupied space on my calendar is actually already reserved for the recycled…