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jallen

All the Saints

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Sunday is All Saints Sunday. It is a day when we celebrate all those who have died in the past year, and remember all those faithful people from all times and all places who, by the example they set in life, taught us what it means to be a Christian.

In worship, we will take time to remember those people whose lives, and whose love, made us who we are today. So please come so that we can remember together the great cloud of witnesses that is cheering us on as we continue to do the hard and holy work of bringing God’s love to the world!

We will also be beginning our Stewardship Campaign in the coming days. As we celebrate and remember those who built this church for us, we will also renew our commitment to continue building this ministry for the sake of those who are yet to come. So be on the lookout for contact from the Stewardship Committee with an invitation to prayerfully consider your pledge for the coming year.

Youth Retreat

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By: Matt Lewellyn
This past weekend Meg Matthews and I had the honor of spending time with seven amazing young people from our congregation. Olivia Kelly, Hannah Solomon, Aidan Braithwaite, Jeremie Carpenter, Sam Coover, Alyssa Foster, and Emmett Kibbee (pictured from left to right) spent the weekend in Centerville, MA at the Craigville Retreat Center exploring who they are as children of God, disciples of Jesus, and the calling these identities have on their lives.
Through feasting on smores around a campfire, meditative walks on the beach, rich discussion of God’s lavish love for creation, and much too late caffeine intake these youth drew closer to one another and to the Holy. Before leaving the Cape they expressed an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for this time and the need to carry the practice of rest and retreat into their busy schedules. As I left with them, I meditated on the same thought. May we lift up these youth and all of the youth of our church in prayer and conversation as we continue to seek God’s face in all things.

Loving the Law

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Our Protestant tradition has long emphasized God’s graciousness over rule following as the key to salvation. And our Congregational tradition has long emphasized our collective conscious as the key to discerning God’s desire for our lives and for the world.

This is all well and good, but there is still a place for rules! Or, as scripture calls it, God’s law. But if God is gracious and forgiving, and our collective conscious is our best compass, that what role do rules like “keep the Sabbath” have for us in our lives today?

We’ll see if we can’t figure it out in worship on Sunday.

Also, on Sunday morning we will begin a new Adult Education group: Let Your Life Speak. We will meet in the Parlor before worship at 8:45 to begin learning about the Examen, a simple practice of regular prayer and reflection about where you have been each day, and where God has been for you. I hope that many of you can plan to join us for this opportunity. Our conversations are always enriched by the unique perspectives we each bring to our faith.

Please also hold our Senior High Youth group in prayer this weekend as a group of 10, along with their leaders Matt Lewellyn and Meg Matthews will be heading on a retreat to Cape Cod. We hope, and expect, that this time will be nourishing, faith-filled, and fun!

The Girl Has No Name

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Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” – 2 Kings 5: 2-3

Some of the most important characters in the Bible do not have names.

In the Bible story we will hear on Sunday, we encounter another story with an unnamed woman: the servant-girl of Naaman’s wife.

She is mentioned only briefly. Yet, at the heart of it, this whole story is about her.

On the surface this story is about kings and prophets. But really, it is a story about her bravery. Her courage. Her vision. Her witness.

I hope you will come and hear it. It’s inspiring.

 

Running

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By: John Allen

“Write a vision, make it plain upon a tablet, so that a runner can read it.” -Habakkuk 2:2

There is no doubt that most of us are running. We are constantly pulled between responsibilities, rushing, here, there, everywhere. And while business might seem like a cruel invention of our modern life, the truth is, people have always been in a hurry.

That is why the prophet Habakkuk instructed God’s people to proclaim their vision succinctly and write their big bold letters, so that even those rushing past would not miss the striking beauty of the simple truth.

Here our vision is this. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Nothing. Not who you are, not who you love, not what you have done or left undone. God’s love lives for you, and all people, just the same.

We built this website to make that vision plain. So that even if you rush past, you won’t miss the beautiful truth.

God’s love for you will never, ever, end.

Agile Christianity

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By: Scott Matthews

When I think about my spiritual growth, connections to my career as a Software Engineer often came to mind.

Engineering in general is typically guided by following one or more processes to achieve a goal.  Typically you must follow specific steps in order to achieve success.  Each step usually involves a great deal of analysis and documentation before moving on to the next.  This process works until it doesn’t.

I spent most of my youth as a member of a Baptist church in Brooklyn, New York. In my young head the faith I learned was simply summed up as “Do this, this and this or you’re going to hell”.  Really?  Should that be my main motivation for being a good Christian-  to not go to hell?

At church I would often see people giving spontaneous testimonials, jumping up and down in the aisles because they were so filled with the spirit. I often wondered while watching  – “Why is it that I do not have that dedication?  Am I doing enough?”. This was my impression of what it meant to be a devout Christian and it felt like that’s what it should be.

For some people that process worked. For me it didn’t.

There is another approach to software development called Agile development. The agile method promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement.

The premise is that you learn as much as you can, make some effective changes, take stock in how effective or ineffective your changes are, and then build on that.  We tend to find this approach helpful in not only helping to move a project forward faster, but also allowing for the achievement of a deeper learning of the subject matter and then sharing that knowledge with others.

This is where I see the strength of our congregational church. We come together to find God’s goodness – and through that coming together, we can share in the strengths of others to gain better enlightenment in being better Christians, and better people in general.

I don’t think this stops at the doors of this church.  We see God’s goodness everyday and we just have to make sure we are open and ready to hear and see that lesson in a day to day setting.  I’ve learned more about patience in all walks of my life since I became a parent.  I’ve also learned more about loving others more since becoming a parent. I feel I learn a lot about humility and the need for generosity when I have an opportunity to give to others in need. That lesson comes whether I take that opportunity and feel good, or neglect to take it and feel some degree of remorse.

The reward of finding God’s goodness lies in a better journey, not a better carrot (so to speak).  Sort of how the primary joy of a nice day hike is not really making it to a certain geographic end point, but rather experiencing all that is around you on the way to getting there.

We each may not have the the right answers.  Reverend Allen, as learned and good at his job as he is, may not have all the answers. But working together, and seeing the potential in others, we can find that path together.  And through that process of communicating with others, figuring out things with others, we’ll gain even more enlightenment. I kind of like to see it as a way for us to allow God to have another conduit to us, allowing ourselves to see him speak to us through others.