TCC Flash - Weekly News
The Fourth of July and American Civil Religion| Pastor.
On this Fourth of July weekend, it’s good to reflect upon the relationship of our beloved nation and the Christian faith. Too often, in the past, there has been a confusion between the two that has not served the Church well. Let me explain.
The post-war boom of church attendance was a fluke. Church attendance in America was never that high before. There was prosperity and optimism after the war that was palpable. The G.I. bill enabled many returning soldiers to get a college degree and a good job. Young couples bought new homes and cars and settled into building a new middle class. Church attendance was an expectation and there was a subtle social pressure to attend unlike today. Christianity was confused or fused with American civil culture so that loyalty to God and country were almost synonymous. Communism was on the rise compelling politicians to put “In God We Trust” on our currency and to insert “one nation, under God, indivisible…” into the Pledge of Allegiance. Americans, unlike godless Communists, believed in God and went to church.
The term “American civil religion” was coined by sociologist Robert Bellah to describe this phenomenon. Civil religion is the set of rituals, doctrines, and beliefs that becomes the glue that holds a nation and its citizens together. Historians have pointed out that American mythology tracks that of the biblical story. For instance, America’s book of Genesis is the Mayflower Compact. Its exodus is the Declaration of Independence. The book of the law is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Its Psalms include the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address is its prophetic denouncement.
Rituals include saying the pledge of allegiance before school begins in the morning, singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at sporting events, having parades and ceremonies honoring the war dead, and invoking the blessing of some higher power at political events. The virtues of democracy, individual liberty, the right to private property, family, free enterprise, and a commitment to faith are part of its doctrines. Faith in this system of thought is vague and undefined. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “This country was built on faith and I don’t care in what.”
Civil religion and Christian religion can look deceptively similar, so much so that it is easy to merge the two into one, like many American churches do on patriotic holidays. Civil religion is not necessarily a bad thing; it is often the glue that holds societies together. However, to equate the kingdom of God with the United States is not only a pale comparison, it is bad theology. The Christian Church is a global community that transcends any particular nation or state.
The role of the prophets in ancient Israel was to hold its rulers, judges and merchants accountable when they strayed from God’s principles for the nation. Rather than uncritically embracing a national agenda, the Gospel calls us to speak truth to power and model a different worldview, based on love as opposed to self-interest.
So, yes, God bless America. (And God bless the whole world!) This weekend let us honor our nation. Let us lift up its ideals and celebrate its beauty and people. A true patriot loves his/her country even as he/she acknowledges its flaws. I, for one, would not want to live anywhere else. But in the midst of our celebrations, let us remember as Christians that our allegiance to God’s kingdom always comes first. (Matthew 6:33).
CWS School Bags are Back!| Missions Committee.
Each year our Church participates in the Church World Services School Supplies Program. This year our goal is to fill 24 bags for children who cannot afford their own supplies. The Mission Committee will supply the bag for you to fill. The contents of each bag must remain uniform, therefore we ask that you provide the items exactly as listed below. To help you we have attached a file you can download and bring to the store! If you agree to participate, you are asked to buy the following supplies to fill one bag.
One pair of blunt scissors ( rounded tip only) removed from package.
Three 70 count notebooks (or note books totalling 200-210 pages). No loose leaf paper please!
One 30-centimeter / 12" inch ruler
One hand held pencil sharpener (removed from packaging)
One large eraser (No pencil cap erasers please.)
Six new unsharpened pencils with erasers. (removed from packaging)
One box of 24 crayons. (Please only 24 crayons!)
Once your shopping is completed, there will be a marked bin under the stairs by the church's side entrance. Bags should be returned by September 27th. Please click on the SignUpGenius page to review the available slots and sign up. Thank you for helping kids who really need it!
Attached File: 78CWS School Bags 2020.pdf
Summer Office Hours| Mercy Delgado.
Please note that the church office began its Summer Hours schedule on Monday, June 8th, 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the church office will be closed on Mondays and Fridays and will be attended via email and phone every Tuesday-Thursday, 9:00 am-2:00 pm during the months of June, July and August.
The church office will resume its schedule of Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-2:00 pm right after Labor Day weekend.
Have a wonderful Summer!
Please Note| Mercy Delgado.
Carol and Bob Strutevant's computer was hacked this week. They are trying to correct the situation and reestablish their connectivity and service, If you need to reach them or contact them for any reason, please call them at home (978-851-4451) or on their cell (508-254-8873). Please abstain from sending any emails at this time and until further notice.
A Very Special Friendship| Bev Kling.
I wish to tell you a story of my friendship with Mary Lou. Shortly after we met at TCC, we heard that young women wanted to have a daytime fellowship group. Jean Holmes, Mary Lou and I decided to do that and meet weekly on Thursday mornings for a couple of hours with three plans. We named it Friendship Circle, a name of the group I had been a member of at another church and we thought it was fitting for us ,too. We had worship, did some service for our church and would have fun. Ella Thomas cared for the little ones and we were about 15 members. It was wonderful. We did Bible studies, did some cleaning projects in the church and put on calendar dinners, had a fair table, and even an evening fashion show.. As the years passed, and lives changed, children went to school and some mothers went to work, some members couldn't come daytime, some others joined us and there are even some who returned when they retired. This has been truly a special fellowship.
Please Keep Praying!| Board of Deacons.
Please include the following members and friends in your daily prayers. If you know of anyone who needs prayers, and they would like to be included on this list, please reach out to the church office at 978-851-9411. We're also attaching the Prayer Pages with the most recent prayer requests.
Prayers get put on the monthy Prayer Pages as requested by individuals. If you wish to have your prayers, concerns and celebrations listed on the Prayer Pages, please contact Sue Trudeau at 978-640-9716 or the church office at 978-851-9411.
1. Russ A. and his family-prayers for peace and comfort as they deal with the passing of Mary Lou this past Sunday.
2. Kelly & Steve R.and their family-prayers for healing and comfort as Kelly receives a colon cancer diagnosis and begins treatment.
3. Bill McG.-prayers for healing after vascular surgery on his feet and legs.
4. Pam D's cousin's wife, Janet, and her family. Her Mom and Sister are both in the hospital fighting COVID-19 in NY. Her friend Rick, who lost 2 loved ones and can’t attend the funerals right now. School advisor Sara, who just had her first baby.
5. Barbara V.-prayers for continued healing from a cancer scare.
6. Ginny D.- her husband is under quarantine at the VA hospital in Bedford. She's not able to see him now.
7. Evelyn F.- convalescing from a rehabilitation stay & celebrating her 94th Birthday.
8. Ed S.- homebound, living at Heatherwood here in town.
9. Al B. living at Heatherwood and alone.
10. Barbara H.-homebound and convalescing.
11. Barbara B.-homebound and convalescing in Methuen.
12. Trish R.-prayers for mental health, peace and comfort during this time of quarantine.
13. JoJo S.-prayers of comfort to family of Dr. Brian Lyons, who died suddenly. Continued prayers for Trish and her family.
14. Mary and Dana L.-prayers they all stay healthy as Dana continues to work as a police officer in town.
15. Loretta M.-convalescing at home.
16. Arlene S.- undergoing cancer treatments.
17. Eleanor R.- recovering from a recent hospitalization.
18. June J.- June is back at home from the hospital, recovering from a broken ankle.
19. Denise-prayers for family of her friend Bryan, who passed away suddenly.
20. Melissa-prayers for Papa Don- that his pain will be healed. Prayers for peace in the world.
21. Tammy- thenkful to TCC for the High School Parade. It was spectacular!
22. Tina R.- Thankful to Sue P. and C.E. for the High School Parade. Celebrating 31st wedding anniversary with her husband Ken on June 10th.
23. Deb A.- prayers of celebration for Julie and Dave's 35th wedding anniversary.
24. Tammy- prayers for Godson Billy to stay strong.
25. Kymberly- prayers for her mom's new cancer diagnosis.
26. Jim Carle- prayers for healing during and after his hip replacement surgery at the end of June.
27. Sue & Steve T. & their family-prayers for comfort as they adjust to life without Isabella, who was adopted last week.
Called to Care
As a community of Faith, we are Called to Care for one another. Please visit our Called to Care page to learn how you can offer or request care for yourself or for a member of our church family.
Click HERE to view all TCC Sign-ups!| Church Secretary.
Click HERE to launch our TCC Sign-up Genius page. Use the tabs to switch between the sign-ups. Thank you for lending a helping hand!
Using Our Gifts| Rev. Baxter Chism.
Altruism is a great gift to humanity. Jesus taught us to love our neighbor and altruistic behavior makes our world a better place. Some of us are able to give easily. Maybe some of us do this begrudgingly. Either way, something good happens.
You may think a gift is only a material possession like money or a resource that other people may not have that is given to them. We hear of missionaries and churches helping fund projects like building homes, building churches, supplying school materials, and providing resources needed in our community and world. These are wonderful things we should always celebrate.
A gift can also be a talent or talents God has given to us. We learn in Ephesians 4:1-16 (read it!) some of the gifts that God has given. The writer expresses that these gifts are to be used in a church. I would go further in that they can also be used everywhere. Let me go even further and state that there are many other gifts (talents) that God gives us that we use in our life of service. Christ gives us these gifts so the "body of Christ may be built up."
There was a lady I met about 10 years ago that never physically attended the church I led but was on the membership roll. Let me state she was very healthy and did not have any challenges to keep her from coming. One day I visited her home and we talked about why she never came. Her response was, "I watch worship services on TV every Sunday. I mail those churches checks. I mail checks to our church too. Isn't that enough?"
Is it? For some reason, I didn't challenge her that day. I thanked her for her giving. Maybe I should have stated that she was missing out on the joy of being with other believers and making a difference by putting her faith into action.
She needed a new recliner by the way. It was worn out.
Right after describing some of the gifts God gives to us, the writer discusses unity, not being tricked, speaking love, and being knitted together as one. During that time there were some teaching a different understanding of Christ that was false, but I wonder if something else was going on in Ephesus. Sounds like unity was needed in the church so they could reach people for Christ. In unity, the people were being challenged to use their gifts in harmony.
It is my belief that the most counter-cultural thing the Church could do today is to be a symbol of unity and bring people together. Our church is full of gifted people. We all make a difference together. I totally believe when we use our gifts we bring people together.
I thank all of you that have found a place to serve in our church. For those of you that haven't found a place, talk to our leadership. If there isn't an existing place where you think you fit, let's look at something new. Pray about it first. God will give you the answer.
I challenge all of you to read the "Parable of the Talents" found in Matthew 25:14-30. My understanding of the parable is God wants us to use our gifts in amazing ways. One gift or many, God can do amazing miracles through your service and our service together.