TCC Flash - Weekly News
Blessings, Woes, and You| Rev. Baxter Chism.
I always liked winning trophies and getting medals when I was a kid playing sports. Playing baseball when I was a child and an early teen was a big deal to me. Several of the teams I was on won the league and we got the big trophies. It was great to get the acknowledgment. Today, those trophies are stored in my parents' attic collecting dust.
Sometimes I wonder if we treat blessings from God like trophies. It's like we achieved something wonderful in our life and God gives us a big trophy. The only problem with this is others don't get the trophy because they didn't accomplish what we did. What about them? I guess they weren't good enough, right?
Jesus talks about blessings and woes in Luke 6:20-26 and He is quite the contrarian. He was sharing what we call "The Beatitudes." Who is blessed? Who gets the woes? It was quite the scandal what Jesus said.
Instead of the poor, hungry, the weeping, and the hated getting the woes, they are the blessed. The ones getting the woes are the rich, the full-bellied, the laughing, and the well-liked. Did Jesus get this mixed up? The first group was doing life wrong and God was supposed to be giving them the woes, right?
The reference to "poor" could mean those that lacked material wealth and others that had been marginalized. Those that were "hungry" were not making ends meet and needed help. The ones "weeping" were individuals that suffered from their despair and had felt rejection for whatever reason. The "hated" are the ones that had become followers of Jesus and were doing their best to do the will of God.
Jesus tells them that they are blessed. If I were to translate this myself, I would say, "Hi my friends. Congratulations! I know the world and people judge you. But I want you to know that God loves you just the same as everybody else. Jesus proclaimed this. You are blessed."
Let's play fill-in-the-blank. The person I'm judging today is _____________. The group of people I'm judging today is _____________. I have given __________ blessings recently.
For those on the "woe" side of things, Jesus challenged them to see things in a different way. Your life is going well. Why are you looking down on others? Get off your high horse! Help them!
I think that for those of us today, we always need to evaluate how we bless others and share grace. Are we categorizing people based on culture or are we breaking down those walls like Jesus? Just remember, we are always one decision from getting on somebody's "woe" side. That is why we are called to practice grace and bless others.
Thanks to all of you that are blessing others!
Friendship Circle's Progressive Supper is Coming!| Sue Trepaney.
Friendship Circle members have found a way to eliminate the winter doldrums by sponsoring a Progressive Supper. Progressive, in dictionary terms, means progressing gradually. That is what it means to sponsor a Progressive Supper—to move gradually from one house to another to enjoy appetizers, soup & salad, and lastly, dessert. Three of our TCC families will sponsor a ‘location’ for our meal on Saturday, March 9th at 6 pm. We have 10 tickets left at $10 each. All proceeds will support TCC’s 2019 Pine Ridge Native American Mission Trip. Tickets will be available in Fellowship Hall following Sunday’s worship service.
Spiritual Mentoring Program| Jim Kenney.
Place of Promise, a residential recovery program in Lowell, provides Christ-centered programming for men, women, and children to experience physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual healing. At Place of Promise, a life can be transformed, leaving behind death and despair while beginning a new life of hope and potential. There are numerous volunteer and mentoring opportunities spanning single-day to multi-week for individuals and teams. Before helping in this environment, or if you want to learn about this program's impact, we are offering a Spiritual Mentoring Program, a 16-hour course that uncovers the heart of the Father who seeks after the lost through real-life stories from Massachusetts. Taught by Beth Kidd, Founder of Place of Promise, with over 40 years’ experience walking alongside others on their journey with Christ.
WHAT: Place of Promise Spiritual Mentoring Program
WHEN: Every other Monday starting February 11th. 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm*
WHERE: Tewksbury Congregational Church, 10 East Street, Tewksbury MA
REGISTRATION: FREE - email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jim at 617-549-4969 or TCC OFFICE: 978-851-9411
*All sessions will be taped and participants may make-up any missed sessions by listening to the recording.
Dominican Mission Trip| Annmarie Baldwin.
Again this year, March 23-April 4th, I have the amazing opportunity to return on a nurse-run medical mission trip thru Intercultural Nursing Inc. to the Dominican Republic. This will be my third trip with this amazing organization caring for underserved patients in rural and mountainous parts of the DR. These trips go above and beyond the care that we provide, both changing me as a practitioner and as a person. It is absolutely amazing to see how just a simple listening ear, a gentle touch or hug can make all the difference. The goal of this trip is two-fold: to provide care to the poorest of patients in areas of rough terrain without access to healthcare, but also to teach nursing and NP students the foundations of nursing practice and to expose them to global health.
On this trip, we all pay our own way and bring our own supplies in two stuffed suitcases. We need anything from personal care items (soaps, toothbrushes, lotions, brushes, socks) to over the counter meds. The meds we need most are things such as antacids, Tgel shampoo, Tylenol (kids and adult), Motrin (kids and adult), vitamins, cough drops, and vapor rub.
If you are able to help provide some of these products there is a collection bin at the side entry. Please feel free to find me at church on Sunday. I also created an Amazon wish list below or I can take monetary donations and do bulk shopping for you if that makes it easier. I will be collecting until February 24th. Thank you for your ongoing support for these amazing trips!
In order to access the Sunday School curriculum information, important dates to remember or about particular programs designed for youth, please visit our Crib Sheet page.
Mary/Martha Meets Friday at 7pm - Join us!| Board of Deacons.
Although we are now at the mid-point of our 12-week Women's Devotional Study, it is never too late to join as each week brings a new topic to discuss. THIS Friday, February 15th, from 7-8:30pm, we will gather to discuss Chapter 7 of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It is called, "The Better Part."
As we've mentioned, this is a LOW PRESSURE devotional study. If you haven't read the chapter or even if you haven't purchased the book, you are ALWAYS WELCOME to participate in the discussion. So that we can set our space up in advance, please RSVP thru this LINK on sign-up genius, but - if you don't have a chance to RSVP - just join us!
We meet in the Parlor for fellowship and refreshments and then gather in a circle in the Sanctuary for our discussion. All are most welcome!
Fostering Love!!| Joanne Kenney.
Together We Rise is an organization that helps support children who have been removed from their homes and put into the care of the state. One of its goals is to provide duffel bags to kids 10 and under who are taken into care and need to pack up some personal items. Oftentimes, their belongings are put into a garbage bag, for lack of anything more appropriate. Together We Rise attempts to change that for as many children as they are able by providing duffel bags (aka Sweet Cases) to these children. The bags contain a stuffed animal, a blanket, a coloring book and crayons, and a toiletry kit. More importantly, the bag is theirs to keep. Most importantly, the bag provides to a child whose world is falling apart, something to hold on to…something to call their own.
The way this Sweet Case program works is that the bags are sponsored for $25 each. Groups of sponsors then gather for fun and fellowship, to decorate the bags using fabric pastels, and to fill them with the comfort items listed above. The missions committee is sponsoring a Fostering Love event on Sunday, March 24th from 3 to 5:00 pm. I have ordered 50 bags and am currently seeking sponsorship of each bag. It is a fun time and a wonderful mission. Do not worry if you think you have no artistic ability. Not only do we have stencils, but polka-dots and rainbows work fine as well! If you cannot make it to the event, but would like to sponsor a bag, please do!! We will find someone to decorate your bag beautifully!
Please join in on this important event. I promise that you will feel good about how you have spent this time! Look for me at coffee hour in these next few weeks until all bags have been sponsored.
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!
Let's Go Fishing| Rev. Baxter Chism.
I love fishing. Unfortunately, it is only ever so often that I ever do it. The reason is I'm focused on being a pastor and spending time with my family. Maybe one day around retirement I'll be able to do it more.
Many people like to go on excursions to do deep sea fishing. They like to catch the big one. My favorite fishing excursion is to go to a lake or inshore fishing. Inshore fishing is fishing along the coastline and it is a lot of fun. If you hire a guide, they take you to all the hot spots and will often work with other guides to take you to where the fish are.
One guide I knew took old clothes washers and dryers and dumped them in a secret spot to hopefully attract fish. There are many in the South that take leftover Christmas trees and put them in lakes in the same spot every year to do the same. Whatever it takes to catch the big one, right?
Sometimes when you fish you catch a lot and it feels so good. But sometimes you catch nothing. That can be frustrating. However, that doesn't bother me. It is relaxing to be fishing even if you catch a lot or very little. Being in God's Creation is a beautiful thing.
Our church vision is to "Connect and Serve All Through God's Love." To follow through with our vision, we have to go fishing. As the church, we fish for people. There are many ways we fish.
Just like people who fish with their various techniques and practices, we all bring gifts. Some of us have the natural ability to connect with people and help them feel welcomed. Many of you have a heart to serve in the church as a leader to empower others to "fish." Other acts of service include the various and many missions we support in our community.
If we read Luke 5:1-11, we hear one of the greatest fishing stories ever told. We should understand it literally and spiritually.
Jesus was standing beside the Sea of Galilee (also known as "lake of Gennersaret") when he encounters Simon Peter. Peter had been fishing all night and caught no fish. Fishing was Peter's source of income so that had to be frustrating. All that work for nothing.
Jesus told him to put the net in "deep water." Peter, discouraged, told him about his night but would try what Jesus said. The rest is history. His net was full of fish and even the boat began to sink. Becoming discouraged again, Peter even thought he was a "sinful" man for doubting Jesus. Jesus then offered encouraging words. "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." Peter, along with James and John, would then leave everything to follow Jesus to go after an even bigger catch.
Literally, someone who loves fishing knows that you have to be persistent and that one day there will be a big catch. They study what they are doing. Maybe they go to another lake, another shoreline, or another deep sea excursion. They go deep. Their learning is never shallow. They know every part of the lake and the coastline. If they go to the deep sea, they not only know what bait to use, they understand the fish they seek to catch.
When Jesus called the first Disciples, He would begin to teach them how to fish for people. They would learn they would have to go deep spiritually to do so. Much of what they were taught, the customs and ways of doing things, would have to change and be reshaped based on the good news of God. To go fishing, they would have to go to the people, know about them, build relationships, and love them. They would have to go to the deep waters. We go to the deep waters through our worship, studying the Word, serving others, and building relationships with all for Christ.
I pray for each of you every day. Continue to strive for the deep waters of spiritual growth. Let us continue to fish together. And pray for our nets to always be full!
New UCC Events| Association Registrar.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season. There are several events for the first half of 2019, including regular concert series at a couple of our churches and services of installation for settled pastors, as well as workshops sponsored by the Conference. Happy New Year and Epiphany!
ASSOCIATION PRAYER CALENDAR
First Congregational Church of Billerica-Revs. Dr. Katherine Adams & Seth Robinson
Second Congregational Church of Boxford-Rev. Laura Gronberg
Central Congregational Church of Chelmsford-Rev. Dr. Richard Knight
First Church in Danvers, Congregational
Tuesday – March 12, 2019, at 7:00 PM
Ecclesiastical Council for Andrew Harris
South Church in Andover
Clergy and delegates encouraged to attend; all are welcome.
Thursday – March 28, 2019, at 6:30 PM
“Ale With The ACM”
Oak & Iron Brewing Company at 18 Red Spring Road in Andover
Sunday – March 31, 2019, at 3:00 PM
Service of Installation for Rev. Seth Robinson
First Congregational Church of Billerica
Clergy and delegates encouraged to attend; all are welcome.
LOCAL CHURCH PUBLIC EVENTS
Saturday – February 23, 2019; 4:00-7:00 PM
139th annual George Washington’s Birthday Dinner at FCC-Methuen
Buffet includes turkey, ham, haddock, and a variety of sides.
Tickets: $20 for adults ($18 for advance purchase) and $8 for ages 6-12
Sanctuary tour featuring “The Resurrection” window included.
Friday – March 1, 2019, at 8:00 AM
Community Breakfast at Nahant Village Church
Saturday – March 2, 2019, at 7:00 PM
Mardi Gras Celebration at Old North Church (Marblehead)
Tickets: $20, reserve by calling the church
Saturday – March 2, 2019, at 8:00 PM
Belleville Roots Concert Series: Dervish in Concert
Belleville Congregational Church (Newburyport)
Tickets available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3503634
Monday – March 4, 2019, at 6:30 PM
“Death Café” at FPC-Newbury
Presentation on preserving and repairing headstones
Tickets: $10 to benefit First Parish Burying Ground
Tuesday – March 5, 2019, at 5:00 PM
Fat Tuesday Pancake Dinner at FPC-Manchester