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This Sunday, March 18th, immediately following worship service, we will have a church meeting to discuss and vote on some issues related to the calling of a new pastor. The Pastoral Search Committee has continued its nearly 2-year effort to bring the right pastor to TCC. They believe they have identified that person! In order to make it happen, our members and friends need to agree on and commit to a compensation package and other related costs for our potential new pastor. The Finance Committee has reviewed the package proposal requested by the Pastoral Search Committee and has identified a financial plan to address the impact to our annual operating budget as well as some one-time costs associated with the parsonage and the moving expenses for the potential pastor and his family. Please plan on attending this important meeting.
As you prepare to attend this meeting, all members and friends are asked to reconsider their level of support for TCC in the form of their Annual Pledge. TCC has remained on the low end of compensation levels for pastors for several years. The calling of a new pastor presents us an opportunity to rectify that. If you have the means to increase your annual pledge at all, please contact our Financial Secretary, Mike Wildeman, to express your commitment to the calling of our next pastor.Attached File: 67Warrant 2018-0318_PastoralCall.pdf
This year's Lenten Offering will be given to the Tekeshe Foundation, a non-profit organization which focuses on empowering and restoring dignity and hope to the people in the rural areas of the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe.
TCC's guest speaker this coming Sunday will be Thelma Sithole, who founded the Tekeshe Foundation and will discuss the important work and impact this organization is committing to in the lives of so many in the area it serves.
'Thelma Grace Sithole was born in Rimbi village in Zimbabwe. She came to the United States in 1975 to attend Lake Erie College. Thelma is currently working at Fidelity Investments. She established the Tekeshe Foundation (www.tekeshe.org) in 2017 with the help of friends to carry on the work that her parents had begun in Chipinge district in Zimbabwe, where she grew up. When her parents first settled in Rimbi village, there was no infrastructure in place and the area sorely lacked educational and medical facilities. Her father began his work by focusing on the objective of ensuring that every boy and girl could have the opportunity to receive an education. He wanted that education to include not only academics but good moral and ethical values as well. He worked with available missionaries, to whom his home was always open, and with the local people to build schools and establish Sunday school programs. Thelma’s mother worked faithfully side by side with her father toward meeting the needs of the village’s future, its youth. She also worked as a nurse treating people from her medicine chest because of the absence of local medical facilities. Realizing the desperate need for a clinic in the village, her father joined forces with a missionary doctor, Doctor Franklin Donaldson of Newton Massachusetts, to organize and lead the local people in building a clinic themselves rather than wait without hope for outside help. They established work camps and schedules that quickly made the clinic a reality. Doctor Franklin Donaldson and Doctor Kirk Stetson supported the clinic by visiting it once every month to treat the people. Her father’s vision was coming to fruition when most of the young people were finally able to attend school. However, the full realization of his dream was still hindered by limited opportunities and funds for those who wished to pursue higher levels of education. Her father knew how to get help. He worked tirelessly writing letters of recommendations, making personal contacts to find jobs for the young people, and obtaining scholarships for them. When Thelma went back to Zimbabwe to attend her father’s funeral in 2014, she was moved as she listened to countless people, both young and old testify about how her parents had made a difference in their lives. On her way back to the US from the funeral, she started to feel a great burden for the people and she wondered who was going to help them. All of a sudden, Thelma had an epiphany. It dawned on her that she was the one to pick up where parents had left and ensure that the work that had started with the help of missionaries would continue. Thelma shared her vision to help the people in Chipinge with her church, New England Pentecostal Ministries (NEP) and friends. In 2017 the Tekeshe Foundation was launched. For the past 10 years, the Tekeshe Foundation has partnered with missionaries from New England to send ten 40- foot containers of medicines, school supplies, food and clothing to Zimbabwe. These donations directly help orphans, the elderly and people living with HIV/AIDS. Thelma has also written two children’s books, “Little Shoko and The Crocodile” and “Children's Folk Tales from Zimbabwe”. The proceeds from the sales of these books help to fund the Tekeshe Foundation.'
Due to the storm, the Friendship Circle Meeting has been changed to Friday, March 9th, from 10-11 am.
This meeting will be a planning meeting for the Ham and Bean Supper, Spring Meetings and Secret Sister Tea.
Please join us!
The first TCC Connection Newsletter of the year was recently mailed out this past week, and there's a correction that needs to be noted. Annmarie Baldwin recently joined the Board of Deacons, and her name should appear on page 5 of your Newsletter, under the Deacons Update article and by the names of the other Deacons.
Please excuse the omission, and welcome Annmarie as she serves TCC and the community in her role as Deacon.
Church World Service, a leading organization in disaster relief, is always appreciative of our Blanket Sunday tradition each February. Our collection this year will be Sunday, February 11th as well as Sunday, February 18th. Specially marked envelopes are in the pews for your convenience. Ten dollars will supply a needy blanket and can be used for warmth, as a shelter, or as a means to carry belongings – all important functions in a time of a natural disaster and/or other emergencies. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, let’s blanket the people with love!! Thank you in advance for your always generous donations to assist our most vulnerable neighbors around the world.
Messiah Sunday: We'll be performing portions of Handel's Messiah for both services on Easter Sunday, April 1. We need more children to sing “All We Like Sheep” and “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Cherub/Jr. Choir rehearsals are directly after church with Cathie Seaman.
We need more choir members to sing with the Chancel Choir to fill out our ranks. Anyone can join in on the Hallelujah Chorus, but we need help with the other numbers we’re preparing.
There are special rehearsals every Sunday after Coffee Hour. This Sunday, March 4th, will be the LAST Sunday that newcomers can join in for the Easter celebration (the Hallelujah Chorus will still be a community sing).
Anthem Request Line: We're starting a new outreach project this month; if anyone hears an Anthem that moves them during a Sunday service, please write it down on the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board, and we will make every effort to reprise it after Easter. An Anthem is what the choir sings (not to be confused with the hymns we all sing), as an Anthem, an Offertory, or as service music, such as the Introit. Note: this offer does not extend to selections from The Messiah, but any Anthem that is meaningful to you that you've heard at any time during this past year (you might have to dig through your memories a little).
Over the past two months, TCC has offered Market Basket gift cards ($50 denomination) to twenty-five local individuals and families, thanks to the Congregation's generous financial support through our First Sunday Love Offering. If you wish to support this ministry, please use the Love Offering envelopes found in the pews or send your contribution to the church office with the memo "Love Offering."
During our distribution days (last Wednesday of each month), the Deacons meet privately with each beneficiary, discuss their current situation, and offer prayer. We have recently offered support to residents of Tewksbury, Lowell, Chelmsford, Haverhill, Billerica and Pepperell.
Please join the Deacons in lifting up these individuals and families in prayer. One gentlemen is suffering terribly with gout. Another is coping with two grandchildren who are addicted to drugs, with one recently discovering that she is pregnant. A woman recovering from the flu lost her sister to the flu just two weeks ago, and another woman will be putting her elderly cat to sleep on Monday and is feeling enormous grief.
When asking a gentleman how he emotionally copes with his chronic pain, he replied... "Every day that I wake up and my feet hit the ground is a good day. I may have pain, but a lot of people have a harder life than I do." May we all share his spirit of optimism and gratitude. Thank you for your continued support of the Love Offering.
March 4th will be the last Sunday to purchase tickets for the Ham and Bean Supper on March 10, 2018. Ham, beans, coleslaw, cornbread and dessert will be served.
Adults - $8, Children under 10 - $4, and Family (two adults and two children under 10) - $20.
Purchase your tickets during Coffee Hour, from a Friendship Circle member, or call Mary Lou Adams (978-851-5207) to reserve tickets. Ticket Sales will close on Tuesday, March 6th.
A Signup Genius will be available for those wanting to join in the fellowship to set up, prepare and serve the Ham and Bean Supper.
We need a Coffee Hour Volunteer (or two)! If you'd like to lend a hand and brew some java for this upcoming week of March 11th, please let Jean Metcalf or Mercy Delgado know. New members will be welcomed into our congregation and there will be cake and celebration after worship service that Sunday. We need help with set-up, serving and clean-up.
This is a great way that you can contribute to our hospitality ministry with a minimal commitment. Instructions and all supplies are provided by the church. Thanks for your consideration!
Lent is the season of reflection and introspection. People often associate lent with a time of focusing on sin—to the point of excoriating self-examination, leaving no stone unturned of what we have done or not done, said or not said. It often amounts to picking the scab off a wound that has already begun to heal.
While it is important that Christians take sin seriously, we should take growing in grace more seriously and make that the focus of our Lenten activities. If we focus on sin exclusively, we find ourselves in the same conundrum as St. Paul in Romans 7, that the harder he tries not to sin, the worse it gets. What we focus on is grace and how we can grow in that. We will then discover, like St. Paul, that where grace abounds, sin cannot.
When Jesus healed the blind man he refused to entertain ideas about the origins of sin or whose sin caused the man to be born blind. (John 9: 1-5) He focused instead on the grace of God that was to be manifested in the man’s healing. The traditional focus during Lent has often been on the commandments and how we have broken them, which just makes us experts on sin. The can be very demoralizing and not lead to a grace-filled life. Another approach might be to also reflect on the times when we have kept the commandments or been a faithful follower of Christ. What enabled us to keep the commandments? How has that been a blessing in our lives and in the lives of our neighbors?
Jesus didn’t come that we might have less sin and death; he came that we might have life and share it abundantly with our neighbors.
Repentance is about turning from one course of action to another. Repentance is fundamentally about making changes. There are three “Rs” of repentance that help us understand the mechanics of change and the elements that people need to consider when making changes:
Recognize: that we are doing something that we don’t want to. Without awareness, we will never recognize our need to change.
Regret: Being conscious of the cost to others and ourselves of our actions. If we don’t truly regret our actions, we will not change.
Reorient: Turning from what we don’t want to what we do want. If we continue to focus our attention on what we don’t want, we will persist in that behavior.
Failure to complete a desired change is usually the result of a failure of one of the repentance steps. The most important step is often the reorient step. Many of us can recognize and regret our undesired actions, but the harder we try to stop the undesired behavior the more we remain stuck, just as Paul reported in Romans 7. Staying focused on the undesired behavior prevents us from reorienting ourselves to the desired behavior. During Lent, if we only focus on what we don’t want ourselves or our parishioners to be doing, we will ensure that they and we will keep doing them. What we must do is reorient ourselves and them to the call of the Good News.
Similarly, if the focus of Lent is self-denial and learning to say no, we will never discover the grace and the new life that Jesus comes to offer. What is truly life-giving to you and your congregation? How can you and they orient your lives around that discovery, often leading to genuine repentance?
Any “no” or act of self-denial in the spiritual life is only as helpful as the deeper “Yes” that the no allows. Easter is not just a positive, feel-good experience. Easter is the life-giving “Yes!” from God that echoes through the universe.
When I was in seminary I had to read a 500-page book simply called, “Sin,” by Louis Berkhof. If ever you wanted to know anything about sin, it was within that volume. As we continue our sermon series, the Seven Deadly Sins, I wanted to reflect a bit on the subject. We often think of sin as wrong things we do or think or say. But let’s take a moment to look at sin from a different angle. Instead of looking at what God is against, let’s look at what God is for. The Biblical prophets knew that sin had a thousand faces and how many ways human life can go wrong. They railed against this because they knew how many ways human life could go right. They dreamed of a new age where human crookedness would be straightened out. The foolish would be made wise and the wise humble. The deserts would blossom, the rivers would run with Chardonnay, tears would be wiped away, and people could go to sleep at night without guns in their nightstand. The poor would find justice and not mere compensation. Their lives would be fruitful and fair. Wolves and lambs would lie down together. All humans would be knit together and in harmony with nature. All would look to God, walk with God, and delight in God.
This is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. This is God’s dream for the world. The word means “peace,” but it means much more. It carries the idea of health, wholeness and flourishing; of living in abundance. Land was capital in ancient Israel and part of flourishing meant having a sufficient plot of land upon which to farm, live, raise livestock and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Scratching out a living from the ground was never God’s intent. In this world the prophets described, God would preside in the unspeakable beauty that all human beings long for and be drawn instinctively to the mystery of God’s holiness which inspires all worship. In other words, this is the way things are supposed to be, as theologian Neil Plantinga puts it.
This is why God is opposed to sin. God is opposed to all that ruins shalom. God is opposed to anything that crushes human dignity, savages human relationships, and shatters human souls. God opposes unjust human structures that jail the innocent, pollute the land, make races into castes, laws that permit the strong to crush the weak, and indifference toward enriching human life. And God is opposed to the sin that ruins us.
What we see when we look around us is “not the way it’s supposed to be.” The brutal murder of 17 children of God at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is not the way it’s supposed to be. The slaughter of innocents at Columbine, Newtown, Charleston, Pulse, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and now Parkland is not the way it’s supposed to be. Politicians sitting on their hands saying that now is not the appropriate time to address meaningful gun regulation is not the way it’s supposed to be.
I have a friend who is a church planter in San Diego who posted this on her Facebook page,
I grew up in a family of hunters and gun owners. Safety and proper handling instructions were offered to us at a young age. I think that responsible hunting is one of the most honest, local ways to eat and I am proud of this part of rural life and culture. I am wondering why more gun owners don’t speak out against these guns designed for military settings? No real hunter uses anything like that. Can’t we be adults and be nuanced? We can ban those automatic instruments of evil and still be hunters and cowboys, right? Prayers ain’t cutting it...
As people of faith, we cannot limit ourselves to ministering to the survivors and burying the victims anymore. We must stop the sacrifice of innocent lives to the idol of brutal weapons. Nations have done so before. We must do so now. The biblical prophets demanded repentance when the people of Israel sacrificed their children to idols. It would appear that God is raising up a new generation of young activists as teenagers, college students, clergy and laypeople are organizing a national walk out to say No to this madness.
While we cannot legislate the end of murder, we can effectively restrict access to the instruments that steal lives with the greatest of ease every day. Congress must do its part to stop the tragedy of gun violence that ravages our nation even as we do ours.