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On this and every Communion Sunday, LOVE OFFERING envelopes are available in the pews for those wishing to financially support TCC's Market Basket Gift Card Program.
Members of our community who are experiencing financial stress are invited to meet with a Deacon on the last Tuesday of each month to receive a $50 voucher to Market Basket. They can return once every three months for support.
Typically 5-10 people benefit from this ministry on a monthly basis. This past month of April saw 12 families benefitting from this program, with two new families seeking assistance and counseling from our Deacons. The cards are funded through the monthly LOVE OFFERING and are not part of the annual budget.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration in supporting this TCC community support ministry. We are indeed Tewksbury's outreach church.
Yard Sale to benefit Kids of Promise
When: Saturday, July 13th, 2019 Where: Place of Promise in Lowell
With the help of the International Family Church of North Reading, we are holding a yard sale at Place of Promise! If you have any large items, please email a picture and description to email@example.com. We will sell the “picture” and arrange for delivery. All proceeds will be used for the Kids of Promise program.
Would you like to donate gently used items for the yard sale?
Drop Off: Place of Promise, 204 Ludlam Street, Lowell, MA
Monday, July 8th: 10am-8pm
Tuesday, July 9th 10am-8pm
Wednesday, July 10th 10am-5pm
Thursday, July 11th 10am-8pm
Friday, July 12th 10am-8pm
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 were 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, but it is also 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).
On Sunday, July 7th, TCC will host Pastor George DeTellis as he officiates during our worship service. He oversees New Missions (newmissions.org), an organization whose purpose is to minister to the general community by providing churches, schools, clinics and feeding stations, and by teaching agricultural and other skills helpful to the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
For over 30 years, New Missions has been establishing local churches and Christian schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic—providing children with education, food, and medical care so they can grow strong and make an impact in their community.
We hope you can come and give him a warm welcome during this very special Sunday worship service!
I used to have a shirt that said "Authentic Disciple" on the front. It was a navy blue shirt and the letters were in a lighter blue. It was given to me when I went on my Walk to Emmaus weekend back in October of 2004. Walk to Emmaus is a three-day spiritual retreat that teaches the basics of Christianity.
The shirt scared me every time I wore it. My concern was that people would see it and watch everything I did. Was I being an authentic Christian like it said? Would I do something to embarrass the whole faith of Christianity? Luckily, nobody ever called me out.
Looking back, I definitely had the wrong attitude. That week, while I had my Walk to Emmaus experience, I heard testimony after testimony about how each person had fallen short. They would learn the hard way that, regardless of their sin and failure, God loved them. Following God gradually became the top priority in their life.
Authentic discipleship means that following Jesus is the top priority in your life.
Luke 9:51-62 is a turning point in the Gospel of Luke. Luke tells us that the days were coming in which Jesus would be "taken up". Jesus had "set his face to go to Jerusalem." In this passage, Luke tells the story of Jesus being rejected by a village of Samaritans. Apparently, the Samaritans did not like the message of the messengers before Jesus would have arrived. James and John, two of the disciples, asked if the village should be punished with fire but Jesus didn't like that. They moved on to another village.
Rejection is part of life. We can't win them all. The goal is to always look forward to the next "village" and opportunity. If we are rejected we should not reject those that rejected us. We move on.
Then Luke offers the story of what it means to follow Jesus. A person said they would follow Jesus. Jesus said to them that birds have nests and foxes have holes but if you follow me you want to have a place to lay your head. Another wanted to go bury his father, but Jesus said that you ought to let the dead go do that. And lastly, another wanted to go and say some goodbyes, but Jesus said there was no time for that. You must put your "hand to the plow" and only look forward if you are going to follow me.
Rev. Alan Brehm wrote a wonderful commentary about discipleship based on the same Luke passage. Here is a quote from what he had to say:
"The message of this unusual story is that following Jesus means the Kingdom of God takes priority over everything else in your life. Following Jesus means giving yourself away without thought of reward or recognition. It means serving the purposes of compassion, justice, peace, and freedom simply because it’s the right thing to do, not for any payoff."
After writing all this, I'm going to dig through my old clothes and try to find the "Authentic Disciple" shirt. I sure hope it fits.
Please see the attached note of appreciation from Church World Service. Though, we often think of our efforts aiding under-developed countries, much of our donations in blankets and school bags are used within the borders of this country. This example reminds us to give joyfully because we know how quickly any of us can be the ones in need.Attached File: 94Thank you email June 2019.pdf
A brand new musical group, called the Commonwealth Orchestra Outreach Project, is excited to announce that we will be presenting an event at Tewksbury Congregational Church on June 21st at 7:00 p.m. This event is kind of a concert and … kind of not. They’ll be performing some really nice tunes on strings, winds and piano, yes. They’ll also be recording this concert free and open to the public, yes. And, yes, they’ll be doing some fundraising. There will also be some stories and poems, and … classical music.
Commonwealth Orchestra Outreach Project (“COOP” for short) is a new take on the grand old dame of music: the Symphony Orchestra. Instead of doing re-runs of old European music played by a rather remote ensemble in a stuffy concert hall, we’re fresher, more nimble, newer and more engaged with you. And we think there is plenty of music that was written “locally” (think the Americas) that we curate for maximum enjoyment.
This is a little different from what you might expect at a Symphony concert, so if you enjoy hearing classical music, you’ll definitely want to come. And, if you don’t usually go to the symphony but like a fun show, you’ll definitely want to check this out.
When: Friday, June 21, 7:00 p.m.
Where: TCC Sanctuary
Free and open to the public, free will offering. Proceeds to be split with the church.
LOCAL CHURCH PUBLIC EVENTS
Saturday – July 13, 2019; 8:00 AM-2:00 PM
Old Sloop Rummage Sale at FCC-Rockport
CONFERENCE AND NATIONAL EVENTS
Please click the links for more information and to register (WATCH DEADLINES!).
CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY EVENTS
(All events in this section are at the Congregational Library, 14 Beacon Street in Boston unless otherwise noted.
More information and registration can be found at www.congregationallibrary.org or by calling 617-523-0470.)
If you have ever visited New Orleans, you will notice that graves are above ground. The city is below sea level so that means just digging a few feet can bring water and create a soggy mess. So walking around a cemetery you will find many family tombs that you can literally walk in. Movie makers have used cemeteries in New Orleans for movie scenes because of its uniqueness.
Tombs that we read about in the Bible were cut into the side of rocky areas. You can do a search online and see examples. Some are very decorative on the outside and look like the entrance to a building. Others are simple in that they are chiseled round or square entries just to get in.
Luke 8:26-39 tells us a story about a man who lived "in the tombs" instead of a house. Apparently, he didn't wear clothes, which is awkward, to say the least. At times he had to be shackled and guarded. He had many "demons" he was dealing with in life. There are amazing details in the story, like Jesus casting the demons into pigs and the people of the area becoming scared because of that and the man being in his "right mind." The point of the narrative is that the man was healed and had been set free.
Those who battle mental illness can often feel like they are in a tomb. Mental Health America reports that 44 million Americans are living with some type of mental health condition. They also report increases in youth that have mental health issues. Although more Americans are getting help for mental illnesses, the statistics show only 50% are getting medical care. There is a shortage of mental health professionals around the country. Even though there is a shortage you can still get help if you are persistent.
Although most pastors are not mental health professionals, we are trained to be first responders to get people help. We help people spiritually and also point a person or family in the right direction to get medical help. Not a year goes by in which many of us make sure a person or family is getting good mental healthcare.
Over the years I have met many people who have received help for their mental health. I have seen people with anger issues overcome these and live in relative peace. Many have received help for Bipolar Disorder and are doing well. Probably the one I see the most is depression. Care for depression can be long or short-term. I've witnessed many leave their state of depression and live life with joy.
Unfortunately, I have met those who are still battling the darkness. Without proper mental healthcare, I have met those who are trying to cope with drugs and sink deeper into the abyss. I'm thankful for ministries and missions in our community that help those that find themselves in this place. Place of Promise, with which some of you participate, helps in this area.
The man who Jesus healed had been in the tombs for many years. Jesus healed him and the man wanted to stay with Him. But Jesus told him to go back to his home and "declare how much God has done for you." So he did just that, bringing awareness to his healing.
If you are aware of someone who needs help, give me a call. It might be you that needs help, so give me a call. Let's empty the tombs and get healthy and whole. There is help for us all!