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To the Members of Tewksbury Congregational Church, greetings:
You are hereby notified and called to attend a Special Meeting of the Tewksbury Congregational Church, to be held on Sunday, June 18, 2017 in the Sanctuary immediately following the close of the service. The following business will be transacted:
To see if the Church will vote to authorize the expenditure of no more than $70,000 from the Tariela Trust Fund to repair and/or replace the church roof under the direction of the Board of Trustees or act in any manner relative thereto.
Submitted by the Tariela Trust Committee
Christopher Jenkins, Clerk
Like you, I imagine, this spring I went to the nursery and bought perennials like spirea, bleeding hearts, Shasta daisies and Astilbe. I also got petunias, Sweet William, impatiens, and begonias for my window boxes and plant containers. I also have a variety of lilies I planted of different heights, colors, and bloom times so I’ll have beauty all summer long. What I’m especially looking forward to is the harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and squash from my small raised vegetable bed.
This got me thinking about what else I would like to harvest this summer. How I answer that question will determine what I need to be planting now in order to reap a harvest in the fall. As St. Paul reminds us, “… you reap whatever you sow.” (Galatians 6:7)
Summer is often a time when we can choose a slightly different rhythm, one that prioritizes down time and recreation. And so the most important question to ask ourselves when planting seeds, “What activities (or non-activities) are truly re-creative for me?” We, of course, will each have a different answer to that question. For instance, would you like a little more work/life balance? How about planting seeds of spending more relaxed time with friends and family, going biking with your kids, taking long walks with your spouse, or having a picnic at the beach?
If filling up your summer with lots of scheduled activities is truly re-creative, then that is what you should make plans for. If setting aside a few days so you can meet friends for a weekend, practice the piano, read some best sellers, hike in the woods, or work in your garden, then make sure you schedule time for those things this summer.
Think of the summer as an extended Sabbath. Decide what is truly renewing for you and then plant the seeds now to make sure those activities happen. Later you will be glad that you took the time now to plant those seeds, as by the end of summer you will have a better chance of reaping a harvest of a refreshed and re-created you.
P.S.—Don’t forget to come to worship during the summer. We’re open every Sunday!
Your missions committee thanks all who donated to the LTLC's Steps to Home Walk last Saturday. The TCC team raised $525 towards their program dedicated to getting local homeless people off of the street and into their shelter. It was a beautiful morning and the TCC team consisted of 7 adults, 2 third-graders and 2 four-legged friends! The route was lovely with some beautiful siights. Looking forward to next year's 7th annual walk!
The All Boards and Committees meeting for Tuesday June 13th is cancelled/suspended. As discussed at the Annual Meeting, several people are working together to look at the committee structure at TCC and how we can better work together to do the work of our church. One item that has become clear is that the Tuesday night ABCs meeting is not serving it’s purpose. This meeting was originally set up to communicate projects across committees before each committee held their monthly meeting that night. For many different reasons, committees are meeting at other times during the month and not on Tuesday. This has resulted in very low attendance at the ABCs meetings. As a result, this meeting has become just another meeting that only a few people attend and is not serving it’s purpose.
We would like to encourage each Committee to set up a monthly meeting for the day/time that works best for your committee participants. There is a BoM representative assigned to each committee and your BoM representative should be included in your monthly meeting. The representatives are:
Trustees: Tim Barnes
Finance: Carla Staeben
Deacons: Marilyn SanClemente
Missions: John Avery
Religious Education: Laura Holmes
Music: Sven Hyberts
To try to alleviate some of the communication issues between committees we are going to ask each committee to do a quick summary of the major points after their meeting. These will be compiled into a monthly update that will be available for review. I believe this was done several years ago and was stopped at some point.
Questions? Please reach out to your BoM representative. Thank you for your service to TCC.
Announcing Plans for TCC’s 2017 Pie Social & Christmas Fair—December 1st & 2rd
TCC’s Pie Social: Friday night, Dec 1st from 6-9 pm as well as our Christmas Fair early opening for most tables.
TCC Christmas Fair: Will continue Saturday, Dec. 2nd from 9am -1pm.
The team met May 30th for preplanning, recognizing the need for additional tables. A few changes have been made for chairpersons, but all the tables will continue with the addition of a new table. Jean Metcalf and Marilyn SanClemente are stepping down after many, many years of co-chairing the popular and very successful Holiday Friends Fresh Green & Artificial Arrangements as well as holiday placemats and table runners. Thank you, Jean & Marilyn for your years of work and creativity in this challenging task. We know you will likely continue with your involvement in a less stressful way. The team still needs your talents!
During our meeting several members came up with a new table idea that will continue the creative talents of our TCC members. The new table is the TCC Chatty Crafters. During the fall there will be different creative craft evenings, lead by several different crafters, to create unique items to be sold at the Fair. Please join us to share your thoughts and ideas at our first fall meeting October 15th in the Vestry following worship at 11 am. Your ideas are welcome—and we hope you will join us. Some of the needs for the different tables can also be set aside or collected during the summer months. Items needed are: baskets, vases, & plastic inserts in a variety of sizes for holiday arrangements, toys, gently used Christmas decorations & items, jewelry, & jewelry boxes and scarves.
2017 Chairpersons for Pie Social & Tables are:
Pie Social: Trish Keddie & Brad Staeben
Bake Table: Kristen Monahan
Holiday Friends Decorations: Pat Takach
Snack Bar: Steve Trudeau
Gently Used Toys: Cathie Seaman
Ladies Aid: Alice Golen
Woodworking: Andy Scharmer
Jewelry: Debbie Adams
Gently Used Christmas Items: Linda Mann
TCC Chatty Crafters: TBD
I was 15 years old when the Apollo 11 launched into space, almost 50 years ago! I read recently that the age range (actual ages, not the average) of the personnel of Mission Control in Houston was 25 to 28. The oldest guy in the room was the Flight Director. He was 35! The astronauts were the old guys in the program—they were 38, 39, & 40.
Reflecting on the youthfulness of the program, the Commander of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, said, "This new Space Age required people who understood digital computers and most of the people in that category were in their 20's."
Could the same thing be true in the church?
We do not often expect such brilliance today, but we have before. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was martyred for opposing Hitler, was 27 when he delivered his radio address, “The Younger Generation’s Altered View of Führer,” which placed him among the first to publicly call Adolph Hitler’s authority into question. In 1536, John Calvin published the first edition of one of the greatest religious works ever written, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. He was 27. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, was age 34 when he nailed his 95 theses to the door in Wittenburg challenging the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Dorothy Day was in her mid-30’s when she birthed the Catholic Worker Movement. Karl Barth, the giant among theologians in the 20th century, was all of 33 when he published his first edition of The Epistle to the Romans. William Wilberforce was 32 when he introduced his first bill into Parliament calling for the abolition of slavery. Martin Luther King, Jr., was 26 when he stepped up to lead the Montgomery bus boycott. Thomas Merton, the Catholic mystic, was 33 when he published The Seven Story Mountain. St. Francis of Assisi was in his late 20’s when he founded the movement that now bears his name.
We expect greatness (or certainly that they do the best that they can) in our kids in their academic achievements, athletics, extra-curricular activities, and life choices, but do we expect spiritual greatness?
I’m reflecting upon this because this Sunday, June 11th, is Children and Youth Sunday, when our children and their teachers display what they have learned this past year and we honor their hard work. Sue Panilaitis continues to do a marvelous job running a great program by encouraging teachers, offering creative programming and projects and focusing on helping our kids become followers of Jesus and not just Sunday school attenders. The teachers also deserve our praise for their generous gift of time, devotion and love for our children.
Scripture tell us an important role of parents and the Church is to, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Moses instructed the Israelites, “…these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) The tradition continues in the New Testament where Paul instructed his disciple Timothy to, “…continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
It is tough for parents and Sunday school teachers to compete with 6 hours a day in school, after school athletics or music lessons, and 24/7 social media distractions when kids are in church maybe two hours a week. Churches are finding creative ways to minister to children through mid-week activities; a meal followed by a program; online intergenerational web pages with devotions, Bible studies, prayers, and film clips for all ages; intergenerational mission trips and family friendly worship services on Saturday nights or before worship on Sunday morning.
God is calling churches today to adapt to the new realities of family life to encourage spiritual greatness in our kids. Parents and teachers can’t do it alone. We all need to be parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters to the kids in our church. To borrow from a familiar saying: “It takes a church to raise a child.”
Did you know that the money in the Love Offering envelopes, collected once a month during Communion Sunday, is used by our Deacons to purchase and distribute Market Basket gift cards? These gift cards are used to help members and non-members alike, to lend support and assistance to those in need.
The need is great, and TCC has seen an increase in the number of our local Tewksbury residents needing our help. These past months of April and May, Deacons helped 18 families, 14 of those new applicants. These are Tewksbury residents referred to us by the Food Pantry. Deacons distributed $810.00 worth of gift cards (and ran out of funds in April!), with each family receiving an average of $50.00 worth of Market Basket cards. This was only made possible by your generous contributions to this cause.
Please help fund this program, as TCC continues in its calling to aid the most vulnerable among us.
If you need assistance, or know of a member who does, please contact the church office. The assistance provided with this program is completely confidential, so please let the Pastor know if you or someone you know needs to make use of this benefit.
Thank you for your continued generosity!
The TCC gardens need maintenance and the Trustees are looking for volunteers to weed/trim and water as needed. Please let us know if you are interested in helping out.
Don't forget to wear RED for Pentecost Sunday, June 4th, 2017!
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. (Please remember to wear red!) "Penta" means fifty. It was fifty days after Christ rose from the dead that the promised gift of the Holy Spirit came. "I will not leave you as orphans," said Jesus to his disciples the night before his execution, "I will come to you" (John 14:18). Who, or what, is "the Holy Spirit" (or "Holy Ghost" in the King James Version)? Is it a Ghost who attends church? I can wrap my mind around the idea of God as the Creator and Caretaker, and Jesus as the Teacher and Redeemer, but what about this Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit would bring many things, Jesus said. "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit has a teaching ministry. "When [the Spirit] comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment..." (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit has a converting ministry. "But when the Spirit of Truth comes he will guide you into all truth...the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you" (John 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit has a reminding and guiding ministry. So, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus imparted to us. The Spirit is the mysterious presence of God given to comfort, guide, convict, teach, and empower those who would follow Jesus.
Billy Graham, I believe, once said, "If the Holy Spirit was taken from the church, 90% of our activity would continue like it always has." Sad, but true. We often wind up "playing church" instead of letting the Spirit empower and direct our activities. Prayer becomes a perfunctory activity used to open meetings, but do we really expect that God might show up and ask us to put our agenda aside and listen for the Spirit's call?
The Holy Spirit is also known as the "Advocate" in John's writings. An advocate is one who argues on your behalf, who fights for your position. The Holy Spirit is an advocate during those times when your conscience accuses you and compels you to bring it to God or to the one you've wronged. The Spirit reminds us that Christ died and rose for that sin and we can approach God without fear of rebuke or punishment. But there are also false voices that accuse us; voices that say we are incompetent, unlovable, and unworthy. The Spirit says to our spirit, "No, you are loved with an inestimable love. You are an accepted, forgiven, gifted person from Me to the world. Yes, you fail and fall short, but that never affects my love and support for you. I have a dream, a vision of wholeness for you. Live in my love and power."
The Holy Spirit also empowers us for service to a lost and broken world by offering cups of cold water in Jesus’ name (Mt. 25:40), by speaking truth to power, and modeling a new way of being together.
"Keep in step with the Spirit", as one translation of John's writing puts it. Happy trails!
This coming Sunday, May 28th, there will be no Sunday School, in observance of Memorial Day. Please enjoy a week in worship as part of your family time. As always, there will be coloring pages and plenty of various leveled books for kids to read. Enjoy your worship service as a family.
For those children aged 3 and below, the nursery will still be available.
Thursday, May 25th is Ascension Day. Luke says that 40 days after the Resurrection Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9) In those days people didn’t have the advantage of a Carl Sagan or a Stephen Hawking to tell them how the universe works. The ancients thought we lived in a “three-storied universe” with God “up there,” the dead “down there” and the rest of us “right here.” Heaven. Earth. Hell (or the Underworld).
As one astronomer observed, if Jesus began ascending two thousand years ago, he would not yet have left the Milky Way (unless he attained warp speed). So clearly this passage is not meant to be taken literally, but figuratively. I imagine the witnesses that day experienced something so incredible that they grasped at words to explain it. I think it is one of many attempts by early Christians to explain how, even after Jesus’ death, they continued to have real experiences of the presence of Christ.
To say the ascension is metaphorical is not to deny that Jesus “went to heaven”; it is simply to find the theological truth behind it. We know that heaven is wherever God is. Jesus taught us that the “kingdom of heaven is among you.” In returning to God, Jesus took our humanity into the very heart of God with him.
Some might think that since Jesus’ job was done here and he left, now it is all up to us to continue his work. After all, Luke says, “While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?’” It’s as if they were saying, “Why are you standing around being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good? Get to work. There’s a lot to be done.” If that were the case, I’d despair if I were God. The human race can be a sorry lot.
But remember, Jesus’ promise just prior to his Ascension was, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus promises power and the Holy Spirit to flow in and through us to do God’s work on earth. Our lives are suddenly swept into something larger than anything we can possibly imagine. No longer is Jesus our personal teacher or our private tutor or just our personal savior. The Kingdom of God is at hand. We are part of God’s new community, the Church.
A number of years ago the book and movie series Left Behind were block-buster best sellers. They tell the story of the end times (set in the contemporary era), in which true believers in Christ have been “raptured” (taken instantly to heaven) leaving the world shattered and chaotic. It was a violent and gruesome storyline presenting God as a fierce judge and human beings as quite expendable. Based upon a system of biblical interpretation called “dispensationalism,” it remains a minority view among theologians.
Yes, we were left behind, not to escape from the world, but to be Christ’s people in the world, redeeming and transforming it wherever we are able. Perhaps the most interesting question for us today may be, not “How can we understand the Ascension?”, but rather, “How can we experience the Ascension?”
We are proud to support so many wonderful organizations through this program! For our last shopping day of the program year, we will lend our help to our local food pantry, our brownie-baking mission at LTLC, Mission of Deeds, Lowell Wish, Lazarus House and New Missions. Take a look at the attached document for the specific items that will be for sale. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and on the following Sunday, come prepared to shop!!Attached File: 37For Sale June 2017.pdf
In just one week, all 24 school bags have been claimed! Thank you!! Though you have until the fall to return them, some prefer to fill them and return them right away. In fact, two have already bee filled and returned! Please place all completed bags in the marked bin at the side entrance. Each week, I will take filled bags and store them until all bags are returned in October and ready to be dedicated. Thank you, again, from your missions committee and from Church World Service!
On the night before his crucifixion (John 14:1-14), Jesus was sharing his last Passover meal with his twelve disciples and friends. It is a joyous occasion full of faith and hope. Then, like a skunk at a lawn party, he ruins it by telling them that he is going away. He is going to his death on a cross. Suddenly the dinner party becomes a sad last supper before a terrible departure.
But Jesus also tells them that he will not leave them comfortless. He will not leave them alone. As he puts it, he is not going to leave them orphaned, but will send them a parakletos. In the Greek, parakletos means literally "to call alongside." A parakletos is one called alongside of us. It can have a variety of meanings, and different translations into English put it as "counselor," "advocate," "comforter," or "instructor." In essence, Jesus says, "I'm leaving you, but don't feel like orphans, don't be bereft. I'm going to send you my friend, my presence, the parakletos. The Spirit will remind you of all that I have tried to teach you while I've been with you. He will explain it all to you. He will walk beside you and teach you."
One of the greatest fears of human beings is abandonment, of being left alone or simply forgotten. Think of the times when you’ve felt abandoned, unsupported, and left all alone. Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable to this fear. Many families at TCC are foster parents or parents to adopted children. They likely felt incredibly abandoned, even if it was at a subconscious level. In embracing them and welcoming them into your homes and your hearts, you became a paraklete, one who came alongside of the child as a companion, advocate, and comforter.
This passage is read at funerals because in it Jesus promises, "I am going to prepare a place for you." The implication is that this separation is temporary; there will be a future reunion: "If I go to prepare a place for you,” Jesus says, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
John Todd, a 19th century clergyman, was 6 years old when both of his parents died. A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry. Later, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress she wrote Todd a letter. Would death mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond? Here, condensed from The Autobiography of John Todd, is the letter he sent in reply:
"It is now 35 yrs. since I, as a boy of 6, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself; you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me.
"I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid. 'Do you think she'll go to bed before we get there?' I asked Caesar. 'Oh no!' he said reassuringly, 'She'll stay up for you. When we get out o' these here woods, you'll see her candle shinin' in the window.'
"Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me--a tired and bewildered little boy. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.
"Someday soon God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don't fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God's care."
That is our hope and comfort as well.