From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

August 10, 2018

Perseid.JPG

From the Backcountry …

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers …”   Psalm 8

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend!   This August phenomenon was first recorded by Chinese astrologers in 36 A.D.  It will be particularly brilliant this year because it coincides with several moonless nights.  The best viewing will be early Monday morning.  Once your eyes adjust to the darkness, you should be able to count some 70 meteors per hour if the conditions are favorable (find a spot that is not too impacted by light pollution.)  The meteor shower is named for Perseus, the Greek hero and slayer of monsters.  It’s one of those spiritual moments when you feel both the speck of nothingness, and yet a radiant part of all that is.

Sunday, August 12   Morning Worship and Barbeque   10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 130;  John 6: 35, 41-51

Text:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”   John 6:51

Sermon:   “Bread and Circuses”

Tease:  We take a final look at John’s account of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand.  Once again, we will be reminded that Jesus is the “Bread of Life,” a humble metaphor that challenges us to consider not the things that we want … but the things that we truly need.   Sadly, the crowd is not interested in Jesus’ “heavenly” sustenance.   Like many today, they are too easily enticed with promises of bread and circuses. 

Final Summer Barbeque THIS Sunday!!   Following Service

It is our joy to welcome the members of Green family from New Hampshire this weekend.  Many of you will remember the legendary Henry Green, NGCC pastor (1969-1979)  who established the Henry Green Scholarship program.  This Sunday, great granddaughter, Julia Tibbits will be receiving a 2018 scholarship.  How exciting that it coincides with our last summer pot-luck barbeque!

As always, hot dogs. hamburgers and drinks will be provided

Please bring a salad and/or desert to share!!

See You Sunday!!

Royal

 Tiger Swallowtail,  NGCC Pollinator Garden

Tiger Swallowtail,  NGCC Pollinator Garden

Road Rules:  “Promise me you’ll always remember: You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  (Christopher Robin to Pooh)  A.A. Milne

From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

July 27, 201

 First Fruits from the Jerry Brady Teaching Garden

First Fruits from the Jerry Brady Teaching Garden

From the Backcountry …

“Honor the Lord from your wealth … and from the first fruits of all you produce.”  Proverbs 3:9

We are entering the time of year associated with ripening fruit and vegetables.  As we harvest nature’s bounty in earnest, these final days of summer also afford us opportunity to harvest the fruits of the spirit, as well.  “First” fruits tend to be smaller than at other times.  And yet, just as zucchini is better small, so the “little things” we harvest spiritually are often what truly matter.  Start preparing an inventory of all you find yourself harvesting this year.  A new friend?  A success at work? A new discovery?  A new path?   May all that you reap bring lasting joy and contentment.

Sunday, July 29   Morning Worship    10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 14; John  6: 1-14

Sermon:  “Basket Case”

Text:  “And from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets!”  John 6:13

Tease:  A number of scholars have weighed in on Jesus’ feeding the five thousand as a lesson on the ability to turn our hearts from an inward focus on self to an outward concern for others.  And yet, a little drama plays out in John’s narrative even before we get to the miraculous picnic – and that’s the role a small boy plays in the eventful day.  His remarkable generosity and faith serve not only as an inspiration, but as an example of how we might be able to “feed multitudes” in our own day.

2018 Henry Green Scholarship Award

Throughout the summer, we showcase the recipients of this year’s Henry Green Scholarships

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 Noelle Love

Senior, Boston College

Noelle expresses appreciation for having had the opportunity to study in Europe this past year.  She took classes and completed an internship in Geneva.  The experience also afforded her the possibility of traveling extensively throughout Europe.  “I visited many countries,” she writes, “Learning about different cultures and becoming more open-minded.”  Studying abroad also enabled her to learn the importance preparation, researching destinations, arranging for travel and lodging and budgeting her costs. “I grew more independent, able to make practical decisions and experience new things on my own.  Interestingly, I’ve come to understand that so much of enjoying a place has to do with who I am with.  I am so thankful to have traveled with people I love – new friends, old friends, and my family.”

There was one particular moment that proved to Noelle how much she has grown.  In September, she was taking a long and steep trek to Lac Blanc, a clear, turquoise lake nestled in the French Alps.  None of her friends were available for the adventure, so she made all the preparation herself.  The six hour hike was strenuous, but she enjoyed time to take photographs and reflect on her semester.   On the way up, however, she encountered a sign that was written in French and could tell that it was an urgent message …but she wasn’t able to completely translate its message.  And so, she was forced to use her French skills to ask the other hikers whether she could continue on the same trail … or turn around.   “This trip was one of my favorite things I got the chance to do while abroad!”     Bien pour vous, Noelle!!  Et félicitations …on another great year!

See You Sunday,

Royal

From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

June 29, 2018

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 From the Backcountry …

“We hold these truths to be self-evident …”   U.S. Declaration of Independence

In days of yore, legal code prevented the confiscation of three “indispensable” items in settling unpaid debts - one’s harp, blanket and cauldron.  It was believed that individuals had the inalienable right to entertainment, sleep and food.    Needless to say, our forebears used a considerably broader brush when crafting a statement declaring as “self-evident” an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And yet, 242 years later, it is more than self-evident that many within our society do not enjoy these rights in equal measure.  As we approach yet another national celebration of the values that define us as a people, we must recommit ourselves to the poor, the disadvantaged and marginalized who not only need our voices, but our actions to ensure these “indispensable” rights are enjoyed by all.

Happy Independence Day!!

 

Sunday, July 1    Morning Worship    Holy Communio

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 130;  Mark 5: 21-43

Text:  “Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet …”   Mark 22

Sermon:  “Step by Step”

Tease:   This week we witness two remarkable healing stories that reveal the true depth and scope of Jesus’ ministry.   Once again, we will be called to leave our comfort zones and take some bold, yet intimidating steps toward Christ’s radically new vision of God’s Kingdom.

2018 Henry Green Scholarship Awards

Throughout the summer months, we will feature short articles on all our Henry Green Scholarship recipients – based on their application essays. 

 David Junker with sister, Emily, at the Annual Picnic

David Junker with sister, Emily, at the Annual Picnic

 David Junker - University of North Carolina

David has taken on the formidable challenge of pursuing his MBA while maintaining a full-time job.  His junior year has been particularly challenging.  An ever-increasing course load, as well as ever-increasing academic demands and expectations have all added to the ever-increasing fatigue that inevitably comes with the final push toward graduation.  He writes, “Now is the time when it’s easy to lose sight of earlier goals and patience.” And yet, it only took one less than desirable grade on a midterm to snap out of his doldrums and recommit himself to the MBA program.  “Two things clicked for me this year: the first being a renewed sense of motivation and the second being a need for patience.”   The decision to refocus on his goals resulted in David earning near perfect scores on his final projects and exams!! 

During the course of this past year, David also purchased his own house in Rowayton – yet another process that reinforced his need for patience and perseverance.   So yes, this has been a year of growth and maturity.  Our congratulations and best wishes go out to him as he enters his senior year, refocused on goals and reprioritizing “needs over wants.” 

See you Sunday,

Royal

 

Road Rules:  “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.  All things break and all things can be mended – not necessarily with time, but with intention. So, go … love intentionally, extravagantly and unconditionally.  This broken world waits in the darkness for the light that is you!   L.R. Knost

From the Backcountry

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

June 22, 2018

From the Backcountry …

“Oh that I had the wings of a dove to fly away and be at rest.”  Psalm 55

Summer, at last … the time of year to plan our get-a-ways.  Even though studies indicate that vacations can be high stress undertakings, we eagerly await those few days when we can “fly away and be at rest.”  Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor in the second century, was also a Stoic philosopher.  He admitted that, like everyone, he yearned for a cottage in the country … for desolate seascapes and mountainsides.”  But, he also cautioned that it’s foolish for us to seek inner peace in these distant retreats, when we have the power to find our needed rest and renewal by “retreating” into ourselves – wherever we happen to be!  In fact, escaping life’s stress is much easier when we seek times of quiet every day.

Sunday,  June 24   Morning Worship   10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 69;  Mark 4: 35-41

Text:  “A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.”  Mark 4: 37

Sermon:  “Eye of the Storm”

Tease:  Each of the Gospels has a version of Jesus calming turbulent seas and Mark recounts an additional high seas windstorm!  These are all essential passages.   Storm clouds are beginning to gather over Jesus’ ministry, as opposition grows.  None of his followers quite know what the future holds and many in Jesus’ entourage are terrified.  While the tempest stories bring considerable drama to the Gospel narrative, they are nonetheless stories designed to calm our own anxious hearts during times of personal upheaval.  

Our Wider Mission:  Vamos Adelante (Moving Forward)

During the Lenten Season, we raised over $1,000.00 for a non-profit organization that serves 24 rural villages nestled below three volcanoes outside Guatemala City.   On June 3, one of those volcanoes, Volcán de Fuego, erupted and buried two of those villages, El Rodeo and San Miguel Los Lotes, with a fast moving pyroclastic flow (lava, ash, fumes and rocks.)   Within minutes, entire families disappeared.  Two hundred individuals remain unaccounted for.  Homes, roads, and rustic infrastructure are devastated.  Rest assured, however, that when it is safe for people to return to what remains of their villages, Vamos Adelante will be there helping them to rebuild, restore and replenish.

Tragically, the  lives of these indigenous Guatemalans were a struggle prior to this disaster.  You will remember that Vamos Adelante has been reaching out to  these impoverished communities for over two decades - building schools, feeding the elderly, providing medical  services, check-ups, and vaccinations at a clinic staffed by volunteer doctors and dentists.  Our financial support also helps the organization provide water filters, woodstoves, solar lamps and small farm animals.  Sponsors are found to ensure school-aged children are in classrooms, rather than working in the fields.  Scholarships are also awarded to middle school and high school students.

I would urge you to revisit their website: www.vamosadelante.org and reacquaint yourself with their amazing work.  In the meantime, it’s a comfort to know that our donations are assisting in all of these efforts.  Vemos Adelante!  Ever forward!!

See you Sunday,

Royal