From the Backcountry

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

October 5, 2017

From the Backcountry ...

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of booths to the Lord”  Leviticus 23:42

Today is the first day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot. After the more somber observances of a new year and day of atonement, seven days are set aside for pure “rejoicing.”   The Biblical mandate for this annual harvest festival can be found in the Book of Leviticus.  Once the last crops are harvested and safely in storehouses, the faithful were instructed to construct and live in temporary “booths ,” or sukkots as a reminder of the Israelites forty years of wandering in the wilderness.  Needless to say, those years were ones of scarcity and yet God provided the food, water and shelter needed for survival.  When they were settled in the land “flowing with milk and honey,”  they continued to observe Sukkot as an opportunity to set aside all worldly cares and give thanks for blessings richly received.  If this tradition has a familiar ring, the Biblical foundation for Sukkot was the inspiration for our Pilgrims forebears first Thanksgiving celebration.   

Sunday, October 8   Morning Worship 10:30 a.m. 

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 80; Matthew 21: 33-46

Sermon:  “Sticks and Stones”

Synopsis:  This week we look at one of Jesus’ more controversial teachings – “The Parables of the Wicked Tenants.”  A landowner leases a vineyard to a group of tenant farmers.  At harvest, he sends his servants to collect his share of the crops.  Each of the landowner’s representatives, even his own son, meets a violent end at the hands of the tenants.  The story is not for the squeamish.  And yet, as we deconstruct the parable, we discover a narrative that gives us a fascinating reflection not only on Jesus’ time, but our own.

Our Church’s Wider Mission

             Puerto Rico

The United Church of Christ has sent the first of what will be numerous grants to our ecclesiastical partners in Puerto Rico.  $10,000has been donated to “Discipulos de Cristo en Puerto Rico” for first aid kits, electric generators, gasoline, drinking water, water filters, non-perishable food, battery-powered radios and batteries.  DCPR is also sending out assessment teams to interview victims, evaluate damages and seek measures to overcome the crisis left by the two category-4 hurricanes. 

Puerto Rico is facing a devastating humanitarian crisis.  The 150 mph winds and drenching rains left islanders without power and access to fresh drinking water.  With no power, waste and water treatment plants are now crippled … setting up potential for any number of water-born diseases.

Last week, the U.S. Government waived the Jones Act, a 97-year old set of restrictions which limit shipping between U.S. ports to U.S. owned and operated ships.  This temporary act will hopefully expedite the delivery of needed fuel, medicine, food and water todesperate residents.  Our UCC Justice and Witness Ministry is lobbying Congress to make the lifting of the Jones Act permanent, as well as designate the funds needed for long term recovery and rebuilding.

Pray for Puerto Rico,


Road Rules:   Today, is your day to dance lightly with life, to sing wild songs of adventure, to soar your spirit and unfurl your joy.”     John Lockwood Huie