From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

November 16, 2017


From the Backcountry

“Would you like an adventure now, or would you like to have tea first?”   J.M. Barrie

I was raised on a diet of strict Calvinist Presbyterianism.  I committed the Westminster Shorter Catechism to memory.  I was well versed in the Reformed confessions.  But, none of this dogma ever took hold of me.  I have always struggled with the exclusive interpretation of Scripture that God welcomes some into the Kingdom, while others are cast into eternal darkness.

I continue to be struck by the wonders of God’s Kingdom. For me, faith is the call to a great adventure.  Along the way, we engage an inclusive Savior who encourages the kind of belief that is committed to asking questions and not knowing all the answers. A sense of “belonging” is essential for the journey.  We need comfort and challenge along the way - as long as we don’t fret about self-preservation and remain willing to venture beyond our  present boundaries.

Sunday, November 19   Service of Thanksgiving  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 100;   Matthew 25: 14-30

Sermon:  “Risky Business”

Text:  “He who received the one talent dug in …hid his master’s money.”  Matthew 25:18

Tease:  Our passage introduces us to two very clever and successful entrepreneurs.  They show us how to undertake ventures with skill and confidence, even in the face of certain risk.  Their rewards  are enviable..  But, success is never a sure thing.  Often, like a third entrepreneur in our story, fear of failure can get the better of us. Terrified that he will lose the small sum entrusted to him, this worker does nothing.  Sadly, his “return and reward” aren’t so enviable.  Yet, within the startling, if not uncomfortable narrative, we do learn what Thanksgiving is all about. 

The Wide, Wonderful  and sometimes Wacky World

Vive Beaujolais Day! -  November 1

  Rolling out the barrels in Paris

Rolling out the barrels in Paris

One of the greatest, yet wackiest Harvest rituals is an “Amazing” Race currently underway. That’s right.  Welcome to Beaujolais Day!!   At the stroke of midnight this morning, 70 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau from the eastern vineyards of France were released.  By motorcycle, balloon, truck, helicopter, jet, elephant, rickshaw and other forms of transportation,  merchants and their patrons are competing regionally around the globe to be the first to partake of this “vin primeur.”  I’m told the competition can get downright nasty - particularly in Japan!!

Shunned by aficionados, Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from grapes that only five weeks ago were still ripening on the vine.  Expedited fermentation and bottling processes ensure delivery by today.   So popular  is the demand,  French law prohibits distribution before the third Thursday in November.

It’s a day for frivolity and entertainment.   Many harvest festivals will continue on into the weekend -  with marathons, formula car, bicycle and other more creative forms of racing.   In fact, 120 “Beaujolais Bashes” are thrown in this wine’s region alone. How widely is Beaujolais Day celebrated in the United States?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  It’s no mere coincidence that millions of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau  will soon be on shelves, just as 45 million turkeys are arriving at local markets. And apparently, this vin primeur  is a “superb match”  for poultry.  Who could have guessed?

Happy Thanksgiving,


Road Rules:  There are times when we stop and sit still.  We listen.  And breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.”   James Carroll