North Greenwich Congregational Church
Pastor’s Weekly Update
November 24, 2017
From the Backcountry …
“If any are thirsty, let them come to me and drink.” John 7:37
When I was in high school, a friend was tragically killed in an automobile accident. He was Jewish. I recall asking my pastor, “Do you think Alex is now in heaven?” Without even a sigh, he said, “God’s Kingdom is reserved only for those who profess Jesus.” That was the day that I began distancing myself emotionally from established religion. We have all encountered individuals who articulate their beliefs in such narrow, authoritarian terms. While probably not challenging their teachings, we nonetheless yearn to be set free from such exhausting and destructive expressions of faith.
Welcome Advent. In less than two weeks, we enter the season of the church year that longs for the coming of One who sets us free from human prejudice and limitation. Along the way, we will meet other seekers who wonder about the inauthenticity current religious expression. And together, we will discover a God who lies beyond our own preconceptions …who desires transformed lives rather than blind acceptance … who invites us to embrace community, rather dogma.
Sunday, November 26 Morning Worship 10:30 a.m
Lectionary Readings: Psalm 95; Matthew 25: 31-4
Text: “And he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.” Matthew 25:33
Sermon: “Hotel California”
Tease: “This could be heaven, or this could be hell.” So goes Don Henley’s line from the 1977 Grammy Award winning song describing a traveler’s sojourn at a remote desert inn. Jesus, of course, never uses the words, “heaven” and “hell” in any of his teachings - even this week’s infamous story of a King separating sheep from goats. As we take a closer look at the words our Lord actually uses, we may be in for a few surprises. Welcome to the Hotel California!
2017 Christmas Mission Offering
At its meeting last Sunday, the Church Council approved a Mission Offering to be received during the Advent season. Our local Neighbor-to-Neighbor Food Pantry will be the beneficiary of this collection.
There are dramatic income disparities among the residents of Fairfield Country. When you add up the cost of food, housing, utilities, clothing, transportation, health care, taxes, modest retirement savings and unexpected emergency costs, too many of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet. In order to afford Connecticut’s cost of living, a family with two adults and two children (with both parents working) need to be earning well over $50 an hour. (The minimum wage in our state is $10.10.)
Even though our Federal Budget exceeds $4 trillion, massive cuts in programs benefiting our nation’s vulnerable populations are underway. Over the next decade, $193 billion dollars is expected to disappear from the food stamp program, alone. Thread by thread, the social safety net is being unraveled. 425 Connecticut residents (1 in 8) use food stamps. 35% support children. 28% are elderly. We need to wake up … and see the crisis that’s unfolding.
It is also why we desperately need community food pantries like Neighbor-to-Neighbor, who are scrambling to address insecurity amid the shadows of one of America’s most affluent communities. Please give generously to our Christmas Mission Offering. Checks can be made out to North Greenwich Congregational Church. You will receive the appropriate tax information in your quarterly statement. Then, as a church family, we will make one donation to Neighbor-to-Neighbor.
See you Sunday,
Road Rules: “This week, build someone up. Put their insecurities to sleep. Remind them they are worthy. Tell them they are magical. Be light to a too often dim world.” Unknown