From the Backcountry ...

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

November 9, 2017

From the Backcountry …

“For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love”   2 Timothy 1:7

There are so many different expressions of Christianity, from extreme fundamentalism to mystical contemplation. I’ve personally experienced unparalleled meanness. Yet, I’ve also witnessed an amazing generosity of spirit.  Some look to faith for concrete answers to life’s complexity, others are more comfortable not knowing all the answers and see faith as an opportunity to probe deeper into life’s mystery.  

I see our own faith community as a place that encourages questions and nurtures an atmosphere that can help each of us refine our own daily experiences.  When we begin each Service of Worship with a review of the week’s events, we can easily see why our society is choked with fear.  That is why it’s also important for us to take that moment each week to hear the story of “someone out there” whose selfless acts of love can inspire us to once again “Believe in The Good.”   Our faith community is a place where Protestants, Catholics, Agnostics and Devout Believers journey together into the unknown and realize that religious expression is  a wonderful process of discovery and ongoing renewal. 

Sunday, November 12   Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 78;  Matthew 25: 1-13

Sermon:   “Bridesmaids”

Text:  “But when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them”  Matthew 25: 3

Tease:   Ah… the bridesmaid story.  Five are prudent.  Five are not.  When  it’s to join the wedding party, the “foolish” ones are turned away because their wicks aren’t trimmed!   It always seems to me that the prudent ladies are a snooty bunch.  And, the fact that they aren’t willing to share their resources seems contrary to the gospel message.  And yet, there’s a verse in this passage that turns this disturbing story completely inside out.

Our Church’s Wider Mission -   Oaxaca, Mexico

How easy it is to forget that on September 7, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake rattled the Oaxaca region of Mexico, leaving 100 dead and villages in ruin.  With the help of government, NGO, and our  mission partner funding, Oaxaca is slowly getting back on its feet.  Unfortunately, tour groups are cancelling trips out of fear of aftershocks.   Last week’s popular “Day of the Dead” celebrations did not attract the tourists that the region needs in order to recover.

Mexico is known for its colorful, grandiose festivals.   As I researched the history of the radish for our Garden Journal, I learned that one of the more unique events is Oaxaca’s “La Noche de Rabonos,” -  Night of the Radish!!  Sounds really scary!  Actually, it’s part of their Christmas celebrations.   Dominican friars brought radishes to Mexico in the 16th century.   Because they are  harvested in cooler December weather, a monk suggested that farmers carve their radishes into imaginative shapes as a means to entice people to buy produce at the Christmas Vigil market.  The practice has been observed ever since.  Oaxaca radishes are not like our little red ones.  They’re thick, long and cylindrical - measuring up to 20 inches in length and some even weighing 7 pounds. And yet, like our own crop, many grow into contorted shapes with multiple appendages!  Such “ugly” veggies prove inspirational to the carvers - one of whom will proudly take home 12,000 pesos, if judged best in show. 

Our prayers and mission support continue to assist victims of this year’s earthquakes.  May their rich and storied traditions enable them to find renewed faith - as they rebound from recent struggle and move forward to a brighter new year. 

Vida Al Rabano!


Road Rules:  “The happiness we seek cannot be found by grasping, or trying to hold onto things.  It cannot be found through getting uptight about wanting to go in the direction that we think will bring us happiness.  The happiness we seek is already here.  And it will be found through relaxation and letting go, rather than through struggle.”   Pema Chodron