From the Backcountry

North Greenwich Congregational Church

Pastor’s Weekly Update

February 2, 2018

From the Backcountry.

“Behold, I am making all things new.”   Revelation 21:5

It’s Groundhog Day!!  Or, in the Christian calendar, Candlemas.  We’re at the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Even though St. Patrick’s Day is more than a month away, it’s time to put on our green and celebrate the Irish season of Imbolc - a Gaelic word meaning “in the belly.”  That’s right … spring lambs are now gestating in their mama ewes’ “tummies.”  Winter has yet to release its cruel grip, but signs of spring already surround us.  Keep an eye out for snowdrops, those delicate white blossoms that bravely defy snow and ice.

We’re entering the season of growth and renewal, beginning with rituals of purification - like spring cleaning.  Time to sweep the hearth bare, mold fresh candles and light new flames.  Time to make pilgrimages to nearby holy wells and renew our baptismal vows.  Time to gather field reeds and fashion “brideog” dolls (pictured above) to invoke the blessing of Ireland’s female patron Saint Brigid on our household and livestock. Time to take heart and know that “no winter lasts forever …no spring skips its turn.”

Sunday, February 4   Holy Communion  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:   Psalm 147; Mark 1: 29-39

Text:  “And the whole city was gathered around the door.”  Mark 1: 33

Sermon:  “This American Pie”

Tease:   Within hours of Jesus’ first appearance in the synagogue at Capernaum, we’re told “all the people of Galilee” were at his doorstep, many with friends and relatives hoping to be touched by his healing hand.  Anticipation is rampant. The young rabbi is capturing the hearts and imagination of a new generation.  But, as we know all too well, reality often falls short of expectation.   What can the past teach us about maintaining confidence and hope in tomorrow, even in the midst of disappointment, or impatience?

Lenten Study   “The Remarkable Ordinary”

Thursday Evenings:  February 15,  March 1,  March 15 and March 29

At 6:00 p.m.

The Christian life is a pilgrimage of faith.  As the wise man says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”   And yet for many, taking that first step can be very intimidating.  In his book, “The Remarkable Journey: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life,” Presbyterian pastor and teacher Fred Buechner offers some guidelines for the journey.  In fact, before we even venture forward, we need only observe what’s around us.  The bird calling in the distance, the wind rustling in the leaves overhead, the quirky and unique people that we meet … every day we are in touch with the Divine if we but “stop, look and listen.” 

I have had the opportunity to be in Fred’s company a number of times in my ministry. He has been perhaps the most influential teacher in my own faith journey.  So, I invite you to join me as we gather “every other”  Thursday evening throughout Lent  to study this delightful book, beginning February 15 and concluding  Maundy  Thursday (with  Holy Communion. )  We will gather at 6:00 p.m. for a soup supper and discussion that will conclude around 7:30 p.m.

Happy Candlemas,



Road Rules:   “Remember - the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”   Rumi