Baptism of Connor George Gregory

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The Season of Easter

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I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  John 14:16

The Gospel for Sunday is a part of the farewell discourse from the middle of John’s Gospel. Funny that a big part of John is taken up with a goodbye speech by Jesus. Within that speech is a reimagining of the faith of the Bible. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will be with you forever. Forever.

Forever means no end time. Time itself is no more.  But what happened to time? Maybe time as we experience it turns into nothingness, into an abyss. Those of us who hold a biblical faith believe that time turns to holiness.

The line from the Bible, above–I will give you another Advocate–could be stated in another way, an apostolic/sending way: I will send you into the forever of God’s love. The Holy Spirit replaces time. That’s a mind blowing thought, I know. Beyond time is holiness. Within holiness is love. That’s the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will be with you forever.

So much of the biblical faith has to do with freeing human hearts and souls from the tyranny of time. Ancient Israel summarized this with the notion of Sabbath. The third commandment is: Remember the holy day. Remember the Sabbath; keep it holy. For us, Sabbath is the reminder of our Christian freedom. We are not limited by time. Love is not ended by time. We are not defined as people by the work we do, or by our words and deeds. Through our faith in Jesus our lives are covered in the spirit of holiness. The ancient words of the liturgy gently turn our secular concerns into the holiness of eternity.

Remember the grounds and garden work day on Saturday, May 20, from 1 pm until about 5 pm. There will be a list of things to do on the counter in the fellowship hall, or you can do whatever you think needs to be done at your church. Stephanie will be here at 3 pm to supervise planting in the garden. Confirmation students are asked to meet with Pastor Johnson sometime during the afternoon.

Zünd Gang nach Emmaus 1877

                                                         Robert Zund, Way to Emmaus 1877

On that same day two disciples were going to a village called Emmaus…While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.  Luke 24: 13f

Easter ends with “Christ is risen”, and that’s it. Happy news. Everything’s good. Now he’s out of the way again, no law suits about unlawful death, no burial plot to tend. But for the Gospel writers and for the church, that’s the beginning of the story, not the end. Last week we heard the beginning of the story for John–in the disciples’, and especially in Thomas’, encounter with Jesus behind closed doors. Sunday we hear where Luke thinks the story begins, in what is among my favorite bible stories, maybe my favorite, the road to Emmaus. The unnamed disciples recognize their Lord, and receive him, not in a vague rumor, but in words heard, by them, and in bread broken, for them.

Connor George Gregory will be baptized. Connor’s parents are Rick and Karla. They live in Framingham. Baptisms allow us to see where faith begins. In words spoken over the water, and in water splashed on a person’s head, a life in the light of God’s love begins.

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

Bring in non-perishable items for the Wayland Food Pantry. The basket is almost full! Let’s fill it up for a delivery early next week.

Following the service members of the council will lead another forum on the summer sabbatical months. I hope many of you will attend.

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You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,

and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

On the Second Sunday of Easter we read about Jesus coming through locked doors to show himself to his disciples, and to give them a spirit of life to guide them.

I hope that our church is always a place where young people are supported and encouraged in their lives. Each of us chooses a different path through life, but as we go our separate ways we can return to an assembly that listens to us and is gracious and hospitable. As a community, surrounded by the saints and by life-affirming wisdom of the ages, we have resources to be open and affirming of good things in the world, strong and fearless in support of people–especially of young people–who are finding their way.

Sunday we will hear Allen Simon tell a little bit about his life journey. Allen is a first-year student at Harvard Divinity School. He has been working at Peace this year, and has taken special interest in helping with Family Promise and learning about our community arts program. He has taught us about Taoism and the Baha’i faith. He has combined meditation on Christian scripture with ancient Chinese exercises, and helped us in other ways. After the service, during the faith formation hour, Allen will make a short presentation on Young Man Luther by Erik Erikson. Even if you have not read the excerpts, you are welcome. I hope you’ll come.

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Easter 2017

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Family Promise laundry helpers


Deb, Leah, Aidan, Erik, Carly, Leah and Mason washed Family Promise sheets, blankets and quilts after the recent host weeks. They spent time together at the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot during the wash cycle.

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Lent 2017

Once you were in darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.  Ephesians 5:8

The long gospel reading from John 9 is about a man who was born blind. Jesus helps him, and a long discussion follows. All the old concerns are in place about authority and propriety, who gets credit, who gets thanked. As we meditate on the reading we can feel the lengthy scripture readings of Holy Week getting closer.

The children of light need to hear the words that bring light into their  lives. These are the days we open our hearts and let in the light of God’s word.

Some reminders: be quiet worshipers and an active church members.

First of all, come to church. Then sit quietly and wait for the word to be read to you. This is the word of life for your Christian heart. Come reverently to the altar and receive the eternal life of Christ which takes away the sin of the world, the sin of your heart.

In these last weeks of Lent and into the Easter season look for visitors in worship. Speak to them. Say hello, my name is ______. Thank them for coming. Invite them to coffee. Introduce them to someone else. Don’t just hang out with your friends. Greet someone you don’t know. Be the kind of person that a visitor might want to see again next week. Make a good impression. Go out of your way. Be an active church member.

Invite someone to church. Help them to find a way into the life of the congregation.

The choir rehearses Sunday at 8:45 am.

Bring in nonperishables for the Wayland Food Pantry, diapers and wipes for the diaper drive.

The adult forum during the faith formation hour will be a discussion based on the ELCA Lenten study. The session for this Sunday asks us to think about the meaning of justice.

Pinoy Reading Buddies book packing tomorrow, Saturday, March 25 beginning at 9 am. Confirmation students will meet with Pastor Johnson during the morning.

The Peace Walkers will take part in the annual Walk to end homelessness on April 8. Here’s the link to their webpage.  Speak to Andrea McDonald for more information.

The Ruth House fashion show and luncheon is Sunday, April 30 at Lombardo’s in Randolph. Learn more about this from Marisa Lutz.

Scale model of the Jerusalem temple as Jesus would have known it. Israel Museum

Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…Matthew 4:5.

Sunday we hear about Jesus tempted by the devil. Our Lord finds himself up against some of the things that tend to distort our lives in small and big ways–recognition, power, prestige. We will look at the passage through the lens of the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the line, Lead us not into temptation. Lent is a traditional time to think about Christian teachings as they apply to our personal, spiritual lives.

During the season of Lent, the music that accompanies our word-and-sacrament worship changes a little. The season of Lent has the character of the Kyrie, which accepts and declares that we have lived our lives without thinking of God’s law of love and of God’s promises of life. In the first part of the service we omit the hymn of praise, which normally follows the Kyrie. We add a little more silence for reflection and meditation. The Gospel acclamation changes to a Lenten form.

I hope you will all make an effort to attend the morning service during Lent. As you serve God and the other members of the congregation by attending, you are served by the word and the sacraments, the food and fuel of your Christian spiritual life.

Choir practice at 8:45 am.

Wayland Food Pantry collection in Lent: soap.

The forum during the 11 am hour will be sabbatical planning. Pastoral sabbaticals can be important growing times in the life of a congregation. New relationships are formed between members. Leadership roles are accepted. During sabbatical months, congregations can change and grow in ways that last far into the future. If you would like to serve on a sabbatical committee, speak to Jordan Mueller, Marisa Lutz or to another member of the congregation.

Family Promise host weeks begin Sunday. We will pray a prayer of blessing for all the families and volunteers. The youth of the congregation will collect quarters for the laundromat.

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Ash Wednesday 2017

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, the season in which the Christian faith becomes real, if it ever does, in our secular world. In other Church seasons, we are in our heads, thinking about who Jesus is, what the Christian faith means, what Christians believe, etc. Ash Wednesday invites us to enter into the wonderful mystery of human life as we know it, and to restore a balanced wholeness, if we can find something like that.

In some parts of the world, today is a carnival day. Parades in New Orleans and other places show human beings in splendid and exotic display. The scenes are extraordinary. The sadness that often follows such events is ordinary. Parades end with messes. Parties, from which some were excluded, end with disappointment and hangovers. Celebrations of visual, sexual, gastronomical, and emotional excess have the useful effect of showing the limits of our capacity to arrange happiness for ourselves….for very long.

Protestant Christians–or Christians of any kind, for that matter–are no longer driven into Lent by church authority. Christians are invited into the springtime of Lent as a spiritual reality and as an opportunity for reflection and improvement of our lives.

Life, in all its dimensions, including those paraded extravagantly and thrillingly in Mardi Gras parades–art and attire, sex and food, emotion and human interaction–all might be parts of a balanced, human life. Ash Wednesday calls us to disciplines that restore balance and help us make healthy, humble choices that result in joy and loving service.

In Lent, Christians are invited to claim life in its richness, to find patterns and habits of living that bring satisfaction, healing, assistance to others, and peace for our own restless hearts.

Tai Chi Fridays at 10:45 am. These gentle exercises will begin with a meditation on scripture. The fishbowl will be set out for contributions to Intern Allen’s travel costs from Cambridge each week.

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Epiphany 2017

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The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  Exodus 24:12

We end the Christmas cycle of seasons on Sunday and turn to the Easter cycle. Lent begins Wednesday with the Ash Wednesday service at 7:30 pm.  On Sunday-Transfiguration-we will hear the story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. To Matthew, that mountain corresponds to Mount Sinai or Mount Moses, the traditional site of which is shown in the image above, with St. Catherine’s monastery at the foot of it.

In Lent the Christian faith becomes real. Christian tradition asks the faithful to do some Christian things. Leave out something that is not healthy for you, add something helpful or healing.  As a congregation I invite you to take part in these Lenten activities.

Volunteer for a Family Promise job.

-Take home an ELCA World hunger calendar. Read the brief devotions every day. Make a Lenten collection for World Hunger.

-Participate in a World Hunger intergenerational study here at Peace. The Faith formation teachers have made World Hunger a focus for Lent.

-Come to church Friday mornings in Lent at 10:45 am for Tai Chi exercises and meditation. The sessions, led by Intern Allen Simon, will begin and end with meditation on Bible readings from the daily lectionary.

The choir meets at 8:45 am.

Bring in pancake mix and syrup, or any other non-perishable food item for the Wayland Food Pantry.

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I will thank you with a true heart,

   when I have learned your righteous judgments.  Psalm 119: 7

The Sermon on the Mount continues to hold our attention in these Sundays of Epiphany. The Gospel for this coming Sunday seems hard, with strict and absolute interpretations of the commandments by Jesus. You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, You shall not murder….but I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister you will liable to judgment…

This would be a good Sunday to do a little mid-winter examination of our thoughts, words and actions. Examining our lives according to the commandments is the solid spiritual foundation of a Christian’s faith life. If we talk about our faith at all, let alone allow it to work in our lives, we talk about it in terms of belief. We ask ourselves what we believe, personally, and don’t believe, personally, as if that is the important thing.

The important thing, in the Biblical way of looking at it, is righteousness: right behavior and good decisions based on the commandments of God. A good life is a life of righteousness. How’s that for a counter-cultural idea?

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

Faith formation and forum discussion at 11 am.

The forum Sunday has been planned and arranged for by Allen Simon. It’s the second of his forums on the faith of our neighbors. The Baha’i faith is the focus of Sunday’s forum. I hope that you will make plans to come. At least two Wayland residents will be here to speak with us. I hope some of you will come.

Following the forum, Allen will lead a discussion of Tai Chi, and give a demonstration, in the fellowship hall. All are welcome. Invite friends and neighbors who might be interested in Tai Chi.

Bring in non perishable food items for the Wayland Food Pantry.

Ilhan Omar, Somali American legislatior

You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
We continue our reading in Matthew’s Gospel on Sunday. We hear what Jesus says as he turns to the disciples and tells them directly what a great difference their vocations make in the world. We are disciples of Jesus, called into that vocation through baptism.Learning and living out the righteousness of God is not a personal spiritual choice, made based on what makes you feel good or sounds reasonable. Living a life of Christian faith is a holy and important calling to bring the law and gospel of God to the world. This word of God is the basis of healthy relationships with one another, with those who are not like us, and with the natural world.  You are the light of the world because you are servants of God’s word.

On Super Bowl Sunday bring an offering for ELCA World Hunger and an item for the Wayland Food Pantry.

Bring a Super Bowl snack to share for coffee hour.

The forum for the confirmation students and adults will be the second part of Rick Steve’s Luther and the Reformation DVD. Everyone is welcome.

Ellen Karrfalt has moved to Brandon Woods in Dartmouth, MA

Brandon Woods of Dartmouth‎
567 Dartmouth Street
South Dartmouth, MA 02748
(508) 997-7787

Milly Engberg has moved to a new room–257B–at Spaulding Rehab in Sandwich. In an email sent today, 2/4, Karen wrote,

Yesterday [Milly] walked with her cane and no additional leg support for 60 feet straight. And she’s almost able to transfer from the wheelchair to the bed on her own. She’s determined to get her strength back and is quite a show off.

Our intern Allen Simon has arranged for a second “get to know your neighbor” forum. Next week Allen will be here with Judy Orloff and Fran Pollitt to present a basic introduction to the Baha’i faith. I hope that many of you will plan to attend.

Following the forum, at about 12 noon, Allen will speak about Tai Chi and give a demonstration.

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  When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Matthew 5:1

Sunday we read the opening of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew. I said last week that we learn Jesus’ identity in the world by looking at the people who surround him, by what is said about him, and by what he says and does. Our identities are realized and recognized in the same three ways–by the company we keep, by what has been said or is said about us, and by what we do and say.

We hear what Jesus says as he announces the features of the Kingdom of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew tells us that Jesus is the new Moses, bringing God’s people not into the promised land of Canaan, but into the promised Kingdom of God. Mount Sinai, where the law of God was given, becomes another unnamed mountain in Galilee. From there, Jesus surveys the kingdom of God. What does it look like? Who are the winners and who are the losers in the kingdom of God?  The Sermon on the Mount is a guide to the principles and values of the kingdom of God.

The choir meets at 8:45 am.

Faith formation and adult forum on the Reformation at 11 am.

We have not done very well on filling up the flower chart for the year. The best reason to give flowers is, simply, to mark the weekly worship of our congregation. In addition to this, you might give flowers to bring the name of a loved one to our attention.  Take the flowers home with you, bring them to a friend, or ask Pastor Johnson to bring them to one of our home-bound members. So give it some thought and take a moment to sign up for flowers sometime in the weeks ahead.

When I walk in and out of the building I see the window paintings that the children did during the meeting last week. Carrie and Chris Munford and David Schiedemantel organized the project and helped the kids. Thank you to them.

Intern Allen Simon is back with us for the second semester. Here is some of the work Allen will be doing this semester.
  • Supporting Family Promise as a volunteer, at Peace and at other sites. Next weekend Allen is an overnight host at a church in Wellesley.
  • Arranging for another “know your neighbor” adult forum for Peace. Sunday, February 12 Judy Orlof and Fran Pollitt (our neighbor next door) will join Allen for an adult forum introduction to the Bahai Faith. 11 am.
  • Leading a book discussion on Psychologist Erik Erikson’s classic study of Martin Luther, Young Man Luther.
  • Working with ArtsWayland to schedule a workshop with an artist friend of Allen’s
  • Helping with the administration of Peace’s community arts program
  • Working on the gardens and grounds, especially assisting Emilie on the Peace garden
  • Teaching Tai Chi at Peace or at one of the assisted living facilities in town
  • Accompanying Pastor Johnson on pastoral visits to members of Peace and to palliative care and hospice patients
I hope that all of you will take a moment to get to know Allen during the second semester. If you can help with transportation from Alewife or the Lincoln station, let me know.

 Bring in muffin and pancake mix and syrup for the Wayland Food Pantry.

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me.” Matthew 4:18.

Matthew’s Gospel is concerned with the tradition and history of Israel. In the Gospel for Sunday we read a prophecy from Isaiah, one of Israel’s prophets of old. With Jesus on the scene, the ancient prophecy of light coming to those who walked in darkness will be fulfilled: the territory of the outcast tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, around the Sea of Galilee, will become the recruiting ground for the new kingdom. Instead of twelve tribes, each one bearing the name of a son of Jacob, the new “twelve” will be disciples, followers of Jesus. They will be given new identities and vocations in relation to Jesus.

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

Semiannual meeting at 11 am, during the faith formation hour. Activities have been planned for our children during the meeting time. Adult members of the church, please come and listen to the council tell about the spending plan for the new year. This is your church. Your faith, energy, commitment, creativity, time and money keep it alive and going strong. This is a good time in the life of Peace. High school children who have been confirmed are adult members of the church and are encouraged to come to the meeting and to vote. Friends of the congregation are welcome at the meeting, but discussion and voting are responsibilities of membership.

Remember to come to church ready to sign up for flowers. By bringing flowers you may mark anniversaries, remember loved ones who have died or live somewhere else. By bringing flowers–this is the most important thing–you honor the members of your church who come to morning worship. It is the simple, elegant Sunday ministry. I’m happy to write your name on the chart. Call, text or send an email to me and I’ll do that.

As you leave your house Sunday morning, grab something from your pantry for the Wayland Food Pantry at Parmenter. We are collecting pancake mix and syrup, but any non-perishable item will be fine.

Confirmation students meet individually with Pastor Johnson Saturday morning, January 21, to go over sermon notes and read in the Bible and in the catechism.

Pinoy Reading Buddies appreciation dinner Saturday, January 21 at 7 pm.

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After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me. John 1:30

One of the best things about the three-part Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season is the presence of John the Baptist. He comes in with the Christmas trees and  greens and candles. He should make church people nervous except that for hundreds and hundreds of years church people have domesticated him (along with Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus), tried to put him into historical context, or make a Bible study cartoon out of him.

John the Baptist comes from the wilderness and brings wildness with him. He brings the smell of the woods and the look of wild places. You can feel the desert and the mountains around him. He has not been socialized by petty human institutions. He does not know how to follow along in worship, and he does not care about church constitutions. He stands knee-deep in the water of the Jordan, with dust of the earth covering the camel skin hide he wears. He talks about baptisms of flame (judgment) and wind (holy spirit). John the Baptist brings the elements of the natural world-earth, fire, water and wind-back into the lives of God’s people. Over the Christian centuries, church people–lay people and clergy together–have taken every opportunity to silence him, or ignore him, because John the Baptist does not follow the program and he cannot be controlled.

Furthermore, in the lesson for Sunday, John the Baptist says that Jesus is his earth-brother. Jesus is a child of the earth. John says, “I came baptizing with water so that Jesus might be revealed to Israel.” verse 31. If Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, verse 29, where does he take that sin?  We’ll start to think about that on Sunday.

The choir rehearses at 8:45 am.

During this Reformation anniversary year all our ELCA congregations have been asked to turn special attention to our Reformation Heritage. During the faith-formation hour, adults are invited to gather for a forum discussion about ways that we might explore our Lutheran heritage in this anniversary year.

Senior lunch Thursday at 12 noon.

Pinoy Reading Buddies appreciation Saturday, January 21 at 7 pm.

Semiannual meeting of the congregation next Sunday at 11 am. Members of the congregation vote on our spending plan for the year.

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