Centre Congregational Church
We Welcome Everyone: An "Open & Affirming" Church
Phone: (781) 334-3050; Fax: (781) 334-6463; Email:
Douglas W. Hodgkins: Organist/Choir Director
September 5, 2007
Are You Ready?
Matthew 4:18-19 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men and women."
Are you ready to follow Jesus? Remember, it is our understanding that everyone is welcome to follow Jesus. That means, everybody. No exceptions. I know we hear mixed messages at times about who is wanted to follow Jesus, lead the church, serve as a volunteer, etc. Yet, when Jesus is calling, everyone is a candidate. Jesus calls not by the world's standards, but by God's.
I ask again, are you ready to follow Jesus? When I was a little boy growing up, somehow I got the idea that I was not leadership material. Don't ask me how I ever got that idea, I just did. Maybe it was because I was never one of the early ones to be chosen for the baseball and/or basketball teams during recess. Maybe it was because I felt I was never the top choice to be a friend by the “big kids” in school. Maybe it was because I felt I wasn't one of the smarter kids in school. I don't know. But what I do know, is that I thought that I was not leadership material. So, if I had been there when Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, scanning the crowd of fishermen, I would not have expected to be selected.
Yet, Jesus is funny about what he expects. Just when we think we have it all figured out, Jesus does something we don't expect. I mean, if he was going to select disciples it seems to me he would have gone to the temple and picked out some of the smarter, if rebellious, students in Hebrew class. You know, students who knew their Torah while being rebellious, wanting to live the way God really wanted them to live, and not by all of the human-made laws, of which there were thousands.
My first realization of the ways of Jesus came when I was asked to teach a Sunday School Class of 5th and 6th grade boys. It was probably a case that no one else wanted to teach the class when someone said to me, “Come on Dennis, give it a try. You can do it.” Now really, do you really think I believed that they thought that I could do it? No, but they were desperate to keep those rambunctious 5th and 6th grade boys occupied and quiet while the younger kids quietly enjoyed their lessons, obedient students that they were. For some reasons, when boys get to the 5th and 6th grade they become anxious to move around, quick to tell the teacher “this is boring.” I know because in many ways, I'm still one of those 5th or 6th graders, quick to complain when something is boring.
Well, I foolishly believed it when they told me that I, Dennis, “could do it,” teach that class. Was there any training? No. How old was I when I started this? Somewhere around the 9th grade, I think. Had I ever taught before? No. Did I know what I was doing? Not a chance. I just knew I didn't want it to be boring.
So, foolish disciple of Jesus, fresh off the farm, I took the “teacher's material,” tried to make sense out of it, and did what some might call “teach.” Well, it wasn't what I would call teaching now. I read the Teacher's Guide and followed the instructions. And you know what? It was boring! Boring for me and boring for the boys, my students.
Not wanting to fail at this, my first leadership opportunity, given my ego was at stake, I made a 911 call to my pastor who put me onto some new United Church of Christ denominational material. It was about how God is present in creation, inviting us to break the Sunday Board Rules and go outside for some class time. Whoa, not boring, but fun, running around outside all in the name of God! Well, yes, I took some heat for going outside the classroom but my students, believe it or not, were having fun and so was I. Next, I found some material that compared the Bible book of Joshua with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called, “Drum Majors for Justice.”
Things got very interesting as one of the elders on the Sunday School Board challenged me saying, “Martin Luther King” and discussions about the Civil Rights Movement don't belong in the church. Of course, this challenge only encouraged me. Now, I was teaching not just the boys who were my students, but the adults, also!
Luke 23:4-6 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this man." But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."
So now, my friends, I would like to invite you to remember that God is calling you. Jesus is welcoming you. Everyone and anyone can be a disciple. Yes, yes, yes. Don't let your low self-esteem deny you. Don't let past experience convince you that you will fail. Don't let the expectations of others prevent you from picking up your cross and following Jesus. If it's crosses that Jesus is handing out today, everyone gets one. If it's bread and fish, there will be enough for everyone. If it's forgiveness, Jesus has enough for you and every sinner. If it's love, you won't believe how the baskets of grace overflow. It's Amazing!
Sing in the choir. Stomp your feet. Teach a class. Attend Bible Study. Mentor a confirmand in the Confirmation Class. Be a Caregiver (visiting parishioners who need your time and compassion to care). Volunteer in the church office. Offer to serve in an office in the church. Tell the Minister (that's me) that you want something to do for the service of Jesus.
No matter what you have done or what you have never tried. All are welcome here.
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Are you ready to say “yes” to Jesus in your heart, soul, mind, and body? He's walking by your part of the beach, like he did with the first fishermen disciples, and calling you.
Yours in Christ,
IN THE SANCTURY
September 9 2007
Luke 14:1, 7-14
10:00 A.M. Morning Worship
Reception of New Members
Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Bailey
“Am I At the Right Table?”
Rotation Sensation begins this Sunday, September 9! We are excited about the year’s theme: God Calls Us. We open the year with the story of Abraham and Sarah. The workshops for this rotation unit will be computers, Upper Room, cooking and movie. We hope to see all of the kids ages PreK-Grade 8.
Registration for Rotation Sensation will take place before and after the service on the 9th, for those who have not mailed in their registration forms. All children and youth through Grade 8 need to be registered.
We are still looking for a leader for the Upper Room for our unit on Esther. (October 14-November 4.) If you enjoy reading stories with children and are available on these dates, kindly call the church office to volunteer your time.
Youth Group News
Youth Groups are set to start on Sunday, September 16. All parents and youth are asked to meet downstairs in Todd Hall at 6:00 p.m. for pizza. Together we will review the schedule for the year! We encourage you to bring your calendars!
Middle School Youth will continue to collect beach towels through Sunday, September 9. New and gently used beach towels may be placed in the box outside of the sanctuary. Thank you for all of the donations.
Both groups enjoyed summer beach days at the Martin’s. Thank you to Kathi and Bo for opening up their home to our youth groups and many thanks to the whole family for being such gracious hosts. We had lots of fun.
Can You Help?
Our Church Fair will be on November 10 which will be here before we know it. We are in need of the following items for the fair:
We are still looking for a few people to run the fair and chairpeople for the tables. Please consider helping to make this successful. If you need more information, please give me a call.
Donna Marino (781) 581-2022
Wine Tasting Two
The Membership Commission is hosting “Wine Tasting Two” which will be held on Saturday September 22, 2007 from: 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM in the Narthex and Fireside Room.
The event will be open to church members and their friends. Hors-d’oeuvres will be provided. Water and soda will also be provided – to cleanse your pallet.
The wine will be provided by the wine experts at Our Glass Wine Co.
Suggested donation is $20.00 to defray expenses
Centre Church Golf Tournament
The 5th Annual Centre Church Golf Tournament will be held on Friday 9/21/07 at 1 PM. at Thomson Country Club in North Reading. This is a scramble/best ball format. The entry fee which gets you 18 holes of golf, cart rental and dinner afterwards is only $125. All net proceeds go to support the Missions program at Centre Church. See Phil Johnson for details.
Linus Project Workshop
On Wed., September 26, a one-night workshop to construct “sewless” blankets to be donated to the local Linus Project chapter will be held in the Library. These blankets will be given to seriously ill children or children in need. See Chris Gehret for details.
News From Around the Parish
We send our love and best wishes to Jack Turner upon the celebration of his 96th birthday on Sept. 3.
We extend our love and sympathy to Elva Batchelder upon the death of her sister, Stella Hawkes on September 2.
We give thanks and praise for the brainstorming, ingenuity, and follow through of the “Pew Racks Task Force” that recently updated our pew literature racks. They removed all of the racks, widened the literature slots and then, reinstalled them. All of our literature now fits neatly! The “Pew Racks Task Force” included Chair, Linda Ladd, Jack Marino, Bob Shorey, Donna Marino, Emily Ladd, Becky Ladd, with prayerful assistance via Jessica Ladd. Shirley Orr keeps the racks cleaned and supplied with literature and pencils year round.
Coming in October
ONA Video Film Festival: Kick-off October 7th in the Fireside Room following Sunday Services. These weekly programs will help us live out Centre Church’s promise of being an “Open and Affirming Church that Welcomes Everybody”.
Centre Church Chowdafest: The Membership Commission is hosting a “Chowdafest” after church on Sunday October 21, 2007 11:30 am- 1 pm.
|Senior Choir Rehearsal - Sanctuary
Morning Worship - Sanctuary
Rotation Sensation Workshops
Nursery Care – Room 14
|7:30 pm||Diaconate – Pastor’s Office|
|Caregivers – Fireside Room
Knitting Group - Fireside Room
|Craft Group - Todd Hall
Membership– Pastor’s Office
|7:30 pm||Senior Choir - Choir Room|
|10:30 am||Scripture Study - Pastor's Office|
Our thoughts and prayers are with:
Sunday Worship in the Sanctuary
Resumes on September 9 at 10:00 a.m.
Church Office Hours
Beginning September 4
9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday.
Will be published weekly beginning the week of September 4. Material to be included should be in the church office by Monday at noon.