News & Views ~ May 2012
During our Lenten study of Robin Meyers’ book Saving Jesus from the Church, our conversation turned to the subtlety of language to describe the source and authority of Scripture. One small but significant example is that when we read the weekly Scripture in Sunday worship, the reading is always prefaced by the sentence: Listen for the Word of God. Several people in our study session asked why we say listen TO the Word of God, as if we are implying that God was the direct and personal author of the text. We don’t say that, I replied. We say Listen FOR the Word of God, implying that somewhere in the midst of the words, one might be able to discern what God is seeking to say to us – however veiled by ancient language, cultural norms and conflicting interpretations. “All these years” one of our studiers said, “I’ve been hearing the word to!”
Words matter, even the small ones. Because religion is such a deeply-felt experience, and because I often represent the most visible interpreter of religion in our congregation, I’ve been on the receiving end of many deeply-felt words – words of harsh attack and words of grateful praise, words of deep sorrow and words of incredible joy. It’s a most humbling role inasmuch as people often say things to me they wouldn’t dream of saying to anyone in their “regular” lives. I often think of the words from Isaiah 50: “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.” You have no idea how often I wish I actually knew that word!
Our Church President Tom Wilson often sustains me with a word – more times than he probably realizes. One such time was when he brought a prayer to what would turn out to be a somewhat difficult Elders meeting. He had found it in an old hymnbook in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. I now have printed copies of it everywhere – on my computer in my office, as a book marker in my Criminal Practice and Procedure textbook, on a slip of paper in my billfold, tucked into the Bible I carry with me in my car. Tom doesn’t know who wrote the prayer, which allows me to imagine that it is being offered by Tom himself. I especially like that, since he is such a loving, generous presence in my life. Here ‘tis:
O God, make this church the church of the warm heart; of the open mind, of the adventurous spirit. Enable it to be the church that cares, that heals hurt lives; that comforts old people, and that challenges youth. May it know no division of culture or class; no frontiers, geographical or social. Make it the church that inquires as well as verifies; that looks forward as well as backward. Make it the church of the Master so that it can be the church of the people: high as the ideals of Jesus Christ and low as the humblest human. Help it to be a worshipping church, a winsome church, inspiring courage for this life and hope for the life to come. Make it Lord, the church of all good men (and women), the church of the Living God.
Every Sunday we close our worship service by reciting our church covenant. It is a powerful statement of what we promise to both God and one another, but it is only a collection of words. It is missing some important commitments as all such covenants do – after all, we can’t cover everything in just those few short phrases. Sometimes I think the wordier we get, the less we’re actually saying. That’s why I like Isaiah’s one word theory. I also like Anne Lamott’s teaching on prayer – there are only three prayers we need ever utter – thank you, I love you, and I’m sorry. In a very real sense those are the most important words we can ever say to one another. Perhaps they are the very words that sustain the weary. Perhaps they even sustain our weary God.
Love to us all - Carla
Unless otherwise noted, Sunday worship begins in the Sanctuary at 10:00 AM
May 6 Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:26-40; 1 john 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
May 13 Sixth Sunday of Easter
Recognition of our Golden (Fifty Year) Members
Carla Bailey, preaching
Acts 10:44-48; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
May 20 Seventh Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; 1 John 5:9-13;
May 27 Pentecost Sunday
Carla Bailey, preaching
Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
We are saddened to report the deaths two beloved church members in recent weeks. Paul Etienne Queneau passed away on March 31, at Kendal, at the age of 101. His memorial service will be at Kendal on May 19 at 10:30 a.m. Howard Rawnsley passed away on April 21. A memorial service for Howard is tentatively scheduled for June here in our sanctuary. Both of these dear members will be greatly missed. Please keep their loved ones and families in your thoughts and prayers at this time.
from Our Church President ~ Tom Wilson “Have a Heart”
Carla recently preached from a passage in Jeremiah 31 where Jehovah talks about the covenant he will make with the house of Israel. In verse 33 he says: “And in their hearts will I write it.” This got me thinking about hearts, anatomical and metaphorical.
Of course, we all have a heart. Our life depends on it. It is called a vital organ, isn’t it? As a medical student I came to appreciate what an amazing organ the heart is. Think of it as a pump that never quits as long as you live. It is made of a special kind of muscle. Its function is to circulate blood throughout the body. The human heart weighs about 6 or 7 pounds and is the size of your fist. It begins to pump when the human embryo is only 3 weeks old. For most of us it beats about 100,000 times each day. If you are 27 years old, your heart muscle has already contracted one billion times. At my age, my faithful, reliable old heart has beaten three billion times. Think of the four valves in the heart that have opened and closed that many times. Think of the heart as a double pump, sending half of your blood to the lungs for oxygenation, and half to all the rest of your body. Think of the built-in electrical system that so reliably controls and adjusts the rate at which your heart beats. Think of this vital organ positioned inside your chest and protected behind your breastbone and your ribs.
When you find the word heart in the dictionary, the first definition is anatomical: “A hollow, pump-like organ of blood circulation, composed mainly of rhythmically contractile smooth muscle….” The second definition tells us that other living creatures have circulatory pumps, even down to insects and earthworms. Then my Random House Webster’s Dictionary gives 40 metaphorical definitions of heart!
Some of our distant ancestors decided that our emotions came from our hearts. At the present time it is hard to know why they picked that role for the heart, but the idea certainly has continued to this day. The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks talked about the heart as the seat of the soul. In the Bible there are scores of such references to the heart.
Seven years ago many of us here at CCDC read and discussed the book by Marcus Borg called The Heart of Christianity. In this case Borg was referring to the heart as the core, the center, the essence of Christianity. In each of his 11 chapter titles he mentions the heart. For instance he wrote about Faith, the Way of the Heart or The Bible, the Heart of the Tradition.
Now here is an exercise for you. Think about how many ways the heart is referred to in our everyday speech. And what is the role of the heart in each of these cases? Here are ten examples that came to me:
• Now there is a person after my own heart.
• I cross my heart and hope to die.
• It comes from the bottom of my heart.
• They knew the song by heart.
• Have a heart and give her another chance.
• Yes, but his heart was in the right place.
• No one had the heart to tell him the truth.
• He took his father’s advice to heart.
• They played and played to their hearts’ content.
• He is truly an evil-hearted man.
You can probably add a dozen more to my list.
In The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum, the Scarecrow wants a brain, while the Tin Woodsman wants a heart. This presents us with a classic dilemma of intellect versus emotion. Which would you rather have, a brain or a heart? Here is part of the song the Tin Woodsman sings to bolster his argument:
When a man’s an empty kettle, he should be on his mettle, and yet I’m torn apart.
Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be a human, if I only had a heart.
I’d be tender, I’d be gentle, and awfully sentimental regarding love and art.
I’d be friends with the swallows and the boy that shot the arrows, if I only had a heart.
Of course, the heart has been the symbol for romantic love for eons. Can you imagine St. Valentine’s Day without a big red heart? That reminds me of another story. When I was an intern many years ago, I was taking a medical history course from an elderly gentleman. I asked him if he had ever had any heart trouble. He paused, and then with a straight face he told me that years before, he had lost his heart to a beautiful young lady. He added that it was his good fortune that she married him, so she still had his heart.
The heart can also be a symbol of loyalty. Where do you place your hand when you are singing the National Anthem or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? Yet in the end, I think the most important symbolic relationship with the heart is a moral or spiritual one. I think it is at the center – or should I say the heart – of the teachings of Jesus. It has to do with how we treat our fellow man. Ask yourself, are you warm-hearted or cold-hearted? When we say to somebody: “have a heart”, we are saying to him or her we hope you show compassion and sympathy to the needs of others. This is what I’d like to say to certain legislators in Concord and Washington. Please be guided by the needs of those who are less fortunate than you. In other words, have a heart.
Words from Warren ~ Warren Turner
One of my roles as Senior Advocate is helping our parishioners with new technology. Soon, I hope to have sessions at Kendal, which will begin with some basic points. However, I need you to tell me what devices or activities you would like covered. Some examples might be:
*How to get an iTunes account set up
*What is iPhoto and how to connect digital cameras to the computer
*Email problems such as Valley.Net
*Passwords and how to remember them
*Help with navigating the ccdcucc.org
Please send me your suggestions at or call me at 603-252-0099. Also remember that the Kendal programs will be free and open to the public.
News from the Board of Outreach ~ Susan Weeks
Mother’s Day Cards support Church World Service BLANKETS “PLUS” Program
(It’s not just about blankets!)
Again this year, the Board of Outreach will be selling Mother’s Day Cards to support the BLANKETS+ program of Church World Service (CWS). Some 8,000 congregations and groups across the U.S. hold CWS BLANKETS+ events, providing funds to help people in need around the world, including the U.S.
For over 60 years, Church World Service has worked in partnership with local communities to identify their needs and access the resources they need to build the foundation for a more viable future, including:
➢ Blankets, tents, food and other emergency supplies in the wake of a disaster
➢ Tools and seeds for refugees returning home to replant their fields
➢ Wells for families living in drought prone areas to provide clean, safe water to drink and to irrigate crops and gardens
➢ Literacy training and micro-credit for women struggling to realize their potential.
On April 29 and May 6, please stop by our table during coffee hour to purchase cards for $5 each (checks payable to “CCDC”) and find out additional information about this important mission. All-occasion cards will also be sold. Thank you for your continuing support!
from Our Parish Nurse ~ Ann Bradley
Recently, I was asked to be part of the Upper Valley Healthy Community Project Assessment. This is being conducted collaboratively by Granite United Way, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Alice Peck Day Hospital and Mt. Ascutney Hospital. This process occurs every 3 years with the help of representatives of the many stakeholders in our region. Once the study is complete, it will be used to inform the grant-making of Granite United Way and will inform the planning and investment in community health needs of the three hospitals. I was asked to join the “health care sector for elders conversation” in order to add my perspective, as a parish nurse. The job of the assembled group was to prioritize community needs that had been previously identified through a review of various data from hospitals, schools and other organizations. Among the participants debating the priorities were nurses, physicians, law enforcement officers, educators and non-profit program directors. The discussion was lively, the examples poignant. This was the first of several Stakeholders’ Forums to be held before the study is finally complete sometime this summer. There were 9 issues identified as priorities for older adults living in the Upper Valley region of NH and VT, from Sullivan County in the south, to the northern area, including Hanover, Lyme, Orford, Thetford, Strafford, to the west including Hartford and Woodstock. The priority of issues for older adults in rank order are:
• Isolation/boredom/mental health
• Failure to plan for future needs/lack of financial resources
• Substance abuse
• Family caregiver support & respite care
• Care coordination, chronic disease management, health maintenance, and injury prevention.
The next step will be the convening of focus groups to ask some basic questions such as: what factors impact the health and wellbeing of your neighbors and people in your town; what factors impact the health and wellbeing of family and close friends; what gets in the way of people getting the help they need; who gets “left behind” and seems not to be able to access help, even when it is available; and finally, what are the factors that improve health and well-being in your community. These are important issues for us all to ponder both as individuals and as a church community. Doesn’t this fit well with the stated purpose of our congregation, which says in part, that that “the ministry of this congregation is the responsibility of all its members, individually and collectively, as each and all strive to embody the love of God within the human community”?
CCDC Cares lunch-- Tuesday, May 8. 12:30 in Sanborn Room. Bring a sandwich; dessert and beverage will be provided. This is the last meeting until Fall. Wrap-up of the year and evaluation of this ministry and suggestions for the future are on the agenda. All are welcome. Even if you are not able to attend, any suggestions you might have are welcome. Please call or email Ann Bradley – .
Religious Education Update ~ Rob Grabill
We have a number of special events this month that we have been anticipating for quite a while, and the primary one for me will be Confirmation on May 20th. With the help of five adult mentors, I have been working with the five Confirmands since September, meeting many Sunday evenings for supper and learning opportunities. We have studied the history and polity of the United Church of Christ and learned about the history of our own church and how it operates today. Discussions included how our confirmands might best serve our church should they become covenant members. This is still to be determined, by the way. We are careful not to automatically assume that all of these Confirmands will make the decision to join the church at this time, and will certainly honor the choice that each one makes. It’s about the process, not the product. We have studied world religions, taking advantage of our Dartmouth Campus Ministry connections to invite several highly qualified guest speakers to join us, including Prasad Jayanti, the advisor to the Hindu student group, Dawood Yasin, the advisor to the Al-Nur Muslim fellowship, and Allyn Field, Zen Buddhist monk. We are grateful for their time and their sincere interest in our students. Service to others and learning about opportunities to make a difference in the world has been a critical component of the Confirmation process. The Confirmands have volunteered their time in a number of ways, both here at church and in the community. The culmination of this will occur on the weekend of May 13-15 when we travel to Massachusetts to spend a weekend of learning at Heifer International’s Overlook Farm. The focus on these weekends has shifted from working (although there is still time set aside for chores, and bonding with the baby sheep and goats), to some intense learning experiences, including an overnight role playing exercise that involves playing the parts of a third world family, including the stress of finding and preparing food for subsistence meals. Last year’s crew said that their Heifer experience, though challenging, was a highlight of their year. Confirmation would not be possible, nor as rich, without the contributions of our mentors, and I am grateful for their help. Thanks to Roger Arend, Barbara Couch, Kathy and Terry Martin, and Charlotte Quimby!
We have had a number of Second Hour presentations this year that have enriched our understanding of ways in which we can engage constructively with the community and the world. The next one on the schedule is for Sunday, May 27th. Lia Heaney, one of our Confirmation class alumni, now off to college at Chapman University in California, will be returning to describe her involvement in a program in Tanzania called Chance for Education. Through Lia’s fundraising efforts, nine young African students at a local school have been given the opportunity to attend the Uhuru Peak School, a priceless and life-sustaining opportunity for these children. Many of these young people had had their lives impacted by HIV/AIDS. Lia will describe her efforts, and give an overview of the educational system in Tanzania. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar.
Last month, Carla described the significant changes that are facing the Bangor Theological Seminary, where I am enrolled in the Master of Divinity program. Since then, a number of you have spoken to me to express concern and support. Here’s an update on where things stand: Facing the unhappy but completely necessary need to end their Masters Degree programs, the Bangor Seminary Trustees have handled a difficult situation with vision and compassion. They have planned for this significant transition with the needs of every student and staff member in mind. As a result, many of the current students will be able to complete their studies in the next calendar year, with the Seminary fully operational until June 2013. Since I am halfway through my program, there is no way that I can finish, nor was that ever my intention. I will, however, be able to complete my studies on schedule in three years, thanks to a comprehensive agreement between Bangor and the Andover Newton Theological Seminary (ANTS). Andover Newton has agreed to accept all Bangor credits, and their curriculum will work very well for me. They even have several courses in Faith Formation that were not available at Bangor. Newton, Massachusetts is an hour closer for me, and it’s home territory. My mother lives thirty minutes from the campus. I originally chose Bangor for its particular focus on parish ministry, but am anticipating a smooth transition to ANTS. Their agreement with Bangor even stipulates that my diploma will have both school seals on it. I have the option of transitioning to Andover Newton next fall, or remaining at Bangor, and I am almost certainly staying with Bangor during what will be a unique year there, it’s 199th and final one. Many of my fellow students, especially those in Bangor are not as fortunate to be facing such a smooth transition, and they are being held closely in my thoughts and prayers as we collectively do our best to support each other. Thanks to all of you for thinking of all of us!