The combined choirs of Westgate Church and Trinitarian Congregational Church, Wayland will present a concert of sacred music at Westgate Church at 7:00 pm on May 19th. The concert will feature Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriele Fauré, Selections from the Messiah by George Frederick Handel, Jubilate Deo by Dan Forrest, and works by Adam Kurihara and Drew Halberstadt, performed by a 50-voice choir and chamber orchestra made up of students and adults from TCC and Westgate, plus Metro West community members. Drew Halberstadt and Adam Kurihara will conduct.
A Collaborative Concert of Praise
Dessert Reception Following
Westgate Church (100 Winter St, Weston MA)
On Pentecost Sunday, we remember that the original Pentecost feast was a harvest festival. In explaining the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel 2:28 who had promised a ‘downpour’ of the Holy Spirit much like the early/Fall rains and the latter/Spring rains in the region of ancient Palestine. The prophet Joel captures the tremendous blessing of these seasonal rains: They are a blessing from God, the cause of great joy (2:23). They actually become a witness to God’s existence (Acts 14:17). God reveals His abundance and His character through these rains: “you shall eat plenty and be satisfied” (Joel 2:26) and “you shall know that I am the Lord” (Joel 2:27). Quickly, however, Joel switches from the physical to the spiritual blessing: the promise of a spiritual rain, a downpour of the Holy Spirit on all flesh (2:28).
When Jesus is baptized in the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, He announces that the promised downpour has begun. Pentecost and Acts 2 launches the ongoing downpour of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus ever since, and to this day in our lives.
In the Gospel of Mark, the feeding of both the 5000 (Mark 6) and the 4000 (Mark 8) symbolizes (among other things) the abundance of the harvest resulting from this downpour. The only wrinkle is the disciples fail to understand the power of the moment due to their ‘hardness of hearts.’ This intentional equivalency of hardened attitudes between the ‘inner circle’ (the disciples) and the ‘bad guys’ (the pharisees) is telling. Unless the Lord pours out His Spirit on the hardened soil of their hearts, they will not grasp the blessing of the abundant spiritual harvest (it’s no long a material harvest but one of souls, Acts 2:41).
In this stunning failure to understand the amazing provision of foods (with a surplus for both multiplication) Jesus doesn’t walk away from them, but is patient with them. In the same way, Jesus won’t walk out on us when we are hard of hearing and unable to see the spiritual abundance of God’s provision. Here is the promise of Pentecost: God will not let us starve spiritually and will provide the downpour of the Spirit in our witness here in Metro-west and around the world!
Thoughts for the week:
Whenever I fail to see and hear the extent of God’s provision in my life, do I take time to understand that the ‘rains’ of His Spirit will come, just like the early and latter rains?
Whenever I see ‘hardness of heart’ (stubborness, cluelessness, etc.) in my own life, my spouse, my children, my co-workers, my boss, etc., remember that God is patient with me and them, just as He was patient with the disciples. The disciples did flunk the ‘mid-term’ big time (chapter 8 marks the half-way mark in their journey with Jesus in the Gospel of Mark) when they wondered what they would eat (right after the feeding of the 4000!) but Jesus didn’t quit on them or walked away. Instead He was patient and stayed with them. So should we as we ‘gospel’ the message of Jesus to ourselves and those around us.
An all church celebration to kick off summer! Join us for Family Day 2018 as we throw a huge party for the community. All are welcome, regardless of affiliation to TCC. Invite your friends and neighbors, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, co-workers, grandchildren, great grand children, great great great great great grandchildren, your local dentist, mechanic, supermarket checker, restaurant server, librarian, teacher, youth pastor, or even your kids!
Family Day is for our community.
Live music, food trucks, inflatables, games for all ages including corn hole. Children of all ages will find something fun to do, and adults can get to know each other in this informal festive setting. Make some new friends or invite some old ones.Click Here To RSVP
Family Day is about giving back.
Bring donations to Family Day. Can foods for local food pantries and used sporting equipment for Guatemala. More information to come.
Family Day is a whole church effort!
We want to be a church that swings its doors wide open to our surrounding community. For that reason, we expect hundreds of people in attendance and need many hands to make this party possible! If you call TCC your church home, we hope you will sign up for at least one shift throughout the day. Want to help with food? Crafts? Games? Music? There are so many ways to get involved!Signup to Serve
The cluster of parables of growth in Mark 4 offers powerful images that put the focus on either the Sower, the seed or the soil (one parable does involve light but is closely connected to the others, especially the long parable of the sower).
The constant to these parables is the seed. The seed is the enduring Word of God that never returns void (Isaiah 55:10-11) and always grows. Nothing can stop the Word of God and the growth of the kingdom of God (the last parable of the sequence, the “mustard seed” serves as the exclamation point to the idea).
There is a variable, however, and it is the type of soils into which the seed grows (or not grow). There is a soil, if you can call what falls along the path soil, that produces nothing (due to Satan’s activity). There is a soil that allows plants to grow quickly but they also disappear just as quickly (like seasonal flowers). You might call it the “entertainment” dimension of the Good News of Jesus: Great stuff with initial interest, but once things get hard and the novelty wears off, people move on to the next thing. There are other soils that cause the plants to die a slow and painful death, choked by “thorns.” People who know God and the Word, but through attrition and “the desire for other things” and the busyness of our age, they lose focus and cease to bear fruit (could it be a commentary on the curse of our ever-increasingly busy lives?-hey, wait a minute, I thought the digital age was suppose to give me more time, rather than less time!)
As the commentator R.T. France observes, these variables explain why, in spite of the unstoppable nature of God’s Word and the inexorable growth of the Kingdom of God, not every one will respond to the call. However, and this is truly good news for all of us, there is type of soil that “hears” and “receives” the Word (like a big “welcome sign” at the entrance of a hospitable home). Jesus is calling you and me to respond and put that big sign up that says: ‘Word of God, Jesus (John 1:1), I welcome you into my heart. I will receive you so that you might grow and flourish and that I might bear lots of fruit.’ This is powerful and life changing!
The shorter version of the parable of the sower pulls its weight too. Here the sower represents all those who are following Jesus and spreading the seed. The key to the parable is that the seed grows and comes to a place of being harvested through a process that the sower does not control: “He/she knows not how.” Our responsibility comes in the actual sowing of the Word to those around us (‘gospeling’ has now become a action verb!). The growing is not our concern (‘He knows not how”); but the seed grows “by itself” (the root word is ‘automatic’ as in an automatically activated process, see Acts 12:10 which uses the same word). Our job comes at harvest time, when “immediately” (Mark’s trademark word!) the sower knows it’s time to reap from the sowing. Of course the sowing is also a tough job (see Ps 126) and the temptation to quit because of rejection or lack of results (remember the types of soils!). But the Lord is telling us: keep gospeling, and leave the process up to me; only be ready when the harvest comes.
There is a great promise of harvest for metro-west. Our job at TCC (all of us) is to keep gospeling those around us and watch these seeds grow, even as we really “don’t know how.” Paul nails it when he says, “God gives the growth” to his own ministry in tough, post-everything, pluralistic Corinth! (1 Cor 3)
May you be encouraged to keep seeding the ground around you (your loved ones, your neighbors, your co-workers, all those God puts on your path), knowing that God is at work in ways you do not know!
In case you worry about the kind of soil you are, allow the Word to find a welcome host in the soil of your heart. Here also, God will cause the Word to flourish as long we remain open and receptive to Him!
“If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The key ingredients to a successful prayer life is thanksgiving: “Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever!” (Ps 136:1). To give thanks to the Lord is both a command and a privilege! The Psalms are filled with prayers of thanksgiving and give us such a wonderful model to get us geared up for prayer!
The other component is confession as expressed in 2 Chronicles 7:14. While this prayer is usually cited to pray for our nation, in its proper context, this prayer is a call to repentance for God’s people (not a secular nation state) out of a desire to draw closer to the Lord. The relationship of our own prayer time, healing and renewal is a powerful one in Scripture. James 5:16 confirms this idea. The Lord will bless us and our work as we seek His presence in true humility, transparency with Him and one another. John a disciple of the Lord and apostle can still affirm at the end of his life that he is need of repentance himself! (1 John 1). No one is without the need for these times of scrutiny before the Lord. .
Following in the heels of our past two virtual prayer vigils at TCC, let’s gather together again over a period of 12 hours (6 am to 6 pm) on May 23 with prayers of thanksgiving for all the good things He has done, but also in reverential and quiet introspection before Him. May He bless our time together in His Presence on May 23!
“To bring in the new, you have to destroy the old or the old will destroy you” captures the famous saying of Jesus on the new wine in old wineskins . After a series of five confrontations with evil (Mark 1), Mark brings together another series of five confrontations in Mark 2:1-3:1-6, but now against the religious establishment (aka the ‘pharisees’). By the fifth incident, the Pharisees are found conspiring to “destroy” Jesus (Mark 3:6). In psychology, the concept of ‘cognitive flexibility’ is the ability to go through transitions with ease. Of course the opposite is that any change or anything ‘new’ is fiercely opposed by the cognitively inflexible. I can’t think of a better example than the toddler phase of human development, where any disruption or interruption to play time, etc. is met with loud protests!
At the center of the sequence of five incidents (incident number 3, Mark 2:18-22) lies the famous saying about the wineskins. Anyone familiar with the imagery (as the audience would have been) catches the point. An older/brittle goatskin would crack if new wine is poured in; both wine and skin are lost as a result. The religion of the Pharisee (who started so well as ‘scribes of the Scripture,’ see Ezra 7) had turned the teachings of God (aka the ‘traditions’) into their own system of commandments (aka ‘traditionalism’). By healing someone or plucking grain on the Sabbath, Jesus and His disciples squeezed the pressure point of the Pharisees. Jesus challenged their entrenched traditionalism and they hated him for it. Jaroslav Pelikan (late professor of Church History at Yale) put it this way:
“tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”
– Jaraslov Pelikan
What this means is we can’t become disciples of Jesus and hang on to traditionalism. It’s either one or the other. More than than, traditionalism will destroy you because it blinds you to the real purpose of the Gospel, which is to redeem and heal broken lives. The Pharisees became blind to the “Good News” themselves: they got mad because Jesus restored a life on the Sabbath! They made God’s good law of a day of rest into an absolute. They lost sight of the main thing.
In the fifth incident in Mark 3:1-6, Jesus is said to be angry and “grieved” at the Pharisees’ “hardness of heart” (aka cognitive inflexibility Mark 3:5). This state of affairs, however, is not the end of the story for ‘inflexibles.’ The Gospel is not for the healthy and ‘righteous’ (which is actually a non-existing category of people), but for the “sick” and “sinners” (Mark 2:17). In fact, Scripture makes it a point to describe the complete turn around of one famously inflexible Pharisee: Saul of Tarsus, aka Paul the Apostle (Philippians 3:5). The point of that? Even the most hardened inflexible is not beyond the reach of the Gospel, the power of God for salvation.
There is a fine line between good traditions based on the Word of God and our human traditionalism.
Let the Savior come alongside you and me and remind us that the essence of the Gospel will never keep our focus on the externals but on Jesus Himself. It is about forgiveness of sin and obedience to His Word rather than rote observations of man-made rituals.