Reflections from "The Messenger" Monthly Newsletter
The signs of new life surround us: the trees are beginning to bud, bulbs have sprouted and blossomed, the sun shines warmly on our skin. After a long, snowy winter the arrival of spring is something we are grateful for. What a joyous time of year!
In a similar way, we also celebrate the new life here at Payson Park Church. Here in this Easter season our worship themes continue around the miracle of the resurrection as we marvel at the mystery found at the empty tomb. Christ is risen! God offers new life and hope to the world!
It’s by such grace that this community moves forward as our life together deepens through worship and service. From our mission projects like the much loved sandwich making workshop on the 14th to our Earth Day celebrations on the 21st to our strategic planning meetings where we are discussing ways to expand our ministries, there are signs of transformation all around. As A.B. Simpson states, “Easter is New Year’s Day to the soul,” and I am grateful for all the ways we work together as modern disciples to share the good news of God’s undying love and compassion. Thank you for being a part of Payson Park Church. Together with God we give life to this congregation, our second century of worship and service to the wider community now just beginning. May we forever trust that it is for the good of God’s great creation we work, our individual lives transformed in the process. Christ is risen! With Christ we rise!
With love and gratitude,
The Rev. Dr. Lael Atkinson
Each month we gather around many tables together. We gather for committee meetings; we gather at Coffee Hour; we gather in God’s Garden. In large and small groups we meet and talk, working for the life of the church. At these gatherings we not only share our “business” concerns but also our personal lives. No matter how or when we gather here at Payson Park Church, it is always as members of a community of faith, striving, as we proclaim, to “walk in the ways of Jesus.” It’s with this ultimate purpose in mind we can admit there is one table around which we gather that is more important than all the rest: it’s the table set before us as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. What a blessing it is to gather this way! Through Communion we celebrate our unity with God and one another, as well as with other Christians around the world. In prayer and contemplation we are joined with the One who calls us into new community, offering us a chance to recommit ourselves to “the living body of Christ.” What a privilege! It’s with this sense of gratitude that we can move through 2011 together. With our new slate of Officers, committee chairs, and committee members approved at the Annual Meeting, we will gather around many tables in the months ahead. May our thoughts and words always be inspired by the table set by Jesus: the table of abiding love and communion with God. Amen. January 2011 As the days of Christmas lead into the season of Epiphany, we shift our attention from the baby lying in the manger to the early events of Jesus’ life. From the baptismal scene in the Jordan River, to the first miraculous act at the wedding in Cana, such stories illustrate the ways Jesus reveals God’s healing and reconciling nature. Whether teaching in a synagogue or reaching out to those in need on the streets, we see that God’s grace is for all people no matter what one’s age or ethnicity, culture or creed. As God’s beloved child, Jesus leads us to recognize that we, too, are cherished and loved as God’s unique and blessed creation. Of course there’s a hitch. While the invitation comes continuously through the Spirit’s presence, we must prayerfully respond to such grace. What will we do? Can we receive this unconditional acceptance and inspiration? Might we allow it to change our lives? It’s never too late. That’s what we learn at the manger right on to scene at the empty tomb. New life and love are continuously offered as the Christian message shows us that no one can stop the power of peace that’s offered by God. As we begin a new year together here – indeed, a new decade – it is my prayer that each and all of us may say “yes!” to such exuberant life. Just as Mary and Joseph gathered with the shepherds and Wise Men, so we, too, have the opportunity to build new community here at Payson Park Church and beyond. May we all be opened this year to new life and greater love by God’s inspiring and sustaining power! Prayerfully from The Reverend Lael Atkinson
Faithful Reflections: Weekly Bible Study & Discussion
Are you looking for a way to think about your faith and how it applies to your most practical decisions? Would you like a chance to talk about your spirituality with other people? Faithful Reflections is a class that provides just such opportunities as Lael leads us in a time of meditation and conversation about the coming week’s scripture passage. With the Lenten sermon series titled What’s Your Story beginning in late February, these classes will be especially thought provoking. Join us for one class or each week, Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:00 pm as we gather in the Parlor for light supper and great sharing. [Note: in case of snow, please call the Church Office at noon to find out if this event has been postponed]
The first word I learned to spell was ―candy.‖ When we were on family excursions, my father would ask my mother when we stopped at a store, ―C-A-N-D-Y?‖ For a while his secret code worked, but soon enough I caught on. I’d pull their coat sleeves, repeating the let-ters with his same questioning tone: ―C-A-N-D-Y?‖ With the advent of my father’s death on April 13, many sweet memories fill my mind: the way he’d reach into his pocket as we got older and give each of us a dime so we could choose our own treats on those family treks; or the crinkle of the bag he held on Valentine’s Day as he’d lift out five small hearts filled with chocolates at the dining room table; or the sound of our squeals when he’d bring in the pan of fudge we’d begged him to make some Saturday nights as we watched ―The Honeymoon-ers.‖ From ferry boat rides to fishing trips, camping adventures to tennis games, I shared many special moments with my father, alone as well as with my two brothers, sister, and mother. Of course it is in this time of loss I hold such memories close. In the quiet of my mourning, I cherish times shared, grieve that there weren’t more, and feel deep sadness that my father’s life on earth is now ended. I’m also grateful for your many prayers that surround me. As people ask, ―Is there anything I can do for you, Lael?‖ I find myself answering, ―Reach out to someone and let them know you care.‖ In the spirit of life everlasting and of God’s love that never ends, live with courage, make connections, build community. We hold the gift of life in our hands this very moment. May it be sweet, rich, full, even in times of sorrow. May we share it with trust and joy, together and with God, all in the light of the empty tomb. This is the Easter promise. Thanks be to God. Prayerfully from The Reverend Lael Atkinson
How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Did you make any special commitments for the forty days of Lent? Now that we find ourselves entering the season of spring, I’ve had a new idea. What about Easter Resolutions? Why don’t we make commitments related to this central celebration in the Christian year? Could we consider that? Easter Resolutions: promises that inspire us to embrace the transforming love found in the empty tomb. They could be something large or small. For example: is there a relationship in your life you know needs some special attention? Or: would you like to take better care of God’s creation by taking a greater interest in environmental issues or your own physical and emotional health? Or: do you sense you could be helping those in need by giving more of your time or money to nonprofit organizations or to the church? Easter Resolutions: it’s an idea that can challenge us to think more practically of ways the resurrection leads us to live with less fear and more passion, as the life and teachings of Jesus live on in the world through the very actions we take, personally and communally. This is the good news of our great faith: the love and grace of God cannot be killed. Jesus is risen! Let us then fly! With love from The Reverend Lael Atkinson
Did you know that only 20% of Americans attend church services regularly? Do you realize that 86% of those who find a new church “home” do so because they were invited to attend worship by a neighbor or friend?
Those statistics come from the Reverend Paul Nickerson, Associate Conference Minister for Evangelism, Mission and Justice Ministries of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. Challenging members of local churches to share the joy of our spiritual communities with the “un-churched,” Paul stresses the need to reach out to friends and neighbors to help our communities thrive and survive. How are we doing this at Payson Park? In what new ways might we try?
It’s with these questions clear in our minds that we continue celebrating the Easter season. With signs of new life surrounding us in nature and through the great message of resurrection, we can be inspired to share the love of God and church community in new ways. On Saturday, May 2, “Sunday School Musical” will be shown in the late afternoon. On May 10 our worship will be filled with special music as we recognize the care and nurture offered by mothers and others. The following Sunday at five o’clock, a “Variety Show” will be presented, an hour of entertainment that you may participate in or simply enjoy. From worship services to weekly fellowship and educational events, Payson Park is filled with vitality and new life. How will you choose to participate? Might you consider inviting a friend or neighbor to join you?
I ask these questions in the spirit of gratitude. It is wonderful to be with you here at Payson Park Church in this time of challenge and new life. May we continue to grow together spiritually, emotionally, and as a healthy, thriving organization, all through the grace and goodness of God!
The Reverend Lael Atkinson
Signs of new life surround us: bulbs have sprouted and blossomed, the trees are beginning to bud, the sun shines more warmly on our skin. After a long, snowy winter, the arrival of spring is something we are grateful for. What a joyous time of year!
The Reverend Lael Atkinson
Christ has no body now on earth but yours;
yours are the only hands with which he can do his work,
yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world,
yours are the only eyes through which
his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.
Christ has no body on earth but yours.
With the arrival of November, we approach the beginning of the holiday season. “Where did the year go?” some of us may be wondering. “I can’t believe the holidays are just around the corner!”
With love from The Reverend Lael Atkinson
As another fall seasons begins, leaves on the trees turning color, you are invited to enter this community in new and deeper ways. From Sunday worship services, to weekday committee, fellowship, and educational group gatherings, you can explore your faith and find new friends quietly or through lively interaction. Payson Park Church is a place filled with opportunities to think about how the Christian story inspires us to live.