Only By the Blood

Dear Brothers and Sisters at CBC,

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I donated blood at Children’s Hospital recently and I had a good conversation with the phlebotomist.  I donate there three or four times a year but it usually takes a few exchanges to remember prior conversations.  I mentioned that I had eight children and pastored a church and that was enough for him to remember me.  

He said, as people often do when they find out I am a pastor, “I should go to church. I have a friend who is always telling me to come to church.”

I said, “Don’t go to church.  Church isn’t about ‘going’ on Sunday morning.  It is about being part of a community which believes that God is good and that this world is going to come out good in the end despite all its problems.  It is a community that believes that through Jesus we are shown who God is and who we are meant to be. You see Jesus demonstrated through his death and resurrection that God is love and that we can trust and obey him.  God’s way is not the way of power over others but of service to them; being last is being first in God’s economy. This is the glory of God and the future of humanity.”

I continued, “Imagine a world in which the leaders and peoples of every nation woke up and asked themselves, ‘What other nations need our help today?  What other people can we serve with the abundance with which we have been entrusted?’ Such a world would be a paradise with love, cooperation, and care leading the way.  This is the way God is going to make the world.”

He nodded a nod of interest.  I sensed that this was a little different way of thinking about God for him.

I said, “Church is like football.  There is a big moment on Sunday but a fan discusses and thinks about their team all week.  They love it. They savor a win or rue a loss at least through Wednesday before turning their attention to the next game.  They think about the next opponent and the chances of victory. When you are a fan you can hardly wait for the kick-off.”  

Now he was fully engaged!  He was a fan and we were both experiencing joy recounting the Patriot’s recent Super Bowl victories.

I said, “When you feel about God the way you feel about football, then you will love not only going to church but being a part of it.”

He gave a little grunt of assent, removed the needle from my arm, and walked away with a pint of my blood.  I hope to see him again at my next donation. It is only by the blood!


Blessings,

Pastor Dan


Hospitality

Dear CBC Community,

I think the most wonderful story in all my years at CBC was told to our congregation by a Chinese family in 2017.  Over ten years earlier this family took part in our English classes, Bible studies, and even baking classes with Barbara Beevers.  Though they never believed in Jesus while they were here, they were grateful for our friendship and help during their time in Cambridge.

After they returned to China their only son became very ill.  Neither modern nor traditional medicine was able to help him.  Then they recalled that Christians believed in a God who would hear and answer prayers.  So they found Christians in their town and asked for prayer.  Over time their son recovered and they attributed his healing to God and became not only followers of Christ but eventually leaders in their Chinese church.

They intentionally visited us two years ago to thank us for being the first people to tell them about Jesus.  They emphasized how much they appreciated our friendship and love even though they were not Christians.  This made an impression on them and God caused the seeds of faith that were sown by us here to grow after they went back to China.

The memory of their testimony still brings tears of joy to my eyes.  Perhaps much of the fruit of our labors are unknown to us; it goes unreported.  How encouraging it was then to find out how God had used our lives in theirs!  Many of us do not consider ourselves very evangelistic, but this story shows how God can work when we simply share our lives with others.  Who knows how many people came or will yet come to Christ through Barbara Beevers even though Barbara herself has long since passed on into His presence!

This year I want to focus on encouraging the practice of hospitality at CBC, especially with our international friends.  Sharing our lives is so fitting for Christians because God shared his life with us through Christ.   Now we have the privilege of sharing our Christ-life with others.  We at CBC are very good at sharing our congregational life; this year I hope we can share more of our personal lives through the ministry of hospitality.

Specifically regarding our international friends, I am inviting you to email me if you would be willing to host (danszat59@gmail.com).  I will connect you with an international individual, couple, or family.  You then invite them to your home for a meal.  I will provide some online coaching and conversation tips to help you.  Whether you invite them over again is entirely up to you.

Inviting someone to your home for a meal sounds pretty simple but remember Christ is also present!  Who knows what stories will be told in the future from our simple acts of hospitality?

Your brother in Christ,

Pastor Dan

We're making a video!

The staff tried something new last week—we made a CBC welcome video featuring Pastor Dan and Pastor Shtem!

Of course the filming process is not always smooth, so while we work out the last bumps please take a look at our silly outtakes, particularly if you’d like to see Pastor Dan juggling.

And stayed tuned for the release of the actual video soon!

Pentecost Reflection

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Dear CBC community,

In 1972, when I was thirteen years old, I attended Catholic Charismatic meetings with my older sister and brother.  The meetings were on Monday evenings and there was lots of praise, prayer, and speaking in tongues. The people came from all over the region and were enthusiastic and full of joy in the presence of God.  It was so unlike a typical Sunday Mass! I was intrigued by speaking in tongues but I was also afraid that if I committed myself to God, something precious - baseball - would be taken from me! I don’t know why I thought this but fear won out and I decided to stop attending the meetings.  God was too threatening so in my mind I said “no” to God.

Thankfully I had an encounter with God six years later and said yes.  None of my earlier fears were realized; I have always found God to be a giver, not a taker.  Yet I am recalling this story because as I think about Pentecost, I realize that some of those same fears still exist within me. Will God ask something of me now that I either don’t want to do or am afraid to do?  Will I be asked to give up some comfort or security that I am clinging to? Do you share any of my fears or hesitations? Do you ever hold back from God because fear wins out over faith, insecurity over trust?

As we approach Pentecost and celebrate the power of God in our lives and community, it is helpful to remember that mistrust in God is what started humanity down a harmful path.  Adam and Eve were tempted to mistrust God and their fear ushered in this “present evil age.” The temptation to mistrust God and to lean on our own understanding is effective to this very day.  But God’s forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ along with the gift of the Holy Spirit testifies conclusively to the goodness of God. God is for us not against us! Trusting him will never be a mistake.

Will you join me in choosing faith over fear in this season of Pentecost?  Are there any walls up to God in your heart that you could let down? Are there any fears of what God might ask that you could repent of?  Is there any doubt in the character and trustworthiness of God that you need to be set free from? Let’s come to God together this Pentecost Sunday and “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).

Blessing and power,

Pastor Dan


Walk for Hunger Update!

On May 5th we had 27 people walking and/or volunteering at the Walk for Hunger, and many more donated! We raised $12,385 for Project Bread, the organization that helps fund the Harvest Food Pantry at CBC.

Enjoy these beautiful pictures, courtesy of Rebecca K Gutwin photography.




Eventful April!

From Palm Sunday, to organ tuning, to Good Friday and then Easter, a staff retreat, and Youth Sunday, it’s been a busy month at CBC! Check out some some photos of what’s been happening!

 

Seek God for the City

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

John Tyson

I was raised in the Catholic Church and growing up I never liked Lent which begins this week on Ash Wednesday.  You had to be a religious nerd to like Lent as a kid.  My wife Kathy liked Lent!  She was a religious nerd.  If you are unfamiliar with Lent, it is a forty day season (minus Sundays) of spiritual preparation leading to Resurrection Sunday.  It typically involves repentance, fasting, self-examination, and acts of service.  Lent is about giving up things; what kid wants to give up things?  I liked Advent!  Advent was awesome with decorations, cookies, shopping, and the anticipation of gifts!  

Even as an adult, and a pastor at that, I found myself chafing inside during the Lenten season each spring.  That somehow this season should be different spiritually than the rest of the year seemed artificial and contrived.  However, as you might expect, over the years I have come to think differently about Lent.  I have come to recognize the benefits of spiritual consecration through denying self and focusing on the Lord.  The apostle Paul said to Timothy, "train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

To that end I want to invite you to pick up a copy of "Seek God for the City: Prayers of Biblical Hope" and join us on a Lenten prayer journey.  This prayer guide will take you beyond emergency fix-it praying and guide you to pray great things.  Each day we will be led to ask God to do something he has promised to do and to ask God to do something he has done before.  Additional daily prayer prompts will allow you to bring before the Father all the nations of the world as well as many concerns and topics that burden our hearts and God's.  To do this you will need to give up some time each day, denying yourself and focusing on the Lord and his interests in the world.  

We will also be using the weekly themes of “Seek God for the City” to guide our preaching; the discipleship groups will engage the prayer guide too.  You might not consider yourself a religious nerd but I hope you will join us on this Lenten journey of intercession together, preparing the way for the Risen Lord!  Our world desperately needs him.

Blessings

P Dan

YEC!

A group of our youth attended the BCNE’s Youth Encountering Christ conference at the beginning of February.

YEC Update 2019

Over 750 youths and 180 chaperones gathered together to have some fun, engage in meaningful fellowship and point one another to a new or deeper relationship with Christ. Youth Encountering Christ conference took place over a period of three days. It was a wonderful opportunity to enrich one another and also see what God is doing across New England not only in the lives of the youth but also the volunteers that seek to share Christ with them on a weekly basis.

The theme verse was John 3:16, and the speaker was Anthony Knight. The first night he walked us through the why God loves us, why he gave his only Son and why we need to believe in him to gain eternal life. The Second day he asked how our lives would look like to be totally sold out to God and what is keeping us from being totally sold out? He finally drew our attention towards what is temporary and what is eternal. How our focus on each brings about the results that we see in our lives.

Joy in heaven

YEC was a picture of heaven with all people from different nations and tribes meeting under one banner of Jesus as Lord and exalting his name. Joy must have resounded through heaven as 21 youths made commitments to follow Christ and five sensed a clearer direction to missional vocations by the end of the conference.

Helping hands

It was also a wonderful opportunity for the middle schoolers to prepare care packets for veterans as a way to say thank you, especially for those who live alone and have no close family or relatives to care for them. Other care packets were prepared for the Quest missions team to take on their upcoming missions.

Seed Planted

The conference provided an opportunity to sow seeds of faith through the plenary sessions, the small group interactions and the cross the table discussions that occurred during meals and fun activities.