The Pastor’s Blog

Pastor Greg’s Advent Letter

Greetings to friends near and far!

We’re already halfway through the Season of Advent, as we anticipate once again the Good News of the Savior’s birth. It is a busy time of year, filled with anticipation, expectation, and—alas—stress. Our expectations of the season are high. We shop, bake, prepare, decorate, visit, and otherwise engage ourselves in the activities of the season.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities. Children are wide-eyed with anticipation; parents try to cope with the stress of getting everything done, while still continuing to maintain a daily routine of work, meals, and sleep. And we look forward to the renewal of seeing friends and family that we might not get to see any other time of year.

In our current times, though, there’s an undercurrent of stress—of unrest. We’re bombarded with bad news. We’re trying to maintain a sense of the “Normal”, while our civic life appears to be crumbling into a chaos of discord. For some folks, all this is in addition to the stress of family tensions that often emerge during the holiday season: broken relationships, loneliness, and remembrances of better times long past.

We might find ourselves attempting to compensate for all this stress by letting ourselves become busier than ever—trying to balance even more in the few remaining weeks before Christmas and New Year’s.

What we need is…time. Time to reflect, time to pray, time for scripture, and time to simply ponder the wonderous love of our God who enters so fully into our lives in the person of Jesus.

So, make the time! Our holiday schedules will usually not easily give us the time we need, so we must be very intentional about making the time we need for ourselves. Perhaps get up fifteen minutes earlier than usual, to give yourself some time to pray and reflect. Turn off the television, step away from the computer, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb”, and enjoy the quietude of God’s presence. You might find yourself feeling restless—antsy, the first few times you try this, but stick with it. You will find yourself having more time than you thought, and the world around you will seem much less chaotic.

Contemplate the wonder of God’s presence in your life, of a love so great that he chose to come as one of us, to teach, to heal, to bless, and to love. Give thanks for what you have, pray for your needs, the needs of others, and the needs of the world.  And most especially give thanks for the dwelling of God in our midst.

Peace and Blessings to all,
Pastor Greg

Allston Notes for Autumn

In Luke 12:54, Jesus says, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens.

In Allston, when we see U-Hauls and moving trucks everywhere, and the curbs are piled with sofas, chairs, shelves, and other unwanted items, we know that the summer has ended, and another academic year is about to begin.

It’s an exciting time for the thousands of young folks who come to Boston to pursue their educational goals. This year, we are hoping for the opportunity to play at least a small part in the lives of some of these folks who are moving into our neighborhood.

This year, we are observing September 15th as “Back to Church Sunday”. Our sign in front of the church is an invitation for folks to come inside on Sunday and check us out.

One of the challenges for us in Allston is the transient population. Many old-timers have moved out, and the folks who now live here are often here for only a short time. Our hope is to become a kind of touchstone for these individuals at this critical time in their lives.

The start of a new school year also reminds us of how swiftly the calendar year is drawing to a close. Trees just fifteen miles west of Boston have already started to show their Fall colors. The days are shorter, night comes sooner, and we know that the cold weather will soon be upon us.

We give thanks to God for our fellowship with one another, and for the opportunities given us to welcome new folks into our midst. Through the passing seasons, we know that God in Christ is always with us.

Following The Way

Many of us “of a certain age” might remember the weekly television show from the sixties, “That Was the Week That Was”, a satirical look through comedy routines and songs at the political and social issues of the previous week in which political figures of the day were often “roasted” in their own juices.

We’d be hard put this week to find anything humorous or satirical to sing about our own “Week that was”, that began with the horrific events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and ended with a dragnet of larger-than-life proportions through the communities that abut our Allston neighborhood.

I’m happy to leave the posturing and analysis to the politicians and pundits, instead thinking about the weeks and months ahead for those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the violent actions of two misguided young men. This is yet one more horrific and senseless act for us to assimilate; more destructive violence perpetrated by youngsters whose lives are now being analyzed, parsed, and scrutinized, but who up until a few weeks ago were just another couple of folks living in the Boston area whose lives began in another country.

How can we, as a community that endeavors to follow “The Way”–as Luke writing in Acts describes the Christian community–understand the capacity for violence that apparently exists in our midst? In addition to the four individuals who lost their lives at the hands of these two brothers, there are many others for whom the next weeks and months will be a daily struggle towards recovery. Even those whose bodies are whole have been affected deeply in many ways by the events of last week.

For one thing, it is important to remember that disruption to the fabric of our lives is one of the goals that those who commit such violent acts seek to achieve. Of course, we cannot help but be affected by the suffering we witnessed last week. In response, it is vital for us to resume our normal routines as quickly as possible. As followers of The Way, we remember who we are. We meet such acts of violence with acts of kindness and compassion, and most especially, with prayer.

We pray for strength and fortitude for those facing the long months of recovery from devastating injuries. We pray for those first responders who so heroically ran into, and not away from the violence. We pray for the courage to resume our normal lives, striving to be, to the best of our ability, the hands, feet, and heart of Christ’s body as we respond to violence and hatred with love and compassion.

I had an email exchange with a friend of mine who recently retired from her chaplaincy at one of Boston’s fine hospitals. Immediately after the bombing, she was in touch with many of her former colleagues who described the situation into which they had suddenly been thrust as “Life-changing”. How could it be otherwise? Such a life changing event can call forth from us abilities, strength, compassion, and love that we might have never realized we possessed. Even through the fear that such events can cause, we remember that love casts out all fear as we move to put the needs of others ahead of our own,

Christ calls us to live in the world not as the world is, but as we know the world ought to be. It is human nature to seek vengeance. Christ, however, calls us to move beyond our human nature towards His nature; towards forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. We are not judged by how we respond when life is easy and things are going well, but by how we respond in times of great difficulty and challenge. Certainly, the earliest Christians faced such challenging times day in and day out as they sought to show to the world The Way to which they had been called.

We find ourselves in times that are no less challenging, although for different reasons. Yet, we are called to show forth through our actions, our words, our very lives, The Way to which we too have been called. May the God of all hope guide, strengthen, and sustain us on our journey.