Conversations

Banning Leaf Blowers

Banning Leaf Blowers

My loathing of leaf blowers is no secret. I have complained loudly and bitterly about the noise, the fumes, and their near-constant use in the neighborhood around the parsonage. They are terrible for the environment on multiple levels and harmful to those who use them. This article puts it all together nicely.

There are some in Winchester working to enact changes to the town’s bylaws to make some changes. It’s not enough, in my view, but I’m in the camp of “something is better than nothing” and have signed the proposed bylaw to come before the Town Meeting this fall. I invite interested Winchester residents to sign on to help protect the house God built for us by enacting these measures. It will help the mental state of your pastor at the same time!

Pastor Anne Robertson

Response to the Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Response to the Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Early last month a draft decision by the Supreme Court of the United States was leaked, indicating that the nation’s highest court would overturn the constitutional right to abortion and leave the decision to the states. This morning, that decision was announced and became law, overturning 50 years of precedent.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that three other court decisions should also be struck down on the same grounds: Griswold (the right to contraception), Lawrence (de-criminalizing sex between LGBTQ persons), and Obergefell (marriage equality).

If you are in deep distress today, you are not alone.

Because many celebrating this decision today are doing so with reference to their Christian beliefs, you might wonder where Crawford stands on this issue. At the Annual Conference of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church two weeks ago, we adopted a resolution on this matter, which is in line with the stance of the United Methodist Church as a denomination. It concludes:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church affirms this statement and upholds a person’s right to an abortion after informed consideration with their family, medical practitioners, pastor, and other pertinent counsel. State and federal laws and regulations prohibiting abortion violate a person’s right to the full range of reproductive health care, and, potentially, life.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that New England United Methodists pledge solidarity with those who seek reproductive health care, including abortion, by taking active measures, including accompanying people to medical appointments when necessary.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that New England United Methodists and their churches will support a person’s right to reproductive health care, including abortion, through personal prayer, letter writing campaigns to their legislators and, when necessary, peaceful protest.

You can read the full text of the resolution, which includes the full statement of the UMC, here.
The resolution passed by an overwhelming majority, including my vote and the vote of Crawford’s Lay Delegate to Annual Conference, Colin Simson.
Unlike some denominations and churches, your church membership or right to pastoral care and support is not dependent on your agreement with the church’s or pastor’s stand on social issues. But I wanted to make it clear that the stand of the UMC, the New England Conference, and the leadership of Crawford is in alignment with the above resolution.
As we process today’s decision and figure out a way forward, I encourage all of you to support one another, to join in the actions affirmed in the resolution, to listen to the lived experiences of others, to reach out for support, and to pray.
In faith,
Anne
UMCOR Sunday

UMCOR Sunday

This Sunday is UMCOR Sunday. You’ll find more information in the pews at church, and a special offering envelope in your bulletin. Gifts to the UMCOR Sunday offering cover the administrative cost of the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s ministry. When we support UMCOR’s cost of doing business, we help UMCOR keep the promise that 100% of gifts to a specific project will fund that project.”

Read more about UMCOR and the projects they’re funding now here. And because it’s top of mind for many of us, you can read specifically about how they’re addressing the crisis in Ukraine, here.

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

“Isn’t it strange that sometimes it’s easier to be busy than to be still and breathe? (Or is that just me…?)”
Joseph Woo, “Breathing In God” 

During coffee hour following a recent worship service that featured a 30-minute musical mediation lead by Santiago Barragan Noguera, we discussed meditation in general, and the impact of intentional breathing on our minds, spirits, and bodies. Here are some resources that attendees shared that day and in the days that followed.

Poinsettias

Poinsettias

This is an excerpt from the Blessing of the Greens service conducted by Rev. Anne Robertson at Crawford Memorial UMC on Sunday, December 5, 2021. You can read more of the history she shared about the origins of our Christmas decorations, here.

The most popular flower of the Advent-Christmas season is the bright red poinsettia. First introduced to the United States in 1828 by Dr. Joel Robert Poinsett–our first foreign minister to Mexico–this brilliant tropical plant is called by the people of Mexico and Central America, the Flower of the Holy Night.

A charming Mexican legend explains its origin. Having finished running his daily errands, an orphan boy named Pedro sadly counted his centavos. There were hardly enough of them to buy his evening meal. “Come with us to the cathedral,” urged his friends. “No,” answered Pedro, “I have no money to buy a gift.”

“Take this,” suggested one of his practical friends, pointing to a weed by the side of the road. Hesitantly Pedro picked the stringy weed, climbed the steep hill to the church, and slowly made his way to the altar with its Mexican manger scene. Kneeling, he reverently laid his gift in front of the figure of the Christ Child. He soon became aware of the murmuring crowd. In wide-eyed amazement, he saw a dazzling and beautiful scarlet flower where only dried leaves had existed a moment before. His humble offering had been miraculously transformed.

The poinsettia has also been used to symbolize the more tragic side of Jesus’ coming. It reminds us of the blood of the male infants killed by Roman soldiers as King Herod sought to find the child that would threaten his throne. It also symbolizes the blood that Jesus would shed on the Cross.

God’s Creature Teachers

God’s Creature Teachers

There is a siege (yes, look it up) of herons that hangs out around the waterfall near the Converse Bridge on Main Street, part of the pond where Sandy’s Island is located, I think it’s called Mill Pond. There are often herons there. Last week, for about 20 minutes, I watched three of them standing on a rock and some branches. Finally, the one on the rock dipped into the water and came up with a fish, about 5 or so inches long, maneuvered it in its beak so that it could be swallowed and down the gullet it went…patience rewarded. Satisfied, this heron flew off…having filled its need. One of the herons on a branch then went over and stood on the rock, figuring that must be the place to be, waiting its turn…patiently. The first heron rested in a nearby tree, content to share the best fishing spot.

And when it started to rain, the herons had enough common sense to seek shelter under the bridge…while I stood there watching…in the rain…getting wet.

We are supposed to be the most intelligent form of life God created…but we have a lot to learn from the so-called less intelligent ones…like patience…and sharing…and being happy satisfying our “needs” instead of our “wants”…and seeking God’s shelter in the storms of life.

– Brian Rogers

Watch and Listen

 

A Father’s Gift

A Father’s Gift

Nature is important to me and I believe that we are all part of nature and you can see God and talk with God in the natural world. I’ve written about this before.

As I think about my father with Father’s Day approaching, I can picture walking in the woods with him when I was young and him pointing out all there was to be taken in…the singing birds, scurrying squirrels, blossoming flowers, majestic trees…each intricate leaf and even the dirt under our feet. We would walk in silence after a while, then he would sing this song…more say it than sing it. He sang like I do, best suited for solitude in the woods and not within hearing distance of other people. But he “sang” anyway. As I got older I didn’t walk in the woods so much and the words of the song faded but, thanks to him, I never lost my appreciation for nature, for God’s world and our place in it.

The natural world is an overwhelming gift if you just stop to think about it…and appreciate it…and be a part of it. God gave it to all of us. It’s our job to take care of it.

As I was thinking about my dad, this song from so long ago popped into my mind and jogged my memory of those walks in the woods. I didn’t remember the words but now I “sing” a line or two as I walk, again not so anyone can hear and I promise I won’t sing it to you…but I do want to share it with you.

– Brian Rogers

Watch and Listen

 

Sure On This Shining Night

Sure On This Shining Night

This week’s Musical Meditation will be the final installment before taking a break for the summer. With late, warm evenings upon us, I’m thinking of Sure On This Shining Night by the quintessential and vastly underrated American composer, Samuel Barber.

The text, by James Agee, invites us to turn our gaze upward and reflect on what we have endured.  It is my sincere prayer that these long, warm summer evenings find you with the late year behind you, healed and in good health.

– Logan Henke, Music Minister

Watch and Listen

 

An Easter Reflection

An Easter Reflection

by Lauren Gilstrap Milley

Christians spend a lot of time at Easter focusing on Jesus rising from dead. While that’s important, it tends to overshadow the first part of the story. Jesus was – executed. Executed as a criminal. Why? Well, that’s the part of Easter that I think far too many of us “good church going Christians” conveniently overlook. Ironically, it’s exactly the part of Easter that makes it a story for absolutely everyone.

If Jesus had just been some nice guy walking around telling people to love their neighbor and turn the other cheek, would the Romans have really cared? Probably not. Instead, he was executed by the state because his message was much more dangerous.

His message was that things don’t have to be this way. There is a better way and it’s all of our responsibility to make it better. His message wasn’t about how to live in a racist world – his message was how to stand against racism and forge a new world without it. His message wasn’t just about how to forgive unfair police brutality – his message was stand with the persecuted, overturn the tables and rebuild a better system, one that’s fair for everyone. Jesus wasn’t a pacifist. Pacifists don’t get executed by the state.

So what makes Easter everyone’s story? Easter is the story of God (however you define that) saying “yes” to Jesus’ message of compassion and justice and “no” to the greedy, self-serving powers of the status quo.

Whether you believe in a bodily resurrection or not, because of Easter, Jesus’s message of a better, more fair, more just world has outlived the Empire that killed him by centuries. Because of Easter, we all should stand with those society marginalizes, speak up for the voiceless, put our pocketbooks and our pride on the line for what we know to be right.

The social expression of love is justice. That is what Jesus taught and that is what he gave his life for. Easter is God saying “no matter what they do to you, I got your back, keep going, keep fighting – light will always outshine the darkness.” And that makes it a story for everyone – everyone and anyone who wants to make the world better.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring and here’s to keeping the faith, fighting the good fight, getting in good, necessary trouble and leaving this world just a little better than we found it.

Walk Humbly With God

Walk Humbly With God

A Holy Week Reflection by Brian Rogers

Passion Week! Many emotions this week…the lowest of lows at the crucifixion, the highest of highs with Jesus overcoming death. What strikes me as an overriding theme of Passion Week is humility: the humility of Jesus, first to take on human life, and then, with humility, to wash his apostles’ feet, to go through the passion for all of us. Anne spoke eloquently about the nine Fruits of the Spirit. I believe that humility is the gateway, not only to forgive as Jesus did on the cross, but also to every one of the nine Fruits.

Humility opens the door to those Fruits so that they flourish in our lives. The Fruits wither on the vines without humility. It seems that humility is difficult to attain, retain and sustain in our society that values achievement, status and material monuments to self. Focusing on other people with needs greater than ours takes humility. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control: without humility, can we ever truly have any of these fruits? We are made in the image of God and I’m not more in God’s image than the homeless person or those of different ethnicity, religions, sexual orientation or social status. The height of humility is Jesus dying on the cross…Passion Week for us.

C.S. Lewis notes “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Philippians 2:5-8: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Prayer for Humility
Let me have too deep a sense of humor to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful, and most worthy of your serious consideration.
– Daniel A. Lord, SJ