A message from the pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

Annual Meeting, D-Day, Village Day, Circle of Blessings… well, it’s June and there is still a lot going on. If you were there for Annual Meeting you know, first, that our Moderator Sally Brickell organized it very well. Thanks to many others also, especially Rich Bryden who ran our visuals, and kept us available to online companions. Perhaps you know that we didn’t have angels or cherubs this year, but “four distinct sweets connected to four upcoming votes.” Hint: one was a chocolate mint, to prepare for our budget discussion. One was a Hershey’s kiss, and you can ponder which vote that galvanized.

Also if you were there, I took a moment at the start of worship to speak of the gift of Congregationalism and how it inspired our American democracy. The non-conformists from England and Holland developed philosophies and mechanisms that encouraged John Adams who helped design our form of government, our laws and jury systems, and — little by little to be fair — our equality and community. And this Congregationalism leads us still, and our democracy protects our free faith, still. Our democracy is worth protecting to protect our free exercise of religion. Which leads me to D-Day, just for a moment.

NHCC found me when I was serving a church in West Hartford, CT, as an interim. A lot of insurance folks there. In fact, there were four actuaries in one parish, and they used to joke about the probability of four actuaries in that small church. But there’s more: at that parish (about the same size as NHCC) was the weatherman who worked for Gen. Eisenhower to predict the best time for D-Day. But still more: at that parish was the engineer who designed the bridges to get across the trenches to get off the beaches on D-Day. And I got to hear their stories. And as the 80th anniversary of that event approaches (June 6th) I am mindful of the dedication it took to force back tyranny, racism, authoritarianism, anti-Semitism, and on all-too-many levels ignorance, denial, and non-involvement of too many people in several nations. Some thought citizenship was a spectator sport, and some thought you couldn’t resist a cruel leader. Even if they’d voted for him first, in Italy and Germany. D-Day confronted that cruelty, at great cost.

I do truly love my Episcopal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran friends and colleagues. But my own read of scripture calls us to work together to perceive the Holy Spirit and become the hands and hearts of Jesus: scripture guides me to be Congregational. And it guides me to care about our freedom, democracy, and future.

My two friends from West Hartford have gone to their just rewards, as has my father and as have most of the rest of his WW II colleagues. Now the church, the congregation, the state, and the vision for the future are in our hands. So that we can have Annual Meetings, Village Days, and time to gather in a circle and count not only our blessings but our call. As in history and scripture, we are called to this moment — called even when we are busy already.

It is June, there is a lot going on, and as we look to the summer I look forward to peaceful, restful times to come. And to keeping the faith, which is a gift from God, worthy and precious. It’s what church does best, I pray.


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