June 16 service features Circle of Blessings

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.

Mark 4:30-32

The June 16, 2024, service at Newton Highlands Congregational Church concluded with congregants forming a circle and sharing prayers of gratitude for staff and volunteers.

During his meditation, “The Circles of Hope,” the Reverend Ken Baily spoke about “our call as Christians to grow things that are deep rooted and expansive, like the mustard plant.”

He reflected on seeds planted during this church year, including a confirmation process for 11 youth, the change to permanent status for music director Jan Zimmerman, the conclusion of a multi-year organ renovation, a reworked Christmas pageant, the return of a children’s service, discussions about systemic racism, a Friday night soul food dinner in the church parlor, a Mission Committee-led walk to combat homelessness, a fundraising lemonade stand led by the Christian Education team, and the Annual Meeting held on June 2.

“The seven last words of a church are, ‘We’ve never done it that way before,'” he concluded, “Not all seeds grow, but we need to keep doing our best to sow God’s good seeds. It is always the right season to plant ideas. It’s God who provides growth.”

For the offertory, the church choir sang “To Everything There Is a Season,” composed by member and Berklee College of Music professor Yumiko Matsuoka.

For the postlude, they sang a percussive piece entitled “Joyful Noise” (Beck).

Moderator’s prayer

God, thank you for another great church year! Thank you for software developers who come up with programs like Sign Up Genius, WordPress, Mailchimp, and Canva, and those who can figure out how to use them. And thank you for Zoom! 

We ask your blessing upon the hands and hearts of all the persons gathered here. Bless people who understand the law and people who understand history and people who understand building codes and people who understand budgets and people who design things and people who provide medical care and people who teach and people who stuff Easter eggs and people who take care of children. 

Bless people who set up tables of food and people who know how to brew coffee and people who are organized and people who volunteer and people who are willing to pore over bylaws and people who answer my texts at odd hours and people who take photos and people who take minutes and people who read minutes and people who do laughter yoga and people who are incredible musicians—especially those who attract double-digit views on YouTube. 

God, we especially thank you for people who care enough to argue about how many spaces there should be after punctuation marks. Our need for such arguments surpasses human understanding but we have faith that it is part of Your divine plan. 

Breathe your Holy Spirit into our practical conviction, so that faith comes alive as we move from ideas to action. Fill this people, all your beloved, with your Grace as we go forth in love and peace. Let all the people say, Amen.

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