Friends, it was one year ago this very week, that our church building was closed due to the pandemic. But though our building was closed, we as individuals and as a congregation, continued to walk by faith. We learned that a sanctuary is far more than that which can be held within four walls, for we are all sanctuaries of God’s grace in our own way. And though the list is long of the numbers of things we miss, the struggles that we’ve faced, and the sadness that we’ve endured, we’ve also made amazing strides forward, connecting via Zoom for coffee hours and meetings, and reaching out beyond the walls of our church building. bringing the light and the love of Oldtown around the world.
To honor the journey that we’ve walked, we present the inspirational moments of the last year with clips of all fifty-five online services.
Friends, we have quite a journey ahead of us, and there’s no magic wand or quick fix. Of course, God walks the journey with us.
Remember, that sometimes being lost is a gift, because it opens our eyes to new paths and exciting adventures that we never imagined possible.
And no matter how anxious and frustrated and filled with sorrow we become, we learn that joy always comes in the morning. But friends, through it all, do not lose hope.
However, my friends, it’s not until we walk through the darkness, that we can appreciate and truly celebrate the light
Even in the midst of this pandemic, when we are scattered and unable to gather, when we’re filled with fear and doubt, and uncertainty, let us not forget the good news that Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. So let us all shout, “Alleluia,”
That the Easter Bunny was indeed an essential employee and that he would still be working over the Easter weekend, and that because he’s a rabbit, he can’t carry or spread the virus. Well, the good news that I learned this week is that the Holy Spirit is not quarantined either. The Holy Spirit is definitely an essential employee, and luckily, she doesn’t even have to keep social distancing.
Don’t be blinded by the news, so that you can’t see the good all around you.
I actually think that this time might be just what the church needed. Because in many ways, we’ve had the opportunity to put aside the two-thousand-plus years of opinions and rules and rituals, and we’ve gotten a first-hand reminder of how simple the church can be and how simple the church started out being–people worshiping in their homes, just like we are right now.
Don’t get frustrated, and don’t let your baggage weigh you down. Remember that the possibilities are endless.
Because sometimes we forget that God doesn’t live in our Oldtown sanctuary and wait for us to come and visit on Sunday mornings. We forget that though our Oldtown sanctuary is a sacred space, so is a walk in the woods or a day spent at the beach or digging with your hands in the garden.
When are we gonna get there? Are we almost there? How much longer? How about now? How about now? How about NOW?
Remember that the Holy Spirit came with hope in the midst of chaos.
We need to remember that God’s unconditional love is not only for us but for each and every person that God has created, acknowledging that yes, all lives do matter, but if we truly love our brothers and sisters, black lives matter more right now, because that’s where the hurt and the injustice is.
Pray for an end to racism and injustice, but don’t sit back and wait for God to do something about it, because friends, that’s something that we have done for far too long. Go out and do something about it yourself.
The only true way to work towards wholeness and healing is to be honest and open with ourselves and with God, admitting that sometimes we feel angry, and sometimes we feel sad, or we feel frustrated, or we feel lost. And what about the times when we don’t really know how we feel, and we can’t explain why? What if we don’t have the words to describe what we’re feeling because we’re not sure where our source of pain is. Well, here’s the good news folks. We don’t have to have words, because God knows what’s in our hearts.
As you go out into your week ahead, remember that it’s hard to see a smile behind a mask, so you can’t fake it. Don’t just offer a courteous smile, but smile like you really mean it, and others will see the kindness in your eyes.
Know that you are loved beyond measure. Know that you’re filled with amazing gifts to share. And if you ever feel lost or afraid or alone, turn to God who’s always there with arms reaching out to welcome you home.
Compassion is a way of life. It’s making the choice to be the best you that you can be and sharing that light inside of you with others.
But it’s not enough to simply know that you’re amazing. It’s not enough to know that God filled you with awesomeness. Because once you figure that out, it’s your job to go out and share that news with others. But let me clarify: not the news that you are amazing and you’re filled with awesomeness but the good news that they too are amazing and filled with awesomeness.
The time of complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves is over. And the time to dream and imagine and move ahead has come.
Friends, over and over in scripture, Jesus teaches us by his own example to just do it anyway. Are you tired? Just do it anyway. Are you sad? Do it anyway. Are you unsure about what’s happening next? Do. It. Anyway.
No matter what struggles you face or what mistakes you make, be sure to keep your eye on Jesus, staying focused on what’s important, and having faith that no matter what happens, God will reach out his hand and help you through.
Because since we’ve begun worshiping online, we have added to our community. Our church family has grown, with people joining us in worship from across the United States, from Florida to Maine, and Tennessee to Washington. We even have people worshiping with us from around the world. A special shout-out to our friends in Germany and in Rwanda. Who would have thought? Our little church in Oldtown sharing the good news around the world.
Friends, believe me, we all want to be together again. We all want to “get back to normal,” as they say. And we all want to feel the comforts of home in Oldtown. But the decision was made this week to keep our church building closed until next year, and to only open once it’s safe for everyone to return.
I encourage you to be kind. Be a beacon of light in the darkness, remembering that you are not called to judge anyone. But on the contrary, you’re simply called to love ’em.
Folks, I want you to remember that you are amazing. You’ve got this. Because you can do anything.
We look for God the potter to take our uneven, messy pots and change the things about us that make us collapse in on ourselves, that God might rework us and transform us and make us into a new creation.
So when the Oldtown church was founded in 1712, no one had ever heard of a dinosaur, just like when the creation story was written in the sixth century BC. It wasn’t until about the time that Ezra Walker built our present sanctuary in 1828, that scientists were first beginning to learn about dinosaurs.
When I say “temptation,” I always hear in the back of my head, “Bom, bom, bommmm!” It just sounds like something evil, doesn’t it? Temptation. “Bom, bom, bommmm!” Can you hear it?
Folks, I know that it seems even harder to be in community right now, with the pandemic and our needs for masks, and social distancing, and no large gatherings. And in addition to that, there’s all the political infighting that’s tearing our families, our friends, and our communities apart. But folks, we can’t keep ignoring it, because the work is ours to do. God promised thousands of years ago there would be no more major divine intervention to stop the madness, but that it’s up to us, as human beings, as children of God, and as people of faith, to do something about it.
Because if God calls us to do something, God sticks with us the entire way, giving us not what we think we want, but what we truly need for the journey.
Friends, I wonder. Do you have days when you just want to throw in the towel? I know I do. Do you have moments when you just want to tell people off and complain about all that you’re going through? I think we all do. But have you ever heard God whisper in your heart to just love your neighbor no matter what? To be kind even when others are rude, and to bring peace to chaotic situations? Friends, the choice is always ours.
Jesus always teaches us to love our enemies. Did you ever realize that once you love your enemy, they’re no longer your enemy?
On this All Saints Sunday, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, may you find grace and peace in your faith. And may the act of remembering their story bring you comfort and peace so that your heart might be filled to overflowing.
Well in honor of the salt and light that the Oldtown Church has brought to the Attleboro area for three hundred and eight years, today we’re featuring our historical tour and the story of Oldtown.
Be thankful for the little things. Appreciate the people, the moments, and the experiences in your lives. They may not be perfect, but they’re yours. And then, start practicing an attitude of gratitude. If you do, you just might find yourself filled with so much joy that you sing out like David, giving thanks for every moment that you find yourself in.
All that I ask is that this Thanksgiving, you search your heart, rejoicing in all that our church has been and continues to be in your life, praying for us, and continuing to give thanks in all circumstances, whether we’re gathered, or scattered.
Let us carry with us the light of hope, offering it as an invitation to ourselves and to others to open our eyes to the glimpses of hope all around us.
May you first search within yourself so that you can then see glimpses of peace out in the world. But don’t stop there. Then go out and share that peace, no matter how simple or how small, with the people you meet, because that is how we carry the light of peace with us and make a true difference in the world.
Then on Christmas, we are so filled with joy that we sing songs, give gifts, and share the story of Jesus just like Mary and the angels, and the shepherds, and the wise men did.
‘Twas the week before Christmas.
It had been quite a year.
Through emails and Zooms,
They tried hard to spread cheer.
But the church doors were closed.
A pandemic had come.
And the only safe place
To be, was at home
Silent night, holy night.
All is calm, all is bright.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the givers and the receivers of this year’s advent box collection. because you all matter and you all play an important part in the program. Know that each and every one of you are truly loved.
May you take some time to look up at the stars at night. knowing that the number of stars that you have to follow are immeasurable. But the light that shines in the darkness? That is the greatest gift of all. Because not only does that light show us the way, but that light loves you more than you could ever imagine.
Be sure to listen for God’s still-speaking voice as it speaks to you saying, “You are my beloved. In you, I am well pleased.”
And truly amazing gifts are things that we impart to others simply by being who we are.
Try to worry a little less, and rejoice a little more.
Rather than letting our imagination look through the eyes of fear and struggle, we start to learn to look through the eyes of creativity and grace, and eventually, we learn that even the things that seem impossible become possible.
Friends, please, don’t stop believing. But also remember, that sometimes having faith means stepping out of your comfort zone.
So let’s just spend a little more time each day appreciating, giving thanks, and standing in awe of the mystery and the majesty of God.
From dust, you have come, and to dust, you shall return. But don’t stop there. Then say, “I see you. You are a precious child of God.” Please, open your eyes, and enjoy each moment that you’ve been given.
Remember that we all go through wilderness times. But rather than giving in to the uncertainty and the struggle, remember to look through the eyes of love.
About our call to go out and meet people where they are.
What a sweet message Jesus gives when he explains how we’re all connected to God’s many forms just like branches are connected to a vine.