March 2017 Newsleter


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March 2017 Newsleter

Notes From West Mountain                                           The Reverend Mark E. Diters

“z =1-x^2-y^2”

(Parabolic Formula)

“He put before them another parable…”             

On Ash Wednesday, the first day of March, Lent will begin. It is on Ash Wednesday that we are reminded to “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  It is a time when we are called to be mindful of our own finitude. It is a time in which we are urged to find perspective, embracing who we are in the midst of God’s creation.

We are living in turbulent times. Turbulent times…Imagine a ship at sea beset in storm. Waves rise and fall threatening to swamp or overturn it. The water soaked decks spin, pitch, and yaw, defying balance or safety. Winds thrust raindrops like projectiles across the bow. The ship seems completely at the mercy of nature’s whims and each passing moment offers another burst of peril. And the only course to take seems to be one which “rides out the storm”. In turbulent times, we are prone to cast out anchors to settle us and to seek solid ground. We are eager to find a footing in a safe harbor, sheltered from the winds and the storms fury.

Certainly, our times today are no more turbulent than in Jesus’ time. We just do not have the perspective of two thousand years to buffer the impact of the realities that were present then.  But what we do have are Jesus’ parables. Perhaps they can be anchors that connect us with our ground of being. Perhaps that can serve to offer solid footing in an otherwise unsettled terrain.

Jesus’ most common teaching tools were parables. He used parables to pierce through the turbulence of his own time, offering a ground for our faith in images and subjects we can easily grasp. Jesus’ parables are dynamic messages that demand something of those who hear them. They involve elements of real life layered in such a way that serves to open up subsequent meanings or stimulate a sense of wonder.

Parables have a way of staying fresh in one’s mind, even if the subject matter is thousands of years old. They address the complexities of life and encourage ways in which to regard our relationships with God and one another and our sense of purpose, engaged with our present reality.

Lent’s Sunday services will each focus on a parable. Each week we will use different ways to examine, explore and tease out the wisdom and guidance parables offer. My prayer is that we find in these parables the serenity and sense of peace which we seek. May they be anchors, stabilizing our journey providing connections which allow us to again lift our sails and be on our way.

In all things peace,

Mark

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LENTEN BOOK GROUP

“Stigmatized: From 9/11 to Trump and Beyond”

An American Muslim Journey

Dr. Reza Mansoor

The four sessions will be drawn from this engaging memoir using it as a leaping board for reflection and discussion.  The sessions will follow coffee hour on March 5, 12, 19 & 26.

Words from the author: “Our nation was founded by very wise people and, as Muslims; we have faith that our Constitution will ultimately protect us from xenophobes carrying out their hate. Our nation was founded to prevent such religious extremism…I invite you to join me in our quest to make our nation a little more welcoming, a little more loving, and a little more whole.”

Dr. Reza Mansoor, (husband of Aida Mansoor, leader of the Greater Hartford Muslim Coalition), wrote this as a way of processing his own experiences in America.

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BOARD OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE

MARCH 2017 SECOND MILE OFFERING

IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) has been selected as the recipient of our Second Mile Offering for March 2017.  IRIS is a non-sectarian, independent nonprofit refugee resettlement agency that has welcomed more than 5,000 refugees to Connecticut since its founding in 1982.

Throughout its history, IRIS has helped refugees from all over the world, but the numbers and nationalities of clients have fluctuated. Their needs are significant and IRIS is their primary resource as they begin to rebuild their lives after years of persecution and displacement. IRIS helps refugees on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during their transition to life in the United States. IRIS case managers greet refugees and take them to apartments — rented by IRIS and furnished with donated furniture. After being served a warm, culturally appropriate meal and after having a good night’s sleep, our clients will begin the initial work of being integrated into the fabric of the United States.

Flagg Road UCC has contributed significantly, both in time spent with our refugee family as well as with financial support.  Please help us to continue to support those families in need.

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MARCH YOUTH GROUP EVENT

Let’s welcome Spring by enjoying the great outdoors with a hike up to Heublein Tower! The Youth Group will enjoy lunch together after church on Sunday, March 26 (please bring a sandwich. Liz and Linda will provide the rest). Then off for our hike! Please wear sturdy, comfortable shoes. Friends are always welcome! Liz and Linda will drive the kids home (approximately 2:30 pm). Please let Liz and Linda know if you can join us!

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WORSHIP MUSIC INTO THE NEW YEAR…

Worshipping music of this age…!

A new music initiative…songs of our time that speak to us

 spiritually and express our faith.

 What music moves you? What music inspires in you a sense of calm or serenity? What music makes you dance? Worship is ours! We are able to determine how to best lift up our praise, our love and our sorrow when we offer what is truly of us.  In our worship together we seek to find connections and common ground, it is only fitting that we do so in word, in song, in art, in movement…that are our own.

We continue to gather suggestions for music that might enhance our worship together. Ponder it. Listen to your mind’s ear when you hum. What pieces that are familiar to you augment your sense of whole self? What pieces take you to the heights of emotion as well as the depths? Help us create a new collection of possibilities by adding your songs for us to share.  Please place your suggestions in the basket by the display in the lounge.

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