Posts from 2020

The First Week of Advent

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene – one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent,
till the night is gone,
and with the morn those angel faces smile;
which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

I love the poetic language of this old hymn. Some of us listened to Ken Medema’s arrangement of the hymn at our last Bridging the Gap gatherings…that seems like such a long time ago now! As many of you know, what began as my “short time away” turned into a long time of recovery, after testing positive for the Covid virus, along with my sister and my parents. Know that we are abundantly grateful for the concern you have poured out and the prayers you have lifted on our behalf. We are feeling better, regaining our strength gradually as we step back into our lives.

After the last month and the challenges we all have faced, there are several phrases from this hymn that speak to me in a special way. I am longing for a “kindly light” to guide my path. I am waiting to find my way home to all of you. I am trying not to look for what the future holds or when exactly it will come; instead I pray that just one day, just one step, will be enough for me.

Feeling as though I had lost you for awhile, I realize once again how much I have loved you all the while. I look forward to recording this week’s Sunday service and joining you in worship. There are Advent devotionals and key tags at church if you’d like to pick them up or have us send them to you. May our lives shine a kindly light in the darkness, so that each morning angel faces will surely smile. May God lead us on, and may that be enough…Pastor Claudine

A Poem by Joyce Rupp

cornstalks once tall and green
are now brown, dried, surrendered,
ears of corn with full kernels
shaped and turned golden
in a summer of sunshine and rain.
they fill to fullness wide wagons,
falling now into tall, round bins,
copious in their generosity,
abundant in unrestrained harvest.

this plenitude of the land
signals my own gathering of grain
as I turn to the bounty
found in the field of my heart.

all those daily gifts
that grace my humble path,
come tumbling forth,
like a corn harvest
of golden goodness.

they are my bin-full,
my thanksgiving treasure,
my wide wagon of richness.
they are my sureness
that the God of the harvest
still hurrahs.

As I write this, I am aware of new waves of pandemic here in CT, and increasing cases across the globe; storms and fires bringing devastation to our country; civil rights movements calling us toward justice and peace; a divided nation compelling us to vote and exercise our civic duty.

Yet as I write this, I am also aware of the abundant bounty of God’s goodness in our lives; the unrestrained generosity of your hearts toward me, each other, this church, and the world; the daily gifts that tumble forth from your hands, the thanksgiving treasures you always provide.

As you read this, I will be taking some time off in order to rest my spirit and restore fullness to my soul, and I will resume these weekly words on November 18th. If any of you have any pastoral needs over the next two weeks, please call the church office. Until then, know that because of you, I have faith in the God who still gives us reasons to rejoice…Pastor Claudine

To be grateful for what is,
instead of underscoring what is not.

To find good amid the unwanted aspects of life,
without denying the presence of the unwanted.

To focus on beauty in the little things of life,
as well as being deliberate about the great beauties of art, literature, music, and nature.

To be present to one’s own small space of life,
while stretching to the wide world beyond it.

To find something to laugh about in every day,
even when there seems nothing to laugh about.

To search for and to see the good in others,
rather than remembering their faults and weaknesses.

To be thankful for each loving deed done by another,
no matter how insignificant it might appear.

To taste life to the fullest,
and not take any part of it for granted.

To seek to forgive others for their wrongdoings,
even immense ones, and to put the past behind.

To find ways to reach out and help the disenfranchised,
while also preserving their dignity and self-worth.

To be as loving and caring as possible,
in a culture that consistently challenges these virtues.

To remember to say or send “thank you”
for whatever comes as a gift from another.

To be at peace
with what cannot be changed.

–Joyce Rupp

This year we may have to look harder for reasons to give thanks, and reach farther to show our gratitude. But may we still praise God for daily graces, and simple blessings.
Pastor Claudine

To My Beloved PBBC Community

A Prayer for Stewardship
Dear God, for whom sacrifice is both a gift and a request:
we realize that by making us recipients of your bountiful gifts,
you have made us stewards of your beautiful creation.
Clarify our vision of the scope of responsible stewardship.
Sensitize us to the truth that the greatest challenges
to our stewardship coincide with our best blessings.
What we have received, we are to give.

You give us life. We must offer commitment.
You give us Scripture. We must study.
You give us music. We must make ourselves instruments of praise.
You give us children. We must serve as good teachers and parents.
You give us talents. We must minister accordingly.
You give us church. We must extend fellowship.
You give us the gospel. We must share the good news.
You give us each other. We must live in love.

O Giver of all that we call good and perfect, transform our gratitude
for what you have placed within our hands
into significant means of serving others as well as you.
We rejoice in our freedom. Grant us diligence in freeing others.
We are thankful for our finances. Direct our money and other resources
toward the work of your ministry and the fulfillment of our mission.
We are grateful to be able to speak. Help us to fill our words with
encouragement, instruction, inspiration and invitation.
We are pleased to be able to act. Strengthen our efforts
on the foundations of personal and social good will.

All of life belongs to you. We know that.
The possibility of cooperating with you in the ongoing work of creation and redemption
comes as both a blessing and a responsibility. We would not take anything for it,
but we certainly need your help in order to do our best with it.
Please assist us, O God.
In the name of the Perfect Steward we pray.

As we consider our gifts to God and make our pledges to the church, may the words of this prayer bring us confidence and joy. With gratitude beyond words for the strength of your giving this year, and the depth of your devotion to God’s work in the world,
Pastor Claudine