Lenten Study 2015

HE SET HIS FACE TO JERUSALEM
WEDNESDAYS IN THE CHAPEL - 7 pm

February 18 - Ash Wednesday
He Set His Face

February 25 - First Week in Lent
On the Road Again

March 4 - Second Week in Lent
Two Entrances

March 11 - Third Week in Lent
The Last Supper

March 18 - Fourth Week in Lent
The Midnight Hour

March 25 - Fifth Week in Lent
Taken Prisoner

MAUNDY THURSDAY - 7 pm

EASTER SUNDAY - 10 am

Come and find out as we grow in faith!

Welcome!

First Baptist Church of Arlington is a church of faith where people can grow to their God given potential. If you are just now exploring the claims of Jesus Christ for the first time as an adult, or if you have been a personal Christian for years, it would be great to have you join us in our spiritual journey.

We are a group of people who are at different places in our spiritual walk discovering together what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Some of us are very traditional church folk. Some of us are postmodern. Some of us are young, some wish we were. We are shades of black, brown, and white.

We are a Baptist church because we believe in the centrality of the gospel, the importance of scripture, the necessity of personal faith, and the freedom that is found in Christ. Our faith has provided a place for us to stand in facing life, and we have found some meaningful answers. We also have many questions.

I'm so glad you're looking at our home on the web. If you'd like to know us better, come by on a Sunday morning for our worship service, or drop in at one of our group meetings or special events. Our worship service starts at 10 am.

I'll be here, and I look forward to meeting you.

Blessings,
Pastor Jon

Where Have All Our Neighbors Gone?

Jesus said the most important thing is to love God, and then to love our neighbor. It seems like a pretty simple thing, at least until we step back and assess how well we are doing it. Most of us at that time admit we need some help if we are to actually do what Jesus said was basic to our faith.

One of the difficulties in following this commandment, apart from our hesitancies to fully give ourselves to God, and our prejudices toward the folks around us, and our dislike of having to something we don’t necessarily want to do is that our neighbors seem to have all but disappeared. Where have all the neighbors gone?

We have our families, at least the ones who are alive, around us, and still speak to us. The fortunate among us have a handful of old friends. And then there are the people we spend time with at work. All these are the folks that are more or less close to us.

And then we have our acquaintances. These are people we think we know — on Facebook they are called “friends.” We “like” what they post, and we “like” their friends who then become our friends. Our aquaintances include the pharmacist who gives us our pills at the drugstore. Is her name Rosemary? Or is Rosemary the nice lady who sits two pews behind us in church? She, too, is a an acquaintance. Or is she a friend? Then there is the gentleman in charge of the monthly meeting for civic advancement. He’s such a friendly and competent person. Good to know him.

Where have all the neighbors gone? Missing are the people who fill the middle group, the “neighbor” role. Neighbors are folks who aren’t as close as family or co-workers, but who are still far more significant to us than the Facebook “friend” we barely know. They are the people next door or across town whose names we do know, and whose kids’ names we know. They are people we actually sit down with once in a while over a cup of coffee. Neighbors are the people who notice when we need help, and offer a hand. They let us watch their house while they’re gone, and help rake the snow off our roof. When we are sick they bring us chicken soup, and when they lose a loved one we bring them a casserole.

While people have always had family as a basically close group about them, we are seeing rapid changes to the structure of the family itself. Relocation from the family homestead, the constant alteration of relationships, and the flexibility of individual lifestyles all help make the contemporary family something a little different than families have been in the past.

And then the group farthest removed from us — the acquaintances — has expanded greatly for people today. Whether we count the 250 people who have “friended” us on Facebook, or the rapid ability to zero in on interest groups that catch our attention and fulfill our immediate needs, such as providing health feedback or dissecting the Red Sox’s coming year, there is no doubt our most distant relationships, that of fringe acquaintances, has grown drastically.

So where have all the neighbors gone? Where are the people who provide stability in daily life and human connection when family fails us and perhaps even an affirming arm around our shoulders at a critical time? Perhaps the answer is found within ourselves. Perhaps it’s we who haven’t been all that neighborly. Neighbors don’t just happen but are grown, cultivated. Neighbors take investment, and our behavior and attitudes have an enormous influence in the development of this crucial middle group of folks around us. It’s far more difficult a task to relate to a real neighbor than to “like” someone in cyberspace. Our neighbor’s lawn gets far too unkempt, they vote for the wrong person, and their dog is truly obnoxious.

These pesky neighbors are the people Jesus singled out for us to love. Family usually takes care of itself with more or less a comfortable level of love. Those on the outskirts of our lives are easy to love, since they are too far removed to have irritating faults. If a fault does appear, we "unfriend” them. The neighbors are more complicated. It’s the neighbors who are hard to love. Yet it’s the neighbors Jesus pushed us to love, and then stirred the pot even more by suggesting it is even harder to love God without seeing him, than it is to love our neighbor, who is sometimes too visible. Are we sure Jesus really knew how much effort it would take to love our neighbor? What are we going to do about it now?

Learning Lessons from the Snow

As we all know, February has been the snowiest month anyone can remember. Conversations with people from other parts of the country invariably begin with, “Is it really as bad there as it looks like on TV?” The answer always is, “Yes! It really is!” My family from Louisiana had planned to be here for winter vacation week. That didn’t happen. We were all so disappointed. It was a trip long planned for and anticipated but many flights were cancelled and plans had to be postponed.

But there are some lessons that I have learned from the snow:

1. We have to work together and depend on each other. Neighbors and family have helped each other. I hate to be dependent on others, but in this situation it has been absolutely necessary. Those who are able have helped those who are not.

We are part of a community. A community of being fellow sufferers binds us. We all have the same problems with the snow and ice. We can just look at each other any emphasize. We know it’s hard. We feel connected with those who share the same difficulties with us.

2. We have to have patience. Waiting is hard. But things of this magnitude can’t be rushed. The snowplow guy will get to us when he is able. We just have to wait. Learning to be patient is a difficult but valuable lesson. We remember that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” So we wait for better weather and for that promised strength.

3. We are blessed beyond measure. It is cold out, but we have warm houses. We have coats, boots, and gloves. Our pantries many be less full because we can’t get out to the grocery store, but we have food to eat. But there are many who don’t have these things. We are called to help and comfort those less fortunate than us.

We are blessed, above all, that we have received the knowledge that God loved us so much that He sent His only son to die for us. Many don’t know that. Again, we are called, as believers, to tell others that God loves them and that we do, too.

4. We remember the promise that spring will come again. On our ride to church we pass a corner house that has a curved flower bed that we enjoy all summer with its bright profusion of colors of every flower imaginable.

When I see it now piled high with snow, I remember the promise of those beautiful flowers. I know that buried under that mountain of snow, bulbs are waiting to burst forth when the weather warms up. I recognize that that is God’s plan for the earth.

I know that the Red Sox are practicing in Florida. Surely baseball season will come again. Surely life will return to normal. May we use the slower pace of life that is called winter to reflect on those things that really matter. And may God have mercy on us!

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First Baptist Church
819 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA
781-643-3024

Sunday Schedule
Service: 10 am
Nursery provided!

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