Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Lamp-stand?

You know the text that talks about not hiding your light under a basket.  We are to let our light shine brightly on a lamp-stand to give light to the world.  Strangely enough I find that one of our most visible lamp-stands is the web.  Facebook and the church web site are lamp-stands that provide light that others may “see our good deeds.”

I have experienced this "lamp-stand" text in a new context as I sit in the basement of the church this week.  More than once in the last several days we have been contacted by churches who have seen our website and want to talk with us about Sanctuary for refugees or who want suggestions for ways their church might be a more courageous peace, justice community.

Yes, you are doing good deeds at CCU.  You are opening the church to people who are in need or who are fleeing from persecution.  You are giving money and time to provide meals, transportation, housing and comfort.  You open the building to AA groups, community groups and organizations seeking to do good works.

All of that is good in itself.  Not only is it good, but these are deeds that may become light to the world.  It is fitting that we are humble and do not seek glory for what we do, but we also have an obligation to contribute to the light in the world.  On our own, we can only do so much.  However, when others see our deeds and feel our commitment to each other then at that point our light shines out and deeds multiply.

So the light shines out and I get a call.  “Can you tell us how your church got involved in Sanctuary for immigrants?”  Peter is on vacation so Karen hands me a note from another church.  “We looked at your website,” they say, “can you tell us how your church got so involved in justice issues?  We want to start down that road.”

Good deeds are good.  Keep up the good work.  But also let your light so shine on our lamp-stand that people keep clicking through and becoming engaged.  It is happening.

Will Miller

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Village Harmony

More than twenty years ago, I was invited to a concert by my new neighbors after moving to rural NH. We drove through the woods on a hot summer evening to enter an even hotter church, an iconic New England building with it’s white clapboards and steeple on the outside and it’s wooden floors and box pews on the inside. Then the singers arrived – 30 teenagers full of boisterous energy and dressed like they had just raided the thrift store for whatever funky thing they could put on!

For the next several hours, this group of young musicians performed songs ranging from Gospel to Early American Shaped Note, filling the church with ballads, dance tunes, lullabies and resistance cries. I fell in love with Village Harmony, and since then have had the joy of performing with several of their adult groups, and bringing the teen groups to several churches to present their concerts, including, this coming Monday, Christ Church United Lowell!



Village Harmony was founded in 1989 by Larry Gordon, and since then has sent singers and instrumentalists throughout New England and the world. Each camp is filled with unauditioned singers from many places and backgrounds. They meet for a week of intensive study, usually somewhere in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Singing sessions fill six or more hours a day, with individual coaching and impromptu music making in-between. Meals are shared, and in the evening there is usually a contra dance, talent show, or chance to go swimming. Then they go on the road, spending the next two weeks traveling, performing nightly, staying in hosts homes and churches, and forging lifelong bonds of music and friendship.

This Monday at 7:30 pm we will be privileged to welcome Village Harmony to our own church home! Under the leadership of Suzanna Park, Carl Linich, and Nadia Tarnawsky, will will hear music from Appalachia, Republic of Georgia, Ukraine, and the Balkans. There may also be sea shanties and dancing! I hope you will come and fall in love with this group and this music as well.


Janet Barry

Making a Difference

In the Jewish tradition there is a phrase that describes what CCU is seeking.  This idea is central to a “just peace” church.  Acts of kind...