Holy Week, Whole and Meek

Gifts abound in small congregations, but there are resources we do not have and sometimes miss. While we have been fortunate to be served by talented pianists, and beautiful music is a weekly part of worship, our congregation has not had a choir in a number of years. When a neighboring congregation with an abundance of musical ensembles invited us to worship with them on Palm Sunday for a music-centered service, our congregation said an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Holy Week is the ideal time to gather together in Christian community to hear again this powerful story that we share. It begins, after all, as a commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem where the Jews had gathered for the Passover. It is fitting for us to be with our whole community in Holy Week, through the twists and turns, the highs and lows.

We will gather in our space for Easter, partaking in traditions we have come to love and look forward to, but if you come looking for us at other significant moments and find our sanctuary resembling the empty tomb, know that we are venturing out in this Holy Week to worship with others who proclaim God’s promises with other gifts, in other settings. This can be a powerful way to hear the story anew. If you wish to join us, times/locations are below:

Sunday, April 9th, Palm Sunday, 10 a.m.
Second Baptist Suffield, 100 North Main Street, Suffield, CT

Friday, April 14th, Good Friday, 12 noon
Enfield Conference of Christian Churches
Calvary Presbyterian, 1518 King Street, Enfield, CT

Sunday, April 16th, Easter, 10 a.m.
Enfield American Baptist Church, 129 Post Office Road, Enfield, CT

No matter where you find us, join us in proclaiming, “Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!”

 

Congregation as Chorale, Our Energy for this Ensemble

I write often for the church–weekly sermons/messages, weekly emails, monthly newsletters, and so on. The materials I create rarely make their way here, to our more public-facing space. In the spirit of offering insight that revives our congregation and is meaningful to others, here is a past newsletter article, written in November 2015 and every bit as relevant today.

Friends of Enfield American Baptist Church,

I made a promise to myself last spring that I would make time for singing this year. Of course I have the joy and gift of singing in the midst of our congregation every Sunday, but I also wanted the experience of singing formally with an ensemble–working together on pieces we learn, polish, and ultimately perform. I chose in September to join the Farmington Valley Chorale, and each Sunday evening you can find me in Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom from 7-9:15 p.m., “finding my voice again.”

I could write a weekly newsletter reflection from all that I learn watching the director. She is energetic, demanding–yet playful, and she brings the best of herself week after week, despite the late hour and whatever concerns she might be carrying. I found myself in my first rehearsals looking back on our time of worship that morning to inquire if I had done the same–did I bring my full energy? Did I invite the congregation to be part of something significant and meaningful? Did I bring the best of myself–and the best of Jesus and the Christian story–to our gathering in Enfield? Generally, I answer, “Yes,” and then consider the “something more” that I can continue to bring to Enfield American Baptist. Of course there are days…

Lately, I’ve been looking more at my participation as a member of the ensemble. It won’t surprise you that I am good and tired by Sunday night. Most evenings, I say that I do not want to go, and I ask Matt to remind me how satisfied I’ll feel when I come home after a night of singing. Once or twice, I’ve been present in body, but my full self has not been there singing. While at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I missed a rehearsal; when I returned to practice, I was astonished at how out of step I felt from just one Sunday away. As we near our December performances, I am realizing being able to give the best of myself as a member of the chorale will require time on my own at home, reviewing difficult parts, hearing the context of the full piece in recordings provided for us, and practicing passages.

I’ve been thinking about how like the life of a congregation this chorale experience is for me. When we have our full membership present, our sound is more full, our conversations more rich, and our prayers more reflective of all our lives. When people are dedicated to praying and studying scripture at home, we are enriched by what they are learning individually; I always appreciate when one of you shares with me a devotional or passage you’ve been considering. If, like me, sometimes it is hard to get moving on a Sunday, I hope you will find that it is always worth the effort. This is our gift to God and God’s gift to us.

Peace, Pastor Jennifer Sanborn

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The promise of new life is one we cannot explain or fully comprehend….but we can surely celebrate it together. Join us this day as we celebrate God’s promises made real in Jesus’ resurrection and in the ways the body of Christ works to bring about abundant life for all.

 

Gifts of the Dark Wood

Our Lenten worship series, “Gifts of the Dark Wood,” takes us to those seasons of life we would rather move through quickly–seasons of uncertainty, loneliness, emptiness, feeling out of place. Developed by Marcia McFee and based on the book of the same name by Eric Elnes, we are invited to sit in those places and discover what we might find of God while there. This is as Jesus did in his own seasons of despair, and we welcome all to be part of our community in this time.

With a sanctuary set to evoke the woods and original music members have described as “calming, peaceful,” we set into the woods each week, leaving always with a gift we have to share with others who might be in a difficult passage. Worship is each Sunday at 10 a.m. Come and rest.

Worship services canceled for winter weather

Enfield American Baptist Church will not meet on Sunday, January 24th, due to the current snow/wind conditions. We’ll resume on Sunday, January 31st, and I invite you to read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31(a) tomorrow. Think about this metaphor we have of being the body of Christ. When you are using your gifts in our congregation and in the world, what part of the body are you? Are there parts we are missing? Parts we are too quick to ignore or underutilize? Are there parts you want to develop in this season of life? Join us next Sunday and every week!

What (or who) will you follow?

As we celebrate Epiphany–the manifestation of Christ to all people, we acknowledge the wisdom of those who followed a star to find him. Like the magi, we need stars and guides to help us find Jesus, too. For the past two years, members of our congregation have received “star words” to serve as a guide, a whispering of the Spirit, in the year to come. Is there a word or source of wisdom that serves as a guide for you?

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