From Our Pastor – June 2017

Jesus gives us hope, courage, direction, love and power. – Cave Quest VBS daily themes

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

As we near our first year anniversary together, I yearn for some time to reflect on all that has happened since last summer. Often the charge of writing this letter to you for the newsletter offers me this kind of space. This month though I’m feeling the crunch of moving out of our old house and into our new one. I’m working with people to plan sum-mer happenings like VBS and the middle school mission trip. I’m experiencing the transi-tion of new leadership on the congregation council. And I’m helping to shepherd the pro-cess of exploring the possibility for a new space to call home with the Federated Church in Ayer. Continue reading From Our Pastor – June 2017

From Our Pastor – May 2017

“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

In the office area of my house, to the left of my desk, I have a professionally framed callig-raphy piece with this verse from Psalm 46. This is the psalm upon which Martin Luther’s most famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” is based. The imagery in the whole psalm is quite tumultuous, including earth-shattering events and warring nations. God is described as a refuge and strength and as exalted. All of these characteristics are a re-sponse to trouble all around. The response of the psalmist Is not to fear. The role of God is to be present. Our role in the midst of turmoil is to be still and to know that God is God. Continue reading From Our Pastor – May 2017

From Our Pastor – April 2017

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” – Luke 24:1-5

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This question has been rattling around in my head since I began thinking about what to write for this April news-letter. It’s not from the version of the resurrection story that we will hear this Easter but it is nagging at me nonetheless. I’m writing this on the second day of spring. During this time, it’s easy to start seeing signs of life in the tips of bulbs pushing through the ground and even snow, buds emerging on tree branches and the varied songs of birds. We can look for the living among the dead. Continue reading From Our Pastor – April 2017

From Our Pastor – March 2017

From the Pastor

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
– Matthew 6:19 – 21

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

On Ash Wednesday (March 1st) we will join together with Union Congregational Church and Christian Union Congregation. We will share some simple food together and then worship together. This worship service invites us into the season of Lent – preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection! The passage above is the end of the gospel reading for that day. Prior to these words, which are a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount which have been the gospel readings for the past few Sundays, Jesus instructs those listening about acts of piety. Specifically, he talks about giving alms, prayer and fasting. He tells them how to do these things in ways that lead to rewards from God, our Father in heaven. Continue reading From Our Pastor – March 2017

From Our Pastor – February 2017

From the Pastor

“I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially…Your highest loyalty is to God, and not to the mores or the folkways, the state or the nation, or any man-made institution. If any earthly institution or custom conflicts with God’s will, it is your Christian duty to oppose it… You are called to be the salt of the earth. You are to be the light of the world. You are to be that vitally active leaven in the lump of the nation. – “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

I read the above words along with the entirety of this letter – a chapter from the book Strength to Love – to the confirmation class when we met on Monday, January 16. Dr. King wrote a letter in the style of Paul to the church in America. We are studying the New Testament this year while keeping the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in the forefront of their minds (we hope!). I thought it a fitting theme to connect Paul, Martin Luther and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the words they wrote while in prison or under house arrest for acting on their faith. Continue reading From Our Pastor – February 2017

From the Pastor – September 2016

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” – Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,

If you made it to the end of my letter from August that was on the SOV website and Facebook page, you may recognize the above passage from Jeremiah. If you were part of VBS at the end of July, you may remember this being a daily verse and have the tune of the accompanying song stuck in your head as well. If you were part of the SOV Capital Campaign five years ago, you may recall that the last page of the beautiful booklet of Our Journey in Faith contained these prophetic words as well. If none of these apply to you, may you still find encouragement and meaning in them. Continue reading From the Pastor – September 2016

From the Pastor – August 2016

Dear People who God gathers as Shepherd of the Valley,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My first month as your pastor has been a full and fulfilling one. It began a little early with 15 high schoolers and 3 other adults heading to Reading, PA for the Group Work Camp Mission Trip and ended with Egypt VBS, involving more than 50 people in soPastor Gaeta's 1st Sunday at SOVme important way. In between, Richard, Grace and I said goodbye to friends in Washington, DC and moved to our new (temporary) home in Westford, MA and were warmly welcomed by so many of you. Thank you for the overflowing gift baskets which have indeed been helping us settle in to the Nashoba Valley. Your gracious and thoughtful contributions to our transition are deeply appreciated! It’s been a great first month.
Continue reading From the Pastor – August 2016