January 29, 2018
Words from the Pastor
God of winter sky, fill the night with stars,
for I need to lift my eyes and raise my weary soul
from shadows and short days,
from dreary tasks and unending lists.
Shine bright lights into the darkness and
remind me that new life and dormant seeds gather
strength in the depths of the earth.
Open me to the newness inside me waiting to be born. Amen.
A Prayer for February by the Rev. Larry J. Peacock taken from his book,
Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Sages, Psalms and Prayer Practices
Although the month of February is the shortest month of the year in terms of the number of days, for many people it seems to go on endlessly with dreary days, snowfall, and darkness. Yet, while we are hunkered down during this endless month, mother earth is hard at work preparing dormant seeds for new life. There is indeed much hope to be found in this time of waiting for longer days and more sunshine.
For us as Christians, February is almost always the month in which we begin our Lenten journey from the reminders of our mortality on Ash Wednesday to the joyous celebration of new life that we experience in our observance of Easter. We will mark this beginning with worship on February 14th--a day normally reserved for the celebration of human love. This year it will be a reminder that, just as Saint Valentine gave up his life as a martyr in faithful service to God, so too we are called to "take up our crosses and follow Christ." May our journey through Lent prove to be a meaningful time of self-sacrifice and self-denial as we move towards the "newness inside me waiting to be born."
Worship Ahead in February
2/4 The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Scripture: Mark 1:29-39
Theme: Prayer and Healing in the Ministry of Jesus
Frequently, as in this story, we see a connection between Jesus' prayer life and his healing ministry. What does this mean for us as we seek to be a healing presence to others?
Calendar for the Week of January 28
Ash Wednesday Service to be Held at the Arlington Street UMC
This year we will join our sister church, the Arlington Street UMC for our Ash Wednesday Service, which they will host. The service will be held on Wednesday, February 14th at 7:00pm and will include music by a joint choir and preaching by Pastor Rich. The disposition of ashes will be available for all who would like to receive them.
Greetings and welcome to the finance column for February. Construction is well underway and we can see the progress of our vision. The estimate for phase 2 of our construction was $1.4M plus $89,000 (or $89k) for roof replacement. Part of the $1.4M is 100,000 for contingency for unexpected events. Every renovation project has its share of surprises, opportunities, and risks. That contingency is to cover the unknowns at time of estimation.
At the time of this writing, I have two lists in front of me, as presented to the Building Committee by Northpoint Construction Management, who is handling our renovation. The first sheet is a tracking sheet of "unanticipated costs" which goes against the above contingency. It includes items such as buried concrete that needed to be removed, rotted deck boards, and ductwork. It also has our sanctuary painting quote, which was not available at time of mortgage.
The second list is a list of possible changes and improvements. Such items include infrastructure items we should do, such as sealing the chimney where water has been leaking and damaging the sanctuary plaster. Site plan city fee is also needed for changes. Some items are "we should have thought of that" that became apparent only as construction revealed. This includes a toilet in the area that will be the nursery, an additional janitor closet, a closet in the connector, and costs associated with relocating our A/V sound booth. Some items are "nice to have" such as granite steps (instead of concrete) and a flagpole which are a bit more compelling as Northpoint is willing to donate a portion of the funds. Other items are, in my opinion, optional such as exterior architectural building lighting and moving our sign.
We still have risks remaining in the construction, particularly in the air conditioning, which is just underway. However tempting it is to select from our list of improvements until we reach $100k, we must continue to keep a lid on expenses.
Any additional expenses, even if they are within the $100k contingency, will add to our long term debt. Even expenses after construction is completed will result in debt. This includes furniture and drapes (we are looking for alternatives.) Debt is what is left over after our HON funds are exhausted and there is still a balance on our loan.
As the Finance Committee has said all along, we are keeping an eye on long term debt. Unchecked debt could add a big obligation to our future operating budgets. In a future column we will discuss debt service and strategies to address.
Thank you, Joe Dechene
A Conversation with Craig
This past week I had the opportunity to talk to Craig at Café Agape. He was meticulously coloring an intricate design in a coloring book for adults, one of the things we provide.
"Some people have the misconception that the homeless are lazy," he said. "But it's like a full time job to schedule your day to get what you need, starting with breakfast at the Soupie."
He went on to explain that he might want to sleep in one morning, but if he wants breakfast, he has to get up and go to the soup kitchen before 8:00am, whereas if he had a home, he could sleep as long as he liked and make breakfast anytime in his own kitchen.
Craig spends a lot of time at the Nashua library where he reads books like the one he showed me entitled Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.
When it's really cold outside at night, he has to find a place to stay warm. When Craig was in Manchester recently and didn't have an emergency shelter to go to, he went to a Dunkin Donuts and asked the manager, very respectfully, if he could stay for a while to warm up. The manager was really nice and let him stay until the place closed. "I understand," Craig said, "if there had been like 40 of us, he couldn't do it because it impacts business."
From there Craig went to a laundromat where he stayed until it closed and then to the Red Arrow that stayed open all night. The lady there gave him two free cups of coffee and offered food--but he didn't want to push it. She said he had to leave before the first shift arrived.
Being respectful works. "If they say 'no', I don't argue or become angry. It doesn't do any good."
Craig has been homeless in Nashua for three years and before that, he was homeless off and on in Maine. He said that he doesn't choose to be homeless, although he knows people who do. He has held various jobs, mostly in factories, and at one time had an apartment, a car, and allowed friends without a home to couch-surf at his place. Now he's the one doing the couch-surfing.
"Everybody has hopes and dreams," he said. "My dream is to go back to school and learn enough to become self-employed." But because of physical and mental problems, it has been difficult.
Craig is creative and would love to learn a craft, such as wood-working, that would give him skills to produce items for sale. Music is another area that Craig enjoys as evidenced by the few occasions when he has access to a guitar.
Perhaps you've seen Craig at Café Agape, or possibly at Sunday School, or the 10:30 worship service. He's the one who hides under the big hoodie.
-submitted by Mary Marchese
Café Agape Needs
We have been getting record numbers of neighbors who come daily to Café Agape for coffee, snacks, and conversation. We average about 30 people a morning between 8:00 and 10:00am. If you would like to contribute, we can use the following:
Napkins and paper plates
Calling All United Methodist Men and Women in Christ
Our United Methodist Men Breakfast and Meeting for February 2018 will take place at 0830 on Saturday, 3 February, in the vestry and MSUMC. Our program for February will be analyzing the federal income tax impact on individuals and businesses of the new 2018 Tax Reform Bill passed by the US Congress last month.
Our guest will be Mr. Dilip Patel, Senior Tax Analyst with H&R Block. Mr. Patel will share the highlights of the new tax legislation as it pertains mainly to individuals and enlighten us to tax strategies that we can use as we file our taxes next year. He can also answer any and all questions you might have concerning your tax responsibilities for the current tax filing season for Tax Year 2017.
Looking forward to seeing all of you at this event. If you don't have a computer and read this announcement in our weekly Bulletin or in the Weekly Blast from the church office, please call me at 603-880-6289 to let me know that you are coming. See you all on Saturday, 3 February, at the MSUMC Vestry.
-submitted by Kent Swanson
Leaders of the Church
It is time to submit your annual report for 2017 to the church office. You may email them as attachments (.doc) to firstname.lastname@example.org or place it in the church office mailbox near the coatroom. In cases where leaders are new to their positions the predecessor should assist with the report. I will collect them and create the 2017 Annual Report Booklet.
Thank you, Pam