Welcome to First Baptist Church of Manchester Center, VT "The Community Church"

March 2014 newsletter

March 2014

“On Giving Up Something for Lent”

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25

These words of Jesus get at the core of what it means for an individual to be Christian. Historically they have brought up practice of self-flagellation, severe fasting to the point of starvation, and radical isolation. Those are extreme by the standards of most people in our time – and that includes me.

On the other hand Lent has often been trivialized by giving up something, well, trivial. For example, I gave up watching television one Lent and it wasn’t too difficult since we didn’t have dish or cable. Forgoing gum wasn’t much of a stretch either. I suppose it was better than the nothing most Protestants do – but maybe not. When I became smug about my spirituality, the asceticism was actually a bit obscene.

I think what Jesus is driving at here is that we need to give up our selfish obsessions to see, love, and serve the larger world and our even larger God. It’s about having our character live out to be increasingly like Christ.

Am I giving something up for Lent? I was thinking about giving it a rest this year but now I don’t think so. Taking a more honest look at my life I see character defects that need to die. They simply get in the way of the way I want to be as a Christian. I’m being led to put one of these on the chopping block. I’m only going to share the details with God and one other person - and that would be Kathy. I want this smelly part of my character to die and I need a Christian brother or sister to hold me accountable. For this Lent, I elect Kathy.

As fellow Christians I’d welcome your prayers and inquiries about how it’s all going. And, of course, I invite you to join this journey. If you give up something for Lent, let it be something that needs to die so the better parts of who you are might live. By Easter, Lord willing, may we be more fully alive in this better way.


Our Annual Lenten Study starts at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5 at the home of Phil and Lois Squires. This year we will be studying the life of Jesus by reading Jesus the Human Face of God by Jay Parini. Books are available or can be ordered at Northshire Bookstore. Knowing that many people can make some but not all of the meetings, a schedule of what we’ll cover each week is printed below. Parini’s book should be a catalyst to good discussions about the life of Jesus and what it means today. Come join us for good things to eat, good fellowship, and personal growth.

March 5chapter 1 “Ancient Palestine”
March 12chapter 2 “In the Beginning”
March 19chapter 3 “The Dove Descending – His Ministry Begins”
March 26chapter 4 “Walking in Galilee: “The Healer and Teacher”
April 2chapter 5 “Entering Jerusalem”
April 9chapter6 “The Passion: From Gethsemane to Golgotha
April 16chapter7 “Resurrection”


The March Martha Fellowship will have its annual “Basket Party” on Saturday, March 15 from 9:30 am. To 2:30 pm. Good things to eat and, of course, baskets to raffle are more than welcome. Set up for the event will be at 5:30 on Friday. Contact Lorraine Wilkins for more information. Part of the proceeds from this year’s party will help fund our youth on future mission trips. An announcement about a possible youth mission trip will be made in the near future. Plans have not been finalized by press time for this edition of the Spirit Spark.


Pastor Steve began a baptism class for anyone interested in finding out more about Christ and the Christian faith on Friday, February 28. Future classes will be held every Friday at the Spiral Press Café from 3:30-4:30 from March 8 through April 11. Learners will be reading one of the four gospels and learning about the meaning of baptism and the vows that are made. Since baptism is the biblical demonstration of a commitment to Jesus Christ each learner will be encouraged to make their own decision. Therefore there will be no expectation that a participant will automatically desire to be baptized. If people decide to make a commitment to Christ, baptisms will follow with a great sense of celebration!