Welcome!

First Baptist Church of Arlington is a church of faith where people can grow to their God given potential. If you are just now exploring the claims of Jesus Christ for the first time as an adult, or if you have been a personal Christian for years, it would be great to have you join us in our spiritual journey.

We are a group of people who are at different places in our spiritual walk discovering together what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Some of us are very traditional church folk. Some of us are postmodern. Some of us are young, some wish we were. We are shades of black, brown, and white.

We are a Baptist church because we believe in the centrality of the gospel, the importance of scripture, the necessity of personal faith, and the freedom that is found in Christ. Our faith has provided a place for us to stand in facing life, and we have found some meaningful answers. We also have many questions.

I'm so glad you're looking at our home on the web. If you'd like to know us better, come by on a Sunday morning for our worship service, or drop in at one of our group meetings or special events. Our worship service starts at 10 am.

I'll be here, and I look forward to meeting you.

Blessings,
Pastor Jon

Elephants, Donkeys, and The Lamb

I suspect many in our church family share my fears, frustrations and fatigue with the circus of an election we are facing. It has been a degrading and embarrassing experience just to be a potential voter. I would have dismissed the whole thing long ago as nothing more than a reality show gone wild, except the sad reality is that one of the two flawed candidates will become the president of the most powerful nation the world has ever known.

A wide range of political diversity exists in our church. My goal as your pastor is to preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, as we join together in discovering how we can follow Jesus in today’s complicated world. There is no way I would ever trade that choice calling to become a political preacher of either the left or right. While donkeys and elephants may have a certain pull, I personally have committed my life to belong to the party of the Lamb.

There are, however, in this election huge ethical and moral consequences that have nothing to do with partisan politics. As bizarre as this election has been, there are real issues and real people’s lives are on the line. Jesus had strong opinions about how we are to live. Do I completely understand what Jesus says, or do I know how to practice living his way in my own life? Not entirely — but I’m trying, and I believe it would be a better world if everybody knew Jesus and lived the way he taught. Here’s what I think is up for grabs as we approach next Tuesday.

HEALTHCARE
Jesus was in the healing business. He didn’t care if sick people had insurance or not, he just healed them. Jesus opened closed eyes, made weak bodies strong, and brought warmth to cold hearts. He did this for everyone who came to him with their need.

While we can not heal in the same way Jesus did, God has provided us with the miracle of medicine. In the United States every year 20,000 to 45,000 people die because they can’t get health care. The biggest culprit is lack of insurance. As an evangelical Christian I am committed to seeing that more people find healing for their bodies, as well as their souls. I dare not sin against God by turning folks away.

DISCRIMINATION
Please turn in your bibles to the place where Jesus discriminated against someone. Can’t find the chapter and verse? Neither can I. Jesus included everybody, even though he lived in a world that discriminated against women, the poor, children and minorities.

One of the underlying dynamics of the current election cycle is racism. We are polite (most of us) and phrase it in socially acceptable ways, but there is an ongoing push against the progress in race relations that has been made since American Baptist pastor Martin Luther King, Jr. dared voice his dream for our country. The new resistance itself has been given tacit approval in the fury of campaign speeches and rallies. It is directed not only along the black and white divide, but also against immigrants, Muslims, gays, lesbians, and those in the other political party. It seems like we have have been given license to hate whatever group is different than us. Now really, Christians, do I need to tell you this is not right? Are we going to follow Jesus or not?

THE POOR
Actually, there was one group that Jesus seemed to discriminate against. The rich. He once said it was harder for a hump-backed camel to wiggle through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to earn their way into the kingdom of God. He also was politically incorrect when he called a farmer who built a bigger barn a fool. Now I realize there are a lot of farmers, as well as machinists, teachers, assembly line workers, truck drivers and those who have been laid off who wish their “barn” was a little bigger. There are real reasons for the “older white male anger” that is fueling political desperation. 

Regardless of his concern for the rich, Jesus had a soft spot for the poor. He ministered to them wherever he went, and announced to all who would listen that poor folks were especially blessed in the kingdom of God. Jesus spent his ministry breaking down barriers that divide and inviting those on the margins of society into his inner circle. Wonder what he thinks about those today who would build up walls of separation, or even pass laws that allow millionaires and billionaires to zip through paying taxes while welfare moms can’t buy food for their kids. I guess we shouldn’t forget that when we feed the poor, we are really feeding Jesus.

NATIONAL DEFENSE
Jesus wasn’t big into killing people. In fact, the most violent act he himself did was to send a bunch of pigs (not people) running off a cliff into the sea. Once his disciple Peter pulled out a knife and sliced off the ear of an enemy coming to capture Jesus. The Lord told him to stop it, and then  picked up the missing ear and put it back on, healing the man. All of this sounds rather boring compared to what we can see nightly on television. It’s a far cry from the calls we hear to kill our enemies wholesale, families and all. Both presidential candidates seem to advocate this, one by boldly declaring that’s what he would do (maybe in a 3 am tweet), the other by her intentions to wage war (legally, of course) to bring peace to the middle east.

The truth is (hard as it is for us to hear, much less practice), Jesus told us to love our enemies. If he got mad and fussed at Peter for hacking an ear off, I wonder what he would say to us? Hopefully, it would be more in tune with his prayer from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

AMERICA THE GREAT
Shocking news about Jesus does exist. It’s true that he was a radical, a subversive, and he called for those who would be with him to take his vision seriously. He talked constantly about a promised land, a nation far greater than anything the USA has ever been or ever hopes to become in the future — no matter who becomes president. Jesus says in fact his place is where we really belong if we follow him. This place, the Kingdom of God, is not just a destination for us in the future, but a vital, living world we can experience and contribute to right now. Jesus calls us to trust him for our salvation, follow him in the way we live out his good news, and to thrive in a realm way better than anything this old earth can provide.

Meanwhile, we have an extremely important election going on. Christians, we have the responsibility of dual citizenship when we vote Tuesday. We are temporary citizens of a truly remarkable and wonderful nation, but our allegiance is eternally first to the Kingdom of God. As you go to the poles I pray you’ll be guided by God’s Holy Spirit as you vote in the living presence of the Lamb.

Halloween

It’s Halloween. In recent years, more and more people have joined in the
scary celebration. Houses are now decorated with large blow up creatures and giant spiders. One house in our neighborhood goes all out with ghosts, goblins, and all sorts of other frightening creatures. Then they’ve added flashing lights and a groaning sound track. I recently drove by the house with my youngest granddaughter, and she announced with a shaky voice that that house scared her. She didn’t like it all. When we drove by it the next day in the daylight when the blow ups were down and lights flashing and moaning ceased, she said it was a much nicer house now. Very wise for someone just barely three years old.

I read that there is a huge influx in people buying adult Halloween cos-
tumes. It all seems a far cry from the days when my children dressed up
as firemen, cowgirls, and other less scary costumes. People spend mil-
lions of dollars celebrating this holiday.

Halloween overshadows the following All Saints Day. It original name for
Halloween is All Hallows Eve. Some Christians tend to ignore Halloween
because they think it is pagan. Many Halloween customs reflect the Chris-
tian belief that we mock evil, because as Christians, it has no real power
over us.

In the Middle Ages, poor people went around begging for food and offered to pray for the dead. The is is the root of our modern day “trick-or-treat.” The custom of costumes and masks were worn to mock evil and confuse evil spirits by dressing as one of their own.

Pastor Jon got into trouble once with a parishioner when he proclaimed that all Christians are saints. But he was right. We, as believers, join the great heavenly host of saints.

Actually, the focus on the saints is very relevant to our faith as we heard last week that in a Christian village in Iraq ISSI militants rounded up 284
Christian men and boys and murdered them. These Christian martyrs were saints in a very real way. They have joined millions of other that have marched through the centuries proclaiming the name of Jesus. Now that is a parade worth celebrating!

Prayer and Love

My thoughts have turned to prayer this morning. Prayer for our country after last night’s presidential debate. Prayer for my sister who lives with constant pain. Prayer for a family member who is stressed over his job situation. Prayer for my grandchildren as they go off to school and are out from under the protection of their parents’ care. Prayer for Jon’s grief workshop on Saturday. Prayer for our church as we forge ahead with new fall programs which special prayer for those who lead in teaching and worship.

Along with asking for God’s help and blessings, I thank God for answered prayer. Thanks for our country and the freedoms we have. Thanks for church members who have been ill and are recovering. Thanks for answered prayers for a friend who found a job after being out of work for seven months. Thanks for knowing that God is with family members even when I can’t be. Thanks for being a part of a wonderful church family. Thanks to God for loving us enough that he sent his only Son to die for our sins.

Within the women’s ministry of the church it has been suggested that some of the ladies make prayer shawls for those who are sick. I love to crochet and have been thinking that if we do this and people wrap the shawls around themselves, they would feel the love of the one who made them and of the love from others in the church. I envision people being wrapped in prayer and in love. Didn’t Jesus himself say, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another.” John 13:35 It seems that prayer and love go hand in hand.

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First Baptist Church
819 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA
781-643-3024

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Service: 10 am
Nursery provided!

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