All posts by marcia

Upcoming Service Notes, Sept. 10, 2017

This Sunday we welcome the Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton to our pulpit. From the Lectionary Gospel reading he will be leading us to think about what Jesus said and how we can apply His words as rules for a church to live by, always keeping in mind His assurance that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

The choir returns from its summer break to sing “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether”  which is listed as this week’s theme hymn in the Lectionary list found in the September Epistle. Composed by Harold Friedell, this is a melodic and lovely reminder that “when humbly gathered in Thy name, two or three are met together, Thou art in the midst of them …”

The hymns we will all sing are familiar and meaningful to this message: The Church’s One Foundation, Love Divine All Loves Excelling (sung to the tune Hyfrydol), and Rise Up Oh (Men) of God (substituting Church for the word Men).

John Atwood’s pieces on the organ will be Pachelbel’s Toccata and Fugue in B flat Major and his Toccata in E minor as well as Muzète by Dandrieu.

 We hope you can join us!

Invitation for Singers

Please share with singer friends.

Sunday, September 17, 2017 3:00 p.m.

First Congregational Church
10 South Park Street in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Hal Sheeler, Conductor Henry Danaher, Pianist

Soloists: Chiho Kaneko, Betsy Alexander, Brian Clancy, Ken Munsey


All welcome to come to sing or to listen. Scores will be available.
Free. Donation requested for pianist. If you think you will sing, please let Hal Sheeler know your voice part.

You may, of course, just show up at the door.

Upper Valley Open Sings – Hal Sheeler, Music Director, Henry Danaher, Pianist. Offering Upper Valley New Hampshire and Vermont singers the opportunity to gather together and sing/read through major…

Sermon, September 3, 2017

“The Lord’s Prayer for God’s Revolution”
Rev. Dr. Michael Caldwell
Bradford Congregational Church

Isaiah 63:7-9,16
Matthew 6:7-15
September 3, 2017

The Lord be with you…

Friends, when I thought about what to share with you in brief Communion sermon, it occurred to me to build on my reflections on the Lord’s Prayer with your children.

Here’s the nugget: The Lord’s Prayer is more than we think it is. I’m not exaggerating to say that it is Jesus’ prayer for God’s revolution. Continue reading Sermon, September 3, 2017

Upcoming Service Notes, September 3, 2017

This Sunday Rev. Michael Caldwell returns to our pulpit and will serve Communion and will center us in on Matthew 6’s section concerning prayer and praying. We all, including our beloved children, know the words, yet are always in need of considering why they are so important for us.

Click on this UCC response to Hurricane Harvey and what you can do in terms of donations and any kits needed. The hard copy of this will be inserted into the Sept. 3rd worship bulletin. Our time of Joys and Concerns will include prayers for all those who were devastated, as well as all the First-Responders and Relief organizations.

The offertory this week, “Élévation” by René Vierne, is perfectly suited to transport us into a time of quiet contemplation of the prayer we have learned. The absolutely charming  “Allegro” by João de Sousa Carvalho will bring a smile to our hearts!

Whoever you are and wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here!

Sermon, August 27, 2017

“Who/Whose Am I?”
Deacon Marcia Tomlinson
Bradford Congregational Church

Exodus 1:8 – 2:10
Matthew 16:13-20
August 27, 2017

This morning we’ve heard the beginning of the Moses story. Wasn’t it fun to see the children act it out for us! … let’s recap what we once learned in Sunday School about Moses.

  • He was born when his people were in bondage in Egypt. His mother put him in a basket to save him.
  • An Egyptian princess adopted him and raised him as an Egyptian prince. When he grew up he killed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave.
  • He fled the country but was considered an Egyptian by his language and stature. God instructed him through a burning bush to go back.
  • He spoke to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” He unleashed plagues one by one each time Pharaoh didn’t.
  • He and his people were protected as the Angel of Death passed over Egypt. He led his people through the parted Sea. He led them to Sinai.
  • He smashed their golden calf. God gave him the 10 Commandments. He led the people 40 years through the desert.
  • God would not let him go into the Promised Land but did let him see it from the mountain top. Before his death he is said to have written down all the story of his people that we have in the first 5 books of the Bible.

Right from the beginning, we are reminded of his dual identity: Continue reading Sermon, August 27, 2017

Trumpeter Josh Pauly and Organist John Atwood

On August 27, 2017 the congregation was swept up in the musical excitement created by this talented duo. This recording is of their final rehearsal of Hovhaness’ Prayer of Saint Gregory.

Click here to hear it.

Shown below is John making last minute revisions to his score. We are so very blessed to have such a musical talent in our midst!


The other pieces in the service were Peeters’ Meditation for the Prelude, Couperin’s Fugette on the Cromorne as Offertory, and Telemann’s La Grace as Postlude. Mr. Pauly played on the hymns and was especially appreciated for his trumpet intro on the final hymn, “God of Our Fathers.”

Upcoming Service Notes, August 27, 2017

WHO-DO-YOU-SAY-I-AM-TRADINGCARD-3.5X2-324x235Filling the pulpit on August 27th is Deacon Marcia Tomlinson, who will lead us in examining  the  “Who are you” and “Whose are you” questions which face us all. She says, ‘Jesus asked his core disciples, “Who do THEY say I am,” and straight away followed up with the very personal, “Who do YOU say I am?’ Through this week’s Lectionary*  scripture readings we’ll be exploring how even the rescue of Moses ties into these “who and whose” questions of spiritual identity and belonging.

Our guest musician this week is trumpeter Josh Pauly. Although he’s often found in a school band room teaching,  his performance career has included playing backup to swing style jazz group  “Five by Design.” This Sunday Josh will  play “Prayer of St. Gregory” by Alan Hovhanes (heard here with harmonium and cornet), and one or two trumpet pieces by Telemann. He will also join in on one or more of the hymns.

And speaking of hymns, one of them is going to be “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand” which has that spine-tingling trumpet intro we haven’t heard in many a year!

*The Revised Common Lectionary organizes the Bible into three year-long cycles of readings. Each cycle begins on the first Sunday of Advent. We are currently in Year A which takes us through the Gospel of Matthew. See our EPISTLE for the current month’s listed readings.

Sermon, August 20, 2017

“Lost and Found”
Rev. Dr. Michael Caldwell
Bradford Congregational Church

Luke 15: 1-10
August 20, 2017

God has a lost and found. Have you used it?

When I traveled to Germany and Austria in 1973 for Foreign Study, I left my camera on the train in Munich. I was on my way from Berlin to Kitzbuhel in the Austrian Alps – where a weekly ski pass was $25 and the b & b was $1.50 per night. Anyway, knowing the exchange rate was that good, I bought a nice camera in Berlin, so to lose it when I changed trains was a huge loss. I was heartsick.

I filled out a lost and found form at the train station in Kitzbuhel, but never imagined that I’d ever see that camera again, especially since I lost it in Germany and filled out the form in Austria.

Two months after my return to the States, I received a cardboard box in the mail from Munich with the camera inside… and with film I developed pictures from that I still have.  The lost and found service of the cooperative German-Austrian train system really worked. Some conscientious person really went out of his way to serve me well.

Couple months ago I went to a contradance in Montpelier. You have to change into soft-soled shoes for dancing. Long story short, I left my good teva sandals there and didn’t realize it until the next day. Fortunately, I knew one of the organizers of that dance and contacted her. She went out of her way to check the lost and found for me and found the sandals and got them back to me.

God has a lost and found that really works – like these two lost and founds. Have you used it?

I can be so hare-brained and forgetful that I’ve lost a lot of stuff over the years. I’ve sometimes tried lost and founds without success. Other times I’ve forgotten to even try…

When we try God’s lost and found – and don’t forget to try it – we may not always be successful right away, but he parables of our Lord here in Luke 15 indicate that God’s impulse is to find us when we’re lost, and to look diligently for us until we get found.

The one lost sheep was so important that the shepherd went out of his way to find it. No sheep in that flock of 100 was extraneous. Every one was precious to the shepherd.

The woman who lost the coin knew the value of that coin and swept the whole house until she found it.

There’s more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents than 99 righteous persons.

Another way to say it:

God rejoices more when we turn to God when we’re lost than when we think we’re superior to others around us, or when we just don’t think we need help finding what we’ve lost – because, let’s face it, we’re all very vulnerable to loss –

loss of loved ones who have died

loss of health / loss of hope

loss of perspective / loss of direction

losing our temper / losing our cool

losing a marriage or a close friend… the list goes on.

One of my favorite books about ministry is Kate Braestrup’s Here if You Need Me – Kate’s memoir of her years as chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. Great book. One of the things the wardens do, of course, is conduct searches for missing persons. As she says so well, though most searches do not end well, the families of the lost are always so thankful for the expertise and the dogged determination of the wardens and the whole search and rescue community in Maine.

Braestrup would be the first to compare the commitment of the wardens to God’s lost and found – a lost and found that works even when there is grief along the way.

You might say we use God’s Lost and Found every Sunday in worship, every day in moments of prayer and meditation. Your loss of Tom’s ministry is huge after three power-packed years when you accomplished extraordinary change. But when you focus with God on what you found together, by Grace, as a more fully inclusive Open and Affirming Church and as a congregation covenanted for direct communication, you find yourself fully found for a promising new future with a settled pastor.

In my work at a restorative justice center in Vermont, I see miracles happen in cases of tremendous loss – like with a woman who lost her sobriety over and over again before she got a full recovery when she stood to lose even the custody of her children – all this partly because she felt supported by a circle of support and accountability at the restorative center.

If you listen to NPR’s morning edition, you will recall “Story Corps” on Friday mornings. One of the most memorable stories I ever heard was from a woman by the name of Mary Johnson whose son was murdered. For some reason, she wanted to face her son’s killer, went to the prison and got permission to see him, I believe facilitated through her local restorative justice center. Something happened that first meeting – esp the tears and grief of the murderer – that kept Mary coming back to the prison. After many years, the prisoner became like a son to her and was released on probation early because of the bond with Mary that developed, and her testimony about his repentance.

One more story to conclude: my friend John Morris is a retired Episcopal priest who, in retirement, has immersed himself in activism for peace and justice, esp in the face of the growing revenge complex the US has since 9/11. He went to a march against the illegal and immoral practice of torture by the US military after 9/11 and ended up walking with a man who’s wife was killed on one of the planes that terrorists flew into the WTC in NY. He said to John: “it’s important to me in my grief to let go of my rage. If I give into it, it consumes me. My faith calls me to let go of my rage, like Nelson Mandela who said ‘carrying a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.'”

What about you? Where in your life is loss hitting you hard? Unless we find a way to let go of our losses, grieve our losses, and find a way forward, find hope again, we stay stuck, we stay lost.

God’s lost and found in worship, in church, in conversation with a trusted friend, at an AA meeting, wherever, makes a huge difference.

Don’t forget to check God’s lost and found whenever you need to along the way… Amen.