All posts by marcia

See our 2017 Christmas Pageant!

We were so filled with the Spirit of Joy on this 3rd Sunday of Advent when the Sunday School and the Diverse Tradition Singers presented this delightful nativity pageant!

The morning service was so filled with music, too, when Phyllis Shea accompanied our hymns on her cello, the choir sang carols for the Gathering Music time, and John Atwood filled the sanctuary with his astounding Postlude to spontaneous applause.

A double baptism immediately followed the pageant, enabling all the children to watch in wonderment as Pastor Jeff lovingly welcomed the two young ones to this body of Christ.

And at Fellowship Time downstairs the whole group sang out Happy 90th Birthday to our own Margaret Staples and helped eat the birthday cake and sip at the hot mulled cider!

Upcoming Worship Dec 17, 2017

300px-In_dulci_jubiloOrganist John Atwood’s prelude for our worship on December 17th will be Johann Michael Bach’s delightful arrangement of In Dulci Jubilo, which means “In Sweet Rejoicing.” Johann was the first cousin once removed and father-in-law of J.S. Bach.

In Dulci Jubilo was composed in the early 1300s by a German mystic who, the legend says, heard angels sing the words … and then joined them in a dance of worship. Continue reading Upcoming Worship Dec 17, 2017

our Advent Candle tradition

candle traditionDuring Advent, Christmas and Epiphany our sanctuary has its Advent candles displayed in front of the altar platform, on a table festooned with greens on a white cloth. Each week a child is called to light the new candle as we all pray together.

Many years ago our minister John Knight made the wood stand for the 4 large candles: 3 (penitential) purple and 1 (joy) pink. On each Sunday a new candle is lit. A separate white candle stands alone as the Christ Candle for Christmas Eve.

1st candle is HOPE, recalling God’s promise: There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 12-13

2nd candle is PEACE, proclaiming the prophecy to be fulfilled: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

3rd candle is JOY, breaking into our penitential time with the proclamation, But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10-12

4th candle of LOVE, in the assurance that ” … God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

CHRIST candle, lit at our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, is white to symbolize the purity of the Savior, who John the Baptist proclaimed, saying, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!“John 1:29

joy sunday


Guest cellist Dec. 17, 2017

PSheaCellist Phyllis Shea will be our guest musician for the morning worship service on December 17th.

She has been improvising on the cello for fifteen years, playing harmony and bass lines with local musicians.  She plays every week at the Colatina Exit and Salt Hill in Hanover, and she frequently plays at Peyton Place, the Greenhouse, First Night venues, and other places.

Phyllis lives in Bradford and works at Oxbow High School as the school nurse.

Sermon Dec. 10, 2017

“The God Who Brings Us Comfort”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Isaiah 40:1-11
December 10, 2017

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” — Isaiah 40:1i

Sometimes it is difficult to square the wrath of God with the love of God. This has led some to dismiss the Old Testament in favor of the New. For many, the Old Testament view of God is one of a judge who meats out punishment while the New Testament’s view of God is more forgiving and loving. But to jettison the Old Testament does violence to the reality of Jesus. If Jesus was anything, he was a Jew. The idea of dismissing the Hebrew scripture would have struck Him as absurd. How do I know? Because Jesus bases His ministry on the words of an Old Testament prophet. Continue reading Sermon Dec. 10, 2017

Upcoming Worship Dec. 10, 2017

For this Sunday the Prophet Isaiah reading is from chapter 40, verses 1-11 (read them here). Listen with your heart for the comfort, listen to the call to hear that voice in the wilderness, listen to the assurance that “he will feed his flock like a shepherd.”

Those familiar with Handel’s Messiah know these verses very well as a good portion of his epic oratorio comes from the promises revealed to Israel (and us!) through Isaiah and the good news (Gospel) of their fulfillment. Continue reading Upcoming Worship Dec. 10, 2017

Sermon Dec. 3, 2017

“I would like a wake-up call, please”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Mark 13: 24-37
December 3, 2017

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.Mark 13:37

We have covered this, right? On November 12th I preached a sermon entitled “Ready.” I talked about the Second Coming and how it is not central to my faith. Indeed, I own life insurance. So how much do I really believe Jesus is coming again before I die?

So why are we picking up on this theme yet again? Three reasons. First, this is the gospel lesson for this Sunday. It was selected for us by the folks who put together The Common Lectionary. So I didn’t select it. It was selected for me. Second, it’s the first Sunday in Advent – a time of expectation and waiting for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. This scripture tells us of a promise God made and a promise God will keep. To ignore the promise is to ignore God’s purpose. Third, because it is a promise to be kept, it provides us directions as to how to live into the future. This, my friends, is our wake-up call. Continue reading Sermon Dec. 3, 2017

Upcoming Worship Dec 3, 2017

hopeWhen we come together this 1st Sunday of Advent and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” we will be participating in a sacred Advent ritual more than a thousand years old. It takes us back to monastic life in the 8th- or 9th-century. For the week leading up to Christmas, they would sing a sequence of Latin “O antiphons” (an antiphon is a short chant like a refrain based on scripture). The purpose of these O antiphons was to concentrate the mind on the coming Christmas with a sequence of scriptures. Each day was a different O antiphon, climaxing with this one. Click here for a lovely rendition of the Latin original.

Yet there’s more to this particular antiphon than just its advanced age. Continue reading Upcoming Worship Dec 3, 2017

Sermon Nov. 26, 2017

“Sheep or Goat?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 25:31-46
November 26, 2017

“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”   Matthew 25: 32

There is nothing new to say today. We have all heard these words before. Right? Indeed, that may be a problem. It may be difficult to hear them anew. They have become so familiar that we read them without hearing them. So let me take a moment to put these closing words of the 25th chapter of Matthew in their broader context. Continue reading Sermon Nov. 26, 2017

Upcoming Worship Nov. 26, 2017

In To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper Lee gives us something to ponder: 

Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” 

Pastor Jeff’s sermon this Sunday, based on Matthew 25: 31-46 is titled “Sheep or Goat?” referencing the phrase, “… he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

But, what is the back story of this being called Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar? Continue reading Upcoming Worship Nov. 26, 2017