Category Archives: Church News

Sermon, June 2, 2017

Jesus Wept, and Then He Did What He Could to Help
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 2, 2017   Fifth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 130; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

We heard two stories today about the power of God that flowed through Ezekiel and Jesus and brought people back to life. We heard Paul say, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Here in the depths of Lent, death is close at hand. We think of Jesus starving in the wilderness, or drawing nearer to the cross.

Here in the depths of Lent shoots may be rising from bulbs toward the light, but earth is buried beneath new snow. Turkeys are desperately digging through icy crust for acorns in deep woods. Cars go off the roads, people slip and break their hips, depression descends on gray, muddy days in this cruelest month.

Here in the depths of Lent we reach the time in the church year that is most like the moment of transition in childbirth when a woman feels as if she will not survive. Transition is the body going through the agony of opening wide to let the birth happen. During Lent we pass through a season of death in order to bring new life into being.

Women want to give up during transition, but birth doulas coach women to focus on their breath and let go. Lent doulas coach us to focus on the Spirit and let go and open wide to the higher power that is trying to bring new life to birth in us.

Here in the depths of Lent, death and new life hang in the balance, and our choice of how to respond makes all the difference.
Continue reading Sermon, June 2, 2017

We Are an Open and Affirming Congregation

Open and Affirming Covenant

We, the members of the Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, Bradford, Vermont, regard all people as beloved children of God.  We give thanks for the many and diverse gifts of God among us.

Jesus welcomed all. As First John says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them…. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

We declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation, welcoming and accepting into full membership and participation people of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, addiction, economic and social status, and educational background.

We affirm all lives and all relationships founded on the principles of God’s love and justice. We pledge to work to end oppression and discrimination whenever we encounter them, and, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to help create the beloved community of God’s realm.

Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

adopted on March 26, 2017

Service Notes, April 2, 2017, Deep in Lent

The Fifth Sunday in Lent takes us into the depths of the suffering and danger that Lent represents.  Jesus has been in the wilderness without food or water, exposed to the brutal elements, for a month. He is getting weaker and more vulnerable.  Succumbing to temptation or death is an increasing possibility.  The lectionary scripture passages have been leading us on a parallel journey toward the cross, with tension increasing around Jesus as he confronts the religious and political establishment with actions that threaten to overturn them.  They are plotting his death even as he heals and raises people from the dead and lifts the hopes of the poor and oppressed.

Next week, on April 9th, we will follow the Passion Story from Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the arrest, betrayal, desertion and crucifixion on Good Friday.  Here in the depths of Lent with all that coming ahead, Easter can seem impossible. How can the light shine in this darkness without the darkness overcoming it?  The amazing thing is that even asking that question can raise a small, fragile but defiant candle in our hearts. Continue reading Service Notes, April 2, 2017, Deep in Lent

Holy Week 2017 Services

Please mark your calendars and extend invitations to family, friends and neighbors to these services.

Palm/Passion Sunday, April 9th at 10:00 AM, a profoundly moving service that begins with jubilant children distributing palms and then travels with its readings and hymns all the way through the week to Gethsemane, the cross and the tomb.

Palm Sunday evening, April 9th at 7:00 PM, we will continue a tradition of 51 years and host the annual Palm Sunday Choir Festival for area choral groups and musicians. Choirs from Bradford and surrounding towns will present anthems, our own John Atwood will play the prelude and postlude and you will have five glorious opportunities to sing hymns. All donations go to the work of the Inter Church Council.

Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, April 13th at 7:00 PM in our sanctuary–this service rivals Christmas Eve in drama and beauty, with beloved hymns, readings and candlelight. It is a joint service with Grace Methodist.

Easter Sunrise Outdoor Service, April 16th at 6:00 AM at 219 Summer Street, the home of the Buttons–a little singing, a little reading and reflecting, and a whole great big vista of God’s resurrecting Creation!

Easter Service, April 16th at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary, full of the traditional joyous readings and music.