Here is a partial, random list of benefits that children gain (and therefore their families and communities and the world gain) by their growing up as part of a church. Please feel free to share this list with others. Please add to this list by sending suggestions of other benefits to firstname.lastname@example.org. Children gain in church:
appreciation for the beauty, power and joy of singing and music;
practice public speaking and performing;
spiritual literacy, scriptural familiarity and an introduction to ethical, moral and religious values and virtues;
the knowledge of why and how to pray;
the experience of what faith communities and worship services are like, so wherever they go in life they will be able to walk into a house of worship with comfort and confidence;
the knowledge that anytime in their lives when they need comfort, guidance, strength, inspiration, community, a way to serve or a new life, church is a place to turn;
the desire to give their children all the gifts that church gave them when they were children;
a group of peers who share qualities like kindness, fairness, respect, compassion and service;
the feeling of being an important part of a multigenerational community where they are loved and respected and affirmed;
a sense of belonging to a greater whole—including all other people of faith and all God’s creation;
the love of a beautiful, spirit-filled church building, and the knowledge of how to be stewards of it and share it with others;
the good feeling of working together leading and serving the community in Christ-like ways;
awareness of the Biblical commitment to take care of those in need and to work for justice and peace.
Below are a few photos taken on Children’s Sunday, May 22, 2016.
We are bringing back the tradition of Children’s Sunday this week. The children will be a part of the entire service, helping lead it and being celebrated in it.
We have an extraordinary Board of Christian Education at the moment–not only has it done amazing work this year and created a loving, light-filled space and program for the children, but also every one of the four either grew up in the church or had ancestors who did or both, and now they are bringing their own children here. It is quite moving! While in generations past this might have been the norm, today it is rare to find a church with a Christian Ed team with roots this deep. It is also rare to find a church that has as many children as we do–16 are listed in the bulletin! I know of much larger churches with far fewer children today. We have an abundance to celebrate!
We will hear two gospel passages about children, Matthew 18:1-5 and Mark 10:13-16, and we will sing In the Bulb There Is a Flower (Hymn of Promise) and All Things Bright and Beautiful, and the children will sing Jesus Loves Me. We will present Bibles to children in 3rd Grade and older, and bedtime Bible story books to the younger school age children.
Please plan to stay for special refreshments, and go out of your way to tell the children and their parents how much you appreciate them! Thank you!
Anything is possible! That is what Pentecost tells us. We have the greatest force in the universe within and among us, a power that can transform our lives in unimaginable ways if we open to it and work with it. That force gave birth to the first church, changing the weak disciples who had denied and deserted Jesus into miracle-working, empire-defying leaders. The same Holy Spirit wants to work through our lives and our church today, transforming us so that we can help transform the world around us.
The Pentecost service is full of music and words that remind us that anything is possible. They convey some of the joy and enthusiastic energy that has filled the church whenever it has opened wide to the Spirit’s power. We will hear the story of the first Pentecost from Acts 2, and hear Jesus promise the Holy Spirit to all his followers in John 14:8-17. We will read responsively from the beautiful Psalm of creation, #104. Our hymns will include two classic favorites, I Sing the Mighty Power of God and Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, as well as the melodic and moving more recent favorite hymn, Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, May 15, 2016, Pentecost!→
We will be celebrating Ascension Sunday on May 8th, the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Ascension is one of the wilder miracle stories about Jesus, like his birth and resurrection, and like them it is full of symbolic meaning and joy and the greatest of hopes. The ten days between the Ascension (May 5th this year) and Pentecost are a Little Advent. Jesus said to wait and watch and pray with the expectation that the Holy Spirit that filled him would come and fill us and lead us out to do the same works that he did and more. These ten days are all about that waiting.
This Sunday will be full of excited anticipation, knowing that next Sunday is Pentecost when the disciples’ waiting was fulfilled, and knowing also that Christ and the Holy Spirit will come again for us in our lives over and over just when we need them, with just what we need. We will celebrate how we wait with hope, faith and love, and with joy. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, May 8, 2016→
This Sunday’s service will take the motto of the United Church of Christ as its theme: “That They May All Be One.” This weekend was the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC, always an inspiring and uplifting gathering of churches from all over the state. Worshipping together, singing and praying and laughing and crying, we really do feel that we are one, with a unity that spans all our diversity. We will hear the scripture passage from which our motto came, which is the final prayer of Jesus for his followers, John 17:20-26. We will also hear the passage in the first letter of John that names God’s love as the source of our unity (I John 4:16b-21), and Psalm 133 that begins, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”
We will sing These Things Shall Be, and Lord, We Thank Thee for Our Brothers (set to the Austrian Hymn tune), and the beloved communion spiritual that unites churches all over America, Let Us Break Bread Together. The choir will sing We Limit Not the Truth of God and the favorite anthem, God So Loved the World. John will play organ pieces by F. Couperin, F. Peters and C. Couperin .
The Fifth Sunday of Easter lectionary texts are about how God’s love embraces all people and all the universe, and how we are called to love one another and all creation as God and Christ love us. We will hear from Kathy Kidder of West Newbury about the Help Kids India project and from Storme Odell about the Church World Service Kits project, both of which are ways that this congregation has shown the love of Christ to people in great need around the world.
We will remember Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one,” which is the motto of our denomination, The United Church of Christ. We will reflect more on this on May 1st, next Sunday, after the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC.
The lectionary scripture texts for this Sunday are Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18 and John 13:31-35. We will sing O How Glorious, Full of Wonder, and the stirring pre-Civil War anti-slavery hymn, Men, Whose Boast It Is, and I Sing the Mighty Power of God.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday, a favorite every year. We read the 23rd Psalm (King James Version) and we hear Jesus say “I am the good shepherd” in John 10 and this year we will hear about shepherding love in I John 3.
These scriptures have inspired some of the most beautiful hymns ever written. We will sing three and hear the choir sing two more. We will sing Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, In Heavenly Love Abiding, and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. The choir will sing My Shepherd Is the Living God and the hauntingly beautiful Brother James Air setting of the 23rd Psalm.
God surrounds us constantly with shepherding love. One of the ways God does that is through our Christ-like love for one another. We will not only hear that good news, we will get to experience it by being a church family together on this joyous Easter-season Sunday!
On Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 pm, the North Country Chorus is returning to our sanctuary for its Spring Concert. They will be joined by the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltones. The featured pieces will be Franz Schubert’s Mass in G and Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest. Choruses, soloists and orchestra will be under the direction of Alan Rowe.
This Third Sunday of Easter we will celebrate the best and most joyous of news for anyone who is imperfect–in other words, for you and me and everyone in the world! Bishop Desmond Tutu says how universal it is both to need forgiveness and to need to forgive in The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World. He writes, “The Bible is full of stories of reckless, immoral and criminal people who transformed their lives, who became saints. Peter, the disciple who betrayed a friendship and denied Jesus–not once, but three times–was forgiven and became the chief of the apostles. Paul, the violent persecutor of those faithful to the fledgling Christian faith, became the sower who planted Christian communities in the gentile world.” The great good news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done, with Christ there is always a second act, there is always a chance to turn our life around. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016→