Category Archives: Church News

Sermon April 1, 2018 Easter

“Why Go Home”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 20: 1-18
April 1, 2018

Then the disciples returned to their homes. – John 20:10i

What a strange thing to do. Jesus has risen from the dead. Peter and the other disciple come to believe that Jesus lives. Instead of running back to tell the other disciples, they “returned to their homes.” They have come to an existential awakening. The world has been turned upside down and the defeat of Jesus and their cause has become the greatest victory in history. They go home? Continue reading Sermon April 1, 2018 Easter

When Easter Wasn’t Our Thing

Due to our Puritan roots, New England-based Congregational churches have traditionally been much more reserved in their Easter traditions and expressions than other more liturgically based denominations. For them Easter was the joyous culmination of a series of elaborate rituals and observances: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Passion Week, Grand Processions, and Great Vigils. And here’s why Bradford Congregational Church didn’t always celebrate in kind. Continue reading When Easter Wasn’t Our Thing

2018 Holy Week worship

HolyWeekEasterScheduleSunday, March 25
Palm Sunday morning worship, we receive our palms, 10 a.m.

Thursday, March 29
Maundy Thursday evening Tenebrae, the Last Supper, 7 p.m.

Friday, March 30
Good Friday prayer vigil, sanctuary open noon to 3 p.m.
(Evening worship at Grace UMC, time to be announced)

Sunday, April 1
Easter Sunrise Service, at village gazebo, 6:30  a.m.
Easter Family Worship, 10 a.m.

Palm Sunday Fesitival

2018 Annual Palm Sunday Choir Festival
March 25th
7pm at the Bradford Congregational Church

Alto Bass

Festival Combined Chorus alto/bass section 2016

For more than 50 years Bradford has hosted this annual service of musical praise featuring the choirs of surrounding town churches, instrumental musicians (organists, pianists, guitarists, flutist), the Tabor Valley Singers, the Jeremiah Ingalls Singers, and the annual Festival Combined Chorus.

Many traditions have endured over the years, such as the singing of five hymns with descants and organ embellishments. Also, the final hymn is always the great “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” This year’s exciting new thing is that professional videographer Tim Swaan of Haverhill will be making a video of the festival!

Please come, join us, sing with us!

Palm Sunday here and world-wide

The tradition of handing out and waving palm fronds is relatively new for mainstream Protestant churches. It grew in popularity after Word War II when access to palm trees expanded. In our church, the fronds are ordered well in advance and usually originate from points south of the border.

ourkidspalms2017Sometimes we have the children march in ceremoniously waving the palms. Sometimes we have handed out the palms to congregants as they entered the sanctuary. A few times the palms were strewn on the front of the altar platform and congregants came forward to get them. Continue reading Palm Sunday here and world-wide

Congregational Half-Way Covenant

The Half-Way Covenant  Image result for halfway covenant

Our early New England Congregational forebears became members of the church by experiencing a conversion. Their children were baptized as infants, just as we do now. When these children grew up they of course wanted full church membership and to partake of the Lord’s Supper. But, in order to be granted that membership and communion they were expected to give evidence that they, too, had experienced a conversion.

Many couldn’t report such a conversion and were therefore considered quasi-members: permitted to be baptized only because they had had parents who had experienced a conversion. The membership was partial; they did not partake of the Lord’s Supper, could not vote, and could not hold office. Continue reading Congregational Half-Way Covenant

Sermon, March 11 2018

“Loving the Light”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 3: 14-21
March 11, 2018

…those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:21i

It travels at 186,000 mi/s. As a phenomenon it has the nature of being both a particle and a wave. We arise in the morning and we behold its presence. We rest at night and the stars and Moon abide. It is with us at the dawn of day and in the contrasting darkness of night. It sustains life on earth. It illuminates our way. The psalmist would have us sing:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it. Continue reading Sermon, March 11 2018

Sermon March 4, 2018

“A Holy Place for Anger”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 2: 13-22
March 4, 2018

Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.– John 2:15i

My brother was punched in the eye. He had taken me to his high school’s football game. Our father was going to pick us up after the game. I was around ten at the time. I don’t remember the game. I do have a vivid memory of a chain link fence, three or four guys approaching and the punch Doug took in the eye. I remember him crying and having no clue what I was supposed to do. I just watched.

Our Dad arrived to find my brother cupping his eye and crying. My Dad was livid. He wanted to know who had done this. It was impossible to know. So many people. So much confusion. Our Dad didn’t care. Someone had injured his son and that someone wasn’t going to get away with it. There was a police officer was folks cross the street safely. So my Dad marched over to him, told the officer what had happened and demanded that justice be done.The officer listened politely and told my Dad that at that time, he could do nothing to help. That is not what my Dad wanted to hear and let the officer know it. Walking away, his eyes still darting back and forth, I was just glad he never found out who had done this!

I tell you all this because I have a question. Was my father’s anger a sin? That is the question before us this morning. Is anger sinful? Continue reading Sermon March 4, 2018