Category Archives: Church News

guided worship 3/22/2020


  • Take a deep breath, exhaling it slowly and let the breath that escapes your body be a cleansing moment when all the anxiety that besets you is expelled.
  • Do this breathing exercise again.
  • Do it again.
  • Now remember a time of comfort and joy.
  • Focus on God’s hand in creating, sustaining and guiding you to this place of peace.
  • Finally, give thanks for what God has done in your life and say outloud “O GOD I GIVE YOUR NAME PRAISE AND I AM READY TO ENTER INTO THIS TIME OF WORSHIP.”


For Your abiding presence, O God, hear our thanks. You have guided us through war, sustained in times of want, and brought forth food from the fields. In all of life, your hand has sustained us. Hear us now as we pray for:

  • Those who have fallen ill (provide the names of those you know whose health is compromised)
  • Those who live in isolation from those they love (provide names of those you know who are isolated or in quarantine)
  • Those who provide health care in midst of this pandemic (provide names of those you know who are members of the health care team)
  • For troubled parents who have yet another worry on their hands.
  • For those in positions of leadership and government.
  • For those involved in research who are seeking a treatment and a vaccine.
  • For your own personal health — both physical and mental.
  • For the nourishing of your soul that trust and hope might remain strong.

For all this we pray. Amen.


1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

A Sermon by The Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ March 22, 2020
The Still Waters of Faith: An Exploration of the 23rd Psalm

“…he leads me beside still waters…” Psalm 23:2i

His job was on the line and his face carried the weight of uncertainty. He did not know how long his job would last. Like all of us, the present moment was all he knew, all he could trust.

Ellen and I had gone out to eat while in New Orleans celebrating the wedding of our friends’ daughter. We had gone to one of the myriads of hotels and sat at the bar — in large part because they had a television tuned to CNN. Louisiana had zero cases of Covid-19 when we left the state of Vermont on Wednesday. It was now four days later and the number of cases had grown to 77 by Sunday. The hotel had an eerie feeling of winding down, of becoming a mere shell of unused capacity.

As one is want to do, we talked with the barkeeper. There was no smile on his face. He told us that he didn’t think the hotel would be open by the end of the week. He would be without a job.

Continue reading guided worship 3/22/2020

staying connected during this anxious time

A message from Pastor Jeff for us to read each week when we enter into virtual worship. Each week Pastor Jeff is giving us a Guided Worship to read and videos of his service to watch.

We bring anxious hearts with us to this time of worship. Our world is changing and the rules of social engagement are in flux. We meet today in isolation and attempt to bridge the physical divide by employing a technological fix for the distance between us. Yet the words of Jesus remind us of the communal nature of faith: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) That statement has within it the implication that faith is more than sheer personal belief or action. Both our belief and our action are done in partnership with the gathered body of Christ. So to be called into “social distancing” is a true obstacle to the expression of genuine faith. And yet.

In these times when public safety trumps short-term inconvenience, we find ourselves as Christians trying to think of new ways to stay connected. It is to that end that I am providing this “guided worship.” Is it enough? No. What is required is our care and concern for those within our church, community, and world. What may yet link us together is prayer. Prayer knows no borders or boundaries. Prayer makes no distinction between rich and poor, sexual orientation, black or white, even Christian and non-Christian. It may yet prove to be that mystical force that keeps us connected in our care for each other and our service to God.

With that said, let us begin.

Continue reading staying connected during this anxious time

Aug 25 2019 weekly email

Dear Church Family, for the week of August 25th
11th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday morning worship is at 10:00 a.m.

Pastor Jeff tells us: As I wrote the sermon for last Sunday based on Luke 12:49-56 it became abundently clear that I would need to break the sermon into two parts. Part one as given last Sunday, Part Two will be given this Sunday, August 25th. Having written the first part, I know the two reaming points I want to develop. Last week I contended that Jesus does indeed come to divide. He proclaims a kingdom that is not of this world and calls us to pursue its inbreaking. The result is a clash between the way of the world and way of God. The question for the faithful is how to live in the midst of such division — a division that occurs within the Christian community as well? Continue reading Aug 25 2019 weekly email

Help Shape a Sermon

September 23-October 14, 2019

HELP SHAPE A SERMON is an open forum led by Pastor Jeff that will explore the lectionary reading for Sunday, October 20. The forum will meet each Monday beginning September 23 in the church vestry from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. We will explore the context, historical background and meaning of the scripture for us today. The sermon on October 20 will be shaped by the forum’s input. You can come to one or all of the sessions. The readings we will focus on are:

Genesis 31:27-34 or Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 119:97-104 or Psalm 122
2 Timothy 2:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Participants are encouraged to bring their own Bible. All are welcome.

Steinway Restoration

piano Our 1925 model O Steinway Grand Piano was in much need of restoration.

This beautiful instrument was bequeathed  to the Bradford Congregational Church by its beloved former organist and choir director and life-long Bradford resident Katrina Munn.

This Steinway is one of the very few in the United States that was made in Hamburg, Germany. Pianos made in Germany are considered by many to be superior in sound, character and touch. Our goal was to invest the necessary restoration efforts in order to bring the piano back to its melodic beauty so that musicians near and far could come to Bradford to experience its quality and perform for the community.

piano1On June 8 (2019), the piano left the sanctuary for its journey to Lindeblad Piano Restoration in Pine Brook, NJ where the 4th generation family owned shop has been providing world class restoration of Steinway pianos since 1920. There it will undergo an  historically accurate restoration and then will be returned to the sanctuary.

Since 1950 “Miss Munn” taught and adjudicated hundreds of local children and adults on this piano and our community will enjoy the music from it for many years to come. Her desire to share her love of music, through teaching, lives on through our Steinway.

Your donations are tax deductible and will go directly to the cost of this restoration.  Please help by donating (click here) or you may mail a donation to

Bradford UCC- piano fund
PO Box 387
Bradford VT 05033

If you have photos and memories you wish to share from your times at this keyboard please send to

Sermon Aug 18 2019

“The Jesus Who Divides”
This is the first of a two-part sermon
(Part 2 will be shared on August 25, 2019)
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 12: 49-56
August 18, 2019

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”  — Luke 12:51i

Things you don’t talk about on a first date: Money, Sex, Politics, and Religion.1 That leaves the weather which I suppose is a safe enough topic. The object, of course, is to avoid discord…And then there’s Jesus! Money, sex, politics and religion were about all He talked about. Though we may not like to admit it, our text puts these words on the lips of Jesus: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Continue reading Sermon Aug 18 2019

Sermon August 11, 2019

“Shall We Mute the Voice of God?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Isaiah 1
August 11, 2019

 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. – Isaiah 1:16 & 17i

The United Church of Christ has a slogan that it published on banners and quoted on mastheads: “God is still speaking” You just heard the words of the prophet Isaiah spoken between 750 and 700 B.C. — a long time ago in a place far away. Maybe they mean nothing. Perhaps they speak of a time so unlike our own that this Word from God is not God’s Word for today. If that describes your reaction to our reading this morning, then you are not troubled by the reality of the world we live in because Isaiah’s vision is outdated and out of place. I, unfortunately, cannot share your optimism. When I come to scripture I look for what I call the “Holy intersection.” It is the place where the will of God, expressed long ago, intersects with the world I live in. It is there, at this “Holy intersection” that God’s word comes alive for today. So I share with you this morning a deep feeling of discomfort and look for ways to respond to the calling of God. Continue reading Sermon August 11, 2019

Sermon July 28, 2019

“God’s Open Door Policy”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 11:1-13
July 28, 2019

 So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.– Luke 11:9 & 10i

The scientific method — it has brought us everything from roach repellent to rockets. It is the method that makes the modern world go around and the method is relatively simple: observe, ask a question, formulate a hypothesis, test the hypothesis though experimentation, report the findings and formulate new theories. Simple. But in order for one’s findings to have any scientific merit, they must be replicatable. If the boiling point of water is 211.3°F then it holds true at the parsonage and at your home. We could replicate an experiment and test this hypothesis that water always boils at 211.3°F. But it isn’t always true. Go to the top of Mount Everest (29,029 feet) and water will boil at 160°F a much lower temperature. How do we know? We observed the phenomenon over and over again.1

And today the promise made by Jesus can be likened to the scientific method! Continue reading Sermon July 28, 2019

Sermon July 21, 2019

“You Are Invited…”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 10:38-42
July 28, 2019

But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’

– Luke 10:41 & 42i

I think there are at least three different ways to interpret this encounter between Jesus, Martha and Mary. For the first two, I will make use of art and by looking at how these two paintings were interpreted, gain a sense of how this story has served as a gateway into God’s truth. The third approach is to see the words of Jesus not so much as a rebuke of Martha but an insight into the mission of Christ. Continue reading Sermon July 21, 2019