Category Archives: Church News

Sermon June 24, 2018

“Waking Jesus”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 4:35-41
June 24, 2018

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?
Mark 4:38i

The disciples feared for their lives. Jesus was asleep. I am not sure why they woke Him. It wasn’t because they wanted Him to still the storm. It’s obvious by their astonishment after Jesus stills the sea. Their response? They were filled “with a great awe” and they wondered who Jesus might be, indeed, what He might be. They wouldn’t be so awed if Jesus had done what they already thought He could do. So maybe all they wanted from Jesus was another set of hands to help right the vessel. It is hard to watch your partner sleep while you are working in the kitchen. I can imagine it was hard to see Jesus taking His rest as your life was about to slip under the waves. Or maybe they just wanted something more than indifference to their plight. Jesus is asleep. His is going to sleep through their extinction and what’s more, He is going to go to His death without the fear that possessed them. Maybe what they wanted was some sense that Jesus was with them at the time of their death. Perhaps they wanted both His hands and His heart, but the text is clear that stilling the storm was not the reason Jesus’ slumber was shattered by their fear. Continue reading Sermon June 24, 2018

Sermon May 27, 2018

“Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer”
Marcia Tomlinson, Deacon
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
May 27, 2018
Trinity Sunday

When I was a kid, summer meant a world of wonderfulness and Memorial Day weekend was its kick-off. One of the signs of summer was the arrival of the circus with its wild animals and equally fantastic grownups doing amazing things. I always loved that opening parade led by the biggest elephant with a beautiful sequined lady riding on top, waving to the crowd.

There’s an elephant in the room today … no sequined lady waving …. but definitely signaling a new season for us. Continue reading Sermon May 27, 2018

Memorial Day then and now

flagsThis coming Monday is the day we set aside to re-MEM-ber service men and women who died while on active duty, as well as veterans who have died. In 1971 the date of Memorial Day was changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May, but in Vermont, many of us continue to hold our ceremonies on May 30th, the original Decoration Day.

In Bradford it has long been the tradition for a parade of young people (school bands, scouts) to join behind living veterans marching the flag (colors) to the cemeteries just north of the Village. Continue reading Memorial Day then and now

Sermon May 20, 2018

“Do We Hear the Voice of Jesus?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
1 John 15:26-27   16:4b-15
May 20, 2018

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” John 16:12i

Until is can be proven otherwise, I’m going to take Jesus at His word. I have expanded a bit on what He said long ago to His disciples. I think Jesus still has many things to say to us. Indeed, as the world around us changes, Jesus speaks new truths and calls us in new directions. Continue reading Sermon May 20, 2018

Sermon May 13, 2018

“The Good, the Right, and the Fit”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Romans 7: 21-25
May 13, 2018

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.”    – Romans 7:21i

I am about to help you with your friendships, marriage and citizenship. Tall order, right? But fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so here I go! Continue reading Sermon May 13, 2018

Sermon May 6, 2018

“Receiving the Holy Spirit”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Acts 10: 44-48
May 6, 2018

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.” – Acts 10:44i

I have a colleague I greatly admire. She serves a United Church of Christ congregation. I would never have guessed that Sally (not her real name) spoke in tongues.

Well, that fascinated me. Continue reading Sermon May 6, 2018

Sermon April 22, 2018

“When is Enough Enough”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
1 John 3: 16-24
April 22, 2018

  How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” – 1 John 3:17i

We’ve been set-up. I mean, really, John. Look at the verse right before the one that is serving as our text. 1 John 16 says “…we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” Well, maybe we should but we don’t. Clearly, we are hypocrites and I can’t tell you how often I have heard how those outside the church are turned off by our hypocrisy. We’ve been set-up. Continue reading Sermon April 22, 2018

Potluck … it’s what we do


Our Potluck Heritage

Back in 1592* new words showed up for the first time in our language. One of them was “potluck.” Some others were “townsfolk” and “vitality.” All three point to our heritage of shared meals.

It’s hard to trace the potluck back to a specific source, but it’s fair to say the term was used in the Middle Ages to describe an impromptu meal served to unexpected guests or travelers … it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th century in America that the idea of a meal where everyone brings a prepared dish to share took hold.” (Julie Brown-Micko in Food Service News, Nov. 2015)

Our records from the 18th and 19th centuries do not mention church suppers. We do know that in its earliest years our members would gather in worship on Sunday morning for several hours, break for dinner and then return for another several hours. The majority of members lived in the Village, within walking distance. We don’t know what members from outlying areas did during the dinner break time, though.

What we do know is that in Bradford, as in towns and villages up and down the river valley, there was a tradition on Town Meeting Day to recess for a community meal. And during winters in the 19th century a tradition, called Kitchen Dances, grew for families to gather for a shared meal and fiddle music with friends.

In the 20th century our church saw the birth of large suppers as a way to raise funds. The Women’s Fellowship hosted the Chicken Pie Supper every Fall to raise funds for their mission work. And our Game Supper continues to after more than 60 years to raise funds for the care and maintenance of the church building. Youth Groups and Scouts also host Spaghetti Suppers to help fund their activities. In recent years the Help-India dinners have successfully helped fund schools in India. Men’s groups held breakfasts and Father-Son banquets.

When our membership was at its largest, the potluck tradition gave way to individual church club gatherings because there just wasn’t space enough for church-wide meals. Potluck suppers were a mainstay of a group of our church’s mothers who would gather over hot dishes they each brought to share while working together. The choir members and their families would gather each Spring for a potluck supper gathering. When ministers came there were potluck suppers to welcome them, and when they left we held farewell potluck suppers.

In the latter years of the 20th century the joy of potluck suppers was rekindled as membership rolls made them possible again. Several times a year there would be a potluck meal right after church.

In the 21st century this potluck supper revival is re-growing in popularity not only as a way to “break bread together” but as a way to serve our community. Every 4th Thursday we host the potluck community supper … with little organization … yet it thrives in large part because church members enjoy bringing their dishes and community members enjoy the fellowship.

*more 1592 words added to our language: admiring, aftertaste, amazement, apprenticeship, barricade, canary, carnivorous, cashier, chairman, clerical, confinement, conflicting, elaborate, footrace, fuse, guaranty, holler, hurry, jovial, laboratory, lazybones, milkweed, wonder, old-fashioned, relentless, remorseful, seafaring, self-sufficient, silver-tongued, statesman, switch, tariff, ten-penny, theory, thrill, topiary, towering, unheard-of, weak-minded, whip-stitch, zounds