Category Archives: Church News

Sermon, April 30, 2017

United and Uniting
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 30, 2017 Third Sunday of Easter,
Celebrating the United Church of Christ
Psalm 133; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 24:13-35

We need to begin with a little review.
In last week’s gospel Jesus came through a locked door
into the room where the disciples were hiding in fear,
and it changed the world almost as dramatically
as the day billions of years before
when the first life form appeared on Earth.
And in a real sense, it was the same event,
it was the same force, the same intention,
the same new thing coming into being
as in bluebirds and daffodils and green blades rising,
the same thing coming into being over and over,
in an infinite variety of forms:
the force of light and life and love
that takes the raw materials of basic elements
and combines them into living things
which then find within themselves
the desire to live and make more life
and adapt and create around them a habitat
conducive to more and better life.

Jesus came to the disciples through that locked door
and helped them overcome
their fear and confusion.
Then he sent them out as instruments
of light and life and love
to serve and create the realm of God on Earth.

Today we are hearing about one of the essential qualities
by which we know God’s realm when we see it.
The Psalm says, “How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!”
And Paul says in Galatians, “As many of you
as were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is no longer Jew or Greek,
there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus in his life broke down walls that shut anyone out.
He had women and children in his movement,
he had Jews and Greeks, he had sinners
and tax collectors, he welcomed all those
his society excluded or oppressed just because
they were different or poor or considered impure.
The movement he led was a united and uniting force.

Jesus showed that the realm of God
was a place where all would be one.
To be in Christ and have Christ in us
is to be one with God and one with all God’s creation,
because God is the same force of light, life and love
flowing through us as through all the universe.
Continue reading Sermon, April 30, 2017

Upcoming Service Notes, May 7, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday.  The lectionary readings every year include the 23rd Psalm and a passage from the tenth chapter of John (verses 1-11 this year) where Jesus talks about the sheep and sheepfold gate and good shepherd.  Other passages in the New Testament refer to Jesus as shepherd, and we will hear one of them, I Peter 2:19-25.

Shepherding was a major occupation and a common sight in Biblical times.  King David began as a shepherd, which inspired the 23rd Psalm.  Shepherding is still present here and there in the fields of Vermont and New Hampshire today, but in our churches it is ever-present.  Shepherding is a calling Christians need to reflect on and a skill we need to refine and practice, and not just pastors (although the Latin root of the word pastor means shepherd).  Jesus calls each of us to follow him and do the kinds of work he did.  We will consider what it means to shepherd the beloved community this Sunday. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, May 7, 2017

Upcoming Service Notes, April 30, 2017

This Sunday we will celebrate the spirit of uniting and being united that we share with our denomination, the United Church of Christ. This Friday and Saturday the Vermont Conference of the UCC will be having its 222nd Annual Meeting at Lake Morey, which means the Conference was there to welcome this congregation in 1810 when it formed.  Its history and our history are bound up together–the Conference and Association have played crucial roles at important times in the life of our congregation (such as during pastoral searches, like now), and the reverse is also true.

In fact in the past year the Bradford Congregational Church has contributed leadership to the UCC in two important ways.  Being a uniting and united church depends on having healthy communication and building beloved community within the congregation, and the work we have done and workshops we have held on those topics have helped many churches in the Vermont Conference and beyond.  We have also become one of the UCC’s Open and Affirming congregations, formally stating what this congregation has always aspired to be, a church that unites all people without exception.

We will celebrate with a special litany recounting the history of the national UCC and with a special hymn, “United and Uniting,” written to the tune of “We Plow the Fields and Scatter.” Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 30, 2017

Upcoming Service Notes, April 23, 2016

This Sunday we continue the joyous celebration of Easter, resuming the story of that day from the Gospel of John (John 20:19-31).  It is a story that rings true in every aspect of our experience–in astronomy and geology and biology, in sociology and psychology, in theology and in the depths of our hearts.  Jesus comes through locked doors and brings peace to our fear and transforms our paralyzing confusion or doubt into wisdom and purposeful direction .  The sermon will take its title from an Easter hymn we will sing, “Now the Green Blade Rises,” a classic image for the universal truth of resurrection power. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 23, 2016

Easter Morning Joyous Update!

“That they may all be one” was Jesus’ last prayer, and hallelujah!  We will all be one at the Sunrise Service! It looked as if the Bradford Congregational Church and Grace United Methodist Church would break tradition and worship apart, but we have worked it out so that we can be together!

The service will be at 6:00 AM at 219 Summer Street.  (Please leave the closest parking spots for those who have trouble walking.) It will be followed by Easter breakfast at 6:30 AM at Grace UMC.  Please note that revised time.

The Sunrise Service will include a “Kindling of the New Fire” ritual, the singing of “In the Bulb There Is a Flower (The Hymn of Promise)” and “Fairest Lord Jesus,” the reading of the resurrection story from Matthew and a short reflection and time of prayer, as well as the beauty of God’s creation at Easter dawn, rain or shine.

Our regular Easter service will be at 10:00 AM with the resurrection story from John and a skit for the children. It will include the singing of three of the great Easter hymns: “Alleluia! The Strife is O’er” and “Come, Ye Faithful Raise the Strain” and of course, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”  The choir will sing two verses of “Now the Green Blade Rises” as the Introit and Kopolyoff’s “Alleluia! Christ Is Risen” as the Anthem.  John will play three beautiful organ pieces, “The Heavens Are Telling” by B. Marcello, “Christ Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” by J. S. Bach and “Allegro Maestoso”  by G. F. Handel.

Below is an exuberant performance of the Handel John will play as we go out in joy.



Sermon, June 9, 2017

Love So Amazing, So Divine, Part I 
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 9, 2017
Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm/Passion Sunday
Philippians 2:5-9; Matthew 21:1-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66

The final verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” contains the entire meaning of life:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

The whole realm of nature from the big bang to the baby born this morning does belong to someone. God gives us the world as a present, and God so loves the world that he gives us Jesus as a model of divine love in human form.

And Jesus calls us to love as he loves. This love, so amazing, so divine, is meant to move us to give our soul, our life, our all to the world in the same way God gave the whole realm of nature and life to us. This is the history and meaning of all life. The force of love and life and light exists and creates us in order to increase the continuous giving-and-receiving flow of love and life and light in the universe.

So where is this love, so amazing, so divine in today’s Passion story? Continue reading Sermon, June 9, 2017

Palm Sunday Choir Festival 2017

What a wonderful evening at the Palm Sunday Choir Festival last night! Here are a few photos and videos:

Bradford UCC's own John Atwood at the organ
Bradford UCC’s own John Atwood at the organ
Grace United Methodist Church Choir with their dancer
Grace United Methodist Church Choir with their dancer

“All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name”, John Atwood, organist. Followed by a benediction by Rev. Tom Kinder.

“Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre, Gott” BWV 651a J. S. Bach, Played by church organist John Atwood. This piece is one of Bach’s great eighteen chorale preludes.

Catherine Kidder, from Help Kids India, will be speaking to our congregation on Sunday, May 14

Catherine Kidder, from Help Kids India, will be speaking to our congregation on Sunday, May 14 about her trip to India this past fall. We will learn about the work of HKI to help impoverished children and mothers.

In addition she and her husband Tom will be at  Tenney Library for a slide show “Love at the Creches: Education, Health and Hope for Impoverished Children in South India” on Sunday, April 30, 6-7 pm.