Before describing the service: “WARNING: A Congregational Meeting will take place immediately following the worship service on July 24, 2016 to consider the following question posed by the Diaconate: “Shall the Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, Bradford, Vermont engage in a series of education and discussion sessions about issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of the Bible, the church, our society and our circles of family and friends as the first step in a process that could result in the congregation declaring itself Open and Affirming?”
Jesus says in the lectionary gospel passage this week, “Ask, and it will be given 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 11:1-13)
As much as we love to hear that, do we believe it? Do we believe Jesus means us? Do we believe Jesus means everyone when he says everyone? This saying comes in the context of his teaching his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. If we do not know the answers to these big questions, he is saying, ask God in prayer. The 138th Psalm that we will read responsively says, “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” I hope that we all will open our hearts to be guided and strengthened by God as we address one of today’s most controversial issues in the warned meeting. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 24, 2016, and Congregational Meeting
The church was beautifully represented in the Connecticut Valley Fair parade last night with long-time member Vida Perry Munson as Parade Grand Marshall, driven by our Assistant Moderator, Dan Perry. (Photo courtesy of Lucia Button)
We will take in four new members this Sunday and celebrate them with special refreshments following worship. The lectionary gospel passage is the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), and the sermon will be based on it, “A Church of Contemplation and Action.” We will read responsively from Psalms 130 and 131 that speak of hoping and waiting for God with a calm and quiet soul, and we will hear selections from Romans 8 that talk about how “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit,” and “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”
Our Diverse Traditions Music Team will be here again to lead us for two of the four hymns we will sing, the beautiful South African freedom song, “Thuma Mina (Send Me, Lord)” and the old time favorite “I Come to the Garden” (or “In the Garden”). Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 17, 2016, New Members Sunday
Pokémon Go players: free recharge for your mind, body AND devices at our community supper! Wednesday, July 27, 6 p.m.
Please join us on Sunday July 17 at 10:00 a.m. to welcome and celebrate new members!
Thank you to Randy Odell, Bridget Peters and Marcia Tomlinson for a wonderful, uplifting and very diverse Sunday morning music line-up!
This Sunday we will hear what may be the most important parable Jesus ever told, one that only Luke chose to include in his gospel, perhaps because it was so shocking (Luke 10:25-37). A lawyer tested Jesus by asking first what to do to inherit eternal life. The answer Jesus affirmed was to love God and love our neighbor as our self. Then the lawyer tried to test him again, asking who is our neighbor. Jesus replied with the scandalous story of the Good Samaritan, defining neighbor solely on the basis of the love and mercy and kindness a person needs or a person gives, and showing that no one is excluded from being the neighbor we are called to love.
The other scriptures we will read are about being humble enough and faithful enough to listen to the word of God and let it teach us and change us. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 10, 2016
Our own Willow Smith (in the red t-shirt) organized a bell ringing on the afternoon of July 4th, 240 times to mark the number of years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Family and friends gathered and took turns pulling the rope and carefully counting each ring of the bell.
The world-wide lectionary comes into alignment with the national calendar on this Independence Day weekend. Paul is talking about freedom and the Spirit, and both Jesus and Paul give rules and laws by which disciples and communities of Christ should govern themselves. (Galatians Chapters 5 and 6; Luke 10:1-11) We will read Psalm 1 that talks about those who follow the law of God becoming like trees planted by streams of living water and bringing forth fruit. The scriptures and the day beg the question: how do politics and religion relate? Does Christ have anything to say about how we govern our lives, our church, our communities and our nation in the United States of American in 2016?
We will celebrate the spirit of freedom with wonderful music, starting with the exuberant American spiritual “I Woke Up This Morning” led by members of our Diverse Traditions music team. We will also sing “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies,” and the stirring hymn, “God Send Us Men Whose Aim ’Twill Be” as well as the beloved communion spiritual, “Let Us Break Bread Together.”
Organist John Atwood will play a Prelude, Offertory and Postlude all by American composers who were born before the Revolutionary War, including: “A Fuge or Voluntary” by William Selby; “Simple Gifts” by John Carter; and “The Battle of Trenton” by James Hewitt. He will also play the ethereal “Hear My Prayer, O God” [Ave Maria] by Jacob Arcadelt, arranged for piano by Franz Liszt.
Here are two very different YouTube treats. The first is a classic recording of “The Battle of Trenton” that will greatly enhance your appreciation when you hear it Sunday morning. Do not be fooled by the YouTube frame that talks about grief. Think John Phillips Sousa…
And the second selection will help you unwind after the battle.