Anything is possible! That is what Pentecost tells us. We have the greatest force in the universe within and among us, a power that can transform our lives in unimaginable ways if we open to it and work with it. That force gave birth to the first church, changing the weak disciples who had denied and deserted Jesus into miracle-working, empire-defying leaders. The same Holy Spirit wants to work through our lives and our church today, transforming us so that we can help transform the world around us.
The Pentecost service is full of music and words that remind us that anything is possible. They convey some of the joy and enthusiastic energy that has filled the church whenever it has opened wide to the Spirit’s power. We will hear the story of the first Pentecost from Acts 2, and hear Jesus promise the Holy Spirit to all his followers in John 14:8-17. We will read responsively from the beautiful Psalm of creation, #104. Our hymns will include two classic favorites, I Sing the Mighty Power of God and Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, as well as the melodic and moving more recent favorite hymn, Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, May 15, 2016, Pentecost!
We will be celebrating Ascension Sunday on May 8th, the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Ascension is one of the wilder miracle stories about Jesus, like his birth and resurrection, and like them it is full of symbolic meaning and joy and the greatest of hopes. The ten days between the Ascension (May 5th this year) and Pentecost are a Little Advent. Jesus said to wait and watch and pray with the expectation that the Holy Spirit that filled him would come and fill us and lead us out to do the same works that he did and more. These ten days are all about that waiting.
This Sunday will be full of excited anticipation, knowing that next Sunday is Pentecost when the disciples’ waiting was fulfilled, and knowing also that Christ and the Holy Spirit will come again for us in our lives over and over just when we need them, with just what we need. We will celebrate how we wait with hope, faith and love, and with joy. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, May 8, 2016
This Sunday’s service will take the motto of the United Church of Christ as its theme: “That They May All Be One.” This weekend was the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC, always an inspiring and uplifting gathering of churches from all over the state. Worshipping together, singing and praying and laughing and crying, we really do feel that we are one, with a unity that spans all our diversity. We will hear the scripture passage from which our motto came, which is the final prayer of Jesus for his followers, John 17:20-26. We will also hear the passage in the first letter of John that names God’s love as the source of our unity (I John 4:16b-21), and Psalm 133 that begins, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”
We will sing These Things Shall Be, and Lord, We Thank Thee for Our Brothers (set to the Austrian Hymn tune), and the beloved communion spiritual that unites churches all over America, Let Us Break Bread Together. The choir will sing We Limit Not the Truth of God and the favorite anthem, God So Loved the World. John will play organ pieces by F. Couperin, F. Peters and C. Couperin .
The Fifth Sunday of Easter lectionary texts are about how God’s love embraces all people and all the universe, and how we are called to love one another and all creation as God and Christ love us. We will hear from Kathy Kidder of West Newbury about the Help Kids India project and from Storme Odell about the Church World Service Kits project, both of which are ways that this congregation has shown the love of Christ to people in great need around the world.
We will remember Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one,” which is the motto of our denomination, The United Church of Christ. We will reflect more on this on May 1st, next Sunday, after the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC.
The lectionary scripture texts for this Sunday are Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18 and John 13:31-35. We will sing O How Glorious, Full of Wonder, and the stirring pre-Civil War anti-slavery hymn, Men, Whose Boast It Is, and I Sing the Mighty Power of God.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday, a favorite every year. We read the 23rd Psalm (King James Version) and we hear Jesus say “I am the good shepherd” in John 10 and this year we will hear about shepherding love in I John 3.
These scriptures have inspired some of the most beautiful hymns ever written. We will sing three and hear the choir sing two more. We will sing Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, In Heavenly Love Abiding, and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. The choir will sing My Shepherd Is the Living God and the hauntingly beautiful Brother James Air setting of the 23rd Psalm.
God surrounds us constantly with shepherding love. One of the ways God does that is through our Christ-like love for one another. We will not only hear that good news, we will get to experience it by being a church family together on this joyous Easter-season Sunday!
North Country Chorus Poster of Events
On Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 pm, the North Country Chorus is returning to our sanctuary for its Spring Concert. They will be joined by the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltones. The featured pieces will be Franz Schubert’s Mass in G and Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest. Choruses, soloists and orchestra will be under the direction of Alan Rowe.
Open link above for more on their performances.
This Third Sunday of Easter we will celebrate the best and most joyous of news for anyone who is imperfect–in other words, for you and me and everyone in the world! Bishop Desmond Tutu says how universal it is both to need forgiveness and to need to forgive in The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World. He writes, “The Bible is full of stories of reckless, immoral and criminal people who transformed their lives, who became saints. Peter, the disciple who betrayed a friendship and denied Jesus–not once, but three times–was forgiven and became the chief of the apostles. Paul, the violent persecutor of those faithful to the fledgling Christian faith, became the sower who planted Christian communities in the gentile world.” The great good news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done, with Christ there is always a second act, there is always a chance to turn our life around. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016
Click the arrows under the photo to scroll through the album.
The Easter celebration continues this Sunday as we read the wonderful story of Easter night and the Sunday after Easter in the Gospel of John (20:19-31). It includes Jesus coming through the locked door into the room where the frightened disciples were hiding and breathing the Spirit into them, giving them peace and sending them back out into the world to do his works. The passage also includes the story of Doubting Thomas. We will read responsively from Galatians 5 and 6 about Christ setting us free to love and serve as he did. The sermon will continue the Palm/Passion and Easter series on the theme of Holding On and Letting Go.
We will sing more of the great hymns of the season: Thine Is the Glory, The Day of Resurrection, Joy Dawned Again on Easter Day, and also the joyous Jamaican tune and communion hymn, Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ.
The Anthem will be the beautiful Easter poem, Now the Green Blade Rises, set to a French Christmas carol tune. Organist John Atwood will play “Evening Prayer” by E. Humperdinck, “To a Wild Rose” by Eduard MacDowell and Fugue in A minor from Voluntary (3)8 by J. Stanley.