Category Archives: Church News

Maundy Thursday Service, March 24, 2016, 7:00 PM

The Maundy Thursday service is one of the most beautiful and moving of the entire year, right up there with Christmas Eve.

It is a joint service again this year in our sanctuary with our Grace United Methodist neighbors participating.

During the service we reflect on the last hours of Christ’s life with all its drama, emotion and meaning, and we partake in the Last Supper. We sing two beloved spirituals, “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley” and “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” The highpoint of the service is the Tenebrae, with nine readers at a table with thirteen candles representing Jesus and the twelve disciples. We hear the story read in stages as the candles are snuffed out until Jesus is alone in the darkness. The service ends with the one Christ candle relit as we pray and then depart in silence. It is a powerful way to enter the darkness and grief of Good Friday and prepare for the joy and brilliant light of Easter.

Upcoming Service Notes, March 13, 2016

The Fifth Sunday of Lent brings us into the depths of the wilderness of transformation where the deepest sorrow and joy exist in tension. We will hear Psalm 126 say, “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” And in Isaiah 43:18-21 we hear God promise, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Change is often uncomfortable, even when it is for the best. Sometimes we cannot perceive it or perceive the good of it. All we know is that things do not feel the same as before and we are not happy about it. We read the familiar gospel story of Mary pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and you and I know the poignant beauty of that act on the eve of Christ’s final days in Jerusalem. Others at the time did not know that Good Friday and Easter were coming, and could not perceive the goodness of what Mary did. Jesus tries to open their eyes and hearts (and ours) to see what really matters. (John 12:1-8)

Paul also is trying to get us to see what matters most in life and to press on toward it with our all. He wants us to get our perceptions and our priorities right. (Philippians 3:4b-14)

God is doing a new thing in our church right now. In fact many new things are happening thanks to the hard and faithful work of people in this congregation. If you can perceive it, you will want to celebrate it. (Don’t miss the youtube at the end of this post!) Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, March 13, 2016

March 5th Healthy Communication Workshop

March 5th was the first of three workshops presented by Nancy Brown who specializes in helping beloved communities seeking to listen and communicate with intention and love. Folks came from 5 different worshiping bodies, 2 municipalities, several Associations, and the VT Conference!

The next workshop is April 2nd and the third is on April 23rd. Find out more information and register for either or both at

Some photos from March 5th:2016-03-05 01.18.49 2016-03-04 23.20.582016-03-04 23.38.27 2016-03-04 23.18.40 2016-03-04 23.15.36 2016-03-04 23.14.54

Upcoming Service Notes, March 6, 2016

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Refreshment Sunday” or “Laetare Sunday,” laetare being Latin meaning “rejoice.” Traditionally things lightened up for this one Sunday of Lent and then went back into the lugubrious wilderness until Easter.

This Sunday we will certainly have refreshment and rejoicing, if you love beautiful scriptures and hymns. We have an all-star lineup. We begin with one of the most uplifting and reassuring Psalms, number 32, which has one great line after another. Read it slowly, pausing after each verse, and you will feel the power of it. We will follow that by singing the great poet John Greenleaf Whittier’s beloved hymn that starts, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind,/ Forgive our foolish ways./ Reclothe us in our rightful mind;/ In purer lives thy service find,/ In deeper reverence praise.”

That is the theme of the day: God forgiving our former ways, restoring us to our rightful mind and accepting us in the beloved community of the church to serve and worship. It starts in the Psalm and continues in the other two scriptures, the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, and that great passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul says, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (5:16-21)

We will sing the classic response to being saved and transformed by God, Amazing Grace. We will also sing a communion hymn that deserves to be better known, Bread of the World, in Mercy Broken, set to a tune attributed to the same composer who wrote our Doxology, Louis Bourgeois, who is an extremely important figure in protestant hymn history. Listen to the youtube recording of the hymn below.

The choir will sing “If I Have Been the Source of Pain, O God,” from the New Century Hymnal, and Ralph Vaughan Williams communion classic, “O Taste and See.” John Atwood will play organ pieces by Frescobaldi, J.L. Krebs (a pupil of J.S. Bach) and Paulus Hofhaymer.

Here is the recording of the communion hymn we will be singing. It is clearest when she plays it the second time through, so be sure to listen at least that far.

Upcoming Service Notes, February 28, 2016

This will be the Third Sunday in Lent.  Repentance appears in the Lectionary readings for the day.  That is a traditional Lenten theme, but one that has been widely misunderstood.  Repentance brings up images that focus on guilt, shame and suffering for our sins.  That could not be farther from what Jesus and Isaiah are calling us to experience!  (Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke13:1-9)  The word translated as repentance is metanoia in the Greek, which means to change our heart, mind and soul, to turn them in another direction.  As Isaiah puts it, it is to choose God’s higher thoughts and higher ways.

We cannot move higher if we are wallowing lower in our wretchedness!  Lent is hard, but not because we need to inflict self-denial and deprivation on ourselves.  It is hard because breaking our old habitual thoughts and ways and turning to God’s is hard.  Even admitting that we need to change challenges us to our core.  That is what happens in the Lenten wilderness, but the progression of the church year reminds us that after the wilderness and cross , after the letting go of our old thoughts and ways of life, comes the resurrection into new and greater life.  Lent is about transformation into our true self, which is God’s Spirit of love and life and light flowing through us as it flowed through Jesus.

This Sunday we will explore more about making this joyous transformation.  We will sing the hymn “They Did Not Build in Vain” set to the tune of “The God of Abraham Praise.”  We will also sing two old favorites, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” and  “I Would Be True.”  The choir will sing an Introit from the New Century Hymnal, “Each Winter as the Year Grows Older” with these words: “But I believe beyond believing, that life can spring from death;/That growth can flower from our grieving;/that we can catch our breath and turn transformed by faith.”  They will sing the Anthem, “Hear Thou My Prayer, O Lord,” by Jacques Arcadelt. John Atwood will play organ pieces by Pachelbel, J.C. Bach (J.S. Bach’s uncle) and Palestrina.

Palm Sunday Choir Festival on March 20

Started more than 50 years ago by organist Katrina Munn and her musical group of friends throughout the Upper Valley, the annual Palm Sunday Choir Festival has become a favorite event in the Bradford area. This year’s festival will be on March 20, at 7 p.m. Many area church choirs, groups, individuals and musicians come to sing anthems. The choirs join together for a combined presentation. This year it will include Mozart’s “Ave Verum” and Gaul’s “They That Sow in Tears.” The high point of the festival are the hymns, lifted up in glorious voice by more than 200 gifted singers, always ending with “All Hail the Power of Jesus’Name.” The festival is now the last of the six Sunday evening Lenten services sponsored by the Bradford Inter Church Council. The culmination of the evening this year will again be Organist John Atwood at the console.