Category Archives: Lenten & Holy Week Resources

Sermon, April 16, 2017 Easter 10 AM Service

Love So Amazing, So Divine, Part II
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 16, 2017    Easter
Psalm 118; Isaiah 65:17-19, 25; John 20:1-18

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.

Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Jesus rising from the dead; wolves and lambs feeding together; no one hurting or destroying on all this holy earth: Easter is about a magic, a love so amazing, so divine that it leads to miraculous peace and joy.  You would think the world would see this beautiful, harmonious vision and feel this amazing, divine power and give its soul, its life, its all, and follow its way.

The problem is that Easter’s path is in competition with other paths that seem just as magical in their ends but more conventional in their means.  Easter’s path is the reverse of violence, it is the path of nonviolence, but our culture’s violent path is so often the magic we choose.

Children discover at an early age that violence works like magic.  Two pre-school brothers were at a family gathering.  The four-year-old saw his three-year-old brother playing on the floor with a few wooden blocks.  He walked over, plopped down, and grabbed the blocks.  Then he turned his back and began playing with them while his little brother sat stunned.

The little boy looked as if he might cry, but instead after reflecting for a few seconds, he turned, picked up the entire box of blocks and dumped them on his brother’s head.  Then he began happily playing with something else, as his brother plotted his next attack.

As if by magic, violence got the older boy what he wanted.  He wanted the blocks, and maybe he wanted to annoy his little brother, and violence got him both.  Then the younger boy did his own magic trick—he made all his frustration and humiliation disappear with a simple flick of violent revenge.

The deep magic of violence goes all the way back to the dawn of time.  Adam and Eve ate the illegal apple in the Garden of Eden and then hid from God, doing violence to their relationships and the harmony of the world.  One of their sons killed the other out of greed and pride.  The human race began a spiral of violence that seems to have no escape.

But if we go farther back in the Genesis story we find a deeper magic from before the dawn of time. Continue reading Sermon, April 16, 2017 Easter 10 AM Service

Sermon, April 16, 2017 Easter Sunrise

Something Happened
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 16, 2017
Easter Sunrise Service
Matthew 28:1-10

Something happened
at the beginning of the universe.
We call it the Big Bang.
We have no photographs,
no eye witnesses,
we have only the echo,
only the ripples of energy
still crossing space.

Something happened
at the beginning of Christianity.
We call it the resurrection.
It was around this time,
around this day,
around two thousand years ago,
and what happened exactly
we are not sure—
there was an empty tomb,
some say there was an earthquake
and lightning,
there were visions of
radiant beings of light,
there were appearances
to various people in various places
of the dead alive again—
all mysteries, all uncertain,
all recorded only
decades after whatever
happened happened,
and we may wish
we had fingerprints
and lie detector tests
and live footage, but
we don’t, and we never
will have all the facts
except this one:
the fact is that
something happened
that convinced a community
of people just like us
that something had happened. Continue reading Sermon, April 16, 2017 Easter Sunrise

Good Friday, Holy Saturday Music

Here are two recordings of the Alto Aria Erbarme dich from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, followed by a recording of the entire Passion, which in turn is followed by a recording of Bach’s St. John Passion.  No words of description are needed.  Just start listening, and you will be swept up in the Passion.  The Aria in the first two recordings takes place as the cock has just crowed and Peter realizes that he has denied Jesus three times, as Jesus foretold.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Books of Daily Readings for Lent

Here are two books to consider as daily companions through the journey of Lent, which begins on  Ash Wednesday (February 10, 2016)

The first is not only the best Lenten book I have ever seen, but one of the best books on the spiritual life.  I have read and reread it for almost 20 Lents now, and get more out of it every time.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It is A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent by Martin L. Smith.  Smith is an Episcopal priest and the former American head of the Anglican monastic order the Society of St. John the Divine, or the Cowley Fathers, based in Cambridge, MA.  To see the Amazon description of the book, click here.  (As always, we urge you to support your local bookstore!)

The second book is Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength, a new collection of writings by the UCC’s “stillspeaking writer’s group” which includes many gifted pastors and writers in the UCC.  To see the UCC Resources description and order it, click here.