Category Archives: Lenten & Holy Week Resources

When Easter Wasn’t Our Thing

Due to our Puritan roots, New England-based Congregational churches have traditionally been much more reserved in their Easter traditions and expressions than other more liturgically based denominations. For them Easter was the joyous culmination of a series of elaborate rituals and observances: Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Passion Week, Grand Processions, and Great Vigils. And here’s why Bradford Congregational Church didn’t always celebrate in kind. Continue reading When Easter Wasn’t Our Thing

2018 Holy Week worship

HolyWeekEasterScheduleSunday, March 25
Palm Sunday morning worship, we receive our palms, 10 a.m.

Thursday, March 29
Maundy Thursday evening Tenebrae, the Last Supper, 7 p.m.

Friday, March 30
Good Friday prayer vigil, sanctuary open noon to 3 p.m.
(Evening worship at Grace UMC, time to be announced)

Sunday, April 1
Easter Sunrise Service, at village gazebo, 6:30  a.m.
Easter Family Worship, 10 a.m.

Palm Sunday here and world-wide

The tradition of handing out and waving palm fronds is relatively new for mainstream Protestant churches. It grew in popularity after Word War II when access to palm trees expanded. In our church, the fronds are ordered well in advance and usually originate from points south of the border.

ourkidspalms2017Sometimes we have the children march in ceremoniously waving the palms. Sometimes we have handed out the palms to congregants as they entered the sanctuary. A few times the palms were strewn on the front of the altar platform and congregants came forward to get them. Continue reading Palm Sunday here and world-wide

How we journey through the season of Lent

Over the years our church has hosted pancake suppers on the day before Lent starts (Mardi Gras), hiding the Allelujahs, dispensing ashes on Ash Wednesday, Lenten Bible study series, ritual feet washing on Maundy Thursday, a seder, a Passover, Tenebrae, Good Friday prayer vigils, and Good Friday evening services. And for many decades we have hosted the start of the Interchurch Council series of Lenten evening services culminating in our presentation of the annual Choir Festival. Continue reading How we journey through the season of Lent

Year B (2018) Lenten scripture readings

Image result for journey through lent

February 14 – Ash Wednesday

  • Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17 (turn back with all your heart)
  • 2 Corinthians 5: 20b – 6:10 (accept God’s offered reconciliation)
  • Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21 (you devote energy to what you truly value)
  • Psalm 51: 1-17 (create in me a clean heart)

February 18 – 1st Sunday of Lent

  • Genesis 9: 8-17 (God’s unilateral covenant with Noah)
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22 (Christ seeks the salvation of all people)
  • Mark 1: 9-15 (a new age arrived in the person of Jesus)
  • Psalm 25: 1-10 (God guides and delivers)

February 25 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

  • Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16 (God calls Abraham)
  • Romans 4: 13-25 (Abraham trusts God’s promise)
  • Mark 8: 31-38 (you want to follow him? Then take up your cross)
  • Psalm 22: 23-31 (ALL will worship Him)

March 4 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

  • Exodus 20: 1-17 (the Mosaic/Moses Covenant)
  • 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 (we are called to show God’s love)
  • John 2: 13-22 (Jesus drove out entrenched evil)
  • Psalm 19 (the Law of the Lord is perfect)

March 11 – 4th Sunday of Lent

  • Numbers 21: 4-9 (the role of judgment in redemption)
  • Ephesians 2: 1-10 (God is love … and we are NOT self-made)
  • John 3: 14-21 (we can’t conceal our deeds)
  • Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22 (In God is the healing and the salvation)

March 18 – 5th Sunday of Lent

  • Jeremiah 31: 31-34 (God WILL forgive)
  • Hebrews 5: 5-10 (Jesus was human and DID feel as we do)
  • John 12: 20-33 (want to serve Jesus? Be where He is)
  • Psalm 51: 1-12 (prayer for cleansing and pardon)

March 25 – Palm Sunday

  • Liturgy of the Palms: Mark 11: 1-11 (Hosanna is called out)
  • Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50: 4-9a (trust in God’s help)
  • Philippians 2: 5-11 (God voluntarily assumed obedience to death)
  • Mark 14:1 – 15:47 (the Passion story according to Mark)


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.