Returning to the pulpit this Sunday will be the Rev. Dr. Michael Caldwell, retired UCC pastor of North Wolcott, VT. He will reflect on our losses, including the loss of a respected interim pastor, through the lens of “God’s Lost and Found.” Using Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin in Luke 15, we will be reminded to imagine that God has a lost and found where we will always find Grace, even in the inevitable grief of our lives.
Some quite extraordinary special music is in store for us this Sunday. Michael Zsoldas, saxophonist will be with us! Michael is Affiliate Artist and teacher at the University of Vermont, specializing in jazz and improvisation. Among his many accomplishments he has been the musical arranger for Oprah Winfrey’s “Trip of a Life Time.” Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, August 20, 2017
This faith-full Sunday, August 13th, we are delighted that Cass Poulos will again be filling the pulpit. She says:
“What we are told and learn about faith depends upon the teacher. Many of us who are older, may have learned that having faith means we never doubt, never waiver or falter in our walk with Christ. Younger folks may learn that wavering and faltering means we are human. Frederick Buechner, a Progressive theologian, said, ‘Faith is disorderly…intermittent [and] full of surprises.’ Examples of faithfulness in the New Testament vary…so what is a Christian to do? Come to church Sunday and we will explore how Peter might respond.”
Also returning to our morning worship will be flutist Lisa Barfield for the Special Music! She’ll play Humperdinck’s Evening Prayer and C. Franck’s Adagio from Chorale in A minor. (Click on the highlighted titles to hear these lovely pieces)
What hymns of faith-FULL-ness did you grow up singing?
So familiar, yet never failing to penetrate deeply and lovingly into our hearts, When Peace Like a River (It Is Well With My Soul) was written out of grief Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, August 13, 2017
This Communion Sunday (10:00 a.m.) we welcome back into our pulpit our long-time friend, the Rev. David Pruitt*, who promises to take us on a quick detour from the Lectionary onto the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).
Click below for some wonderful strolling music (which John Atwood will play as the offertory) as you read about this week’s service.
David says: During his time on earth people , at times, did not realize Jesus had been with them until after the fact even though their experience with him had been deeply touching and transforming. One such experience is found in Luke’s gospel when two travelers on the road to Emmaus had spent blessed “quality time” with Christ but did not recognize who they were really being served by until their time together was almost over. This weeks message offers a contemporary experience in which Jesus deeply touches a life at a critical moment through the unusual sensitivity of a simple taxi driver.
Complementing the message will be the line-up of special music and hymns. There is an interesting back story to the hymn
The Church’s One Foundation, written in the 1860s by Samuel John Stone … as a direct response to the schism within the Church of South Africa caused by John William Colenso, first Bishop of Natal, who denounced much of the Bible as … fictitious! Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, August 6, 2017
This Sunday we welcome into our pulpit Elisa Lucozzi. Her focal point for her sermon, “The Seed Cracked Open,” is the string of similes from Matthew 13: 31-46. She reminds us:
- “The kingdom of heaven is like 80 strangers holding hands to form a human chain and rescue a family from a dangerous riptide.
- The kingdom of heaven is like the Habitat for Humanity team who shows up to construct a handicap ramp for the neighbor who now finds themselves wheelchair bond.
- The kingdom of heaven is like the firefighter who rushes back into a burning building to rescue a beloved animal companion.
- The kingdom of heaven is like the six-year-old who donates their birthday money to support the local food bank.
As we gather on July 30th, I invite you to bring your gardening tools as we seek to unearth the meaning of one of Jesus’ tiniest and most well known parables – the parable of the mustard seed.”
The children, both with Elisai and later in Sunday School, will also be learning about the Mustard Seed description of faith. Tools and seeds and soil will be involved!
The Special Music will be the shape note “Saints Delight” by F. Price, lyrics from the poetry of Isaac Watts, sung by Bridget Peters, Betsy Alexander and Marcia Tomlinson.
Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 30, 2017
This Sunday, July 23rd we welcome to our pulpit the Rev. Neil Wilson* whose focal point for the service will be based on Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43. Rev. Wilson said of this weedy parable:
When I was a child we had to “weed” the garden before we could go swimming in the afternoon. I remember one hot day in my exuberance and dreaming of floating on the old innertube in the cool water, I weeded a whole row of pigweed.
Except it wasn’t pigweed but a row of young radishes! (I don’t think I went swimming at all that week!)
In the parable of the Weeds in the Wheat Jesus portrays the Kingdom of Heaven, of which today’s church is a sign and symbol, as a mixed-bag reality. And like that young fellow, so intent on his own interests, we cannot often tell the weeds from the wheat. In our desire to make things neat and tidy we may not recognize the potential young plants in our midst. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes July 23, 2017
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
This week we will again welcome Cass Poulos into our pulpit. She writes, “When we read about heart in the Bible, we miss the broad understanding that Jesus and the disciples had of heart. For us heart is the center of our ‘total. personality … intuition, feeling, and emotion’ (Dictionary.com). In Jesus’ time, heart also encompassed mind and will. To have an open heart, all components would need to be centered and equally developed.”
We are very pleased as well to welcome two fine flutists, Danelle Sims and Lisa Barfield who will play several lovely works of J.S. Bach
Want to find out how this all fits together? Come to church on Sunday!
Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes July 16, 2017
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Last Sunday was a very special day for our Beloved Community, a day when we gathered with tears of joy to celebrate the three years that Rev. Kinder has been our Interim Minister, and to wish him a fond Godspeed on his new journey ahead. We sang, we laughed, we worshiped, we joined together in a Litany of Leave-taking, and most precious of all we came forward one by one to be served communion by Rev. Kinder. After this deeply moving experience for us all we gathered downstairs for a delicious farewell luncheon, preceded by a heartwarming circle of thanks. Presented from the congregation were many cards and a special gift in recognition of Rev. Kinder’s love of nature and hiking. In all ways we wished him a beloved Aloha*. Here is a link to read Rev. Kinder’s July 2nd farewell sermon, “I Am with You Always, to the End of Time” http://bradforducc.org/sermon-july-2-2017/
This Sunday we warmly welcome Cass Poulos to our pulpit. She will have us continue with lessons in discipleship: what does it mean to be a disciple and how do we go about that, anyway?
Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 9, 2017
This Sunday we will read one of the most beautiful and comforting of the Psalms, number 84 that begins “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts. My soul longs, indeed it faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Last Sunday someone shared that they forgot we were worshipping in West Newbury on May 28th and came to find the doors closed and nobody here on that Sunday morning. He saw the sign and then remembered, but for a minute he experienced the pang of what it would be like if the church did not exist. The lovelier we make this dwelling of God, the more our soul longs to be here.
This Sunday we will celebrate all we have done and do to fulfill the goals of our Identity and Aspiration Statement that are about being “a loving church family where everyone feels welcome and at home, appreciated and supported…. where we feel joy, peace and a steady deepening of Christ-like love and faithfulness among us.” Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, June 11, 2017
This Sunday we will celebrate the spirit of uniting and being united that we share with our denomination, the United Church of Christ. This Friday and Saturday the Vermont Conference of the UCC will be having its 222nd Annual Meeting at Lake Morey, which means the Conference was there to welcome this congregation in 1810 when it formed. Its history and our history are bound up together–the Conference and Association have played crucial roles at important times in the life of our congregation (such as during pastoral searches, like now), and the reverse is also true.
In fact in the past year the Bradford Congregational Church has contributed leadership to the UCC in two important ways. Being a uniting and united church depends on having healthy communication and building beloved community within the congregation, and the work we have done and workshops we have held on those topics have helped many churches in the Vermont Conference and beyond. We have also become one of the UCC’s Open and Affirming congregations, formally stating what this congregation has always aspired to be, a church that unites all people without exception.
We will celebrate with a special litany recounting the history of the national UCC and with a special hymn, “United and Uniting,” written to the tune of “We Plow the Fields and Scatter.” Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 30, 2017
“That they may all be one” was Jesus’ last prayer, and hallelujah! We will all be one at the Sunrise Service! It looked as if the Bradford Congregational Church and Grace United Methodist Church would break tradition and worship apart, but we have worked it out so that we can be together!
The service will be at 6:00 AM at 219 Summer Street. (Please leave the closest parking spots for those who have trouble walking.) It will be followed by Easter breakfast at 6:30 AM at Grace UMC. Please note that revised time.
The Sunrise Service will include a “Kindling of the New Fire” ritual, the singing of “In the Bulb There Is a Flower (The Hymn of Promise)” and “Fairest Lord Jesus,” the reading of the resurrection story from Matthew and a short reflection and time of prayer, as well as the beauty of God’s creation at Easter dawn, rain or shine.
Our regular Easter service will be at 10:00 AM with the resurrection story from John and a skit for the children. It will include the singing of three of the great Easter hymns: “Alleluia! The Strife is O’er” and “Come, Ye Faithful Raise the Strain” and of course, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” The choir will sing two verses of “Now the Green Blade Rises” as the Introit and Kopolyoff’s “Alleluia! Christ Is Risen” as the Anthem. John will play three beautiful organ pieces, “The Heavens Are Telling” by B. Marcello, “Christ Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” by J. S. Bach and “Allegro Maestoso” by G. F. Handel.
Below is an exuberant performance of the Handel John will play as we go out in joy.