Category Archives: Past Sermons

Sermon, Nov. 12, 2017

“Ready?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 25:1-13
November 12, 2017

Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
— Matthew 25: 13

I don’t expect Jesus anytime soon. I live my life under the assumption that I will be dead before Christ comes again. I’m not saying that’s how we ought to live. I am telling you that is how I live. You see, I have life insurance. It’s meant to help my family pay the bills when I am gone. Well, who needs life insurance if the return of Jesus is immanent? So this whole thing about having enough oil seems rather arcane. What about you? Any life insurance? Continue reading Sermon, Nov. 12, 2017

Sermon, Nov. 5, 2017

“The Crazy Kingdom of God”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 23:1-12
November 5, 2017

The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
— Matthew 23:11 & 12

Do you believe it? Ever humbled yourself and then been exalted? Ever been the servant of all so you could be the greatest of all? Crazy, right? That’s not how the world works. Sure, we all know the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a great suggestion but most of the time we find the Silver Rule far more effective in the real world – “Do it unto others before they do it unto you.” Right? It is hard to live out the teachings of Jesus when we live in a world that so often lives as if the Kingdom of God has no barring this side of heaven. Do you get promoted if you are the servant of all? Do they even get noticed you if you are humble? Continue reading Sermon, Nov. 5, 2017

Sermon, Oct. 29, 2017

(due to a widespread power outage, this sermon upload was delayed)

luth“The Crazy Freedom of Faith”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Galatians 5: 1-6
October 29, 2017

” … For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1

So, what is this about? Why is Paul writing to the good folks in Galatia?

There’s a problem. The men of Galatia are thinking it might be a good idea to get circumcised. There not sure Jesus is enough. After all, Jesus was Jewish. Don’t you first have to become a Jew and then a Christian? And why not cover your bets?

For Paul, the stakes are high. In his mind you would only get circumcised if you were willing to go all the way – observe the law embedded in Judaism. But it is exactly the Law that Christ freed Paul from. Continue reading Sermon, Oct. 29, 2017

Sermon, Oct. 22, 2017

god-shimmer“Keeping the Mystery Alive”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Exodus 33: 12-23
October 22, 2017

” … then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”  Exodus 33:23″

What does that look like? How did Moses get into the cleft of the rock? Did God point to where God wanted Moses to be and Moses scampered up? Did God pick up Moses? And what about God’s hand? It says God put God’s hand over Moses’ eyes so Moses wouldn’t see God’s face. Well, what does the “hand” of God look like – same size as ours or bigger? I can’t imagine God’s hand being smaller! Oh, what’s the problem with seeing God’s face? It’s not like God is trying to be totally illusive. Right? I mean, God let’s Moses see God’s back. No small thing. But the face, not that. Continue reading Sermon, Oct. 22, 2017

Sermon, Oct. 15, 2017

“Dressing for the Occasion”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 22: 1-14
October 15, 2017

Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:13 & 14

Hardly friendly – binding the poor bloc’s hands and feet, throwing him out. What did the other guests think of their host? Must have been rather shocking, right? And what’s the big deal? At least he came to the banquet. A lot of folks, good folks, didn’t bother. And now he’s on the outside looking in! Hardly friendly. Continue reading Sermon, Oct. 15, 2017

Sermon, October 8, 2017

“Pressing On”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Philippians 3:13-14
October 8, 2017

” … forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Let me begin by way of a story.

“A student from Maine attending Yale told in a class of the town of Flagstaff which was taken over as part of a hydroelectric development. The town in Maine would be submerged as a result of the dam that was being built. Continue reading Sermon, October 8, 2017

Sermon, September 24, 2017

“How the Kingdom Comes – Part I”
Rev. Michael Caldwell
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Isaiah 49:1-6
Matthew 5:13-16
September 24, 2017

I felt so inspired last time I was here with you on Sept 3 – by our focus together – children and congregation – on the Lord’s Prayer – and how the kingdom comes – that I’m continuing it!

This kingdom of God for which Jesus taught us to pray… how does it come? How does it really come? In practical ways?

Praying the prayer implies acting in specific ways Continue reading Sermon, September 24, 2017

Sermon, September 17, 2017

“Help for the Helper”
Rev. David Pruitt
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Mark 14: 32-42
September 17, 2017

We like to consider Jesus as perfectly resourceful, without our human vulnerabilities, above the strife of life. But within this mornings scripture we read that distress and anguish came over him so that he confided to his disciples, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.” He had brought Peter, James and John with him into the Garden of Gethsemane. He did not go alone, he needed them to watch and pray with him in his hour of extreme need. He did not pretend that God’s presence alone was enough. Christ’s genuine humanity left him vulnerable to grief and sorrow and he felt the need for human companionship and human understanding. Continue reading Sermon, September 17, 2017

Sermon, September 10, 2017

“Rules for the Church to Live By”
Rev. Jeff Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 18:18
September 10, 2017

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Pretty heavy stuff – loosed on earth, loosed in heaven. Do we even believe it? Let’s be honest. Most of the time the church seems a marginalized institution. There was a time when what the religious order proclaimed mattered. Now it is science that claims truth as its purview. And do you know of any church without its problems? I don’t. I have been at this for nearly forty years and served four churches. None of them was without sin. Do you know why?
Because the people were not without sin and although I am loath to admit it, neither was I!

I mention this because it is the first lesson I take from this passage in Matthew 18. Jesus talks about troubles among the faithful because there was trouble among the faithful. You don’t outline how to handle conflict if you never have any. Jesus knew of the need to speak of this  from the very beginning of His ministry. Remember how often the disciples seemed clueless? Continue reading Sermon, September 10, 2017

Sermon, September 3, 2017

“The Lord’s Prayer for God’s Revolution”
Rev. Dr. Michael Caldwell
Bradford Congregational Church

Isaiah 63:7-9,16
Matthew 6:7-15
September 3, 2017

The Lord be with you…

Friends, when I thought about what to share with you in brief Communion sermon, it occurred to me to build on my reflections on the Lord’s Prayer with your children.

Here’s the nugget: The Lord’s Prayer is more than we think it is. I’m not exaggerating to say that it is Jesus’ prayer for God’s revolution. Continue reading Sermon, September 3, 2017