Category Archives: Past Sermons

Sermon Dec. 31, 2017

“Are You Coming to the Shower?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 1:1-18   Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7
December 31, 2017

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…”  John 1:12i

Would you agree to being adopted? Strange question, right? Most of us are all grownup. We’ve made it. No need to be adopted. But what if it was Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, two of the richest men in the world. Would you still hesitate? Mark me. They are not asking you to give up your lineage or to renounce those who brought you up. No. They just want you to become part of their family – an heir to the fortune. Continue reading Sermon Dec. 31, 2017

Homily, Christmas Eve 2017



“It’s Time to Go”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Luke 2: 1-20   

Christmas Eve



The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”  – Luke 2:20i

I don’t know what I would have done if I had been one of the shepherds. Angelic chorus. Voices from heaven. The glory of God.

I don’t know.

Knowing me, I would have sought some reasonable explanation. Like you I live in the twenty-first century. No angels have come flapping by. No voice from heaven. Indeed, I wonder if they would have admitted me to seminary, prepared me to lead a church, if I had claimed anything like what happened to the shepherds. All I know is that I would attempt to hold onto the reality I know. The world of cause and effect. The science of replication. I do know I would have put down the wine skin!

A first century Palestinian might have sought to obey more than understand. They lived in a world more alive with mystery, with forces unknown. Continue reading Homily, Christmas Eve 2017

Sermon Dec 24, 2017

“Risky Business”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Luke 1: 28 – 38                                                                                                                 4th Sunday of Advent

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.”                           — Luke 1:38i

Maybe it’s because she was so young. Some scholars suggest Mary may have been all of twelve years of age, most put her at 15 to 16. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have this to say about the adolescent brain:

…recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part. Continue reading Sermon Dec 24, 2017

Sermon, Dec. 17, 2017

“Powering Through”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

I Thessalonians 5: 16-24
December 17, 2017

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”                                                  — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18i

Here we are. The third Sunday in Advent. If you’ve been following the theme of each candle lit, this Sunday is the candle of joy. 1 Thessalonians 5 speaks directly to God’s desire for us to know joy. Our text puts it strongly. This is God’s will that we give thanks in all things.

Hard to do, right? But let’s take the text at its word. Our joy is God’s will. Continue reading Sermon, Dec. 17, 2017

Sermon Dec. 10, 2017

“The God Who Brings Us Comfort”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Isaiah 40:1-11
December 10, 2017

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” — Isaiah 40:1i

Sometimes it is difficult to square the wrath of God with the love of God. This has led some to dismiss the Old Testament in favor of the New. For many, the Old Testament view of God is one of a judge who meats out punishment while the New Testament’s view of God is more forgiving and loving. But to jettison the Old Testament does violence to the reality of Jesus. If Jesus was anything, he was a Jew. The idea of dismissing the Hebrew scripture would have struck Him as absurd. How do I know? Because Jesus bases His ministry on the words of an Old Testament prophet. Continue reading Sermon Dec. 10, 2017

Sermon Dec. 3, 2017

“I would like a wake-up call, please”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Mark 13: 24-37
December 3, 2017

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.Mark 13:37

We have covered this, right? On November 12th I preached a sermon entitled “Ready.” I talked about the Second Coming and how it is not central to my faith. Indeed, I own life insurance. So how much do I really believe Jesus is coming again before I die?

So why are we picking up on this theme yet again? Three reasons. First, this is the gospel lesson for this Sunday. It was selected for us by the folks who put together The Common Lectionary. So I didn’t select it. It was selected for me. Second, it’s the first Sunday in Advent – a time of expectation and waiting for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. This scripture tells us of a promise God made and a promise God will keep. To ignore the promise is to ignore God’s purpose. Third, because it is a promise to be kept, it provides us directions as to how to live into the future. This, my friends, is our wake-up call. Continue reading Sermon Dec. 3, 2017

Sermon Nov. 26, 2017

“Sheep or Goat?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 25:31-46
November 26, 2017

“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”   Matthew 25: 32

There is nothing new to say today. We have all heard these words before. Right? Indeed, that may be a problem. It may be difficult to hear them anew. They have become so familiar that we read them without hearing them. So let me take a moment to put these closing words of the 25th chapter of Matthew in their broader context. Continue reading Sermon Nov. 26, 2017

Sermon, Thanksgiving Sunday Nov 19, 2017

“Fairness in the Kingdom of God”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC

Matthew 25:14-30
November 19, 2017

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”   Matthew 25: 29

There’s a great deal in the Bible that isn’t fair. We might have some questions for God. What do you do with this? In Exodus 34:7 God is describing God’s character to Moses and says: keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Sounds very loving, caring and kind, but God isn’t done. “…yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Poor kids. They had nothing to do with the sin they are being punished for. Some of them weren’t even born when the sin was committed! Is that fair? No. Is it true? Yes. Continue reading Sermon, Thanksgiving Sunday Nov 19, 2017

Sermon, Nov. 12, 2017

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