Category Archives: Past Sermons

Sermon April 15, 2018

“The Disappearing Christ”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 24: 13-49
April 15, 2018

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.” – Luke 24:31i

This is what we know. Two men are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus – about 7 miles or a 2½-hour walk. Jesus joins them but the two men do not recognize Him. They continue talking about what transpired in Jerusalem over the last few days and they are specific regarding the details. They thought Jesus was the promised Messiah only to have their hopes crushed by His crucifixion. We know Jesus reframed the situation and told them the Messiah had to endure all this pain and shame. We know that it was getting late. They arrived at where they were staying. The stranger appeared to be journeying on. They beseeched Him to stay with them because it was growing dark. Continue reading Sermon April 15, 2018

Sermon April 8, 2018

“Seeing the Wounds of Jesus”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 20: 19-31
April 8, 2018

” …  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” – John 20:28i

Something happened on the way to this sermon. I changed my mind. I was going to preach a sermon no one needed to hear. So I decided to preach one I needed to hear. Continue reading Sermon April 8, 2018

Sermon April 1, 2018 Easter

“Why Go Home”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 20: 1-18
April 1, 2018

Then the disciples returned to their homes. – John 20:10i

What a strange thing to do. Jesus has risen from the dead. Peter and the other disciple come to believe that Jesus lives. Instead of running back to tell the other disciples, they “returned to their homes.” They have come to an existential awakening. The world has been turned upside down and the defeat of Jesus and their cause has become the greatest victory in history. They go home? Continue reading Sermon April 1, 2018 Easter

Sermon, March 18 2018

“We Wish to See Jesus”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 12: 20-33
March 18, 2018

They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  – John 12:21 i

Where were you on February 16th? Did you hop a plane and go to China? I didn’t. They were celebrating the Chinese New Year but that has nothing to do with me. I don’t even know why it’s held on the sixteenth of February. Me going to China makes about as much sense as these Gentiles trekking to Jerusalem for Passover. I mean, really. Do these Greeks even know what Passover commemorates? I suppose they could have been “Greeks considering Judaism.” The text is silent on that point. The one thing we know is that they wished to see Jesus. Continue reading Sermon, March 18 2018

Sermon, March 11 2018

“Loving the Light”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 3: 14-21
March 11, 2018

…those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:21i

It travels at 186,000 mi/s. As a phenomenon it has the nature of being both a particle and a wave. We arise in the morning and we behold its presence. We rest at night and the stars and Moon abide. It is with us at the dawn of day and in the contrasting darkness of night. It sustains life on earth. It illuminates our way. The psalmist would have us sing:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it. Continue reading Sermon, March 11 2018

Sermon March 4, 2018

“A Holy Place for Anger”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
John 2: 13-22
March 4, 2018

Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.– John 2:15i

My brother was punched in the eye. He had taken me to his high school’s football game. Our father was going to pick us up after the game. I was around ten at the time. I don’t remember the game. I do have a vivid memory of a chain link fence, three or four guys approaching and the punch Doug took in the eye. I remember him crying and having no clue what I was supposed to do. I just watched.

Our Dad arrived to find my brother cupping his eye and crying. My Dad was livid. He wanted to know who had done this. It was impossible to know. So many people. So much confusion. Our Dad didn’t care. Someone had injured his son and that someone wasn’t going to get away with it. There was a police officer was folks cross the street safely. So my Dad marched over to him, told the officer what had happened and demanded that justice be done.The officer listened politely and told my Dad that at that time, he could do nothing to help. That is not what my Dad wanted to hear and let the officer know it. Walking away, his eyes still darting back and forth, I was just glad he never found out who had done this!

I tell you all this because I have a question. Was my father’s anger a sin? That is the question before us this morning. Is anger sinful? Continue reading Sermon March 4, 2018

Sermon Feb 25, 2018

“Satan Finds An Opportune Time”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 8: 31-38
February 25, 2018

“But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”  – Mark 8:33i

Right after Jesus was baptized He was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. How many temptations did Jesus face? And do you remember how it ended? The Gospel of Mark doesn’t say much about the whole thing. It doesn’t mention how Jesus was tempted – what He had to face – and it moves from those forty days spent in the wilderness to tell us that after enduring temptations Jesus goes to Galilee. So, if you are looking only at Mark, you wouldn’t even know that Jesus faced three temptations. Matthew gives a much more detailed description of each of the three temptations faced by Jesus. In Matthew Jesus overcomes each temptation and then tells the Devil to be gone and that’s the end of it. But Luke is different. Luke tells us about the three temptations faced by Jesus – turning stones into bread to assuage His hunger; trusting God to suspend the law of gravity and protect Him if He were to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple; becoming the ruler of the world. But it is how the section ends in Luke that fascinated me. Here is how the evangelist puts it: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” For Luke, the temptations in the wilderness are not the last time Jesus is going to face Satan. Continue reading Sermon Feb 25, 2018

Sermon Feb 18, 2018

“The Inconvenient Timing of God”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 1: 9-15
February 18, 2018

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Mark 1:14-15i

The timing seems all wrong. Jesus, right after He is baptized, is led by the Spirit (by the Spirit, mind you) into the wilderness. Most of us would have gone with our families to a nice restaurant to mark this passage into adulthood. Then there’s this. John has just been arrested and Jesus goes out and says, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” The tone seems all wrong. The kingdom of God has come near? John was just arrested. Isn’t that proof that God is distant and aloof? Continue reading Sermon Feb 18, 2018

Sermon Feb 11, 2018

“Seeing Jesus Only”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 9: 2-9
February 11, 2018

“Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.”   Mark 9:8i

The disciples had seen one miracle after another. From the first chapter of Mark through the eighth chapter they had seen a man with a withered hand, a man who could neither speak nor hear, the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman, a paralytic lowered through a roof by his friends, a blind man, a woman who could not stop hemorrhaging, and many others who were afflicted all healed. But it is not until this ninth chapter of Mark that their view of Jesus is transfigured. Continue reading Sermon Feb 11, 2018