Category Archives: Past Sermons

Sermon Nov. 18

“Living in the Not Yet”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 13:1-8
November 18, 2018

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.” Mark 13:7i

Do you know people who hoped for a better life and thought they were headed in the right direction only to discover they missed the mark? In Arthur Miller’s haunting play, Death of a Salesman, the 60 year-old Willie Loman is a tragic figure who has missed his mark. He is in the midst of a personal crisis. He is slowly losing his grip on reality. He daydreams while driving. He runs the car off the road. He hallucinates and talks to people who are not there. His two sons seem adrift and Willie’s wife is frightened of what the future might hold. Continue reading Sermon Nov. 18

Sermon Nov 11 2018

“Cornered Into Goodness”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
1 Kings 17:8-24
November 11, 2018

Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.      1 Kings 17:13i

 

Have you ever been afraid? It is a crippling feeling that sucks joy from our lives and has us constantly prepared for the worst. It is, of course, woven into the human DNA. If you feared nothing, you would not be long in this world. Fear of being burned can keep you from being burned by a hot stove. But this is not the kind of fear I am talking about. I am talking about the fear some have of their spouse leaving them, of their children turning to drugs, of the person who goes to work fearful of the boss. That kind of fear can keep us from seeing through the darkness to the light of God’s promise. Continue reading Sermon Nov 11 2018

Sermon Oct 7 2018

“What’s Wrong With Apples?” or “The Nature of Sin”

Rev. Jeff Long-Middletoton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Genesis 2:15 – 3:21
October 7, 2018

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:4 & 5i

So they ate it. We know why. Verse five gives us the reason. “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Doesn’t sound all that bad – I mean the part about knowing good and evil. That’s what we try to teach our children. Some would say that all of life is trying to follow the good and avoid the evil and you can’t do that it you cannot distinguish one from the other. Right? So what’s the problem? Continue reading Sermon Oct 7 2018

Sermon Sept. 30, 2018

“How to Lift the Load of the Christian Faith”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Numbers 11: 4-29
September 30, 2018

Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  Numbers 11:13i

Man, does that sound familiar – literally. I may have told some of you that I was the co-founder of Metropolitan Camden Habitat for Humanity. At the time I was the pastor of an affluent suburban church and Camden, New Jersey resembled Dresden after the Allied bombing of World War II. There were whole streets with nothing more than abandoned tenements. Continue reading Sermon Sept. 30, 2018

Sermon, Sept. 23

“Finding Our Inner Child”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 9: 30-37
September 23, 2018

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”  Mark 9:36 & 37i

What a strange passage of scripture – not because it doesn’t make sense but because of the whole bizarre scene. Continue reading Sermon, Sept. 23

Sermon, Sept. 16

“God Is Always With Us”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Psalm 116: 1-9
September 16, 2018

For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.”  Psalm 116:8i

The truth the Psalmist is affirming is one that all of us need to hear. What prevents me from hearing it is my skepticism and the unfamiliar nature of the psalmist’s language. He makes claims that are so sweeping they do not match my lived experience. In my ministry I have seen folks suffer through events no one should ever confront – the death of an 18-month-old child. I stood in the hospital room with the family. The grandmother rocked the dead child in her arms. An hour passed. The social worker told them they should consider giving the child’s body back to the healthcare team because he will start turning blue. Up till now, it only looked like the child was sleeping.

For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. God did not deliver this child from death. Tears flowed from all the eyes in that room. And, yes, we all stumbled into tomorrow. Where is this God the psalmist speaks of?

How I wish I could stand before you and with a clear conscious and unwavering confidence tell you that these first nine verses of this psalm are as they present themselves. The truth, however, is more complicated. Continue reading Sermon, Sept. 16

Sermon August 19, 2018

“The Limits of Fear”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Psalm 34
August 19, 2018

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.  Psalm 34:7i

The title of this sermon is “the limits of fear.” It is the 34th Psalm that drove me to this morning’s message. In its 22 verses, fear is mentioned five times – usually in reference to the wisdom of fearing God. So what does this mean for our spiritual lives? What truth can we take from this admonition to fear the Lord? Continue reading Sermon August 19, 2018

Sermon August 5, 2018

“Wilderness Wanderings”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Exodus 16:2-15
August 5, 2018

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  – Exodus 16:3i

Forty years. It’s a long time. For forty years the Israelites wandered in a wilderness. Babies born, people died, some fell into dementia, and hunger pecks at a people’s patients. Forty years. It is little wonder that they complained – and complain, they did. Continue reading Sermon August 5, 2018

Sermon July 29, 2018

“When Deception Occurs In High Places”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
2 Samuel 11: 1-15
July 29, 2018

Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.   – 2 Samuel 11:8i

If the Bible is our guide, we are in trouble. The prophetic witness is clear – a people who sin, whose leaders deceive, who trample on the rights of the poor, who have given themselves over to pleasure rather than faithfulness will reap the whirlwind of God’s judgment. But don’t take my word of it. Continue reading Sermon July 29, 2018