Category Archives: Past Sermons

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

Sermon Feb 4, 2018

“The Power of Staying Focused”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 1: 29-38
February 4, 2018

He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do. ”     Mark 1:38i

We all know how important it is to stay focused. Need proof? Try to text and drive. You’ll end up meeting people you never knew before because you will have crashed into them. Focus. You shouldn’t drive when your focus is lost. Continue reading Sermon Feb 4, 2018

Sermon Jan. 28, 2018

“The Arrogance of Jesus”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 1: 21-28
January 28, 2018

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. ”         Mark 1:25i

There is power here. There is a promise. In these few verses from Mark is embedded the truth of God. But truth is not always tripped over. Sometimes truth requires digging to unearth its beauty and promise. Continue reading Sermon Jan. 28, 2018

Sermon Jan 21, 2018

“The Immediacy of the Moment”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 1:14-20
January 21, 2018

And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”  Mark 1:18i

Immediately. There must have been something about Jesus. Simon and Andrew, James and John – to a man they left all they had ever known, the people they loved the most – immediately. Had they nothing to lose? Continue reading Sermon Jan 21, 2018

Sermon Jan 14, 2018

“God Is Still Speaking”
Rev. Michael Caldwell
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
I Samuel 3.1-20, John 1.43-51
January 14, 2018

Friends, one of the greatest disciples of our Lord of all time was alive during many of our lifetimes – Martin Luther King, Jr. His faithfulness to our God and to Christ was unfailing. His attentiveness and responsiveness to the Spirit’s moving among us were creative, prophetic, and ground-breaking. His life and faith and ministry and martyrdom changed hearts, changed lives, and changed society in a way that was and is revolutionary. Continue reading Sermon Jan 14, 2018

Sermon Jan. 7, 2018

“God, Creation and the Twenty-First Century”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Genesis 1:1-5
January 7, 2018

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…”
— Genesis 1:1i

The purpose of this sermon is to help people believe. But here’s my problem. Twenty-first century men and women, for the most part, cannot reconcile the truth known through science with a creation story that is painfully out of step with our time. That’s my problem, but I don’t think I am alone. Continue reading Sermon Jan. 7, 2018

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

Announcement-to-the-Shepherds

 

“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