Sermon September 29, 2019

“Living in Hope”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Jeremiah 32:1-3a,6-15
September 29, 2019

 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
Jeremiah 32:15i

In the 1994 film, Shawshank Redemption, the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, is convicted of killing his wife and her lover — a crime he did not commit. He is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and sent to Shawshank prison. There he meets “Red” a fellow prisoner who is skilled in smuggling contraband into the prison. Andy’s life appears to be without hope. He becomes instrumental in the prison warden’s money laundering scheme and although his life becomes more tolerable, after 20 some years of incarceration, the audience sees Andy sitting on the edge of his bed with a rope in his hands. You’re left with the sense that Andy will indeed escape this hellish existence by suicide. Instead, Andy ends up using the rope to assist in his escape. The day of his escape he tells his friend, Red, “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Continue reading Sermon September 29, 2019

Sermon September 22, 2019

“Stupid Stuff”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 16:1-13
September 22, 2019

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”   — Luke 16:1-13i

Did you come here this morning thinking Jesus would encourage you to defraud your employer? I doubt it. So, we have an immediate problem. We have to square this saying from Jesus with the Jesus we expected. That’s our first task but the second is more important and touches us where we live — we need to find a way to love God in the midst of material wealth. This is an issue that touches us all. Even those who have little can be obsessed with getting more, and perhaps there is a natural tendency to avoid this conversation. As Paul David Tripp humorously put it: “The minute you hear a sermon on materialism, you’re glad somebody else is there to hear it.” Continue reading Sermon September 22, 2019

Sermon Sept 8, 2019

“Finding Life’s Proper Limits”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
September 8, 2019

 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,Deuteronomy 30:19i

There are moments in one’s life when following the rules is critical to one’s safety. I drove a car the other day that had features new to me. I have no idea how it worked but if the car drifted either over the center line or over the solid white line on the shoulder, the steering wheel would move and correct for the mistake. There are moments when staying within prescribed limits is critical to one’s safety.

I hated that car. Continue reading Sermon Sept 8, 2019

Sermon Aug 25 2019

“The Jesus Who Divides”
This is the second of a two-part sermon
(Part 1 was shared on August 18, 2019)
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 12: 49-56
August 25, 2019

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Luke 12:51i

Forgive me. This opening section is going to be very boring to those who were in worship last week. So you don’t have to listen for about the first five minutes. But if you’re like me, you have already forgotten last week’s sermon! So most of what I am about to say will sound new!

Remember in the first sermon I argued that Jesus is, indeed, a savior who does not bring unity but division. I argued that Jesus sets up a stark contrast between the “way of the world” and the “way of God.” Simply put, the “Silver Rule: Do it unto others before they have a chance to do it unto you,” will always be in conflict when compared to the “Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have it done unto you.” Division takes place where the cross of Christ is formed—at the intersection between the world’s way and God’s way. Continue reading Sermon Aug 25 2019

Aug 25 2019 weekly email

Dear Church Family, for the week of August 25th
11th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday morning worship is at 10:00 a.m.

Pastor Jeff tells us: As I wrote the sermon for last Sunday based on Luke 12:49-56 it became abundently clear that I would need to break the sermon into two parts. Part one as given last Sunday, Part Two will be given this Sunday, August 25th. Having written the first part, I know the two reaming points I want to develop. Last week I contended that Jesus does indeed come to divide. He proclaims a kingdom that is not of this world and calls us to pursue its inbreaking. The result is a clash between the way of the world and way of God. The question for the faithful is how to live in the midst of such division — a division that occurs within the Christian community as well? Continue reading Aug 25 2019 weekly email

Help Shape a Sermon

September 23-October 14, 2019

HELP SHAPE A SERMON is an open forum led by Pastor Jeff that will explore the lectionary reading for Sunday, October 20. The forum will meet each Monday beginning September 23 in the church vestry from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. We will explore the context, historical background and meaning of the scripture for us today. The sermon on October 20 will be shaped by the forum’s input. You can come to one or all of the sessions. The readings we will focus on are:

Genesis 31:27-34 or Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 119:97-104 or Psalm 122
2 Timothy 2:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Participants are encouraged to bring their own Bible. All are welcome.

Steinway Restoration

piano Our 1925 model O Steinway Grand Piano is in much need of restoration.

This beautiful instrument was bequeathed  to the Bradford Congregational Church by its beloved former organist and choir director and life-long Bradford resident Katrina Munn.

This Steinway is one of the very few in the United States that was made in Hamburg, Germany. Pianos made in Germany are considered by many to be superior in sound, character and touch. Our goal is to invest the necessary restoration efforts in order to bring the piano back to its melodic beauty so that musicians near and far can come to Bradford to experience its quality and perform for the community.

piano1On June 8 (2019), the piano left the sanctuary for its journey to Lindeblad Piano Restoration in Pine Brook, NJ where the 4th generation family owned shop has been providing world class restoration of Steinway pianos since 1920. There it will undergo an  historically accurate restoration and then will be returned to the sanctuary.

Since 1950 “Miss Munn” taught and adjudicated hundreds of local children and adults on this piano and our community will enjoy the music from it for many years to come. Her desire to share her love of music through teaching, lives on through our Steinway.

Your donations are tax deductible and will go directly to the cost of this restoration.  Please help by donating (click here) or you may mail a donation to

Bradford UCC- piano fund
PO Box 387
Bradford VT 05033

Randy and Storme Odell have kicked off the campaign with a generous donation and they hope you will join them in our effort to preserve the beauty, honor and joy that the Steinway that brings to our community.

If you have photos and memories you wish to share from your times at this keyboard please send to bradfordvtucc@gmail.com

Sermon Aug 18 2019

“The Jesus Who Divides”
This is the first of a two-part sermon
(Part 2 will be shared on August 25, 2019)
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 12: 49-56
August 18, 2019

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”  — Luke 12:51i

Things you don’t talk about on a first date: Money, Sex, Politics, and Religion.1 That leaves the weather which I suppose is a safe enough topic. The object, of course, is to avoid discord…And then there’s Jesus! Money, sex, politics and religion were about all He talked about. Though we may not like to admit it, our text puts these words on the lips of Jesus: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Continue reading Sermon Aug 18 2019

August 18th in worship and around town

Dear Church Family, for the week of August 18th
10th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday morning worship is at 10:00 a.m.

Pastor Jeff tells us: I enjoy what the lectionary refers to as “ordinary Sundays.” These are the Sundays that come either after or between the special seasons of the Christian year — seasons like Advent and Lent. On these “ordinary Sundays” one often finds passages of scripture that are passed over during the high holy days of the year. And we have had a run of rather disturbing scripture passages of late. Last week we looked at the harsh words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1, 10-20). They were not very soothing and I am very sure Isaiah did not mean them to be anything but disturbing. Well, this week we have another troubling passage — Luke 12:49-56. They are words that come directly from the mouth of Jesus and while we might like to think that Jesus has only comforting words to share with us, this is not the case. Here are the words for the sermon on Sunday: Luke 12:51 “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”  He goes on to speak of sons divided against fathers and daughters against mothers. So what are to make of this Jesus who rather than bringing families together, tells us He has come to drive them apart? What good can come out of division? Why would Jesus speak such words and what import do they have for us?

 

Title: “The Jesus Who Divides”

Text: Luke 12:51 “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” 

Lectionary readings for this coming week: (Year C) August 18-24

    Isaiah 5:1-7
(how long will God abandon his beloved vineyard?)
Hebrews 1129 – 12:2
(scrap your sins and keep your eyes on Jesus)
Luke 12:49-56
(wait, wait, Jesus came to “cast fire upon the earth”?)
Psalm 80:1-2,8-19
theme hymn: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Organist John Atwood says: This week’s music features Danelle Sims, flutist, accompanied by the harpsichord. Three pieces are by J. S. Bach; the third is by Charles Gounod using one of the Bach preludes for harpsichord accompaniment. The instrumental music will be soothing.   Next week (25 August) the Seven Stars Baroque Ensemble will play a Suite of three pieces by Marin Marais, court violist to King Louis XIV. The ensemble consists of the director, Chris Rua, two recorder players, Viola da Gamba player, and harpsichordist.

Prelude: “Arioso in E-flat”                       J. S. Bach
Special Music: “Arioso in A-flat”                     J. S. Bach
Offertory: “Siciliana”                       J. S. Bach
Postlude: “Ave Maria”       J. S. Bach and Charles Gounod

Pastoral Concerns: Pastor Jeff Long-Middleton 978-273-6399 pastorjeffuccbradford@gmail.com
Emergency Assistance: Care Coordinator Carole Taylor 802-222-4590

Pastor Jeff’s office hours
Sunday afternoons and all day Mondays
978-273-6399 is his recommended number to use at any time;
calls to 802-222-4610 are only answered when he is in the parsonage, but you may leave a message

Vermont Conference Podcast!

Last Summer Revs. Josh Simon (Essex Junction) and Sally May (Malletts Bay, Colchester) created a new podcast: Faith in Vermont. This winter Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen (Charlotte) joined the team. Our latest podcast is a short promotional of the Vermont UCC using 30 second interviews at the Vermont Conference Annual Meeting focused on the theme of the gathering and the question “What in God’s Name is Happening in Vermont?” Take a minute to listen to what congregations from around the state are doing and thinking. As well, you can hear our other podcasts that include the themes of introducing Sally & Josh and why we wanted to do this project, hearing from youth who have grown up in a UCC congregation, immigration, climate change, white privilege and racism in Vermont.

Click here to hear the podcasts

Something New at Bradford Congregational!

We are excited to let you know that beginning on Sunday, September 5, 2019, there will be a youth group at Bradford UCC! The youth group is for kids 12-18 years of age and will be led by Patrick Peters. The group will meet during regular Sunday School hours (10:30-11:00) and will also meet once a month for Youth Night. On Communion Sunday, the youth group will meet 9:00-9:50, then participate in the rest of the regular service.  As part of this group, the kids will participate in community service opportunities, mission projects, leadership opportunities, and field trips. 

During youth group time on Sunday mornings, the kids will be exploring the Bible and work on making connections to what is written in the Bible to what is happening in our community, state, country, and the world. By making these connections, the kids will gain a deeper understanding of the stories in the Bible and ultimately come up with their interpretations of what the Bible is trying to teach them. 

We are very excited about this new adventure at Bradford UCC and can’t wait to start this group with our amazing kids. In order for Patrick to adequately plan for this group, please let us know if your child will be joining us. If you have any questions at all about the youth group, please feel free to contact Patrick at ppeters881@gmail.com or 802-222-9679. 

Sincerely,
The Christian Ed Team

Angela Colbeth, Valerie DiLorenzo, Kim Frydman, Bridget Peters, & Patrick Peters

Around Town:

 Needed: at the Bradford Food Shelf: there’sstill summertime left … condiments, pickles, chips, individual servings of yogurts and jellos are so welcome. The basket by the church’s kitchen door is for food donations. Thank you!

FEATHERS, FUR & FLOWERS ART SHOW Signed, archival prints by photographer M L Gitchel at the Local Buzz, Downtown Bradford, VT thru September 5th. Stop by and see her work.

Conversational French 4pm at Bradford Public Library every 1st and 3rd Thursday

August The Bradford Public Library will commemorate the memory of long-time trustee Shirley W. Conrad by setting aside the month of August in her honor. A display of Shirley’s paintings and photographs of her life will be on display in the Library’s Reading Room during the month.

Aug 17 join the Cohase Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, August 17th from 10 AM to 3 PM on our Annual Farm Tour.! This free event is a great chance to meet the farmers and animals that call the Cohase region their home.  Visit with: goats, cows, pigs, piglets, horses, mini-ponies, bunnies, guinea hens, chickens, turkeys, cattle and a variety of other farm animals! Learn about dairy farming, cattle ranching, cheese production, vegetable farming, egg production, soap making and more! This is a self-guided tour so visitors can visit all the farms or just the ones of interest.  Participating farms include Robie Farm in Piermont, NH; StoneFen farm in Pike, NH; Birch Ridge Farm in Bradford, VT; Grafton County Farm in North Haverhill, NH and Hillbilly Heaven Goat Farm in Newbury, VT.   Click the link for a downloadable map a description of participating farms http://bit.ly/2GHktpI

Aug 18 3pm Rev. Kelly Donahue will speak about the history of the Christian denomination within which the Old Goshen Church was once affiliated. The program will be at the Old Goshen Church located at 4308 Goshen Road, Bradford, Vermont. The church was built in 1832 and has not been modernized. It is on the Register of Historic Places and its architecture is unique and is worth the trip to learn more about its history and architecture.

Aug 23-24 our church annual Yard Sale in the vestry

Sept 4 6:30pm at The Space On Main. Conversation about the Bradford Teen Center * The Hub *
What is it? • Who does it serve? How will it help? How can you get involved? Please come join your friends and neighbors in a conversation about this new project. Learn what’s happening, share your ideas! Refreshments will be served

Sept 8 3-4pm at Bradford Academy West Newbury based photographer Ian Clark shares his photo journal of steam locomotives from across the country. Bradford was a railroad town when steam engines were popular. So popular, in fact, Bradford had two stations in town, one called the Bradford Station on Depot Street and, the other the Piermont Station just east of the junction of Route 5 and 25.

 

Links to just some of the other Bradford Congregational pages:
http://bradforducc.org/ is our website
http://bradforducc.org/category/sermon/ is where you can read past sermons
http://bradforducc.org/newsletter/ is where you can read our monthly e-magazine: The Epistle
http://bradforducc.org/calendar-page/wild-game-supper/ is for Game Supper updates
http://bradforducc.org/adult-christian-education/ is for adult ed series
http://bradforducc.org/music/ is the start of the Programs: Music section
http://bradforducc.org/calendar-page/annual-report/ is to access the Annual Report
http://bradforducc.org/welcome/pastors-welcome-message/ is Pastor Jeff’s welcoming message

Sermon August 11, 2019

“Shall We Mute the Voice of God?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Isaiah 1
August 11, 2019

 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. – Isaiah 1:16 & 17i

The United Church of Christ has a slogan that it published on banners and quoted on mastheads: “God is still speaking” You just heard the words of the prophet Isaiah spoken between 750 and 700 B.C. — a long time ago in a place far away. Maybe they mean nothing. Perhaps they speak of a time so unlike our own that this Word from God is not God’s Word for today. If that describes your reaction to our reading this morning, then you are not troubled by the reality of the world we live in because Isaiah’s vision is outdated and out of place. I, unfortunately, cannot share your optimism. When I come to scripture I look for what I call the “Holy intersection.” It is the place where the will of God, expressed long ago, intersects with the world I live in. It is there, at this “Holy intersection” that God’s word comes alive for today. So I share with you this morning a deep feeling of discomfort and look for ways to respond to the calling of God. Continue reading Sermon August 11, 2019