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

Sermon July 22, 2018

“Good Samaritan – Bad Company?”
Rev. David Pruitt
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Luke 10:25-37
July 22, 2018

The Good Samaritan—along with the Prodigal Son are the most popular and well known of Christ’s teachings.  You’ve no doubt, already heard a number of sermons celebrating the Samaritan’s dramatic deliverance of the Jew from the ditch.  So this morning, we will travel into the tale from a different direction. Continue reading Sermon July 22, 2018

Sermon July 15, 2018

“God Can See Us Through”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 6:14-29
July 15, 2018

But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”   – Mark 6:16i

This sermon has one central idea – namely, God can see us through. How we all have lived through times when this affirmation was our saving grace – God will see us through. Yet as needed as this affirmation may be, I have some explaining to do. You just heard the words of our text. You know how this ends for John and Mark spares us none of the sordid details – the immorality, deception, fear, and treachery within Herod’s house. Everything in Mark 6:14-29 is bad news for the faithful. So how can I stand here this morning and proclaim “God will see us through?” Continue reading Sermon July 15, 2018

Sermon July 8, 2018

“Can You Believe It?”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
2 Samuel 5:1-10
July 8, 2018

David had said on that day, “Whoever would strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.”   – 2 Samuel 5:8i

I am forced by my conscience to look at 2 Samuel 5:8. It may be of no concern to you but I could not let it go. That is the first reason we are looking at this passage today – it deeply troubled me. The second reason is that it may have disturbed some of you. It may cause good people of faith to stumble and question the goodness of God. And the third reason is that you may encounter folks who question your faith because of such problematic passages in the Bible. Continue reading Sermon July 8, 2018

Sermon July 1, 2018

“A Healing Unseen”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 5:21-43
July 1, 2018

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”  – Mark 5:30i

She had been suffering for twelve years. She had seen countless doctors. None could help. Twelve years – it’s a long time even by today’s standards. Continue reading Sermon July 1, 2018

Sermon June 24, 2018

“Waking Jesus”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 4:35-41
June 24, 2018

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?
Mark 4:38i

The disciples feared for their lives. Jesus was asleep. I am not sure why they woke Him. It wasn’t because they wanted Him to still the storm. It’s obvious by their astonishment after Jesus stills the sea. Their response? They were filled “with a great awe” and they wondered who Jesus might be, indeed, what He might be. They wouldn’t be so awed if Jesus had done what they already thought He could do. So maybe all they wanted from Jesus was another set of hands to help right the vessel. It is hard to watch your partner sleep while you are working in the kitchen. I can imagine it was hard to see Jesus taking His rest as your life was about to slip under the waves. Or maybe they just wanted something more than indifference to their plight. Jesus is asleep. His is going to sleep through their extinction and what’s more, He is going to go to His death without the fear that possessed them. Maybe what they wanted was some sense that Jesus was with them at the time of their death. Perhaps they wanted both His hands and His heart, but the text is clear that stilling the storm was not the reason Jesus’ slumber was shattered by their fear. Continue reading Sermon June 24, 2018

Sermon June 17, 2018

“Inch by Inch, Row by Row”
Rev. Jeffrey Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
Mark 4:26-34
June 17, 2018

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,”   Mark 4:26i

This is no way to plant a garden. My son does a better job. It isn’t easy for him. The land that our house sits on is extremely rocky. After the first two or three inches he had to take a pick and remove as much of the rock as he could. It took him a day’s work. Then he had to back fill the area with compost and topsoil. Next, he took the seedlings he had incubated in the house and put the fledgling plants into this ideal patch of ground. Now he waters it religiously. It’s his first garden. Continue reading Sermon June 17, 2018

Sermon June 3, 2018

“Bearing Bad News”
Rev. Jeff Long-Middleton
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
June 3, 2018

For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”  1 Samuel 3:13i

Nobody likes bad news. We avoid it when we can. Most of us don’t like giving it. I never had to fire anyone. There have been a few times when I should have. There was the church sexton who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. He tried to burn down the church by setting an elaborate fuse in the Boy Scout’s storage closet. He should have been fired but he disappeared, never to be seen again, after the fuse was found. Continue reading Sermon June 3, 2018

Sermon May 27, 2018

“Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer”
Marcia Tomlinson, Deacon
Bradford Congregational Church-UCC
May 27, 2018
Trinity Sunday

When I was a kid, summer meant a world of wonderfulness and Memorial Day weekend was its kick-off. One of the signs of summer was the arrival of the circus with its wild animals and equally fantastic grownups doing amazing things. I always loved that opening parade led by the biggest elephant with a beautiful sequined lady riding on top, waving to the crowd.

There’s an elephant in the room today … no sequined lady waving …. but definitely signaling a new season for us. Continue reading Sermon May 27, 2018