Upcoming Service Notes, May 1, 2016

This Sunday’s service will take the motto of the United Church of Christ as its theme: “That They May All Be One.”   This weekend was the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC, always an inspiring and uplifting gathering of churches from all over the state.  Worshipping together, singing and praying and laughing and crying, we really do feel that we are one, with a unity that spans all our diversity.   We will hear the scripture passage from which our motto came, which is the final prayer of Jesus for his followers, John 17:20-26.  We will also hear the passage in the first letter of John that names God’s love as the source of our unity (I John 4:16b-21), and Psalm 133 that begins, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”

We will sing These Things Shall Be, and Lord, We Thank Thee for Our Brothers (set to the Austrian Hymn tune), and the beloved communion spiritual that unites churches all over America, Let Us Break Bread Together.  The choir will sing We Limit Not the Truth of God and the favorite anthem, God So Loved the World.  John will play organ pieces by F. Couperin, F. Peters  and C. Couperin .

Upcoming Service Notes, April 24, 2016

The Fifth Sunday of Easter lectionary texts are about how God’s love embraces all people and all the universe, and how we are called to love one another and all creation as God and Christ love us.  We will hear from Kathy Kidder of West Newbury about the Help Kids India project and from Storme Odell about the Church World Service Kits project, both of which are ways that this congregation has shown the love of Christ to people in great need around the world.

We will remember Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one,” which is the motto of our denomination, The United Church of Christ.  We will reflect more on this on May 1st, next Sunday, after the Annual Meeting of the Vermont Conference of the UCC.

The lectionary scripture texts for this Sunday are Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18 and John 13:31-35.  We will sing O How Glorious, Full of Wonder, and the stirring pre-Civil War anti-slavery hymn, Men, Whose Boast It Is, and I Sing the Mighty Power of God.

Sermon, April 17, 2016

Laying Down Our Lives for One Another
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 17, 2016 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday
Psalm 23; I John 3:14-18; Matthew 18:12-14; John 10:14-30

The scriptures today have a life or death urgency about them. They are trying to save our lives.

The 23rd Psalm says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” The shepherd will lead us in the paths of righteousness and restore our soul, if we will follow.

The book of First John says, “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death.” First John says that murderers, who take life from others, do not have eternal life in them. The sign that we have eternal life in us is that we lay down our own lives for others. We give life, not take it.

Yet someone who has committed murder is capable of turning back to the unconditional life-giving love of God. The worst of criminals can pray the 23rd Psalm, in the faith that the Good Shepherd can restore any sheep to the flock, no matter how lost. Continue reading Sermon, April 17, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, April 17, 2016

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday, a favorite every year.  We read the 23rd Psalm (King James Version) and we hear Jesus say “I am the good shepherd” in John 10 and this year we will hear about shepherding love in I John 3.

These scriptures have inspired some of the most beautiful hymns ever written.  We will sing three and hear the choir sing two more.  We will sing Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, In Heavenly Love Abiding, and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.  The choir will sing My Shepherd Is the Living God and the hauntingly beautiful Brother James Air setting of the 23rd Psalm.

God surrounds us constantly with shepherding love.  One of the ways God does that is through our Christ-like love for one another.  We will not only hear that good news, we will get to experience it by being a church family together on this joyous Easter-season Sunday!

North Country Chorus Spring Concert – April 30th – 7:30pm

North Country Chorus Poster of Events

On Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 pm, the North Country Chorus is returning to our sanctuary for its Spring Concert.  They will be joined by the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltones.  The featured pieces will be Franz Schubert’s Mass in G and Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest. Choruses, soloists and orchestra will be under the direction of Alan Rowe.

Open link above for more on their performances.

Sermon, April 10, 2016

Second Acts   Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 10, 2016   Third Sunday of Easter
Psalm 30; Acts 9:1-20; John 21:1-19

My April Epistle newsletter article says,

In the coming months, I hope you will understand what it means when you hear me say:
“Hooray! We have a disagreement!”
“Hooray! We have hurt feelings!”
“Hooray! We’ve got ourselves a conflict!”
It does not mean that I am really glad for disharmony or pain. You know me better than that by now, I hope.
I am just so eager to practice using the new skills we are learning together that can transform disagreements, hurt feelings and conflicts into a stronger, closer, more beloved community through a process of healthy communication!

I wanted you to laugh when I said those three “Hoorays,” but I was serious, too. We have been blessed with three opportunities in the past month to practice these new healthy communication skills outside of the workshops, and the result has been not only a satisfactory resolution of the conflict but also a strengthening of our relationships. Something truly amazing and transformational is happening as we learn how to be more Christ-like in our ways of being together.

There is still one more workshop on April 23rd if you have missed the first two. The Diaconate and Board of Mission and Social Action urge everyone to attend. People have been coming out of the workshops filled with joy. You have to witness it yourself to understand it! (To register go to: http://bradforducc.org/calendar-page/healthy-communication-and-beloved-community-events/)

The scriptures teach us we can always say “Hooray,” when we have struggles or hurt feelings or make mistakes, either as a church or as individuals.
Continue reading Sermon, April 10, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016

This Third Sunday of Easter we will celebrate the best and most joyous of news for anyone who is imperfect–in other words, for you and me and everyone in the world!  Bishop Desmond Tutu says how universal it is both to need forgiveness and to need to forgive in The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.  He writes, “The Bible is full of stories of reckless, immoral and criminal people who transformed their lives, who became saints.  Peter, the disciple who betrayed a friendship and denied Jesus–not once, but three times–was forgiven and became the chief of the apostles.  Paul, the violent persecutor of those faithful to the fledgling Christian faith, became the sower who planted Christian communities in the gentile world.”  The great good news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done, with Christ there is always a second act, there is always a chance to turn our life around. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016

Sermon, April 3, 2016

Holding On and Letting Go, Part III
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 3, 2016 Second Sunday of Easter
Galatians 5 & 6; John 20:19-31

This is the third in a series of sermons
on the theme of Holding On and Letting Go.
On Palm and Passion Sunday we heard
the Apostle Paul say, “Let the same mind be in you
that was in Christ Jesus, who…emptied himself….”

We let go of one thing
so another can take hold of us.
We empty of selfishness and fill with Spirit,
we empty of fear and fill with love.
We let go of the old contents
of our lungs with each outbreath,
but we hold onto the process of breathing—
letting go, and refilling,
and letting go, and filling again.

On Easter we heard how Christ comes to us
as a father comes to his little daughter
who has climbed into an apple tree
and now clings to the low branches in fear,
not knowing how to get down.
The father says to the little girl, Continue reading Sermon, April 3, 2016

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Healthy Communication Workshops, Spring 2016

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