The Baptism of Arabella DiLorenzo

We were very pleased to celebrate the baptism of Arabella DiLorenzo on Sunday, July 31, 2016. Arabella is the daughter of Nicholas and Valerie DiLorenzo and the granddaughter of Lynda and Frank DiLorenzo and Daniel and Anita Perry.  Arabella’s great-grandfather, Deacon Dan Perry, assisted in the baptism.

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Sermon, July 31, 2016

Your Life Is Being Demanded of You  
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
July 31, 2016   Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Psalms 49; Ecclesiastes 1-2; Luke 12:13-21

 

We sang the hymn “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise” for Arabella’s baptism, yet it is not just about children at the moment of baptism. “Child of love” and “love’s expression” means us, too. The hymn is talking about us when it says, “God’s you are, from God you came, back to God we humbly give you…” The advice is for us when we sing, “Child of God…learn to know whose child you are.” Our life belongs to God.

Jesus says in today’s gospel passage, “This very night your life is being demanded of you.” He says to forget storing up treasures for ourselves and instead be “rich toward God.” We have an ideal way of living, a true life, and it is being demanded of us this very moment. Are we living it?

Ecclesiastes warns that death is coming. It asks, “What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This…is vanity.” Today’s Psalm says our life is God’s and there is nothing we can give God to buy our life and make it our own to have forever. We are going to die. Our life is being demanded of us. Have we lived in vain, or have we been rich toward God?

These are not the parts of the Bible written by an Eeyore or Puddleglum. They are intended to be hopeful and helpful. A deathbed perspective can help us live a more meaningful life and die a more peaceful and contented death if we follow the wisdom it offers.

Mary Oliver is a contemporary poet and writer of her own gentler kind of wisdom literature. Continue reading Sermon, July 31, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, July 31, 2016, Baptism of Arabella DiLorenzo

We will celebrate the baptism of Arabella DiLorenzo this Sunday during worship, the daughter of Nicholas and Valerie DiLorenzo and the granddaughter of Lynda and Frank DiLorenzo and Daniel and Anita Perry.  Arabella’s great-grandfather, Deacon Dan Perry, will assist in the baptism.

The music will be fitting for such a celebration.  We will sing two hymns from the New Century Hymnal that are deeply moving and modern favorites: Child of Blessing, Child of Promise, and I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry, as well as two cherished hymns from the Pilgrim Hymnal, Take My Life and Let it Be and Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult.  Organist John Atwood will play “Take my Life and let it Be” by W. Verburg, “Trio”  by  F. Couperin and  “Fantaisie”      L. Couperin.

The lectionary scriptures are not so fitting for a baptism, at least at first glance: Psalm 49, Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23, and  Luke 12:13-21.  They are all about the apparent meaninglessness of this life that becomes clear to us at the moment of our death.  And yet they do not intend to leave us despairing–they lift our vision to a higher meaning, a way of living on earth that has lasting value that no one and nothing can take from us, not even death.  We each have the ability to live that life in our own unique way.  The church can help us find our path, and we all can help Arabella find hers as she lives and grows among us.

Here are the two hymns we will sing from the New Century Hymnal.  Have your hankies ready–these go straight to the heart!

Sermon, July 24, 2016

For Everyone Who Knocks, the Door Will Be Opened  
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
July 24, 2016   Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalms 138; Luke 11:1-13

 
The 138th Psalm has a surprising verse. The Psalmist has walked in the midst of trouble and is surrounded by enemies. Imagine what you would ask God to do for you under those circumstances, in a time of trouble or conflict. The Psalm says, “On the day I called, you answered me,” and we expect it to say that God gave the Psalmist what we would want, like help fixing things, or triumph or escape, but instead it says, “You increased my strength of soul.”

Maybe that is the answer to every prayer. Maybe that is why we pray. God responds to our prayer by increasing our strength of soul, and when others know we are praying for them, it increases their strength of soul.

The increase of the strength of one soul in the world has a positive effect that ripples out farther than we can see. The first and perhaps most important thing every one of us can do to help this world is to call out to God in prayer and let God increase the strength of our soul. Nothing could help us more in a time of trouble or conflict.

There is a similar surprise in today’s gospel passage. Continue reading Sermon, July 24, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, July 24, 2016, and Congregational Meeting

Before describing the service:  “WARNING: A Congregational Meeting will take place immediately following the worship service on July 24, 2016 to consider the following question posed by the Diaconate:  “Shall the Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, Bradford, Vermont engage in a series of education and discussion sessions about issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of the Bible, the church, our society and our circles of family and friends as the first step in a process that could result in the congregation declaring itself Open and Affirming?”

Jesus says in the lectionary gospel passage this week, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:1-13)

As much as we love to hear that, do we believe it?  Do we believe Jesus means us? Do we believe Jesus means everyone when he says everyone?  This saying comes in the context of his teaching his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. If we do not know the answers to these big questions, he is saying, ask God in prayer.  The 138th Psalm that we will read responsively says, “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.”  I hope that we all will open our hearts to be guided and strengthened by God as we address one of today’s most controversial issues in the warned meeting. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 24, 2016, and Congregational Meeting

Sermon, July 17, 2016

A Church of Contemplation and Action  
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
July 17, 2016   Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalms 130 & 131; Romans 8; Luke 10:38-42

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.”

Before I preach this sermon, I want to make sure that I am talking to the right people.

How many here today are worried about anything in your life, or in the lives of those you know, or in the world, things like terrorism, cancer, addiction, the presidential campaign, relationships, money, global climate change, racism, bigotry, aging, death, the Red Sox, your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your grandparents, your to do list, the church, the town, your house, your car, your work, where life is going, did you leave a burner on, did you lock the door, what’s for lunch?

How many of you are worried about one of those things, or anything else? How many of you are worried about many of those kinds of things?

How many of you have been distracted, thinking about something other than worship at any time since the service began?

And one last question: how many of you would like to be less worried or distracted in life?

Thank you! This sermon is for you.

“Martha, Martha,” Jesus says, “you are worried and distracted by many things.” I hope you hear the love in his voice when he says that. He repeats her name gently and compassionately. She is a faithful disciple who has invited him into her home. She is working hard making a meal for him. He does not want her to feel bad. He does not intend to shame her. He does not tell her what to do. He simply points out that there is another way, and that it is the better way, and no one should try to stop another person from following it. Continue reading Sermon, July 17, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, July 17, 2016, New Members Sunday

We will take in four new members this Sunday and celebrate them with special refreshments following worship.  The lectionary gospel passage is the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), and the sermon will be based on it, “A Church of Contemplation and Action.”  We will read responsively from Psalms 130 and 131 that speak of hoping and waiting for God with a calm and quiet soul, and we will hear selections from Romans 8 that talk about  how “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit,” and “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”

Our Diverse Traditions Music Team will be here again to lead us for two of the four hymns we will sing, the beautiful South African freedom song, “Thuma Mina (Send Me, Lord)” and the old time favorite “I Come to the Garden” (or “In the Garden”).   Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, July 17, 2016, New Members Sunday