Sermon, February 7, 2016

For Darkness Is As Light with You
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
February 7, 2016   Last Sunday after Epiphany,
Transfiguration Sunday
Psalm 139; Luke 9:28-43a

Psalm 139 is a breathtakingly beautiful testament to God’s constant, intimate presence in our lives. “If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”

God is with us even in our darkness, even when we plunge into an abyss of doubt or depression or despair, even when we do wrong. Even our darkest darkness is as light with God. God turns our darkness into light. God turns our messy, wounded, flawed selves into healed and redeemed lives, and then God’s light shines through our stained glass into the world as pure love. Continue reading Sermon, February 7, 2016

Sermon, January 24, 2016

Here is the sermon by guest preacher, our own Dan Perry, Deacon and acting Moderator:

TITHING VERSUS GIVING

During High School the music director Evelyn Springstead (Mary and Martina you remember her), asked me to direct part of the concert. As I began directing the piece with the auditorium full of spectators, I remembered during practice someone pointed out that my fly was open so I got the chorus attention by checking my fly first. The song went great. Later I learned a joke was the way to start a speech rather than with apology.

The Webster Dictionary description of the word tithe means simply a TENTH. It was the original way of spelling which was later changed to    T E N T H. The accepted definition for tithe is=“ a tenth of one’s income paid to the Church”. It has always been my understanding that you were expected to give a tenth of your income to support your church. How could anyone afford to give this much? I never could!! Doesn’t make any difference whether before or after all other expenses. Continue reading Sermon, January 24, 2016

Search Committee

We have begun the process of searching for a new settled pastor. The search committee will soon be reaching out to the congregation for input on this important and exciting process! Your search committee is (L-R): Marcia Tomlinson, Bridget Peters, Sue Eastman, Charlotte Welch, Kathy Munson, and Rob Taylor.IMG_5742

Upcoming Service Notes, February 7, 2016, Transfiguration!

Transfiguration Sunday is one of the great bursts of light of the church year.  It is always full of wonder and joy.  We read the story of the miraculous vision that the disciples had on the mountaintop where they saw Jesus as a being of light and we sing some of our favorite hymns.  We will have all that usual delight this Sunday–we will sing Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise and In the Bulb There Is a Flower, and Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, and we will read one of the most beautiful Psalms, #139, that affirms that even the darkness is as light with God, and we will hear the Transfiguration Story in Luke (9:28-43a).

What makes this year even more joyous is the transfiguration that is taking place in our church.  Take a few minutes next time you are in the vestry to look closely at the changes taking place.  Start in the corner just to the right inside the door, and see the “Growing in Love!” bulletin boards with photographs of our church family and the beloved words of our Covenant, Identity and Aspiration Statement and Communication Guidelines.  Then step in a little farther and see the new Board of Mission and Social Action bulletin boards about helping Syrian refugees (and sign up to help!).  Then walk across to the children’s corner to see the changes that have transfigured it and transformed our children’s experience of it.   Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, February 7, 2016, Transfiguration!

Sermon, January 17, 2016

The Spirit of God Is Upon Me    
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
January 17, 2016   Second Sunday after Epiphany,
Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday
Isaiah 49; I Corinthians 12; Luke 4:14-21

Last Sunday we celebrated the baptism of Christ when God called Jesus beloved and sent the Holy Spirit down in the form of a dove. The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days where he was tempted, tried and transformed into the purest expression of God’s love that anyone had ever seen.

Today’s passage took place just after Jesus emerged from the wilderness “filled with the power of the Spirit.” He went back to his home synagogue and chose to read Isaiah where it says, “The Spirit of God is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” The story goes on after today’s passage to say that all his neighbors were amazed by his gracious words.

The Holy Spirit had sent Jesus into a difficult place in the wilderness, but that was nothing compared to what it did next. Continue reading Sermon, January 17, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, January 17, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday

What do we experience within our church that makes it different from everywhere else? What do we do differently as members of the church that shows we are followers of Christ?  If the church is the Body of Christ, then what would people know about Christ if all they had to go on was observing our congregation?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did many earth-shaking things in his short life. One of them was to challenge the church to live up to its calling. We honor his life by asking questions like those above and by considering how he and the Christians he led answered them in word and deed.

This Sunday we will hear some of King’s stirring words (“We as Christians have a mandate to be nonconformists”), and also the words of the prophet Isaiah (“I will give you as a light to the nations”) and Jesus in the book of Luke (“The Spirit of God is upon me”).  We will sing Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, January 17, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday

Books of Daily Readings for Lent

Here are two books to consider as daily companions through the journey of Lent, which begins on  Ash Wednesday (February 10, 2016)

The first is not only the best Lenten book I have ever seen, but one of the best books on the spiritual life.  I have read and reread it for almost 20 Lents now, and get more out of it every time.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It is A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent by Martin L. Smith.  Smith is an Episcopal priest and the former American head of the Anglican monastic order the Society of St. John the Divine, or the Cowley Fathers, based in Cambridge, MA.  To see the Amazon description of the book, click here.  (As always, we urge you to support your local bookstore!)

The second book is Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength, a new collection of writings by the UCC’s “stillspeaking writer’s group” which includes many gifted pastors and writers in the UCC.  To see the UCC Resources description and order it, click here.