Full Circle presents its annual holiday concert at the church on Friday, December 18th at 7:30 p.m. They will give another performance on Saturday, December 19th at the Lyme Congregational Church.
Here is an Advent calendar from the Iona Community in Scotland that seems to capture the spiritual essence of Advent’s themes and beauty:
Savor and enjoy!
Hope: The Refiner’s Fire Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
November 29, 2015 First Sunday of Advent, Sunday of Hope
Baruch 5:1-9; Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:7-18
The Book of Malachi has some mysteries about it. The word Malachi means “messenger” but we do not know if that was the name of the author or if the book’s title comes from the verse that says, “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.”
Nor can we be sure whom the prophet had in mind as the messenger. The Gospels link the passage to John the Baptist. It is easy to see why.
Continue reading Sermon, November 29, 2015
We are entering Advent this Sunday, which may be the most beautiful and beloved season of the church year. This is especially true if we include the Christmas Eve service, but each Sunday in Advent is full of music and rituals and readings designed to fill us with the Advent blessings of hope, peace, joy and love.
Advent is a season to savor, and this First Sunday of Advent will offer many opportunities to feel moved. Early in the service the children will bring in greens to decorate the Advent candle table. The children and adult choir will sing Light One Candle as the Anthem, and then they will light the candle of Hope together.
Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes: November 29, 2015
Here are two additions to our Advent music collection, both from the album Light of the Stable by Emmylou Harris. The first is a fun seasonal song from the remastered and expanded release of the album, the second a beautiful contemporary carol from the original version. The album is more for Christmas than Advent, with many carols that Emmylou blesses with her gifts of arrangement and voice.
And All These Things Will Be Given to You As Well
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont, November 22, 2015
Twenty-sixth and Last Sunday after Pentecost,
Reign of Christ Sunday,
Thanksgiving Sunday, Neighbors in Need Sunday
Psalm 95; Matthew 6:25-33
Jesus appeared on earth in an anxious time and place. The leaders of the Jews were anxious about the Roman Empire whose army and colonial government imposed their might whenever they stepped out of line. The Romans were anxious, too, ever vigilant for Jewish revolutionaries stirring up the people. The people were most anxious, oppressed by both Jewish and Roman leaders alike.
Jesus appeared in the midst of all this anxiety saying over and over, do not worry! Be at peace. Trust in God, trust in the Spirit, trust in me. Jesus’ followers responded with thanksgiving to that message and to the power of God that showed through him. They saw how God rewarded Jesus’ trust with miraculous words and healings. They felt the peace flowing through him, and it filled them to overflowing, and then others caught it from them. The first church became a powerhouse of peace and joy and works of love, and it grew and grew.
Continue reading Sermon, November 22, 2015
Click the arrows under the photo to scroll through the album.
This Sunday we will celebrate Thanksgiving, Neighbors in Need Sunday, Reign of Christ Sunday and the Last Sunday after Pentecost which means the end of the church year. It’s a big day! Next Sunday Advent and the new church year begin. This week we will reflect on all the wonderful gifts of the past year in our lives and in the church (including this Saturday’s 60th Annual Wild Game Supper), and also consider the promises in scripture of far greater things to come. We will look ahead up the path of this congregation’s aspirations, and celebrate the vision we have formed together. The sermon title will be, “And All These Things Will Be Given to You As Well.”
The service will celebrate all this with a greatest hits of scriptures and music. We will read two favorite passages, Psalm 95 and a section of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-33, and we will sing three beloved Thanksgiving hymns, Come, Ye Thankful People Come, and We Plow the Fields and Scatter, and We Gather Together. The choir will sing the beautiful hymn, Savior of the Nations, Come, as the Introit and the traditional Netherlands folk song, Prayer of Thanksgiving as the anthem. Organist John Atwood will play as the prelude J. S. Bach’s Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 661, one of the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes, a master work of the great master of church music. It is based on the hymn the choir will sing as the Introit. For the offertory John will play a piece based on the same hymn composed by Bach’s cousin, J. G. Walther. The postlude will be a “Fugue in C Major” by yet another of the baroque greats, Johann Pachelbel.
We developed a script for our Sunday School for the ritual of lighting Advent candles at home. To do this yourself, you will need five candles. You could have them in a special Advent wreath or standing alone. Traditionally three candles are purple, one is pink and one is white, as you will see in the script and photos below, but you can use all the same color, too.
Here is the link to a downloadable pdf of the script: Advent Candle Lighting at Home
And here are two images of Advent Candles:
Advent has its own tradition of music apart from Christmas. One of the classic Advent hymns is Wake, Awake for Night Is Flying. Below are two versions of a famous cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach based on that hymn for you to enjoy. A translation of the text is available here.