Responding to Paris Attacks by Being the Church

Dear Church Family,

Jesus lived in a world where there were terrorists, fundamentalist extremists and violent revolutionaries. The politics of hate were pursued with religious fervor. Jesus felt the same emotions that we are experiencing in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris. His teachings and his life model were offered as a way to live in just such a world as we face today.

The church exists to help us follow Christ’s way in all dimensions of our daily lives, from the personal to the political, from private mundane pleasures and stresses to public moments of extreme joy or grief.

So in this time, the best thing that we can do is to be the church.
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Sermon, November 8, 2015

What Are We Waiting For?     Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
November 8, 2015   Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost,
         Advent Preparation Sunday
Selected Texts from Isaiah 60, Mark 1, Luke 1; Mark 13:24-37

The word Advent comes from a Latin root meaning that something is coming. The three things coming during Advent are the birth of Christ at Christmas and the coming of Christ at the end of the world and the coming of Christ into our hearts in any moment. Advent is a time of preparing for those three things. In the old days it required fasting and increased spiritual activity with no parties or singing of Christmas carols allowed. The purpose was to open our hearts as wide as possible for the burst of joy on Christmas when the glorious light arrived.

That is the theory behind Advent, but what does it really mean? What are we really preparing and waiting for? And is it worth what Advent asks of us?
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Sermon, November 1, 2015

A Feast for All Peoples     Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
November 1, 2015   Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost,
All Saints Day
Psalms 23 & 84; Isaiah 25:6-9; Mark 12:28-34

At the end of this sermon we will be singing a hymn based on Psalm 84. Here are the words of the hymn written by the poet Jean Janzen:

How lovely is your dwelling,
O God, my hope and strength,
My spirit longs for shelter,
my flesh cries out for home,
where even swallows nesting
beside your altar resting
are ever praising you.
How blessed are those whose travels
are strengthened by your hand,
who pass through shadowed valleys
and find refreshing springs.
Your rain falls soft as kindness
on all your faithful pilgrims
until they come to you.
Look on me, God of goodness,
you are my sun and shield.
One day within your household
is what I most desire.
O guide me in your mercy
along my lonely pathway;
O bring me safely home.

All Saints Day is a day of celebration, but also of longing and missing, as we think of people we have loved who have died or left home or left our church.

Sometimes I have dreams about my boyhood home in Ohio. My parents are both alive in the dream, and my brothers are all there. Often it is Christmas, or another family feast. It feels so warm and secure, a lovely dwelling, and when I wake I miss it so much. My flesh cries out for home, as the hymn says. I feel like a pilgrim passing through shadowed valleys. One day within that household is what I most desire, but no matter how far I travel on my lonely pathway, I will never again arrive in that beloved home.

The sadness of all that passes away can feel almost unbearable, and it would be, if not for the other part of the hymn that answers our lonely longing by singing of our home in God.
Continue reading Sermon, November 1, 2015

Sermon, October 25, 2015

“Take Heart; Get Up, He Is Calling You.”
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
October 25, 2015   Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, Reformation Sunday
Psalm 126; Jeremiah 31:7-9; Mark 10:46-52

There is so much joy in today’s scriptures, and in each case the joy comes out of sorrow, when God restores or saves or heals people who have suffered.

We, too, can have the joy of the Psalm: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy!”
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Sermon, October 18, 2015

Becoming Great
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, 
Bradford, Vermont
October 18, 2015    Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 91; Isaiah 53:4-12; Mark 10:35-45

Today’s scriptures present a difficult problem to untangle.

Psalm 91 says, “Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you.”  And, “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them and show them my salvation.”

That is comforting, but Isaiah says of God’s servant, “We accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.”  And, “It was the will of God to crush him with pain.”

Then Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.  For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  And he said, “The cup that I drink you will drink.”

Here is the problem: Jesus made God his refuge and dwelling place, yet evil befell him.  He called to God on the cross, and God did not answer.  God did not rescue him.
Continue reading Sermon, October 18, 2015

Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Meeting

Dear Church Family,
Last week the Board of Missions and Social Action had it’s October meeting. We brainstormed many ideas to help in our local region and beyond. On Tuesday evening several of us will be attending the event below. If you are interested in joining us please call or e-mail me.
Ginny Moore
VirginiaMJMoore@gmail.com or 222-9675

WORKING TOGETHER, RESPONDING TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS, OCTOBER 20TH, 7:00-9:00 P.M.
14th October 2015

We hosted a series of discussions with Linda Hartke from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, as well as the Central American migration of children and families, September 25th – 27th. It was inspiring to hear how much the people in our surrounding communities want to respond in ways that will be most helpful.

We give thanks to those who signed the petition asking to increase to 100,000 the number of Syrian Refugees to be admitted to the US in Fiscal Year 2016. Calling the President and your Congressional Representatives about this would be a good follow-up, since the Administration will be making the decision very soon on the number to be admitted.
Many signed up to continue conversation as a working group to explore our options in the Upper Valley and possibly beyond.
A follow-up meeting will be held here at Our Savior Lutheran Church & Campus Ministry, 5 Summer St., Hanover, NH 03755 [1] (603-643-3703) on Tuesday, October 20th, from 7-9 p.m.
Now that we know, based on the information we received over the weekend, that “sponsoring a refugee family” is a rather different process than it was in the past, we can move ahead to:
Continue reading Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Meeting