Upcoming Service Notes, February 21, 2016

Lent is a season of change.  This second Sunday the scriptures talk about the need for change and the power of God to transform us and transform the world. (Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Luke 13:31-35)  Psalm 27 puts it beautifully: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”  Lent is a wilderness journey, and that journey can be a struggle.  It can also be full of hope.  The Promised Land and Easter dawn wait at the end.

Last Sunday Mary Sanborn reminded us that it was President Lincoln’s birthday last week.  She asked why we never hear about him in church.  She said we hear about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which she approves, but we should hear about Abe Lincoln, too.  This Sunday we will feature them both! Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, February 21, 2016

Sermon, February 14, 2016

“In Every Change, He Faithful Will Remain”
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
February 14, 2016 First Sunday in Lent
Psalm 91; Deuteronomy 26:1-9; Luke 4:1-14

The passage we heard in Deuteronomy took place before the children of Israel reached the Promised Land. Many times in the wilderness they forgot to be thankful for how God rescued them from slavery or provided food or water or guided them. God wanted them to emerge from the wilderness a changed people, more faithful and more grateful. The whole purpose of the wilderness journey was to transform them and prepare them to live more like children of God.

The passage we heard from Luke shows us the transformation of Jesus through trials and temptations. He was reduced to being as weak as a human can be through forty days and nights of fasting and exposure to the harsh elements of the wilderness. He was as tempted as a human can be by pleasure and comfort, wealth and control. He followed the only path that can lead safely through such a trackless and treacherous wilderness—he turned to God over and over, and emerged a changed man, full of the Spirit’s power, with authority in his voice and healing in his touch.
Continue reading Sermon, February 14, 2016

Upcoming Service Notes, February 14, 2016, First Sunday in Lent

We have a choice of how we view Lent.  We can take the view that it is all about dreaded deprivation and punishing self-discipline, a long mud season that is all about the mud, or we can see it as a time of spiritual deepening and exploration and growth, a mud season that is all about the seeds and bulbs beneath the ground that are starting to send up their shoots toward the coming spring.

I use the word lugubrious half-jokingly about Lent–only half joking because February and mud-season can be a little dismal, and sometimes seriously dismal, and yet I love the moments when we first notice how strong the sun is feeling on our face, or how happy the streams are sounding, or we hear the first redwing blackbirds sing.

The somber Lenten music and scriptures that confront us with our shadowy false selves lead us to discover the light that shines in the darkness that the darkness does not overcome.  That is the joy of Lent.  A butterfly needs to struggle out of the cocoon in order to strengthen its wings to fly. We need to pass through the wilderness of spiritual struggle to prepare ourselves for the flight from the tomb at Easter dawn.

This First Sunday in Lent we will read the beautiful promise of Psalm 91 of the protection, salvation and blessings that will come to those who love and make God their refuge.  We will see a model of this in the story of the children of Israel reaching the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 26:1-9) and Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-14).  We will reflect on our own lives and our church and the potential for transformation our own wildernesses offer us. We will sing Be Still My Soul and the great Lenten hymn, Forty Days and Forty Nights. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, February 14, 2016, First Sunday in Lent

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!