Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016

This Third Sunday of Easter we will celebrate the best and most joyous of news for anyone who is imperfect–in other words, for you and me and everyone in the world!  Bishop Desmond Tutu says how universal it is both to need forgiveness and to need to forgive in The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.  He writes, “The Bible is full of stories of reckless, immoral and criminal people who transformed their lives, who became saints.  Peter, the disciple who betrayed a friendship and denied Jesus–not once, but three times–was forgiven and became the chief of the apostles.  Paul, the violent persecutor of those faithful to the fledgling Christian faith, became the sower who planted Christian communities in the gentile world.”  The great good news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done, with Christ there is always a second act, there is always a chance to turn our life around. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes, April 10, 2016

Sermon, April 3, 2016

Holding On and Letting Go, Part III
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 3, 2016 Second Sunday of Easter
Galatians 5 & 6; John 20:19-31

This is the third in a series of sermons
on the theme of Holding On and Letting Go.
On Palm and Passion Sunday we heard
the Apostle Paul say, “Let the same mind be in you
that was in Christ Jesus, who…emptied himself….”

We let go of one thing
so another can take hold of us.
We empty of selfishness and fill with Spirit,
we empty of fear and fill with love.
We let go of the old contents
of our lungs with each outbreath,
but we hold onto the process of breathing—
letting go, and refilling,
and letting go, and filling again.

On Easter we heard how Christ comes to us
as a father comes to his little daughter
who has climbed into an apple tree
and now clings to the low branches in fear,
not knowing how to get down.
The father says to the little girl, Continue reading Sermon, April 3, 2016

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Healthy Communication Workshops, Spring 2016

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Upcoming Service Notes, April 3, 2016

The Easter celebration continues this Sunday as we read the wonderful story of Easter night and the Sunday after Easter in the Gospel of John (20:19-31).  It includes Jesus coming through the locked door into the room where the frightened disciples were hiding and breathing the Spirit into them, giving them peace and sending them back out into the world to do his works.  The passage also includes the story of Doubting Thomas.  We will read responsively from Galatians 5 and 6 about Christ setting us free to love and serve as he did.  The sermon will continue the Palm/Passion and Easter series on the theme of Holding On and Letting Go.

We will sing more of the great hymns of the season: Thine Is the Glory, The Day of Resurrection, Joy Dawned Again on Easter Day, and also the joyous Jamaican tune and communion hymn, Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ.

The Anthem will be the beautiful Easter poem, Now the Green Blade Rises, set to a French Christmas carol tune.  Organist John Atwood will play “Evening Prayer”  by  E. Humperdinck, “To a Wild Rose”   by Eduard MacDowell and Fugue in A minor from Voluntary (3)8 by J. Stanley.

Sermon, March 27, 2016

Holding On and Letting Go, Part II
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
March 27, 2016 Easter
Psalm 118; John 20:1-18

Mary Magdalene could not sleep.
She left the house when it was still dark.
She walked the hard, deserted Jerusalem streets
and went out the city gate to the garden
of tombs down in the valley.
She went to be with the one
who had changed her life, her beloved teacher,
even though she knew she could not really
be with him. He was dead, and a heavy stone
kept even his cold body from her.
She went thinking she could not feel
emptier than she did,
only to find the stone rolled away, the tomb
empty, and the one thing she had left
to hold onto taken from her.
She ran back to the house
half-crazed with fear and grief
and told the others,
and then returned to the garden.
Where else could Mary go?
He was everything to her.
It felt as if she had reached
the end of all roads, as if
there were no road she could take
that could possibly lead out of that place.
It felt like the end of her life.
All that remained was the grieving love
pouring out of the empty tomb of her heart.

Mary Magdalene stood weeping
by the rolled away stone
as the day dawned,
and Christ came to her there. Continue reading Sermon, March 27, 2016

Good Friday, Holy Saturday Music

Here are two recordings of the Alto Aria Erbarme dich from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, followed by a recording of the entire Passion, which in turn is followed by a recording of Bach’s St. John Passion.  No words of description are needed.  Just start listening, and you will be swept up in the Passion.  The Aria in the first two recordings takes place as the cock has just crowed and Peter realizes that he has denied Jesus three times, as Jesus foretold.






Sermon, March 20, 2016

Holding On and Letting Go, Part I
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
March 20, 2016 Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm/Passion Sunday
Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 19:29-42, 21:37 – 23:56

The story we heard today
forced the people in it to choose
what to hold onto and what to let go.
It asks us to do the same.
The men said, “The Lord needs it,”
so we let them untie the colt
and lead it away.
The colt was unbroken,
not much invested in it,
not much risk to letting it go.
And then there was the power
of their self-assurance,
the hold they had on things,
the faith, you could say, that swayed us.
We knew somehow it would all be all right.
We held on to that feeling
and let go.
I will never forget the day
I dropped my basket of bread
right there in the street.
I took a palm frond someone handed me
and waved it like a sword over my head,
shouting “Hosanna” at the top of my lungs.
Imagine a married woman of my age
doing such things! Continue reading Sermon, March 20, 2016