This Third Sunday of Advent will be a mix of Advent and Christmas as we rejoice in the Children’s Christmas Pageant and light the Advent Candle of Joy. Once again this year the Pageant will be based on the Gloria and Bill Gaither song, “Come and See What’s Happenin’ in the Barn!” sung by John Atwood, Randy and Storme Odell, Bridget Peters and Marcia Tomlinson, with Randy Odell on guitar. The same performers will also sing “Light of the Stable” by Elizabeth & Steven Rhymer as the Anthem. (You can hear an Emmylou Harris recording of it here. “Light of the Stable” is the second youtube recording on that page.)
The congregation will sing O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (set to the beautiful tune, Hyfrydol). We will end again this week by singing the benediction set to the music of the oldest Advent hymn, the plainchant Conditor Alme, that has been sung daily in monasteries during Advent since the 7th Century. Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes: December 13, 2015 and Christmas Services
Refuge: By the Tender Mercy of Our God
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent, Sunday of Peace
Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:68-79
Peace requires certain conditions
in order for us to experience it.
We long to feel peace inwardly,
we long to live in peace outwardly,
and when the conditions are not right
and we cannot find peace,
we suffer. When we suffer long enough
and deeply enough, we will feel moved
to go searching for those conditions
that will make for peace,
and we will do whatever it takes to find them.
A place that has the conditions
that make for peace is called a refuge.
A person who is searching for that place
is called a refugee.
Refuge and refugees are at the heart
of all three Abrahamic religions.
Continue reading Sermon, December 6, 2015
Bradford Teens are sponsoring a Christmas Carol Sing-a-Long to be held on Friday, December 18th at 6:00. Gather at the Bradford Town Gazebo and join the teens and sing along with Randy Odell playing his guitar to your favorite Christmas Carols. All ages are welcome. Bring the children and start a new Christmas tradition.
At the beginning of Tom’s sermon on December 6, he mentioned Ahmad Majid and his family, which includes his pregnant wife, along with a small group of refugees from Syria. This past summer Anemona Hartocollis, a journalist with the NY Times, joined this small group of desperate people as they traveled from Syria to find sanctuary. To read a full account of their story please click this link: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/22/world/europe/syrian-refugees.html?_r=1
The Missions and Social Action Committee of our church has attended a couple of informational sessions to see how the people of the Upper Valley can be of help. A group of several churches and synagogues is forming and researching ways to assists families in need. On January 31, the Missions and Social Action Committee will be providing the sermon for the morning centered on the topic of our response to this refugee crisis. Please feel free to talk to Holly Young, Lucia Button, or Tina Towle, or you can also contact Ginny Moore at 802-222-9675 or via e-mail (VirginiaMJMoore@gmail.com) if you would like more information or would like to help out.
On November 29, the first Sunday in Advent, the children brought in evergreen branches to place around the Advent candles. They also sang “Light One Candle” with the choir, then helped with an Advent reading, and finally, lit the first Advent candle of hope.
Click the arrows under the photo to scroll through the album.
The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace, and much about this service will be designed to help you feel peace within the beauty and comfort of Advent. Members of the Board of Mission and Social Action will light the Advent Candle with the children’s help. We will read reassuring words from the Prophet Micah (5:2-5a) about our security in God, a passage that ends “and he shall be the one of peace.” We will hear one of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible, the Benedictus of Zechariah, the Father of John the Baptist, that ends:
“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Continue reading Upcoming Service Notes: December 6, 2015
Here is an extraordinary men’s choir singing two extraordinarily beautiful Ave Marias. The first two videos feature Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria: the Chanticleer album recording followed by a rougher video recording of the group performing it live. The third is Ave Maria…Virgo Serena by Josquin des Prez. If you do not know these, prepare to return to them again and again!
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