Pastors' Blog

Oct 19, 2017 - Susan DeSelms

This week, our series on the Elements of Worship continues with an exploration of the ways in which music, and especially song, contribute to our worship as a community. This is a subject I've devoted much of my life to, so it is a pleasure to have a chance to share some of my thoughts and ideas with you in a formal way! Appropriately, the Cherubs, the Carolers and the Youth will also be offering their gifts to the congregation for the first time this fall, and along with the Chancel Choir,...

Oct 12, 2017 - Amy Norton

There’s a great little book published by the UCC writers' group, called A Book of (Un)common Prayers: Extraordinary Prayers for Ordinary Occasions. It’s one of my favorites. I love it because it covers such occasions as “When I’m Stuck in Traffic,” “When I Have Dreams I am Fred Astaire,” “Thanksgiving for Sex,” and “When I Play the Lottery” (included...

Oct 05, 2017 - Amy Norton

Has anyone ever wondered how a sermon comes into being? Or what makes a sermon such a unique genre? How might Jesus have gone about preparing his “Sermon on the Mount” (or “Sermon on the Plain”, if you prefer the version in Luke)? Writing a sermon felt so daunting to me when I first started seminary, I had no idea where to begin. Do I start with...

Sep 29, 2017 - Kent French

We continue our series, Elements of Worship, looking more closely at each part of our worship and what it means to us. This Sunday, we will look at the Word, our scriptures, and how they almost always form the foundation, the bedrock for our worship.

Why scripture?

I am going to start the sermon by asking you about the Wesleyan quadrilateral (you can start doing your homework now). It sounds...

Sep 21, 2017 - Amy Norton

“May the Force be with you,” the Jedi says to his companion. “And also with you,” all my Catholic friends replied. I didn’t get the joke.

Growing up a low-church Protestant in a majority-Catholic town, I didn’t know what the “Passing of the Peace” was. Eventually I went to Mass with one of my friends and learned about this element of the service, and when my own church tried it once (thanks to an interim, I believe), I thought, “huh, we’re trying a Catholic thing today, interesting...

Sep 14, 2017 - Kent French

Earlier this decade, a journalist name Kathryn Schulz wrote an intriguing and engaging book called, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. You can see her 18-minute TED talk here. Her main assumption is that we all mess up, we all make mistakes, we all misinterpret the signs around us. Her argument is that we like being right and that we have...

Sep 06, 2017 - Kent French

For the next several weeks, we will follow a series on the Elements of Worship, holding up and looking at each facet of our worship life and delving more deeply into what each part means. It begins with the practice of welcome.

If you've ever planned a dinner party, you know about all the thought and work that go into really good hospitality: figuring out the guest list, assessing the potential chemistry of the invitees, planning the menu, shopping for the ingredients, timing the meal...

Aug 31, 2017 - Amy Norton

Ever hear of the German term “schadenfreude”? It describes the sense of satisfaction or pleasure many of us feel at hearing of the misfortune of others (particularly of those whom we don’t like). “Well that’s karma for ya,” many of us will say to ourselves. But what about the opposite of schadenfreude? What about the sense of despair we feel when ‘bad people’ go unpunished? When karma seems to be taking the day off?

Most of us are familiar with the verse in Samuel, “'Vengeance is mine...

Aug 24, 2017 - Amy Norton

I remember as a kid loving to participate in my own bedtime story. My mom would start off by introducing the main characters, our two black labs, and then I’d help fill in the plot. Paddy and Casey got into all sorts of adventures, and I really enjoyed helping to tell the story rather than just listen to it.

There’s something unique about storytelling. Most, if not all, stories we tell serve a purpose. Whether it’s to help quiet a child’s mind before sleep, impart historical...

Aug 17, 2017 - Kent French

Imagine if you inherited a great fortune, one that had you financially set for the rest of your life, and yet, you had this gnawing sense of the gross and increasing economic inequality in the world around you?

Chuck Collins has been grappling with these issues for most of his life. At age 26, as an heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune, he gave away his trust fund to foundations and groups that he knew needed funding—organizations working for the environment, peace,...

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