(Posted August 10, 2019)
"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance,
and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large
that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it."
--Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 20th century
It was truly a gift, yesterday that I trusted the right moment had arrived. For months now I’ve looked across the road from us where there is a small farm -- Three Feathers Farm -- and have watched the corn growing. Now, there is something special about food that grows from the same soil where we live, and which gathers in the same rain and sunshine. But it seemed to be taking so long this year. When my own tiny garden yielded the first three little cherry tomatoes this week I took a chance and called over to the farmer. “Why yes…. if you want, I will go into the field and pick some ears of corn.” So he took his tractor into the field and picked me a dozen. He handed them to me and said, “these are the very first harvest - even I haven’t had any this year.” So with this special gift I made a feast last night of vegetables and I swore I could taste the sunshine.
The poet Rainer Maria Wilke quoted above was always seeking the ineffable presence of God in his poetry. A good part of the reward of the harvest is the faith of waiting for all elements to come together into a blessing we can perceive in our own lives. Especially in these turbulent times, it can feel like we’re going to wait forever for good to prevail over evil. But we need to have faith that we really ARE surrounded by a “cloud” of God’s love that envelops us, that will protect us and, eventually lead us to the place where peace will surround us, and we will taste the sunshine. This Sunday we will explore the treasure that surrounds us all the time, but we frequently fail to see in all the chaos. -- Pastor Pat Kriss
(Posted August 15, 2019)
“August is the Sunday of Summer.” -- Anonymous
August is that time when people most notice the change that’s starting to occur around us. And they don’t necessarily want to be reminded of it.
I notice it myself, as the evening ends in darkness earlier, meaning that the option of sitting out on the deck and reading ends earlier with each passing dusk. This week someone decided that they would post on social media how the sunset that night was the last one to occur at 8 p.m. this year, and there wouldn’t be another one as late as 8 p.m. until May 20, 2020. Well, the online outpouring of anger toward that person simply telling the truth was astounding. You’d think that he had uttered some great blasphemy, instead of telling it like it is: The seasonal time of change is upon us.
Sunday Church Services
All are welcome to worship with us. Service begins at 9:30 a.m.
As the katydids begin to sing each night signaling an approaching Autumn, I hear that noise and remind myself to savor the best things of the “now.” Backyard gatherings with fireflies. The taste of watermelon. The first corn of the season. And, of course, ice cream. There is simply nothing as good as ice cream when the summer warmth clings to us like a damp towel. Ice cream in winter is fine, but it cannot come close to ice cream dripping down your hand from an August cone.
So in the spirit of that truth, this Sunday will be Ice Cream Sunday. We’ll finish the service with do-it- yourself ice cream sundaes, weather permitting out under the trees. We’ll have a moment for being together, of catching up with one another. Gary will be available to do magic with the children during our service as well. And we will savor a little bit of change.
The interesting thing is that Jesus actually spent a good deal of his ministry preparing us for change, especially the kind we don’t want. This Sunday’s gospel scripture is that perplexing one where Jesus announces that he has come, not to bring peace, but division, even within families. He lets us know that those of us who follow him will encounter intense, even dangerous opposition, when we stand up against those in our culture who want to take the easy way out with dealing with our neighbors. So that leads us to the question of “good guys and bad guys.” Is there really such a thing? And why do we differ so much when it comes to what we perceive as right and wrong? We’ll touch on all of this on Sunday, before the ice cream.
(Posted August 15, 2019)
In 2015 a group of youth including Kiran Oommen, the son of a United Church of Christ pastor, filed a constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. U.S. against the United States government. According to their website, “Their complaint asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”
"I signed on as a plaintiff because climate change haunts me every day, and all I can think to do right now is speak out,” Oommen said in an interview with the United Church News. "We have built a platform to have our voices heard, and I feel pride, honor, and a great responsibility to use it for the betterment of our world…Whether we're protesting in the streets, singing songs of rage, arguing in the courts, or simply talking to each other, I cannot imagine following any other path. When your home is going up in flames and you know why, putting your head down and covering your ears doesn't feel like an option."
Read "Delays don’t deter young plaintiff in landmark climate lawsuit"
on the United Church of Christ's website.
Kiran is supported in his activism by his mother, Rev. Melanie Oommen. "My message to the wider church is 'The learning from this lawsuit is what we have been doing as the church for 2000 years,'" Rev. Oommen said. "Building loving and justice-seeking communities of resistance to the Empire has prepared us well for this moment. Draw closer, sing louder, pray more, open the doors and windows and hearts of our communities of faith and let us work together with all people of faith and goodwill. The courts may or may not solve climate change, but a Spirit-led people surely can!"
Jesus’ challenging words from two thousand years ago continue to ring in our ears today, mingling with the shouts and cries of our youth. The message our Christ proclaims will sometimes be hard to hear. Those who follow him may sometimes come in conflict with family and friends. But the signs are clear – our beautiful earth is burning. It is not too late. As Christ’s followers, how will we respond?
Mission Moments tells stories of how United Chruch of Christ congregations are connected to the wider church. It is published by the United Church of Christ.
First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: (203) 744-6177
Monday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thrift Shop Hours:
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday 9:30 a.m.–11 a.m.