First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone:(203) 744-6177

News

From Reverend Pat Kriss: Children's Communion Sunday

Be led by little children [to] the place where all people are welcome, all people are nourished, and all people are One.

(Posted October 6, 2018)

One of the things that makes our Church different, as part of the United Church of Christ, is that we don’t make people accept a “creed,” a list of what all are supposed to believe in order to belong here. As a non-creedal church, however, we DO put forth a Statement of Faith, that seeks to take into account our open doors and our extravagant welcome that says, “You belong here.”

Quite often the people who find our open doors come from other faiths, or no particular faith at the time they first visit. Quite often some of our new adults and families have had an experience of Catholicism, where children don’t participate in the Lord’s Supper until they have gone through the rite of First Holy Communion. In the Congregational Church, there is no first communion because we maintain that all people – tall, small, old and young – are invited always to participate.

Worship with Us

Services begin at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

But recently I also realized that our children never really have an introduction to what the bread and the wine, the prayers and the blessings of The Lord’s Supper are all about. So this Sunday, which also happens to be World Communion Sunday, we are declaring Children’s Communion Sunday. It will be like other communion Sundays, except that the service will be shorter, the message brief and understandable for children and youth, and our kids will take up the collection and also bring forward “the elements” of the Lord’s Supper – the chalice and the bread (but there will be some cookies in there as well.) Our children will lead the way for the rest of us coming forward to receive The Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation.

Just as in the  Statement of Faith, we learn in our prayers of worship the universal invitation to Christ’s table: 
       
This is the joyful feast of the people of God.
    men and women, youth and children,
    come from the east and the west,
    from the north and the south,
    and gather about Christ's table.

This Sunday I hope you will join us, and be led by little children and youth to find the place where all people are welcome, all people are nourished, and all people are One. - Pastor Pat Kriss

From Reverend Pat Kriss: What is Required to Follow Jesus?

What are we to make of this? Does Jesus really think a wealthy person cannot enter heaven?

(Posted Oct. 13, 2018)

I have to be candid. Some of the nicest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever known have been what we would call “rich people.” After a long pre-pastoral career as a non-profit fund raiser, I’ve known my share of individuals who are unfailingly generous and aware that they are blessed.

In this week’s Gospel, however, we find ourselves brought up short by Jesus’ remarks to a rich young man about what it would take for him to earn salvation. He tells the young man that, in order to follow him, he must sell everything he has to join him. The young man leaves, grieving in a way. Jesus said to the disciples,  "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! … Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Worship with Us

Services begin at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

What are we to make of this? Does Jesus really think that a wealthy person has to strip his or her life bare of material things? Most of us don’t have to worry about being extremely wealthy. But hopefully you are as perplexed by this statement as the rest of us. 

The truth of the matter is, Jesus is not saying that drastic measures must be taken to be “saved.” Instead, Jesus was making it clear to the young man the truth in following Jesus is not our material goods, but our attitude toward material wealth and the importance we place upon our good fortune.  There are plenty of rich people who understand, who get the concept that they have been blessed, and who in turn use their fortune to assist others who are not so fortunate. To these belongs the Kingdom of heaven. These are “the camels” that have made themselves small and not brimming with human pride, in order to fit within the eye of the needle. There is a fascinating Jamaican-born young artist from Britain – Willard Wigan-- who, upon reading of the eye of the needle, created the camels already fitting within a tiny needle, not just as a sole animal, but as a caravan. Humility lets us let go of defining ourselves by what we own in favor of what we do for God. I’ve shared a picture of his incredible miniature sculpture here.
 
On this upcoming Jazz Sunday we pause to think about it all. What is required of us to follow Jesus? What does it mean to be asked to make a sacrifice to follow him? Come join us at 10 a.m. to spend some time, to listen to uplifting music, and to enjoy the presence of people who welcome you to rest a while. - Pastor Pat Kriss

From Reverend Pat Kriss: The Greatest Commandment

Love God. Love our neighbor. It can’t get any clearer than that.

(Posted October 19, 2018)

This weekend, I am pleased to be sharing the pulpit with Reverend Michael Ciba, who is Regional Minister in the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Ciba has oversight of the Fairfield East Association, to which we belong, and over the Southwest Region of Connecticut.

The burning question in this Sunday’s Gospel is posed by a lawyer to Jesus. He asked, which commandment is the greatest?  

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

Worship with Us

Services begin at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

Love God. Love our neighbor. It can’t get any clearer than that. Probably the hardest of these two commandments is the second one, to love our neighbor. Now, neighbors can be a wonderful blessing. The thing is, however, there is no guarantee that our neighbors may be as “warm and cuddly” as a Hallmark card to get along with. I’ve lived with a neighbor who overnight started raising pigs on his property, about 150 feet away and upwind of our windows. I’ve known neighbors who went away for three weeks, never thinking to have someone check in on their home. I’ve seen that same home’s water heater rupture and flood the downstairs resident’s townhouse with six inches of water in their absence.

So, when you end up with neighbors like that, what do you do? You love them anyway. And you re-read Commandment number one. It reminds us that not only is the Lord our God one, but we, God’s children, are “all in the family,” all a unity of creation. We all bring blessings and challenges to one another. 

It’s always interested me that every observant Jewish household has affixed to its front doorpost, a mezzuzah – a small cylindrical container that holds the Shema. On entering and exiting a home, we touch the mezzuzah and once again take to heart the small parchment scroll inside with its words:  ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ We need to be reminded to create neighbors out of strangers, and see the face of God in the other, whether they are near or far away. – Pastor Pat Kriss

Information

First Congregational Church
164 Deer Hill Ave.
Danbury, CT 06810
Est. 1696

Phone: (203) 744-6177
Email: fcdanbury@att.net

Office Hours:
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 Worship:
Sunday    10 a.m.–11 a.m.

 

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