What do we do now? The cacophony of angry words these days is positively deafening. Even louder and more poisonous is the amount of hatred one side of our divided country and people hurl at one another. Surely there’s been no other time that people have been so deeply divided into “tribes,” and warring ones, at that. Well, not really.
All you need to do is to crack open your Bible to find the same kind of pitched battle going on. Jesus knew this perhaps better than anyone else. Wherever he went there were temple priests and scribes following him, seeking to “catch him up” saying something that could permit them to jail him and “eliminate the competition.” Perhaps more than anything else, as he knew the prospect of his death by the authorities was nearing, Jesus was concerned not for himself, but for his followers. And so In John 17 we find him praying to his father – for us:
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
It is later on in this prayer that Jesus utters the words that have become a goal and a vision for our own United Church of Christ:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
This is Jesus’ prayer, not just for the people who believed in him then, but for ALL PEOPLE, of all faiths, who in the future may come to know him. “That They May Be One” includes all equally – all creeds, all political parties, all races, all genders, all ages – EVERYONE. Everyone on an equal footing, with no conceit that one person or “tribe” is more worthy than another. A One-ness of respect for all people, no matter how different they may be in thought, appearance or ability. We need not be in agreement with others to respect them. It’s the lack of this oneness and abundance of self-righteousness that puts us all in the “hard place” we find ourselves today. You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson himself addressed our congregation in the 1800’s, and he said something very important about what it means to be a leader people want to follow: "A great man is always willing to be little." When you think back at people like Mr. Rogers, Mother Teresa, John Lewis and John McCain, you understand what this means.
So this Sunday we’ll explore the “World of Them and Us,” its impact on us emotionally, and how we can rise above the shouting and each of us, in our own way, move the world in which we operate a little closer to “one-ness.” - Pastor Pat Kriss
A New Chance to Get Together! The one thing we’ve missed since our services moved off Zoom and into the Church Sanctuary is the ability to gather, see one another and chat, as we used to do on Zoom. So this Sunday at 5 p.m. on Zoom, we’re experimenting with our own Coffee Hour/Cocktail Hour. We’ll gather and just talk for as long as we like. To participate, BYOB and go to this link Sunday at 5: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/516738953?pwd=cEN1cHQ2M1JtVUV3Ri80SU1VamhQUT09
"A [person] does not have to be an angel to be a saint." --- Albert Schweitzer. 20th century
What makes a place a “wilderness?” I’m not referring to that term as we apply it to beautiful wild locations we choose to visit, with a trail map and a destination for our hike. Quite the opposite. The wilderness I’m talking about is the kind that the people in this Sunday’s Hebrew Bible found themselves, as they follow their stuttering, unproven leader through the barren desert east of Egypt and the slavery they escaped – destination unknown. They’d been told they were going to “a land of milk and honey” – which sounds like the kind of marketing hype you’d find in a modern day bad real estate listing for a sketchy timeshare.
After days of wilderness walking, the people are not a happy band of hikers. There’s no food. There’s precious little water. Even though they were in bondage in Egypt, none of the things they had back when they were slaves could be found in the wilderness. And you know what they missed the most? Knowing that there was an actual destination where they would belong. The biggest absence in their lives was knowing what the future would be, or that they even had a future.
So the People of the Book began to complain, bitterly. Their later Hebrew descendants would refer to this in Yiddish as “kvetching” – loud bellyaching to the person who would lead them. This state of mind can lead people to wistfully romanticize just how good “the good old days” were, and forgetting just how awful they could be. That’s what Moses had to contend with. That doesn’t mean that the Hebrew people were bad. As Schweitzer’s quote above tells us, it simply means that they weren’t angels, but frustrated human saints. God had a surprise for the people in the desert, and God has an answer for all of us, today, wandering and waiting in the wilderness of a pandemic world.
Join us this Sunday, either in person in our socially distanced Sanctuary on Deer Hill Avenue at 10 a.m., or live online on Facebook. You’ll hear stories of a couple of my favorite people who were no angels but turned into saints.
See you at 10 a.m. this Sunday, September 20, when we’ll enjoy Jazz Sunday together, with a portion of the Hartline’s band musicians with us in person! - Pastor Pat Kriss
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:
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m.–11 a.m.