(Posted March 6, 2020)
“Do not allow hate to take root in your heart.”--- Lailah Gifty Akita, Ghanian Author
Most of us know that, when Jesus gave the crowds during his mountainside sermon the blessings we know as the Beatitudes, he essentially was giving us a complete road map of personal behavior that would lead us to his heart and to heaven. I promised that we would walk this route during Lent, and so, for our first Beatitude, I picked “a doozy.”
Blessed Are the Clean of Heart, For They Shall See God
“Clean of heart?” You may say about yourself. “That’s a tall order. I don’t feel very ‘clean of heart’ right this moment. There’s been so much anger, disrespect and cynicism lately, that right now I’m not proud of some of the thoughts that sometimes flit through my head.”
Church Services on Sunday
Service begins at 10 a.m. -- don't forget to set your clocks forward on Saturday night!
All are welcome to worship with us.
But isn’t it fascinating how, at this point in time, we are ALSO consumed with the fact that a “foreign agent,” a virus, has invaded our home territory. We seek every way to keep ourselves safe, to sanitize our homes and safeguard our children so that the virus won’t infect us. We feel like we need to isolate ourselves from the contamination.
But when I look at this situation, there’s an irony that many of us are missing. The entire viral situation is a metaphor for what has invaded our world over the past four or so years. And on a much more toxic level. Very slowly, the seeds of hate and division had entered our culture and taken silent root. Things that not long ago were considered completely socially unacceptable -- name calling, bullying, character assassination, lying, racism, sexism and power-grabbing -- are things that bombard us daily from our TVs, computers and radios. We feel like we need to isolate ourselves from the contamination. This, however, only cuts us off from learning the ways to restore the clean heart that Jesus tells us is a prerequisite to entering his kingdom.
So, how do we heal our hearts? What kind of spiritual “Purell” will reset our hearts to receive God’s light, and make us able to see God in other people and in circumstances that call for us to act as healers? On a weekend when we engage in “Daylight Saving,” we need the Good News of just how utterly do-able it really is to lighten our hearts, to make them pure and immune to hate. Join us on Sunday to find out!
(Posted March 7, 2020)
At one time, it was fairly common to see signs at football games and other sporting events that read “John 3:16.” If you have been a part of a community that emphasizes memorizing verses, this might be one that you memorized. The words have a familiar cadence even to those who don’t attend church much:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
John 3:16 became a creed, a manifesto and most of all a test for many Christians. Becoming a John 3:16 Christian means that Christ envisions for all people one of two extreme outcomes – perish or have eternal life.
But John 3:16 does not stand on its own. In fact, it’s just one phrase in a much longer conversation that Jesus is having with his disciples. Continue just one more verse and John 3:17 reads,
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Taken by itself, John 3:16 can seem like the map to a pretty narrow road. But together with John 3:17, it is a promise that Christ did not come to us to blame or shame. Christ did not come to earth to test if you are worthy enough, holy enough or even faithful enough. Christ came to love, feed, heal and embrace. Christ came to save the world. Not just some of the world – all of the world. And Christ came to do those things using the tools he left his followers – those who heard his words for the first time, and you and me today – prayer, healing, conversation, and breaking bread together.
We don’t need to carry a sign that says “John 3:16.” By our words, actions and the prayers of our hearts, we can be John 3:17 people today and every day.
This article was originally publishd in Mission Moments by the United Church of Christ. These articles tell stories of how United Chruch of Christ congregations are connected to the wider church.
(Updated March 19, 2020)
In-church services are suspended in order to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.
Our worship services are now livestreamed with Zoom, a video conferencing provider.
Sunday services begin at 10 a.m. To join, open this link.
For audio only, dial one of the numbers below. When prompted for a webinar ID, enter 516 738 953#.
|301 715 8592||346-248-7799||669-900-6833|
To view our service on Facebook go to www.facebook.com/DanburyChurch/ and click the livestream video.
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.