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


Two Reluctant Ministers Who Tried to Stop Human Suffering

How Jesus and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., entered their ministries.

Rev. Pat Kriss(Posted January 12, 2022)

“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:

- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”

--Mahatma Gandhi

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You are welcome to join our Sunday service on Zoom at 10 a.m. Click here to participate in the live service.

Our worship services will be 100 percent virtual for as long as the number of COVID-19 cases in Danbury remain elevated.

These services will be livestreamed to Facebook, where you may view them at a date and time more suited to your convenience.

On this particular January weekend, our attention turns to two particular men. One is Jesus in the gospel, where we find him uncharacteristically reluctant to perform his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding. The second is the man for which this weekend is named: Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He, too, was reluctant about his career path. The son of a “rock star” preacher father, he knew he could never reach that level and only wanted to be a religious researcher and teacher.

Why were they so reluctant? Despite the divinity of one and the intellect of the other, both shared one thing in common: They were human.

An End to Human Suffering

The other thing Jesus and Martin shared in common was the soul-deep urge to help stop human suffering. After the miracle at Cana, Jesus went on to perform six more miracles as a sign of who he was, each of them ending types of human suffering.

For Martin, who was thrust into a fight for racial justice that he initially had little interest in, he lent his presence, his voice and his very body to the cause. He taught people of all races that evil cannot stand against love and justice, even if it ends one’s life with a bullet.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

But that brings us face to face with some questions we usually avoid pronouncing out loud:

If our God is all-powerful, why doesn’t God simply put an end to suffering?
If there is an all-just, all powerful God, how can God stand by, and watch humans suffer?
What, if any purpose does suffering serve?

This topic, known among theologians as theodicy, will be the focus of our talks on Wednesday, January 19, at 2 p.m. on Zoom. If you’ve never been to our gathering but would like to be there, just let us know and we will include you to receive whatever readings we will use. 

This topic in particular may not hand you a set of answers to these questions, but we can guarantee that it will expand your mind and perspective. Come join us Sunday at 10 a.m. for our online service, and then at midweek for a lively discussion.

Joy on Pink Sunday

Try not to define the difference between joy and happiness. It doesn’t really matter, as long as we generate a smile in others.

Rev. Pat Kriss(Posted December 8, 2021)

This coming Third Advent Sunday is also known as our “Pink Sunday,” the Sunday of Joy because we’re drawing nearer to Christmas.

In our congregation we will especially celebrate what would be the 100th birthday of our beloved Dorothy Johnson, who for decades as Church Administrator, kept our congregation’s “trains on the track.” (More about Dorothy on Sunday.)

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Facemasks are optional if you are fully vaccinated.

Watch us on Facebook: We livestream our services to Facebook. You may view them live or on demand at

In fact, joy can take many forms, including remembering. My gifted colleague Reverend Maren Tirabassi took time this week to remind us that even clergy shouldn’t try to define for others the difference between joy and happiness. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter, as long as we generate a smile in others.

I’m sharing a poem from Maren Tirabassi. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few beautiful “ugly sweaters” show up. Blessings to you all.

Celebrate the Sunday of Happiness

How many sermons have I preached
seriously suggesting that
“happiness,” is not “joy,”

but only a trivialized replacemen
tfor the true depths of Advent?
Who am I to decide between them,
and avoid giving
little happy times to people?
For someone
one happy moment might define

the joy of a whole season.
Get the tabletop tree

and put it in the dining room
where more people see it.
Do the mitten drive (it’s not a manger
and it is also not rent)
but some folks need warm fingers
to recognize the manger
already in their lives.

Buy the silly toy
which may be remembered longer.
Send a paper card. Make a phone call,
especially after a loss.
Go caroling in assisted living facility,
correctional institution, border shelter,
under-the-bridge, camp-in-woods
where the unhoused gather
(Avoid ‘I’ll be home…’ ‘There’s no place…’)
Put on a mask; no one expects you
to be a herald angel.
Wear the holiday sweater –
it’s not ugly if one person smiles.               – Rev. Maren Tirabassi

Christmas and the Art of Waiting

The power of “yes.”

Rev. Pat Kriss(Posted December 16, 2021)

"Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born." - George Bernard Shaw

It seems so fitting that this Sunday’s reading revolves around the women who are at the center of the Christmas story. After all, in this final Sunday of Advent, the season of waiting, women, especially those who are expecting a child, are masters of the “Art of Waiting.”

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Facemasks are optional if you are fully vaccinated.

Watch us on Facebook: We livestream our services to Facebook. You may view them live or on demand at

In general, we humans as a species are not very adept at waiting, especially in this current era of “I want it NOW.” There is however, no DoorDash for baby delivery. Ask any pregnant woman and you will learn that she has to adapt to the fact that her interior is a “construction zone” she shares with one who is on the way, but at his own pace. With an occasional kick in the ribs to make sure she’s paying attention.

Masters of the Art

This Sunday we meet both Mary the soon-to-be mother of Jesus, and her cousin Elizabeth. Talk about mastering the art of waiting! Elizabeth had faced decades of infertility and the derision that went with it in a society that solely valued women for their baby-making capacity.  But God not only chose Mary as the perfect person to usher his Son into the world; God also gave Elizabeth the role of mother to John, to be called The Baptist, who in his adulthood would pave the way for Jesus and his ministry. Mary, too, found herself the subject of gossip, when she turned up pregnant before her marriage to Joseph was completed.

A Woman’s Prophetic ‘Yes’

What’s wonderful about this Sunday is that, for one of the few times in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, we hear the voice of a woman, and a prophetic voice at that, describing the blessed role that God has asked her to play.

Not only that, but in our Christian version of the story, Mary was given a choice to accept, and has said ‘yes.’

Yes not only to birthing the Word of God, but to the pain that will follow as evil and power try to suppress his word.
Yes to the heartache of standing under the cross.

Sadly, it’s been too long within Protestantism that we’ve shied away from learning the beauty of Mary’s commitment to God’s will, and of her own role in starting Jesus in his public ministry at the wedding of Cana, by insisting that it was time to reveal who he was in changing water into wine. 

This one Sunday of the year we Congregationalists get to hear Mary’s voice -– that the long-awaited Savior of the world has chosen her, and sleeps within her, until she and Joseph complete an arduous 90-mile trek through the mountains from Nazareth to tiny Bethlehem. The waiting is nearly over.


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

Phone: (203) 744-6177

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:
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sunday Worship:
Sunday   10:00 a.m.–11 a.m.


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