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: Hope and Encouragement

Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers. It's that simple. Followers follow ...

(Posted September 13, 2018)Rev. Pat Kriss

It hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention, I don’t think, that the southeastern United States is in for a major storm, and residents along the coast are moving inland, while in the rest of the states' people are preparing in advance for the onslaught of high wind and floods. The best and only defense in times like these is to be prepared. Certainly our prayers are with the people.

But I must say that there are other things coming up this Fall for which we ought to prepare. As we get nearer to November, I detect the the “wind” is picking up around political opponents, as the media waves become flooded with negative rhetoric and downright nastiness. I may love the autumn, but I hate the negativity of election season. The one thing I wish I could get across, especially for candidates that like to profess their Christianity to garner votes, is that they can’t have it both ways. Scot McKnight, the New Testament Scholar and writer, says, "Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers. It's that simple. Followers follow, and those who don't follow aren't followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it." 

Worship with Us

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

From my perspective, that means you can’t stand up one day and profess how Jesus is your role model, and the next day flog your opponent with hateful words that demean and devalue. It doesn’t work that way. You either are a Christian, or you need to stop using that self-definition. Christianity is much more than just saying we’re Christians. Christianity means living it in the way we treat others. It’s Faith and Works. Not just words alone. And for the rest of us, we need to prepare for the gathering autumn storm of negativity. We need not let the flood of words wash away our peace of mind, not if we “sandbag where we live” with the knowledge that all of the bluster is just gusts of rhetoric.

This Sunday is Jazz Sunday. All of our scripture readings deal with the damage of that seemingly most innocent organ – the tongue – can do with just a few words. Even the Gospel itself is all about the disciples who misunderstand what Jesus means when he says he’s the Messiah. They thought he was going to be a political Messiah who would save them from their rivals and political enemies. But Jesus meant that he came as their personal Messiah, to teach them, to save them from themselves.   We’re going to study some powerful words of hope and encouragement this Sunday, while we enjoy some cool jazz along with those points of hope. Join us! – 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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