(Posted December 1, 2019)
In the Advent season when we turn from darkness to light, we give thanks to the men and women who, in the darkest moments of our lives, lead us to that light.
(Posted December 4, 2019)
Whenever I read the Gospel for Sunday, December 8 (Matthew 3:1-12), I instantly find myself imagining the place that John the Baptist (and before him, Isaiah) listens for the call to salvation:
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'"
No matter whether yours is a quaint country church, or, like ours, a large city landmark on the corner of one of downtown Danbury’s busiest streets, we’ve all heard voices crying out in the wilderness beyond our walls. Some are easy to recognize because we’ve become attuned to them: the homeless, the destitute, the victims of prejudice, of racism, of discrimination, of injustice. Others not so much: the wailing, blaring, whooping and chirping of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances rushing to emergencies.
Church Services on Sunday
We will honor of our area's First Responders during our December 8 Sunday worship. The service will begin at 10 a.m.
All are welcome to worship with us.
While we can’t avoid their sounds, which invariably occur during critical points of a service, we tend to forget their meaning. That’s unfortunate, for besides men and women responding to crises, through them these vehicles also bear the message of Matthew and of Isaiah, heard and heeded. Their selfless acts of bravery may be minimized as being “part of the job” by the callous. In truth, it’s “part of the calling,” Matthew’s and Isaiah’s. These people are truly first responders in every sense of the word and The Word: They forge paths of physical salvation and, in more cases than not, those they save thank not only them, but God.
These “distractions” during worship are really reminders —- I refrained from using “wake-up calls” —- and it’s only right that congregations show they understand and appreciate this in some appropriate way. In what has become an annual tradition, this Sunday our church will hold a service dedicated to Danbury’s First Responders, which includes a hymn we had commissioned in their honor. They and their families will help decorate our Sanctuary Christmas Trees with special ornaments and will listen to expressions of gratitude from our members, both young and old.
In these troubled times when, unfortunately, too many of those we might turn to for help act more like Pharisees than The Baptists, let’s remember one group remains true to God’s message.
Thank you, First Responders!
(Posted November 7, 2019)
When wounds are healed by love, The scars are beautiful.
At one time in the distant past, most of us had them … solid steel bracelets, curved like a “C” and bearing the name on its surface of someone that, for most of us, was a total stranger. For us, wearing one was a personal statement about the high cost of a country’s choice to wage war.
I found mine a while ago in a box I designate for important keepsakes. I’ve had it since 1969. It’s a Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action bracelet, and on mine is the name of Captain Joseph Shaw Ross, U.S. Air Force. (Photo below, left.) I never knew him, but he’s occupied a place in my heart for all these decades, as I wonder from time to time where his remains lie hidden, how his family back in Kentucky is faring so many years after the Vietnam War ended in 1974. For a generation of mostly young male soldiers in an unpopular war, coming home was not a welcoming celebration, but a time when politics demonized people who had answered the call to serve their country.
Church Services on Sunday
Service begins at 10 a.m. All are welcome to worship with us.
Joseph Shaw Ross did not come home. I visited the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in DC, some 20 years after I was given the bracelet. I found his name, touched the inscription on the wall of this young man I never met. And I realized that his remains are resident in my heart.
But here’s the important part. Every day we are surrounded by people WHO ARE here, among us. Men and women who understood that their love of country meant, for them, enlisting in the armed services. They are veterans, this Band of Brothers and Sisters, late from other wars, other actions. They’re not looking for adulation for what they achieved and endured for our sake. But in every way on this one day of the year that we honor them, they richly deserve it. Some wear hidden scars of mind and body. Some left behind a limb or their comfort in loud noisy crowds. Some returned intact. But regardless of the circumstances, We the People owe them our respect and support. This Sunday at First Church we honor all veterans and their families who also served by waiting. If you know a vet, why not invite him or her to join us?
Finally, I received a gift this week I never expected. On a website I stumbled upon it - the Virtual Wall of Faces of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. I came face-to-face with Joseph Shaw Ross. I pray, as he piloted his jet through enemy fire, his soul just kept ascending into the arms of God. His picture is here on this page. May we lift a prayer of thanksgiving for the lives of all who served, and may we thank the ones we can still hug. Blessings to you all. - 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:
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday 9:30 a.m.–11 a.m.