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

News

We Are Tired; Here's the Good News

How is living to Jesus’ standards ever easy, ever light?

"Make sure you don't carry the burden of the whole world on your shoulders, just in case someone needed them to cry."Reverend Pat Kriss
Nema Al-Araby, 21st century Author

We are weary. Good Lord, we are weary. Tired of bad news. Tired of watching people warring against one another. Tired of adapting to a world where six months ago, a mask was for Mardi Gras and not for protection against everything that lies on the other side of it.

We are so weary that all of this rumbling bad news can make us deaf to The Good News. God knows we need good news. But today, and even back when Jesus preached to a tired and frightened world, he knew this, and addressed the fatigue directly.

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Join our Sunday service online via Zoom. (Here's how.)

You may also view our service on Facebook Live.

In-church services are suspended in order to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus says to all, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

But really, how is the “yoke” of living to Jesus’ standards ever easy, ever light? This Sunday we’ll explore what “The Good News” really is, and what it means to take it on in a way that brings joy, not burden to us all.

By the way, on this same topic, on the last Sunday of July (July 26) we will have one of our Real Theology Sundays and the topic will be coping emotionally with the world we currently are inhabiting, and how to foster better mental health as we do. Anne Lord Wennerstrand, clinical psychiatric social worker, has joined us in the past to discuss depression. She will be “live on Zoom” with us, and will stay around after the service to field questions about staying healthy.

More information to follow later. Also this Sunday, we are please to have members of King Street Congregational Church joining us for the 10 a.m. service. Next Sunday we’ll be joining them for their Sunday service as their pastor Paul Bryant Smith and I do a summer “pulpit swap.”

Protests, and Jesus’ Call to Compassion

Why we march, and how we heal.

(Posted June 5, 2020)

Before Tuesday’s Protest March in Danbury, I was called by a group that lightheartedly called themselves, “a bunch of old ladies with pre-existing conditions.” They asked me if they could stand in front of First Church, where they could support the protestors but also safely social distance because of their health. I told them I’d be there myself.

As the demonstration began and the swarms of young people and people of every age and color began streaming past us, I wondered what the young thought of the gaggle of silver-haired old people on the church front lawn. I suspect, if they noticed at all, we were but a fleeting thought, and even then, we were perceived as anachronisms that probably didn’t understand the passion of this moment, this outrage about abused and killed black citizens.

Flashbacks to Youth and Idealism

But then, they wouldn’t know that, back in the day the silver-haired “old ladies” weren’t silver-haired at all, but young marching women, women protesting the use of fire hoses and attack dogs against African Americans who only wanted the same right to sit at the Woolworth’s lunch counter as the rest of the people. These “inconsequential old people” were in their youth marching in Selma, in Montgomery, so that the words of a young preacher who said he had a dream could see that dream realized. We all were having a flashback to our youth and idealism.

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Join our Sunday service online via Zoom. (Here's how.) In-church services are suspended in order to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.

Why We March

But… I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the people not marching might wonder why OUR church would even show support for such an event as that march. What does it have to do with US? (Even though our congregation is a lovely assortment of colors.)

 

Well, I’ll tell you why. The man that WE follow, that WE march behind, was a “criminal.” A convicted, most likely brown-skinned criminal in his own time, “according to The Authorities.” His crime was blasphemy, insurrection and claiming that he had a Kingdom he was trying to establish on earth, one built of peace that stood in direct opposition to the violence of the Roman Empire and absolute power of the priests of the Temple.

Yes. He was convicted and executed. The mocking sign on top of his cross said it all: INRI -- Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. And for this he received the death penalty.

There’s a parallel here, for the unnoticed and unsung people of color who can receive the death penalty either for minor infractions or no infractions other than being dark-skinned in a light skinned world. Crucifixion is a long, slow process of asphyxiation, until one can no longer breathe.

But before he drew his last breath, Jesus had an encounter on that cross that British writer Neil Gaiman raises up to us. He says, “there was only one guy in the whole Bible Jesus ever personally promised a place with him in Paradise. Not Peter, not Paul, not any of those guys. He was a convicted thief, being executed. So don't knock the guys on death row. Maybe they know something you don't.”

I don’t know if George Floyd did something to merit being brought down the ground by the police. What I do know is that whatever happened, it did not warrant capital punishment. I DO know that it warranted compassion rather than extinguishing the life of a human being.

Healing

Compassion is the balm that our Jesus Christ offers to all of us sinners. And in this particular case, I’d like to think the last words George heard, outside of those of his dead mother to whom he cried out, were words assuring him of his place in Paradise.

Be kind to one another, folks. We are all we have.

(All photos courtesy of Fanta Waterman.)

The Road Ahead

What does the Spirit expect of us with the commissioning we've received as disciples?

(Posted June 10, 2020)Reverend Pat Kriss

We're moving on. After the demonstrations. After the Bible waving, and the shoving and the cracking of heads on the pavement. My question is: "We're on the road together, but where to?" We know we cannot turn back. What does God call us to do? What does the Spirit expect of us with the commissioning we've received as disciples?

Whether we like it or not, the Spirit is still here with us, ready to bear us up through the people who will stand in the way of making the world change. This week I share with you Rev. Maren Tirabassi's poetry about the road ahead.

Worship Online with Us

Join our Sunday service online at 10 a.m. via Zoom. (Here's how.

You may also view our service on Facebook Live.

In-church services are suspended in order to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.

Pentecost has come and gone.

What does it mean to live with the Spirit?

We often say, “It's dark and we can't see where we’re going."

The Spirit replies, “Step into the darkness.
If there is no ground beneath you, I’ll give you wings.”

What happens if we land in the middle of the ocean?

The Spirit says, “I'll teach you to swim.”

What happens if we grow weary of swimming?

The Spirit says, “I’ll show you how to breathe underwater.”

What happens if the breath of others is taken away?

The Spirit says, “Those who have not spoken will speak.
Those who have not listened will listen.
And those who are willing will grow feathers and fins.”

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    9:30 a.m.–11 a.m.

 

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