(Posted July 13,2018)
When every hope is gone, 'when helpers fail and comforts flee,' I find that
help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship, prayer
are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking,
sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real,
all else is unreal." – Mahatma Gandhi
Instead of the turmoil and political drama of this week that is ending, I think all of us were most intensely glued to the news of those twleve young boys and their soccer coach who were trapped far underground in a cave that instantly filled with floodwater. Amidst all the political posturing and deck-stacking in Washington and on the international stage, I found that what I looked for first each morning that I awoke was news of the rescue mission. While Supreme Court appointments are important, these young ones and their rescuers were far more pressing on my mind.\
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Services begin at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.
When things are tough and realistic hope seems all but gone, that is, indeed, the moment where we find ourselves reaching out in mind and spirit to that which transcends reality and infuses it: God. We find our souls calling out for divine intervention to release from darkness the Innocence of life. We pray. We bargain. We call out Holy, Holy, Holy God of Lord God Almighty, All Thy works shall praise Thy name In earth and sky and sea… And we trust.
And we wait.
As Gandhi pointed out in the quote above, even when hope seems gone, help arrives from somewhere, as if God were really listening. The answer is…. GOD IS LISTENING. Of course, not all prayers are answered the way we want them to be, but the fact is that asking for God to intervene, worshipping God and acknowledging Divine Power and Presence are all potent ways to move the energy of this world so that the very minds, and arms, and strength and human ingenuity that it takes to do the impossible are brought together. It is mind-boggling to have learned that, not even minutes of the last child and diver leaving the caves, the main pump that held back the cave water for the last week so that all could escape, broke.
I know that there have been many times over the last year of school shootings and violence when “thoughts and prayers” were the words carelessly tossed out when no one knew what to say about the tragedies. And THAT deserves our condemnation. But thoughts and prayers – and worship, when offered honestly, can pave the way to the kind of bravery it takes to force people in power to act.
From the letters of James that we don’t often read, comes this advice from the disciple:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
This Sunday and for the two remaining Sundays in July, I’ll be focusing our message on the incredible ways that those who wrote some of our most favorite hymns were inspired by circumstances to write them. This Sunday we will be spending a few minutes with “Holy, Holy, Holy.” We’ll have the very talented Linda Wrenn sitting in for Jim Moriarty as he recuperates from last week’s surgery.
See you soon! --- Pastor Pat Kriss
(Updated, July 26, 2018)
Seven of us gathered last Monday at Three Brothers Diner to discuss our spirituality and beliefs. It was a very nourishing experience of thoughtfulness and a lot of laughter! We’ll meet one more time this coming Monday, July 30, at the diner starting at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is invited, and as one of our “foamers” said, she has friends who want to come as well.
(Posted July 18, 2018)
For many people, because of work or other commitments, going to a house of worship on the weekend just doesn’t fit with the way their lives unfold. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a spiritual life, or for that matter, that they don’t have questions or opinions they’d like to share about faith and religion. It’s the informal kind of discussion that lends itself to a brew or a drink among friends after work. Churches, on the other hand, don’t usually serve beverages other than grape juice.
But First Congregational Church in Danbury is changing all that. On Monday, July 23, and on Monday, July 30 a new meet-up group, called Faith and Foam, will gather at Three Brothers Diner at 242 White Street, Danbury, starting at 5:30 p.m. The group will be facilitated by First Congregational Church’s pastor, Reverend Pat Kriss. Pastor Pat, as she is called, encourages anyone who wants to join in to come and bring their thoughts, opinions and concerns to the meetup group. Holding two Masters Degrees from Yale Divinity School, Pastor Pat invites people to buy a brew or a soda, and open up the respectful discussion among participants so that everyone learns from one another. While the group starts at 5:30, she encourages people who get off work later to come anytime up through 6:30 p.m.
Faith and Foam will run through July 30, take a break in August, then resume every other week, starting September 10. For information or questions, please call Pastor Pat at 203-744-6177. Three Brothers Diner is handicapped accessible.
As I sit here in my church Study to write about the author of this Sunday’s featured hymn- Francis of Assisi – I was just given a special message. A dove has started singing into the air conditioner in my window! That’s rather fitting, seeing as the Canticle of the Sun is about creation, all of it, singing its praises to the creator. Rather fitting as well, because Francis wrote this song literally on his deathbed, wracked with fever.
He had an affinity for birds, preaching to them and admiring them. So my little co-writer on the windowsill is very apropos. It was author Matshona Dhliwayo who said, “A dove struggling in a storm grows stronger than an eagle soaring in sunshine.” Even in his dying days, Francis the Dove soared like an eagle and rose against the storm of a money-hungry world. It did not quite know what to make of the gentle man who gave away his wealth and title to preach to the poor, and preferred taming the wolf to passing judgment on him. But he knew. He lifted up his voice, a troubadour to the end, and sang his praise to God.
Worship with Us
Services begin at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.
This Sunday we will not only take Jesus up on his Gospel invitation to “come away by ourselves and rest a while.” Our journey to that quiet place will be accompanied by Max Vladimiroff whose incredible talents have been appreciated by so many of us, especially during Messiah concerts and in his role in the Danbury Music Center. We are indebted to Max for filling Jim Moriarty’s very large shoes as Jim continues to recover from hip surgery. I encourage all of you to “come away” and rest from the storms around us, and leave refreshed and joyful this Sunday. Pastor Pat Kriss (and dove)
And a Special Invitation as we kick off a new Outreach! This Monday, July 23, we will be launching our informal meet-up that we are calling “Faith and Foam,” at Three Brothers Diner in Danbury starting at 5:30 (242 White Street). If you haven’t heard of these kinds of meet-ups, they have become very popular for churches to run in communities all over the country. The intention behind the meet-ups is this: For many people because of work or other commitments, going to a house of worship on the weekend just doesn’t fit with the way their lives unfold. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a spiritual life,
or, for that matter, that they don’t have questions or opinions they’d like to share about faith and religion. It’s the informal kind of discussion that lends itself to a brew or a drink among friends after work. Churches, on the other hand, don’t usually serve theological beverages other than grape juice.
But First Congregational Church is changing that with Faith and Foam, a meet-up group that invites anyone who wants to join, to come and bring their thoughts, opinions and concerns to the meetup group. Pastor Pat invites people to buy a brew or a soda, and open up the respectful discussion among participants so that everyone learns from one another. We will hold “F&F” on Monday the 23rd and Monday the 30th. We will take a break in August. Then it will resume starting September 10 and be held every two weeks into the Fall. I invite everyone, including current church members, to come try it out, or even bring a friend or two who might like to discuss, debate and sip our way through theology. – 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 10 a.m.–11 a.m.