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


Thanksgiving Blessings: What’s in Your Stuffing?

You can tell about a woman’s philosophy of life from the way she makes turkey dressing.

“Remember God’s bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!” -- – Henry Ward Beecher, 19TH Century Congregational PastorRev. Pat Kriss

Time for a break from all the seriousness of this year. I have my own unproven theory about life. And it goes like this: You can tell about a woman’s philosophy of life from the way she makes turkey dressing.

Every Holiday season that involves roasting a turkey is also the occasion for my friend Barbara to call me that morning while I am preparing the bird. Barbara and I are close friends, but have vastly different approaches to life.

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The Story of the Stuffing

Case in point: One holiday morning Barbara called me just as I was putting together the dressing (or, more descriptively, the stuffing, as that’s what you do with it when you stuff yourself).

“So how do you make your stuffing,” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been drying out sourdough bread like Martha does. I’m shredding it up now. Next I sauté onions, celery and fresh sage, with a touch of tarragon, in unsalted butter. And then I’ll add turkey broth to the mixture, while adding in dried sour cherries, golden apples and pecans. I will mix these together with a touch of sherry. You know, like Martha does.”  

Then I asked, “What are you doing for your stuffing?” There was a pause. “Well… Stove Top and seasoned salt.”

We all have our own approaches to what makes life savory and appealing. For some it’s combining a medley of many tastes and experiences into one, and making the preparation an artistic expression. For others the essence of life is simplicity -- and less time in the kitchen.

What’s in Your Stuffing?

Now, I have a suggestion for you as you wait for your Thanksgiving dinner to cook. Consider the things in your life that have made life more bearable this year, like special stuffing. Who has been the main ingredient, the “bread” in your recipe? And who are the ones who have put the spice into your life, especially when things haven’t been going so well? Who is your “sage?” who puts “zest” into it? Who has made this year a little bit more bearable with their “buttery presence” in between all the challenges? 

I would venture the suggestion that, even during this year when there were so many things seemingly not to be thankful for, we need to pause and think. The real, hidden guests at your Thanksgiving table are those people who filled you up during the year with their savory presence in your life. Even if you’re missing some of your usual guests, take a moment to raise a toast to them all, because you, too, are part of their recipe for living.

I am thankful for you and for all of God’s blessings.

Waiting for God

Living and waiting in times of transition.

(Posted November 5, 2020)Rev. Pat Kriss

"My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." - Abraham Lincoln

Many of us have been no doubt, living to one degree or another in what psychologists call a “liminal” state this week. Liminal states occur in times of transition, or when we are on the verge of the change from one life phase to another. Elections can do that to us. But frankly, we could say that the whole act of living is one, big liminal state, as we yearn in the long run to find a place in God’s heaven after our time here on earth is over.

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Please observe these social distancing guidelines when you worship with us. 

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Our own yearning for God’s blessing is a special theme of our two New Testament readings this week, not in some stuffy, scholarly way, but because in 2020 the characters we encounter are so familiar to daily life. And there’s a theme between the two readings. Waiting. Waiting in that liminal state for the next thing God has for us.

The Bridesmaids Parable

There’s a crowd of ten young women in the first reading, all bridesmaids waiting in the night for the Bridegroom to arrive, all of them hoping he will pick them to take to the wedding feast. It’s a liminal moment, there in the dark. But just like some people you know today, only half of the women have thought ahead about how to keep their lamps lit while they wait. They are not prepared. The wiser group of women have brought extra oil for their lamps. They are prepared. But when all of them see the bridegroom approaching in the distance, half the women’s lamps are well-lit. The lamps of the thoughtless bridesmaids have gone out, and they say to the wise women, "Quick! Give us your oil to light our lamps!"

This reminds me of the old saying, “Lack of planning on your part DOES NOT constitute an emergency on our part.” The wise women essentially tell them “Sorry, Charlie! Go buy your own before the Bridegroom arrives.” They depart. The lesson at hand: when the Bridegroom arrives, he takes the young women who prepared for his visit and who offer him the light of their lamps with him to the wedding. The disorganized rest were not there, and are shut out.

Transform for Jesus

The second related reading is one from Paul, and will be familiar to anyone who has heard their evangelical friends talk about The Rapture. In this week’s passage, he writes to an ever more-anxious group of Jesus-followers who believe, as Paul did, that Jesus was coming back in their own lifetime. They are yearning deeply for the Transformation they have been promised, rather than focusing on how they themselves must transform their lives for Jesus – the “Bridegroom” – to return.

Paul encourages them by imagining that glorious moment of change: Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever.

The question remains. We who still wait for Jesus in this bizarre year of 2020: What are WE doing to be ready for his return? Please join us Sunday to explore what we have learned from this long, liminal week, while we wait together, lamps lit.

Veterans Day: Courage, Faith and Gratitude

Hope and courage factor so deeply in the lives of veterans.

Posted November 11, 2020

“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the
​benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.” - Barack Obama

As I sit here watching the bronze leaves of the oak tree above us finally let go of their mooring and drift past the window, it reminds me of one fact. For those who have served this country, it isn’t so easy – or even possible – to let go of their experience of service.

When I say “service,” I include the families who have donated their loved one to protecting and defending the country.

When I say “service,” I don’t restrict it to active military duty alone. I expand it to everything that was also sacrificed, what was taken from them in their home life, and to the adaptations that they and their families had to make out of necessity.

Service to our country is service by the whole family.

Church Services on Sunday

In-Person Service begins at 10 a.m. Please observe these social distancing guidelines when you worship with us. 

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

Hope and Courage

It’s perhaps most fitting that this Sunday we’ll explore the link between hope and courage, because these two things factor so deeply in the lives of veterans. We, in fact, have a duty and obligation to let those who have served know how deeply they are appreciated, as our act of spreading hope through recognition.

The “tree of service” for World War II veterans lies nearly bare, as so many of the Greatest Generation have let go and drifted from our sight. We salute those who remain.

For those whose service in Vietnam and return home was met with angry insults based on the politics of the time, we salute them, now that time has cleared our vision.

For all the men and women who have answered the call for every action from the Korea to the Persian Gulf, to Iraq and Afghanistan, we salute you.

While many veterans returned home intact physically and mentally, many, many did not. How does one watch one’s friend killed in action, when one survives? The blow to one’s spirit is as great a concussive assault as those who experience traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb, or who leave a limb on the battlefield. These are the hidden, ongoing sacrifices that our veterans and families make every day in their lives together.

Faith and Healing

Beginning in Matthew 8:5, we see the regard Jesus has for the centurion who believes in his healing power for someone in his charge, and recognizes that the faith of this soldier is based on serving those in his care. And perhaps that’s what we recognize most of all in our veterans: People who have sacrificed –- and continue to sacrifice –- for people they will never meet and who won’t get a chance to show their appreciation. For all of us who cannot say it in person to our vets, Thank You. - Pastor Pat Kriss


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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