We invite you to read or listen to past sermons from the First Congregational Church of Southington.
May 24, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“The Day of Pentecost is here — and that wind— רוח—is beginning to blow through the church too. I can feel it in my bones, because as I experience the church of Jesus Christ today, it is still a place of chaos and mystery and misunderstanding. Every time I feel like I get a handle on the direction God is calling the church to go, or a clear sense of the mission of the church, the wind blows or there is another fire. I have to listen again in order to understand. I think that’s what God always intended for the church, that we never truly will be able to get it tamed or adequately organized. God’s moving among us in this wonderful institution we call the church will always be something of a mystery; always be in some state of chaos; always have the potential to change our lives—and the lives of those around us.” Pastor Ron’s sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-14 is available online:
May 17, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“Do you remember what goodbye really means? ‘Goodbye’ is an abbreviation for the phrase, ‘God be with you.’ It is a blessing, a prayer, an act of entrusting another to God’s care. That’s what is good about goodbye. When truly said, goodbye is a statement recognizing that only God can protect and best care for what we love the most. It is an act of faith and trust. In this scripture lesson from John, Jesus is preparing to say goodbye to his disciples. Having been with the disciples for three years, Jesus pauses to remember what he has given them in the time they have had, and to place his hopes for them into God’s hands.” Pastor Ron’s sermon on John 17:6-19 is available online:
May 10, 2015: The Rev. Linda Fernandes-Bailey
“In John 15:9-17 when Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” did he mean it literally? If that is the case, that is a big demand: one most of us may not be capable of. What if we ask the question, ‘What do I need to lay down? What gets in the way of my loving the way Jesus loves?’ We might have to lay down our need to be right, getting our own way, our judgements and opinions… There are many things we might need to lay down in order to love as Jesus loved…”
The Love Challenge (audio)
May 3, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“It is part of the ancient tradition of the church that when someone is baptized, that person is given a name. Before I baptize a child I ask the parents…’By what name will your child be called?’ That is what it means to be ‘Christened,’ to receive a Christian name. I don’t know who the child will become, whether she will be gay or straight, poor or rich. I don’t inquire about the color of her skin or the status of her family or what she will believe when she is 14-years-old and in the confirmation class. I ask for her name. And as the water drips down her forehead the ancient words fix the promise, ‘You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.’ Those are radical words.” From Pastor Ron’s sermon on Acts 8:26-40.
April 26, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“Today’s scripture (John 10:11-18) speaking of Jesus as the good shepherd is one of John’s most beautiful images and one of the Gospel’s most memorable moments. But this parable about sheep and shepherds and hired hands isn’t set in a beautiful context like the green pastures and still waters of the shepherd in Psalm 23. It is set in the harsh reality of the world; a reality where wolves eat little sheep, a world that needs a shepherd, not a hired hand, to protect its beloved. Where do you hide when the wolves come? When you are surrounded by the wolves of broken relationships, addiction, illness, financial struggles?
How about love?”
April 19, 2015: FCC Confirmation Class
“God invites us into partnership and communion with all who seek to be God’s faithful followers. We pray for the healing of the earth so that present and future generations may continue to enjoy the fruits of creation, and continue to glorify and praise God.”
Earth Day Worship (audio)
April 12, 2015: Rabbi Shelley Kovar Becker, Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation
“Your presence here speaks to your hope for the peace and the serenity that we might know if all could live in harmony with one another. We must all have tikvah, ometz, v’chayil–hope, courage and strength. May all of us be constant and fair, with compassion and mercy. The stability of a nation depends upon the honesty of its citizens and the justness of its institutions.”
April 5, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
In John’s version of the resurrection story, the disciple who Jesus loves sees and believes. “I think that when the other disciple, the one that Jesus loved, goes in the tomb and sees and believes, it isn’t because he suspends all rational thought; it isn’t because Peter tells him what to believe; it is because he goes in that tomb, into the worst place and situation that he could imagine, and looking around discovers that Jesus loves him, and as long as Jesus loves him, Jesus could not be dead.”
I Love You, and I Am Not Dead (pdf)
March 29, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
In Mark’s telling of the Palm Sunday story, Jesus looks around at everything considering what lies ahead. “While every ounce of our being wants to rush ahead to Easter joy, perhaps we could just look around at everything with Jesus this week, sit with him for a few minutes, look with sad and wondering eyes and learn that there is no way around the pain, no way around suffering…but there is always a way through it.”
Looking Around at Everything (pdf)
March 22, 2015: The Rev. Linda Fernandes-Bailey
In this week’s scripture (Jeremiah 31:27-34) God says “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” What does it mean to have our hearts broken open and God’s dream as our own dream? Compassion, kindness, justice, love, peace, forgiveness, equality: these are the words of our faith, but are they written on our hearts?
Hearts Broken Open (audio)
March 15, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
John 3:14-21 “When you look at the cross, it matters what you see. There, lifted up before us, is the deadly result of a world broken away from God. When we look at Jesus on the cross, we are seeing God’s judgement, on others and on ourselves. But as we look fully into the face of this awful judgement, God dares us to believe that judgement can be overcome by grace.”
March 8, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
John 2:13-22 tells the story of Jesus’ first trip to the temple. He proceeds to drive out the merchants who are making the temple a marketplace, teaching us what our real ministry should be. “When your children run to tell you what they learned in church school…when we deliver food to Southington Community Services…when a Stephen Minister walks alongside a woman who just lost her husband of 50 years…when GLBTQ youth feel comfortable walking through these doors knowing that they will find people here to love them…That is our ministry.”
March 1, 2015: The Rev. Dawn M. Karlson
In this week’s scripture (Mark 8:31-38), Jesus challenges his followers to “take up their cross” and follow him. When we follow Jesus into places of suffering, our own and others’, we walk into opportunities to meet God in the hearts and stories of others. We walk into opportunities to be changed by our suffering, and become new in some small or large way.
Suffering: Seeing It and Moving Through It (audio)
February 22, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
To be “called” is to be driven to places you never expected you would end up, and in today’s scripture (Mark 1:9-15), Jesus is called to the wilderness where he encounters temptations and “wild beasts.” Whatever wilderness you face, whatever “wild beasts” accompany you on your journey, there is hope.
February 8, 2015: The Rev. Linda Fernandes-Bailey
Today’s scripture (Mark 1:29-39) says, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” This line is in between Jesus healing and proclaiming the good news. Is our ministry grounded in prayer? What is prayer anyway, and how shall we do it? How do we get comfortable with praying?
A Deserted Place to Pray (pdf)
February 1, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
In today’s scripture (Mark 1:21-28), Jesus has been set loose in the world and nothing will ever be the same. The authority he brings is different. No matter what demons we face, Jesus wants to do something with us; even us, rational 21st-Century Christians. God still finds ways to call us, to help us find the place where we belong.
January 25, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“Jesus does not call a committee when he walks by the shore of the Sea of Galilee—he calls followers. He does not say to Simon, Andrew, James, and John let’s go sit down and discuss what we are going to do next and see if you want to come along. Jesus doesn’t say, “Let’s think about this thing for a while.” Jesus says to these fishermen, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people!” And immediately they followed him.” Will we? Will you?
January 11, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“…an authentic community of imperfect people, drawn together by the chaos that is around us in this world; connected to the living God sweeping over the darkness and void of the world we read about in the newspaper every day; a community that gives us courage and love, that leads us to act with compassion in the world…” It starts here.
January 4, 2015: The Rev. Dr. Ronald B. Brown
“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own” from Bishop Kenneth Untener’s prayer, “We Are Prophets of a Future Not Our Own” quoted in Pastor Ron’s sermon for Epiphany Sunday, “The Road We Are On”
Did you receive your Star Gift this year?
A Star Gift is a paper star with a special word on it, that we recommend placing somewhere that you will see it every single day. We invite you to pray on it and see how God may be guiding you throughout the year. If you would like to participate in this, please email the church office (or call us at 860-628-6958) and tell us if you’d like your word to be emailed back to you, or provide your address to have it sent via the postal service.