Archive for August, 2010

Free Time

August 24, 2010

Hattie's Healing, by Susan Shie

8/22/10; Luke 13:10-17

a sermon preached by Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

I met Diana in seminary. We Midwesterners affectionately call her “Dianer”, since she speaks with a thick Boston accent, and embodies the stereo-typical Bostonian personality: she’s tough, she’s direct, she lets you know where she stands. Diana is an outdoors-person. She and I enjoy swapping stories of wilderness hikes and camping trips.



Taking a wee break

August 23, 2010

We try to practice what we preach around here! In the Sabbath spirit, your bloggers will be taking a short break until early September. (One exception: we will continue to post sermons.) Stay tuned for new content and bloggers this fall!

Van Gogh's Noon: Rest from Work (after Millet)

Sermon 8/15/10: What Stress I am Under!

August 17, 2010

Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild???

“What Stress I am Under!”

Luke 12: 49-56

© Rev. Abigail Henderson.  Preached at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase—“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”

This description brings to mind the blond, blue-eyed Jesus who populates Western Christian art (see left!).   Thanks to forensic anthropology, we know that the historical Jesus couldn’t have looked like that.  We also know that Jesus was not exactly meek and mild.  But we don’t need modern scholarship to tell us that—we need only turn to the ancient text before us today.


Time, like an ever rolling stream

August 17, 2010

Picture © Patrick Hoff

Chapter 8, the final chapter of Receiving the Day, ends with a description of a funeral.  It is appropriate that Bass would conclude her book about time with this inescapable truth:  at some point, we all run out of time.  In her discussion of Psalm 90, traditionally understood as “a prayer of Moses,” Bass describes how these verses “bring together two kinds of time–our short sigh and God’s mountainous eternity–together” (121).

My favorite paraphrase of Psalm 90 is found in the beloved hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”  Despite our commitment to inclusive language at FC, I’d like to offer up Watts’s original words.  For me, the old language makes the hymn’s themes even more poignant; the poet may be long dead, but his spirit endures through these verses…



August 12, 2010

On the way home this afternoon, I’ll be picking up our weekly box from the farm where I worked last summer, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm.   I love that moment when I heft the box into my arms, and through the crack at the top, the fragrance of basil wafts into my nostrils.  I close my eyes and scenes from weekly harvest morning at the farm unfold in my imagination — the dawn chill and dew, the insistently bleating sheep and goats, the wheel barrows brimming with freshly cut produce, the endless washing and sorting and bundling, the ache in my stomach stemming from eating too much raw cabbage or watermelon, the freely winding–and often hilarious– conversations, the bountiful table at noon, and the scramble to load the cars and trucks in time for delivery.


Unfailing Treasure

August 9, 2010

8/8/10; Luke 12: 32-40

Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

This summer, we have been exploring the practice of keeping Sabbath. Here’s a quick status report… Abby and I have been weaving the theme of Sabbath into our preaching— with a delightful break for Jonah and the Baptists. Some of us have been reading Receiving the Day and blogging our reflections. (In true First Church fashion, some are also reading their own selections, which they like better…more power to them…)

Best of all, we have not only talked about, or thought getting some Sabbath, but we have actually done it, together. Each Sunday, anywhere from one to six people have sought out the renewal of healing prayer and anointing with oil. There might be one brave person who has used the art prayer station in the back of the sanctuary during worship : ) 15 adventurous souls paddled a restful cadence last Saturday on the St. Croix. And it looks like another 15 – or more– will join our quiet retreat this afternoon.


The wheel goes round and round…

August 5, 2010
The Liturgical Calendar

The Liturgical Cycle (source:

If you’ve ever felt curious about or confused by the Christian liturgical calendar, I highly recommend Chapter 6 of Receiving the Day. Dorothy Bass vividly describes the seasons and cycles that make up the church year, as well as their origins and traditional meanings.  She also poignantly describes how the liturgical year has given shape and meaning to important periods in her own life.  Over the course of a particular two years, for example, the story of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection helped Bass overcome isolation and despair in the wake of a failed relationship:


Congrats, David!

August 5, 2010

This past Tuesday, at the Rondo Community Library in Saint Paul, David Gilbert-Pederson was recognized at the Twin Cities Gray Panther celebration of founder Maggie Kuhn’s birthday anniversary for his work on social justice issues.

During the celebration, TCGP’s saluted and recognized three notable social activists: David Gilbert-Pederson, Tom Sengupta, Katherine Kwong along with the organization Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).

About 50 persons attended from throughout the Twin Cities. First Church member Jane Seeley presented the award to David, and Trevor Hausske attended and said a few words about David’s community leadership.

Jonah Bushed

August 2, 2010

artwork by Robin Jensen

Jonah 4 ~ August 1, 2010

Rev. Douglas M. Donley, pastor of University Baptist Church

preaching at First Congregational Church

We have reached the final of four sermons on the book of Jonah. Who knew it was this complex? Isn’t it just a story about a really hungry fish and a really humble servant? That’s what the children’s stories tell us. But this is not a story for children. It is at least R-rated, maybe even worse than that. It is a story of despair and angst. It paints a picture of the most despondent person in the Bible. And it contrasts poor pathetic Jonah with an ever-present and eternally patient God. More about that in a minute. Do you find yourself in this story? I’m not talking about the fish adventure or the repentant cows. I’m talking about Jonah when his life has become out of control. When he is so caught in despair that he ceases to make any sense at all? I venture to say that we have been there, done that. When that happens, how do you get out? That’s the question of this book that ends in a question.