Archive for October, 2010

Gifts that Save

October 31, 2010

10/31/10; Luke 19:1-10

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

Bare, sandy soil, punctuated by shaggy blades of grass. Muddy, stagnant puddles. Shelters constructed out of recycled refuse, perched on foundations of garbage. People subsisting on waste scavenged from the nearby city. I toured this community near Porte Alegre, Brazil, with Habitat for Humanity while attending a World Council of Churches Assembly.



Heart-Shaped Box

October 30, 2010

I have a heart-shaped wooden box on my dresser.  Every evening I empty the change from my pocket into the box.  This is a habit that my father taught me.  He would do this every evening too.  “My savings account,” he would say. “Little things,” he’d start to say as he’d shake the coins in his pocket, “do add up.”   He was so dedicated to this practice that during his day he wouldn’t spend the coins in his pocket.  He’d take out bills to pay for every thing.  If it cost $1.26, he would take out two ones instead of using the coins in his pocket.  “More savings,” he’d teach.


Sermon 10/24/10: “In Need”

October 27, 2010

“In Need”

a sermon by the Rev. Abigail Henderson, preached on Oct. 24, 2010, at First Congregational Church of Minnesota.

Psalm 65; Luke 18: 9–14

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector by Ian Polluck

My father always had a saying:  “From the outside, one can never truly understand someone else’s marriage or financial situation.”

Growing up in New Jersey, his father, a Wall Street investment manager, commuted to New York City every day to work.  He bought fine suits and watches, kept a fleet of antique cars, and sent my father to fancy East Coast schools.

In the mid-1960s, however, the truth emerged:  my grandfather had intentionally neglected to pay his income taxes for over forty years. Edgar Allen Henderson then escaped jail by dying of natural causes.  Meanwhile, his widow—my paternal grandmother—lost everything and spent the rest of her days in poverty.



October 21, 2010

Yesterday, National Public Radio fired Juan Williams for remarks he made about Muslims when he appeared as a guest on Fox New’s “The O’Reilly Factor”.  Williams, addressing O’Reilly, said: “I mean, look, Bill.  I’m not a bigot.  You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.  But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.  I get nervous.”


Don’t Lose Heart

October 21, 2010

Children’s Sabbath, 10/17/10; Luke 18:1-8

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

Today, our scripture focuses on justice; human justice, God’s justice.
As we celebrate Children’s Sabbath, we join with many congregations in seeking justice for children.  But what do we mean by justice?  Is it a matter of fairness?  Or doing what is right? Or acting according to the law?  The Biblical concept of justice, rooted in the Hebrew scriptures, requires that society cares for and protects the weak and vulnerable – that is, the widows, orphans and strangers, those who lie outside of the protection of the extended family.

Making Food Good

October 13, 2010

This is Jane posting an entry from Susannah Dolance.

Last week, Jane, JoAnne Rohricht, and I attended the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College.   The theme was “Making Food Good.”  I was excited about the conference because I have both a personal and professional interest in food.

I’ve always enjoyed eating, but I became interested in the behind-the-scenes of food about ten years ago, when I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan and started shopping at the People’s Food Co-op.  As a budding sociologist, I was fascinated by the many ways individual food choices and eating habits are connected to broader social structures.

In 2004, I moved to the Twin Cities to take a job as an instructor of Sociology at Century College.  In 2005, I began to put together an Introduction to Sociology class for the summer term that teaches the basic concepts of sociology by examining contradictions in the world of food (e.g. too much food in the developed world, while there’s not enough in the developing world).  I’ve been teaching that class every summer since, so I’m always on the lookout for new perspectives, ideas, and controversies in the study of food.  The Nobel Conference looked like a great place to explore some of these ideas.


Sermon 10-10-10: Immersion

October 12, 2010


Jer 29:1,4-7; Luke 17:11-19

A sermon preached by the Rev. Abigail Henderson at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC, on Oct. 10, 2010.

When I was growing up in New England, I had a friend named Elizabeth who went to “language immersion” camp right here in Minnesota.   Guess what the language was?  Swedish!

She went to camp, and everybody spoke Swedish all the time.  No English allowed.  They didn’t just speak Swedish, they lived and breathed Swedish—they (anachronistically) celebrated St. Lucia Day, ate Swedish meatballs, and played Viking lawn-bowling.  They learned the customs and history and folk arts and songs of Sweden.

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth is fluent in Swedish.


Rummage Sale slideshow!

October 9, 2010

Many thanks to all!

(To pause or play the sideshow, hover your mouse over the images.)


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Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

October 7, 2010


Cain and Abel by Marc Chagall


Last week, Tim wrote about the Civility Project, a campaign at Rutgers University that uses “panel discussions, lectures, workshops and other events to raise awareness about the importance of respect, compassion and courtesy in everyday interactions,” with a special emphasis on the Internet and other social technologies (09/29/10 N.Y. Times).

Sadly, a great irony has emerged.  On the campaign’s inaugural day, news came that a Rutgers freshman named Tyler Clementi, 18, committed suicide.  It seems clear that he was driven to this tragic act by the actions of his roommate and another student.  They streamed video online of Tyler having a sexual encounter with another man. Tyler is one of six recent suicides by teenage males that have been linked to anti-GLBT bullying by peers.


By the Rivers of Babylon

October 4, 2010

October 3, 2010; Ps 137; 2 Tim 1:1-14

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

The young man, a high school Junior, stepped forward to the mic.  His relatively small stature, slightly stooped posture, and blond hair falling unevenly over his forehead suggested a timid demeanor.  Yet his voice came through with clarity and eloquence, as he described his struggle to come to terms with being a gay teen in a hostile school environment.  He portrayed brutal bullying at the hands of his peers.  He told how, as he heard again and again that he is disgusting and sinful, that the world would be better without him, he began to believe it.
With restrained, but intense emotion, he spoke of the temptation to take his own life.