Archive for June, 2011

God Between Us

June 26, 2011

June 26, 2011; Matthew 10: 40-42

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

“Compassionate welcome means approaching each other through God…” writes theologian Emilie Townes. Compassionate welcome means approaching each other through God. (Feasting on the Word Commentary, Year A, Volume 3, p. 190)

A small encounter this week at the Y reminded me that compassionate welcome is no simple task. On the seat of the exercise bike sat a water bottle. The man on the next bike said it wasn’t his, and he hadn’t seen the owner. So I set in the floor, adjusted the machine, and began pedaling. At just that moment a young man walked up. “Oh,” I said, “were you using this machine?” “Yes,” he answered. “Would you like me to move? I would be happy to…” Before he could respond, someone else spoke: “no, no it’s fine. We’ll just set up over here” – gesturing toward another bike he was already adjusting. I said “OK” and went back to pedaling. A conversation ensued between the two of them. The young man confronted his helper with words slow and strained. “I’m feeling upset” “What’s wrong?” “I don’t like it when you speak for me.” “What do you mean?” “Just then, you answered for me. You told that lady it was Ok for me to use another machine. I had it all adjusted and ready. It takes a lot of time and effort for me to figure out the seat and I don’t like to have to do it all over again.”



Going to Galilee

June 19, 2011

June 19, 2011; Matthew 28: 16-20

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

Jesus said to the disciples: “after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” At the empty tomb, they once again received word: Jesus went to Galilee; go to Galilee. Galilee is home- the place where they all grew up. Galilee is daily life, the arena where big politics touch ordinary people. In the Palestine of Jesus’ day, the Romans ruled the Jews through tyrannical governors.



June 13, 2011

print by Diana Eicher, from the “Laughing Bear” portfolio

This Spring, we exhibited the “Laughing Bear” Portfolio  in Pilgrim Hall.  Artist Diana Eicher put this beautiful show together.  She sent the “Laughing Bear” poem, by Katherine Tilton, to twenty some printmaker colleagues and asked them to make a print.  You can read the poem here:

We held a  reception for this exhibit on Friday May 13, which included a reading of the poem, beautifully rendered by Sally Wingert.  Since the poem addresses the subject of domestic violence, we invited representatives from area organizations to join us.  Carol Arthur, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Domestic Abuse Project, and Rebecca McLane, Operations Manager from the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project both talked about their programs and gave a bit about the history of domestic abuse intervention in The Twin Cities and in Minnesota. The Twin Cities have been in a leadership role in this area since the beginning.  We were thrilled that purchases of prints donations raised over $700 for the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

The “Laughing Bear” event inspired First Church member, Carol Cochran, to write this reflection:  


I wrote a God, hear our prayer article for Chimes [First Church newsletter] in 2005. My brother, a psychiatrist, was locked in an Arizona jail with a $1,450,000 bail. His crime—domestic violence. I was shocked, confused, angry, sad, and grateful. Our parents deceased, I, his big sister and only sibling, went to his trial in January 2006 to testify and find out more. The trauma of seeing him shackled and fallen from his throne where I, our family, and his community had placed him, was like a horror movie, not real life. He was a forensic psychiatrist with the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) and formerly for the Utah DOC, where he gained fame as the psychiatrist for Gary Gilmore, Utah’s first death row inmate, after many decades, to die by firing squad. Now, my brother was on the other side, without the keys.


Clothed With Power

June 5, 2011

June 5, 2011; Acts 1: 1-11; Luke 24: 44-53

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

On the morning of Saturday May 21st, NPR reported on Harold Camping’s rapture prophecy. At 6 pm on May 21st, Camping had predicted, terrible earthquakes would strike, beginning in New Zealand. 200 million of the faithful would be taken up into heaven Those left behind would endure 6 months of torture until the world ended in a fireball. The reporter spoke to a couple dozen people who believed in the prophecy.

Up until this point, the whole rapture thing had struck me as funny. I kept quipping that since I work on Sunday, it would be convenient for me if the world ended on a Saturday. One way or another, I would get the day off. I grew sad; however, as I listened stories of real people who had staked their lives on this prophecy.


First Church’s architecture: pictures and video

June 2, 2011

Last week, our own Rev. Dr. Clyde Steckel gave a second-hour presentation on the architecture of First Church.  By popular demand, here are the slides he showed.  Click on each picture to enlarge.  Unfortunately at this time I don’t have the captions, but they are forthcoming!

At Brad Schumann’s suggestion, we also showed an incredible 8mm silent film of the steeple being taken down in 1967 and replaced in 1971 (video courtesy of Pete Norum).  Watch below, and be warned, it takes a little while for the action to start:



Sermon 05/29/11: “Orphaned”

June 2, 2011

“Orphaned,” a sermon preached by the Rev. Abigail G. Henderson, at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC, on May 29, 2011.

John 14: 15–21

"Widows and Orphans" by Käthe Kollwitz

“I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus tells the disciples.  Bold words from a man about to die.

Lest we get too comfortable in the victory of Easter, this week’s lectionary Gospel reading takes us back to the drama of the pre-resurrected Jesus.  We are reminded that before he died, Jesus prepared his disciples for the strange paradox of resurrection, which is this:  despite his triumph over death, Jesus will not continue his ministry as usual.  His friends can no longer count on his comforting presence and wisdom.  He will leave them alone to navigate the same cruel world that crucified him.