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Recent Sermons

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"But What Is Justice?"

Rev. Dr. Dan Miller

Micah 6:1-8 Matthew 5:1-12

Today's service was led by the Rev. Dr. Dan Miller, the Professor of Religion and Social Thought in the Department of Liberal Studies at Landmark College in Putney, VT.. Dan is also the co-host of the podcast Straight White American Jesus, which explores the intersections of American Christianity and politics, with a heavy focus on contemporary Christian nationalism. Click read more to access his notes.

January 29, 2023

"Follow Me"

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Matthew 4:12-23

Well another Martin Luther King Jr. day has come and gone, and I can’t help but wonder if anything in us or around us has changed for the better.

I’ve been seeing a number of posts on social media from racial justice activists who are frustrated that much of the momentum and fervor that was built up during the pandemic seems to have dissipated, and I imagine seeing another MLK day come and go with so little fanfare, only adds to their frustration.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful...

January 22, 2023

Behold the Lamb of God

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Isaiah 49:1-7 & John 1:29-42

Note: We had a livestream glitch at the beginning again, but you can watch worship from the introit on by clicking the window to the right.

I should really be a vegetarian and if I had to kill my own food, I would be. Anyone else feel that way? I don’t know about you, but if I needed to slaughter my own meat, I’d probably find a way to live on dairy, eggs, vegetables, and grains…. maybe the occasional fish. Maybe.
But there is no way I’m offing a chicken or a pig or a cow with my own two hands, and certainly not a lamb. Have you ever held a lamb? Spent time with a lamb? Seen one at the farm or the petting zoo or at a Christmas pageant with their little diapers on so they don’t ruin the carpet?
I don’t think if I could kill a lamb if my life depended on it.
Now again, I’m not saying I haven’t eaten lamb. I actually really like lamb; roasted with garlic and rosemary, served with a little mint jelly on the side. Which is really messed up if you think about it …so I don’t.
If I’m home for Easter dinner and lamb is on the menu, I just give thanks for the fact that it tastes so good and I try not to think too deeply about how it came to be on my plate. It’s just too disturbing.
And you know what? I feel the same way about the scriptures when they talk about Jesus as a lamb…because I don’t think I could kill Jesus if my life depended on it. And yet there is definitely a prominent line of thinking within Christianity that seems to believe that my life and your life does depend on it.

January 15, 2023

The One Who Loves Us

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Isaiah 42:1-9 & Matthew 3:13-17

(NOTE: We had some streaming and sound issues this morning. We lost the first part of the service. But if you click on the YouTube link, they resolve within the first minute and a half and the rest of the service sounds normal. We apologize for the technical difficulties.)

Two days after Christmas, while lying on the couch and scrolling away on my phone in that post Christmas stupor brought on by a steady diet of too much cheese and dark chocolate - if there is such a thing - I came across an honest-to-God piece of good news on Facebook.

I learned that Amy Grant, one of my childhood heroes - the woman who sang “El Shaddai” “Breath of Heaven,” (and the early 90’s ear worm “Baby, Baby,” for which I have forgiven her) - I learned that Amy Grant was going to host her niece’s same-sex wedding on her family farm.

Did anyone else see this little piece of news? It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Now I know that same-sex weddings are nothing new, but the news that a woman who rose to fame as a contemporary Christian music artist back in the 80’s and 90’s would bless such a celebration certainly is…and I was thrilled.

What I didn’t know...

January 8, 2023

"For You!"

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Luke 2

What do you get for that special someone who is so special that frankly, you have no idea what to get them at all?

You know, the person I’m talking about, right? That person who has everything, is difficult to buy for, hard to please? That person who is so picky you are 99% sure they never wore the sweater you bought for them, read that book you were sure they would love, and probably regifted the jelly you made… from scratch …with berries you picked with your own two hands?

What do you get these incredibly difficult —mmm — I mean special people?

December 24, 2022

Christmas Pageant

The Sunday school

The Gospel of Luke

Roman Soldier:

Hear ye, O Hear ye, you miserable peasants
Your emperor would like to buy some fine presents.
But the cost of war has drained us dry,
So taxes must be raised up higher than high.
And just to ensure no one gets off scott free
We’re making an accounting of all of you, see.
A census must be taken to gauge the amount,
Because here in Rome, only Caesar counts.

December 18, 2022

Joseph, Patron Saint of FFT's

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Matthew 1:18-25

I would imagine that it was a very awkward conversation.  I’m guessing that they invited Jospeh over to the house, closed the door, and maybe even drew the curtains. Anne, Mary’s mother, probably offered Joseph a cup of tea, and then told him he might want to sit down.

I imagine Mary, sitting calmly and quietly in the corner of the room, looking expectantly up at her father; wondering which one of them should deliver the news. And I’d like to think it was her father who, after receiving a nod from his daughter, turned to Joseph and did his best to explain what had happened.

I’d like to think that both of Mary’s parents, knowing her the way they did, trusted their daughter enough to believe her when she told them about the angel’s visit and her response.

And the more I’ve sat with this passage over the past week, the more convinced I have become that after hearing this strange tale, Joseph believed Mary too.

I haven’t always imagined the story this way. In the past I assumed that Joseph, being a righteous man, had resolved to dismiss Mary quietly because he simply assumed she’d been with another fellow.

The fact that he didn’t have any interest in exacting punishment on her or his rival - which would have been stoning by the way - was simply a mark of his compassion and gentle nature.

But the good people at SALT project drew my attention to a few key details in the scriptures that have changed my mind, or at least opened me up to the possibility that Joseph was determined to dismiss Mary, not because he didn’t believe her, but because he did.

December 11, 2022

"Anything is Possible"

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Matthew 3:1-12

I want to begin this evening with a story by the late Brian Doyle, about his days growing up in a Catholic School in New York:

One day when I was in grade school at Our Lady of Perpetual Social Awkwardness -he writes - there was a (pop) quiz, sort of, when our stern (priest) suddenly visited our class and asked us about the saints for whom we were named.

Inasmuch as this was a Catholic school, and almost all of us were Irish … or Italian …, nearly all of us were indeed named for saints, …Indeed nearly all the girls in class had Mary in their names somehow, … or they were named for Mary’s cousin Elizabeth or her mother Anne; one girl, MaryAnne Elizabeth, was named for all three, which we assumed meant she had no choice in life but to be a nun, though she was a brawler of a girl.

The good sweet Lord alone knows what the (priest) was thinking when he stepped into our classroom abruptly and began to pepper us with questions about our names...

December 4, 2022

Keep Awake!

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Isaiah 2:1-5  & Matthew 24:36-44

And so it begins.  A new liturgical year; another Advent. The wreath is out, the first candle has been lit, we’ve hung the greens, and if you haven’t started preparing for Christmas  - and by preparing I don’t mean the deep spiritual work of repentance we here in the church associate with Advent; I really just mean shopping - then you’re probably already feeling a little stressed out. Am I right? Yeah.

Well, relax.  Advent is not Christmas. Advent is not about “parties for hosting and chestnuts for roasting and caroling out in the square.” Advent is about slowing down.  Advent is a time for dreams, introspection, and quiet anticipation. Advent is about waiting… patiently - without knowing the how or the when - waiting patiently for ...

November 27, 2022

When God doesn't Open a Window

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Philippians 4:1-13

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.
Do not worry …about anything!…
Just pray.
For you, my friends, can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” (Philippians 4:4,6,13).

I don’t know about all of you, but encouraging verses like these always give me pause. Growing up in the church I have observed how easy it is to pass them on to the hurting as if they are medicine.

Life got you down? Well, just remember my friend that “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).”

Just got laid off? Well don’t you forget that God “Knows the plans he has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Been knocked down by a difficult diagnosis, laid low by grief, hit by hurricane? Not to worry my friend. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).

But if verses like these really were medicine, I think they’d have to come with one of those rapid disclaimers that conclude ads for pharmaceuticals...

November 20, 2022

Messy Metamorphosis

Rev. Chris Mereshuk

Isaiah 65:17-25

Today's service included two baptisms and a wonderful sermon by the Rev. Chris Mereschuk. Enjoy!

November 13, 2022

Blessed Are Those Who Weep

Rev. Sarah Buteux

Luke 6:20-31

Preaching on this passage in one of the richest nations in the world often leads to a lot of handwringing. Far too many of us hear Jesus’ words of woe to the rich and well fed and find ourselves squirming.

Many of us have worked hard, and rightly so, to not be counted among the poor, the hungry, the despised; and the truth is, we’re not about to stop. So it’s quite disconcerting to have Jesus, of all people, calling all of our efforts into question.

If you’ve been around First Churches for awhile then you know I’ve preached many a sermon on how to wend our way through Jesus’ blessings and woes, and if that’s where your mind and heart are stuck this morning, I can send you an alternate sermon that makes some sense of these challenging words.

But as today is All Saints, there is really only one verse I want to focus in on with you this morning: vs. 21b “Blessed are you who weep…” because Church, I know that is where so many of you are right now. And as for the rest of you, you might want to pay attention because even if you are laughing now, your time will come.

November 6, 2022

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