On Line Worship Service, September 20, 2020

Welcome to this service.  We have new worship formats and spiritual offerings as of September, 2020.  You can read about them by clicking here.  The main difference in these online services will be that they are shorter and simpler to fit with our covid culture’s screen fatigue and shortened attention span.

You can respond with thoughts about the service or with anything you would like to say by using the comment feature at the end of the post or by emailing us.  You can also bring others into this experience by sharing the link to this service by email or social media.

Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome here and in our church community.

Pastor Tom Kinder

Today’s Order of Worship

NOTE: Today we have two sets of guest musicians.  The Prelude is by Jeremiah and Annemieke McLane’s nephew and niece-in-law, and the Postlude is by Tom Kinder’s niece and brother. See below for more information on each, and be prepared to be deeply moved.

Prelude “Still Here,” by Evan and Anna Jacobson
Call to Worship: A Haiku by Mel Goertz
United Church of Strafford Future Directions Vision as a Unison Reading
Postlude, “Shine Through,” by London and George Kinder


Prelude   “Still Here,” Evan and Anna Jacobson.  Many of us first heard this piece at the Upper Valley Music Center’s Benefit Concert for the McLane Family.  It is extremely beautiful and moving on its own, but especially when you know that Evan helped build part of the McLane house and you read this note from him:

“A piece written for my uncle Jeremiah McLane, his wife Annemieke McLane, their son Luke. In August of 2020, their house burned to the ground. Let this piece be a reminder of the love and support that family and friends can provide during dark times.”


Call to Worship This week’s haiku by Mel Goertz:

The fuchsia is still blooming

but the hummingbirds are gone

the blossoms wait.

 “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46   

Let us worship together.


United Church of Strafford, Vermont, Future Directions Vision as a Unison Reading

Future Directions Vision As a Unison Reading

The United Church of Strafford aspires

to be a community of open hearts and minds

embracing differences and diverse traditions,

extending faithful Christ-like love and support to all,

reaching out especially to those in need.

We intend to be a force, not merely a presence,

effecting positive social change

for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.  

We come to this sanctuary to be renewed to serve,

finding inspiration and wisdom

in traditional words and music

and in new insights and expressions. 

We want to learn and grow.

We want to provide training in contemplative practice

and to experience our lives and the world as sacred.

We hope to address big questions and controversial issues

openly and humbly, respectful of varied views and feelings.

We want children to be involved in every aspect of church life.

We seek ways to serve the changing needs of each generation.

We appreciate the beauty of this building

and what takes place within it

as we celebrate and follow the way of Christ

with Spirit-filled acts

of creativity, compassion and love.

Adopted October 28, 2018

Scripture Passages

Jonah 3:10-4:11

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.  But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’

But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

Philippians 1:21-30

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’


Sermon   Courage in the Struggle,  Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder

You can find the text of the Sermon by clicking here.  



This congregation is a small but meaningful part of the movement to establish God’s realm of peace, justice and care for God’s creation on earth, actively engaged in serving our community and supporting the wider worldwide movement. 

One of the ways we work together and increase our strength beyond our individual abilities is by pooling our resources.  This is hard to do when we are forced apart by the pandemic, so we hope you will take just a minute to use our online donation service.

To make your offering on line, please click here.  (This is a service we are providing through an extremely well established on-line donation company specializing in churches that is recommended by the national United Church of Christ and used by thousands of churches like ours.  To read more about our decision to allow on line donations, click here.)



Please note that we are gathering as a congregation by Zoom at 10:30 AM on Sunday mornings to say hello to one another and share our Joys and Concerns and Prayer requests and offer our compassion and support and company for this journey.  We are now streaming live readings and music from our sanctuary on that same Zoom link at 10:15 AM, so just sign on fifteen minutes earlier. 

Our Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle is also meeting by Zoom on Thursdays at 6:00 PM.  This is for anyone who is interested in practicing mindfulness or meditation, or heartfulness and centering prayer.  It is a time for talking about those practices and also more generally about our spiritual life.

You can find links to instructions on how to be part of those Zoom gatherings on the Welcome Page of our website. If you are not on our weekly email list and would like to be, please email us at unitedchurchofstrafford@gmail.com and we will make sure you receive all our church news.

It is extremely important that we stay connected now.  Please reach out by phone or email to neighbors and other members of the congregation, especially those who live by themselves or are struggling or vulnerable.  Our Deacons, Becky Bailey, Kim Welsh and Maggie Hooker, are coordinating our Deacons Fund and our outreach to people in need of support, and Danette Harris, Chair of our Mission Committee, is leading our work with the Food Shelf.  Becky, Danette and Joey Hawkins are on the town committee that is coordinating outreach as well.  If you would like to donate or help please email us or use the comment feature on this page.


Postlude “Shine Through,” Written and performed by London and George Kinder, Pastor Tom Kinder’s niece and brother.  London is a high school student struggling as all students are both with the coronavirus disruption and with the chaos of life in this country right now and the existential threats to the earth and to our democracy.  She and her father have coped with this time in part by writing an album of songs in response.  This is the title track.  The lyrics are below.


SHINE THROUGH by London and George Kinder, 2020

Though weariness and doubt are near

When plagued by your own greed or fear

Surrounded by guns or slithering tongues, shine through


When your life has turned into a wreck

And they put their knee on your neck

What you must do is shine through shine through


When corruption stops you, shine through

When politicians block you, shine through

When thrown by delusion, shine through

When thrown by confusion, shine through


When whole villages are taken down

By whistling bombs or a boss’s frown

Locked up or locked down shine through


Whether you show them or not who you are

When they take you in unmarked cars

With your love shine through shine through


With the light of all the world’s creatures, shine through

With the light of a thousand suns, shine through

With the light of a billion people, shine through

Freedom belongs to everyone, shine through


When you’re sure all hope is past

Or when victory comes at last

Shine through with your freedom shine through


Overwhelmed by death and disease

Or touched by spring’s gentle breeze

Shine through, shine through, shine through


Even at the darkest of hours

Speak truth to power, bring wisdom to flower

When to all of your friends they have lied

Stung by your own sense of pride


Shine through with your kindness shine through

Shine through with your brilliance shine through

Shine through with your courage shine through

Shine through with conviction shine through

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