Advent 1

“Things Fall Apart,” Susan Ryder

Mark 13:24-37
But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. [Read more…]


“Reframing Gratitude,” Susan Ryder

On the church calendar, we don’t often get to enjoy a full Thanksgiving weekend for it’s own sake. Most of the time, first Sunday of Advent comes along while there is still cranberry sauce and stuffing left in the fridge. But this is one of those nice years where there’s a week in between, something that will happen again in 2018, but then not until 2023. Which means we can ease into the Advent season a little more gracefully and take our time considering gratitude. [Read more…]

The More You Know

“The More You Know,” Bob Ryder

1 Corinthians 8:1b-3…we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge,’ but knowledge puffs up. Love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge. Anyone who loves knows God.

Don’t you know, the littlest moments can change your life – experiences so seemingly incidental and casual you barely notice them as they happen.  Yet years later you realize you’re a very different person because of that encounter.  [Read more…]

36 Reasons Why

“36 Reasons Why,” Susan Ryder

Once upon a time, there was a monastery on a mountain high above a small town in Italy. The monks were hard working souls who cultivated grapes and fruits of all sorts – they ate and slept very little and prayed nine times a day. For years, the fruits of their labors sustained them. They sold their grapes and fruits and used the income to replant and maintain themselves and their facility. But eventually, conditions changed. New young monks entered the monastery; the elders got sick or died. Lethargy, indecision, and changing leadership eroded confidence. Arguments drove wedges between the brothers. Conflict replaced cooperation – and soon the monastery was in trouble. Some of the monks left; others stayed but kept to themselves … isolated and solitary. Work was done poorly, if at all. [Read more…]

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Bob Ryder

Mark 12:28-31 One of the scribes came near and heard Jesus debating with the Pharisees. Noting that he answered them well, he asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The next most important is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these.”

Galatians 3:26-28 In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. [Read more…]

Animal Blessings

“Animals Are Blessings,” Susan Ryder

 On this first Sunday of October, the closest day to the Feast of St. Francis, some congregations observe a “blessing of the animals” service. We participated in one a few years ago at the Unitarian Church, and our youth led animal blessing services the last two years. Bob and I enjoyed bringing Daisy to be blessed last year – and so appreciated the leadership and liturgy from our young people. This year we decided that instead of blessing the animals, we would reflect on how animals bless us. How many of you currently have a pet of some sort sharing your life and home? How many of you don’t have a pet now but had a pet in the past? How many of you have never had a pet animal in your home? Have you ever experienced a blessing from an animal? Let’s hear a couple of readings – one ancient and one modern …

Genesis 2:18-20
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field [Read more…]

Happy 25th NCC!

“This is Us,” Bob Ryder

Luke 19:1-10 Jesus was passing through Jericho and a crowd gathered to see him as he passed by. A rich man named Zacchaeus lived there, he was the chief tax-collector. Zacchaeus was also trying to get a glimpse of Jesus, but he was not tall enough to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view, because Jesus was about to pass that way. When Jesus approached, he looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down; for I would visit your home today.’  Zacchaeus hurried down and was happy to welcome him. Everyone who saw this began to grumble, saying, ‘He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ With everyone looking on, Zacchaeus said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to find and save the lost.’ [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – Progressive Christianity

“NCC’s Framing Story – Progressive Christianity,” Susan Ryder

1 Corinthians 12:14ff For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – Place

“We Are Home,” Bob Ryder


Exodus 3:1-5   While Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blaze of fire out of a bush.  As he looked, he saw the bush was not consumed by the blaze. Moses said, ‘I must see this marvel up close, and learn why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw Moses approaching, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – A Work in Progress

“NCC’s Framing Story – A Work in Progress,” Susan Ryder

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Romans 12:4-5
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. [Read more…]