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United Church of Christ

533 Route 28, Harwich Port, MA 02646 | Phone: 508-432-1668

Pilgrim Church News

December 2017 Theme: Hope


Category: Sermons

For the month of December our worship theme will be Hope.  As the days get darker and evening comes sooner each afternoon we prepare for Christmas. All this preparation is a good distraction from the fact that dark sets in around 4:30 or 5 p.m. every afternoon. The story of faith is all about lighting a candle and keeping our hope alive. 

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November 2017 Theme: Sacred Stories


Category: Sermons

This month our worship theme is Sacred Story. We each have a story and it is a large part of who we are and also of our gift to the world. This story is something that defines our lives but it also is something we keep writing every day. The reason we are storytellers is because we come from a faith tradition where people told stories for centuries. Our Bible is a collection of many stories of faith-it tells stories of slavery, freedom, facing fear, and finding hope.  Join us this month as we explore sacred stories and relate them to our own stories.

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October 2017 Theme: Reformation


Category: Sermons

October 2017 Theme: Reformation This month, Dr. Cartmell's Sermon theme is Reformation. Click "Read More" to hear her sermons.

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And the Waters Parted


Category: Sermons

This month we have started a sermon series on the Journeys of Faith. Since the time of Homer people have been telling stories about trips that changed their lives. Homer told about Odysseus, the King of Ithaca who took ten years to return home from the Trojan War and faced challenges that tested his wit and built his character all along the way. 

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Hearing the Call


Category: Sermons

For the next six weeks our sermon series will be on the theme of Journey of Faith. The stories of the Bible are full of the journey theme. Abraham was called to travel and Jacob journeyed for many miles. Joseph went to Egypt and David was always on the road in battle. Elijah and Elisha were always on a journey for God, healing the sick and making prophetic statements. So when Jesus came along the Bible says that he had no place to rest his head. Of course Paul was a virtual travelling salesman for the early church. 

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Why Is This So Hard To Believe?


Category: Sermons

This is the last in a series of sermons about God. Throughout this series, we have talked about the different aspects and qualities of God. In the Bible, there is no one depiction of God. The various stories depict God as a warrior, a seamstress, a jealous husband, a nursing mother, a potter, a mother hen, a woman in labor, an eagle, a nervous parent. For all the variety in scripture most of us have been influences by Michelangelo’s depiction of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We think of God as a white-haired man with muscles reaching out to touch Adam’s finger. That image has crowded out the others in our collective Western consciousness. 

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What Kind of God is This?


Category: Sermons

During the month of February our sermons will be about God. Now perhaps you are wondering why we need to spend time thinking about God. Don’t we basically talk about God every week? Aren’t all our prayers directed to God? Isn’t the Bible and every story in it about God?  Why do we need to do a series of sermons on God?             But for all our talk about God in church most of us still have questions about God. We wonder if God hears prayers, or notices us. We wonder if God critiques our deeds and misdeeds. We worry that God is not on our side. Unconsciously we may fear that God is more like a harsh parent than a benevolent one. The truth is in the absence of enough information about God we make stuff up.   

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What Lies Between Us


Category: Sermons

The theme for this series of sermons is Justice. We established the list of themes for this month in the summertime, but none of us knew then how timely this topic would be. On the front page of the New York Times this morning the central article above the fold discussed President Obama’s ambivalence about talking about racism. As the first Black man to be president of this country after 243 years he wanted to be the president for all the people. But as his term progressed he found the topic of racism unavoidable. Racism is our country’s original sin. Founded in an era when slavery was considered normal for some people, we accommodated this evil and rationalized it until our history is enmeshed in questions of racial justice. 

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The Slippery Slope of Entitlement


Category: Sermons

This morning our sermon theme is Justice. Justice is one of the most important themes in the Bible – Old and New Testament. Most of us are aware of the ways that Jesus stood for justice – the way that he told us to love our neighbor as ourselves- and then stretched the understanding of neighbor, so that it included people who did not just live next door, but who lived in the other sections of town, and the other side of the tracks. He told us our neighbors were those who scared us, and those we considered to be our enemies. Neighbors were those who lived at the margins of society and those who did not look like us and never would. Jesus was clear about justice.

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Such a Time as This


Category: Sermons

This week we begin a New Year and a new worship theme: Justice. Now if you are wondering about the segue between Merry Christmas and Justice and you don’t see the connection between the two, let me remind us about the true story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Jesus was born to a people who had been under the thumb of the mighty Roman Empire. The Jews had been a subservient people for over 400 years when Christ was born. Jesus came to a poor couple, resourceful in the ways of those who struggle – but sustained by their faith. This story of the birth of Jesus is told from the perspective of the underdog and that pushes us to consider questions of justice. Circumstances beyond their control rendered Jesus’ parents homeless and then refugees. When Mary decided to have this child, she spoke about equity and justice. God has looked with favor at the low status of his servant…God has scattered those with proud thought and arrogant inclinations. God has brought the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich empty away. 

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Mary’s Hope for the World


Category: Sermons

Throughout the season of Advent our sermons have been on the theme of hope. We started with a story about an old priest named Zechariah who had suffered so many disappointments that the candle of hope had blown out in his heart and mind. Last week we looked at the story of Joseph, the strong silent one in the Christmas story who had to deal with his own issues before he could accept God’s gift to the world – that came in his new wife’s unexpected pregnancy.

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Hope in Confusing Times


Category: Sermons

This December our worship theme is Hope.  We started the series with a story about an old man who had been faithful for decades but who had endured many disappointments, and over the years his hope had evaporated in the storms of life he knew. He had given up on God but God had not given up on him. Today we have a different story. But it is also about a man who life is a true inspiration. But he is often overlooked in the story of the coming of the Christ child. He is in every manger scene, but we rarely think about him. While his strength is felt in the manger scene we don’t spend much time considering his decisions, and character. Of course, I speak of Joseph.  

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Afraid to Hope


Category: Sermons

For the next month as we prepare for Christmas in Christian churches everywhere we celebrate the season of Advent. We wait for the birth of Jesus. We remember the people long ago in Bethlehem of Judea who were waiting for a sign from God, that they had not been forgotten. It was centuries long vigil, full of frustration but born of hope. So Advent always begins with Hope- hope that whatever happens in our individual lives, in our communities and in the broader world God hears our prayers. All month long the topic for all our sermons will be hope.

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Thankful in All Circumstances


Category: Sermons

This November all of our worship services are focused on the theme of Thanksgiving. The curriculum for our church is a study of gratitude. In each of our sermons I have tried to address the question of how we live as thankful people all year, not just on the one day we have called Thanksgiving.  How do we embrace thanksgiving as a spiritual discipline, and approach to life? 

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Remembering to Say Thanks


Category: Sermons

This November our worship theme is Thanksgiving. Here at Pilgrim Church we believe that thanksgiving is not just a one-day feast, but it is more like a spiritual discipline. Thanksgiving is more than food and football. It is even more than family. It is a holiday that is deeply spiritual. 

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Thankful for the Saints


Category: Sermons

During the month of November our worship theme will be Thanksgiving. Now you might imagine that Thanksgiving is just an American invention, celebrated on the last Thursday of November when people gorge on turkey, stuffing and pie. But Thanksgiving like most of our modern holidays has its roots in the Bible and in our faith tradition. So, when we come to the meal at the end of the month, it will be much more meaningful if we know the spiritual context for the holiday and are grounded in the Biblical perspectives on gratitude. 

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God is Still Speaking


Category: Sermons

This passage is widely regarded as the oldest in scripture. I know that the creation stories come first in the Biblical lineup, but this story is the one scholars believe has the most ancient roots. It was this story of the parting of the Red Sea that people told around campfires before there was an Israel, or a sense of Hebrew identity. It was a formational story about hurried food that could not rise and anxiety that could not be put down. It is a brave story about poor slaves who challenged the world’s most powerful people and prevailed, but the price of their freedom was to become nomads, people on a journey. That journey defined our faith because it was on the road to freedom that people learned about God, discovered how to pray, found community. 

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Something Dies in You


Category: Sermons

Today’s scripture drama depicts one of the Bible stories most of us try to avoid. Why?  Because it raises many more questions than it answers.  This story leaves you wondering. Did the people in the early church really share everything? Did those early believers actually expect the members of those churches to give all their money to the church?  

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What Must I Do?


Category: Sermons

This month our sermon series is all about stewardship. On the first Sunday of the month we talked about the loaves and fishes and the miracle of abundance. Where people saw scarcity, Jesus saw a hidden abundance. Last week we talked about the Parable of the Talents, and how easy it is to sell our own opportunities short and fail to do what we might do with what we have been given. Today we look at a story about a rich man who comes to Jesus seeking the meaning of life. Curious about Christ’s teachings, this man bares his soul and confided in Jesus that he would like to know how to find salvation- how to find the way to a life of purpose and possibility, how to find a faith that is so strong you don’t worry about time and so you have eternal life. 

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Investment Strategy


Category: Sermons

This month our worship theme is stewardship. Last week we began the series with a sermon about the loaves and the fishes, and how when one person gave all he had Jesus was able to feed 5000 followers with abundant supplies left over. Today we take a look at a different story that Jesus told about a property owner who takes a trip.  

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All I Have


Category: Sermons

This Sunday we begin a new worship theme and all our sermons during October will be about Stewardship. At first you might imagine that it would be hard to talk about stewardship in church for a whole month, but the truth is that there is more material about money in the Bile than there is on any other topic. There are 2350 verses in the Bible about money.  11 of Jesus’ 39 recorded parables deal with money. Jesus talked more about money than he talked about hell. The only topic he discussed more than money was the kingdom of God. The reason he spoke about money so much was that what we do with our money reflects our values, and beliefs about life. 

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Who Is My Neighbor?


Category: Sermons

Our theme for this month is hospitality. We have looked at what the Bible says about hospitality starting with the stories of Abraham and Sarah and how they fed strangers. We recognized that in that moment when they welcomed strangers God blessed them, and that through those strangers God sent a great prediction for these founders of our faith. The next week we looked at the story of Jesus with a tax collector. In that story Christ welcomed a man who was despised and his generous gesture of acceptance turned the man's life around. Last week we told the story of Jesus at a dinner party where he accepted an awkward intruder who interrupted the meal to anoint Jesus’ feet with costly oil. Though Mary’s gesture was appalling to the guests, Jesus had a sense of humor and saw the gift even when it was hard to be hospitable. 

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When Hospitality Is Hard


Category: Sermons

Our theme for worship this month is Hospitality. The Bible is filled with stories about hospitality because it was a topic explored repeatedly in both Old and New Testaments. On the first Sunday in September we read the story of Abraham and Sarah. This Hebrew patriarch and matriarch greeted the strangers who showed up unexpectedly at their gate by creating a sumptuous feast for them. Their hospitality was rewarded because after the delicious meal was consumed Abraham got the best news of his life form these strangers, and their message turned out to be a true gift from God for him. Last week we talked about the way that Jesus offered hospitality to the people of Jericho and how he sought out society’s outcasts and invited tax collectors to dine with him. His was a gracious kind of hospitality that changed lives. 

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Unlikely Guest


Category: Sermons

Our theme for September is Hospitality. If you do a Google Search for this word you will get tens of thousands of hits, but you will get the impression that hospitality is a concert invented by people in the hotel industry. You will read about customer service and assume that hospitality is a concept invent by marketers. But like many of our best ideas in our society today hospitality actually comes from the Bible. Last week in our first sermon of the month we looked at the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 19. They were sitting in the heat of the day when three perfect strangers showed up at their tent, and they welcomed these folks like honored guests, state visitors or long-lost family. They sprang into action choosing the best meat, making savory cheese and baking fresh bread. They treated these people that they had never seen before like messengers from God. 

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What Does the Bible Say About Hospitality


Category: Sermons

Our theme for September is Hospitality. Now it may seem to some of you like this is the last thing you want to consider in church in September.  As I settle into this community it seems to me that most of the people who move here have to take a crash course in hospitality. All you need to do is announce to your friends that you have moved to Cape Cod and suddenly you have friends you never knew you had and they all want to come for a weekend every summer. As I get to know you I realize that many of you are juggling guests from the beginning of July right through Labor Day. You are planning meals, and taking folks to the beach, and seeing the sites with relatives, and trying to encourage everyone to use the outdoor shower so you don't have so much sand in the house. When we think of hospitality most of us think of food, drink, clean linen and towels.  We wonder if we should book a ferry to the vineyard or consider how to get everyone to the beach. 

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Bone Of My Bones


Category: Sermons

The Bible is a story of human history told through the lens of the people of faith. Starting over four thousand years ago the stories track the progress of the Jewish people and their Christian descendants.  The Bible begins with two stories about creation. In the first story God looks over the chaos and in one grand series of gestures, creates all varieties of life in the span of one week. God separates the heavens from the earth and creates all the birds of the air and creatures of the land.in one week's time. In this bold and familiar narrative, cosmic changes transpire. 

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Recipe For Greatness Part 2: We Need One Another


Category: Sermons

This month our sermons revolve around the topic of Greatness. What does it mean to live with purpose, and how do we achieve our potential?  How do we get the most out of our lives?  Most of us don’t think all that much about being great. We assume that other people are great, because we usually confuse being great with being famous. We assume that considerations of greatness are for people who perform on life’s big stages and have a large following. We associate greatness with thought leaders, and newsmakers and stars. People who are great get awards and walk down red carpets while other people take their pictures.  So most of us as confusing greatness with being famous. But our faith teaches that being great has nothing to do with fame or fortune. It has nothing to do with our prospects or our class or our wealth. The Bible turns the world’s values upside down. 

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Recipe For Greatness Part 1: True Greatness


Category: Sermons

This is an important weekend. It is a time for family gatherings, for fun in the sun, for fireworks.  It is one of the few weekends all year when we pause as a nation to celebrate this great country of ours. It is a time to sing patriotic songs, and to watch the celebration on the national mall. It is a time to enjoy the many blessings of life in this good land, and to think about what a blessing it is to be here. But it is also a time to  consider the principles on which this nation was founded. It is a time to remember our founding fathers and the ideals they espoused, which have set this nation apart. It is a time to remember with gratitude those men and women who have been patriots in word and deed. It is a time to remember everyday heroes whose stories go all under-appreciated who gave themselves to the notion that all of us have been endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

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A Place called Pulse


Category: Sermons

Another mass shooting. This one was the most violent and deadly. Though it happened in one state on the southeast corner of the country, the ripple effects of this horror have touched us all. Through family connections and friendships, people know folks who were shot. Through news feeds and social media this story has come home to touch us. Through the Latino community or the gay community it hits us with its unspeakable sadness. Through vital faces on the front page we see what it means for lives to be cut short decades before their time. 

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Believe


Category: Sermons

Before I begin this sermon, I want to thank the Search Committee.  Since the beginning of our conversation I have been impressed by the way they worked, the way they took their mission seriously while still showing a remarkable sense of humor. Mostly what I appreciated was their kindness at every point along the way.  So, you should be proud of them because they represented you well.   I also want to thank so many of you this morning, for your faith in this process, for your patience, for your many words of personal support and enthusiasm when you heard that I was the candidate to be your next pastor. I am very grateful. 

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Living the Resurrection in a Good Friday World


Category: Sermons

Easter is a joyful day for Christians. All around the world today our sisters and brothers in Christ are filling churches and rejoicing saying Allelulia, which means praise the Lord, as well as Thanks be to God! Christ is risen...He is risen indeed. And we do so with good reason.

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EMPTY!


Category: Sermons

What can we learn from this story of the first Easter? What can it tell us that will help us in our lives in 2014? How is it story relevant to us today?

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Whose Power and Whose Glory?


Category: Sermons

Palm Sunday is one of the most dramatic days in the whole Christian year.

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The Temptations


Category: Sermons

Today's sermon is the fifth, in a six part series on the Lord's Prayer. Each week in Lent we have looked different parts of the prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples after they asking him to teach them to pray the way he did.

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How to Pray


Category: Sermons

We like saying the Lord's Prayer because it reminds us of our relationship with and to God. It also reminds us of our relationships with one another as the family of God. It is why this prayer has remained so pivotal to our faith for two thousand years now. And it is why it is known and accepted as an important pray by people across the religious spectrum.

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