First Congregational Church UCC
220 West Lyon Avenue
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
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 SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2023

Good Morning!  

We tell a story. 
The story inspires us.

The story comforts us.

The story guides us.

Today we confirm the story. 

And we become the storytellers.

-Pastor David



If you are unable to attend worship, you may continue to make financial contributions to our church through electronic transfer, and through checks in the mail.  

Mail your offerings to: 
First Congregational Church UCC
114 North Oak Street
Lake City, MN  55041


Here Is Today's Message

"Confirming The Story We Love To Tell"
A message from
Rev. David S. Badgley

May 21, 2023

     On Wednesday night, April 5, the Confirmation Group arrived at the church at 6:30 p.m. as usual. 
     It was Holy Week with Easter Sunday just four days away.
     We met downstairs and sat around our designated table: my seventh-grade girls Lillian and Marlena sitting to my right, and my sixth-grade boys, Isaiah, Easton and Karsen sitting to my left. 
     I told them I had a project for them.
     The project was to replace the offering envelopes in the pews with Easter-themed envelopes, and to replace and redistribute pens and pencils in the holders, and to clean out any Sunday bulletins that were tucked into the hymn books. 
     Also, check the book holder and the pencil holder for bits and pieces, such as cough drop wrappers, empty plastic Communion chalices, and used tissues.  Yep, the group found those things previously when doing the same task.  The kids wouldn’t touch the used tissue, so I extracted it. 
     “Why do people put garbage in the holders?” the kids asked me at the time.  “I don’t know,” I said.  “I guess it’s convenient.” 
    We headed upstairs to the sanctuary to begin their pew project.
     The other task I had for them was to set up the Communion chalices on the table in the entryway to be used the next night during Maundy Thursday worship. 
     That service would also use individual hand-held devotional candles, so I had the youth insert the candles into the holders and set them on another table in the entryway.
     Earlier that Wednesday I had already prepared for Maundy Thursday worship by setting up the Communion table and decorating the altar with Communion chalices from my pottery collection, along with a basin and pitcher from my pottery collection. I put some votive candles in glass holders and placed some on the altar, on the Communion table, and on the window sills beneath our stained-glass windows.
     After the youth completed their project I had them light the votive candles and turn out the lights in the sanctuary. 
     The room was now darkened with only the glow of the candles and a soft glow of outside light coming through the stained-glass windows. 
     I invited the youth to sit with me on the floor in a circle in front of the altar.  I placed three of the votive candles in the middle of us. 
     The youth were immediately aware of the sounds of the building: the occasional bang of the radiator and the creak of the wooden ceiling. 
     One of them suggested it was kind of creepy.  I said, “Not at all.”  Their attention was on the flickering candles in front of us.
     Then I said to them, “We’re going to talk about what this week means to us.  This is the week when we remember Jesus met with his disciples for their last meal together before Jesus was crucified. What city were they in?”
     “Jerusalem,” one of them answered.
     “That’s right.  They were in Jerusalem to celebrate a big festival. What was the name of the festival?”
     “Passover," one said. 
     “That’s right.  And during Passover, Jesus and his disciples remembered the story of their ancestors. What did they remember about their history?”
     “They were slaves and God gave them freedom.” 
     “And in what country did that happen?” 
     “And who was the ruler enslaving the people?”
     “And who did God choose as the leader to free the people?”
     “So, at Passover the people ate food that helped them to remember the story. What were the symbolic foods they ate?”  
     The youth listed the foods:  salt water, lamb, horseradish, parsley, a mixture of apples and nuts, a hardboiled egg, unleavened bread. 
     “Why was the bread unleavened?” I asked. 
     “Because they were in a hurry and didn’t have time for it to rise.” 
    The youth knew about Passover because it was how I began their lessons back in October.  We studied the story because it is the origin of our Holy Communion. 
     And this year I proposed that the youth participate in Holy Communion while they were in Confirmation instead of waiting until Confirmation Sunday. I explained to the parents that if we’re teaching our youth about life with Jesus Christ, then participating in Holy Communion is essential to that. 
     The parents agreed and my first few weeks of lessons were focused on Passover and its relationship to our Holy Communion and the story of Jesus. This was to prepare them to participate in Communion beginning on December 4 during Advent when we’re anticipating the birth of Jesus.
     So, on that Wednesday of Holy Week, the day before Maundy Thursday, we were reviewing the Passover story and talking about what that week means to us as Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples. 
     I told them, “What we’re doing right now is what Jesus and his disciples would have done.  They would have retold the story and eaten the food and remembered what it meant. It was to remind them that God loves them, and God works in their lives.  The scriptures told them they were to eat the meal and retell the story each year at Passover.”
     The scripture I was referring to is found in the book of Exodus where Moses tells the people,
“Remember, these instructions are a permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever. When you enter the land the Lord has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony. Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’”
Exodus 12:24-27  (NLT)
     So, there we were, my Confirmation group and I, on Wednesday of Holy Week, sitting on the floor in a circle in front of the altar in the candlelit sanctuary telling the story again just as Jesus and his disciples would have done when Jesus had his last meal with his disciples. 
     And that led us to more of the story.
     I gave each one of the youth an individual pre-packaged Communion serving. 
     I said, “Then after they told the story of Passover, Jesus said that one of the disciples was going to betray him.  What does betray mean?”
     “It means to do something against a person.” 
     “Yes, and who betrayed Jesus?” 
     “Jesus said one of them was going to deny him.  What does deny mean?”       “It means you say you don’t know.” 
     “And who denied Jesus?”
     “Jesus took a towel and a basin of water and did something for his disciples. What was that?” 
     “He washed their feet.” 
     “And what did it mean when Jesus said he wanted them to love others and wash their feet?” 
     “He wanted them to be humble and serve others.”
     “And then with all those symbolic Passover foods, Jesus took bread and broke it. What did the bread represent?” 
     “His body,” they answered. 
     “And Jesus took a cup of wine.  What did it represent?” 
     “His blood,” they told me.  
     “Let’s eat the bread and let’s drink the cup,” I told them.  And we did.
     Then I resumed the question and answer format as we went through the rest of the story, including Jesus getting arrested in the garden, Jesus facing Pontius Pilate who ordered him to be crucified, and Jesus being nailed to a cross and his dead body put into a tomb. 
     We spent about half an hour sitting on the floor and telling the story.  And later that night I considered that one of my favorite lessons with the Confirmation group.
     That’s because it was just how the story of Passover was taught to the young and passed on for generations.  The scripture says the kids will ask you, “What does this mean?” and you tell them the story. 
     And you tell it again, so that it’s part of who we are and what we believe.
     And you tell it again, because it informs our behaviors toward others and toward God and toward Jesus Christ.   
     And you tell it again because it’s a beautiful story that reminds us that God loves us, and God works in our lives.
    It’s like the wonderful old hymn that says,
I love to tell the story, ‘tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.
I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

“I Love To Tell The Story,” words: A Catherine Hankey, music: William G. Fischer
     That is what I believe Confirmation is all about. 
     In Confirmation group, in all our lessons and activities, we tell the story.
     When we learn about Jesus calling his first followers, it is part of the story.  When we learn what it was like for the believers of Jesus after his resurrection, it is part of the story. When we learn about God and the Holy Spirit and prayer, it is part of the story. 
     When we learn about how the risen Christ changed the life of Paul, and we learn about his missionary travels, it is part of the story.  When we help the church by setting up the dining room with seasonal décor, and setting up for Communion, and straightening the pews, it is part of the story.
     We are all part of this story of Jesus Christ, and we tell it in our words, and in our behaviors, and in our relationships with others. 
     Telling the story of Jesus is not reserved for a literal narrative of the life of Jesus. Telling the story means allowing the spirit of Christ to work in us and shine through us and come alive in us. 
     The story of Jesus is not past history. It is present reality.  And Confirmation Sunday is when our youth stand up in front of the church and say in essence, “I want the story to be in me, to shine through me, and to love through me.” 
      And with all of us sharing in this Confirmation ceremony, we are all confirming the story we love to tell: the story of Jesus Christ.
     We love to tell the story of Jesus and his love. 
     Last Wednesday night, May 17, the Confirmation group arrived at the church at 6:30 p.m. as usual. 
     It was our last week, with Confirmation Sunday just four days away. We met downstairs and I told them I had a project for them.
     The project was to replenish the offering envelopes in the pews, and to replace and redistribute pens and pencils in the holders, and to clean out any Sunday bulletins tucked in the hymn books.  Also check the holders for trash and other stuff.  We headed upstairs to the sanctuary to begin the project.
     Marlena and Lillian immediately saw the dirty carpet in front of the altar and asked if they could vacuum. 
    “You want to vacuum?” 
     “Okay.  The vacuum’s in the closet.”
     While the girls vacuumed, Easton, Karsen, and Isaiah took care of the pews.  Then the boys set up the Communion chalices on the table in the entryway. 
     After they completed their project I invited the youth to stand in a semi-circle in front of the altar and face the pews as they would be doing on Confirmation Sunday.
     Their attention was on me (well, mostly on me). 
     I said, “We’re going to rehearse what to do on Sunday.  I will ask you a series of questions and I will give you the response to say. Here’s the first question: Do you desire to affirm your baptism into the faith and family of Jesus Christ?  If so please say, ‘I do.’” 
     “I DO!” they shouted back.
     Later that night I thought about that rehearsal with the youth. 
     This is all part of the story of Jesus and his love. 
     We tell the story when being confirmed. 
     We are confirming the story we love to tell.   

-Pastor David
Here's a beautiful rendition of "I Love To Tell The Story" sung by the Congregation and Choir with pipe organ and orchestra at First-Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Lincoln Nebraska. Watch and listen and sing along with the lyrics.
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