April's Pastor's Pen
It is traditionally believed that the ancient Romans gave the month of April it’s name based on the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open.” It received this name because of the flowers and trees “opening up” during the 30 days that make up the month. I think this is a perfect description for the month we are about to experience here at Central Christian Church.
During the middle of the April, our spirits get to open up to God in a new way through the commemoration of Holy Week. In addition to our traditional Maundy Thursday service, this year we are partnering with The Gathering Community Church to commemorate Good Friday. This service will offer a blending of the traditional “Seven Last Words” and “Stations of the Cross” which will hopefully create a deeply personal and more touching understanding of the last moments of Jesus life.
I believe it is very important to remember the cross and not skip from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday without remembering Jesus’ last week. If we fail to remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, his betrayal, arrest, and suffering at the hands of the Roman state then we go from triumphal celebration to triumphal celebration and overlook much of the Easter message. Remembering these moments makes Easter Sunday so much more powerful.
Our Easter celebration will truly be a joyous occasion this year. Not only will we be celebrating Jesus’ resurrection in worship, we will also have the privilege to witness the baptism of Ryleigh Aragi. We are excited to welcome Ryleigh in to our community of faith and look forward to celebrating with her immediate and extended family.
Two weeks after Easter we will be opening up our doors to the entire Danbury community. On April 30th we will have the good fortune of celebrating our 200th Anniversary as a church. This anniversary celebration will provide an opportunity to remember the people who helped build this church, reminisce on our collective memories and look forward to role and responsibilities as a church as we enter our third century of ministry.
At this service we will also be opening up our ministry to the new 2017 Artists-in-Residency cohort. Three artists will be introduced as members in to this pilot program running from May 1st through November 30th. I am very excited for this step into the arts that we are making. I truly believe art opens us up to God in new ways and I hope we will experience this through supporting young artists in the greater Danbury area.
We have a lot going on this month. I truly believe this April will provide us plenty of opportunities to blossom as a community. I look forward to experiencing all of these activities with you.
Central Christian Church is pleased to announce the formation of it's first Artist-in-Residency program. At Central Christian Church, our vision is to be a place where creativity is fostered, practiced and celebrated and this a first step in making this vision come alive. This pilot program which runs from May 1st to November 30th, 2017 is open to artists of various mediums from the greater Danbury area who are 30 years of age and younger and are interested in the intersection of their art, their self-defined spirituality and the world in which we live.
How to Apply
Artists may apply through our website until March 31st. Each applicant will be asked to submit the following:
The season of Lent is set to begin this Wednesday, March 1st. For the second straight year we are partnering with our neighboring church, First Congregational Church, for a Taize style Ash Wednesday Service. It will be a quiet, music-filled and candle-lit service where an imposition of ashes will be given if you would like to receive them.
Look forward to seeing you this upcoming Wednesday at 7pm in Annie Hall of the First Congregational Church (164 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury).
New Year's Fast - Day 1
On January 1st I invited the church to join me for a New Year’s fast. Though I am taking part in what is known as a “Daniel Fast,” I invited members to fast in a way they feel led. However, if health issues keep them from fasting, I invited each person to add a special moment of prayer or spiritual discipline to their daily routine. The purpose of this fast is to begin the year by listening to God in a new and more intimate way.
2016 was a very intense, busy and satisfying year. As the year came to a close, however, I started to sense a feeling of spiritual unease. This feeling wasn’t one of doubt or sadness, it was a feeling like God is trying to reveal something or move in a very particular way. Unable to fully discern what this message or call fully meant, I decided I needed to listen in a new and more intimate way – so I decided on this fast.
My hopes for this New Year's fast are three-fold. First, I hope to discern the message God is trying to send me and Central Christian Church. Second, I hope to develop a more centered spiritual practice in my life. Third, I hope to be more spiritually connected to the world around me.
I have invited the church to join me in this fast (or added spiritual discipline) because I believe the start to the New Year is a perfect time for us to listen to God more intimately. Who knows where the spirit will lead us if we are all truly seeking God’s guidance? Additionally, by doing this together, I believe this shared spiritual practice can bring us together as a community in a unique and deep way.
Starting today, I invite you to join me in this fast. Feel free to share your insights or thoughts with me personally, with the world via our social media outlets, or with our church community on Sundays. On Sunday, January 22nd, we will come together at coffee hour after worship to say a prayer of thanksgiving and break our fast together.
I look forward to this journey and will be holding our community in prayer.
New Year's Fast
by Pastor Stephen
What a better way to begin a new year than turning our attention and focus to God?
Towards the end of 2016 I felt God moving in my spirit and in the church but I do not believe I have fully understood everything God is trying to communicate. So, beginning Monday, January 9th, I will begin 2017 by engaging in a 2-week “Daniel fast.” Generally I wouldn't announce the start of a fast but this year I would like to invite anyone who is interested and feels led to join me.
The "Daniel Fast" is based on the fast that the Old Testament prophet Daniel engaged in after Judah fell to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar brought him into his court.
There are many different ways people engage in a “Daniel fast.” According to the book of Daniel, the prophet ate only fruits and vegetables and drank only water.
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables
to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12
“I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I
anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:3
The version of the Daniel fast that I am going to engage in will follow the tradition of eating fruits and vegetables but also add whole grains (excluding any kind of bread). In addition, I will be adding two moments of prayer to my day in order to listen to and engage with God.
There is no one way to fast. If you are interested in joining me, I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about what type of fast you would like engage in (whether it is giving up one meal a day, giving up bread, etc.) and what prayerful practice you would like to add to your day.
As always, if you have health concerns you should consult your doctor before engaging in any type of fast. For some, maybe focusing on prayer and adding some type of prayerful practice to your daily routine is more appropriate. At coffee hour on Sunday, January 8th, we will have a discussion on fasting for those who are interested. There will also be some materials about fasting posted on our website.
I think this could be a great opportunity for us to engage in a communal activity that allows us to kick off the new year in a very spiritual way.
To Learn More About Fasting Check These Articles Out:
The Christmas season is here and it is without competition my favorite time of the year. For some reason this season brings me such joy and warmth. But this year something is weighing on me.
This holiday season I have been reflecting on the disconnect between our secular advent season and the Advent season of the Christian church and have been moved by the tension this disconnect creates.
As we have made our way through Advent so far, I have been moved by the characters the Gospel of Matthew has been forcing us to confront and the birth narrative we are about to live through. Whereas our general society’s advent season started with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, moves through a billion dollar spending spree and a binging of all things sugar ending with a gregarious white-haired overweight super-giver providing us everything we want on our Christmas list, the advent in our churches is a stark contrast.
The Christian Church’s advent season began with an apocalyptic text, moved through a prophet coming out of the wilderness wearing wild clothing and speaking boldly who is eventually beheaded and ends with a poor Jewish family being stranded in the cold and pushed into a back alley stable and who are soon forced to become refugees in Egypt in order to flee a vicious dictator. The two worlds of our advent season couldn’t be more different and it poses an interesting question for us today – which one do we really adhere to?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Santa and all that our secular Christmas season offers but has it come at the expense of the other? Do we really care about the people and stories our Bible introduces us to or do we just tolerate them in order to get to the fun stuff? Has the adorableness of the children’s play sugarcoated the harshness of the actual story of Jesus’ birth?
As Christmas approaches I encourage all of us to intentionally sit with the Gospel text and really read the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke. I encourage all of us to not only read the story but also imagine, dream or meditate on what the story looks, feels, and sounds like – let the five senses tell a story. Really dig deep and find the major issues that this story puts forth. Finally, take a moment and ask how the issues of the birth narrative intersect with issues in our world and lives today?
Instead of impatiently waiting for December 25th to arrive, let’s make use of this waiting period. I encourage us as a community to dive deeply into the story of Jesus’ birth and make it alive in our minds and hearts this season. There might be some tension experienced between the disconnect of the two but I believe we might be surprised at the affects this story has on our lives.
I hope each and every one of you have a blessed Advent season and a Merry Christmas.
Rev. Stephen Tickner
Join us this Saturday!!
Beginning Saturday, December 3rd and running through Christmas Eve, Central Christian Church will be opening it’s doors to the Danbury community in order to celebrate Community Christmas Saturday’s. Every Saturday from 1 – 3pm (5 – 7pm on Christmas Eve) the church will provide a space for the community to come together and celebrate the Christmas season. A public Christmas tree will welcome the community into the fellowship hall where activities and food will help the community come together in celebration.
Events will include ornament making for the Community tree, a card making station to send Holiday greetings to military veterans, homeless shelters, Connecticut prisons, and the local fire department, a holiday picture station and an opportunity to support a locally owned small business.There will also be an opportunity to support La Comida food pantry by donating canned foods. Requested items include:
Help us share the Christmas spirit this season and join us for our community Christmas Saturday's!
Happy Thanksgiving!! Check out what's happening this week at Central here!
Join us this Monday night as faith communities from all over the Greater Danbury area will gather together at Central Christian Church. The Wooster School's choir "The Madrigals" and the Ridgefield Chorale will be providing music. In a time of divisive rhetoric and hateful actions, we hope you will be able to join us for this important act of unity, peace and thanksgiving.
Central Christian Church and The Gathering Community Church have come together to co-sponsor an election-eve service titled, “The Gospel & The Vote: Reviving the Politics of Jesus.” This service aims to provide an opportunity for the Danbury community to come together for worship, to pray for the election and reflect on Jesus' words about leadership, Gospel values and God’s vision for the world.
“The church has a prophetic responsibility to inspire and inform, to encourage and enlighten,” said Pastor Wesley Johnson II, lead pastor of The Gathering Community Church. “This gathering presents an opportunity to do that.”
In addition to the service, information regarding same-day registration, how to find the correct voting location, and the importance of the local election will be provided. Invitations to both major parties have been extended in order to answer questions from attendees following the service.
“This election has brought forth some very nasty rhetoric and vitriol,” said Rev. Stephen Tickner, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church. “We hope to create a sacred space that unites our community and reminds us of the values and vision God calls on us to create here on earth as it is in heaven.”
“The Gospel & The Vote” will be taking place at Central Christian Church on Monday, November 7th at 7pm. Everyone is invited.
Central Christian Church is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the American Baptist Church. It is located at 71 West Street in Danbury. Approaching it’s 200th Anniversary next year, the church recently called it’s 44th pastor, Rev. Stephen Tickner. To learn more about the church visit www.centralchristianchurchdanbury.com or call (203) 748-3020.
The Gathering Community Church is a nondenominational church that was launched this past Easter. It currently meets in the Jericho Partnership located at 13 Rose Street in Danbury at 9:30am every Sunday. To learn more about the church visit www.thegatheringct.org.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.