Annual Meeting: February 23

Our Annual Meeting will begin Sunday, February 23 during our normal worship time. This is an experiment aimed at making it easier for more church members to participate in the Annual Meeting. As always, all people are welcome! Just be aware that our worship service will be brief (about half an hour) and will not include some of the normal worship elements (including a sermon). Hope to see you there!

The Season of Lent: For God So Loves the World

Lent at First Church is a season of spiritual renewal, community, dedication, and joy. Please consider making these gatherings and events part of your Lenten discipline:

For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only child that everyone might know real and abundant life. —John 3:16, paraphrased

Years of display at sporting events and other public gatherings have both weaponized and trivialized John 3:16. In fact, it is the best and and most profound news: God loves the world! God loves the world so much that God has given us everything!

Lent is a traditional time of focusing on spiritual renewal. This year let us be so focused on God’s love for us and all the world that we are transformed, renewed, and energized by that Love—for the sake of the world. Each Sunday we’ll focus on a different aspect of God’s love, and each Sunday you are invited to bring an object or other representation of something you love, or something or someone in need of God’s love. Together, we’ll create a Lenten altar in the sanctuary to inspire us throughout the season and beyond.

Come and experience God’s love at these Lenten services and gatherings:

Ash Wednesday, February 26: God Loves a Clean Heart
Ashes to Go at noon in the Chapel, from 1 to 2 at the Black Sheep; service at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary
Sunday, March 1: God Loves Creation

Wednesday, March 4: Reimagining the Bible: Fresh Takes on Old Stories, 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 8: God Loves Relationship

Sunday, March 15: God Loves the Lowly

Wednesday, March 18: Reimagining the Bible: Fresh Takes on Old Stories, 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 22: God Loves the Lost

Sunday, March 29: God Loves Life

Wednesday, April 1: Reimagining the Bible: Fresh Takes on Old Stories, 7 p.m.

Palm/Passion Sunday, April 5: God Loves the Humble

Maundy Thursday, April 9: God Loves the Hungry

Service of Foot-washing, 5 o’clock
Simple Supper: 6 o’clock
Service of Tenebrae: 7 o’clock

Good Friday, April 10: Community ecumenical service at noon, location TBD

Easter Sunday, April 12: God Loves New Life

Advent

Advent is an invitation: a divine summons to desire, to acknowledge the constant craving implanted in your heart. Quiet encouragement to be still. A gentle wake-up call to wonder. Holy permission to put down all the things you think you should be doing for God and, instead, simply revel in God’s love for you and our world.

What does it mean to identify as Christian?

Join in a discussion as we explore together what it means to identify as Christian, and wonder aloud about whether it is even important to do so. We’ll also talk together about how we live openly and whole-heartedly as Christians. No homework- just come to one, two, or all four gatherings hosted by the GIFT ministry team. October 5 and 20 after worship; October 9 and 23 at 7 p.m. in the lounge.

Blessing of the Animals

Saturday, October 5 at 11 a.m. Bring your beloved animal companions -on leash or in a crate- to the front of the church for this annual blessing.

Youth lead the Day of Sharing service

The Youth Group led worship on September 15, sharing moving reflections about their experience at Broad Street Mission in Philadelphia.

Holy Week at First Church Amherst

Holy Week, the period from Palm/Passion Sunday through Easter Sunday, is a highlight of the church year, a jumble of tradition and emotion, and a collection of powerful and meaningful services. All people–no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey–are welcome to any and all of it.

April 14 is Palm Sunday, a celebration of Jesus’ so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. The people were excited and inspired, and they called Jesus their king and asked him to save him. Meanwhile, the soldiers of the Roman army were entering the city from the opposite direction, a show of military might and human power designed to discourage any rebellious behavior during the Passover festival. Because Jesus and his followers threatened the imperial order, Jesus’ entry also proved a turning point in his life.

Our service will re-enact the glory of Palm Sunday and begin to usher us into Jesus’ passion. The First Church Choir will sing two anthems, we’ll celebrate Communion, and reflect on what it all means.

April 18 is Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his new commandment that they love one another as he had loved them. Our offerings begin with a Service of Foot-washing at 5:15 in the Chapel. At 6 o’clock all are invited to a simple supper of soup and bread in the Dining Room. At 7 o’clock the solemn and beautiful Service of Tenebrae begins in the Chapel.

April 19 is Good Friday and, as always, we participate in an ecumenical community service. This year’s service will be held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Hadley. It begins at noon.

Easter Sunday is April 21! We’d love to see you for a joyful celebration of resurrection and new life, complete with balloons, glorious music, Communion, and an after-service egg hunt for children.

Come experience the promise, power, and joy of following Jesus!

Youth Group to visit Broad Street Ministry

The First Church Youth Group’s theme for this academic year is Making Mission Meaningful, and will culminate in a week-long visit to Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, PA.