Observing Advent and Christmas at First Church


Advent is the beginning of a new Church Year; the four weeks before Christmas, a time of quiet, patient preparation for the birth of Jesus. Advent’s watchword is hope. In song, prayer, and ritual (for example, Advent wreaths and candle-lighting), we echo the deep longing for peace and justice of God’s people in every age. We call on God to send the Promised One to usher in a new world of reconciliation and joy. The color purple, or blue, expresses Advent’s spirit of contemplation, penitence, hope, and desire. At First Church we observe the season in worship, study, fellowship, and service. 


Advent Study, 2018: “The Time of No Room,” from Thomas Merton

 Sundays, December 2, 9, 16, and 23, 10:00 a.m.

“We live in the time of no room, which is the time of the end.  The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quality, speed, number, price, power, and acceleration. ...As the end approaches, there is no room for nature.  The cities crowd it off the face of the Earth. As the end approaches, there is no room for quiet.  There is no room for solitude.  There is no room for thought.  There is no room for attention, for the awareness of our state.

 Merton continues...

 “Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it and yet he must be in it, his place is with the others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power, because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied status of persons, who are tortured, bombed and exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.”

Join us on Sundays in December, as we meditate together about Thomas Merton’s profound and provocative meditations on the Christmas story and this “time of no room” in which we are living. We hope these conversations will be spacious and offer room for quiet, for reflection, and for God-in-Christ to be present in us and in this sometimes ‘demented inn’ that is our world.



Sunday, December 2, during Morning Worship

 For decades the City Mission Christmas Shop has served as a catalyst for people of faith to reach out to others. Each year City Mission collects thousands of gifts ― clothes, toys, books, and household goods ― from churches, businesses, and other organizations. The gifts are gathered, sorted, and distributed to families in need around greater Boston. The Christmas Shop brings them hope and joy during the holiday season.  The gifts collected are made available to City Mission’s Homelessness Prevention clients and other community partners who distribute gifts to their own clients. More than 5,000 gifts were collected in 2017! On Sunday, December 2, First Church will collect gifts for the Christmas Shops during our Morning Worship service.  Below is a list of requested gifts. City Mission accepts only NEW items. Please no food, household, or jewelry items.

●     Winter coats, sweaters, and sweatshirts

●     Hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves

●     Socks and underwear

●      Blankets and backpacks

●     Toys, books, and games for all ages

●     Gift cards from Target, Walgreens, Marshalls, CVS, Kohls or other merchants



Sunday, December 2,  12:30 p.m., in Margaret Jewett Hall

Join us for our annual workshop of arts and crafts in Margaret Jewett Hall following Morning Worship on the first Sunday of Advent. People of all ages are invited to make an Advent wreath (bring your candle ring from home; a limited number of new rings and candle sets will be available), dip beeswax candles, create ornaments and candle holders, and more. If you would like to volunteer to oversee a craft table at the workshop, contact Sarah Higginbotham. Mark the beginning of this special season by experiencing the pleasure of giving of yourself for Christmas. A simple lunch of soup, bread, and hot mulled cider will be offered.



Saturday, December 8,  2:00 – 4:00 p.m., in the Sanctuary 

Treat yourself to an afternoon of meditation and reflection, as we begin the Advent Season. This two-hour retreat will feature sitting meditation, walking meditation, and sacred music under the apse (dome) in our beautiful Sanctuary, followed by tea and refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in Hastings Common. Meditators from all traditions are welcome (Christian, Mindfulness, Buddhist), but beginner meditators are very welcome. Please register on the church website, http://www.firstchurchcambridge.org. or contact Karin Case, karincse@firstchurchcambridge.org.



 Sunday, December 9, 12:30 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall

 On Sunday, December 9, following Morning Worship, you will once again be able to browse the many wonderful gift items on sale at First Church’s Alternative Christmas Fair.  MJH will be filled with Christmas cheer, and you can be a part of it!

 Our Fair is “alternative” because all proceeds go directly to the worthy organizations and causes our vendors are representing.  Your purchases will assist the needy in Uganda, Guatemala, Cambodia, Palestine, India, and many other places around the world, as well as beneficiaries here in Cambridge, at First Church, and beyond.

 There will be something for everyone on your list and for you, too: jewelry, clothing, baskets, food items, home décor.   Chocolate sauce, a gorgeous rug or beautiful silk bag, a bottle or two of flavored olive oil, an exquisite necklace or bracelet — they will all be there!  Come and buy generously!



Wednesday, December 12,  6:00 – 9:00 p.m., 44 Garden Street, Cambridge

 Join Dan Smith and Nancy Kilburn for a First Church tradition of festive and fireside fun. Come for all or part of the evening. We’ll provide a light meal and holiday spirit(s)! Feel free to bring some holiday cookies or drinks to share, or just bring yourselves and some holiday cheer.  We hope to see you there!



Morning Worship, Sunday, December 16

Our special Choral Music Sunday service on December 16 highlights the incredible heritage of great music composed for the Advent season. This year we will be singing a perennial favorite ― the Gloria of Antonio Vivaldi, for choir and soloists with strings, oboe, and trumpet.  If you would like to join the Choir for this project, come to rehearsals on Thursday evenings, November 8, 15, and 29, and December 6 and 13, all at 7:45 p.m., in the Harter Room, as well as on Sunday morning, December 16. For more information and updates contact Peter Sykes, psykes@aol.com.



Sunday, December 16, 12:30 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall.

The traditional First Church Christmas Party will be held following Morning Worship on Sunday, December 16, in Margaret Jewett Hall. Organized and animated with great affection and skill by the Friends of Fellowship! Watch for details, coming soon.



Sunday, December 23, during Morning Worship   

The Un-Pageant is a creative and fun tradition at First Church! On the fourth Sunday of Advent during Morning Worship, we tell the Christmas story together as a congregation by donning costumes and accessories (think halos and wooly sheep ears) that transform us into angels, shepherds, sheep, wise folks, and villagers of Bethlehem. We sing the well-loved carols and gather close around the Baby Jesus to experience once again that miraculous love and light and hope and peace. Because it’s unrehearsed, expect a few surprises and, more importantly, expect joyful hearts!



Monday, December 24, 6:00 p.m.

 “Come all ye faithful and celebrate” with us at our family-friendly candlelit service of lessons and carols.  With a beeswax taper in hand, sing and celebrate this “silent night,” as we give thanks for Emmanuel ― God with us ― and as we fill our Sanctuary with the warmth and light and joy of Christmas!



Tuesday, December 25,  11:00 a.m., Lindsay Chapel

 Join us for this First Church Christmas Morning tradition.  Greet the new day and the Christ child with an intimate communion service of lessons, carols, prayers. and a special harpsichord offering by Peter Sykes of William Byrd’s The Bells.



Saturday, January 5, 6:00 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall and the Sanctuar

Save the date and join us for a simple dinner followed by a candlelit procession through our building, ending in the Sanctuary. This traditional Epiphany celebration is a First Church family-friendly favorite. Details to come in the Epiphany issue of EVENT and in First Glance (our weekly Friday e-mail update).

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