Advent 2023

O Come, O Come
O Come, O Come

O Come …what? What are we longing for? Is it peace? Is it justice? Is it solace or silence? Is it healing or wholeness? Is it a simple gift of love? For what is your heart most yearning and waiting in this season of Advent? The familiar hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel reminds us, eventually, that it is ours to “Rejoice! Rejoice!” For Emmanuel, which means “God with us” comes at Christmas! But first, in this season of anticipation, we are invited to slow down, to wonder, to wait, to pray, and to prepare our hearts, to make space in our souls. “God with us” comes to us and meets us right where we are. Join us this Advent in worship and community, in study and small groups, as we yearn, sing, and pray together … O Come, O Come…!

Formation Opportunities

Sheltering in Friendship:
A Women’s Community Advent Gathering
Saturday. December 2, 1:00 – 4:00  p.m.
Margaret Jewett Hall

All those who identify as women are invited to join us for a restorative exploration of the role of friendship in our lives. We will enter an alternative space of togetherness, where we will rest, deepen our connections, play, and reflect together. We will ground ourselves in our own life stories and in the story of Mary learning of her pregnancy and seeking shelter and comfort in her cousin Elizabeth’s house. Childcare is available, either onsite or via financial support for a babysitter of your choosing in your own home. Please RSVP at this link by November 30, and contact Emma Thomas with any questions.

Adult Formation:
Exploring the Seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany
Sundays, December 3 and 10, 9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
Harter Room and via Zoom

Join First Church member Beth Spaulding for an opportunity to delve into the richness of these seasons in the life of the church. We’ll look at the themes of the seasons and how they are expressed in music and art, and we’ll share memories of our own experiences.

Multigenerational Gatherings

Advent Workshop
Sunday, December 3, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
Margaret Jewett Hall

On the first Sunday of Advent, plan to join us after worship for a variety of arts and craft activities to prepare for the season. Bring your Advent candle ring to decorate with greens (new candle rings and candles will be available until we run out). Choose among other crafts, including beeswax candle-dipping, ornament-making, and more. Enjoy a bagel-and-cider lunch as you take in the creative energy around you. All are welcome!

Holiday Open House at the Parsonage
Wednesday, December 13, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
The Parsonage, 44 Garden St., 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!

Young Adults Christmas Party & Hymn Sing
Friday, December 15, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Home of Phil Jones and Angela Servello

All Young Adults are invited to celebrate the season at Phil and Angela’s home in Brighton. Make a festive craft, drink a festive drink, and sing a festive hymn. RSVP to Phil at: Even if you can’t make it, get in touch with Phil for a full list of Young Adult get-togethers in the new year.

Christmas Cookie Swap
Sunday, December 17, 12:15 – 1:00 p.m.
Margaret Jewett Hall

Join us after worship for First Church’s annual Christmas cookie swap! This is a great way to load your pantry with a creative selection of holiday treats for the coming week’s festivities. Please bake or buy 6-10 dozen of your favorite holiday cookies, and then package them by the ½ dozen (6 cookies per bag). Label each bag with ingredients/allergy info before dropping them off in Margaret Jewett Hall before or just after Hybrid Worship. In your baking/buying plans, consider if you can provide gluten-free, dairy-free, or low-sugar options, and definitely label any baked goods that contain nuts. We’ll organize them on tables and invite everyone to pick up treats during the reception. Help spread some sweet joy as we approach Christmas!

Worship Opportunities

Special Advent Music
Sunday, December 17

This year the First Church Choir will sing a setting of the beloved Magnificat text by Italian composer Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704), the first woman to have written sonatas for violin and basso continuo. This rich work is accompanied by strings. Rehearsals are at 7:30 p.m. in Margaret Jewett Hall on three consecutive Thursdays: November 30 and December 7 & 14. Come and join us in our festive preparations! For more information, contact Music Director Peter Sykes at:

The First Church UnPageant
Sunday, December 24 at 11:00 a.m.
Sanctuary and via livestream

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we’ll gather for our untraditional take on the Christmas pageant: the UnPageant! The UnPageant is First Church’s unrehearsed, low-stress, multigenerational telling of the story of Jesus’ birth. This year, the UnPageant takes place on Christmas Eve morning, making it a very special final moment in the Advent season. Come hear the age-old texts and sing the cherished carols as we celebrate the wonder of God’s love among us.

Opportunities to Give

Advent Season Gift-Giving and Donation Suggestions

The Missions & Social Justice Committee is pleased to share with you a list of organizations with which First Church partners closely and who are seeking donations in this holiday season. In the case that you and your family are in a position to support any of these organizations, we hope that you find the list helpful.

find the list with full descriptions here

Alternative Christmas Fair
Sunday, December 10, 12:15 – 2:00 p.m.
Margaret Jewett Hall

First Church is excited to once again host the annual Alternative Christmas Fair! What makes it “alternative?” All proceeds raised by the vendors will go directly to benefit their charitable and social justice causes. Our growing list of vendors this year includes: A Thread of Hope, Solutions at Work, Canaan Fair Trade, The First Church & Friends Welcome Corps Team, and Friday Cafe. Come buy presents for your loved ones, and support worthy causes!