THE LIGHT THAT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS: Spiritual Practices for Advent 2020
John’s Gospel reminds us that the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it! This is a good and needed word for this pandemic and post-election time—one to remember, ponder and pray. And yet, how does having only negative connotations of darkness relate to our current moment of racial reckoning? Can we find goodness and blessing in the shadows and the light, in the knowledge that God created the day and the night and called them both good? In darkness and in light, how can we wait, and labor and prepare for the light and joy and new birth that come at Christmas?
Advent Lectio Divina: Holy Reading
Sundays, December 6, 13 & 20, 9:30 am, via Zoom Join Dan, Lexi, and Jaz in a short conversation about reimagining advent themes of light and darkness and a time for spiritual practice called lectio divina, “holy reading.” In this ancient contemplative practice, we’ll read Advent scripture passages together and be invited to meditate on how God’s word intersects with our lives. Together, through word and silence, we’ll listen for God’s movement in our hearts, as we wait and labor and prepare to receive the light of the Christ child.
Sunday, December 6, 9:30 am, via Zoom Join us for our monthly Multigenerational Creative Arts Workshop, where we’ll complete some of our most beloved crafts of the season. Gather ‘round your screen at 9:30 on Sunday, December 6, with your workshop supply kit and home-gathered supplies to create 4 different types of lanterns to guide you through the season. Sarah Higginbotham and Nancy Cyr will provide encouragement and instruction, but take a look at this craft instruction sheet ahead of time to be prepared.
Candle-lighting and Prayer Time
Sundays, December 6, 13 & 20, 4:00 p.m., Lindsay Chapel This Advent we will be offering some time on Sunday afternoons for folks to pray and to light a candle in the Chapel. The capacity will be limited to four people at a time, and we ask that you come masked. In this time of reimagining what the symbols of light and dark mean to us, take some time to reconnect with the church building, spend some time in prayer, and give some light to the world.
Women’s Community: Reclaiming Mary
Saturday, December 12, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m., via Zoom The women of First Church will be gathering together on Zoom for a time of worship, spiritual practice, reflection, and fellowship to observe Advent. Come as you are to explore what Mary might mean to us as a spiritual ancestor, a matriarch within our sacred scriptures, and the one who clears a path for God to work in our world. This time together will be for connection and grounding in our faith. Everyone who identifies as a woman is welcome to join!
Advent Music at First Church 2020
Traditionally, we have ornamented our Advent services with special music – a choral introit with congregational participation of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” – and a choral work with instruments on “Music Sunday” on the third week of the Advent season. This year we will not let the pandemic or isolation get in the way of that! The First Church Choir will produce some videos with layered tracks so that we may once again usher in the birth of Christ with appropriate pre-recorded music – the “O Come, O Come” on successive Sundays, and something special TBA for December 13. If you want to participate, please be in touch with Peter Sykes as soon as possible!
Supporting Local Friends and Families as They Celebrate the Holidays
In the Advent season, we remember years past when our pulpit area filled with coats or toys ready for donation to various organizations helping people from our community who don’t have everything they need. This holiday season, our opportunities to give and support communities in need might look different, but the need is greater. The Missions and Social Justice Committee has compiled a list of opportunities for donation. In the case that you and your family are in a position to support these organizations, we hope that you find this list helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out to Molly Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Missions and Social Justice Committee.
Remembering Our Christmas Fair Friends: Their Missions and Their Wares
Out of sight in 2020, but not out of mind! The organizations that we support at Christmastime, by buying their products at our annual Alternative Christmas Fair, need our help this year as much as ever. Even though you will not be greeting them in person at a merry hubbub in MJH, you can order some goods, or make donations, at their websites. Look for the “Shop” or “Shop Now” and the “Give” or “Donate” tabs on the websites below. International orders probably won’t arrive in time for Christmas gifting to others, but if you see something you like, why not gift yourself and your household? And donations are easy and always received with gratitude. See the full list of vendors.
Christmas at First Church in Cambridge
This holiday season will surely be like no other we’ve experienced before. Time-treasured traditions of coming together for shared meals and shared liturgy won’t be possible this year for many of us. Whether you are quarantining alone, with your household, or a small pod, you have a home at First Church in Cambridge this Christmas. If you cannot join us for our worship premieres, our Christmas services will be up on our Youtube channel directly after their premiere so you can watch whenever it fits your holiday schedule.
Live Streamed Christmas Services:
FIRST CHURCH UN-PAGEANT AND CHRISTMAS PARTY GO ONLINE!
Sunday, December 20, 11:00 a.m.
You’ll need to make your costumes at home but the Un-Pageant will go on! Think, shepherds in bathrobes, wise folks in fleece blanket robes, angels in white t-shirts and halos of tinsel from your tree! If you want to be a lamb, don’t forget the sheep ears! Join from wherever you are, with whatever costumes you can muster. This year, we’ll start with our usual live-stream (with a much smaller cast than usual). But then we’ll end on Zoom, in costume, singing cacophonously with joyful hearts. Our traditional post-service Christmas party will follow! If you’d like to appear on screen in your Un-Pageant finery during the live-stream and can record yourselves earlier in the week, be in touch with Sarah to receive instructions.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
Thursday, December 24, 6:00 pm
“Come all ye faithful” and celebrate with us from home by joining together online for a candlelit service of lessons and carols. Worship with us this silent and holy night as we give thanks for Emmanuel – God with us – and as we fill our sanctuary and our homes with the warmth, light and joy of Christmas!
CHRISTMAS DAY SERVICE
Friday, December 25, 11:00 am
Join us for this First Church Christmas Morning tradition. Greet the new day and the Christ child with a short online prayer service and a special harpsichord offering by Peter Sykes of William Byrd’s The Bells.