Special services tune the church to sacred time as well as the changing seasons. They help us tell the story of our faith, and remind us of God’s constant presence and blessing in the midst of life. The liturgical year guides us through the spiritual rhythm of faith tradition through the calendar year. First Church observes the traditional Christian special services below:
On the last Sunday of the Church Year, homemade “puppet saints” and a pickup band of homegrown musicians help us celebrate the saints who surround us, living and dead, ordinary and extraordinary.
Advent and Christmas
On the four Sundays before Christmas, while the world is busy with holiday preparations, we light candles, sing songs, and wait with longing for the coming of God into our world. In a special seasonal highlight, we retell the Christmas story with a joyful “unpageant,” where everyone joins in! We celebrate Christmas Eve with a candlelight service for all ages, then gather on Christmas morning for a service of holy communion and carols.
Festival of Epiphany
On the night of January 6, we celebrate the light of Christ with a community supper, a hushed candlelight procession through the darkened church, and a renewal of baptism.
On the first morning and night of Lent, we acknowledge our origins in the dust, our frailty, and our dependence on God, and receive ashes as a sign of mortality.
On the last Sunday of Lent, we remember Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem. We greet him with a “parade” of young and old, waving palms and singing traditional songs, as we enter the sanctuary to begin the morning service.
We lament the pain and injustice of the world, and honor Christ’s death on the cross of shame.
On Easter all ages gather together to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection with trumpets and alleluias, giving thanks and praise for the love of God which is stronger than death!
With colorful banners and in many languages, we commemorate the day when God’s Spirit first fell upon the early followers of Jesus, and everyone experienced the reconciling power of God’s mercy for all people.
Services Unique to the First Church Community
Explore our photo gallery of First Church in Cambridge Worship Traditions!
On the second Sunday of September, as we begin a new program year together, we gather again in covenant and community, giving thanks for the life of our congregation.
Four Sundays a year, we take time in worship to pray for health and wholeness, and to receive a sign of God’s healing love, such as soothing oil and the laying on of hands.
Blessing of the Animals
Each year we open our doors for a Blessing of the Animals, inviting cats, dogs, birds and other creatures to join us in worship (and often raise up their voices with us in “song”!). Photos and toys of animals who can’t join us in person are also welcomed for blessing.
Once a year, we remember the prevalence of hunger in our world, share stories of feeding from the gospels, and celebrate our feeding ministries by making bag lunches for the Outdoor Church.
In this special service every June, we lift up the themes of freedom and liberation, commemorating the abolition of slavery. The service usually features a reading of names and a commemoration of all the enslaved persons associated with First Church over the years and a litany of repentance.
Seasons of Peace and Justice
With so many demands on our attention when it comes to matters of peace and justice, First Church has established a Peace and Justice calendar to help focus our related learning and worship. Consider it a compliment to our liturgical calendar, complete with feast days!
- September and October Racial Justice and Equality
- November and December Immigration and Sanctuary
- January and February Housing and Homelessness
- March and April Climate Crisis and Creation Care
- May and June LGBTQ and Gender Justice