Join us in preparing for the liturgical season of Lent: a time to slow down, reflect, and grow in our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with our neighbor in the midst of the wilderness.
We observe this holy time in our homes, yet bound together in the Spirit.
Ashes to Ashes: A time for turning (and returning)
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return!” Genesis 3: 19
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Each year at Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten observance with a liturgy that invites us to reflect on ashes in four ways:
- Ashes as a sign of creation.
- Ashes as a sign of mortality.
- Ashes as a sign of repentance.
- Ashes as a sign of the Cross.
There is a time for every matter under heaven, especially in this season when we are daily reminded of the mounting toll of Covid, of ongoing racial inequality and terror, and of ongoing degradation of our planet. We invite you to join us through the 40 days of Lent, as we draw from the rich symbolism of ashes and turn (and return) to scripture, holding time for creation, mourning, repentance and healing.
For some, it may be a time to return to the very ground of our being, to the natural world, and to God—to reconnect with the lasting beauty, hope and healing therein. For others, it may be a time to return to and remember our own mortality, or to acknowledge and repent of our sins and brokenness, all the while knowing we are held in God’s eternal love and grace. Ashes in the sign of the cross may prompt time to reflect on, revisit, and embody the ways and patterns of Jesus’ life, suffering and death into new life. In this season of so much grief and gratitude, loss and love, we hope you will all find ways of sharing the Lenten journey with us, whether in learning sessions, small groups, or spiritual practices both contemplative and creative.
lenten church at home kits – pickup on Feb 14
Distribution on Sunday, February 14, 1:30-3:00 p.m., on the 11 Garden St. walkway
Our Lenten kits are for everyone, especially if you wish to participate in our 9:30 Hour Lenten Series. Supplies will include ashes, charcoal pencils, seeds and soil, materials for finger labyrinths, plus your own “Alleluia” to bury at home until Easter! First Church folks of all ages are invited to come by the church on Sunday afternoon, February 14, to collect the items you will need to observe Lent with First Church.
The kits will also include a copy of Promises, Promises: 2021 Lenten Devotional, which is also available as a pdf document from the UCC publisher Pilgrim Press.
Can’t make it on Sunday? Email Sarah Higginbotham to arrange delivery, including a packet of essentials that can be mailed to those out of town.
Winter/Lenten Faith and Life Groups – register by Feb 14
Register to participate in a small group for the duration of Lent to delve deeper into community and into your Lenten practices. Explore a list of full descriptions on our Winter/Lenten Faith and Life Group Page.
Ash Wednesday – February 17
On your own schedule:
- Watch our “unboxing” video on YouTube to explore your Lenten box.
- Watch a pre-recorded “ashes to go” video on our YouTube channel. This video will be public as of 7:00 a.m. on Ash Wednesday, Feb 17.
Live: Join our Ash Wednesday Worship via Zoom at 7:00 p.m.
On this Ash Wednesday, we will reflect on our origins in the dust, our brokenness, and our dependence on God through a liturgy of readings, song, and prayer. Gathered together in the Spirit, we will turn to acknowledge ashes as a sign of creation, mortality, repentance, and the cross. Join us for our evening service with virtual self-imposition of ashes via Zoom. For those who cannot attend the evening service, a virtual “Ashes-to-go” video will be available on our YouTube Channel by 7:00 a.m. Please pick up a Church at Home kit to aid in this worship experience.
9:30 Hour Lenten Study – Sundays, February 21, 28 and March 7, 14 & 21
- Feb 21: Introduction: Ashes to Ashes: A Time for Turning (and Returning)
“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” and yet life returns. After a general introduction to our Lenten theme, we will consider the life found in ashes and in dust, both of which appear to be dead. Breakout groups will be invited to discuss their own experiences of life arising from that which appeared lifeless, and what that experience has to teach us. Our conversation will be grounded in Ecclesiastes 3:13-14 & 19-20.
- Feb 28: Ashes and Creation
“There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” We will wonder about the Godly Play story of “ The Sower,” and then those who wish can plant an apparently-lifeless seed in ashes and “dust,” to observe the miracle of creation during the 40 days of Lent.
- Mar 7: Ashes and Mortality
“There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh.” We will reflect together on the realities of our own mortality through stories of grief and gratitude. Our conversation will be grounded in the words found in Ecclesiastes 3: “ …for there is a time to die and a time to be born, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Multigenerational Creative Arts Workshop
“For everything there is a season…” Audrey Bellinger leads an exploration of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. What images come to mind when we read this passage? After brainstorming, we will use charcoal pencils from the Lenten Church at Home Kit to create a drawing inspired by the text.
- Mar 21: Ashes and the Cross
“There is a time to die and to be born anew.” Together we will reflect on the connections between ashes and the cross through a creative craft activity of making finger labyrinths led by Ariel Ackermann. Labyrinths have been a tool for worship for centuries, and provide an opportunity to connect with God and ourselves through contemplation. (In addition to the supplies included in the Lenten Church at Home Kit, you will need glue and a paintbrush or spoon to complete this craft.)
Midweek Lenten Prayer Services – starting Feb 24
Wednesdays beginning on February 24 through March 31 at 8:15pm-8:45pm
During Lent, join us on zoom for a half hour of contemplative and embodied prayer on Wednesday evenings at 8:15pm. This is a time for holy silence, candlelight, prayers, music and gentle movement. We invite you to bring a candle and communion elements (bread or crackers & water, juice or wine). Music provided by cellist, Jackie Buchanan. Zoom information in the calendar event.