A woman helps lead worship while a man sits close by
A wide angle view showing the congregation in worship in the First Church sanctuary
Sunday services at First Church in Cambridge
two people greeting each other in worship
A wide angle view showing the congregation in worship in the First Church sanctuary

Worship

Worship is the center of our church life—we were made for the praise of God’s glory! In worship, we give thanks for God’s beauty and goodness, receive God’s gift of mercy, and experience God’s power to bring life from death. Worship also steeps us in practices such as hospitality, prayer, gratitude, generosity, reconciliation, healing, and silence—disciplines that help us grow us as followers of Jesus.

Service times

11 a.m. ET — September to June
10 a.m. ET — July and August

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are worshiping together via Livestream. To learn more about the worship-from-home experience, click Your First Visit. We affirm that nothing can separate from God’s love and our love for each other!

join us via LivestreamTHIS SUNDAY’S BULLETIN

Morning services typically follow a pattern, or “order of worship,” which is welcoming, thoughtful, and grounding:

  • inspiring choral and organ music
  • congregational singing of hymns, old and new
  • a time of confession and assurance of God’s forgiveness;
  • a time to greet each other and share Christ’s peace;
  • Bible readings that ground us in the story of God’s love;
  • a sermon that connects the readings to our lives;
  • prayers for the world, the church and ourselves;
  • an invitation to give of ourselves and our resources
  • a closing blessing
  • holy communion (first Sunday of each month and other special Sundays during the year)

Services may also include other practices and rituals—for example, reception of new members, healing prayers, baptisms, and blessings for people leaving the community. Families and children are active participants in our Sunday morning worship life. Worship anytime with our archive of sermons and services.


Sunday Evening Night Song

7:30 p.m. ET — September through May
7:30 p.m. ET — First Sunday of the month June through August

Night Song is an evening musical event that fosters meditation and contemplation through the stillness of the evening, burning candles and incense, bells, sacred art, and most especially music. Night Song brings serene beauty and quiet peace into human lives. No words are spoken; everything is perceived through the senses. The music is a unique fusion of contemplative modal instrumental improvisations by jazz musicians blended with ancient and modern chant, and punctuated by glorious polyphonic choral music from the Renaissance. Monastic in nature, Night Song is intended to be an experience that differs dramatically from daily life. While Christian in content, Night Song is open to all and does not include creeds, sermons, or participatory elements.

Night Song is on hiatus during the pandemic. Visit the Night Song website to sign up for updates, links to chant music to enjoy from home and Night Song recordings.


Days & Seasons of the Church Year

At First Church we live by two calendars—the calendar of secular seasons, and a “liturgical” calendar, or the calendar of the “Church Year”, which is based on the life of Jesus. By marking time according to his story year after year, the colors, rituals, and stories of the Christian seasons take hold in our hearts helping us to become more like Jesus.

Advent

Advent is the “January” of the Church Year. It comprises 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, and desire.

Christmas

Christmas celebrates anew the birth of Jesus. Its cast of character is familiar—Mary, Joseph, the baby in the manger, trumpeting angels  and adoring shepherds. Christmas also includes events immediately following Jesus’ birth, such as the escape of the Holy Family into Egypt, told in the gospel of Matthew. It is a short, tender season marked by goodwill and peace. But Christmas is also a sober season as we honor a savior born into hunger and poverty. The challenge of Christmas is never far from its delight. Its color is white, meaning fulfillment, joy and majesty.

Epiphany

This season focuses our attention on “revelation.” Our worship brings us many gospel stories, such as the visit of the wise men, or Magi, and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, in which God’s Spirit unveils to the whole world who Jesus is, and who he can become “for us and for our salvation.” Light in the darkness is the theme of this season. Like Christmas, whose joy it extends, Epiphany comes dressed in white.

Lent

The 40 days of Lent prepare us to live into the events at the end of Jesus’ life—his cross and rising. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Lenten worship faces us with our sins. We are called to let God’s mercy change our hearts. The season is filled with images of wilderness, thirst and conflict. In the ancient Church during Lent, neophytes prepared for baptism with study, prayer, and fasting. Purple is Lent’s color, signifying repentance and conversion.

Easter

The most joyful season of all, Easter begins with the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. The season’s worship is punctuated by the surprising, comforting, and challenging presence of the risen Lord. Songs and stories remind us that God brings new life from certain death, and that with Christ, we too will be made new. Our mission, through words of hope and deeds of justice, is to announce and share God’s indestructible life with all creation. Easter colors are white or gold, symbolic of triumph and fulfillment.

Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday commemorates the day when the gift of God’s Spirit fell on the early followers of Jesus, and everyone experienced the universal reach and reconciling power of God’s mercy. In the weeks that follow, we meditate on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, a member of the Church, and a witness in the world. This season is also called “Ordinary Time. “ It teaches us the sacred character of our ordinary lives and duties. The color red stands for the Spirit’s power. It is used on Pentecost Sunday and on all Sundays that celebrate the Church – dedications, anniversaries, ordinations, installations. Green, for life and growth, is used the rest of this season.

Explore our holidays and special services at First Church!