Open and Affirming!

Open and Affirming!

All are welcome!

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
40 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Phone: 973-744-4856

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Sunday: 2010 Children's Christmas Pageant

We are most excited to experience the 2010 Children's Christmas Pageant written, directed and staged by our own Shannon Daly and staring our church school children. This time the story is told through the eyes of the "unnamed characters", the animals, shepherds and magi. It's a wonderful FCC tradition and not to be missed!

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This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

December 19, 2010, 10:30am

This Sunday we enter the third month in our Season of Covenants as we make a covenant of "generosity." In a season of "getting", we explore with spiritual joy of giving -- of sharing ourselves to magnify God's grace in the world.

This is the fourth Sunday of Advent, the time in which we prepare our lives for the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas morning. It is a time of watching and waiting, gaining keener awareness of the way God is present in our world. Last Sunday we heard the story through Mary's eyes. This Sunday we hear from Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25) and share with him the wonder of "God with Us." Rev. Ann Ralosky will preach a sermon entitled "The Impractical Gift." Our modern reading is an essay by English mystic Evelyn Underhill from the book Watch for the Light.

The Vespa-Papaleo/Weiss will light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath as we begin to take the first steps on our Advent Journey together.


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Longest Night Service December 21

Longest Night Service December 21, 8pm

Soft glow from a lit candle

The Christmas season is often a time of joy and celebration, but for many of us it is a time of sorrow.  Feeling grief, loneliness or loss of any kind during the holidays can be painful.  On the eve of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, First Congregational Church will offer a service of prayer and healing to remind us of God's presence in a difficult time. 
 All are welcome.
To learn more about the service, click here or contact the church office at 973-744-4856

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Monday, December 13, 2010

First Congregational Church Enjoying A Comeback - Montclair, NJ Patch

First Congregational Church Enjoying A Comeback - Montclair, NJ Patch

Pull up outside the extremely impressive exterior of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, at 40 South Fullerton Avenue, and you'll notice a giant red banner with the words: "Jesus Didn't Turn People Away ... Neither Do We." The message is an important one, explains Rev. Ann Ralosky, as the church's "inclusiveness" is something she constantly seeks to emphasize. Read more at Montclair Patch.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

December is a month of Generosity.

This Sunday we embrace the third month in our Season of Covenants as we make a covenant of "generosity." In a season of "getting", we explore with spiritual joy of giving -- of sharing ourselves to magnify God's grace in the world.

This is the third Sunday of Advent, the time in which we prepare our lives for the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas morning. It is a time of watching and waiting, gaining keener awareness of the way God is present in our world. This Sunday we celebrate "The Magnificat" -- Mary's radical song of justice in response to God's invitation from the Gospel of Luke 1:47-55. Our modern reading is from the book Mary: Shadow of Grace by theologian Megan McKenna. The choir and Rev. Ann will explore the many faces of Mary in a special service of song, story and imagery.

The Graceffo family will light the third candle on our Advent wreath as we continue on our Advent Journey together.
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Montclair Emergency Shelter for the Homeless

As many of you know, FCC will be the home of the Montclair Emergency Shelter for the Homeless (MESH) this winter.  There have been some wonderful articles in the Montclair Times that have demonstrated the dire need for this kind of shelter and the challenges in getting it going. MESH is a project of the Montclair Clergy Association, and this shelter is truly a shared labor of love from folks throughout our town.  FCC is blessed to have the kind of space necessary to offer and we are glad to be a part of this project.

We also have 25 volunteers lined up to serve throughout the winter, but will need more.  If you would like to serve in this important ministry, there will be a training held at FCC on Monday, Dec 13 and Tues Dec 14 at 7pm in the FCC lower level.  You need only attend one of the days.

As the weather gets colder, life on the streets becomes more dangerous for our homeless brothers and sisters.  We are grateful for any offerings of prayer, service or financial assistance to keep them safe and warm this winter.  If you  have questions, please contact Rev. Wade Renn at or 973-655-1052.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer & Labyrinth Service December 12th

Special worship service
Our Lady of Guadalupe  Prayer & Labyrinth Service
December 12th at 5:30pm
Join us for a special evening of prayer devoted to the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
a Mexican tradition that dates to the 16th century.
During the Christmas season we explore that power of Mary as “divine mother”
and symbol of God’s particular care for the poor and vulnerable.
Mark Graceffo and Rev. Ann will lead a contemplative service
followed by an open labyrinth walk.
All are welcome!
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Labyrinth Walk Tonight!

Back to the Future:
Ancient Ways to a Living Faith
Advent Labyrinth Walk
Labyrinth Society founder ... |

Do you long for a deeper connection to God this season?
Unplug from the busyness of your life
and nourish your spirit with a weekly ritual of
contemplative spiritual practice.

Open labyrinth walk in Sanctuary
from 6:00-8:30pm.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday we enter the second month in our Season of Covenants as we make a covenant of "presence." Being present, to one another and to God, is truly a counter-cultural act in an age of "virtual reality." Studies tell us that the more plugged-in we become to technology the more we lose the gift of empathy with one another. So this month we will explore the many ways we can reclaim the lost art of "being there."

Also on this Sunday we will explore what it means to experience God's presence in our community. In a world where we struggle with poverty, war, racial tension and environmental crises, finding God is challenging. In our scripture reading we will hear from the prophet Isaiah (65:17-25) who sees signs of God in daily joys of community. In our modern reading we will hear from Archbishop Desmond Tutu who saw a vision of God in the struggles of South Africans during apartheid. Rev. Ann Ralosky will preach a sermon entitled "Waking Up to the Dream."

And we will celebrate God's presence in the sacrament of Baptism, as we welcome Grace into our faith and family. Please join us for this special morning!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turkey Drive November 20

Benefiting the Community Food Bank of NJ, drop off your frozen turkeys and give a family a happier Thanksgiving. Turkeys can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, 20 November. Thanks!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homeless in America

Brown Bag Lunches for Bridges Outreach for the Homeless

As we approach the Holiday season, let us remember those who are less fortunate then ourselves. During these difficult economic times, many are need and less are able to give. Giving however, need not be of great magnitude on a personal level. If many contribute, even though small, the total will be great. One loaf will become many loaves!

As part of our "Jesus Has Left the Building... and We Followed" mission project on October 31st we will be assembling 300 lunches to take to our homeless neighbors in Irvington, New Jersey. This is a joint effort between the First Congregational Church of Montclair and the Bridges Outreach for the Homeless. If you are able to donate either food or money, please bring these to FCC anytime through Friday, October 29th.

These are some of the ideas that we can use:
  • Fruit cups
  • Juice boxes
  • Bottled water (8 ounce size)
  • Granola bars
  • Individually packaged treats
If you would like to contribute some of your time, folks are meeting at FCC (South Fullerton Street, Montclair, next to the Public Library) at 9 a.m (about 1 hour of time) on Sunday morning to pack the lunches.
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Jesus has left the building October 31st!

On Sunday October 31st we will worship God through service to others. There will be no worship in the Sanctuary and the doors will be closed. There are different avenues available for those wishing to participate. It is not necessary to be a member of the First Congregational Church to contribute your time or to donate money or food. If you would like to learn more about this, please contact FCC.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday, as we continue to explore the practice of prayer, we wonder what it means when we feel like we are in "exile" -- separated from the familiar, "strangers in a strange land." From both our modern voice, Sr. Joan Chittister, and from the ancient voice of the prophet Jeremiah (29:1, 4-7), we hear some startling words of hope about what it means to live fully and pray passionately, even when we feel far from home. Rev. Ann Ralosky will explore this question in a sermon entitled "In-between Time."

In response to the tragic deaths of so many young gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and questions people around the country who could not survive their own sense of exile, we will lift up a special prayer litany of remembrance, love and hope in their memory. Please join your prayers with ours that all may be strengthened in hope and love.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Volunteer opportunity at FCC this month!

Members of the FCC Community are always encouraged to volunteer for the numerous FCC-related events. In addition, members of the larger community of Essex County and other North Jersey areas are also welcome!

CropWalk - First Congregational Church of Montclair will be the start and finish location for the CropWalk at 2:00 pm on Sunday, October 17. Materials will be available this coming Sunday during our Church Coffee Hour to sign up and line up pledges for the walk. If you cannot walk, but would like to contribute, you may also donate to our online team, FCC Montclair Walkers, by going to Volunteers are also needed from 1:30 to approximately 3:30 to greet and sign in the walkers, and to check them in on their return. Teams from throughout the community will be represented and it would be wonderful to have great representation from our congregation.

What are CROP Hunger Walks?

They are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cecilia Appianim, Fair Trade Cocoa Farmer in Montclair

Cecilia Appianim, Fair Trade Cocoa Farmer in Montclair on October 5th! 

Join us to learn more about and enjoy samples of the world's favorite sweet treat!

First Congregational Church, 40 South Fullerton Ave., Montclair Tuesday, October 5 7:30 pm Google Map for First Congregational Church

Cecilia is a member of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana - the first and largest Fair Trade cocoa cooperative. Kuapa Kokoo produces the 'divine' cocoa in Divine Chocolate bars. Cecilia will speak about the benefits of Fair Trade and how the practice of gender equity in the cooperative carried over into her personal life.

Cecilia's U.S. tour is being sponsored by Fair Trade Towns USA and this event is being organized by the four Fair Trade Town campaigns in N.J. (Montclair, Teaneck, Highland Park & Red Bank) and First Congregational Church.
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The Power of 1

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family Communion Workshop Saturday Oct 2

Dear Families,

When we worship we do three simple but powerful things: gather the people, tell the story, and break the bread. This Saturday, October 2 from 10am-12noon we will explore the last one: Breaking the Bread, also known as the sacrament of Holy Communion. For those of us who come from other Christian faith traditions, especially Catholics, there can be a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what this ritual means for children. This workshop is designed to answer your questions in a fun, engaging, and enlightening experience designed for children 12 and under and their parents.

During our time together we will:

* share stories about the important meals in our lives
* hear stories about how Jesus ate
* learn the origins of this sacrament and how it has been understood over the centuries
* bake bread which will be used on our Communion service on Sunday, Oct 3
* make a special craft to take home
* have some "parent time" to discuss the sacrament with Rev. Ann

Please join us! Even if you came last year -- you are welcome to come again. It is important that you let me know if you are coming so we can prepare for the right number. Please RSVP ASAP! You may email me back or call the church office (973-744-4856).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prospective Member class at First Congregational Church

Dear Friends of FCC,

Beginning in October we will be holding our fall series of conversations for prospective members.  Many of you have been participating in the life of First Congregational Church for many months now, and some have just begun to get acquainted with us.  No matter how long you have been with us you are warmly invited to be a part of these conversations.  They will be held on three consecutive Sundays -- October 3, 10 & 17 -- immediately after worship.  We hope to receive new members into the community on Sunday, October 24. The sessions last 1 hour and child care can be made available.

The goal of the classes is to explore your spiritual journey and to help you get to know what First Congregational Church (and our denomination, the United Church of Christ) is all about.  We will discuss where we began, what we believe, and how we live our faith out in the world.  It's part history lesson, part theology class, and a very lively conversation about issues that matter!

To become a member of any faith community is an important commitment.  We have been blessed by your presence at FCC and sincerely hope you will consider joining us.  If you have any thoughts or questions, or would like to speak with me in person about your faith journey, please do not hesitate to contact me.  My door is always open!
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Church Picnic, Sunday Sept 26!

Abstract no.9Image by ~jjjohn~ via FlickrDon't forget to sign up for the Fall All-Church Picnic! Wonderful food, good friends and lots of fun! Sign-ups in Guild Room or see Anne Garty or Liz Donald.

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

Welcome back, summer travelers! This Sunday we will begin our new church year with the return of our children's Church School and the inspiring music of the choir. It has been a lovely, restful summer and now the excitement of new life begins!

We will also share the Parable of the Talents, (Matthew 15:14-30) where Jesus challenges us to take risks with the abundant gifts God has given to us. While Matthew's language can feel harsh, we will explore the underlying message of grace which comes from a radical trust in God's promise.

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Ready, Set, Grow” – FCC Renewal Weekend!!

Sept. 25th and 26th. Be part of the activities of renewing our church. Saturday afternoon strategy and inspiration sessions followed by worship and picnic on Sunday.

Congregational Meeting following worship on Sept. 19th

A meeting of the entire congregation is being called. Issues on the agenda will include the growth initiative plan, physical plant issues, MMO expansion and updates on FCC future plans and ministries. All members and friends are invited to attend!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

God’s wrath and God’s grace – two very different sides of God’s interaction with humanity. This Sunday the contrast will be explored by our guest preacher, Lydia York in her sermon, “Hot Wind of Disaster, Found Coin of Grace” based on readings from Jeremiah 4 and Luke 15. Lydia is a member of FCC and is working to complete a PhD in theology at Drew University . Lydia earned her MDiv from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2003 and hopes to pursue ordination in-care with FCC.

Also offering a ministry of presence will be our reader Jackie Stearns, our ushers Steve Groom and John Sampson. Sarah Pomerantz will bring the Children’s Message and Vivianne Potter will be hosting Coffee Hour. The flowers in the sanctuary are given by Vivianne in honor of her daughter Maya’s birthday. Maya Potter, Lauren Marden and Benjamin Villanueva will offer special music. The Rev. Barbara Prince will be liturgist.

Rev. Ann returns for next Sunday’s worship.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bible Study

# Bible Study continues to meet at 9:30am in the library and discuss the book The Shack by William Young. Whether you've read it or not, all are welcome!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church! September 5, 2010

Does being a Christian change the way you see the world? Does it inspire you challenge injustices and inequities? Or does it give you "cover" to look the other way? This Sunday we will share Paul's letter to Philemon (yes -- all 21 lines of it!) and explore what it means to see the world through the eyes of Christ. Rev. Ann Ralosky will preach a sermon on Phil. 1-21 entitled "Do the Right Thing."

As our summer of "special music" continues we will be graced by the voice of Clarissa Schoch with Julie Morgan on piano.

As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will be gathering around the table to celebrate the Sacrament of Communion. As we look through the eyes of Christ, we offer an open table -- ALL are welcome to share it.

Lay worship leadership:

Reader: Jackie Berliner-Jackson

Usher: Phil Daly

Coffee Hour hosts: Jackson Family

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Doesn't Change?

Excerpt from Hebrews 13:7-21

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Reflection by William C. Green

If faith in Jesus is thought to have become weaker and narrower than it used to be, our vision is limited to the northern and western parts of the globe. In the south and east, Jesus is a rising star.

Circumstances shift and change, but not Jesus. What changes is our understanding of Jesus and the conditions that influence it. Those who are poor or jobless but devout believers will see a different Jesus than do many of the more affluent among us. Those dedicated to preserving dogma and doctrine will be suspicious of any understanding of a God who is still speaking with more to say than we've heard before.

More than time-honored beliefs and values, Jesus inspires character, without which the best standards can be wielded as weapons—as when the importance of hard work and personal responsibility is laid on the unemployed, or when patriotism makes us suspicious of immigrants while we rely on their labor, or when church or faith leave little room for those of different sexual orientations.

Yesterday, today, and forever, Jesus lives in the spirit of God he awakens. Under his influence, we become better "characters": more just and charitable, more attentive to the needs of others, less dismissive of views and values not our own, and more responsive to the new life we're given to know and share with others.

Whatever changes with the times, God, may I stay focused on Jesus, drawing on his spirit and growing closer to you. Amen.
About the Author
William C. Green, a United Church of Christ minister, is the Director of Long Looking, a consultancy service specializing in fundraising and education for congregations. His new book, 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving, has just been published.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What are “traditional family values”?

This Sunday August 15 at First Congregational Church of Montclair:

What are “traditional family values”? Do we know what that means? What are “traditional family values” according to Jesus? This week, Brad Bannon returns to FCC and continues to explore “troubling” Biblical passages as Sarah did last week. In this week’s scriptural passage (Luke 12:49-56), Jesus proclaims that He “did not come to bring peace, but division” through a baptism of fire. How might we understand this surprising statement in light of today’s debates over traditional family values and the role of the Bible in our church? Brad looks for help in unexpected places – an ancient Hindu theologian (Shankara) and a Renaissance Christian mystic (Nicholas of Cusa) – in a sermon entitled “(No?) Peace: The Possibility of God and the Possibilities of Scripture.” Don’t miss it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Responsible Leader

The Responsible Leader
Excerpt from Judges 6:36-4
"Gideon said to God, 'If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you've said, then look: I'm placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.'"
Reflection by Ron Buford
Colin Powell once said he was proud of being called a "reluctant warrior." Powell is typical among warriors who actually risked their own lives to save others and who can also never erase the brain-searing memories of horrific death and human carnage--of friends and enemies, comrades and combatants, all believing they were "right." Such warriors are rarely eager to go to war--stereotypes notwithstanding. So it is with Gideon: if he is going to battle, he wants to be absolutely certain his cause is just, that it is God's will.
Each day we face battles. Some days we take on battles that satisfy our egos but that leave behind human and spiritual carnage. Is it worth it? Look at what it costs you to be right? Is it at the center of God's Divine purpose for you, your family, those for whom you are responsible? Slow down; take time to be mindful today.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of Divine choice. May my choices and actions today maximize your Divine presence, power, and creativity in the world, in my home, for good in the world. Amen.
About the Author
Ron Buford is Director of Development for the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Parenting Circle July 7

Dear Parents,

Just a reminder that the FCC Parenting Circle will meet tomorrow, July 7 at 8pm at my house.

As we prepare for our time together you are asked to read the following chapters in our discussion book, The Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel:

Chapter 3. The Blessing of Having Someone To Look Up To: Honoring Mother and Father
Chapter 4. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Why God Doesn't Want You to Overprotect Your Child

To prepare for our discussion, please consider the following reflection:

When you were growing-up how did you address your parents and their friends? How did you address teachers? If you were required to be more formal than your children are, what were the advantages and disadvantages?

Think back to your childhood. On a summer night, were you able to play outside until dark without adult supervision? Could you ride your bike freely in your neighborhood? Recall the bones you broke, the adventures you had. What were the benefits of this degree of freedom? Any harm? Compare your experiences to your child's current degree of freedom.

Quotes of the Day:

"When a person honors the parents, God says, 'I consider it as though I lived with them and they honored me.'"(Talmud, Kiddushin, 30b)

"Do not to put a stumbling block before the blind." (Leviticus,19:14)

If you need copies of the chapters, please let me know -- I have a few at the church. If this is your first time attending, you are welcome -- even if you haven't read the book! In order to get as much fruitful discussion in as possible, please try to arrive as close to 8pm as humanly possible!

I hope everyone is keeping cool (on every level!),


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Saturday, July 3, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday as we worship on July 4th we will explore what it means to be an American and a Christian. In a sermon entitled "Both Sides of the Coin" Rev. Ann Ralosky will continue her "share the sermon" series with a look at two texts: Deuteronomy 15:7-11 and Matthew 22:15-22 as we ask the question: what does belong to Caesar and what belongs to God? What does it mean to live in a society that dares to put God's priorities in the center?

In honor of the day we will also enjoy some special renditions of classic American hymns.
We will also host our sister congregation, Union Congregational Church, for worship and fellowship as we continue our annual summer tradition. As special coffee hour will be held outside in our Memorial Garden to celebrate our time together.

Reader: Bob Berry

Usher: Jeanne LoCicero and Karen Marden

Coffee Hour: Fellowship Committee

Special Announcements

* S.O.S! Shorts On Sunday! Our welcome is not the only thing that's warm... our Sanctuary is too! The summer heat is here so we are dressing cool and casual for worship.
* Special Collection for the Youth Mission Trip. During this Sunday's offertory we will be taking up a special collection to support Lauren Marden and Maya Potter as they join the youth from Union Congregational Church on thier mission trip to South Dakota. Please be generous!
* Bible Study will continue each Sunday through the summer at 9:30am in the Library. Questions? See Bob Sillery.
* Join us in the Parade! On Monday July 5, FCC will join Union Cong as we march together in the Montclair Independence Day Parade. Meet in the FCC parking lot at 10:15 for refreshments and then take our place in line at 11am.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Music Lessons at FCC

Many folks in our church have expressed an interest in learning to read music and play handbells.  So, I’d like to offer a series of 5 sessions at church in July and early August, on a weeknight teaching a course that combines beginning handbell instruction with basic music-reading instruction.  We’ll also incorporate a little bit of sight-singing, so that your voices won’t miss out on all the fun!  Lauren Marden – bell-ringer, musician, and budding music-teacher extraordinaire – will co-lead with me.  We are, of course, offering this course free of charge.

The course is open to folks of all ages.  It would be terrific to have all the generations represented!  And who knows, maybe we’ll decide to enhance the evenings with an occasional pre-class pizza/sub event or post-class ice cream experience…

The dates and times have not been set yet; this notice is to ask if there is sufficient interest in such a class.  Being mid- summer, I know that many people will be on vacation and away for at least part of the time; you could still attend the course as long as you can come to at least three of the five sessions.

If interested, please contact Julie Morgan at  
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Put My Tears in Your Bottle

United Church of Christ logo.Image via Wikipedia

Excerpt from Psalm 56

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.”

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver
There is an ancient Jewish proverb:  “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.”

There is some catharsis in shedding tears.  And tears that are never shed do not go away.  They become something else—bitterness, depression, hardness of heart, increased grief.  So God invites our tears.

But more, the author of this psalm pleads with God, “Put my tears in your bottle.”  Imagine!  God has a bottle for our tears!

It was an ancient Jewish practice for mourners to have a small bottle in which they could collect their tears.  The top would allow those tears to evaporate over time, and when the bottle was completely dry, the time of grieving was considered over.

So the psalmist asks God, “Put my tears in your bottle.”  We don’t need to keep our sorrow and our tears in the tight little bottle within us where they are usually kept, burning and vengeful, because God has a bottle for our tears.

It must be a bottle as big as the ocean because in it are the psalmist’s tears, a prophet’s tears over injustice, Jesus’ tears over the death of his friend Lazarus, tears of parents whose children have died in war, widows’ tears, toddlers’ tears, spurned lovers’ tears, your tears and mine, mingling with the tears of countless others from countless sorrows.

When we come to God with our grief, God does not pat us on the head and offer a condescending, “Now, now…”  Rather, God receives our tears like an offering and holds them, as if in a bottle, honoring our grief and sharing it.

God, thank you for honoring my grief enough to hold it and to share it. Amen.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. His new book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored with Lillian Daniel, has just been published.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

June 27, 2010

This Sunday we begin our summer "share the sermon" series as we explore the passing of leadership from the prophet Elijah to his "understudy", Elisha. Following God's lead in difficult times requires more than just what we bring to the job -- it requires a "double portion" of the Spirit and a willingness to step into leadership with courage and faith. With gratitude for the wonderful comments, questions and insights she received from the congregation, Rev. Ann will preach a sermon based on 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 called "Pick Up the Mantle."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Parenting Circle

Dear Parents,

Just a reminder that our Parenting Circle small group will be meeting this Wednesday, June 23, at 8pm at my home.  We will be reading the first two chapters of the book "Blessings of A Skinned Knee" by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.  Please let me know if you would like copies of those two chapters, I have them at church.  The book is available in most bookstores and online.

Parents and caregivers of children of all ages are welcome to be a part of this supportive circle.  You are welcome to bring something to snack on and to drink.  Hope to see you then! For additional information, email


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Special Collection for the Youth Mission Trip!

During this Sunday's offertory we will be taking up a special collection to support Lauren Marden and Maya Potter as they join the youth from Union Congregational Church on their mission trip to South Dakota . Please be generous!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday we stand at the mouth of the cave with Elijah, straining for a sign of God's presence. Like that beleaguered prophet, we tend to look for God in the obvious -- in the wind or the fire or the earthquake, the "big" events in our lives -- and often don't recognize God in the silence, the still small voice. In a sermon entitled "Holy Silence" Rev. Ann will explore this experience based on the scripture text 1 Kings 19:1-4,8-15a.

We will also be celebrating a milestone in the life of our church school children as those entering grade 4 and higher will receive their bibles. This will be the last Sunday of the church school year and we give thanks to Joan and all her parent helpers for all the loving care and wonderful guidance they give to our young people!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family Bible Workshop Saturday June 19!

Family Bible Workshop Saturday June 19 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. For children entering 4th grade or higher and their parents. Explore our faith's most special book in a fun and interactive way. We will be preparing our children to receive bibles during worship on Sunday 20 June.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bible Study each Sunday morning!

Each Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Library, we will be discussing the lectionary texts for the week coming from the Book of Kings. All are welcome!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Open and Affirming! All are Welcome at FCC Montclair! by Mark@fb

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Event photographer?

Our church is looking for members to photograph the many events that take place at First Congregational Church, Montclair. We are very interested in photos of people at these events, we are hoping to capture the excitement and spirit of what FCC Montclair is all about. Some of the possibilities are Fellowship coffee hour,  Jesus has Left the Building, Gay Pride Parade, 4th of July Parade, good works, etc.  If you are interested (you do not need to be a professional, just willing to takes LOTS of photos) please contact Thanks!
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Going Out and Coming In

Excerpt from Psalm 121

"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

June is a big month for big transitions. People graduate from high school, college and grad school. Couples are married. Congregations mark confirmations. People and families set out, moving from one home to a new one. In this Psalm, a song for pilgrims on the journey to Jerusalem, God promises to be present in a special way in the transitions, the times of "going out and coming in."

Transitions can be precarious. They are filled with hope and grief, apprehension and anticipation. About this time last year, we were preparing for the wedding of one of our three children, the first of our kids to get married. I was thrilled and I was grieving. I was proud and I was perplexed. Probably everyone who was most involved was in some middle zone between a going out and a coming in. Something had ended but we hadn’t quite arrived at the new place. In between was a jumble.

We often want to get through the in-between times as quickly as possible. That’s understandable but maybe unwise. We need the spaces between, strange and confusing as they may be. Maybe that’s why the Psalm assures us that God is especially present in those times between, between the going out and the coming in. God works with us in a special way in the times between to guide us, to teach us, to lead us.

Be near, we pray, to those who now are in between. Watch over those who are going out and those who are coming in, and especially watch over those who are in the space between. Amen.
About the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

May 30, 2010

Jesus Has Left the Building...And We Followed!

This Sunday is service Sunday at FCC.  There is no worship in the Sanctuary.  Instead we are worshipping God through serving our neighbors in Newark , Irvington , and Montclair .  We are collecting clothing for the homeless, serving lunch in a soup kitchen, sharing worship with senior citizens, and gardening at an HIV/AIDS nursing home.

We will return again for worship in the Sanctuary on Sunday June 6 at 10:30am!

See you then!

To keep up with all that is happening at First Congregational Church, be sure to check out our website
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last Wednesday Labyrinth Walk

The Last Wednesday Labyrinth Walk will take place this evening between 6:00-8:30 pm.

A labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool, a path of walking meditation designed to open our hearts and mind to the presence of God.

You are invited to join in our final prayer walk of the season. The experience is unstructured and contemplative – beginners are most welcome!

Rev. Barb Prince and Rev. Ann Ralosky will be on hand to answer questions or provide guidance.

“Make me to know your ways, O God; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Reminder! Clothing/Toiletries drive is being held through May 30!

Time is running out! Please consider donating clothing and toiletries to FCC for Broadway House and Bridges Outreach for the Homeless on our "Jesus Has Left the Building" Sunday on May 30th.I am sure that you have items in your closets and bathrooms that are suitable for this donation drive. Even if you are not a member of the First Congregational Church of Montclair, we welcome your generosity! Your donation can be dropped off at FCC church, located on South Fullerton Ave.


Excerpt from John 14: 25-27

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson
Peace seems to be something everyone wants. But there are different types of peace. Jesus says that there is a type of peace the world gives and the type of peace he gives. What's the difference?

Years ago I heard a preacher say the world's peace is of three sorts: the peace of the fortress, the peace of the palace, and the peace of escape. The fortress is having enough power that we get peace. The palace is having enough stuff that we get peace. The peace of escape is getting away from it all, "getting away for the weekend," or getting high. Turns out that none of the three forms of peace the world gives are enduring. Someone can always take them away. So we have to keep on getting more -- more power, more stuff, and more escapes.

What about the peace Jesus gives? It's a strange peace. It is not gained from the power of guns or missile shields, gates or security systems, but the power of his presence. It is not gained from having more stuff, but from knowing his love. It is not found in getting away, but by going with Jesus into the hard and challenging places of life. His is the peace that can't be taken from us, the peace that endures in all life's circumstances.

"Pardon for sin and a peace so enduring/your own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with 10,000 beside. Great is your faithfulness, great is your faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed your life has provided, Great is your faithfulness, God, unto me!" (New Century Hymnal, 423)
null About the Author
About the Author Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Do You Live with a Jerk?

Excerpt from Galatians 6: 7-10

"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel
I have always heard the expression "You reap what you sow." But I am not sure I really believe it. I see jerks get ahead in life. I see good people who work hard end up without fame or fortune. Do you really reap what you sow?

If all you look at is material gain in this world, then you would have to be an idiot to think you reap what you sow. Just think about the television show, "Celebrity Apprentice." A guy who built his fortune on his father's money, and wears the worst comb-over ever, gets to host a television show offering advice on business to celebrities who have no business running one. Clearly, we do not reap what we sow.

But if you look at this from the spiritual angle, it is actually true. Spiritually, I really do believe we get back what we put in.

The jerk who gets ahead by being a jerk still has to live with himself. And that means living with a jerk, twenty four/seven.

The person who treats other kindly, who offers respect to everyone, who spreads love in the midst of nastiness, that person gets to live with himself, too.

So, who has the better roommate?

Jesus, you came to earth to teach us a different way. When I am envious or bitter about who has what, remind me to watch what I am putting out into the world. I don't want to live with a jerk. Amen.
About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Her new book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored with Martin B. Copenhaver, has just been published.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Make Believe: an afternoon of beautiful music

Sunday 23 May at 3:00 p.m., a fundraiser for Broadway House and The New Jersey Roundup. Featuring Dale Livingston and Friends. This event will be held at First Congregational Church, 40 S Fullerton Ave., Montclair NJ.

Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the door. For more information, please contact