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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Palm Sunday Woship Service

We will begin our service out front of the church with the blessing of the palms and process into the Sanctuary. The service will move from celebration to passion as we prepare for Holy Week. When Sun Apr 1 10:30am – 12pm Eastern Time Where First Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ

Special Holy Week Labyrinth Walk

Special Labyrinth Walk with Stations of the Cross inspired by contemporary photos from the Maryknoll Brothers. When Wed Apr 4 12pm – 8pm Eastern Time Where First Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ

Worship Service w/ Footwashing & Holy Communion

8:00pm Worship Service, with Foot washing and Holy Communion. When Thu Apr 5 8pm – 9:30pm Eastern Time Where First Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ

Tenebrae Service

We will begin with a candlelight procession behind the cross and enter a solemn service of reflection where we will share the passion story of Jesus as the light diminishes. When Fri Apr 6 8pm – 9:30pm

Easter Sunday Celebration

When Sun Apr 8 10:30am – 12pm Eastern Time Where First Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ

Holy Saturday Labyrinth Walk

Labyrinth open for prayer and walking 10am—2pm. In the FCC Sanctuary. When Sat Apr 7 10am – 2pm Eastern Time Where First Congregational Church, Montclair, NJ

Friday, March 30, 2012

FCC Children's Education Program - April 1, 2012 - Palm/Passion Sunday

Dear FCC Parents,

Lent - Sixth Sunday - Palm/Passion Sunday - With an agape supper and stations of the cross, the children will explore Jesus' final days prior to the resurrection.
Faith at home
This weekend, talk with your child about Jesus' final days.
After church, celebrate the sixth Sunday of Lent in your home using FCC's Lent at Home (materials can be picked up at church).  Also, utilize the Holy Week sheet (attached to the Lent at home materials).
- One Great Hour of Sharing  - due Sunday, April 1 

For more information, see below. 

One Great Hour of Sharing  - due Sunday, April 1
One Great Hour of Sharing, the refugee, relief and development offering of the United Church of Christ, transforms lives through health, education, agricultural, and emergency relief initiatives in 138 countries.  Part of our Lenten journey includes contributing to the wellbeing of UCC as our church and those near and far.  Like trick or treating with Unicef, the children have been given OGHS cubes to collect any donations at school, playdates, after-school activities, etc.  All donations, big and small, are appreciated.  Please bring the donations back to church on Sunday, April 1.

Faith at home
This weekend, I encourage you to talk with your child about Jesus' final days.  Jesus' last days can be scary to anyone.  But it can be comforting to talk about these stories with parents.  Jesus came to show us the justice and love that God hopes for our lives and encouraged us to build it together.  Others found Jesus' actions threatening to the way life always had been and they didn't want to change.  Still Jesus' message of love and justice is vitally important.  I especially encourage you to emphasize how although Jesus' actions led to the end of his life, they also led to the fulfillment of his life, even beyond his death, as the son of God.   
After church, I encourage you to have a special time at home celebrating the sixth Sunday of Lent.  Using the Lent at home materials can help you and your family better understand God's message of forgiveness and love as well as spend quality spiritual time together in this special church season.

Lent - Sixth Sunday - April 1, 2012 - Palm/Passion Sunday

What is Lent?  The purpose of the season of Lent is to prepare our hearts for the miracle of Easter morning.  While it is true that our goal as Christians is to constantly deepen our relationship with God, Lent is a season of special intention. Just as an athlete remains in shape all year long yet engages in special training before the big race, so do we take this special season in our spiritual life to focus on strengthening our spiritual selves to prepare ourselves for the wonder of the resurrected Christ in our lives.
Palm Sunday, also observed as Passion Sunday, sets the stage of contrast that is Holy Week:  Jubilant crowds hail Jesus as God’s chosen one; angry crowds call for Jesus’ execution.  Jesus’ willingness to stand against the powers of his time can guide Christians today, but the cost can be high.
Palm Sunday marks the point of no return for Jesus.  When he gave no excuse for direct Roman action, Jerusalem’s Jewish elites were forced to find another way to silence him.  The story shows what made Jesus so dangerous in their eyes.  Bad enough that he entered the city in a way calculated to whip up Messianic fervor – when Jesus focused his central attack not on the palace but on the temple, he threatened the heart of Jewish self-identity.
Palm Sunday as the entrance to Holy Week sets us on a unique path.  In this climax of the Lenten season we are called to walk with Christ into the valley of the shadow of death and see it as the gates of life.
What difficulties must we confront and walk through in order to be free?  Are we living comfortable lives or is our faith compelling us to speak and act out against wrongdoing?  Whose call for help are we ignoring?  Are we still outraged at the injustice that we see?
Jesus’ actions remind us that our identities in God call us to act differently in the world.  And yet, while Jesus’ actions can be a stark reminder of all that we are doing or not doing, they also are an offering of grace and forgiveness.  With each step Jesus took, he was offering us a new freedom in God.  When have we felt freedom, peace and courage?
Holy Week is a challenge where the rubber meets the road.  Palm Sunday begins us on this final leg of the journey.
I look forward to sharing this Sunday's adventure with your children.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to be in touch with me.

Mattie Johnson
Director of Christian Education
First Congregational Church of Montclair, NJ

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012 Special gathering time is 10:15! Join us on the front walk for a special blessing of palms and processional into the Sanctuary Hail and Hosanna! We begin our special Palm Sunday service with a processional led by our children. Throughout our worship we will tell the story of Jesus' last week as he moved from joy to sorrow as we prepare ourselves for the Holy Week experience. We will tell the story through scripture (Luke 19:29-40, John 15:12-17, Luke 22:39-48), song and poetry. Mark Jackson will introduce the poem "The Windhover" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which will be recited by Nancy Williams. We will close with a special litany read by many voices. We will collect our special UCC offering for "One Great Hour of Sharing" which serves our brothers and sisters in need locally and globally. On this final Sunday of Lent we continue to grow closer to God through sharing the Sacrament of Communion each Sunday. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of the invisible grace of God. In imitation of Jesus, we practice an open table, everyone present -- children and adults -- are welcome to join in the feast of God. Through the sharing of bread and cup around the table, we experience the reality of God's love for us -- even as we wander in the wilderness. Liturgist: John Sampson Readers: Nancy Williams, Mark Jackson, Mark Graceffo, Kayla Harney, John Ralosky, Karen Shinevar, Deirdre Nance and Peter Wert Ushers: Karen Shinevar and Angel Soto Coffee Hour Hosts: Ali Campbell and Kate Chardavoyne Special Announcements Join us for Holy Week! See attached schedule for details and explanation of events. Bible Study News! No Bible Study on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday. It will resume on April 15 on the first and third Sundays of the month at 9:30am in the library. All are welcome to join in the lively discussion of the day's scripture text. WHAT DO YOU PRAY FOR? That is the question we will be asking during Holy Week. To prepare we are inviting everyone to reflect on this and add their prayers to an offering of prayer flags which will be hung on the grounds of FCC. Based on the Buddhist tradition of flying prayer flags to offer blessings to the community and joys and concerns to heaven, we'll begin by creating our own flags each Sunday after worship starting on March 18. We'll continue this practice outside the church each day during Holy Week (12noon - 7pm). Please join us! Rev. Ann Ralosky Senior Minister First Congregational Church, UCC 40 South Fullerton Ave Montclair, NJ 07042