The season of Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and self-examination in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord at Easter. It is a period of 40 days—like the flood of Genesis, Moses’ sojourn at Mount Sinai, and Jesus’ time of testing in the wilderness.
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent with a public act of confession and contrition. Acknowledging that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we stand in solidarity as fellow creatures before our Creator, acutely aware of our mortality. In the face of our transience, we pledge ourselves anew to live unto God’s Word in Jesus Christ, the eternal Word that remains forever.
First Church marks Ash Wednesday by gathering around tables for our service with a shared meal of soup, communion, and the receiving of ashes.
Passion/Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, a time in the church year when we remember how Christ gave his life in love for the world. As this service opens, the crowd waves palm branches, wanting to crown Jesus as king. But as the story of the Passion unfolds, their shouts of praise turn to demands for his crucifixion; he receives a crown of thorns as he is handed over to be mocked and killed.
First Church begins the day with a fellowship breakfast and preparation of palms. Children parade into worship waving palms, shouting “Hosanna.” Typically, the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is collected.
Maundy Thursday begins the Three Days (or Triduum), remembering the new commandment that Christ gave us in word and deed as He taught us how to love one another, washing our feet as a servant. We also celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remembering the meal Christ shared with his disciples before his death. Historically, this was the traditional day in which those who had undergone a period of public penance under church discipline would be restored to full communion.
At First Church, we celebrate Jesus’ new invitation “to love one another as I have loved you” with an evening of worship and communion in the chapel.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. The hours of noon to 3 p.m. are particularly significant as these commemorate the time Jesus hung on the cross. It is an especially important time to pray for the church and the world for whom Christ gave his life.
At First Church, it is our tradition to participate in an ecumenical service preaching the seven last words of Christ at our neighbor church, St. John’s Grace.
The festival of the Resurrection of the Lord (or Easter Sunday) is the center of the Christian year. On this occasion, the church proclaims the good news that is at the very heart of the gospel: that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
First Church begins this joyous day with festive brass music accompanied by the organ. Beautiful spring flowers decorate the chancel.