Each year the Christian calendar takes us on a journey with Christ. We anticipate His coming (Advent) and celebrate His arrival (Christmas). We receive Him as the Light of the World that has entered our darkness (Epiphany). We walk with Him on His road to the cross (Lent). We witness His triumphal entry, His crucifixion, and His glorious resurrection (Holy Week and Easter). We stand with His disciples as they watch Him return to His Father (Ascension Day) and as the Holy Spirit gives birth to the Church (Pentecost).
Then during Ordinary Time, this Spirit patiently forms us into the people of God. Near the end of that time
Continue reading The Shape: All Saints Day
The Sacrament we often observe in our services has several different names in Scripture, such as the Lord’s Supper, Communion or Holy Communion, The Table of the Lord, and the Breaking of Bread. One of the oldest names, and one used increasingly today, is “Eucharist.”
The Greek word “eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” A form of the word is found in each of the four New Testament accounts of the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14- 24; I Corinthians 11:23-26) where Jesus gave thanks over the bread and the cup before
Continue reading The Shape: Eucharist
As our pastor concludes the pastoral prayer each week, he invites us to join together as “we pray the prayer our Lord taught his disciples to pray.”
Those words of invitation have a familiar ring to most of us. The Lord’s Prayer, as we have come to call it, is one of the cherished traditions of the Christian faith, and provides an opportunity for everyone present in the service to
Continue reading The Shape: The Lord’s Prayer
At First Church, music is an integral part of our corporate worship. Reflecting the diversity of our congregation, our music includes a variety of songs, hymns, instruments, and arrangements, which are used as expressions of our praise to God set to music.
We believe that all worshippers, from the youngest to the oldest can add their voices to congregational singing. As we sing, whether we consider ourselves musically gifted or not,
Continue reading The Shape: Music in Worship
A lectionary is an organized system of selected readings from the Scriptures. Typically, a lectionary will include four readings for each day: one from the Old Testament (except for the Psalms), one from Psalms, one from a New Testament Gospel, and one from the remainder of the New Testament. The “Revised Common Lectionary” (RCL) is used by many Protestant churches across denominational lines.
Continue reading The Shape: Lectionary
That period of the year through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost is regarded as extraordinary time. It marks the time in which God has inaugurated His new creation through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the coming of His Holy Spirit.
The season after Pentecost to the beginning of Advent is known as ordinary time. It spans the non-festive period through the months of summer and fall.
Although we may be tempted to think of ordinary time as routine, or even mundane, the time after Pentecost is by no means “ordinary.”
Continue reading The Year: Ordinary Time
The Scriptures record that the Ascension of Jesus occurred in the presence of the apostles. Luke tells us that Jesus had lifted His hands to bless them, and “while he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). In the Book of Acts, Luke writes, “He was taken up before their very eyes” (Acts 1:9). This occurred 40 days after the resurrection. It is recorded in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:4-11.
Although the place of the Ascension is not distinctly stated, it probably took place on the Mount of Olives. Luke says that following the Ascension, the apostles “returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives” (Acts 1:12).
The imagery of Christ’s Ascension is related to the broader theme of His exultation.
Continue reading The Year: Ascension
The Apostles’ Creed is an ancient statement of Christian belief. It was not the first creed, but it is an affirmation of basic Christian doctrine that dates to somewhere in the third and fourth centuries. Later, additional creeds would expand upon the Apostles’ Creed as a way of addressing heresies or differences that had arisen in various regions of the Church’s presence.
Continue reading The Apostle’s Creed
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, and focuses on the events leading up to the arrest, suffering, and death of Jesus on “Good Friday.” Technically, Easter morning begins a new week and is sometimes referred to as the “eighth day.” Easter is the climactic point in the gospel narrative, but Good Friday is the climactic moment of Holy Week and of the season of Lent.
Continue reading The Year: Good Friday
The Sunday before Easter has traditionally been known as “Palm Sunday” and celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. The crowds following Jesus were excited by His acts of healing and the display of His miraculous power. Their songs and expressions of praise indicated an expectation that Jesus was coming into the city as the long-awaited Messiah sent from God. The problem, of course, was that Jesus’ understanding of “messiah” was quite different from theirs.
Continue reading The Year: Palm Sunday