Over the years many members and friends of First Church have found it rewarding to donate alternative gifts from their family to our mission partners in Haiti at Christmas. For many years these gifts were bags with nursing supplies for the nursing students at CONASPEH (the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti). This year, instead of our usual nursing supply kits, we will be collecting medication and supplies for the clinic at CONASPEH headquarters. This clinic serves the staff and hundreds of students at College St. Andre and the other programs there in Port-au-Prince.
You may bring donations to the boxes in the office. Gift cards will be available for you to send to someone as acknowledgment of your donation. If you would prefer to make a cash donation, make your check out to “First Church of Christ” with “Haiti Supplies” in the memo line. If you have questions, ask Mary Friedman or Mark Pohlman.
Here is a list of needed items for the clinic which was sent by the clinic nurse, Miss Fanor:
One of my great joys has been leading retreats and workshops. It was an opportunity for people to spend time in community, growing spiritually, connecting to God, each other and their own knowing. Often I got to facilitate folks sharing their own stories. This coming year we are all going to be listening to each other’s stories. So, I thought I’d share s few of my favorites.
(A woman in her late 60’s had never shared this story with anyone outside her own family.)
My father was in the military. During the Vietnam War we were assigned to a military base with a hospital. I was about 14. I would go over most days and visit with the injured soldiers. I’d read to them, pray, talk and read the Bible. They were afraid and seemed to be so thankful for the company.
One day at school I had a seizure. It was frightening. My folks took me to the base doctor. As they ran tests the seizures increased. They got worse. In no time I was having them daily. I was not going to school and I was scared all the time. The doctor told my parents that they would probably get worse and there wasn’t anything they could do.…
One year ago, on August 20, 2017, I started as the Senior Pastor of First Church of Christ in Longmeadow. So much has happened in this year!
My first service was outside in the garden. The weather was nice and the Search team provided us a picnic lunch. I preached about how to build a community. My stomach was nervous but my heart was excited. I had already felt the wonder of accepting God’s call to be your new Senior Pastor. Now I was ready to fall in love with the church and all of you.
I was primed to love you. When I read the church profile and saw that you lived boldly—serving and witnessing outside your building, caring for the broken, marching for justice — I was intrigued. I believe that church cannot be church just sitting inside our own building trying to please each other. Jesus showed us how to be church by taking to the streets to heal, feed and stand up for the oppressed. Churches that focus on “pleasing” everyone in worship are usually dying churches. And besides, preaching to “please” is the opposite of preaching a prophetic word. As pastors, our job is said to be “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”
I loved your commitment to growing your community in Longmeadow and surrounding areas.…
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” — Matthew 21:16
Sometimes we long for perfection. We appreciate organized, clean, spaces. We celebrate orderly events. But
really — none of these are truly normal. Nature is not tidy. Life will spring forth unbidden. Weeds will push through concrete to blossom.
Life, like birth, is messy business. Messiness is where passion meets living. Messiness is when accidents add juice
I celebrate what I call a Theology of Messiness. A messiness theology is supported biblically:
Jesus and the disciples host a big picnic supper of fish and bread. They serve so much that they have to clean up baskets of leftovers. (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
Jesus loses his cool. He turns over tables in the temple, scattering money and animals all over the floor. (Matthew 21:12-18; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-16)
A woman breaks open an expensive jar of perfume and pours it all over Jesus’ feet. She wipes up the spill with her hair. (Matthew 26:7-10; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-39)
Peter doesn’t waste any time leaping into the water.
Louis Mitchell is a pioneering “intentional man”. He is known around the country and abroad as an elder, advocate, teacher, student, minister, parent and friend. He serves as the Co-founder and Executive Director of Transfaith™/Interfaith Working Group and as the Associate Minister of South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.
Louis is a proud father to his daughter, Kahlo, and co-parent with her mother, Krysia L. Villon. Louis has been in recovery for over three decades and been involved in the fight for health, respect and self-determination since the early 1980s, with deep engagement in political, mental health, recovery, and church contexts.
He brings his own learned experiences, a broad range of resources, theories and studies, to offer a fresh, “on the ground”, open-hearted, holistic strategy to the work of individual and community healing, intersectional diversity planning and commitment to personal and community agency and solvency.
Gender Journeys: More than a Pronoun (2016, Luke Allen) and
More than T (2017, Silas Howard)
Received the 2017 International Jose Julio Sarria Civil Rights Award from the Imperial Court of Western Massachusetts, the 2015 Claire Skiffington Vanguard Award from the Transgender Law Center for his long time advocacy for the disenfranchised and the 2011 Haystack Award from the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC for his work in Social Justice and Social Ministry.
As a church, we welcome everyone, no matter what they believe, where they are from, who they love. “Welcoming” is key to making us a loving community that can be safe for everyone.
As Christians, in fact, we hold “welcoming everybody” as a shared value. And we hold ourselves responsible for acting on that value.
How do we know that welcoming everyone is something Jesus taught us? Look no further than Luke 19:1-9:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, because Jesus was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So Zacchaeus hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.”
The angels that appear in the story of Jesus’ birth would have been very comfortable in our world of tweets and hashtags. Their messages were often short and to the point—their favorite line being #DoNotBeAfraid. As we look at the stories of these winged messengers to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds and their reactions to them, we will contemplate what messages we can offer that will counteract a culture of fear and bring #morehope, #morepeace, #morejoy, and #morelove to the world.*
Sunday, December 2 | The First Sunday of Advent 10:00 am Worship: Hanging of the Greens
Join in the joyous decorating of our Sanctuary for the Christmas season. Featuring music and the stories associated with our Christmas decorations.
Sunday, December 9 | The Second Sunday of Advent
10:00 am Worship: Nothing Is Impossible: #morepeace The angel Gabriel is sent to bring a message to Mary.
Sunday, December 16 | The Third Sunday of Advent 10:00 am Worship: Do Not Be Afraid: #morejoy
An angel appears to Joseph in a dream.
Wednesday, December 19 | Blue Christmas – A Service of Remembrance 10:15 am at Glenmeadow This service honors the birth of Jesus with quiet readings, prayer, music and candle-lighting to honor a need at Christmas for many of light shining in the darkness, and hope for a weary heart.…
First Church has a long tradition of placing poinsettias on the altar during the Christmas season which are donated in memorial of loved ones, or in celebration of anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Print and fill out the online form and your sentiments will be included in the bulletin at the service of worship for the last Sunday in Advent and the services of worship on Christmas Eve.
A donation of $15.00 is requested for each plant. All orders must be in the church office by December 10.
Poinsettias are delivered to the home bound and nursing home residents after Christmas. You may print out this form and submit it to the church office to donate a poinsettia, or call the church office (567-6287).
Featuring the book:
Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill
(available on amazon)
We’ll use different translations of the bible and consult commentaries on the Psalms by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton and more to explore these ancient poems and songs, and experience them as a pathway to prayer.…
The members of the Islamic Society, Imam and the Board, wish you all God’s Abundant Blessings during your Holidays.
We are also shocked by the news of Barbaric killings of worshipers in two churches on this Palm Sunday. What a shame. We had just deliberated on the Book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name, Confronting Religious Violence, and here the adherents of this group ISIS, have committed this heinous act in God’s name.
Muslims all over the world condemn this terrorist act and stand with members of Christian Community in Egypt, and elsewhere.
The Islamic Council of New England has quickly released a statement which is shared by the Islamic Society of Western Mass, and I wanted to share it with with all of you.
May the Almighty God send His Blessings and PEACE on Earth.
Islamic Council Statement on Church Bombings in Egypt
The Islamic Council of New England, which is an umbrella organization for many of the Islamic Centers in this geographic area, expresses its profound outrage at the barbaric slaughter of innocent Egyptian Coptic Christians celebrating Palm Sunday services within the sanctuaries of their churches.…