No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome at First Congregational Church of Blue Hill.
If you are visiting us for the first time, please allow us to extend our warmest greetings. We are an open and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. Sunday Worship services are available in-person, via Zoom and live stream on Facebook. While masks are no longer required, we do ask that everyone mask while singing. We look forward to having you join us in worship.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! I hope very much that you are looking forward to coming together in worship tomorrow morning. I am. Part of this, of course, has to do with seeing all of you and for the sense of community we share. Part of this also has to do with echoes of the generations in my family before me who took time in their days to worship God, who made and loves us. For them, as for many of us, we worship because we are “supposed” to do so. Rather than this feeling like a chore or a burden, you may be like me and know this to be a blessed responsibility–my part in keeping covenant with God. Our relationships, in faith, are different because we are called to love one another “as Christ loved us.” Our relationship with God is also different because of Jesus; we still have a role in this relationship, and we might say both because of grace and in spite of grace. So, we will sing hymns tomorrow that celebrate God’s great gifts to us and also sing of our response to those gifts. That is covenant–different from contractual relationship or coercive bonds. We choose to respond to God, because God loves us first. Gaining strength to move our worship and our lives of faith from the sanctuary and back into the world is also why we gather. Join us?
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! For this first Sunday of Lent, I hope we can spend time together learning about the concept, the word metanoia. We spoke of Jesus’ transfiguration last week, in part wondering how, through our faith, our lives and even our visages can be transfigured–from sorrow to joy, for example. With metanoia, we are similarly invited into change. Lent offers the opportunity for self-reflection and for penitence. We also can embrace metanoia, which at its most literal translation means changing one’s mind, but in a Christian understanding is the particular change in one’s mind and heart that comes about in repentance. From distancing ourselves from God and each other, we turn toward God and each other in deeper relationship. We move from sin and the guilt that comes with it to more certain faith in our forgiveness, as well. This transformation can be life changing, not only for ourselves but also for those with whom we interact and whom we serve. How may we, together, deepen in faith and purpose this Lent?
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! On this first Sunday of the month, when we may be welcoming and welcoming back guests and friends, we will celebrate Communion together. Those of you who are worshipping at home are also invited to make ready a symbol of the bread and the cup so that you may partake with us. The Spirit is with us all when we gather, whether “virtually” or in the same physical space.
We celebrate in our worship God who made and loves us, and who walks with us at all times, in all places. That sense of enormity is part of what inspires both the prophet Isaiah as we hear in the 40th chapter this week, and also stirs the apostle Paul in some of his more humble moments. What stirs you, and how do you see that God moves in your life, sometimes compelling, sometimes nudging, and sometimes simply present? I hope that we will share some of our stories during our time of fellowship following worship, as I will share with you a small part of my own “call to ministry” in response to scripture.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! Before sharing a bit about our worship tomorrow, I would like to invite everyone to a new group, which will begin meeting this Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. in the Dolly Fisher Room. Our own Warren Lewis, a scholar in the area of church history and theology, will lead us in a study of “modern Christian theology,” quotation marks here because the term modern is not meant as contemporary. Come with your questions and your curiosity for what promises to be lively discussion as well as new learning.
It is not easy to be a Christian, living in response to God’s will for our lives. To be a person of faith in God when we are encouraged to listen to so many different voices claiming authority and wisdom is just plain hard. Scripture from the Hebrew Bible and from the New Testament tells us that we will be tempted to follow voices urging us to do and to be what is not what God would have us do and be. The litmus test for God’s will, for God’s law? Jesus told us: love one another. Sounds simple, but whether or not we nurture in ourselves this powerful force is more complicated when what is said in the name of Christ gets muddied. Care to talk about it? See you in church.
Grace to you and peace, from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ! Greetings this morning come from the warmth of the house as we enter into some days of “real winter.” “Some days . . .” Time is a funny thing, both a constant on which we rely as we measure out hours, minutes, seconds–and years or decades as we look both back and forward. Still, the when of our placement in eternity is an interesting question that invites us to consider our impact on others and on the world we are given to inhabit. These questions are not new to us, and scripture addresses them in varying ways. Reading through lessons from the Gospel of Mark this liturgical year, we learn some of the ways Jesus suggests we conceive of eternity. It can be fascinating and also challenging.
Following worship, those who are interested in continuing the conversation regarding our “tithing in community” may gather in Fisher Hall with coffee and snacks.