Archive for April, 2011

Good Friday Resource for April 22, 2011

April 21, 2011
art by He Qi

Good Friday is the holy day on which we remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. At First Church, we will observe this day with a simple time of scripture reading, prayer, and silence at noon. If you are unable to join us at church, we invite you to use this resource as a guide for observance at home. Below are just a few suggestions for practice, reading, meditation, and prayer; please draw from it as you see fit.



Family Resources for Holy Week

April 21, 2011

Here are some activities you can try together as a family during this Holy Week or any time. Feel free to adapt them to fit your family.

Make a prayer table at home

Lent and Holy Week are a time of increased reflection and prayer and making new habits of prayer. A family prayer table invites the practice of prayer at home and is a physical reminder that God doesn’t “live” at church! You can use it as formally or casually as you wish. It is a place for shared family prayer/contemplation or individual time. Perhaps start a ritual of gathering at the table before or after dinner for a few moments of candle-lighting, prayers for the world, and shared quiet. The prayer table should include a few items to show that it is a special place:


Member Lenten Reflections: 7

April 20, 2011

Xan Laurence contributed her thoughts on prayer and an old hymn from childhood.  Thank you, Xan…

My heart an altar?


I am not a prayer.

More accurately, I am not a pray-er. I am not one who prays, much, except in the “Please, God” sense – “Please, God, let me find a parking space”; “Please, God, let me not be late”; “Please, God, let me win the lottery”… Even an occasion which perhaps should have evoked a prayer – a narrowly avoided car crash – instead found me repeating, “Oh, $#!+, oh $#!+” for as long as it took to avoid hitting anything and regain control of my vehicle.


Member Lenten Reflections: 6

April 19, 2011

Jean Anderson wrote this piece on the meaning of prayer in her life.  Thanks, Jean!

Paying Attention

Every night, when I lay me down to sleep, I say a prayer. There’s not much to it; for myself, I ask only for strength, courage, confidence, and other qualities I need but do not possess. I often add prayers for the survivors of devastating natural disasters, or for friends and family members who are going through difficult times. No matter how sleepy I am, and no matter where I am, I don’t skip this small nightly ritual. It would feel strange not to pray before sleep.


Save Us?

April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday 4/17/11; Matthew 21:1-11

Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

Being the church geek that I am, I love the church year—the colors, the symbols, the funny things we do. Traditionally, the palms that we are waving today become the ashes for next Ash Wednesday. After the shouts of the parade subside and the green fronds lay quiet on the ground, we church staff gather them up. We store them and dry them. (I have learned not to put them in sealed plastic bags lest they rot …) The following Spring, we burn them, crush them, mix them with oil.


Member Lenten Reflections: 5

April 11, 2011

Maggie George wrote this piece about a powerful encounter with God’s presence.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Our bedroom was exposed on 3 sides to the the storm that night.  There were amazing gale force winds and pelting heavy rains.  We were in a wide open pasture land with nothing between us and the storm coming in off the ocean.  I found myself pacing, worrying and watching for leaks around the windows or tree branches about to break.


Sermon 4/10/11: “Good Debt”

April 11, 2011

“Good Debt,” a sermon preached by The Rev. Abigail Henderson at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC, on April 10, 2011.  Preaching on the verse, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” from the Lord’s Prayer.

Proverbs 22 (selections); Matthew 18:21–35


Are you a trespasser, a debtor, or a sinner?


I’ve been all three.  In my earliest church memories, we recited the Lord’s Prayer using the word “trespasses,” which I found hard to pronounce as a little child.  Triss-pusses, I would say.  Then, when I was nine, we moved to a church that used “sins,” and that is the term that is imprinted on my soul, the one that flows most easily from my mouth.


Now, here at First Church, we encourage you to use whatever word you prefer, but most of us seem to say “debts,” and that’s the standard version in our bulletin.


Hungry Feast

April 3, 2011

April 3, 2011; Exodus 16: 14-21, Mark 6: 30-44

A sermon preached by Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

An empty cup, a bare plate. At the World Council of Churches Assembly I attended in Brazil, there was a time of worship set aside to acknowledge that the church – as a global body spanning many denominations— cannot share the communion meal together. This ritual, which raised up our inability to eat and drink as one provided a moment to grieve painful divisions and pray for healing and unity. This striking experience reminds me that the meal Jesus gave us is as much a feast of hunger as it is a feast of abundance.