The First Congregational Church of Greenwich
"Let no one think that the birth of
This Wednesday, March 1, we begin the liturgical season of Lent with our Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30 PM. The choir will be singing and I hope you will plan to share in this important service. Lent is a forty day period (not counting Sundays) of preparation, which causes us to reflect on Christ's life and ministry, the sadness of his suffering, the surprise of our gladness on Easter morning, and what it means to be a disciple.
To take the spiritual journey this year, we will be following a Lenten Sermon Series entitled: "A Trip Worth Taking". The flow of our path's unfolding will include these titles, themes, and texts:
Each week a special Lenten Bible Study will be offered on Sunday morning from 9:00 -9:30 and Wednesday evening from 7:00 - 7:30 p.m. These identical sessions will explore the coming Sunday's scripture texts as a way of preparing more fully for what will be presented during that week's sermon. The classes will meet in the lounge with the Sunday schedule running from March 5 - April 9 and the Wednesday sessions March 8 - April 5. The preaching minister will lead the classes of the week and everyone is invited to attend.
I hope you will join with your family of faith here at First Congregational Church during Lent, as together we share "A Trip Worth Taking".
David D. Young
The 2006 Lenten Project
The 2006 Lenten Project will address the basic human needs of food and shelter, both in our local community and in less affluent areas of our country.
Donors may choose to designate how much of their Lenten Offering is to be used for Local Hunger or for H.O.M.E. Donations without instructions will be divided evenly between the two beneficiaries.
Local Hunger is First Church's program to support local agencies serving the hungry of Fairfield County. These agencies continue to struggle to keep their shelves stocked and soup kitchens operating.
H.O.M.E. (Homeworkers Organized for More Employment) is a social service organization meeting the needs of the rural poor in Hancock County, Maine. Its mission is to "serve first those who suffer most." H.O.M.E. responds to basic needs, including building homes, providing firewood for heating, serving hot lunches and providing a shelter for battered women and children.
Look for the 2006 Lenten Project Mailing around March 15.
A New Prescription for Stress
Establishing your own business is surely one of life's more stressful ventures. Choir member Bill Sandberg, in the midst of that process, described a recent Thursday as one of his worst days ever. But in an email to me the next morning he described how, "with all the camaraderie, laughs and beautiful music, I could feel all the pressures of the day draining out of my body. By the time I got home, I was literally a new man…" He thanked me, and though I do try to create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere at choir, the deep breathing, concentration, and the working of the music probably deserve the most credit.
Another high-powered executive who at first felt that she couldn't find time for the choir has since decided to attend every rehearsal she can because of the almost therapeutic benefits she derives. Both she and Bill have the additional reward of knowing that they are serving in God's house even as they experience his presence through music.
All of this has led me to a new concept: The truth may be that you are simply TOO BUSY NOT TO SING IN THE CHOIR!
If you have choral experience you owe it to yourself and to this important ministry of our church to join our choir. If you're not sure of your capabilities, try what one recent new member did. He attended at least six weeks of rehearsals before singing with the group on a Sunday. In the process he learned that it didn't all depend on him and that perfect attendance is not the norm. We rehearse about five weeks in advance, so there's time to learn the music. There are enough strong music readers to help out those of more modest ability. And after some time, you learn, as has a now about 5-year-member, that pieces get repeated, confidence grows, and the enjoyment intensifies.
Are you too busy? Then JOIN THE CHOIR!!
Beginning New Patterns During
This year the onset of Lent coincides with the start of National Nutrition Month. Perhaps the American Dietetic Association (ADA) considered the religious calendar when they chose March to emphasize their promotion of healthful eating. It sure beats December, with all that Christmas party indulgence and the time-stressed food choices. Since 1972, the ADA has celebrated National Nutrition Month by providing practical nutrition guidance and focusing attention on the importance of making informed food choices. (See www.eatright.org.) As we slow down and reflect during Lent, we can heighten our awareness of our behavior and our aspirations. We can ask "Lord, help me to know what needs changing." And we can find strength and forgiveness in scripture and in our Lord Jesus; to improve, to stop self destructive behavior, or to follow through with positive changes. We are given the opportunity to begin new patterns during Lent.
"If you kept record of our sins, no one could last long. But you forgive us, and so we will worship you. With all my heart, I am waiting, LORD, for you! I trust your promises."
Psalm 130, verses 3-5
Lent is a great time to change our eating patterns. This is not about "losing weight" or "getting in shape," though undoubtedly, paying attention to what we eat, will improve our overall health. This is about being more alert, more conscientious, and closer to God. Limiting our intake can be a very simple gesture that places us in greater solidarity with the poor of the earth, who often have very little more than a little rice and beans each day. Powerful things can happen, when we think about those people in the world who have so much less than we do. And, it's a great cure for self-pity.
If you are striving to improve your eating habits and overall health, the following may interest you. Tuesday evenings in March, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, "The Heart of the Matter", an education series is offered here at church. Registered Dietician Nancy Ryan will teach about heart disease risk factors including cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, blood pressure, and more. Cholesterol testing is included. Call 622-7850 to register.
For many, Lent is also a time for practicing generosity. I want to thank those people who have demonstrated this and given of themselves to be trained in CPR and Defibrillator use. Opportunities for American Heart certification and recertification are as follows:
Recertification: Saturdays, March 4 OR 18,
10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
May your Lenten season be full of reflection, discovery, and blessing. Let us pray for each other on this journey, on this pilgrimage to Easter joy.
March Parish Nurse Hours:
The Church School Lenten Offering
On Sunday February 26 our children received their Lenten Giving Calendar And Offering boxes. The calendar is a family activity with suggestions for collecting an offering which this year will be shared between our local food organizations and H.O.M.E. (Home Workers Organized for More Employment) a Coop in Orland, Maine that serves the rural poor in Hancock County. Our Church School offering will be dedicated on Palm Sunday along with the offerings of the congregation. This is an important opportunity for us to teach our children how fortunate we are and to be mindful of the needs of others.
Third Graders and Their Families Share Pancakes and Bible Jeopardy
Sunday, March 5 will mark our Annual 3rd Grade Bible Breakfast which culminates in a spirited game of Bible Jeopardy when hopefully our children will chalk up more points than their parents. Enthusiastically prepared and served by the Church School Task Force, the breakfast begins at 9 AM in the Daniels Center.
Plan to Attend the Church School Family Potluck Supper
The Church School Task Force is in a hospitality mode! Every year we talk about having a family potluck supper but have never actually scheduled it. Well, this year it is going to happen. More details will be forthcoming so please Save the Date -SUNDAY, MARCH 26!
Fourth and Sixth Grades and Pastor’s Class Begin Special Studies
During March, the 4th Graders will learn about the United Church of Christ and some pretty interesting details about our own church. Several members of the congregation will talk about various activities of First Church and there will be a special "Nooks and Crannies" tour that many adult members wished they could have. Concurrently, the 6th graders and Pastors' Class will be learning the history and development of Christian denominations considering some of the similarities and differences among them.
Ten Ways for Families to Travel Through Lent
1. Use the Lenten Offering Calendar for small daily reminders of the season.
2. Borrow a book from the Church School Resource Center and read it together.
3. Borrow and play a bible game from the Resource Center.
4. If you have seen the movie "Chronicles of Narnia," go to www.cmmag.com and access the series of discussion questions for a Christian perspective.
5. Plan at least one family "giving" or volunteer activity to do during lent.
6. Make a special effort to bring food on the first Sundays of March and April for the local food pantry.
7. Do some research on Lenten practices around the world.
8. Set aside some time every day for family prayer and/or meditation.
9. Plan to commemorate Maundy Thursday either at home or at the worship service and dinner at church.
10. Come to a "Walk Through Holy Week" and actually experience what is was like to be with Christ during his last days on earth.
SPF ROCKS FOR HONDURAS
Rock for Honduras this past January was a fabulous success! With over 250 people jamming out in the Auditorium, it was quite a sight to see, and even more impressive to hear. Anna Paskausky and Libby Craig opened the show with an acoustic set, followed by Jahn Sood and Jack Davidson's musical stylings with a guest appearance by Jay Anderson. Alex Berdoff, a traveler on the Honduras Mission Trip, and his band Void got the crowd going. Tim Garlid's band HCA and the F got people really moving, and the Andrew Sisley's band the Knockout Kings brought the evening to a fever pitch! It was a tremendous success and the SPF managed to raise over $2,000 to go towards helping Honduras and H.O.M.E.., the locations of our two mission trips this year.
As always, SPF Task Force members and Advisors provided the critical support needed for the SPF to put on a fun show that brought lots of young people into our church to show them that Church can rock, and ours certainly does.
World Day of Prayer “Signs of the Times”
On March 3 when we turn to pray with the WDP Committee of South Africa, many will come with a sense of connection because Churches of ?South Africa had called upon the Christian Community world wide for their solidarity during the anti-apartheid struggle. The call today is for our understanding and support as they redress the consequences of the apartheid era. The process of transformation has been impeded and made more complex by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa. The social and economic consequences of 40 years of apartheid that require urgent correction are also needed in order to stop the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Thus the study on the background of South Africa has a close linkage with the WDP theme, “Signs of the Times.” The program begins in the Meetinghouse at 11 AM followed by a light lunch in the Auditorium.
FOOD PANTRY NEWS
Hunger in Greenwich is hard for many of us to imagine but it is all too real. The Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry is now supporting more than 275 local families and the number keeps growing. Their budget for the year has already been expended. We need to do all we can to ensure our monthly donations reach as many as possible. These simple basics are needed most: rice (but not processed or instant); dry beans; canned beans such as kidney, black, or lentil, (not green beans); canned fruit (particularly pineapple); juice boxes or small bottles; and small jam jars. Soup and cereal are also good selections. When we think of basics we have to remember what the Food Pantry customers consider their basics, not ours. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated and sticking to these basics will make our contribution do the most good.
Sunday Afternoon’s Live
The last two SAL concerts for 2006 will feature Cathy Tao Yin, pianist on March 5 and the rescheduled Grupo Los Santos, jazz ensemble on March 12. Hot chocolate, tea and cookies are served from 3:30 PM and the performances begin at 4:00, concluding between 5:15 and 5:30 PM. There is no admission charge, but a $ 10.00 donation is requested from those who are able to contribute.
March Worship Schedule
Wednesday, March 1 - Ash Wednesday
Sunday, March 5
Sunday, March 12
Sunday, March 19
Sunday, March 26
Radio and Internet
The Sunday morning worship is broadcast live over the radio and internet. Tune in to WGCH 1490 am Radio or log onto www.wgch.com and click on “Listen Live.” The Sunday morning worship order can be found on our website at www.fccog.org.
The Members of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich, Ministers
Young, Senior Pastor
of Worship - 10 am