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Notes from All-Church Planning Retreat – September 29

Growing Together at First Churches As another busy Fall unfolds, it is helpful to pull back and see the big picture, so we can clarify our mission and actions for the coming year.  About 25 people gathered Saturday, September 28 to join together in this work. By the end of our time together we had identified a need for 3 new teams: Stewardship Team – This team will 1) work to create a spirit of generosity and giving in the life of the church, 2) keep the congregation informed about our mission and budget. 3) Work with the congregation to cultivate a healthy culture around money. Vision and Strategic Planning Team – This team will explore ways to expand our capacity for ministry, including developing stronger financial, human and spiritual resources to carry out our work. Welcome Team – Develop [...]

By |2019-10-10T16:55:26-04:00October 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mind the Gap: the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

  September 29, 2019 Luke 16:19-31 Proper 21 Year C To listen via Facebook live, click here I like the difficult passages in the Bible. I like delving deep into the texts of terror that seem so out of place in a book that is supposed to teach us how to be good. I like hunting for hidden details in the seemingly boring genealogies and long lists of rules and regulations.  I’m all about the stones in the road and the sticky wickets, revelatory etymologies, and uncovering that one little nugget of historical context that makes an old passage come alive with new relevance.  I’m not afraid to preach on the book of Revelation and I love the parables of Jesus - the more inscrutable the better. Which is why I was jealous, actually jealous, that Todd got to preach on [...]

By |2019-10-03T07:30:33-04:00October 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Enough Already: Reflections on Mary and Martha

Rev. Sarah Buteux July 21, 2019 Proper 11, Year C.        Luke 10:38-42 What to wear?  It’s the quintessential question of summer. Not simply because we need to navigate our way from the blistering heat of the out doors to the artic tundras of our offices and grocery stores on a daily basis, but because summer brings on a rash of social engagements - everything from your neighbor’s pool party to the company picnic - and you don’t want to overdress for the one any more than you want to under dress for the other. Am I right? But perhaps no event of the season brings on as much sartorial angst as the outdoor wedding.  High heels and lawns, extreme humidity and wool suits, heat waves and thunderstorms - I don’t care if you’re male or female, picking [...]

By |2019-07-28T20:42:33-04:00July 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Role of Evangelism and the Progressive Church

by Rev. Sarah Buteux preached at Common Ground Luke 10:1-12 A few Sunday’s ago, Julie and Mary took me to Iconica Social Club for brunch. Have you been to Iconica yet? Imagine if Harry Potter and a unicorn had a steampunk baby.  It’s got that sort of vibe and the menu is to die for. They have those Japanese souffle pancakes, amazing juices, lotus root salad?! It was awesome. So the following Sunday, when new friends moved to town, I took them to Iconica. Why? Because it was wonderful and I wanted to share the goodness of Iconica with them. Evangelism is a loaded word, but all it really means is “sharing the good news.”  It was a Greek word (evangelion) that the Romans used. Whenever the emperor wanted to send a message out to the people, it was called [...]

By |2019-12-04T09:24:57-05:00July 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

O Lord, Have Mercy On Me: Reflections on Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Rev. Sarah Buteux July 14, 20019 Mary Luti wrote a brilliant little daily devotional for the UCC a few weeks ago called “Guests among Guests.” Did any of you read it?  The Still Speaking Devotionals are little mediations the UCC puts out via e-mail, and in this one she challenged Christians to re-think our role in the church.  You may have noticed that in churches like ours, we go out of our way to extend an extravagant welcome to all, and one of the most striking places that is evident is our emphasis on open communion.  On the first Sunday of every month we welcome all people -be they friends, members, believers, or seekers - to break bread and share the cup at our table because Jesus welcomed everyone at his table.  All of which sounds good, except for the [...]

By |2019-07-15T15:18:56-04:00July 15th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Broken and Poured Out

Rev. Laura Dalton Broken and Poured Out Matthew 26:17-30 I’m going a little bit rogue today and stepping away from the lectionary passages in favor of revisiting these familiar words from the readings often associated with Holy Week. As you will have observed, this is a communion Sunday, when together, we will be remembering these words and actions of Jesus and his disciples as they shared in their final Passover meal together in Jerusalem. As I began to contemplate this passage as well as the celebration of communion, the theme that kept reverberating through my mind was that of brokenness: not just the brokenness of the bread, as is part of the communion ritual, but the brokenness we all experience to some degree or another. All throughout this past week, on my early morning walks, I’ve been listening to podcasts [...]

By |2019-07-15T15:06:38-04:00July 15th, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized, Worship|0 Comments

The Worst Thing is Not the Last Thing

The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem – James Tissot     The Worst Thing is Not the Last Thing Rev. Sarah Buteux April 14, 2019 Palm Sunday, Year C Luke 19:28-48 “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Five and a half weeks ago, we began Lent by reciting these words as the ashes of burnt palms were imposed on our foreheads.  Well, most of us did. Or, maybe it was just some of us.  I didn’t take attendance and I’m not going to ask for a show of hands to see who was actually there, because you and I all know that there aren’t a whole lot of people who come out for Ash Wednesday anymore. It is why we’ve taken to bringing the ashes out onto main street and offering them to people “on [...]

By |2019-04-14T18:15:51-04:00April 14th, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized, Worship|0 Comments

Sermon: “How Do I Know God is Pleased With Me?”

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir January 13, 2019 Scripture:  Luke 3:15-22     (The Baptism of Jesus) (click below to listen)       “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”  How many people long to hear this blessing from the humans who brought them into the world?  “You turned out well.”  There is no equivocating in this blessing, no “buts,” nothing else to do.  Not, “I am well pleased, now if you could only get married…then we could have a grandchild.”  Or “I am well pleased, it almost makes up for those teenage years.” I am well pleased, almost as much as with your older brother.”  “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”  Period. Or better yet, exclamation point!  A little blessing goes a long ways, “Great job….You are such [...]

By |2019-01-16T15:33:02-05:00January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Window Celebration

The sanctuary of First Churches has been enriched by the spectrum of light streaming through the newly restored Rose Window and the Louis Comfort Tiffany “Stream of Life” window. The restoration of these two windows was financed by the awarding of a generous grant from the Northampton Community Preservation Committee. Funding for the restoration of the Tiffany window was made possible through the sponsorship of the Northampton Betty Allen Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. This has been an exciting event for First Churches. The community’s willingness to support this project has made the restoration possible. Please join us on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 11:00 am as we celebrate the reinstallation of these two windows. Reception to follow the program. R.S.V.P. appreciated (but not required) 584-9392 or admin@firstchurches.org Sincerely, Peg Whitham, Sue Stone, Marcia Kennick Window Celebration [...]

By |2018-03-08T11:01:51-05:00March 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

“Revelation: A Choose Your Own Adventure Book, by John Patmos”

The Rev. Sarah Buteux November 5, 2017 All Saints, Year A   Do you remember choose your own adventure books; those books where you’d find yourself, say, on an archaeological expedition in Egypt? By the end of chapter 1 you could either turn to page 17 if you thought the adventure was too dangerous or turn to page 35 if you wanted to follow the fearless leader of the expedition deeper into the tomb of the Pharaoh? Do you remember these? Of course it was always worth a peek at page 17 to confirm that choice would end the story within two more paragraphs; two paragraphs where you found your way back to Kansas on the first flight and ended up at your great Auntie Em’s kitchen table eating sweet potato pie, or something like that. I may be getting [...]

By |2017-11-05T20:08:22-05:00November 5th, 2017|Sermons, Uncategorized, Worship|0 Comments