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Common Ground: an innovative farm-to-table dinner ministry where people make church together

By | 2017-06-13T10:52:06+00:00 June 13th, 2017|Common Ground|

By the Rev. Sarah Buteux; Published by The Christian Citizen It’s Thursday night and people are starting to arrive for Common Ground, a farm-to-table dinner ministry at First Churches of Northampton, Mass. Folks come through the door, hang up their coats, and then put on aprons because worship for us starts in the kitchen. Our liturgy actually begins with a recipe that will highlight food we have either grown in our community garden or sourced as locally as possible. Once the soup is on and the salad is prepared, people spread out to set tables, learn music, catch up with one another or explore the evening’s theme through art that will grace our worship space. By six o’clock, most everyone has arrived, and I begin to sing a simple call-and-response melody. As I sing, the congregation gathers in a circle [...]

Coming Into One’s Own in the Family of God

By | 2017-06-04T13:09:18+00:00 June 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Rev. Sarah Buteux June 4, 2017 Confirmation Sunday Acts 2:1- 21   “Coming into one’s own.” Have you ever heard that expression before? It’s kind of what we’re doing today, right? Today is the day you affirm the faith you have been raised in as your own. But it’s kind of a strange phrase and a strange concept, when you think about it. Strange: this idea that you can actually ever reach a stage in life where you know yourself to have become your full self, your best self; this idea that you can come to a place where you know you have reached your full potential and are solid and secure in who you are, what you do, all you know. Can any of you out there remember the moment when you finally came into your own? Have any [...]

Sermon: “From the Many, One”

By | 2017-05-29T15:10:04+00:00 May 29th, 2017|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir  May 28, 2017 Scripture:  John 17:1-11  Click here to listen on Youtube!   In our Gospel reading, Jesus has been preaching a long time, from chapters 13 to 16, fully 15% of his life story from John’s perspective.   Perhaps the disciples sighed with relief when he starts the pastoral prayer.  Like many pastoral prayers, it is a summary of what went before; a hope that the sermon might actually be taken seriously.  How do you know as a preacher?  You hope and pray that your words are relevant and inspiring and something sticks.  This is your cheat sheet to sermon listening, in case your mind wanders a bit.  We pray about the one thing that really matters, so no one misses the point.   What is the point Jesus wants the disciples to get?  God’s [...]

“Take a Breath”

By | 2017-05-22T14:37:43+00:00 May 22nd, 2017|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir May 21, 2017 John 14:15-21 I don’t like notification noises on my phone.  I don’t need a train whistle with every email, or a “ka-ching” sound when someone messages me on Facebook.  I just set my phone of vibrate, and have ringtones for close family.  But this week was different.  Somehow, my “news” notifications were turned on, and my phone blew up every day.  Which raises an important question; What is the appropriate notification ring tone for news that the President has fired the FBI Director who was investigating him?  I have a tone called “update,” I think that works.  If I really were more techie I would download a song for news alerts.  When the NY Times sends out an alert, my phone could play something from the 70s like, “Stop, Hey, what’s that [...]

Where Are You Going, Jesus?

By | 2017-05-15T11:49:03+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir Sunday, May 14, 2017 John 14:1-14 I get a lot of questions around the times of death.  “What is heaven really like?  What will I look like?  Can I look down and see what my still living loved ones are doing?  Will I see my spouse?  Will I see my ex-wife?  Can I choose not to see certain people in heaven? Will I be worthy?”  There are so many questions we may have about death.   Clearly the disciples have questions too.  In this part of John’s Gospel, they are at the Last Supper.  Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, and then tells them the incomprehensible news that he will be betrayed and die by morning.  Here come the questions.  Suddenly the story is moving from religious ceremony to more like a town hall meeting.  Several [...]

Northampton Pride Parade Defies Rain, Marches On

By | 2017-05-10T12:14:29+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Article printed in Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 8, 2017. By Morgan Hughes NORTHAMPTON — Despite the threat of rain, an estimated 30,000 people were out on the streets for the 36th annual Northampton Pride Parade, which kicked off at noon Saturday. Tens of thousands of cheerful and colorfully decorated people lined up around Main and Bridge streets to celebrate and advocate for the LGBTQ community. “My moms are gay and I support other people who are gay,” said Maya Lieberman Bachman, 14, enjoying an unobstructed view from the bed of a pickup truck in front of TD Bank on Main Street before the parade. “I like being here for the fun of it, and being able to support people.” With a “Born This Way” flag hung behind their lawn chairs as they cheered and waved, Maya, her friend Jane Techu, [...]

Immigrants Tell Stories of Gain, Loss

By | 2017-05-10T12:10:25+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Peace and Justice|

Article printed in Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 2, 2017. By Nicole DeFeudis NORTHAMPTON — Since immigrating from Mexico 12 years ago, Leninn Torres Eliosa has worked to build himself a life in the United States. He learned English, got married and even obtained his driver’s license. However, Torres Eliosa faces a big problem: he cannot visit his home country. As an undocumented immigrant, Torres Eliosa marched with about 200 others in support of immigrant and workers’ rights at the May Day general workers strike. Organized by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, the strike consisted of various events, including a march to City Hall at 1:30 p.m. Standing in the crowd outside City Hall, Torres Eliosa told of the hardships he has encountered as an immigrant. On his shirt, he wore a sticker that read, “Same struggle, same fight, workers and [...]

Is There Safe Space at the Open Table?

By | 2017-05-05T10:34:34+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Common Ground, Sermons, Worship|

At Thursday Night's Common Ground we began with these words of welcome: Good evening everyone and welcome to Common Ground. Tonight, as we cook and eat and pray and sing together we hope to make some thing holy together. We hope to make church together, which connects beautifully to our theme for this evening, because the truth is that church has always been something we have made together. Christianity has always been a work in progress. Contrary to popular institutional opinion, there was no blueprint handed down to a chosen few the day Jesus ascended into heaven. There was no instruction booklet left behind with all the rules and creeds and rituals and traditions of our faith laid out for all time. What was given, what was handed down to us, were stories…stories of hope and healing, stories of peace [...]

Sermon: What Makes the Shepherd Good?

By | 2017-05-01T02:51:35+00:00 May 1st, 2017|Sermons|

by Rev. Todd Weir April 30. 2017 Scripture:  John 10:1-10 A shepherd’s job is to care for the sheep.  Psalm 23 gives us a good idea of the job description.  “He maketh me lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside still waters.”  Sheep need food and a place to graze.  Sheep need plenty of good clean water to survive.  So a shepherd pays attention to the wells and springs, to the land and its greenery.  They would be the first to notice the effects of climate change, because their sheep will suffer.  Job #1 for a good shepherd is to provide for the basics.   The basics go beyond food and water, because the flock also needs safety.  “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”  What kind of comfort do you expect from someone brandishing a wooden [...]

Change We Must Believe In

By | 2017-04-24T11:41:41+00:00 April 24th, 2017|Sermons, Worship|

Rev. Sarah Buteux April 23, 2017 Change We Must Believe In John 20:19-23 In our church we listen for a still speaking God, a God whose voice, I believe, came through strongly when Chief Seattle spoke the words on the cover of your bulletin: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Let us pray: O God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, you who are our rock and our redeemer. amen. I was looking for a birthday card for Todd the other day and came across one with big bold letters that read: “Happy Birthday: Life doesn’t get any better than this!” OK, [...]