News

/News/

Moving Deeper

By |2019-02-11T15:48:16+00:00February 11th, 2019|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir February 10, 2019 Text: Luke 5:1-11 If you were a reporter covering this story, what would be your headline? “Preacher’s Fishing Miracle Has Better Ratings Than Super Bowl.”   Or- “Local Fishermen Retire, Leave Lucrative Business to Join Cult.”  We bring our perspectives to the story.  We might ask, “Is this story true?”  Did Jesus really create a fishing miracle? How did he do it?  Preacher Fred Craddock said, “Is this true?”  is the most disrespectful question we can ask. We wonder if the writer is a fabricator, and we may miss the point.  Here is a better place to start.  What is the story trying to tell us?  What truth does it offer for our life? Let’s go with the story and see where it takes us scene by scene.  Scene One.  It is [...]

Miracles on the Margins

By |2019-02-05T08:33:21+00:00February 5th, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

by Rev. Sarah Buteux John 2:1-11 (Painting above by Morgan Weistling)   I’ve got two words for you this morning: Pecha kucha.  Has anyone here ever experienced a pecha kucha?  Does anyone here know what a pecha kucha is? Isn’t that a south American herb that can be steeped into a hot beverage?  No, that’s Yerbe Matte?  Is it a pre-Columbian Inca site in Peru?  No, you’re thinking of Machu Pichu.  Is it a little yellow Japanese monster?  Nope, I’m pretty sure that’s Pokemon, but hey now we’re getting close, because Pecha Kucha is a Japanese concept.  Pecha Kucha, which is actually the Japanese word for chit-chat, is a method someone devised to re-invigorate the good old power-point presentation we all don’t love so much.  When someone presents a pecha kucha, they can’t read slowly through bullet points as they [...]

Pastor Todd’s Upcoming Sabbatical

By |2019-01-31T16:38:18+00:00January 31st, 2019|News|

I’m writing this note to update you on my summer Sabbatical from May 1 through July 31.  This July will mark my seventh year at First Churches. Seven years is often a significant psychological time marker.  (Think 7 days of creation, the 7 Years War, 7 Year Itch!) A wise person told me long-term pastors need to reinvent themselves every seven years.  Otherwise either the pastor or the congregation get bored with the other. While I don’t yet think of myself as a long-term pastor at First Churches, since Solomon Stoddard served here for 55 years, seven years does mark longer term commitment in the modern era.   After spending some time thinking about what would benefit my growth as a pastor, I concluded what I really need is a pilgrimage.  Pilgrimages are a way of physically and spiritually being [...]

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

By |2019-01-16T15:33:02+00:00January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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 [...]

I Wonder as I Wander

By |2019-01-07T13:58:06+00:00January 7th, 2019|Sermons, Worship|

Rev. Sarah Buteux January 6, 2019 Matthew 2:1-12   Epiphany 1, Year C  Do you all know what “go to gifts” are? If you’re the one who buys gifts in your household, you probably do. Not to be confused with “safety gifts,” which are the completely generic gifts you keep stashed away in case of emergencies - like uncle Phil showing up unannounced for Christmas dinner -  “Go to gifts,” are kind of like the hacks of the gift giving world.  They’re the gifts that take the stress out of gift giving during major life events because they are so perfectly suited to the occasion. Popular “go to gifts” are things like a copy of Dr. Suess’, “All the Places You’ll Go,” for the recent graduate or pots and pans for newly weds, a plant for the couple who just bought [...]

Sermon: Let’s Put Mary Back Into Christmas

By |2018-12-24T09:47:13+00:00December 24th, 2018|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir December 23, 2018 Scripture:  Luke 1:39-57 (Click to listen) When you think of Mary the Mother of Jesus, what is the first word that comes to your mind.  I’ll bet that many of you the word was “virgin.”  As Protestants we do not speak much of Mary, we feel awkward with all this blessed virgin language and she can seem lost to us in the mythology of the perpetual virgin who has given birth.   For some this is essential article of faith, proving that Christ is truly the Son of God. For others, it sounds absurd and archaic, or even a patriarchal plot to keep women subservient.   Episcopal preacher Barbara Brown Taylor said, how we talk about the Virgin Birth limits our understanding of Mary role and importance. Taylor writes, “Mary is the perpetual [...]

Sermon: “With Joy, Draw Water”

By |2018-12-18T16:30:15+00:00December 18th, 2018|Sermons|

Sermon by Rev. Todd Weir December 16, 2018 Scripture:     Isaiah 12 :2-6   Today we lit the candle of joy, and in this season, we do many things to attempt creating joy.  We decorate our homes and bring greenery inside, while outside the trees are bare and dormant.  We light candles to push back the darkness that settles in before our evening commute. Fires burn to ward off the cold.  Carolers sing in the streets, Christmas music everywhere, joy to the world.  Gifts are given and received, charities are supported.  In busy stores, profits are made, savings depleted.  Oh well, joy to the world.  From Holiday Stroll, the Hot Chocolate Run and First Night, it is a month of celebration that cushions us against the beginning of winter, the darkest time of the year.  Without this enormous effort to [...]

Where Christ is Found

By |2018-12-09T18:48:41+00:00December 9th, 2018|Sermons, Worship|

The Rev. Sarah Buteux Luke 3: 1-6 Advent 2, Year C Some people are peacemakers and some people are homemakers. There are taste makers, king makers, rain makers, and matchmakers. But I, my friends, am a list maker, and proud of it.  Anyone else here a list maker? How many of you have a list on you right now? Lists are the primary tool that enables me to function in this world. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done, so much so that if I do something that wasn’t on the list, I add it to the list after the fact just to be sure. That doesn’t make sense does it? Not even grammatically. But that’s what I do. I typically have multiple lists running on my phone at any given time: laundry lists, grocery lists, short lists, [...]

Sermon: Where is Your Kingdom?

By |2018-12-18T19:10:03+00:00November 25th, 2018|Sermons|

Rev. Todd Weir Reign of Christ Sunday, November 25, 2018 Scripture: John 18:33-33 Click on play to listen. What does Jesus mean when he says his Kingdom is not of this world?  He makes a number of these cryptic statements.  “Be in the world, but not of the world.”  “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s.” Some have interpreted this text to mean we should stay away from political life, which is fraught with vanity, ego, desire for power; perhaps even believing that the political realm is unredeemable and evil.  Just focus on living a good life so you can get to heaven.  In medieval times, religious vocation was monastic, withdrawn from the world, which was left to Kings and Lords.  Many Mennonites do not vote or run for office as an article of [...]

Don’t Lose Heart

By |2018-11-18T18:26:02+00:00November 18th, 2018|Sermons, Worship|

  By Rev. Sarah Buteux November 18, 2018 Mark 13:1-8 Proper 28, Year B   Last Wednesday I attended a gathering at Congregation B’nai Israel. It was called “After Pittsburgh: Uniting Against Anti-Semitism and White Supremacy.”   Part vigil for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the two black patrons of Kroger’s in Kentucky, and the two women at a yoga studio in Florida, and part call to action in the wake of so much violence and hatred - the event itself was a little all over the place.  It was organized by two of our local Rabbis in conjunction with members of the Pioneer Valley Worker’s Center. So throughout the evening we bounced between lamentation and rousing political speech, between prayers offered by various people of faith and the pleas of secular people who are [...]