Advent at First Church

Advent is the beginning of a new Church Year; the four weeks before Christmas, a time of quiet, patient preparation for the observance of the birth of Jesus. Advent’s watchword is hope. In song, prayer, and ritual (for example, Advent wreaths and candle-lighting) we echo the deep longing for peace and justice for God’s people in every age. We call on God to send the Promised One to usher in a new world of reconciliation and joy. The color purple, or blue, expresses Advent’s spirit of contemplation, penitence, hope, and desire. At First Church we observe the season in worship, study, fellowship, and service. See the following for details on our many Advent opportunities and traditions.


Monday Night Meditation Resumes in Advent!

Mondays, 6:00 -7:00 p.m., The Well (Room 22), beginning December 4

Are you looking for a place to settle in for some silence and quiet reflection in the midst of a busy week? Or looking to begin your Advent season with intention? Discover an oasis of calm every Monday evening, 6:00 -7:00 p.m., beginning December 4. Whether you’re interested in trying meditation for the first time or deepening your current practice, an experienced meditator or simply curious, all are welcome. This on-going series will meet every Monday, except in the case of holidays and building closures. Join us on December 4, 11, and 18; January 8, 22, and 29, and on into 2018! For more information or to receive updates about meditation at First Church, contact Karin Case,, or Hilary Hopkins,


Adult Christian Formation (10 o'Clock Hours) in Advent

Meditations and Reflections on Nativity Scenes
Sundays, December 3, 10, and 17, 10:00 a.m., the Chapel, led by Tony Amoury Alkhoury

Join us for a three-session series on “Meditations and Reflections on Nativity Scenes.” In these sessions we will be reflecting on the two passages narrating the Nativity story in the New Testament, Matthew 2:1-11 and Luke 2:6-15. We will be comparing these passages, learning about their historical contexts, how they were understood throughout the history of the church, and meditating on them and discussing what they mean to us. For more information contact Tony Amoury Alkhoury,


City Mission Christmas Shop and Coat Drive

Sunday, December 3, during Morning Worship

For decades the Christmas Shop has served as a catalyst for people of faith to find ways to reach out to others. Each year City Mission Society collects thousands of gifts–clothes, toys, books, and household goods–for distribution to families in need around greater Boston. The Christmas Shop brings hope and joy to those most in need during the holiday season. The gifts collected are made available to our Homelessness Prevention clients. We also work with several other community partners who distribute gifts to their own clients. More than 3,600 people were served by this program in 2016.

On Sunday, December 3, First Church will collect gifts for the Christmas Shops during our Morning Worship service. Below is a list of requested gifts. City Mission accepts only NEW items. Please no food, household, or jewelry items.
• Winter coats, sweaters and sweatshirts
• Hats, mittens, gloves and scarves
• Socks and underwear
• Blankets and backpacks
• Toys, books, and games for all ages
• Gift cards: Target, Walgreens, Marshalls, CVS,, Kohls, or other merchants


Advent Workshop

Sunday, December 3, 12:15 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall

Join us for our annual workshop of art and craft in Margaret Jewett Hall following Morning Worship on the first Sunday of Advent. People of all ages are invited to make an Advent wreath (bring your candle ring from home; a limited number of new rings and candle sets will be available), dip beeswax candles, design homemade wrapping paper, create ornaments and candle holders, and more. Mark the beginning of this special season by experiencing the pleasure of giving of yourself for Christmas. A simple lunch of soup, bread, and hot mulled cider will be offered.


Holiday Open House at the Parsonage

Thursday, December 7, 5:00 - 9:00 p.m., 44 Garden Street, Cambridge

Join us by the fireside for some festive fun and fellowship on Thursday, December 7 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Come for all or part of the evening. Come whenever you can. A special invitation to kids and young families to join us on the early side, for choir members to come before rehearsal, and for young adults to swing by before heading out to continue the revelry late night! We’ll provide a light meal and holiday spirit(s)! Bring some Christmas cookies or a drink to share, if you’d like, or just bring yourselves!


Advent Meditation Retreat
Saturday, December 9, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., in the Sanctuary

Treat yourself to an afternoon of meditation and reflection, as we begin the Advent Season. This two-hour retreat will feature sitting meditation, walking meditation, and sacred music under the apse (dome) in our beautiful Sanctuary, followed by tea and refreshments (at 4:00 p.m.) in the newly-renovated Hastings Common. No meditation experience necessary. All are welcome. Please register by going to the church website,, or contacting Karin Case,


Get Ready for the Alternative Christmas Fair

Sunday, December 10, 12:15 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall

On Sunday, December 10, following Morning Worship, come to browse again the many wonderful gift items on sale at First Church’s Alternative Christmas Fair. The Fair is “alternative,” because all proceeds go directly to the worthy organizations and causes which vendors are representing. Your purchases will assist the needy in Uganda, Guatemala, Cambodia, Palestine, India, and many other places around the world, as well as beneficiaries right here in Cambridge.

There will be something for everyone on your list and for you too: jewelry, clothing, baskets, food items, home décor. Chocolate sauce, a gorgeous rug or intricate lantern, a bottle or two of flavored olive oil, an exquisite paper bead necklace — it will all be there! Please come and buy generously!

Winter Solace Service

Sunday, December 10. 5:30 p.m.

Christmas is not always experienced as a joyful time for people facing loss, difficulties, or grief. Sometimes it is a season that is a reminder of pain and darkness rather than celebration. The Winter Solace Service is an evening worship experience to recognize and lift up the challenges we face in this time of holidays. A collection of Scripture readings, hymns, prayers, and times for silence will guide us through reflection as we remember, mourn, and light candles for what makes this time of year difficult. Held near the winter solstice, themes of darkness and light will be incorporated into prayer and music as a way to seek God’s comfort in our dark places. Contact Jen Bloesch,, for more information.


Advent Choral Music Sunday

Morning Worship, Sunday, December 17

Our special Choral Music Sunday Worship on December 17 highlights the incredible heritage of great music composed for the Advent season. This year we will be singing a setting of the Magnificat by German composer Michael Praetorius–an attractive work that combines plainchant, polyphony, and German carols. If you would like to join the Choir for this project, come to rehearsals on Thursday evenings, November 9, 16, and 30, and December 7, all at 7:45 p.m., in the New Meeting Room, as well as on Sunday morning, December 17. For more information and updates contact Peter Sykes,


Christmas Party and Potluck
Sunday, December 17, 12:30 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall

The annual First Church Christmas Party will be held following Morning Worship on Sunday, December 17. Organized and animated with great affection and skill by the Friends of Fellowship! Watch for details, coming soon.


First Church Un-Pageant

Morning Worship, Sunday, December 24

The Un-Pageant is a creative and fun tradition at First Church! On the fourth Sunday of Advent, during Morning Worship, we tell the Christmas story together as a congregation by donning costumes and accessories (think halos and wooly sheep ears) that transform us into angels, shepherds, sheep, wise folks, and villagers of Bethlehem. We sing the well-loved carols and gather close around the Baby Jesus to experience once again that miraculous love and light and hope and peace. Because it’s unrehearsed, expect a few surprises and expect joyful hearts!


Christmas Eve Service

Sunday, December 24, 6:00 p.m.

“Come all ye faithful and celebrate” with us at our family-friendly candlelit Service of Lessons and Carols. With a beeswax taper in hand, sing and celebrate this “silent night,” as we give thanks for Emmanuel – God with us–and as we fill our Sanctuary with the warmth and light and joy of Christmas!


Christmas Day Service

Monday, December 25, 11:00 a.m., Lindsay Chapel

Join us in Lindsay Chapel for this First Church Christmas Morning tradition. Greet the new day and the Christ-child with an intimate communion service of lessons, carols, prayers, and a special harpsichord offering by Peter Sykes of William Byrd’s The Bells.


Epiphany Potluck Dinner and Worship

Saturday, January 6, 6:00 p.m., Margaret Jewett Hall and the Sanctuary

Save the date and join us for a simple dinner followed by a gorgeous candlelit service. This traditional Epiphany celebration is a First Church favorite. Details to come in the Epiphany issue of EVENT and in First Glance (our weekly Friday update).