First Church is a community of faith that is rooted and grounded in God’s love for all people. Affirming the teachings of Jesus Christ, we seek to provide a caring and open environment where diversity is welcome and all are respected as children of God. We support and encourage one another to live our faith through service to others.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. ~ John 14:27
What are they afraid of?
My mother was a strong and pragmatic woman. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she faced it as she had other challenges in her life—head on! She had been receiving chemotherapy for several weeks when the treatment’s visible side effects made it difficult to “act” as though everything was normal. I remember a conversation we had around this time about how her illness was impacting her, our family and her friends. What we had not talked about until this conversation was the reality of her pending death. Did I mention she was pragmatic?! She was also a woman of faith who believed in the promise of eternal life in Christ. As we talked, she brought this up and how it gave her comfort and eased her fear. What she couldn’t seem to understand was how others, who claimed faith in Jesus Christ, could be so afraid of death. That’s when she asked the question, “What are they afraid of?” We both knew that the answer to that question was/is different for everyone and that a person’s degree of fear about dying is no measure of their faith. For the fear is likely grounded in matters that are not spiritual/religious/ theological, rather they are about how the person will actually die, or what will happen to their family when they are gone, or how they will be remembered. We live in a culture that speaks about death and dying in hushed tones, and mostly only when we absolutely have to—when someone dies.
Of the many lessons I learned from my mother about preparing for a good death, the one I share most often is this, “We don’t have a say about how we come into the world, but we do have one about how we go out.” In the weeks and days leading up to my mother’s death, my sisters and I, along with my mother and her siblings, talked about what she wanted—for a memorial service, what personal items she wanted each of us to have, the medical action that should or shouldn’t be taken and so much more. The gift my mother gave me was to tell me that I was not to “work” her memorial service. My job on that day was to be the grieving daughter, not the minister.
This year, Easter Sunday, April 21st would have been my mother’s 84th birthday. I share all of this with you, not because it’s easy to talk about my mother’s death, but because the conversations we shared have made my life and the relationship we had/have so much richer. And, I’m less afraid of death than I was.
I hope you will join me and Rev. Jane Rowe for this year’s Lenten Program, Five Wishes, which will focus on living abundantly even as we prepare for our death. As Jesus prepared his disciples for his death, so we are invited to consider how we want to live out our days.
Peace, Rev. Margret
Facilitated by Rev. Margret Hofmeister & Rev. Jane Rowe
Wednesdays in March 6,13,20,27 and April 3, 10; Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
This year we will again gather with our friends at South Church for a weekly Lenten program. We will alternate location every week, starting at First Church with an Ash Wednesday worship service on March 6th . We will gather for a light meal and then worship, where we mark the start of the Lenten season with the words—
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Lent is a season of reflection and introspection on life and death as we journey with Jesus to the cross. For this reason, we have decided that this year’s program will address the topic of end-of- life decisions and preparations. We know that this topic is difficult, which is why we felt it important to create a safe and sacred space in which to speak openly and honestly. We will use, as a guide and tool, the living will ‘Five Wishes’. In addition to that, we will hear from guest speakers who will provide information and answer questions about funeral arrangements, financial planning and legal issues.
What is Five Wishes you ask…
Five Wishes is the first living will that talks about your personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes. It lets you choose the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. Five Wishes lets you say exactly how you wish to be treated if you get seriously ill. It was written with the help of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, and the nation’s leading experts in end-of-life care. It’s also easy to use.
Please RSVP to Rev. Margret ~ Drop-ins are welcome.
MARCH 2019 LECIONARY READINGS
Sunday, March 3rd, Transfiguration of the Lord
Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99 2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2 Luke 9:28-36 [37-43]
Sunday, March 10th, First Sunday in Lent
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13
Sunday March 17t, Second Sunday in Lent
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17—4:1 Luke 13:31-35 or
Sunday, March 24th, Third Sunday in Lent
Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 63:1-8 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9
Sunday, March 31st, Fourth Sunday in Lent
Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 32 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
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New Britain, CT 06052
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“ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE.” . . . Ephesians 3:17