Wednesday, April 1, 2020

9:00 a.m. - Contemporary
11:00 a.m. - Traditional*

Both services will be available on Facebook "live streaming"
* Traditional will also be available to listen on phone:
call 929-205-6099 and give this meeting ID: 955 325 387
Dear Friends,

There are many things that are challenging about this time right now. But there are many things that are inspiring, as well. One of the most obvious has been how you as individuals and this congregation as a whole have stepped up in so many ways in such a short period of time, learning new skills and trying new ways of being the church.

Many of you had never heard of Zoom videoconferencing two weeks ago; last Sunday, over 75 of us gathered for our first-ever digital Congregational Meeting and elected an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee! Our ministry committees not only have moved many of our ministry programs online, but are generating new ideas and thinking creatively about how not only to function in this new environment, but to embrace it as an opportunity to do new things.

And rather than “sheltering in place” as a congregation, focusing inward to take care of only ourselves, you have reached out in loving service to those who are most vulnerable to this pandemic by sewing masks, doing shopping, and providing meals. Truly, we have lived into our identity as “an experimental church!”

This Sunday, we are going to have a new experiment in worship: we are going to celebrate the sacrament of Communion together, just as we always do on the first Sunday of the month. Only this time, of course, we will be doing so digitally rather than in-person.

So when you join one of the Facebook livestreams on Sunday, please prepare your own elements in advance, and we will bless them in the communion prayers and take them together from our own homes.
What elements do you need? Well, if you have bread, that is preferable, of course, but if your bread is in short supply, please don’t make a special grocery trip just for that item.
The Presbyterian Book of Order says the bread “should be common to the culture of the congregation,” and we’re going to use a generous interpretation of that. So if what you have on hand is a bagel or a tortilla or a cracker or a pita chip or anything along those lines (basically anything that is made from wheat flour or is a gluten-free alternative to that), feel free to use that rather than going out to the store just for bread.

As to the cup, there are three choices, and you should have at least one of them on hand. At First Pres, we typically use grape juice in our normal services, so that is obviously a good option. Of course, throughout most of church history, it is wine that has been used in Communion (grape juice actually only started as an alternative to wine in the late 19th century), so feel free to use wine if that’s your preference (fortified wine, such as sherry or port, is also fine). And if neither of those is an option for you for whatever reason, then simply use water.

In any case, if you are worshipping as a family, we ask that you use separate cups rather than share one, for hygienic reasons.

I look forward to being in worship with you all on Sunday, and in ministry and service every day!

Grace and Peace,

  1. Holy Week schedule
  2. Children's Sunday School for this week
  3. Tomorrow's Lenten Conversation topic and handouts
  4. Let's get together - online!
  5. Card shower request
  6. Can you use meals, shopping or other assistance?
  7. Prayer requests

Sunday, April 5 – Palm Sunday
(download and print a pattern t o make your own palm fronds - print on green or color yourself)
  • 9 a.m.: Contemporary service
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Children's Sunday School
via Zoom (details below)
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional service (featuring guest soloist, Donald Hughes, on trumpet)

Thursday, April 9 – Maundy Thursday
  • 6 p.m.: Service via Zoom (details to come)
Friday, April 10 – Good Friday
  • 8 p.m. Tenebrae service

Saturday, April 11 – Holy Saturday
  • 7 p.m. Compline (reflective) service

Sunday, April 12 – Easter
  • 9 a.m.: Contemporary service
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional service (featuring guest musicians)
  • noon: Join us for an Easter Hospitality Time via Zoom (details to come)
CHILDREN'S SUNDAY SCHOOL: for Kindergarten - Grade 5
This Sunday, we will hold our first Zoom Sunday School beginning promptly at
10:15 a.m. This program is aimed at children Kindergarten through Grade 5 and will last for about 30 minutes. 

Below are links to two handouts that families can print out at home and use before or after our session.
To participate in our Zoom Sunday School, go to:  

Meeting ID: 656 252 383
Password: 469989

Families are invited to participate with their children – in fact, younger children will probably need adult help to participate. 
Handout #1: coloring page
Handout #2: two page handout

We hope you enjoy this Sunday School experience!
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., you can participate in the conversation or just 'listen and learn'. Rev. Steve Simmons will be continuing the discussion on 'Having the Mind of Christ':

“Christ became what we are so that we might become what he is.” Far from being some trendy trumpeting of human potential, this statement was made by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, in the second century AD.

In the same vein, a leading authority on John Calvin, Charles Partee, argues that the linchpin of Calvin’s whole theology is “union with Christ.” How seriously are we to take such language (and why, especially in the Western church, haven’t we take it more seriously)?

We’ll conclude our series on having the mind of Christ by exploring this question and considering what it implies for us as we seek to be apprentices and imitators of the Master.

You may want to print this handout (note it is two pages): Handout
To join the Lenten Conversation, click this link to join the online Zoom meeting:

Let's use our Facebook page to connect!

"Virtual Pizza Party": This Friday, beginning at
6 p.m. - stop by and post a photo of your pizza and maybe who made it or who is eating it (delivery pizza is OK too).

What kind of creative toppings can you come up with? How about sharing your recipe?

If pizza's not your thing, drop by and say hello!
"Share your Easter traditions!": Beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 11 - come to our Facebook page to post photos and/or descriptions of your family's Easter traditions.
Do you decorate Easter eggs? Bake a bunny cake? Display vintage Easter egg
decorations? Whatever you do to help make the celebration special, we'd like to
see it - who knows, you may inspire someone to adopt your idea!

Join us for Hospitality on Easter Sunday: We're working on plans to gather via Zoom to enjoy fellowship, beginning at noon. Watch for details.

Many thanks to the Congregational Life Team for coordinating these initiatives!

One of our longtime members, Polly McClure, is now under hospice care at Kirkland Village. Polly has always been very faithful in sending cards to those in need, and now we are asking you to consider dropping her a note. Her address is 1325 Kirkland Village Circle, Bethlehem, PA 18017.

We have also been in contact with Jen Laury, the activity director at Kirkland Village. With their residents confined to their rooms and no visitors, they would love to hear from us with artwork and notes of cheer. You can forward those to Jen at Kirkland Village, 1 Kirkland Village Circle, Bethlehem, PA 18017.

NOTE: Because of the restrictions on visitors, you will need to mail your greetings. They cannot accept deliveries from individuals. Thank you!
Do you have a prayer request?
More beautiful spring images from Laura Huffard...