“Lent begins in the wilderness. The Spirit guides Jesus into the wilderness where he comes face to face with temptation and struggle. Yet, in his forty days of fasting, resisting, and wandering, Jesus is shaped and formed for ministry. Similarly, through the wilderness of Lent, we are invited to surrender to the wild leadings of the Spirit. We rarely enter the wilderness willingly, but hopefully through our wandering we remember who we are and whose we are. The wilderness can become sacred even if it remains dangerous. There is not wilderness space too harsh or threatening for God’s love.” -Sanctified Art
This Lenten season, First Church will be exploring the biblical theme of “wilderness”. The wilderness is a place of growth, testing, risk, and encounter with God in the Bible. Through art, poetry, sermons, discussions, art, and devotional practice, we will be digging into this idea of wilderness. What are areas of “wilderness” in our lives? Where is God leading us? How can we grow and learn together as the church? As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, First Church will be reflecting on Lent as wilderness, a time for spiritual formation and encountering God.
Join us every Sunday at 10:30, through Easter Sunday (4/12) to experience “The Wilderness”. There will be special services during Holy Week: Maundy Thursday (7:00 PM on Thursday 4/9), and Good Friday (7:00 PM on Friday 4/10).
It’s 2020! At this time of year, many people are reflecting on their lives and habits, and planning for the future. Who am I? Do I want to change? How can I become a better person?
We believe that part of being a Christian is seeing what guidance we can find in the Bible. In the New Testament there are many statements that start off with “you are…”
When we ask God, “who am I?” there is an answer! In the New Testament we see that we are “salt and light”, “chosen”, “the branches”, “free”, and “a new creation”. What do these phrases mean? How can we live them out? Who will you be in 2020?
Join First Church in “putting on the New You” in 2020! We will be exploring this and more every Sunday at 10:30 AM, from Jan. 19th – Feb. 23rd.
Join us for the Advent season at First Church! In the weeks leading up to Christmas we will be exploring the different perspectives and people involved in the birth of Christ!
This Advent at First Church we will be looking at the different people involved in the Gospel Christmas narratives and how they saw Jesus. For instance, we will explore Mary and Joseph’s relationship to Jesus as (unexpected) parents, Simeon and Anna’s experience of Jesus as older members of the Jewish community looking for hope in difficult times… we will also be exploring the perspectives of the wise men, shepherds, and angels. This series will go on during Advent, and into Epiphany.
We would like to weave in our own stories as First Church members of Jesus, this is especially fitting since our book club has been reading and discussing the “Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. What does your relationship with Jesus look like? What does Jesus’ life, teachings, and story mean to you?
We are looking for one or two people to share for about 3-5 minutes during church for this series on this direction. If you feel led, or would like to share your unique perspective, please be in touch with either Pastor Beth or Joanna! Finally, if you want to share, but aren’t sure what specific direction to go in, or would like a little help, please be in touch about that as well!
Additionally, there will be bulletin art created by YOU each Sunday. There are coloring pages (for kids and adults!) in the Narthex, and in the children’s activity bags. Color in a page of your choice, and turn it in to the church office by Wednesday, December 11. These images will be used in worship and in the bulletins over the course of Advent.
Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren is kicking off our children and youth programs for the school year! This year, we are extending a special invitation to families in the district and our neighborhood to join us on Wednesday nights as we start a new children/youth programming venture. Kids Club is for ages 4 – 5th grade and Youth Group is for youth in middle school and high school.
Kids Club and Youth Group will be starting Wednesday, September 11th. Children and youth will meet at First Church of the Brethren from 6:00-7:30 PM. There is also a community dinner every Wednesday at First Church from 5:30-6:30 PM: families, children, and youth are welcome to start off their Wednesday night activities at First Church by enjoying this meal together. For more information, please call Joanna Friesen in the First Church office (540)-434-8288.
Sunday we talked about the many ways to pray. Often, we are very good at talking, or making requests, but not so good at listening.Here are some ways to practice tuning in to God:
As a family:
Take a walk, a hike or just find a comfortable place to sit outdoors with the idea of tuning in to God. Give your children the task of finding something outside that reminds them of God. At the end of the time, take some time to dialog as a family around the table. Let each person share what they noticed and why. Ponder together what God might have been saying to them as they “tuned in”. Offer a short prayer of thanks for each story and what God taught you during that time.
As an individual:
Try making a routine activity in your day into a time of listening and tuning into God like mowing the grass, folding the laundry, or preparing a meal. Be creative! Make a note of the things that you notice, or thoughts that seemed significant, or things that grabbed your attention that reminded you of God. At the end of your day, spend time thanking God for the little revelations you received. Ask God to show you if there is more God would like to teach you through these things.
Does your mind drift when you try to pray or listen to God? Try this simple way of praying. Find a comfortable place to sit and prayerfully dwell in God’s presence with an open heart. Make sure that you set aside some time where you will not be interrupted. Turn off noise makers. Now pick a word to focus on that symbolizes your desire to tune into God’s presence; like light, love, shepherd, rock, Jesus… just to name a few. As you sit quietly with your eyes closed, focus on that one word… as thoughts, worries or anxiety arises; gently turn your thoughts back to your sacred word. Allow the Spirit of God to draw you into a place of deeper communion.
First Church invites you to join in our Vacation Bible School: Rolling River Rampage! It is sure to be splashingly good fun!
Dates: June 18-21
Times: 6:30pm – 8:00 pm
For: Rising PK – Rising 8th graders
For more information or to inquire about registration, contact the church office at 540-434-8288.
You may now register online at: https://goo.gl/forms/fgNA9JwklD4HYOZ53
“Practicing the Presence” can sometimes seem like an elusive thing. Often, that is because we have certain expectations about the outcome… what the divine will look like in our lives. Other times, it is because there is no real formula for success. It is more about practice than perfection. For some of us that is a challenging thought… especially if we want to measure results.
Practicing the presence is more about desire, inquisitiveness and grace. We practice certain spiritual rituals such as prayer, dwelling in scripture, and contemplation because we believe that God is present and we long to notice and experience the grace of the moment when our longing is unexpectedly filled by God’s love.
As I ponder the very peculiar story of Moses and the burning bush, I am struck with three important practices: Read more
There were six of us folks who participated in the Community Garden Service Project on our church grounds—Julie Foster, Beth Burtner, Brenda Fox, Sharon Helbert, Tish Moore, and George Toscano. We spent the first part of the morning on Saturday, August 13, 2016, putting a 3-foot wide border of cardboard layered with mulch around the garden, giving the garden and the plants a protective barrier. We only got 2/3rds of the way around the garden, but we were proud to get this much accomplished given the heat and humidity that day. The church’s garden group hopes to finish the project in the near future when the summer heat isn’t such a factor.
Our garden is a cooperative effort with the New Community Project (NCP). Currently, we have corn growing. The garden is not meant to be a typical garden laid out in neat rows and weed free. Rather it was created in a U-shape which allows it to take advantage of natural drainage. It also is not meant to be plowed but consist of a series of mounds.
Our community garden is a work in progress. So far we have only grown drought resistant plants. Things we still need to do are to get a water source hooked up, and to educate ourselves in order to implement NCP’s garden philosophy and methods. Additionally, we need individuals who can commit their personal time and some financial resources to expanding and maintaining our garden.
We followed up our work in the garden with a tour of the Vine & Fig, which is the community established by NCP along North Main Street in Harrisonburg. You have probably passed by their “White House” with the painted columns on the left side of the street just Washington Street.
The goals of NCP are to practice peace, justice, and ecology. They transformed a neglected part of the city where there had been two crack houses and instead created living spaces for homeless individuals, individuals who have been in recovery for at least 6 months, immigrant families, and interns. In between the dwellings are gardens and energy conservation experiments. Products from the NCP gardens at this location and in the surrounding area are used in local restaurants as well as to feed the NCP community. In sum, NCP exists so we can learn to live simply in order to protect the earth’s resources, help individuals who have been at the margins of society, and promote peace and justice.
NCP seeks to maximize the output they get from their living spaces and gardens. For example, a greenhouse was dug and built several feet underground in order to take advantage of the earth’s heat. NCP uses the greenhouse to grow food in the winter. They also dug a pond in the greenhouse to use to grow tilapia fish. The pond is under the planting slats, and water from the pond containing rich nutrients from fish excrement is used to fertilize the plants. The plastic covering the greenhouse reflects heat which warms the fig trees grown alongside it that need a warmer temperature. The fig trees, in turn, shade the greenhouse.
NCP works with outside individuals interested in preserving our environment and food resources, and has cooperative arrangements with a number of colleges such as Juniata College and Laverne College. On the day of our tour, a Laverne college intern was spending his last day at NCP and a group from a Brethren church in Pennsylvania was working in the gardens. We also observed a moment of silence when a bell tolled calling us to pause to slow down, enter a time of quiet, and enjoy the natural world around us.
At the end of our Community Garden Service Project, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Little Grill, a worker owned coop and café. The Little Grill supports farm to table practices and uses local ingredients as much as possible.
Sunday Morning Worship
10:30 AM (in person and livestream)
Wednesday Night Out Meal
First Church of the Brethren
315 South Dogwood Drive
Harrisonburg, VA 22801