Lent 2021

Lent is one of the sacred times in the life of the Christian Church. It is a time to reflect on our faith and how we live it out in today’s world. It is also a time to remember some of the more difficult experiences in Christ’s life that culminated in his death. Christians have long used this time as an opportunity to delve into life issues that might be a bit deeper and more meaningful than usual. During this COVID time, we will be trying to continue this long tradition and offer some of the usual offerings with a technological twist. Additional options may be added, and these lists may be updated, so please check back here for changes.

Please join us for any or all of these offerings, the details for each is below:

Ash Wednesday

Holy Week

Easter Services

Lenten Searcher Series

Faith Formation Lenten Activities

Easter Flowers

Candle Lighting

Care Baskets

Ash Wednesday

February 17th at 7:00 pm via Zoom.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a time when we place ashes on our head to remember our shared humanity; traditionally we remember our shared culpability in human sin, but we also remember that ashes ground us in the earth, a common element in all our creation and a sacred gift from God. Traditionally, the ashes come from last year’s palms that we waved to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. However, due to the pandemic we are observing Ash Wednesday in our homes. View the video from Pastor Mark where he shows how to burn your own palms to place ashes on your own forehead or wrist and those of your family members. If you don’t have palm fronds from last year, come by the church to pick up some that Pastor Mark saved.

Join Zoom Service

Holy Week

Palm Sunday Service

March 28th, 2021 at 10:00 am via YouTube

Everyone likes to wave palms and remember when Jesus entered Jerusalem. And many of us like to keep our palms from Palm Sunday and put them up somewhere to remind us of last year’s Holy Week remembrances and celebrations. And those of us that are religious fanatics like to save our palms to burn them for the following year’s ashes on Ash Wednesday. So despite not being in worship on Palm Sunday we are going to place palms on a clearly marked table out in the parking lot on March 28 th / Palm Sunday. You are free to come by any time between 9:00 a.m. and 12 noon. Enjoy and be sure to wave them out the window on your way home!

Holy Week Scavenger Hunt

March 28th – 31st, 2021

Holy Week scavenger hunt will be something that families can do anytime from Palm Sunday morning through Wednesday evening (March 28th – 31st). With their map they will walk to a home of First Church families close by, locate the Lenten symbol and collect an item. Once families have collected all items they will text a picture to Laurie and she will let them know where to find their prize. Depending on the weather, families can decide to park at church and walk to the locations or drive. Faith@Home bags for March have your instruction sheet, map and short stories.  If you have not collected yours yet you will find it by the Church Street doors.

Lenten Sanctuary Prayer Vigil

March 29th – April 3rd, 2021

During Holy Week, we are going to open the sanctuary for our members and friends who would like to spend some time in prayer, reflection or simply soaking in the beauty of our newly restored sanctuary space. From Monday March 29 th through Saturday April 3rd from 10 am to 7:30 pm there will be 30 minute time slots in which you and your family can sign up for your time in the church. There are 30 minute time slots but we ask everyone to only stay in the sanctuary for 20 minutes so that we can be as safe as possible. Use the SignUp Genius button below to reserve your spot.

Sign Up!

Maundy Thursday Service

April 1st, 2021 6:00 pm via Zoom

Maundy Thursday is the day when we remember the last time Jesus sat down with his disciples and friends to eat a meal and share in conversation. Once gathered in the Upper Room, Jesus and his disciples shared a Passover Seder Meal which commemorated the Hebrew people escaping their bondage in Egypt and finding Divine freedom in the wilderness. Jesus shares this sacred ritualistic meal with them and then adds a couple of aspects to it: communion and foot washing. Each Maundy Thursday we remember these things and encourage our members to explore the meaning of that fateful night.

This year we will enter into this meal by hosting a zoom mealtime meeting where we will share the old sacred story and then break up into small groups of six or so folks and share a meal together and explore some issues of faith and spirituality. Thus we want you to bring your computer to the dining room table and actually be ready to share a meal with others while you converse. It will be a time of fellowship, food and discussion.

Join Zoom Service

Good Friday Service

April 2nd, 2021 at 7 pm via YouTube

Join us at 7 pm to watch an ecumenical worship service on YouTube.

FCCEJ joins other churches in the Champlain Valley for an ecumenical Good Friday service. We will watch the worship service together with the other churches at 7 pm on YouTube. The service will be available for later viewing on the FCCEJ YouTube Channel. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you can easily access our services.

Easter Services – April 4th

Sunrise Service at 6:30 am via Facebook Live

We will not be physically meeting for our Easter Sunrise Service this year, unfortunately. However, Rev. Mendes will again have a live sunrise service in some beautiful location on the church’s facebook page where we will all experience a Vermont sunrise as we celebrate the miracle of Christ’s resurrection. This will be a special ecumenical event for Rev. Mark Mendes will be welcoming Rev. Karen Mendes and the First Baptist Church of Burlington to this sacred event. Rev. Karen Mendes will save Rev. Mark and our entire community by bringing her angelic voice to the occasion. Together, they will worship Jesus, commemorate his resurrection and proclaim the continuing presence of Jesus within our world and our midst. You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime occasion.

Easter Service at 10:00 am via YouTube

Our traditional Easter service that includes messages from Rev. Mark, Rev. Josh and the Deacons and magnificent music from Finally @ First and the Sanctuary Choir. We can watch this service together at 10:00 am on the church YouTube channel, which will give us the ability to chat while watching like we can do at Sunday worship. You can watch the video at any time later if the “live” session time is inconvenient.

Lenten Searcher Studies

Wednesdays Feb 24th – March 24th, 7 – 8:30 pm, via Zoom, contact office for password

Lent is the season to dig a little deeper into your faith or work on deepening your spirituality. Our clergy will be offering three different sessions for anyone who would like to spend a little time learning and reflecting.

We will gather as one group and check in with each other and then break into the three groups, then come back together for the last 5 minutes. Hope to see you there!

Join Searchers on Zoom

Reverend Mark will be facilitating a book discussion on a book he highlighted during his morning devotions which people seemed to really like. In “Gifts of the Dark Woods”, Eric Elnes explores what some of the ancients of the faith called the “dark woods” or “the dark night of the soul” or the place you go when life and faith brings you to a dark and turbulent internal place. He proposes that finding yourself in a the dark woods offers great opportunity to connect with God and explore what is important in your life and the gifts that we find there.

If you need help purchasing the book, please let Rev. Mark know and he will get you one.

Reverend Josh will be offering a Bible study on the Letter of James, Jesus’ brother. It is a great book of the Bible with lots of incredible practical lessons for life.

Join Laurie for Faith@Home discussion.  The format will be similar to our Sunday 9am Faith@Home, but open to all ages of the congregation.  We will talk about Jesus and his miracles, the Lenten season, share our joys & worries and where we see God, and maybe sing a song.  The format will be flexible and young ones should feel comfortable joining in and departing early if needed.  We will wrap up by 8pm.

Faith Formation for Lent

  • Holy Week Scavenger Hunt  – view the details in the Holy Week section here.
  • The February 14th Faith @ Home bags have information to help families become more familiar with Lent: A packet called ‘What is Lent?’, Lenten coloring booklet, pretzel recipe (celebrating Pretzel Sunday on March 7th), and a family Lenten activity calendar.
  • On March 14th all families who drive through to collect their bags will have a chance to be recorded waving palms to be shared in worship on Palm Sunday, March 28th. March bags will have the UCC Lenten coloring book, instructions & map for our Holy Week scavenger hunt, palms, Easter crafts, word search, etc.

Easter Flowers

Help decorate the Sanctuary this season – Easter flowers are available for purchase! There are a variety of options at different price points. The deadline to order is Sunday, March 28th. Due to the pandemic, supplies are limited so order yours today! Questions or concerns? Email welcome@fccej.org for details. Click the SignUp Genius button below to place your order.

***Payment: Please mail your payment to:

attn: Financial Secretary, FCCEJ, 1 Church Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452

Include the words “Easter Flowers” with your payment (or write it within the memo line of your check.) ***

Sign Up!

Candle Lighting

This year to augment our Lenten worship services we will be including a candle-lighting recording each week from various members of our church family. Each week, the video of the candle lighting will be added here so you can enjoy the messages over and over.

Week 1

From the McGeary Family

Week 2

From Kathryn & Ciaran Brennan

Week 3

From Paula & Rusty Sargent

Week 4

From Maureen & Rob Evans

Week 5

From the Stein Family

Week 6

From the Bartlett Family

Care Baskets

We are building 25-30 Care Baskets to deliver to some of our home bound members.  We would love to have our community participate by donating items to go in baskets and/or donate filled baskets.

Thank you to everyone who made donations to the baskets!