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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want toW be a more giving and forgiving person."


 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."


Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.


At The First Congregational Church in Essex, we offer a diverse schedule of worship opportunities on Sunday and at other times in the week.  Check the calendar for all we have to offer.


Summer worship is at 9:00 with a brief 35 minute service



Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.




June 25, 2017

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Genesis 21:8-21 Psalm 86:1-10,

Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

On Matthew 10:24-39

When the focus theme for this reading is "God and Sparrows," we have a golden opportunity to spend a little time--in the beautiful days of summer (at least here, in the Northern Hemisphere)--meditating on the secret lives of small birds and vulnerable creatures. The words of Jesus, reassuring his disciples of how precious they are, call to mind the earlier passage in Matthew's Gospel, when he told them to "look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (6:26).

Here, in one of the Bible's many "do not be afraid" passages, we hear that God takes note of every sparrow that falls to the ground, a most ordinary occurrence, and yet one of significance to the Creator of the entire universe. And we also hear, amazingly, that we are of inexpressibly more importance and value to God.

What do we need to earn?

While I've always loved these beautiful words, in both "sparrow passages," I have more time to think about them in greater depth because of my retirement last year. I've joked to my friends that I've felt like I was under pressure ever since I walked into Sister Perpetua's first-grade classroom back in September 1956 (okay, maybe I'm not totally joking), so it's taken time to make the adjustment to a life without evaluations or deadlines hanging over my head. It occurs to me how much getting good grades or job performance reviews worried me and made me think I had to earn...what? God's love? God's care? Safety? Abundance? Sufficiency?

Or does it have something to do with earning one's value in God's eyes, proving one's worth by what one does, and how well one does it? Is doing all that matters, and being, not so much? When we stop "doing," and focus on "being," are we no longer productive in any way that matters? Perhaps not, in the eyes of the world, at least, which dares to measure our "net worth" in dollars, not wisdom or kindness or gentleness (how would we ever "measure" those qualities, and in what quantities?). Here the poetry of Mary Oliver is most helpful, and a good way to begin the day, or a whole new stage in life. The work of poets like her is to feed the spirit of those who read her words and hear another version of "Consider the birds...consider the lilies...."

Read this entire reflection here.

To see a sermon, click here