April Belfry – Pastor’s Message

Dear Friends,

The way we each receive information most efficiently varies widely. For some of us, we like to sink our teeth into a good novel – words and more words. For others, it’s the movie version that finally makes sense of the tale. For still others, there is no image or word that describes the way that a garden rose in full bloom smells or the salt air at night; your first taste of tiramisu or the sound of the spring peepers.

For me, Easter is such a powerful concept that it helps to receive Easter’s meaning in many ways.  For my children, there were my “experiments.” Over the course of their early years, we ate bitter herbs and drank sips of vinegar. We made crowns of thorns off last year’s rose stalks and washed each other’s feet. We felt the prick of nails as we pressed them into our palms. We cracked open eggs and talked about the empty shell and on Easter, we tasted the sugar in the Easter buns –sugar that we had left out of all our cooking for the previous 40 days – and ‘it was good.’

All of that served to awaken our senses but Easter is more than beautiful sunrises and the rough cross. The “big” Easter idea has to do with other truths that children understand and express best. When asked why Jesus died on the cross, one young girl said simply, “Because his Dad asked him to.” Another young boy said, “He died and rose again. Whenever I think of Easter and know that Jesus rose from being dead, I have hope. Easter makes me feel like I can rise again over any bad things that happen.”

Even if the obedience to love or the gift of hope could adequately describe Easter it still would not describe the majesty and awe that Easter also holds.  Perhaps it is because Easter is not an event so much as a transformational moment in the most powerful relationship ever described or experienced.

Think for a moment about the relationships Jesus has with his disciples. The One who had come to save them, the One whom they betrayed, let down, deserted and denied, had died and left them with no instructions of how to continue his ministry.  He’d left no signs of forgiveness for their rude and unkind actions toward him. He’d left them without his commanding personality that might have shielded them from the worst of the crowd’s ridicule. So they were filled with fear, guilt, sadness, shame and more.  And then…… Jesus rose from the dead.

They knew they deserved scorn and anger. They knew they had been “we’ll follow IF” Christians when Jesus had simply been looking for eager belief. They thought it was “finished” – he’d even said so. But all of a sudden, it wasn’t finished – it was just beginning. There was no scorn only peace and the willingness to forgive.  He put out his hand and said again, “Follow me, for I am the One who can give you peace.” The young gal declared, when asked why Jesus went to the cross, “Jesus went to the cross because his Dad asked him to…..”  Perhaps this Easter we can do the same…..we can believe that Jesus lives for us, simply because he asks us to believe this.  How amazing could Easter be then?!     Love, Rev. Deb

April Lectionary Readings and Sermon Titles

April 7 Fifth Sunday in Lent -Sacrament of Communion

Scripture Readings:Philippians 3:4b-14 and John12:1-8

Sermon: “Doing a New Thing”

April 14 Palm/Passion Sunday

Scipture Readings: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, and Luke 19:28-40

Sermon: “Along the Holy Road – A Walk Through Holy Week”

April 21 – Easter Sunday – Sunrise service 5:45AM at North Beach Handicapped Ramp

Scripture Readings: Psalm 118:1,2, 14-24 and John 20: 1-18

Sermon: “Resurection Joy”

April 28 Holy Humor Sunday

Scripture Readings: Acts 5:27-32 and Rev. 1:4-8

Sermon: The Joyful Easter News Brings Laughter to the Sanctuary

Special Services:

Maundy Thursday Service – April 18, 7PM

Ecumenical Good Friday Service April 19 noon

Belfry Items

MUSIC NEWS The King’s Kids Choir will be performing on March 31st during worship.  Any kids are welcome to join!   Youth Bells will begin rehearsals on March 31st at 11:15 for their performance on April 14th.

Adult Bell Choir will begin rehearsals for Easter Sunday on March 31st at 11:30 a.m.  We welcome any ringers!


 Don’t Miss This Class!

If you’ve ever wondered about our Baptism traditions, ever been curious about why the colors change in the sanctuary or how our communion rituals were formed, Deb Eaton is going to be sharing a conversation around these.  The final class “All Things Worship” will be on 3/31/19, will start at 9:30 and last around 20 mins.  If you have any questions please feel free to call Deb Eaton at 603-531-1014.


Spring 2019 Adult Bible Study Options:  We have two great options for spring Bible study!  The Wednesday Group meets Noon – 1:15 p.m. and the Monday evening group meets 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.  All are welcome–especially new participants!

Wednesday Bible Study Spring Schedule

John: The Gospel of Light and Life:   4 more sessions (March 27, April 3, 10, 17)  The Gospel of John is the most deeply spiritual of the four gospels. This writing is filled with rich images and profound truths, but John notes that his aim in writing the gospel is that readers will not only believe in Jesus Christ, but that they “may have life in his name.” ln Adam Hamilton’s six-week series, John: The Gospel of Light and Life, we will follow the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus so as to better understand some of the best-known verses in the New Testament.  The study begins on March 13 at noon in the downstairs classroom.  (Suggested study guide donation: $10)

Monday Evening Bible Study Spring Schedule

God Is Closer Than You Think:  6 Sessions (April 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13)  In this video based study by John Ortberg, we’ll learn to discover and enjoy a vibrant, moment-by-moment relationship with God the Father.  Today you can see God in action. Today you can hear God speaking to you. Today you can connect with God heart-to-heart. Today!  Intimacy with God can happen right now – a closeness you can feel, a reality you can experience for yourself.  In God is Closer than You Think, Ortberg helps reveal the face of God waiting to be discovered in the complex mosaic of your life. This insightful and impactful small group study will help you:

  • Find God where you least expect Him
  • Listen to God’s voice
  • Identify which pathway of relationship you’re uniquely designed to travel
  • Align yourself with the flow of the Holy Spirit
  • Draw closer to God even when He seems absent

(Suggested study guide donation: $8)



 The Women’s Guild is planning a trip to the Currier Museum on April 4th.  We will travel by car to Manchester, caravan style, leaving from FCC at 10:15am    Interested?  If so, please email  to sign up.   We will have several free admission passes available.   The museum has a very interesting cafeteria where lunch is available at reasonable prices.  Hope you can join us!

God’s Baby Closet Annual Baby Shower

The 10th Annual God’s Baby Closet Baby Shower Benefit will take place on April 7th from 11 am-2 pm. Online sign-ups requesting help with food and serving/cleaning up have been sent via email. All donations to the Baby Closet are tax-deductible! We are in particular need of baby & toddler clothing up to size 5T and diapers, particularly in sizes 3, 4, and 5. Cash donations, baby wipes, pull-ups, books, and other baby/toddler items are also needed and appreciated! No car seats or cribs please! Thank you to everyone for your continued support of this important mission. It is a blessing to be able to help so many young families in our own community! If you have any questions, please contact Emily Brindamour at 603-997-2295 or Kate Portrie at 603-926-0887. Thanks!

Vocalocity’s 10th Annual Spring Concert“I Hear America Singing”

Saturday, April 6, 2019 @ 3:00 PM

Cooperative Middle School, 100 Academic Way, Stratham, NH

$7 for adults or $5 for students & seniors over 65

Please join us for an afternoon of choral music followed by a reception with light refreshments celebrating 10 years of making music together!

New! Autoimmune Support Group

Are you a “spoonie?” Do you have an autoimmune disease or chronic illness and need some support? A new group has started in order to offer comfort, caring and understanding.  NO medical advice is offered but there will be lots of supportive conversation, fellowship and, perhaps, some laughter as loads feel lightened. The next meeting is scheduled for February 18, 2019 at 10AM at First Congregational Church.  Feel free to enter the back kitchen door off the parking lot behind the church (door to the far right facing the back of the church).  All are welcomed.