Presbyterian Church USA logoFirst Presbyterian Church of Potsdam, New York

A community gathering in Christ and ministering as God leads
42 Elm Street, Potsdam, NY 13676 • phone (315) 265-9434 • email

Lent and Easter 2012


Events and Services for 2012

February 22 - Ash Wednesday Service.   6:30pm in the Church Center. (Worship Bulletin)

April 1 - Palm Sunday Service.
  in the Sanctuary. (Worship Bulletin)

April 5 - Maundy Thursday Communion Service.
7:00pm  in the Sanctuary. (Worship Bulletin)

April 6 - Good Friday Tenebrae Service.
7:00pm  in the Sanctuary. (Worship Bulletin)

April 8 - Easter Sunday Service.
  in the Sanctuary. (Worship Bulletin)

EASTER EGG HUNT.  Saturday April 7, there will be an Easter Egg hunt at 2:00 pm in the church center for our Sunday School children preschool – grade 6. Parents are asked to bring six filled plastic eggs filled for each of there children attending. Eggs may be filled with candy, stickers or other small Easter goodies. Kids should bring their Easter basket or bucket. Please join us for games, stories and of course the egg hunt.
Easter Jubilee 2012
Easter Jubilee is happening on Saturday, March 31, 2012. This program focuses on distributing food to senior citizens in our community. The congregation is invited to join in. Watch and listen for how you can help. Donation envelopes are in the basket at the entrance to the Center.

Palm Sunday means two things: 1) we move services back to the sanctuary, 2) we celebrate the day with a special breakfast cooked and served by members and friends before service. We are carrying on the tradition this year. Breakfast will be served from 8:15am - 9:30am. The menu will include pancakes, maple syrup, scrambled eggs, bacon, oatmeal, coffee, tea, orange juice, and milk. Be sure to come and bring a friend or two. There is no charge but donations are gratefully accepted.

Many hands are needed to make this event a success. A sign up sheet for cooks, set up, and clean up volunteers has been posted on the bulletin board outside the church offices. If you would like to volunteer please sign up or talk to Tom Longshore, 265-2871.

(View some pictures from the Pancake Breakfast in 2006.)

Every Easter Sunday we decorate the sanctuary with lilies provided as memorials/honorariums by members and friends. If you would like to buy an Easter lily, please fill out an order form, available on the table at the entrance to the center, and return it with payment ($12.00 each) to the Church office by March 30th.

Lenten Luncheons

The Ministerial Association of Potsdam has announced the annual Lenten luncheon series to be held at various Potsdam churches. The schedule is as follows:

  • February 23 - St. Mary's Catholic Church (held at Potsdam First Presbyterian Church (42 Elm St.)
  • March 1 - Unitarian Universalist (3 1/2 E. Main St., Canton)
  • March 8 - Potsdam United Methodist Church (26 Main St.)
  • March 15 - TBA
  • March 22 - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (21 Castle Drive, Potsdam) 
  • March 29 - Potsdam Presbyterian Church, Potsdam (42 Elm St.) 

 Each luncheon includes a devotional and a light soup and sandwich meal. All are welcome to attend these special gatherings during the Lenten Season.

General Information on Lent and Easter

Why is the Thursday before Easter called "Maundy Thursday"?
The word Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community. (source = Wikipedia)
Why An Early Easter like we had in 2008? Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 21). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that the Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. Here is the interesting info.  2008 was the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! Only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (96 years old or above!). And, none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here are the facts: 1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (219 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 96 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!). 2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (276 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than tin 2008! (More...on the date of Easter from the U. S. Naval Oceanography  Portal.)

Memorial Easter Lilies

One Great Hour of Sharing. Presbyterians' gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing support the work of The Presbyterian Committee for the Self-Development of People, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Contributions to the offering will be accepted Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Specially marked envelopes will be in the pews.
Link to "Resources for Lent" from the Presbyterian Church (USA):  Their web site provides wonderful resources for both the individual and the Church. Included in the their Lenten resources you will find: Bible studies, worship resources, ideas on things to make and do for Lent and Easter, Lenten quotations, and more.
The season of LENT begins on Ash Wednesday.
     "Lent is often associated with 'giving up' certain habits or pleasures, a time of doing something extra so that we are conscious of the suffering of Jesus, and prepared to celebrate the new life of resurrection.
     "Jesus did not know about Lent.  Jesus knew about discipleship.  Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting--these were not 'extras' in the spiritual life.  Giving, praying and fasting were to be the normal patterns of life for those he called and who chose to follow him....
     "We are among those called by Jesus.  Our Lenten practices might indeed be a bit more pronounced than at other times of the year, but our lives throughout the year are to be shaped by habits of faith Jesus learned in his own religious upbringing.
     "What habits am I creating that will focus my life to follow the footsteps of Jesus?"
Cackie Upchurch, in "A Year of Sundays: Gospel Relections 2007"

Why do Christians give up things for Lent? Should I do it?

Lent began as a period of preparation for baptism. In the early centuries, adults who felt drawn to the Christian church were welcomed into something like an apprenticeship during which they were mentored in Christian belief, worship, prayer, and practices. The final weeks led directly to baptism, which was celebrated at Easter, the great day of resurrection. Part of the preparation for baptism included the discipline of fasting — for example, doing without meat or abstaining from food for one or more meals. In an act of solidarity, those who were already church members joined those who were fasting. This is probably the origin of the custom of giving up something for Lent. The point was to enter voluntarily into a spiritual exercise intended to deepen one’s prayer life and heighten anticipation of the great festival of the resurrection. If “giving up stuff” raises spiritual consciousness and serves as an aid to prayer, to meditation on dying and rising with Christ, and to reclaiming one’s baptism, go for it! Fasting, undertaking some other spiritual discipline, or giving up something are simply means toward the end of deepening the spiritual life. If it’s just a pain, makes one feel like a martyr, or contributes to a sense of spiritual superiority—then it’s better not to do it.

What is Ash Wednesday?  Is it really Presbyterian?

Although Ash Wednesday has not been very important for many Presbyterians until recent decades, it’s as “Presbyterian” as repentance, confession, and pardon. Presbyterians and others have begun to recover Ash Wednesday in recent years, discovering in it powerful symbols that have helped to lead us into the spiritual disciplines of Lent. Traditionally the palms that we waved on Palm Sunday are burned to ashes and brought out for use on Ash Wednesday. On that day, a minister, elder, or other marks our foreheads with a cross-shaped sign, saying, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” from Gen. 3:19. The ashes remind us of our mortality, the brevity of life, and our need for confession and pardon. At the same time, because the sign on our foreheads is cross-shaped, it’s meant to remind us of our baptism. We who have died to Christ will be raised with him. So the ultimate point of Ash Wednesday is to face up to some hard realities, buoyed by our confident hope in the One who raised Jesus from the dead and who will have the last word over our lives, too.
Contributed by Ron Byars
PCUSA Website

A Hymn for Lent . . .

For me, dear Jesus,
was Your incarnation.
Your mortal sorrow,
And Your life’s oblation.
Your death of anguish
And Your bitter passion,
For my salvation.

(music: Johann Cruger, 1640
text: Johann Heermann, 1630)

This haunting hymn has often been part of our Lenten journey. It emerged around the time of the Thirty Year’s War, which brought about decisive changes in the German religious scene. “Pietism” developed as an attitude, exalting personal religion, prayer, charitable works and spiritual fervor, and there was an explosion of hymnody. Composer Johann Cruger (best known for “Now Thank We All Our God”) was the editor of a collection entitled Practice of Piety in Song, which became the most influential Lutheran songbook of the second half of the 17th century. It was originally designed for devotional use in the home, and it emphasized a “personal” religion, with texts almost always in the first person singular. The pietist tunes were often lovely melodies, and J.S. Bach used this particular tune in his St. Matthew and St John Passions.

Two of the words in the text are not commonly used, so a trip to the dictionary was in order. INCARNATION is defined as “the embodiment of a god or a spirit in human form, the assumption of human nature by Jesus Christ.” OBLATION is “any offering in worship, especially the elements of the Eucharist. Any grateful and solemn offering.”

This hymn (#93) in our hymnal) will be our introit during Lent, and will appear in several anthems. We hope it will become personal and meaningful to you.

Laura Toland

An Easter Anthem

“Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the Holy Wind that blows,
I shine like diamond glint on snow.
I am the Son-light and ripened grain.
I am as gentle as morning rain.
And when you hear in the mornings hush,
My voice like sweet uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am as soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I am alive.”

(Text: Anonymous, slight alterations by L. Toland)

This Easter anthem (see above) is taken from the “Requiem” by Eleanor Daley, a Canadian composer. Our choir purchased it in memory of several family members of Steve Williams (former Clarkson student and Westminster Choir member).  It speaks of the experience Mary and the other women had, who despairingly approached the grave that first Easter morning, and the comfort they found