We are officially 8 days away from Christmas! Translated … that means that we have 7 days to get everything done that we need to get done. On this Tuesday morning, it seems a little overwhelming and unlikely for me to get everything checked off of my ´to-do´ list. I need some luck … or divine guidance … or a little of both!
We are also 15 days from New Year´s Day and the calendar transition to 2014. That, too, seems a bit unbelievable. In some ways, 15 days feels like an eternity because for me, there are two Sundays and Christmas Eve is between now and then. For a pastor, that reality translates into hours and hours of planning, thinking, praying, and preparing. Whether I am ready or not, a new year is nearly upon us.
What those realities bring to mind is that this is my last article to you until 2014. Next Tuesday is Christmas Eve! The following Tuesday … is New Year´s Eve. We will not be sending the ´Weekly Pulse´ either of those weeks. So this is it until next year!
So – what do I need to communicate?
1) Don´t forget; there is ONE worship service this coming Sunday (December 22) @ 10 am. "The Service of Lessons and Carols" will be participative and eclectic. The entire church family will be involved, so don´t miss it. I think it will be a memorable experience of music, scripture readings, prayer and reflection – so join us.
2)Christmas Eve services are at 5, 7 and 9 pm. The 5 pm worship will be a ´family friendly´ service that involves children, candles, and hymns as we rehearse the Christmas story together. Worship at 7 and 9 pm are identical traditional candlelight communion services. We still need volunteers to help us welcome our guests. Nearly 1,200 people attend our Christmas Eve services – so it is an important night in the life of this congregation.
3) Our Christmas Eve Offering is also ´special.´ It is a ´mission focused´ offering that goes to support MANY missional investments we make locally and around the world. Please give generously.
4) The Sunday between Christmas and New Year´s will also be special. On December 29 … one of our college students who will be home desires to be baptized and join the church. Again, we will have ONE worship service at 10 am.
I also encourage the congregation to give generously to the ´general budget´ of the church. Every congregation that I have ever served depends on the last 15 days of December to complete the financial year with strength … as well as enter the New Year with a balance. We still have outstanding obligations financially – and we need your help. Please pray and ask God to guide you in being a year-end financial partner. If God has blessed you … then consider sharing your blessings with your church. Thank you.
Finally, from our house to yours, we wish you a most blessed Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. Pigeon and I are appreciative of the welcome that this congregation has extended to us. After six months, we are feeling more and more at home among you. Thank you for your kindness and we look forward to many years of ministry together.
May God´s life and light be yours this Christmas season.
• December 21, 10:00 am — Christmas Eve dance rehearsal
• December 21, 6:00 pm — Jazz Vespers: MacNaughton Blvd
• December 22, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 22, 11:00 am — All-Church Potluck
• December 24, 8:00 am — Casey´s Breakfast
• December 24, 5:00 pm — Family-Friendly Christmas Eve Service
• December 24, 7:00 and 9:00 pm — Traditional Candlelight and Communion Christmas Eve Service
• December 25 — Christmas Day Church and Offices closed
• December 26 — Church and Offices closed • December 29, 10:00 am — One Worship Service Only
• December 31 — Church and Offices closed
• January 1 — Church and Offices closed
• January 2, 9:00 am — Fixin´ ´n´ Fellowship
• January 2, 9:00 am — Prayer Quilters
• January 3/4, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm — Scrapbooking
• January 5 — Wesley Covenant Sunday
• January 5-12 — Family Promise
• January 6, 6:00 pm — Adult Council
• January 7, 5:00 pm — Pastor/Parish Relations
• January 7, 6:00 pm — Moms´ Night Out
• January 8, 6:00 pm — Taizé Sung Prayers
• January 8, 6:00 pm — Young Adults Dream Big
December 22 – 10:00 AM
• Infant Nursery — birth-23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2 yr. olds - young 3´s Room 106
• Children & Worship (toilet trained) — Older 3s – Pre K Room 204/201
December 29 – 10:00 AM
• Infant Nursery — birth -23 months Room 107
• Toddler Nursery — 2-3 years Room 106
• One Room Schoolhouse — 4 years-Grade 2 Room 202 (One Room Schoolhouse children begin in worship with their parents. Following the Children´s Moments, they are dismissed to class.)
**Worship bags and Children´s Pages are available in the narthex with activities that allow for children to participate in worship at their own level.**
Please contact Annette Erbes at 451.2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
JAZZ VESPERS, featuring MacNaughton Blvd, on Saturday, December 21 at 6:00 pm weaves scripture, a pastoral message and prayer into a celebration of faith, hope, and the love of God. Please join us!
AFTER-CHURCH COFFEE will be in the parlor during Advent. Mulled cider will be offered in the north lobby and the narthex.
CHRISTMAS EVE FOR CHILDREN
• 5:00 pm Christmas Eve Service: This service is designed for young children and their families. The children may choose a simple costume depicting a character from the Christmas story. As the story is told by Pastor Tish, each character is called up front to participate in the story and receive a prop to place at the manger. This service has become a cherished tradition here at First Church. We hope to see you there!
• Nativity Figurines: Children who attend the 5:00, 7:00, or 9:00 pm Christmas Eve service will receive one nativity figure. Children may take the figure home following the service. Through the years, children have enjoyed collecting different pieces until their nativity set is complete. Made in Sri Lanka, our purchase of these colorful wooden figures benefits third-world crafters. The nativity figures were purchased from A Greater Gift, a fair trade program of SERRV International.
FAITH TRAVELERS´ ADVENT-URES • Sunday, December 22nd:Service of Lessons and Carols at 10:00 am All Faith Travelers in Grades K-6 will be participants in worship on this day! Faith Travelers´ rehearsal times are as follows: Grades 5-6 at 9:15 am; Grades K-4 at 9:30 am. One worship service will be held to allow all to worship together. The Infant Nursery, Toddler Nursery, and Children & Worship (Older 3 Yr. Olds-Pre-K) classes will be held this morning.
• Sunday, December 29th: No Faith Travelers or Children & Worship Classes Held 10:00 am Worship Service with the Infant Nursery, Toddler Nursery, and the One Room Schoolhouse (4 Yr. Olds – Grade 2) classes available.
• Sunday, January 5th: Room in the Inn! This Sunday all of our Grade K-6 Faith Travelers will meet as a whole group to learn about how the third floor becomes transformed for the Family Promise program. Just as room was made for Baby Jesus in the stable, learn how room is made for our Family Promise guests here at First Church.
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE on Sunday, December 22 and December 29 at 10:00 am.
ALL-CHURCH POTLUCK Following the 10:00 am service on Sunday, December 22, there will be a potluck to which everyone is invited. If you´re able to come, if your last name begins with A-L, please bring a dessert; if your last name begins with M-Z, please bring a salad. Beverages and meat will be provided.
SCRAPBOOKING The next scrapbooking marathon will be held Friday, January 3 and Saturday, January 4 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. If you´re a papercrafter, you´ll want to take advantage of this block of time to let your creative juices flow! If you plan to attend or if you have questions, please email Patsy McGillivray at email@example.com.
MATHIAS ALTEN PRINTS AVAILABLE! The Mathias Alten limited edition prints are on sale again. They would make a great Christmas gift showing the tower in its original form! (The Alten print of our church was on display in our gallery last month.) The cost of the print is $35, and can be purchased at the front desk in the north lobby, or call Peg at 451-2879. There are only 5 prints left, so get yours today!
WOMEN´S RETREAT Save the dates! Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25.
CAROLING UPDATE In spite of the poor weather, we sent 6 teams of carolers out to bring song and cheer to 58 of our homebound, hospitalized, recovering, and senior members this past Sunday. A special thanks to the Fellowship Committee for providing lunch and the gifts to give to those we caroled to, to Faith Travelers for their gifts which were included in the bags, to the Team Leaders: Peg and Dave Terkeurst, Tish Bowman, Laure Mieskowski, Rose and Mike Herweyer, and Sami Marasigan, and to those who caroled. Lots of happy tears were shed by our friends as they sang along with us. Thanks for bringing JOY to their world! – Marj Timmerman RN, Parish Nurse
METRO MINISTRY invites you to a brief and unique gathering at 100 Burton Street SE (former church building of Burton Heights and La Nueva Esperanza UMCs) on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 10:30 am - noon. The building served faithfully as a home for ministry for over 128 years. It is now poised for redevelopment into affordable homes for seniors to offer stability, hope, and beauty to the neighborhood. As Metro Ministry moves toward selling it, we hope you´ll join us for fellowship, a brief prayer service, a final blessing at 11 AM, and a a bowl of hot soup.
IMAGINE NO MALARIA In 2008, The United Methodist Church launched Imagine No Malaria, an effort to end malaria in Africa through prevention, education, communication, and treatment. The United Methodist Church has been a leader in this fight and in 5 short years we have already cut the death rate in half. However, every 60 seconds someone still dies from this preventable disease. 85% of these deaths are children under 5 years of age. Under the leadership of Bishop Deborah Kiesey, the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences have invited every United Methodist Church in Michigan to save the life of one person in Africa for every member of their faith community. The Michigan Area goal is to save 150,000 lives by December 2014 by raising $1.5 million. First Church will highlight this initiative throughout 2014. We will begin by giving a portion of our Christmas offering to Imagine No Malaria. Contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about Imagine No Malaria or visit www.minomalaria.org.
MOMS´ NIGHT OUT Celebrate survival of the holidays with a night off! Meet us at the Beltline Bar at 16 - 28th St SE on Tuesday, January 7 at 6:00 pm. Friends are invited! Please RSVP through the Sunday bulletin sign-up or by contacting Sami Marasigan or Marj Timmerman at 451-2879, so we can block off enough seats at the restaurant. For more information, you can find us at www.facebook.com/groups/MomsAtFirst/.
MEMBERSHIP EXPLORATION If you´re interested in learning more about First United Methodist Church, getting acquainted with the pastors, meeting new people, and having a good lunch, please join us for our Membership Exploration classes on three Sundays: January 12, 19, and 26 following the 11:00 am service. Use the sign-up sheet in the Sunday bulletin or the website to indicate your interest in attending.
CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS Do you enjoy viewing and supporting the fine arts? Consider using your love of art in support of First Church´s own art exhibit, the 41st annual Celebration of the Arts, by becoming a participant in the Celebration Committee. We need people with various talents, from reception planning to construction of the gallery. Sign up today for Celebration 2014 by using the Sunday sign-up sheet, or by contacting Eric Strand (email@example.com), Deb May (firstname.lastname@example.org), or calling the church at 451-2879.
Concerns & Prayers for:
• Lee Andrews
• Lynne Beals
• Shirley Etcher
• Don Far (Meijer Heart Center)
• Brenda Heerdt
• Dick Mieskowski (surgery 12/18)
• Robert Newell
• Alan Norton
• Ken Peirce
• Heather Shaffer
• Laura Wright
• Chris Bolhouse
• Scott Grifhorst
• Stephan Mathos
• Jesse Mounts
• Trevor Norton
• Shawn Seher
• Peter Taylor, Jr
The love and prayers of the congregation are extended to Anne Zimmerman and family on the death of her husband, Chuck, on December 17th. The service for Chuck will be held this Saturday, December 21st at 1pm in our sanctuary with a reception following in Wesley Hall.
WEEKLY PULSE: Click the link to download a PDF version of the Weekly Pulse.
Sunday, December 22 INTERGENERATIONAL WORSHIP
ONE WORSHIP 10:00 AM "Celebration"
Dr. Bob Hundley
Lessons and Carols
Child Care infant – preschool
Potluck at 11:30 am
Advent Study 5:00 pm
No youth evening activities
Tuesday, December 24
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES
Young Families 5:00 pm
Traditional Candlelight Communion 7:00 & 9:00 pm
Sunday, December 29
ONE WORSHIP 10:00 AM "Lifted and Carried"
Dr. Bob Hundley
Church School for infant through 2nd grade
No evening activities
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP SUPPORT TEAM HELP If you are in town for Christmas Eve Service, we NEED your help at all services; 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00 pm. There are 15 positions that need to be filled for each service! We need ushers, greeters, parking lot attendants, cider station hosts. If you can fill any of these slots, please e-mail Patsym@grandrapidsfumc.org.
CHRISTMAS EVE FELLOWSHIP HELP The Fellowship Committee is looking for help in serving refreshments between worship services on Christmas Eve. The shifts are 6:00 to 7:00 and 8:00 to 9:00 pm. Please use Sunday´s bulletin sign-up sheet, the church website, or call the church office (451-2879) to indicate your availability to help. Thank you!
CHRISTMAS EVE DANCERS Hello, young women (sixth grade through college age)! It´s time to meet and prepare for this year´s Christmas Eve Candlelight dance! The one rehearsal is Saturday, December 21 from 10:00 am to noon in the sanctuary. Please mark your calendar, bring your friends, andcome help make this tradition continue! You and your family choose in which service(s) on Wednesday, December 24 you participate, the 7:00 pm, 9:00 pm, or both. Sign up by contacting Britt O´Malley at 560-1472 or email@example.com to let us know your plan. Thank you for giving of your time and talent for worship on Christmas Eve!
PASTORS´ DISCRETIONARY FUND is low on funds. This is a fund that Pastor Bob, Pastor Tish, and Mary Molhoek have available to help people in need throughout the year. Mary is the benevolence worker who takes calls to the church office from people asking for assistance from outside our church family. She has created a system so that people asking for assistance can sign up for a telephone interview. She has five slots available on Wednesday mornings when she conducts the telephone interviews, making sure the caller has taken advantage of different agencies´ help, verifying the information given by checking with the All County Churches Emergency Support System (ACCESS). This is the agency that keeps track of churches´ information on individuals who ask for help. Then Mary makes the determination as to whether or not to assist. The balance in this fund is such that Mary has "decided that because of the number of requests we have, $50 is the limit of money the church can offer individuals requesting help." The pastors typically use the discretionary fund to assist members, but can help others outside our church family, at their discretion. If you are looking for ideas of where assistance is needed at this time of year, the Pastors´ Discretionary Fund could use some tender loving care.
– Merry Christmas, Sharon Sorensen
FAITH TRAVELERS´ ADVENT-URES — MOO NEWS: K- Grade 4 students have raised $70 for Heifer Project International! We have now met our goal of a share toward a heifer cow share to assist a family in need in the world! An anonymous donor has also matched our goal, so over $120 will be donated to Heifer Project International to purchase two shares toward a heifer cow. Thank you for passing on the gift of love to our neighbors around the world.
SHARE BLESSINGS First Church is providing opportunities for you and your family to share the blessings of Christmas! You are invited to choose one or more of the following suggestions....
• The Giving Tree - You are invited to take one of the ornaments off the Giving Tree located in the north lobby. Each ornament contains a suggested item requested by Martin Luther King Academy staff for their classrooms and children. Please limit your gifts to the suggested items on the tree. Unwrapped gifts may be left under the Christmas tree for delivery to MLK.
• Alternative Christmas Gifts — Did you miss the Different Kind of Christmas Fair? You may still honor a friend or loved one by giving an alternative Christmas gift. For each gift you will receive a Christmas card that acknowledges your gift. You can send the card to the person of your choice. You may give online at: www.grandrapidsfumc.org/
• The Christmas Offering — You will receive a special letter from our pastors inviting you to care for our brothers and sisters around the world through our annual Christmas offering. No matter whether your gift is small or large, let the love of Christ flow through you this Christmas to people in desperate need. Our goal this year is $15,500.
• Family Promise – Consider giving the gift of your time this holiday season. Our next Family Promise week will begin January 5. Through Family Promise, First Church provides hospitality to homeless families and helps keep them together in a time of crisis. Volunteer opportunities include evening hosts, overnight hosts, dinner preparers, Saturday breakfast preparers, Saturday hosts, set-up, tear-down, and laundry. You may sign up via the Sunday bulletin, by calling the church office, or by visiting our website at www.grandrapidsfumc.org/family-promise-volunteers. For more information on Family Promise, contact Laure Mieskowski at 451-2879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Have Extra Christmas Cards? – Pick up some address labels from the north lobby desk and use those cards to spread some cheer to our senior and homebound members. Your cards will help brighten their day while reminding them their church family is thinking of them this Christmastime.
NEW YEAR ADULT SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
• A Gift of Love is a study based on the classic collection of sixteen sermons preached and compiled by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Collectively they present King´s fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness, and promote his prescient vision of love as a social and political force for change. Being held at 9:30 am in room 3107 from Sunday, January 5 through February 16, the leader is Deanna Mitchell. Books will be available in the classroom. You can indicate your interest by using the sign-up sheet in Sunday´s bulletin.
• Have a New Kid By Friday Want a kid without an attitude? Without the behavior that makes you want to slink away in the grocery store and pretend you´re not the parent? Anyone can do it. All it takes is you deciding to stand up and take charge. Want a great kid? Want to be a great parent? Then take the 5-day challenge. Some day your kid will thank you for it. Led by Paula and Richard Gibson and Ivy Quaye and Gabriel Aquah on Sundays at 9:30 am in room 3109 January 5 through February 16. Use the Sunday bulletin sign-up sheet if you plan to attend.
WHEN GOD COMES DOWN December 22 class will be held at 9:00 am in room 3109. Please note the time change!
FIRST AID STATION
MOODY? "My moods are shifting uncontrollably. The highs are really, really high, but the lows are too low for me to handle." Call the Church Assistance Program (CAP) at 455-6210 any time, day or night. You will be able to have two free one-hour sessions with a counselor if you mention that you´re a member or friend of First United Methodist Church.