I was driving home one night, I turned the
corner onto my street, and there it was. The
first house on the block to be adorned with
Christmas lights. It was November 8th. “Hmmm,”
I thought to myself, “what could have
possibly motivated these folks to have their
Christmas lights on so early?” Once
I dialed through all of the possible motives
I decided to give them the benefit of the
doubt. Instead of being totally sucked into
the secular back hole that Christmas has become,
maybe they were truly excited for the birth
of Christ and couldn’t wait another
day to welcome Him. Yeah, that had to be it.
get me wrong. I’m no Scrooge when it
comes to Christmas. But I do find myself wondering
how we’ve come to celebrate it, and
what we’ve come to expect from it, and
where our real focus is.
a child I have wonderful memories of my grandparents
coming from Florida to visit, sleeping under
the Christmas tree, decorating the house,
the aroma of cookies baking in my mother’s
kitchen, and looking through the Sears toy
catalog until the pages were nearly worn out.
Each year my mother would take me downtown
via the rapid transit
to see the store windows. We got dressed up
to make the day extra special. We also went
to church on Christmas
Eve — including my father — and
even amidst the warm glow of the candle light
and sweet notes of carols drifting
through the air, I couldn’t wait to
get home and go to bed, so as to speed the
arrival of Christmas morning and the
ripping open (not to be confused with the
more delicate unwrapping) of gifts. And then,
just as quickly as it seemed to come, it was
over. Done with. Cue the emotional let-down.
of which causes me to ask: What are we looking
forward to this Christmas? Where is our focus?
Please don’t misunderstand. It’s
perfectly fine to enjoy that family dinner,
the exchange of gifts, the warmth of the fireplace,
the beauty of the tree, the caroling, the
baking, the visiting, the school concert and
so on. But I hope our primary focus
can be on the One whose birth we are called
John writes: “In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. He was with
God in the beginning. Through him all things
were made; without him nothing was made that
has been made. In him
was life, and that life was the light of all
people. The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not
understood it. The Word became flesh and made
his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only, who came from
the Father, full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:1-3, 14 NIV)
the center of Christmas is the birth of the
Christ, the One who came to us as God-in-the-flesh.
This Jesus was born in a humble manger, to
unsuspecting parents whom God had chosen,
to become the Savior of the world. He is God’s
gift of love to us, so that we might be redeemed
from sin, freed to see more clearly God’s
will for our lives and to experience more
fully God’s plan for our salvation.
so, in the midst of our Christmas festivities
this year, may we see the light of Christ
shining in the darkness, and may we move toward
it with joy and thanksgiving for all that
God has done in our lives.
you have a prayer request?
Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
concerns known, or Click
Here to submit one for inclusion
during our next service.
Your Talents with
do I get involved?
on the “Share Your Spiritual Gifts
Volunteer Form” link below if you
know the gifts you have been given, and
let us know how you would like to share
them with First Church this coming 2013-2014
on the “Discover Your Spiritual
Gifts” link below. The survey is
simply a list of questions that help identify
what gifts, skills and interests you have
been given. Once you submit the completed
survey, we will score it and email you
with the results. We will also include
a few suggestions regarding volunteer
opportunities that are a good fit for
your gifts. If you would like to share
your gifts, please take the “Share
Your Spiritual Gifts” survey and
we will get you connected!
and donuts are available in the Fellowship Hall
on Sunday mornings. This is a service project
of our Confirmation students and their families.
The donuts are purchased at a cost of
$.50 per donut. All other
items are donated. Please help us cover the cost
of the donuts.
Prayer & Care Group prepares and sends
cards to those of us, young and old alike, who are
lonely, suffering from illness or injury, or those
with on-going issues. Join us the first Friday of
every month at 10 AM. Questions? Contact Sue Ludwig
(440.238.5164 or email@example.com).
Lutheran Busy Bags contain quiet items,
crayons, and books for children to use during the
service. They can be found under the table at the
back of the church. Just ask an usher if you would
like one of these bags for your little one.
The Street Ministry
continues to collect men’s socks for the homeless.
Please place your donation in the marked box by
the Fellowship Hall entrance. Questions? Contact
Steve Gall (440.238.3019).
ELCA Malaria Campaign intends to contain
malaria on the African continent by 2015.
To help, make a donation using the special envelope
in the pews. Make checks payable to First Lutheran
Church, and place envelopes in the offering
plate. Our goal is to raise $5,100.
you have a prayer request? Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
get rid of your old cell phone? Recycle
the old one! Please drop off old cell phones
and used ink cartridges – boxes located
on the table under the youth bulletin board
by the Fellowship Hall entrance. Questions?
Contact Debbie Brighter (440.572.2627).
by the Welcome Center, in the
lobby, for additional information on our activities
for a Reason - If you know any woman
currently undergoing Chemo, please pass the
word to her that there is a cleaning service
that provides FREE housecleaning – 1 time
per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.
All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor
fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning
for a Reason will have a participating maid
service in her zip code area arrange for the
Emergency Food Bank - The Food Bank
is open to Strongsville residents year-round:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:30 –
11:30 AM and including the 2nd Saturday of every
month. Call 440/846-0197 for more information.
Nonperishable food items can be placed in the
shopping carts by the side and Fellowship Hall
entrances. This is taken to the Strongsville
Both pastors offer open office hours
for anyone who wants to stop by to share &
concerns. It is helpful to call in advance for
an appointment. Drop-in visitors are received
on a first come, first served basis. Pastor Chuck’s hours are 10
- noon on Tuesday.
Pastor Kathy’s hours are 10 – noon
WOW will continue
to collect women’s full-size personal
hygiene items and diapers for Laura’s
Home. Donations may be placed in the container
on the Welcome Center.
following are church events and fellowship opportunities
at First Church. A complete listing of all of the
Church Events can be downloaded by clicking on the
"Weekly Revelations" located in the box
to the left.
Team Update – Thanks again to
everyone who participated in the “Conversations
with Your Pastors.” The team that was selected
to discern the information has completed its work.
We anticipate a written summary to be available
to the congregation by mid-November. The
report will contain an overview of ministry to First
Church, ways to encouragement engagement and connection,
and new opportunities on the horizon. Thanks to
Curt Dean, Julie Crane, Renee Sadler, Nora Mishey,
and Pat Sauernheimer for serving on the team!
bears in the pews are there to share God’s
love. You may take one to anyone you know
who is hurting for any reason. Donations may be
given in a pew envelope marked “Teddy Bear
Ministry” or new bears may be placed in the
bear den behind the Welcome Center in the lobby.
For more information or an opportunity to donate
a new bear, please take an informational sheet at
the Welcome Center. This ministry is in memory of
John Gray. Questions? Please contact Marj Gray (440.572.3158
out Pastor Chuck’s latest blog post: www.pcspincycle.com.
Check it out as a way of staying connected and having
dialog about a variety of topics related to the
join the women of Christ the Redeemer (9201
Brecksville Rd, Brecksville) for their annual
Women’s Advent Tea on Tuesday, December
1 at 7:30 PM. The program is “A Journey
Day at New Covenant – Friday, December
4, from 6-8 PM. The program will involve a roundtable
discussion with the men of New Covenant on the
theme of “Restored Faith” based
on Luke 7:7. Pastor Chuck will be facilitating
the conversation. Food and beverages will be
provided. Please contact Pastor Chuck if you
are interested in attending.
Come join in a musical celebration
of our living Savior,
Jesus Christ! Next up in our First Church ALIVE
Concert Series, ALIVE! will feature the musicians
of First Church as we help kick off the holiday
season on Saturday, December 5, 6 PM. We
guarantee that you’ll leave with a smile
on your face and a song
in your heart!
Christmas Trees and Gingerbread
Houses – decorating fun for all! Volunteers
needed to sign up to decorate the church for
Christmas after the 11:15 service on Sunday,
December 6. Lunch provided. While the church
is being decorated, children ages 5 and up will
be making Gingerbread Houses. Nursery care provided
for children under 5. Sign-up sheets are on
the Welcome Center for decorating,
gingerbread houses, nursery care, and take-down
(scheduled for Sunday, January 3). Please contact
Renee or Gary Sadler with questions (firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing Tree will be up next Sunday, December
6. Please take a tag and help brighten a local
season. Gift cards can be purchased through
the youth at their table in the lobby. All gifts
need to be returned by
11:15 AM on Sunday, December 13.
50’s Group will meet in The Florence Room
at Santo’s Italian Restaurant on Tuesday,
December 8 at noon. We will choose from three
entrees and two sides. Lunch is $18 (same as
last year) and includes salad, soft drinks,
coffee & tea, as well as the tip. Good food
and great fellowship! For questions, or reservation,
contact Yvonne (email@example.com or
Drop and Shop, Saturday, December
12, 6-9 PM. Need a night off? Want to shop or
enjoy a nice dinner? Let us help. Youth will
babysit your children at the church! Snacks
provided. Our theme: Polar Express Pajama Party.
Everyone should come in their pj’s and
be ready for some hot chocolate. Donations accepted
with all proceeds going toward Compassion International.
Sign up at the youth table.
Volunteers needed for packing
Christmas Food Baskets on Tuesday, December
22, 9 AM. Please contact either Joy Blankenship
(440.212.4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Reiner
Mueller (440.846.0532 or email@example.com).
We will continue to accept
donations of nonperishable food items throughout
December for the Christmas Food Baskets. Items
can be placed in the shopping cart in the lobby.
We are also accepting monetary donations to
help fill the baskets
with perishable items. Envelopes marked “Food
Baskets” are available on the Welcome
Center and can be placed in the offering plate.
indicates "New Record" in monthly or yearly hits.
Blue Number indicates "Highest
All-time Month" in hits.