December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the longest night, in the northern hemisphere. Some years we have had a “Longest Night Service” on the evening of December 21 to hold space for grief around losses – of many kinds – in our lives. While we are not doing a Longest Night service this year, I invite you to find a quiet space on Dec 21 or some other time, gather 5 candles (arrange them with 4 in a circle and 1 in the middle) and pray your way through the litany below (offered as part of our Avent Worship series “The Inn – Housing the Holy” created by Worship Design Studio, edited/adapted slightly by me):
A Litany for Losses
On this shortest day of the year, and as we head into the longest night,
we gather, mindful of the losses that have multiplied throughout the year.
As we look back at it all at once,
we are in danger of being overwhelmed by its tragedies–
sickness, violence, fire, hurricane, earthquake, and more.
Our aim is to acknowledge this,
to mourn this,
and to know that in all of this,
there is the possibility of more light.
If we are to be overwhelmed,
let it be that we are overwhelmed with the assurance that we are not alone.
We are able to do this because the longest night is the birth canal for ever-more-light
as the days now lengthen and we wait for the springtime of new life.
Some of our earliest evidence is that our ancient ancestors saw this night
and the dawn of tomorrow as the appropriate time to honor their lost loved ones.
It was this moment that symbolized most powerfully that the path
to everlasting life is filled with the light of a new and growing dawn.
Psalm 36:9 says, “Within You is the spring of life; in your light, we see light.”
We mourn this night the loss of life. [light your first candle]
For so many, the pandemic has taken loved ones.
We mourn the loss of those close to us and those whose names we do not know.
We mourn those who perished while working to save other lives.
We mourn those who died, not of pandemic, but of other causes.
And we mourn the loss, in many cases, of our ability to be with them as they passed, our loss of gathering together for comfort in the ways we needed so much.
We mourn this night the loss of livelihoods. [light your second candle]
For so many, the pandemic has taken the security
of food, shelter, care for families, and medical care.
We mourn the loss of businesses that could not withstand the circumstances.
These were not just businesses, but dreams born of passion and hard work.
We mourn those who find themselves needing to rely on others for help
when what they really want to do is to be able to help others.
We mourn this night the loss of love. [light your third candle]
Our society’s dilemma, centuries in the making,
has created such hatred, suffering, oppression, and ill-will.
We mourn the loss of those whose lives were lost to brutality and violence.
We mourn the loss of our ability to love one another despite our differences,
as beings who deserve to be seen for their inherent beauty and worth.
We mourn that black and brown peoples have perished
and suffered at the greatest proportion in the pandemic of coronavirus.
We mourn the pandemic of systemic racism that still plagues the fabric of our communities.
We mourn this night the loss of liveliness. [light your fourth candle]
For so many, this year has robbed us
of our energy, our enthusiasm, and our sense of well-being.
We mourn teachers and leaders and caregivers and workers
who are struggling to help those in their care,
themselves exhausted and needing the sustenance they give to others.
We mourn the losses for all who are suffering with anxiety and depression,
who are finding it difficult to live each day with fullness or to find hope for tomorrow.
We mourn those we have lost to suicide.
We mourn those who find themselves addicted to substances
in order to ease the pain that feels unbearable.
We mourn those who are experiencing their place of shelter
as an abusive place from which they struggle to escape.
And now we light a fifth candle.
Just as we will do later this week on Christmas Eve,
We light this as a sign of our belief…
We believe in the Light that has come and is coming.
[light your fifth candle in the center]
This light casts its glow on all the surrounding prayers we have prayed.
This light resides within us, perhaps dim for a time,
but always lit–an ember of the Holy inside us.
This light reminds us that we are not alone.
AMEN (litany created by Worship Design Studio)
Much love to each of you on this Longest Night, and every night. I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas Eve with many of you (7:00pm in person and on livestream), worshipping with you the day after Christmas, Sunday, December 26, and handing out Star Words for 2022 during worship on Epiphany (January 2)!
A very Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year to you and your families. You are all a gift to me – thank you!
NOTE: The church office is closed Dec 27-31. Our next THIS WEEK will post on January 4, 2022.
SUNDAY MORNING Worship In Person & Live Stream @ 9:30am
The link for Sunday morning worship (as well as archives of past worship services) is found on our website: www.hutchfmc.org! Join at 9:25am to see the announcements!
REVISED STATEMENT (12/12/21) FROM CMT (Congregational Ministry Team)
… to the congregation regarding COVID precautions. This statement is based on recommendations from our COVID Response Team (Carol Moore, Joretta Martens, Todd Esau, Dohn Fast).
With the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations reported in Reno County and the state, CMT recommends continuing with the current practice of masking and social distancing plus good hand washing while in the church building. There is evidence that these measures work to reduce the transmission of the virus.
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP @ 7:00PM – The Inn
(Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20)
- Worship Leaders: Delon Martens, Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Scripture Readers: Micah Wenger, Hannah Nisly
- Children’s Time: Delon Martens
- Sound: Earl Ediger
- Livestream: Jonathan Wenger
- Musicians: Magdalena Wenger, Tonya Wenger, Arwen Iwashige, Sadie Nisly
SUNDAY, December 26: The Inn: Housing the Holy. “Dwelling”
(Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52)
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Star Gipson
- Children’s Time: DeAnna Goering
- Organist: Pauline Buller
- Ushers: Cheryl Warkentin & Marlene Thode
- Nursery attendant: Diane Ziemer
- Sound Tech: Murray Reimer
- Live Stream Tech: Sadie Martin Nisly
SUNDAY, January 2: Epiphany (with Star Words for 2022)
(Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12)
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Elsie Wickliffe
- Scripture Reader: TBD
- Children’s Time: TBD
- Pianist: Peggy Stucky
- Ushers: Susan Combs & Joretta Martens
- Nursery attendant: Nick & Cathia Krehbiel
- Sound Tech: Micah Wenger
- Live Stream Tech: Jonathan Wenger
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES MEET @ 10:45am; NO Sunday School on December 26.
SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya. You are also welcome to send prayer joys & concerns during the week. The recording of our worship service is public, so let us know if you’d prefer your request to only be shared via email during the week.
Announcements are scrolled Sunday mornings before (beginning around 9:25) and after the worship service. There will be no spoken announcements unless there are pressing announcements that did not make it into the PowerPoint. Please send any announcements you’d like to have included by Thursday each week.
CALENDAR – LOOKING AHEAD
- December 22 – 7:00pm Christmas caroling
- December 24 – 7:00pm Christmas Eve Worship for all ages ; dedication of Infant Care Bundles for MCC
- December 26 – Worship as usual; no Sunday School classes
- January 11 – 6:00pm Service and Outreach Coordination Team
FMC CENTENNIAL . . . LightHouse Giving Opportunity
The LightHouse addresses the growing need of transitional housing for youths ages 18 to 21 in Hutchinson. The property at 1005 N. Washington Street is currently being renovated into eight one-bedroom apartments.
Interfaith Housing & Community Services is leading this community project and needs our help with construction costs, furnishings for the apartments and ongoing maintenance. The Centennial Committee would like for FMC to raise $22,000 by October 2022 to help with these expenses. Your check can be made out to FMC, with “LightHouse” on the memo line. Will you support this project with a year-end, tax deductible gift? Thank you! Check out the “LightHouse thermometer” in the foyer and watch our progress in meeting this goal!
DEEPENING in Christ…
- A Prayer group meets Thursday mornings from 10-11am in the Prayer Room. All are welcome.
- A small ecumenical Centering Prayer group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm. If you’d like to learn more, contact Pastor Tonya.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS 2021: THE INN – HOUSING THE HOLY
All through the season of Advent as we prepared for Christmas, we’ve been exploring how we as a church can “make more room in the inn,” becoming more hospitable to the needs of our community. Gratitude to Worship Design Studio for their creation of this worship series: The Inn – Housing the Holy … for all the liturgy, words, visual ideas, and songs.
This Friday, on Christmas Eve @ 7:00 we gather for worship through scripture and song (in-person and on livestream) to declare that The Inn is open for the business of compassion with room enough for all! The long-awaited Messiah has been born and on him the light shines. We have only to open the doors of our lives and say “welcome.” Our Advent journey has led us to this moment when the light shining through the closed doors of life becomes an open door to new possibilities, new relationships. What a poignant moment for us this year as the light–the hope, peace, joy and love–multiplies from one illuminated heart and hand to another.
On Sunday Dec 26, we’ll consider what it means to ‘dwell’ in the inn. Developed in the 14th century, the word “dwell” became known as a “lingering” or “abiding.” It had connections to “in-habit”–another word developed at that time. After an Advent/Christmas season of focusing on housing the holy, how will we linger and abide in this habit of hospitality? What habits did you invite into your heart in this season that you desire to take with you into the new year? How might we sustain the dwelling places that feed, house, clothe those who need it most?
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP @ 7:00PM
Christmas Eve worship will be at 7:00pm in person and on the livestream. If you are joining on the livestream, you might want to have a candle ready for the candle lighting that will happen at the end of the service as we sing Silent Night.
EPIPHANY WORSHIP (JAN 2) with STAR WORDS FOR 2022
We’ll once again welcome the new year leaning into the light of Epiphany … remembering the light guiding the Wise Men to Jesus and seeking God’s wisdom through the gift of Star Words. Perhaps some of you still have or remember your 2021 Star Word … and maybe for some of you God spoke to you through that word as you carried it through the year. During this service we’ll have opportunity to reflect on last year’s words and receive a Star Word for 2022. If you are unable to be in worship that Sunday, or are joining us online, and would like a Star Word sent to you, please let Pastor Tonya know ASAP.
FALL 2021 SUNDAY SCHOOL @ 10:45am
CHILDREN & YOUTH: Meet Jesus, the Messiah (SHINE Curriculum from MennoMedia)
- PreK-Kindergarten (basement, room 3 – or outside)
- 1st-5th grade (basement, rooms 1-2 – or outside)
- 6th– 7th grade (all the way upstairs in the Jr Youth room – or outside)
- 8th -12th grade (all the way upstairs in the Sr Youth room)
- Younger Adults Class – meeting in the basement adult Sunday School Room
- Adult Bible Study/Discussion – meeting in the basement fellowship hall. Beginning January 2, this group will be using the Bible Project Reflections Bible Study to guide study and conversation, which includes a short video on a Biblical theme, topic, or book.
Reminder: No Sunday School on the 5th Sundays of the month!!
+ NO SUNDAY SCHOOL on December 26!
UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines
REJOICE! and UPPER ROOM . . . new issues are available above the mailboxes. Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you.
STRENGTHENING Community Connections…
CHRISTMAS CAROLING – DECEMBER 22 @ 7:00pm
Join us Wednesday evening Dec 22 at 7:00 for a different kind of Christmas Caroling! We will walk through the neighborhood of the church, caroling as we go, and enjoying all the Christmas decorations. This is a bit of an experiment so we’ll see how it goes, but we’re looking for a more COVID friendly option this year. Please bring finger food snacks/dessert to share together afterwards at the church. Depending on weather and logistics, we may have a portable fire pit outside where we can gather with our snacks … but if it’s too cold we’ll gather inside in the fellowship hall and take care to mask when we are not eating or drinking.
CONGREGATIONAL BUDGET & ANNUAL MEETING COMBINED
+ YOUTH FUNDRAISERS HELD ON DEC 5, 2021
Thank you for your generous donations to the Senior Youth fund (coming in around $1600) and your participation in the Budget/Annual Meeting. The 2022 Budget was approved as proposed, along with the Gifts Discernment slate. Print copies of the DRAFT minutes (yet to be approved by the congregation) are available in the rack next to the mailboxes.
CALL FOR STORIES FOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORY BOOK – EXTENDED THRU DECEMBER!!
We need your stories about life at FMC! They can be stories from yesterday or 50+ years ago. And … do you have pictures you could share? We welcome pictures from the past, but more recent pictures as well!
The website form is no longer up, so please submit your stories or photos directly to the church office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in the boxes provided in the foyer. Thank you!!
BEAUTIFUL SALT CITY PODCAST
A future story tells us what we want (vision), why we want it (values), and how we will create it (resources). Our own Pastor Jim Unruh talks with people in our community to learn their life stories and to dream together for a future story for our beautiful salt city. Find it here: https://hutchfmc.org/beautiful-salt-city-podcast/. While new episodes are not being added right now, this is your chance to catch up on previous conversations!
CHURCH OFFICE HOURS
- Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00pm
- Wednesday 10am-1pm
Church offices will be closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
PASTOR TONYA’S HOURS/SCHEDULE
- Monday: Sabbath Day
- Tuesday-Friday: generally working 9:00am-5:30pm
- Office Hours: 9-2 Tuesday and Thursday; 10-1 on Wednesday
- Available other times by appointment.
- Available evenings and weekends (cell phone is most reliable)
REMINDER: If you are last one out of the church building, be SURE the doors lock behind you when you leave. Go out, watch the doors latch, give both door handles a tug, and make sure they are locked! Thank you.
STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…
CHRISTMAS GIVING OPPORTUNITIES . . . sharing Christ’s love this season with those near and far!
SPECIAL ADVENT WORSHIP COLLECTION – HORIZONS CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER (CAC)
FMC children and families are specifically invited, as part of the Advent Children’s Times (but EVERYONE is welcome to participate!) to donate new or gently used toys to Horizon’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for their waiting room. Bring your items (see below for suggestions) throughout Advent, and by the first Sunday after Christmas when we will bless the items to be donated. There will be a box in the foyer for you to put your donations throughout Advent.
Horizons CAC is a program of Horizon’s Mental Health Center. This partnership allows for child victims of abuse to be immediately linked to therapeutic services upon their first visit to the CAC. They also offer the Personal Safety Awareness Program which partners with dozens of area school districts to inform the public of body safety strategies. Some suggestions for donations (the target age is kids age 2-10 and items can be new or gently used): popits or other small fidget toys, large size puzzles, Thomas the Train items, and picture books. The CAC encourages a variety of cultures represented in the toys and books. They would also welcome packaged snacks for the children and their siblings visiting the center. This program depends on grants and donations, so your support is much appreciated!
HAT & MITTEN TREE: During Advent we’ll have a tree in the foyer to collect hats and mittens. These donations will be taken to Salvation Army for distribution to persons in our community.
INFANT CARE KITS – 50 of them are ready for MCC. These bundles, already prepared by Deanna Mace and Jane Kroeker throughout the year, will be brought to the sanctuary for the Christmas Eve service, during which they will be dedicated. The Christmas Eve offering will be another opportunity for you to donate directly to costs of purchasing the baby items included in the Infant Kits ($25 covers the costs for one bundle – you can make your check out to First Mennonite with “Infant Care Kits” in the memo line). Thank you for helping bring comfort to families who are caring for new babies amid the struggles of conflict, poverty, displacement, famine and natural disasters.
UPDATE ON SALTHAWK ‘SANTA SACK’ GIVING PROJECT
Thanks to your generosity and others in the community, we were able to raise $23,000 toward the Santa Sack Project! As the result, this week 150 Santa Sacks were distributed to students at Hutchinson High School and 30 Sacks to students at HMS-8!
The HHS students will be receiving sacks valued at $125.00 each which includes wireless earbuds, a $75.00 gift card to Sammy’s Shack for Salthawk gear, a $15.00 gift card to The Sweet Shack for goodies and a variety of popular snacks. The students at HMS-8 are receiving sacks valued at $100.00 each which includes wired earbuds, clothing items from Sammy’s Shack, requested gifts, and a variety of snacks.
Many thanks to the members of Soroptimists International of Hutchinson who took on the packing & distribution of the sacks as their annual community project. In addition, many thanks to every person and every organization who gave money, helped shop, made suggestions, and prayed for the project. This project makes an important difference in the lives of these students! Thank you for making Christmas meaningful and special!
OUR SUNDAY MORNING DONATIONS FOR FIRST CALL FOR HELP
Personal care/hygiene items such as these are appreciated: toilet paper, laundry detergent, bath soap, Kleenex, deodorant, disposable razors, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap, hand/body lotion, tooth paste and tooth brushes. Travel size – new & unopened – are desirable. Food bank donations may be brought to the Salvation Army. At this time the Food Bank is particularly in need of the following: tomato soup, cream of mushroom soup and green beans.
WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE PRAYER REQUEST
Pray for generous financial support for WDC and its congregations, to help meet ministry and budget goals for this year. WDC’s fiscal year ends January 31. Your contributions support WDC’s core tasks of sustaining transformational pastors; resourcing healthy, missional churches; and networking church planting partnerships. Check the WDC link at https://mennowdc.org/
MENNONITE FRIENDSHIP COMMUNITIES
Mennonite Friendship Communities is looking for friendly persons to serve as a concierge. This very part-time, fill-in position is in the evenings from 5-10 pm and on weekends. The concierge greets people as they enter the front doors and assists them through the screening process and helps direct them where they need to go. There’s even time to work on homework, watch Netflix or read a book. If you are willing to be flexible and are interested in making a little extra money, contact Stacey Frager – Stacey@MennoFriend.com or apply online – https://www.mennofriend.com/employment.html.
CAMP MENNOSCAH announcements
- Camp Mennoscah Merch! From CamelBaks to tee shirts and stickers, you can find your Camp Mennoscah merchandise at https://camp-mennoscah-store.square.site/s/shop Share a bit of summer with friends and family this Christmas!
- 2022 Summer staff applications are being accepted! Applicants should be 18 years old or older and in agreement with the Camp Mennoscah mission statement. See website for details. Information and the online application can be found here! Call or email with questions!
- Volunteering opportunities continue through the winter months! The wish list is full of both items and volunteer projects for every group size, skill set and length of project. These items and projects help with the faith formation that happens at Camp Mennoscah. The list has more wishes and there are more projects to do. Email email@example.com or call 620-297-3290 to volunteer. See the Wish List for other ways to support Camp Mennoscah!
MENNONITE DISASTER SERVICE tornado response
Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is monitoring the damage from the string of deadly tornadoes which moved through areas of the Midwest and parts of the South over the weekend. We extend our condolences to those who have lost loved ones and we offer prayers of support for the survivors.
Several MDS Early Response Teams are investigating several of the tornado sites to help determine how and where MDS will respond. Many of our partners via the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) which specialize in search and rescue, damage assessment and cleanup are already responding. We will determine when and where volunteers will be needed most. If you are interested in being added to a volunteer waitlist, please include your name, address and email address and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to donate to the MDS response, you may do so on our website. Please click here. As new information becomes available we will continue to update information at www.mds.org.
MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (MCC) announcements
The MCC Comforter Blitz Committee is looking for additional committee members! Would you be interested in assisting the making of comforters for Mennonite Central Committee, and helping to plan the annual three-day comforter making event in Yoder, Kansas? If so, we would love your skills and your voice! If interested, please reach out to Committee Chair, Kara Klingenberg at email@example.com or call her at 620-983-9003 for more information. We are currently looking for a treasurer, advertising help, and anyone else who is interested in helping.
MENNONITE WORLD CONFERENCE . . . Indonesia – July 5-10, 2022
Travel to Indonesia . . worship with Anabaptists from around the world . . experience culture and geography and make new friends. Are you interested in attending? Look for information here: https://mwc-cmm.org/assembly/indonesia-2022
The Assembly team reflects on why they keep coming back for more. Here are a few of their stories:
Ebenezer Mondez, the Philippines, YABs committee member and Assembly registration assistant
I went to the Assembly in Pennsylvania 2015 as a Global Youth Summit (GYS) delegate with no background of the global Mennonite family. I come from a country that always has foreign missionaries. We have always been the recipient. The Assembly made me realize that I have a gift to share too. I come from a very small church with no more than 1 000 members nationally, but I was chosen to be part of the YABs (Young AnaBaptists) Committee, serving the global young generation of the church in a small way. To me, it’s remarkable that I can share something I have…even though I’m not white and I have no theological education. I can contribute to the kingdom of God – we all can. And that’s the amazing global Mennonite family to me.
Tigist Tesfaye, Ethiopia, Assembly volunteer coordinator and Young Anabaptist mentor
I was a GYS participant in Paraguay 2009; in Pennsylvania 2015 I was part of the YABs committee organizing the Global Youth Summit; and now I’m a staff member. The Assembly to me is a glimpse of the kingdom of God when we go to heaven. I’m excited about it.
Preshit Rao, India, Assembly registration assistant
I went to Pennsylvania 2015 when I was 19 as a GYS delegate. Since then God has helped me with opportunities to work with and serve MWC in various matters while I never thought I would have the chance to serve the global community. I’m thankful for that, and it’s full of learning experiences. It’s nice to be around people from all over the world. In hard times, when you have a global family, they’re there with you; they pray for you. It’s very reassuring to know this. The pandemic has affected many people: Assembly will be the time to encourage each other.
Agus Setianto, Indonesia, Assembly national co-coordinator
My first Assembly was Winnipeg 1990, where I performed a traditional dance from Indonesia. Then in Calcutta 1997, I was also part of the cultural performances; in Bulawayo 2003, I was part of the international choir; in Paraguay 2009, I was a General Council member; and in Pennsylvania 2015, I was elected as an Executive Committee member representing Asia. I’m now a national coordinator. All the previous Assemblies I’ve taken part as a participant and delegate, but I didn’t know the massive work behind it. Now it’s my turn to learn to host you, at my 6th Assembly.
Karina Derksen-Schrock, USA, translation and interpretation coordinator
My first Assembly was Bulawayo 2003. Assembly is all about the relationships we build and the opportunity to continue connecting over the years. I’m really excited about meeting people next year.