“O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel.” (Phillip Brooks – O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Christmas Greetings from Pastor Tonya: As 2020 draws to a close, with all it has held, the ‘Christmas Star’ visible in the night sky this month is a true gift. It simply is there for us to receive – ordinary people looking for hope, wonder, and joy. The convergence of Jupiter and Saturn, visible to the naked eye, on December 21 is even more amazing. December 21 is the longest night of the year. And while Jupiter and Saturn pass each other about every 20 years in the solar system its been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other, and nearly 800 years since this alignment occurred at night. What’s also exciting about this event is that it may have been this same convergence that caught the attention of the Magi the year Jesus was born. Read more here: NASA – Great Conjunction While it’s hard to know for sure, it’s fun to consider, especially this year with all its sadness, change, loss, and isolation. The vastness of the solar system is both comforting and frightening in its reminder of how small we are and how beyond our comprehension this universe is that we all belong to. The same is true of the God of the Universe who chose to become human flesh (a baby!!). Who ‘moved into the neighborhood’ with us (as John 1 describes) to reveal through living, dying and rising the fullness of grace and truth to a weary world. My prayer is we will all know and root ourselves more deeply in the depths of God-shaped self-giving love for all of humanity and creation. I’m grateful to cross the threshold into 2021 with all of you, trusting God to be at work and to guide us along the way.
Christmas Greetings from Pastor Jim: This past Sunday during the Adult Sunday School class, we were discussing one of my favorite passages, John 1:1-18. Although it is not one of the traditional Christmas passages, I think it is appropriate for the 2020 season. The John 1 passage holds many contrasting images together. Jesus is both the spoken Word of God and the visible image of God. Both fully one with the Creator of all things, and in human flesh with all that comes with flesh. Both being above chronological time, and being in a particular time and space and among particular people and circumstances. Both the fullness of God’s grace and the fullness of truth, which means obedient to God’s way and bearing God’s sacrificial love for the people around him.
Holding “grace and truth” together is often a struggle for church life. How can we faithfully be true to God’s truth, while extending compassion and grace to folks struggling around us, as well as receiving that compassion and grace ourselves. It can be very messy. And it is this messiness that I find makes this passage especially meaningful to me this Christmas season. Living with “truth and grace” has been a struggle in the ways we engage everyday life in 2020. How do we do school, how do we do worship and congregational life, how do we shop, how do we visit family, how do we grieve together and celebrate together, how do we plan, how do we simply be?
The birth story in Matthew and Luke tells us the birth of Jesus came at a messy time. How do we participate in the census while pregnant? Where will we stay? What are the lowly, smelly shepherds doing here? How will we flee to Egypt without packing and planning? How do we obey authorities who are oppressive, violent and untrustworthy?
The appearance of Jesus didn’t make his world less messy. Jesus is with us in the messy moments of life, “full of grace and truth.” May you feel Jesus near.
This edition of THIS WEEK will cover the next two weeks, taking us through the holidays. Look for a new post on January 5, 2021.
SUNDAY MORNING Worship 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!
CMT ANNOUNCMENT LIMITING IN-PERSON GATHERINGS
Based on recommendations of the FMC Re-Opening Taskforce (Carol Moore, Dohn Fast, Joretta Martens, Todd Esau) and the Reno County Health Department regarding the current increase in community spread of COVID-19, the CMT (Congregational Ministry Team – Russ Wedel, Delon Martens, Julie Esau, Kevin Martin Nisly, Mike Dirks, and both pastors) has decided to limit in-person gatherings at the church to 10 (preferably less). This includes worship and Sunday School. We encourage everyone who can to join in worship via the live stream and Sunday School by Zoom. Masks, physical distancing, and handwashing are required of everyone in the building. We realize this is not the situation any of us want to be in, and feel it is an important step to take as we care for each other and our neighbors in the community. CMT and the Re-Opening Taskforce will continue to evaluate this policy, based on data from the Reno County Health Department.
Sunday, December 27: (CHRISTMAS) On the Road to Rejoicing
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Delon Martens
- Children’s Time: Diane Ziemer
- Scripture Reader: TBD
- Organist: Pauline Buller
- Sound: Murray Reimer
- Live Stream: Jonathan Wenger
Sunday, January 3: (EPIPHANY) On the Road to Radiance
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Tanya Martin-Nisly
- Scripture Reader: TBD
- Organist: Pauline Buller
- Sound: Jasper Nisly
- Live Stream: Jonathan Wenger
SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya, but sometimes it will be someone else, and we’ll give you that info at the time!! You are also welcome to send prayer joys & concerns during the week.
Since our worship link is now public, when you submit prayer requests be sure to let us know if you’d prefer it NOT be shared on Sunday morning. We can keep requests more private by only sharing them in the weekly prayer email sent out on Tuesdays.
ANNOUNCEMENTS NOW @ BEGINNING AND END OF WORSHIP
We will now be scrolling printed announcements prior to the service (beginning around 9:25) and after worship. 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 24 – Christmas Eve Service @ 7pm (livestream – link on our website) followed by ZOOM Fellowship (check email for link)
- December 27 – NO Sunday School
- January 2 – 10:00am New Year’s Journaling ZOOM opportunity (see announcement below)
- January 3 – Sunday School resumes – see schedule below
REMINDERS . . . HIGHLIGHTS . . . details below
- Contributions for Infant Care Kits for MCC will be received through Christmas Eve . . . $25 per kit
- Gift giving ideas that support MCC ministries around the world
- Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” @ Kauffman Museum thru Jan. 17
DEEPENING in Christ…
This group meets Thursday mornings from 10-11am in the library (with masks and distancing). All are welcome.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS 2020 – ON THE ROAD
Our Advent Theme this year, “On the Road…” is intended to create a feeling of movement. While many of us are experiencing less physical movement in our lives, perhaps we’ll discover in this Advent season new possibilities of inner spiritual movement opening up. Each week we’ll set out on a new leg of our ongoing journey toward Christ.
- Livestreamed Christmas Eve Service @ 7:00pm (December 24)
- The Sunday after Christmas (Dec 27), we are “on the road to rejoicing,” inspired by the psalmist to praise God for the birth of Jesus Christ. Pastor Tonya preaching.
- On Epiphany (Jan 3) we are “on the road to radiance,” basking in the glow of God that shines for people of all nations. You will receive “Star Words” to guide your journey into 2021. Pastor Tonya preaching.
In the end, the sincere hope is that when this Advent journey has been completed, we will be closer to the heart of Jesus than when we began. May it be so for each of us!! Many thanks to Pauline Buller and Esther Regier for creating our Advent visual this year.
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP @ 7:00PM
All are invited to join virtually in the sanctuary for our Christmas Eve service, complete with candlelight singing of Silent Night. Have your candle ready! Although we won’t be able to see each other’s candles this year, we can celebrate knowing throughout the city and beyond Hutchinson there are lights of hope and joy shining as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. We’ll hear three reflections on Christmas Eve: from the perspective of Joseph, Mary, and a Shepherd. And we’ll pray, sing, listen to scripture, dedicate baby bundles for MCC, and re-focus our hearts and lives on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
CHRISTMAS EVE ZOOM FELLOWSHIP AFTER WORSHIP
Check your email for a Zoom link to join a Christmas Eve fellowship time after the service!!
UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines
The January/February issue of UPPER ROOM is available above the mailboxes. Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you. REJOICE! magazine (December – February issue) copies are gone. Please let the office know if you would like for us to order one for you.
SUNDAY SCHOOL SCHEDULE
- Kindergarten – 6th grade: Sunday @ 4:00pm on ZOOM
- 7th-8th grades: Sunday @ 11:30am on ZOOM
- High School youth: Sunday @ 11:00am – currently meeting online
- NO SUNDAY SCHOOL on DECEMBER 27, 2020
Adult Sunday School @ 11am on Sundays on ZOOM (Next meeting is January 3, 2021!)
Below is the schedule for this Adult Bible Study using the Salt and Light discussion guide written this quarter by Timothy J. Geddert, professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific University (copies available at the church, or can be sent to you):
- DEC 27 – NO SUNDAY SCHOOL
- JAN 3 – John Calls for Repentance (Luke 3:1-18; Isaiah 40:1-11) Pastor Jim facilitating
- JAN 10 – Jesus Announces Good News (Luke 7:11-35) Calvin Buller facilitating
- JAN 17 – Hope Because of Christ (1 Peter 1:1-12) Tonya Ramer Wenger facilitating
Check your email for the ZOOM link or contact Pastor Tonya. If you are unable to access ZOOM and want to participate, you may come in person.
Masks and physical distancing practices will continue for all in-person gatherings at the church.
STANDING @ THE CROSSROADS OF A NEW YEAR: INVITATION TO JOURNAL REFLECTION
The beginning of a new year naturally invites reflection, gratitude, and intention setting. Clearly, one thing we have learned in 2020 is that we truly cannot predict what a year might hold!! Taking stock of where we stand right now can be helpful in processing what has happened and preparing our hearts and minds for what is around the bend.
Over the years I’ve come to love a journaling practice outlined by Helen Cepero in Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing (2008 IVP Books). This practice, which she titles Reorienting In The Present invites the creation of a personal compass as a reflection and prayer tool. Some of you have done this practice with me in the past. This year I’m planning to make the handout for this journal practice available to you to complete on your own time, and also offer a time on ZOOM on Saturday morning January 2 from 10:00am-11:30am (roughly) for those who would like to be guided through the process ‘together.’ Sometimes putting a time on the calendar can also help make sure it happens! The supplies are simple: a large-ish piece of paper (perhaps newsprint?) on which you can draw a large circle which will become the space for your personal compass, pencil/pen/markers/colored pencils/crayons, and if you like to create collages a collection of old newspapers or magazines that can be cut up (plus scissors and glue if you like this option).
- Please let Pastor Tonya know if you are:
- (1) interested in receiving the handout;
- (2) interested in joining the ZOOM session on Sat Jan 2 @ 10am;
- (3) and/or need any help procuring the supplies needed.
STRENGTHENING Community Connections…
BEAUTIFUL SALT CITY PODCAST IS LIVE!!!
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. Visit our website (https://hutchfmc.org/beautiful-salt-city-podcast/). Keep checking back because more conversations are coming! And don’t forget to tell your friends about these conversations aimed at creating a future story for our beautiful salt city.
DEC 9 FMC BUDGET MEETING AND ANNUAL MEETING
A recording of most of the meeting is available – contact Pastor Tonya if you’d like that sent to you. The proposed budget was approved with the following amendment: that we adopt a deficit budget to bring the community assistance line item to $10,000.00 and if there are excess funds, restore the other cut line items.
The Gifts Discernment slate was also approved. Deep thanks to Russ Wedel who is finishing 4 years on the CMT (2 as chair elect and 2 as chair). We also thank Eldon Wagler who has served multiple years on the Faithful Service and Outreach Coordination Team as well as the Community Assistance Committee – he and Jane will be greatly missed. And, gratitude to Jean Gaeddert who has also served multiple years on the Faithful Community Coordination Team.
Finally, special thanks go to Pauline Buller and Julie Goering for serving on the Gifts Discernment Committee. They presented the following names to serve on the stated committees:
- CMT: Chair-elect to serve for two years, then move into chair position for two years—Jennalee Boggs.
- CMT: Carol Moore will fill the vacant two year at-large position.
- Faith Formation: Lona Willems
- Faithful Community: Mary Wade
- Faithful Service and Outreach: Diane Ziemer
CHURCH OFFICE HOURS
- Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00
- Wednesday 10am-1pm
- Offices will be closed December 25-January 1. Regular hours resume January 5.
SUNDAY MORNING SCRIPTURE READERS NEEDED
Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know if you are willing. We’d especially like to have more male voices!
STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…
INFANT CARE KITS for MCC – please make your contribution by Dec 24
Adopt a bundle! Your gift of $25.00 covers the cost of a bundle and shipping. Make your check payable to FMC with memo line reading Infant Care Kits (ICK). Please make your contribution to adopt one bundle – or several – by Christmas Eve. Contributions given to date cover the costs for 16 bundles. Twenty-four more bundles are waiting for funding. Through the blessings of careful purchasing and generous donations, Jane and Deanna have prepared 40 bundles and wrapped them for us. Cheryl Warkentin has donated her time and talent to crochet the tiny hats for the baby bundles. Thank you to all who have generously shared their gifts for the well-being of children around the world.
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. 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.
BETHEL COLLEGE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Kauffman Museum at Bethel College is hosting the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” through Jan. 17. Accompanying it is a local companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads,” created from the museum’s permanent exhibit “Of Land and People.” The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tues.-Fri; 1:30-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sunday; and closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the “Crossroads” exhibit is free on Saturdays.
MCC GIFT GIVING IDEAS
A memorable, meaningful and unique MCC gift to give this Christmas! Grab a piece of MCC history to use in a modern day Mennonite feeding station – your home! Get one for yourself and order more for family and friends. Hang it on the wall in your kitchen or dining room, display it on a shelf or use it as a serving tray! Remember the kitchen at your church, too. Each tray was uniquely handcrafted by an artisan in Siberia using Siberian hardwood. The tray is 16” in diameter and 2” deep. Suggested donation per tray is $150. Full details and pictures are available at https://mcc.org/feeding-station-tray.
Support Mennonite Central Committee and celebrate MCC’s centennial with a new shirt, hoodie, tea towel, bag or hat! Check out this online store https://kansas.mccsale.org/2020-kansas-mcc-relief-sale-apparel-more-store/ and support MCC!
MCC RESOURCES AND SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
Free resource from MCC: Learning about generosity! Help children learn about generosity with MCC printable worksheets including activities, a story, a craft to make and Christmas gift ideas that benefit global neighbors with colorable greeting cards, find it all at mcc.org/generosity. Explore the full list of Christmas giving options from MCC at mcc.org/christmas.
Join MCC for a series of “MCC and me” webinars to hear more about service opportunities. Are you ready to step out and into service? To gain new skills and experiences while working for relief, development and peace in the name of Christ?
MCC is working to adapt our programming as the situation with COVID-19 develops. All sessions relate to anticipated service needs, though timing and some other details may be subject to change.
- January 13 at 3 p.m. EST: Summer Service leadership program
- February 25 at 10 a.m. EST: Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP) summer staff
- February 25 at 8 p.m. EST: International service worker
- March 6 at 12 p.m. EST: International service worker
- March TBD: Mobile Meat Canner
For more information and to register: mcc.org/mcc-me-webinar-series-service-opportunities
CAMP MENNOSCAH ANNOUNCEMENTS
Camp Mennoscah is a wonderful place for family gatherings of whatever size! A variety of facilities fit any number of family groupings. Or maybe you only need a space during the day for walking the trails or playing disc golf. There is plenty of outdoor space! Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve! You are welcome here!