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Merry Christmas to all of you, near and far, in the faith family that makes up First Mennonite Church of Hutchinson KS!! From generation to generation, God’s fingerprints of love, grace and creativity are all over this congregation, and I am grateful for the privilege of giving witness to “God-with-us” in the past, here and now, and always.
This morning, from my office window the swirling snow is sparkling in the sunlight. In the midst of all that sparkling joy is Matthew Nisly’s tree, planted in his memory following his disappearance in the Swiss Alps in 2015. And, those bits of snow glittering like stars also remind me of Star Gipson and all those who have died this year, and in years before.
On the second Sunday of Advent this year we put ourselves in Mary’s shoes (Luke 1:26-38) as she was visited by the Angel Gabriel, delivering impossible news: nothing will be impossible with God. Dr. Christine J. Hong, in our Advent Devotional booklet (pg 12) names the dissonance this story creates for her. How can the angel say “do not fear” when it would have been next to impossible for Mary NOT to “have felt fear when confronted with a celestial being? How could she avoid feeling afraid after hearing the angel’s message about her pregnancy? Later, Mary’s son, Jesus, also felt fear at Gethsemane when faced with betrayal and capital punishment. As she watched him suffer and die, the fear and anguish she must have felt!” What if, Dr. Hong asks, this is the very dissonance we are meant to sit with during Advent and Christmas, and beyond? As we experience this unique human emotional mix of fear and courage, sorrow and joy swirling together all at once and sometimes rising up piece by piece, perhaps it can help to sit with Mary for a bit and find solace together in an awareness of “God [moving] through the liminal and tender spaces of God’s human life with Mary, even as they were both afraid.” (Dr. Hong)
A few days before Star Gipson died, when I was preparing to leave her bedside to go back to church, she said to me “Yes, you need to get those lesson plans done!” Star had a way of reminding me, directly and indirectly, to focus in on what is most important – to do what needs to be done. I thought of her (and the many saints who have gone before us at First Mennonite) as I read these words in an Advent book I’ve been reading through this year: “In his essay “The Good News of the Nativity” Thomas Merton presented Advent as a time for discerning what is most relevant for us individually and communally in this moment of our being alive together in history.”
Here we are, friends! We have the gift of being alive together in this moment of time. What is most relevant for you, and for us as a community of Jesus followers at this time in history? This is a question I’m holding as 2023 opens like a door before us. Thank you for the gift of living together into the future as we hold tight to the good news of “God-with-us,” from generation to generation.
PLEASE NOTE: Our next THIS WEEK post will be on January 4, 2023.
SUNDAY MORNING Worship at 9:30am
The link to join is on our website: www.hutchfmc.org Join 5 minutes early for announcements.
COLD, FLU and COVID-19 safety suggestions for ourselves and others
Along with recommending that everyone traveling on planes, trains, buses, and other public transportation wear masks, the CDC also recommends that as COVID-19 numbers and other illness spike, wearing a mask indoors in public spaces is a good idea. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. Stay home if you are not feeling well.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25: CHRISTMAS DAY
From Generation to Generation: God dwells with us
John 1:1-14; Luke 2:15-21
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:14a). Unlike the other gospels, John’s gospel offers us a cosmic glimpse of Christ’s birth. Christ’s beginning was with God, therefore, Christ has been with us since life began. On this Christmas Sunday, we celebrate the many ways God dwells with us from generation to generation, since the beginning of time.
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Pastor Tonya, Magdalena Wenger
- Song Leader: TBD
- Children’s Time: Pastor Tonya
- Scripture Reader: Cheryl Warkentin
- Pianist: Peggy Stucky
- Ushers: Don Wiens & Russell Goering
- Nursery Attendant: Russell & Julie Goering
- Sound Tech: Murray Reimer
- Live Stream Tech: Jonathan Wenger
SUNDAY, JANUARY 1: NEW YEAR’S DAY
From Generation to Generation: We Keep Seeking ***STAR WORDS***
The Magi were seekers. They sought wisdom, they sought divine, the sought fortunes to tell the future. Their seeking leads them to Jesus, the newborn king of another culture and religion. And yet, their seeking is also what protects them from Herod’s deception and harm. After the Magi go home by another way, Joseph is visited again by an angel in his dream. This time, the angel brings a warning, and like before, Joseph heeds the message. Fleeing from Herod’s massacre, Joseph and Mary seek refuge in Egypt; they remain there, living as immigrants, until Herod dies. Like the Magi, may we seek the divine and be willing to journey closer to God. Like the Holy family, may we seek safety for all families who are under threat. This new year and every year to come, let us keep seeking – wisdom, justice, and a better world.
- Preacher: Tonya Ramer Wenger
- Worship Leader: Nick Krehbiel
- Song Leader: TBA
- Children’s Time: TBA
- Scripture Reader: TBA
- Musicians: Pastor Tonya and family
- Ushers: Susan Combs & Joretta Martens
- Nursery Attendant: TBA
- Sound Tech: Earl Ediger & Allen Yoder
- Live Stream Tech: Jonathan Wenger
SHARING JOYS & CONCERNS
During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya. You are also invited 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 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 to the church office by Thursday each week.
We welcome, and are grateful for, your financial donations to our ministry here in Hutchinson. Instead of collecting an offering during worship (except on special occasions), an offering box is placed at the back of the sanctuary for your Sunday morning donations. You can also now make a donation directly from our website (www.hutchfmc.org) using a credit card or your banking account. You are also welcome to send a check to 52 Rambler Rd Hutchinson KS 67502.
CALENDAR – LOOKING AHEAD
- December 21 – Longest Night Service (5:45pm), Soup Supper (6:30pm), Christmas Caroling (7:15pm)
- December 24 – Christmas Eve Service – 7:00pm
- December 25 – (Sunday) Christmas Day worship – 9:30am (No Sunday School)
- January 1 – New Year’s Day worship with STAR Words – 9:30am (No Sunday School)
REMINDER: If you are last one out of the church building, be SURE the doors lock behind you.
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 Thursdays (in person @ FMC) from 12:30-1:30pm. If you’d like to learn more, contact Pastor Tonya.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS 2022 WORSHIP: FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION
This year’s Advent theme and resources come to us from A Sanctified Art: From Generation to Generation, inspired by a line from Mary’s song:
“Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:48b-50)
From Generation to Generation….
- December 24 (Saturday – Christmas Eve) @ 7:00pm: We tell this story (Luke 2:1-20)
- December 25 (Sunday – Christmas Day) @ 9:30am: God dwells with us (John 1:1-14; Luke 2:15-21)
- January 1 (Sunday – New Year’s Day) @ 9:30am: We keep seeking (Mt 2:1-12; Mt 2:12-23)
+ STAR WORDS for 2023!
CHRISTMAS EVE (7pm ON DEC 24) ANNOUNCEMENTS
Our Christmas Eve worship service will include traditions such as congregational participation in playing the Krystal Bells, dedicating Infant Care Bundles for MCC, and joining in a candle-lit singing of Silent Night. New this year will be a Christmas skit performed by our grade school children and a few youth. The offering on Christmas Eve is designated for Baby Bundles. (Please make checks payable to First Mennonite Church and write “Baby Bundles” in the memo. As we have other years, please bring a plate of finger foods (savory or sweet) to share during our fellowship time following the service.
WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL @ 11:00AM (no Sunday School December 25 & January 1)
Preschool-8th Grade: SHINE! Curriculum: Fall of a Kingdom
- Preschool-Kindergarten (basement – rooms 1&2)
- 1st-5th (basement – rooms 5&6)
- 6th-8th (upstairs to the right)
Senior Youth: 9th-12th grade (upstairs to the left)
Bible Study using the Salt & Light study guide meets in the Prayer Room in the basement. Copies are available in the classroom.
The Adult Discussion/Study class meeting in the fellowship hall and on Zoom (contact Pastor Tonya for the zoom link. This group will resume its study about Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. You can learn more here: https://dofdmenno.org/
“Younger Adults” Class meets in the adult education room in the basement.
UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines
This new year brings opportunity to begin a new tradition . . . begin each day with a reading from one of the devotional magazines—REJOICE! or UPPER ROOM. New issues are available above the mailboxes. Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you.
LPC: Listening-Prayer-Conversation Groups BEGINNING Second Week of January 2023
Pastor Tonya will be offering something new beginning January 2023 … an opportunity to participate in a monthly LPC group: Listening-Prayer-Conversation. The hour will be simply structured to create space for listening to scripture and Spirit, praying with and without words, and conversation with God and others. Two options will be offered each month: Second Tuesday from Noon-1pm or Second Wednesday from 6:30-7:30pm. There is also the possibility of adding a Zoom option to either one of these times. If possible, please RSVP to Pastor Tonya if you plan to attend, but also feel free to just come.
STRENGTHENING Community Connections…
DECEMBER 21 WEDNESDAY EVENING @ FMC EVENTS
Be sure to put Wednesday evening December 21 on your calendar to gather at church for an opportunity to remember loved ones who have died in the past year, eat supper together, and then go Christmas Caroling in the church neighborhood. You can come to one or more of the events. Schedule is as follows:
- 5:45pm Longest Night Service in the sanctuary (also livestreamed)
- 6:30pm Soup Supper
- 7:15pm Christmas Caroling in the church neighborhood, weather permitting (dessert and hot drinks following – thanks to those who volunteered to bring dessert!)
CHURCH OFFICE HOURS
- Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00pm
- Wednesday – 10:00am – 1:00pm
The Church Office will be closed between Christmas and New Year’s.
PASTOR TONYA’S HOURS/SCHEDULE
- Monday: Sabbath Day
- Tuesday-Friday: generally working 8:00am-5:30pm
- “In 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)
ARMS WIDE OPEN – FMC’s history book
The amazing story of First Mennonite Church’s 100 years is told in the history book prepared for our centennial celebration. Copies of the book are available for $25.00 (cash or check). You can also now purchase a book online at a price that includes the cost of shipping (click on the “DONATE” button on our website to find this option). Check with the church office to pick up a book.
STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…
SUNDAY MORNING DONATIONS FOR RENO COUNTY FOOD BANK:
DECEMBER: Pasta. (JANUARY: Peanut Butter)
Personal care/hygiene items such as these are appreciated anytime: 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.
HATS AND MITTENS for SALVATION ARMY
A “tree” and a basket have been placed near the north entrance in the foyer for you to make your donations of hats and mittens to be given to Salvation Army. Thank you for helping to meet this need in our community.
BABY BUNDLES for MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Infant Baby Bundles have been part of First Mennonite Christmas celebrations for many years. Completed bundles may be “purchased” for a donation of $25.00 each. Make your checks out to First Mennonite Church, and write “Baby Bundles” in the memo. The Infant Baby Bundles will be dedicated during the 7:00pm Christmas Eve service. For His Glory, Deanna Mace and Jane Kroeker
SALTHAWK COMMUNITY SUPPORT announcements
Donations of Chapstick and deodorant are always needed. You can place these and other toiletries, along with any teenage appropriate clothing/shoes (a recent specific request was hoodies) in the basket at church or drop off directly at Trinity United Methodist Church. Financial donations for ongoing program costs are also invited throughout the year. Thank you to those who donated toward the “Santa Sacks” which will be given to students at Hutch High, Mid-Town at Avenue A, and Hutch Middle School 8.
Mark your calendars for our January 21, 2023 SALTHAWK FUNDRAISER: Taste of Hutchinson – The Men Cook at the Hutchinson Art Center. Tickets will be $40 each. 7-8:30pm.