Merry Christmas!
First Church News & Updates - December 22, 2017
A Holly Jolly Christmas - Ring Noel 2017
A Holly Jolly Christmas - Ring Noel 2017

Merry Christmas!  Enjoy this First Church news.
This week in worship...
Advent Sermon Series

Cultivating Hope 
Jesus came to a broken and hurting world on that first Advent and Christ still comes to us today. People will choose to cultivate lots of things this Advent: fear, anger, revenge, despair, hate.  We choose to cultivate hope - a hope that is true and lasting in Jesus Christ!

Sermon Title:  "A Stable-Side Chat About Hope"
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

Special worship times this weekend. See the Christmas Eve article below.
Christmas Eve Worship Services
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Worship at First Church
We invite you to share in the glory of the season this Christmas Eve. On Sunday, December 24, we begin with One Great Morning Service at 10 am in the Sanctuary. This will be a contemplative, carol-based service in the sanctuary. There will be no children's, youth or adult Sunday School or LifeGroups on Christmas Eve morning.

In the evening, we will have worship services at 5, 7, 9 and 11 pm. Each is a unique and beautiful service of music and message.
  • 5 pm: A candlelight service centered on children and families, featuring children's and youth choirs, Sanctuary
  • 7 pm: A traditional candlelight service with choir and orchestra, Sanctuary
  • 9 pm: A contemporary candlelight service led by our CrossRoads Band, Family Life Center
  • 11 pm: A contemplative candlelight service featuring handbells and Holy Communion, closing at midnight to usher in Christmas Day, Sanctuary. 

So that families may enjoy Christmas Eve together, we will not have childcare during any of the services on Christmas Eve.

Words from Will...
Christmas Eve!
So this Sunday, we will celebrate the joy of Christmas in five worship services! The 10 am service will be mainly a service of scripture lessons and carols. We know you have been anxious to sing more of those familiar ones! Then on Sunday night, we join the heavenly host in a great celebration of the birth of Christ at 5, 7, 9 and 11 pm. Each Christmas Eve, as we pass the light of Christ, I am reminded that God in Christ came to earth to be the light of our lives, the lives of those who have gone before us, and those who will come after us. It is also a time when I invite the Christ to be born anew in me, that the light of the child of faith in me will be reignited so that I can follow Christ more fully into the coming year.

The Advent/Christmas story is not just Jesus' story. We are in the story, if we dare to see it. I struggle
Dr. Will Cotton
Dr. Will Cotton
alongside the innkeeper to make room for the love of Christ to be made flesh in and around me, with my life and my world being so busy and overcrowded. I journey with the shepherds and experience that grace that God has entrusted his good news to someone as unworthy as me. I follow the star of Christ (being just as kooky and quirky as the magi) not knowing where God's direction will take me, but knowing that Christ will have been there before I arrive. That's why the Christmas/Advent season is a time to experience the coming of Christ afresh to you and me. Don't lock the baby Jesus in a romantic nostalgic historical story! This is your story, too.

The offering we take on Christmas Eve funds the many ministries of our church that have a reach that even goes beyond what I know as pastor. It is inside the church and outside the walls. The reach is local, regional and global. I invite you to join Tina and me in making a special offering beyond your regular giving so that we can finish our year positioned to make our best impact not only for this year, but also the next. I am excited about what God is doing in and through the people of First Church. John writes in his gospel, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory." God's love became flesh in Jesus, but that was just the first step. The goal was for God's love to become flesh in ordinary people like you and me. As you make this special gift, don't just offer the gift, offer yourself and watch in amazement at what God will do. This is the great miracle of Christmas... God in Christ became like us, so we could become like Christ.

See you Christmas Eve, you and that loved one you bring with you to share the joy of the Christ who makes us new.

Sincerely in Christ,
Will Cotton Signature

Dr. Will Cotton
Senior Pastor
Ministry Focus...
Children's Ministry
Merry Christmas
Holiday schedule changes
In order for families to enjoy time together this holiday, we have adjusted the children's ministry program schedule.
  • Christmas Eve - no children's programming or nursery care on Sunday, December 24.
  • New Year's Eve - no Sunday School, but we will have Bible Buddies, as usual, at 8:30 and 11 am for 3 and 4 year old children. Bible Buddies will meet in Pod B during both hours. There will also be nursery care for children 2 and under on December 31.
Treble Makers

Treble Makers will sing on Christmas Eve!

The 3 and 4 year old choir (Treble Makers) is invited to sing at the 5 pm Service on Christmas Eve. We have practiced during the Sunday School hour, but even if your child has not been in class, they are invited to come join us. Please practice with your child. They will be singing the following Angel's Song.

The Angels' Song 
Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Praise, praise, praise to God,
Peace has come to earth
Joyfully, joyfully,
Joyfully, joyfully,
Tell of Jesus' birth.

The children will be called forward early in the service to sing and will return to you following the children's sermon. Please watch for your child in case they forget where you are sitting!
Student Ministry
D-Now will be February 23 - 25
Disciple Now or D-Now is a weekend for our youth that is full of worship, spiritual growth, community service, and fun! It's all led by people who love the Lord and want to pour into the lives of our youth. Students will stay in host homes with students of the same age and gender. Each host home will have between 8-10 students on average and will be led by two college or young adult leaders. 

During our evening rallies we will be led in worship by Tyler Murphy. Our speakers are Keta and Edward from Somebody Cares Ministry in Malawi, Africa. This is a great event...invite your friends!  On Saturday the students will participate in a mission opportunity and have recreation time with their host home groups. The event concludes on Sunday morning at our 9:40 am CrossRoads worship service. 

We will have a meeting on Wednesday, February 21 at 7 pm in Bldg. 3/FLC with all host families, parents and students.
Cost: $60 by February 4. $70 after February 4. ($150 max for one family). We never want a student to not participate because of financial burdens. Please contact Jodi Marfell at if you are interested in a partial or full scholarship.
Adult Ministry
Disciple Bible Study

Register now for DISCIPLE Short Term Bible Studies beginning in January
  • Invitation to the New Testament explores the writings of the New Testament with Jesus as the starting point and looks at how the early church took shape. Wednesdays at 9:30 am beginning January 10. Click here to register.
  • Invitation to John looks at Jesus differently from the other Gospels. Hear him speak, see his signs, and to consider anew what it means to be his followers. Monday evenings at 6:30 pm beginning January 8. Click here to register.
  • Invitation to Psalms studies these ancient texts and invites us to engage them at the deepest level. Tuesday evenings at 6:30 starting January 9. Click here to register.
Giving Matters...
Giving Matters

231 Pledges for a total of $1,165,051
64 persons checked that they were increasing their financial commitment. The average pledge is up about 8%. If we haven't heard from you yet, please send your commitment in soon. Not only is it an expression of your giving to God, it also helps the Finance Committee and Church Council put together a prayerful and responsible budget for the New Year.
Financial  Snapshot
As we approach the end of 2017, here is a brief financial update:
  • 2017 Budget: $2,499,488.72
  • Year to date Revenue: $2,131,943.35
  • Year to date Expenses: $2,279,316.15
Welcome Home to First Church...
Welcome Home

Are you thinking about joining First Church in the New Year? 
Join us for Welcome Home on January 21, 2018!  Welcome Home is an informal meal and conversation with First Church pastors about First Church's ministries, membership expectations, our church's story, and any questions you may have. It's a great chance to meet others who are exploring, as well.

The next Welcome Home will be on Sunday, January 21 at 12:15 pm in the Family Life Center. Near the end of the session, there will be an opportunity to join this congregation if you decide you'd like to become a member. An informal lunch is served, so please sign up on the website or in the foyers of the Sanctuary or Family Life Center. 

Register for Welcome Home here.

Questions? Contact Rev. Dr. Beverly Jones,
This week at First Church
Saturday,  December 23
  • 10:00 am - Alleluia Choir Celebration, Bldg. 4/Payne Cottage
Sunday, December 24
  • 10:00 am - One Great Morning Service, Sanctuary
  • 5 pm: A candlelight service led by children, centered on children and families, Sanctuary
  • 7 pm: A traditional candlelight service with choir and special musicians, Sanctuary
  • 9 pm: A contemporary candlelight service led by our Crossroads Band, Family Life Center
  • 11 pm: A quiet candlelight communion service closing at midnight to usher in Christmas Day, Sanctuary
Monday, December 25 - 
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 26
  • 8:30 am - UMM Tuesday Breakfast group, Ju├írez Restaurant on South Mays 

Wednesday, December 27
  • 6:15 am - UMM Breakfast, fellowship, devotional - FLC/Bldg. 3
Thursday, December 28

Friday,  December 29 
  • 8:30 pm - Round Rock Helpers, Bldg. 4/Payne Cottage
  • 8:00 pm - Narcotics Anonymous-Right Stuff, Bldg. 4
Saturday,  December 30

Sunday, December 31
  • Regular service times at 8:30, 9:40 and 11 am

In observance of the holiday season, the First Church office will be open from 9 am - 1 pm Tuesday - Friday for the next two weeks, December 26 - January 5. Visit the  website, find us on  Facebook or Twitter, and check the  Church Calendar to see what's coming up in 2018! 
Merry Christmas

Betty Robertson
First United Methodist Church Round Rock
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