The Tidings
In This Issue
Quick Links

December 18, 2014
Call to the Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting of the Members of First Congregational Church of La Grange, United Church of Christ, will be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 18, 2015 in the Sanctuary. The agenda will include the election of Officers, Council and Ministry Members, the approval of a budget for 2015, and the celebration of the ministries of retiring leaders. Materials for the meeting, including the Annual Report and proposed budget, will be available via e-mail by January 10. If you need a paper copy of these materials, please contact the Office Administrators before that date.




To the saints and sinners in La Grange and elsewhere: Grace to you and peace from Carly, called to be a servant of Christ among you.

This year during Advent, I've spent a lot of time thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Our Advent narratives tell us of a woman who, in an era that valued men, was a "nobody." She braved a long journey, gave birth in the midst of the filth of a barn, in a time of uncertainty, and fled to the place of exile to hide from the threat of the death of her child. Advent is a time of preparation; but how does one prepare for the birth of a child who we know will be killed by the political powers that be? Seriously, how do we make realistic Advent preparations in the midst of so much killing and dying?


What do you and I need to do to take seriously the narrative of Advent? How do we make these preparations real? God comes to us with skin on by way of the most unexpected mother: an unwed teenager who is adamant that her fianc´┐Ż is not the father. This is the most unlikely a "saint" to bring us good news. Where might we look for the unlikely saints today? The homeless crack addict? The AIDS infected prostitute? The young black child waving a toy gun? What unlikely saint is God choosing today to bring the good news of mercy and grace?


What do you and I need to do to take seriously the Advent prophecies? Where do we look for the prophets who would tell us to make way for the promised One? John the Baptizer was an unlikely sort. He dressed in the most outrageous clothes, ate bugs, and told everyone they were doomed if they did not repent and be cleansed of their erroneous ways. Who are the prophets who today tell us the new day is coming? Could it be someone from Ferguson or Berkley, or Cleveland? Could it be that kid with a hoodie, baggy pants, and huge holes in his earlobes? Or that bystander with a camera in her cell phone recording the whole scene? Who has God chosen to declare justice to the oppressed and release to the captives? 

 
As I read about two states executing developmentally disabled men, and as I gaze upon the photos of Samaria Rice in Cleveland, the Brown family in Ferguson, the Crawford family in Beavercreek, Ohio, and the families of two 15 year olds who were waiting to board a bus in the Near West End last week, I am reminded of the image of Mary cradling an infant Jesus on the Christmas card I received in the mail. I have to wonder in awe of her protective and loving embrace of a child born into an unsafe world, to an unwed teenage mother; I am struck by the courage of this young mother to fall in love with a child she knows is born to die. And my heart aches for those who have lost their child. 

 
What do you and I need to take seriously the Advent season? How in the context of our world can we be about rejoicing and merriment? Jesus wasn't born into a world of Christmas Carols and holiday parties; his birth happened amidst desolation, in a time of great need, when people felt fully God's absence in their lives. That's exactly why God chose to be among us! How will we receive God's message of hope? And what will we do with that hope? How will that hope change our lives? How will it lead us to make change in our world?


May the blessings of God be yours in this dark season.
Carly 

Volunteer Opportunities
ST. BARBARA'S FOOD PANTRY COLLECTION
In December, we are asking for canned foods. Fruits, vegetables, chili, Spam, soup, anything in a can. The flip-top cans are great, but the pantry is so grateful for everything.

2015 BACK BAY MISSION TRIP
Interested in being part of a team volunteering at Back Bay Mission? For the fourth year, we will be taking a group of adults to Biloxi on February 22nd to 28th. If you have questions or are ready to sign up, contact Marie Roche: marie.roche@leoburnett.com. We will hold an informational meeting after the first of the year.

LA GRANGE LIBRARY - CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
La Grange Public Library is looking for volunteers to spend an hour per week adding RFID tags to items. Go to http://bit.ly/RFIDtagging or call 708-215-3200 for more information.

THE LIGHT IS DRAWING NEAR - CHRISTMAS FUND
On Sunday you will find envelopes in the bulletin for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund. Christmas is a time to think of others and give to those in need. This UCC special offering goes directly to lower income retired clergy and church lay leaders to assist with basic needs, emergencies, health premium supplementation and Christmas thanks you gift checks. Prayerfully consider donating to this Mission so these individuals who served the UCC church and its members will know that we have not forgotten them.

HEARTLAND BLOOD DRIVE
Missions is sponsoring a blood drive on Sunday March 1, 2015, and we are asking that blood donors "save" their blood until our drive. You have to wait 8 weeks between donations.

In Our Church

Carly will be out of town from December 26th to January 2nd. Please contact the office if you need pastoral assistance.


COME TO THE WELCOME TABLE!
Saturday, December 20 beginning at 11:30 a.m. The Saturday Meals Program offers a Christmas Feast to anyone and everyone who would enjoy a good home cooked meal. The Saturday Meals Program is a ministry of our congregation to the community of La Grange and feeds over 130 people breakfast and lunch every week. This is who we are:  Feeding the masses.  Come and join us!


LONGEST NIGHT/BLUE CHRISTMAS SERVICE
The holiday season is not a joyous time for everyone. Many people struggle with darkness - outdoors and within their spirits.  You are not alone!    Join us for a different kind of service.... of Comfort, of Loss, of Hope.  December 21 at 7 pm in the Chapel of the Beatitudes, we will gather with others.  Join us.

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES 

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining......
Join us to celebrate the nativity.  We are offering two different services.  At 5:30 p.m., an Intergenerational Service of Scripture, Symbol, and Song is offered.  At 11 p.m., a traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols. 

 

O night divine !

ALL ARE MINISTERS!   
All-leadership retreat for Council and Ministry Team members will be held in Dole Hall at Plymouth Place on February 7 beginning at 8:55 a.m. and ending no later than 3:30 p.m.  The purpose of the retreat is to put meat and bones on the Alban Team's plan and tweak ministries to most appropriately lead the congregation in the 21st Century.  All team leaders and the council members are asked to read the book, "Real Good Church" by Molly Baskette.  Copies are available in the church office.  If you are on or will be joining a ministry or Council please set this date aside as your presence is necessary!   Childcare will be offered at the church for this event.   

2014 PLEDGES
All 2014 pledges need to be in the office no later than Sunday December 28 to be credited as a 2014 pledge and to show on your 2014 tax statement. Any payments received after the 28th will be credited to 2015. If you change the pledge amount for 2015 and pay electronically, you need to turn in a new withdrawal authorization to the office. We cannot change the withdrawal amount without your authorization.

REFUGEE ONE THANK YOU
Sara Spoonheim-Amit, Director of Development at Refugee One, says "Wow! You've equipped several refugee families to cook feasts in their new Chicago homes. Thank you."

CASA CENTRAL THANK YOU
Casa Central sent a thank you for our $500 donation. The President of Casa Central, Ann Alvarez, thanks the members of FCCLG for sharing their belief that everyone can achieve self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life!
Music

THE CHORAL SERMON

will be during 10 a.m. worship on December 21st. The Chancel Choir, soloists and chamber orchestra will perform several short works based on hymn tunes from early Protestant Germany (16th and 17th century).  Settings will include "Lo, How a Rose," Vom Himmel Hoch (From Heaven to Earth I Come) and Puer Natus in Bethlehem by Michael Praetorius.


Get Involved with FCCLG!
- Bring in treats of your choice and serve beverages and snacks after worship.
Flower Delivery
- Deliver the donated altar flowers to home-bound church members after worship.
Ushers
- Arrive at church at 9:30 am, pass out programs, collect the offering.
Greeters
-Arrive at church at 9:45 am, wear your name tag, and smile!
Laundry Superheroes
- Pick up the Saturday Meals Program laundry outside the kitchen after worship and return it clean before next Saturday.
Nursery Attendants
-Watch children during worship service.
AV Technicians
-Run the sound system and cameras and monitor broadcast to Plymouth Place during worship on Sunday. Training available - see John Hoo.

You can also sign up in fellowship hour or by calling the church office at 708-352-0800.
Touch List
Your Cards and Prayers Will Comfort and Touch...

Jim Clayton.
Our thoughts are with LuAnn Hall's niece Jessica.
Lois Hindman, who is house bound with a brain condition.
Diane Kasnick's co-worker George, who was in a car accident.
The Manning family, as they mourn the loss of Barb's mother, Barb Barta.
Ruth Martin, as she recovers at Plymouth Place from surgery.
Richard Mercer, who is in a job search.
DeFord Schwall, Susan Schwall's father, who is in hospice care.
The family of William Steele, father of Jen Pigman, who passed away recently.
Mike Tobin, Char Tobin's son, who is undergoing chemotherapy.
Pauline Wagoner, who is in hospice care.
Chet Won, Viola Clayton's son-in-law, who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Olivia Hein's grandmother, Dorothy Wood, as she recovers from surgery.
First Congregational Church of La Grange | 708-352-0800 | mainoffice@fcclg.org | http://www.fcclg.org
100 S. 6th Avenue
La Grange, IL 60525