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December 8, 2016
                Peace and grace to the expectant ones of La Grange and beyond from Carly, called to be prophet, priest, teacher, and hope-giver amongst you.
                I'm feeling a bit like a Scrooge today. I'm tired of Christmas, or rather, I'm exhausted by Civic-Consumer-Christmas. Some stores had shiny displays of holiday wares out in late August. The decorations went up in the stores before Halloween. The Village put up their greenery along La Grange Road on November 1. Too many stores started Christmas sales on Thanksgiving Day. My Christmas shopping was complete by Halloween - I don't like to go into the stores during the "Civic-Consumer-Christmas season."
                Bah Humbug. My holiday has been hijacked. I just wish it were over already. Maybe we could move Christmas to July!
                This past Sunday, we celebrated the Gifts of Gratitude. We collected hundreds of gift wrapped packages for the children of the neighborhood around San Lucas United Church of Christ in Humboldt Park. During worship I wondered aloud why we celebrate this consumer driven holiday. Here is a summary of that morning's message.
                What really matt ers this time of the year ? How do we, in the midst of consumerism, have a faithful response and richer hol y-d ay experience?
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them . - Isaiah 10:1-8, NRSV

Do not be afraid, for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. - Luke 2:10-11, NRSV
                This is the root and source of the celebrations, festivities, food, fellows hip, and the entire gift giving this time of yea r. The fulfillment of the promises of the prophets are the GPS of our journey through the season of Advent to Bethlehem. That is, if we can just get off the Civic-Consumer-Christmas highway .
                I love to give gifts. A t the heart of my gift giving, joy, and gratitude, is the knowledge that I give gifts because it is one of my joyful response s to the pure gifts and good news of God 's extravagant love and unfettered grace. I listen carefully during the year to family and friends for needs and desires and shop carefully. I research and plan my giving; I choose charities and causes whose work matches my values, and who use their funds wisely. I also plan for the "spontaneous" gifts that come up during the year - the unexpected need of someone or the celebratory occasions.
                I don 't give gifts because I want to earn something in return. I give without the expectation of return. I give, be cause I can 't help but feel so overjoyed with the good news of a God who comes near, walks with us, and loves us no matter what. In my joy, I can't help but want to share this joy through the sharing of stories, time, the giving of gifts, living fully in God 's abundance, grace, and love.
                So, why do you give? Why do you do what you do this time of year- spending, wrapping, cooking, eating, decorating, gathering with friends, families, and colleagues? What part of the promises of God and the Christmas story motivate you and lead you into the way that you spend your days and evenings this time of year?
                However you may answer these questions, I hope and pray that you have a meaningful journey to the manger, and are so caught up in the promises of the good news, that you can 't help but want to share it. And for those of you who feel like you are stuck on t he Civic-Consumer-Christmas highway , I hope that by thinking deeply about the "why," you might feel comfortable and confident in your ability to take the Christ-mass exit.

Children and Youth News   

The youth group holiday parties are coming up! Yzals: December 11th and Zackleys: December 18th. We will have Christmas themed games, crafts and snacks! If you would like to help with either of these parties please let Sylvia know!
On January 15th, UCAN is sponsoring a march in Chicago to support UCAN's violence prevention programming. The Zackleys and Yzals will participate however, all ages are welcome to participate. If you would like to fund raise and participate in the march, please let Sylvia know so we can set up an account. 
Messy Church

Messy Church will be Sunday, January 8th at 4:30. Our theme this month will be Jesus Is Found At The Temple! Come and have a great time and grow in faith and in your love of others on the journey. See you there!   
4:30-5:15pm: Crafts and Stories  
5:15-5:30pm: Celebration  
5:30-6:00: Dinner  
FCCLG Fundraising 
Here's an easy way to give back to FCCLG! When you shop on Amazon, use and choose First Congregational Church of La Grange UCC as your charity. Consider making your holiday purchases through Amazon which donates 0.5% of your purchase back to FCCLG. Thank you for supporting us!

Text FCCLG100 to 73256 to give using your text messaging. Click the link and complete your gift. Standard text messaging rates may apply.
Fellowship Opportunities

Ready To Play Bridge? The church bridge group is beginning to play for the season. We always have room for more players. You are welcome no matter your level of play. We play once a month at a time mutually arranged between the two teams playing each other. If you have a partner, all the better. If not, we will see if we can find you a partner. If you are interested in playing, contact Doris Bryant, 708-352-3034 or


The Ministry of Communications team is organizing a flash mob carol sing for Saturday, Dec 17th from 9am - 10:30am. Singers of all ages are welcome!  We plan to carol in the produce section of a few local grocery stores as well as serenading the Saturday Meals Program guests and volunteers.  If you plan on participating, please contact Olivia Hein at

Service Opportunities

- Bring in treats of your choice and serve beverages and snacks after worship 
- Proclaim the scripture to the congregation during Sunday service
- Deliver the donated altar flowers to home-bound church members after worship
- Arrive at 9:30 am, pass out programs, collect the offering
-Arrive at 9:45 am, wear your name tag, smile!
- Pick up the Saturday Meals Program laundry outside the kitchen after worship and return it clean before next Saturday
- Attend the Nursery during worship on Sunday
Winter is coming and the Property Committee needs your shovel! Everyone can help, even those who can't shovel -     operating the snow throwers and salt spreaders are noble and essential deeds. Click here to sign up.

The Saturday Meals Program is a ministry of our congregation that serves anyone who would like to share a hot meal.

There are two shifts of volunteer service available each Saturday:

Breakfast set up and serving is from 8 to 10 a.m. Breakfast volunteers cut and plate pastries, serve hot food to guests in a buffet line, run the dishwasher, make sandwiches and pack brown bag suppers for distribution after lunch. 
Lunch set up and serving is from 10:45 to 1 p.m. Lunch volunteers plate desserts, serve hot foods to guests in a buffet line, run the dishwasher, and wipe down tables and chairs following the meal.

Email Volunteer Coordinator JoAnne Konkle for information.

Second Baptist Church Food Pantry is now the designated recipient of our food pantry donations. Established in 1999, the food pantry of Second Baptist Church serves more than 300 families (500 to 700 individuals) from the greater La Grange community. The pantry distributes more than 5,000 pounds of food and other essentials each month.
The pantry is in need of nonperishable foods like soup, rice, beans, cereal, pasta, and canned meats, fruits, and vegetables, and personal care items like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and paper towels. Please place your donations in the basket outside the sanctuary.
Your donations will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your generosity!
FCCLG Church Calendar 

Hooks and Needles meets in the Family Room off the Chapel on all but the first Monday of the month at 7:00 pm.
We make blankets for Project Linus and Still Missed along with prayer shawls, baby blankets and prayer squares for the church. Please join us in this valuable ministry. Beginners are welcome; we would love to teach you to knit or crochet. Call Linda Lauterbach or the church office if you need a code to get into the building.

Family Service, 5:30: Join us as we travel with Mary and Joseph to find sanctuary in Bethlehem. The traditional Latin American Christmas celebration, Las Posadas, looks at what it felt like to be a refugee in a foreign land and the safety and comfort found in the La Posada, the Inn.

Candlelight Service, 10:30: Music starts at 10:30, service at 11:00.

December 18 is the 2016 Christmas Fund Offering. It is an offering for the Veterans of the Cross and Emergency Fund, which provides assistance to those who have faithfully served our Church and now find themselves facing unexpected financial needs. 
The 2016 theme is God's Love Colors Everything. There will be a poster on the easel in December which needs coloring. Please consider adding your coloring to the poster! Give generously and show FCCLG's support for the Christmas Fund and the Veterans who have served the Church faithfully through the years.

What a special year to have Christmas fall on Sunday! We invite all of our families to join us for worship Christmas morning at 10 a.m. No need to interrupt your Christmas morning family-time getting dressed up.
We invite our children to come to worship sporting their Christmas jammies!  We've structured the service as an interactive and active that is very child friendly. We will not have Sunday school or nursery on Christmas morning. 

New Year's Day is also on a Sunday this year. We will have another informal service, with no Sunday School or Nursery. Come to ring in the new year and celebrate a fresh start to 2017!
All ministry and team reports are due in the office by December 16, 2016. 
Touch List 

Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with God. Please lift these friends, family, and members in your prayers.
Charlotte Ansted, who was born very early and is being treated in the NICU.
Emil and Maria Balz who are recovering at home.
Prayers for Erin Markus-Bryant's nephew Emmett, who is suffering from kidney failure.
Prayers for Renee Bryant's friend Melissa, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer.
The residents of Edisto Island, where we take our annual work trip, who were hit by Hurricane Matthew.
The family of Caroline Gifford, who died on October 13th.
The family of Carol LaSage, mother of Kathy Mazur, who died on October 24th.
The family of Colin Harris, the Lauterbach's godson, as they deal with Sophia's paralysis and personality change after removal of her largest brain tumor.
The family of Rich Kruke, Dawn Mackie's husband, who died on November 10th.
Gary Melkonian, who is recovering at home .
Petra Palmer's granddaughter's friend Summer who is having chemotherapy for leukemia.
Thoughts and prayers for the Palmers' neighbor's brother, wife and newborn son, who need  to gain strength and weight.
Jennifer Powers as she deals with health issues.
The family of Mary Roper, Julia Cunningham's grandmother, who died recently.
The family of Frank Shannon, Brian Shannon's father, who died on November 9th.
Rev. Jennifer Mills-Knutsen, Carly's friend, who is struggling through chemo half a world from home.
Thoughts and prayers for Faith Ullrich's brother-in-law Richard Storm, diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Victims of hatred and terror; and those seduced in to believing violence is the only option.

A Few UCC Quick Links  

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