One of my favorite moments at my parish is the hush right before Christmas Eve services begin. 
The lights are lowered just a bit as everyone settles in, and eventually the rustling stops and a pregnant pause falls over the congregation. Then, as if out of nowhere, a small voice pipes up at the rear of the church. Her voice unaccompanied in an a cappella solo, a young girl from our congregation carries a doll to the manger, which has taken its place at the base of the altar. As she walks, she sings confidently: 
"Away in a manger, no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head ...."  
When she reaches the front and places the doll in the manger, the congregation stands and the choir processes, and though the lights remain lowered, we all join in her song: 
"The cattle are lowing ...."  
For me, it's the perfect way to begin the night, with a child leading the way. That is, after all, the essential story of Christmas-that story of God-made-flesh unexpectedly coming on the scene in a no-name town to no-name people. 
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This Sunday's Readings
Isaiah 61:10--62:3
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:22-40

The church office will be closed on Monday, January 1. Happy New Year!

Birthday Party for All Generations - Sunday, January 7, 9:30-10:30 am in Fellowship Hall - During the Sunday Morning Education hour, let's celebrate Baptism of Our Lord Sunday with a birthday party for all! All 4th graders through adults are invited. Younger children will enjoy cake during their Worship & Wonder class!

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's bulletin announcements .
The December edition of The Shepherd's Voice is available online.

Health and healing  for Lyn Nelson; George Johnson, Rob's Crews stepfather; Avery; Carl Kjellberg; Mary Anthony; and Terry Gunn, friend of Thorsten and Elizabeth Stremlau.

For the orphans of Mnene Parish , including 

Tania, 22, is a young mother. Her son, Talent, is 14 months old. She is currently staying with her Grannie. Tania and her son visited with our 2017 mission team. She desires to resume her Hairdressing attachment and complete the course, which she had enjoyed and was doing very well. She is not currently in the GSLC support program. We continue to hold her in our prayers. Her Mail For Mnene partners are the Agather family and Jim & Cindy Davis.

Godfrey, 16, left school & is now living with relatives, away from Mnene. The Mnene staff are trying to connect with him to learn how he is doing and if he is attending school. He is currently not in the GSLC support program. We continue to hold him in our prayers. His Mail for Mnene partners are Anthony, Angela, Abe and Aggie Alford.
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