December 18, 2019
An Unconventional Birth Announcement
An Unconventional Birth Announcement
Last Sunday (the 15 th ) the Gospel reading from the lectionary was Luke 1:46b-55— The Magnificat.  One 15 minute sermon is not enough time to explore the theological riches of this text, so here are some additional reflections on it from the brilliant essayist, the late Rachel Held Evans:

“It’s an unconventional birth announcement.
We like to paint Mary in the softer hues—her robes clean, hair combed and covered, body poised in prayerful surrender—but this young woman was a fierce one, full of strength and fury. When she accepts the dangerous charge before her, (every birth was risky in those days, this one especially so), rather than reciting a maternal blessing, Mary offers a prophecy:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
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.
He has shown strength with his arm;  
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,  
and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things,  
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,  
in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors,  
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. 
When sung in a warm, candlelit church at Advent, it can be easy to blunt these words, to imagine them as symbolic, non-specific, comforting.
But I’m not feeling sentimental this Advent. I’m feeling angry, restless.  
And so in this season, I hear Mary’s Magnificat shouted, not sung: 
In the halls of the Capitol Building…. 
"He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
In the corridors of the West Wing…
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.”
In the streets of Charlottesville…
“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.”
Among women who have survived assault, harassment, and rape...
“He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.”
Among the poor, the refugees, the victims of gun violence, and the faithful ministers of the gospel who at great cost are speaking out against the false religions of nationalism and white supremacy…
“His mercy is for those who fear him, from generation to generation.”
With the Magnificat, Mary not only announces a birth, she announces the inauguration of a new kingdom, one that stands in stark contrast to every other kingdom—past, present, and future—that relies on violence and exploitation to achieve “greatness.”  With the Magnificat, Mary declares that God has indeed chosen sides.
And it’s not with the powerful, but the humble.
It’s not with the rich, but with the poor.
It’s not with the occupying force, but with people on the margins. 
It’s not with narcissistic kings, but with an un-wed, un-believed teenage girl entrusted with the holy task of birthing, nursing, and nurturing God.
This is the stunning claim of the incarnation: God has made a home among the very people the world casts aside. And in her defiant prayer, Mary—a dark-skinned woman, a refugee, a religious minority in an occupied land—names this reality. 
“God is with  us.  And if God is with us, who can stand against us?”
The incarnation isn’t about desperately grasping at the threads of power and privilege. It’s not about making some civic holiday “bigger and better.” It’s about surrendering power, setting aside privilege, and finding God in the smallness and vulnerability of a baby in a womb.

We cannot claim to embrace the Holy Family while withholding justice from those who would most identify with them. We cannot talk of “making Christmas great again” while taking the side of powerful and violent over the vulnerable. 
The season of Advent is meant to be a time of waiting.
 In years past, I lit candles, sang “O Come Emmanuel,” and pondered in stillness the joy of Christ’s first coming and the hope of his second. 
But this year I cannot be still. This year, hope is hard, belief is hard.
And so I’m waiting with the angst of the prophets, with the restlessness of the psalmist who cried “How long, oh Lord, will You hide your face forever?” and with the stubborn, unsentimental hope of a woman so convinced the baby inside her would change everything, she proclaimed in present tense that the great reversal has already arrived—
The powerful have already been humbled.
The vulnerable have already been lifted up.
For God has made a home among the people.
God has made a home with  us.”
These are the kind of words that get us “ready” to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. They move us from “conventional” notions of of civic religion, to the “unconventional” power and truth of the Gospel.
Advent Blessings,
Scott Kenefake
Transitional Minister
GIFT Sunday this week
Join us this Sunday, December 22nd, for a time of hands-on intergenerational learning. All ages are welcome to experience GIFT Sundays - Generations in Faith Together - a Sunday program by the Christian Education Committee. Beginning with a light breakfast at 9:45 a.m., we will have fellowship, learn, and grow together as we reflect on the Christmas story. This will be the only Sunday School offering that morning, with all classes meeting together in Davis Hall, and nursery will be provided for infants and toddlers. Come learn and grow in faith together!
The Commons Prayer Room
A Longest Night Gathering will be held at 5 p.m. in the Commons this Saturday the 21st. Similar to the Longest Night Service held in our Chapel on the 10th, it will be a brief time with scripture, prayer and candle lighting for remembrance and a time of fellowship following.  

The Commons will be open on Christmas day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bring your family and guests for a few minutes of quiet to contemplate the significance and wonder of the day.  
Wednesday Night Fellowship
Beginning January 2020, Wednesday Night Fellowship will be held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month through March. The April dates are set to coincide with Maundy Thursday (April 9) and the Children's Choir Spring Concert (April 29).  Please join us on Wednesday, January 8, when Amanda Buck from Cannon Pharmacy's community outreach program will present a talk on Dementia Friends. Please remember to make your reservations no later than noon on Tuesday, January 7.
Registration is now open for RISE!
( R ace: an I n-depth S piritual E xamination)
a workshop experience
Thursday & Friday, January 9 & 10, 2020
9 am – 5 pm, both days
Union Presbyterian Seminary, Charlotte
The RISE! dynamic two-day workshop challenges people of faith to engage deeply and courageously to recognize and combat the effects of race and racism inherent in our systems and institutions. This special session, open to the community, is available through the generous support of the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation of Union Presbyterian Seminary. The Center is committed to the manifestation of justice and the facilitation of human reconciliation in our larger community. For information or to register, go to:
2019 Contributions and Stock Transfer
Please remember that year-end contributions must be received in the church office by noon on December 31st, or placed in the offering plate on Sunday, December 29th. For stock transfers, please notify Suzanne Russell so that the proceeds can be applied to the correct account in a timely manner.
Alternative Worship Service
The next Alternative Worship Service will be a Blended Service on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. in Davis Hall. This service will focus on both traditional and contemporary worship traditions. Please join us for this worship opportunity followed by a Chili Supper and fellowship in the New Year.
2020 Habitat for Humanity Build
First Presbyterian Church, Concord, is confirmed for Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 9:00 am-1:00 pm at 261 Evans Street NW, Concord, NC 28027.  Habitat uses an online volunteer registration and waiver. By completing the online registration, paper waivers are not required and this will expedite things that morning!
If you would like to volunteer for this build click here. You will receive a confirmation email once registration is completed:  Everyone who volunteers should sign up prior to showing up on the work site. **If you experience trouble with registration, we suggest using an alternative browser.
As this is an active construction site, volunteers must wear closed-toe shoes (hard-sole boots if you have them). You will get dirty so please dress accordingly (jeans are ideal). We encourage you to bring sunscreen, work gloves, a hat, and bug spray. Additionally, due to insurance regulations, no one under the age of 16 is permitted at the site. Volunteers 16-18 must be registered and accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Please visit our volunteer page, review the Volunteer Waiver, and click on this link to watch the Safety Training Video.  
Habitat Cabarrus will provide all the tools and materials necessary to complete the task. In addition we will provide plenty of drinking water onsite. If you decide to bring your "lucky hammer" please label it clearly so you will have it to use on YOUR next project. Volunteers are responsible for snacks/lunches.
Bad Weather/Schedule Change: Sometimes there are last-minute changes to the task (due to build schedule shifts) or even cancellation of the volunteer day due to inclement weather. Should this occur we will email you at this email address the morning of the event.
Please note that safety is always our first priority. Weather-related issues and other unforeseen factors beyond our control occasionally require us to change a scheduled volunteering date. We only cancel/reschedule when we are absolutely compelled to do so. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility should this occur on your build day.
Joy Gift Update
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year's Joy Gift offering: we raised $1,957!
Your Chance to Usher!
The Deacons are looking for volunteers from the congregation to help with ushering duties this year.
We especially want to encourage families (or groups of 2-4 people) to participate. This is a great opportunity for the youth to be more involved in the church service and mission. Our own children have really enjoyed participating in this project with us. Please consider volunteering your time. We are happy to go over the logistics of ushering with you. We know it can seem daunting but if our kids can do it so can you!
Thank you for your consideration.
Sign-up Links
Wednesday Night Fellowship
January 8
6:00 p.m., Davis Hall

Circle 3 Lunch
Tuesday, January 7
11:45 a.m., Davis Hall
Lay Liturgists
Sign up here to be a lay liturgist to
read scripture in worship on Sundays.

Sanctuary Flowers
To give the congregation a gift of
sanctuary flowers,  please click here
to sign-up for one or more Sundays
during the year.
Shepherd for Sunday School
Sign up here to be a Shepherd in our Elementary and Middle School Sunday School.
A Shepherd helps our teachers by being another adult in the room, to make sure that we have a safe classroom, and to fulfill the requirements of our Child and Youth Protection Policy. If you have questions about what it means to be a Shepherd, please reach out to one of the members of the Christian Education Committee or Rachel Vogado.  
Youth Newsletter
Sign up here to receive the Youth Newsletter for detailed information
about all events related to youth who are in 6th-12 grade.
Sunday, December 22, 2019
Rev. Dr. Scott Kenefake
Isaiah 7:10-16 ; Matthew 1:18-25
Thursday, December 19
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
6:30 p.m. Boy Scout Adv. Boards of Review
Friday, December 20
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
9:30 a.m. Adult Literacy Tutoring
12:30 p.m. My Father's House (Commons)
Saturday, December 21
5:00 p.m. Longest Night Community Gathering, Commons
Sunday, December 22
9:45 a.m. Sunday School -GIFT Sunday
10:30 a.m. Sanctuary Choir
11:00 a.m. Worship
Monday, December 23
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
11:30 a.m. AA
Tuesday, December 24
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
12:00 p.m. Church Office Closed
5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Worship Service
8:00 p.m. Al Anon, Commons
9:00 p.m. Sanctuary Choir
10:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Worship Service
Wednesday, December 25
Preschool and Church Office Closed
Thursday, December 26
Preschool and Church Office Closed
Friday, December 27
Preschool and Church Office Closed
Sunday, December 29
No Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship
Monday, December 30
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
11:30 a.m. AA
Tuesday, December 31
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
12:00 p.m. Church Office Closed
Wednesday, January 1
Preschool and Church Office Closed
Thursday, January 2
Preschool Closed - Christmas Holiday
Friday, January 3
Preschool and Church Office Closed
Sunday, January 5
9:45 a.m. Sunday School
10:30 a.m. Sanctuary Choir
11:00 a.m. Worship
3:00 p.m. Children's Choir
4:00 p.m. Daisy Troop 3631
4:00 p.m. Youth Choir
5:00 p.m. Youth Fellowship
Monday, January 6
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
11:30 a.m. AA
7:00 p.m. Boy Scout District Steering Comm
Tuesday, January 7
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
11:45 a.m. Circle 3
7:00 p.m. Boy Scouts Troop 3
7:00 p.m. Board of Deacons
Wednesday, January 8
7:30 a.m. Men's Prayer Breakfast
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
6:00 p.m. Wednesday Night Dinner
7:30 p.m. Sanctuary Choir
Church Report
Todd and Betsy Hobbie - Joy Gift
Evelyn Barrier Light - Backpack Ministry
Margaret Irvin - Backpack Ministry
Cheryl Kelling - Backpack Ministry
Pam McDonald - Backpack Ministry
Jane Spainhour - Backpack Ministry
December 19 - Charlotte Cox, Scarlett Davis, Sydney Johnson, Ben Peterson
December 20 - Jeff Kies, Edwin Macaluso
December 21 - Carter Olson
December 22 - John Bare, Linda Grist, Angie Harrison, Helen Morrison, Holly Robbbins, Susan Spader
December 23 - Jason Cagle, Hayden Dunlap, Bebe Grey
December 25 - Sally Cochran, Walker Hedgecock, Harriett Phillips
December 26 - Marc Niblock Sr.
December 27 - Britt Leatherman, Ava Stafford
December 29 - Patty Patten
December 31 - Linda Barnett, Chris Lippard
January 1 - Clark Hawfield, Margaret Hillman, Kasey Rohrer, Fred Schafer, Kaitlin Simpson, Roy Stamey
January 2 - Christopher Bradley
January 3 - Patsy Beeker, Wendy Irvin
January 4 - Matthew Gluf
January 6 - Jennifer Payne
January 8 - Rindy Moore
Scott Kenefake
Interim SeniorPastor 

Associate Pastor 
for Care and Mission

Associate Pastor
for Christian Formation

Director of Music and Organist


Suzanne Russell
Church Administrator

Financial Secretary

Heath Ritchie
Maintenance Superintendent

Director of First Kids

Church Hostess

Wedding Director
Contact Info
First Presbyterian Church

70 Union Street North
Concord NC 28025 

Mailing Address: 
PO Box 789 Concord NC 28026-0789

Church Office Hours: 
Monday - Thursday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed Friday
The Commons Prayer Room Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Open for Scheduled Groups
Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday mornings for FPC

Memorial Garden:
(704) 786-8009
36 Spring Street SW
Concord NC 28025
Garden Hours: 
Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Closed Monday