December 4, 2019
Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love
Recently I have been re-reading a number of essays (blogs) that the late Rachel Held Evans wrote on the season of Advent.  She was a brilliant writer and wise beyond her years. Here is an excerpt from one from 2014 on the Prophets:

There is no poetry like the poetry of the prophets. 

“Let justice roll down like waters,”  cries Amos,  “and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” 

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace,”  sings Isaiah,  “the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” 

“They refused to heed,”  laments Zechariah,  “shrugged their shoulders and stopped their ears so they could not hear. They made their hearts like flint.” 

“You have covered yourself with a cloud,”  repines the author of Lamentations,  “so that no prayer can get through.” 

Clapping trees, quaking mountains, hearts of stone exchanged for hearts of flesh, swords beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks—this is the colorful language of prophecy, which simultaneously comforts and disturbs, frightens and frees. It is a language of lament, of longing, of runaway imagination. It makes demands and begs forgiveness, issues critique and offers praise.

Perhaps more than any other biblical genre, prophecy  wakes us up.  It grabs us by the shoulders, shakes us from our reverie, and orders us to pay attention to the realities of good and evil, injustice and hope that permeate our world.  It sings of light from the gloomiest dark, of justice from the smoldering ruins of oppression, and of a new Kingdom from the shadows of Empire. 

The prophets believe—stubbornly, relentlessly—that God is in the business of making all things new, of setting all things right. And so they sing that song loud and long into the night. For some it rings as a warning, for others, a freedom song. For all, it is a call to action, an appeal to align our hopes, ambitions, choices, and plans with the hopes, ambitions, choices, and plans of God. Prophecy is where the dreams of God and the dreams of God’s people meet, and the resulting poetry has shaped the rhetoric and lives of the faithful for generations, from John the Baptist to Martin Luther King Jr.

The language of the prophets was on the minds and lips of Mary, Zecharia, Simeon, and John the Baptist as they prepared for the arrival of Jesus. 
“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low,”  announces John the Baptist, preaching from Isaiah.  “The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth and all people will see God’s salvation.’” 

“God has raised up a mighty savior,”  sings Zechariah when he had recovered his voice,  “as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from old.” 

“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,”  declares Mary in a song that teems with prophetic references,  “and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” 

They were ready for God because they longed for God. 

They prepared for God because they expected God. 

And they recognized God because they knew God. 

From the prophets they knew that God favors the marginalized over the powerful, the weak over the strong, the poor over the rich. They knew that God hears the cries of the oppressed and humiliates the oppressors. They knew that God never gives up, always surprises, and always shows up. 

Because this ragamuffin crew of peasants and priests dreamed the dreams of the prophets, they knew what to look for, what to bet on. They recognized Emmanuel, God with us, in the pregnancy of a Palestinian teenager, among a persecuted minority suffering under an oppressive empire, amidst the darkness of a call for infanticide, in the company of shepherds and strangers, and in the vulnerable fragility of a baby’s cries . Even when the most powerful and religious among them missed it, they saw. They knew. They recognized that Jesus embodied all of God’s best dreams for the world. 

 To pay attention to the prophets is to align our dreams with God’s dreams for the world and to live accordingly. It is to go all in, to bet everything that God’s justice will prevail and love will win.

Beautiful words as we head toward the Second Sunday in Advent.
Scott Kenefake, Transitional Minister
Service of Lessons and Carols
This Sunday, December 8th, the Sanctuary Choir along with twelve instrumentalists from the Charlotte Symphony will present a program of Lessons and Carols during worship. . You will not want to miss this event with beloved arrangements of Christmas carols by David Wilcox and John Rutter as well as our annual singing of the Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Please invite your friends and family to share in this wonderful observance of Christmas.
All Church Read- Neighborhood Church
We're beginning to wrap up our study of the book "Neighborhood Church" by Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller. Together we are asking the question, "How can we embody the values of love, grace, and justice?"
All Adult Sunday School classes as well as the High School Sunday School class are invited to gather in Davis Hall starting on at 9:45 a.m. Even if you don't read the book, we hope you will join us! Our last two Sundays with the book are December 8th and 15th!
The Longest Night Service
Holidays are often a time of great joy, but they can also bring grief from death, loss, hardship, or loneliness. This service is a special time to encounter God’s love and to experience community, hope, and strength in the midst of grief.  Please join us on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm in the Fellowship House Chapel for a service of healing and wholeness. Refreshments will be served in the Parlor following the service.
Children's Choir Christmas Showcase during WNF
Join us on December 11 for Wednesday Night Fellowship when we will be entertained by the Children's Choir in their Christmas program. The Children's Choir, directed by Jacquie Yost, will present a short program of upbeat Christmas songs that will surely lift your spirits. Because this is a Wednesday night dinner event, please make your dinner reservations by noon Monday, December 9th. Menu: spaghetti, salad, fruit, and dessert.
Candlelight Christmas Pageant
Join us on  Sunday, December 15th, at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary, as our youth present the birth narrative of Jesus in the form of a Christmas pageant, joined by our four-year old children as Christmas angels. 
** During the pageant, the youth will invite all other children who wish to join in the pageant to come as animals in the manger. No advance preparation is necessary -- parents of children who would like to participate can simply pick up a costume, put it on your child when you arrive, and then sit together with your family. Children will be invited up when the time is right. 
** To help our community, we will also be sharing the "Gift Offering" again this year, so please come with a canned food item to donate to our local food pantry.  Because we are an Earth-Care Congregation, this year we invite you not to wrap your cans in tissue paper, so we can be good stewards of this earth.
** Following the pageant, we will once again bear witness to the coming birth of Christ with a candlelight singing of "Silent Night" on the front steps of the sanctuary. Please come and worship with us!

Calling All Angels
Do you have a four-year-old child who would like to be an angel in this year's Christmas Pageant? As part of the joyful tradition of our church, our four-year-olds portray the heavenly multitude of angels in the Christmas pageant. The pageant will be held on Sunday, December 15, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. We would like the angels to gather with a parent at 4:15 p.m. in Davis Hall in the Will Young Building to get into their costumes. If you have a four-year-old who would like to be in this year's Pageant, please contact Rachel Vogado or the church office by December 12th so your child's name can be included in the bulletin.
Poinsettia Orders
To order poinsettias in memory or in honor of a loved one, please click here. There are also paper order forms available in the narthex and the lobby of the Fellowship House. All orders must be received by the church by Tomorrow, December 5th.
Thank You!
Thanks FPC congregation for the great response to cookie donations for the Concord Christmas Parade. Special thanks to Donna and Wayne Cline and the volunteers who provided hospitality to our neighbors, rain or shine. We had fun being in community with each other despite the weather!
Thank You!
Congratulations to Meredith Sheridan, of First Presbyterian's Girl Scout Troop 334, for earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. Meredith raised awareness about the needs of children in the Cabarrus County foster care system. She addressed one of these needs by creating a safe and inviting space for foster children to spend time and complete homework, job, or college applications when they are pulled from a home or school for various reasons. Meredith also designed the room to allow for emergency overnight stays when needed. Please check out her website to learn more about her project: click here. Thank you, Meredith!
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.
Shop for Opportunity House
Do you still have Christmas shopping to do? Are you also interested in helping Opportunity House? Did you know that when you shop for the holidays at, AmazonSmile donates to Opportunity House? If you save this link to your favorites, a single click will take you there! Please consider helping those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. Thank you for your support!
Sign-up Links
Children's Choir Christmas Showcase
Wednesday, December 11th
6:00 p.m., Davis Hall
Reservations due by December 9th.
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 8, 2018
Lessons and Carols

Thursday, December 5
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
5:00 p.m. Girl Scouts 334 - Cadette, Senior, Ambassador
7:00 p.m. Boy Scout Troop 3
Friday, December 6
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool (Early Dismissal)
9:30 a.m. Adult Literacy Tutoring
12:15 p.m. First Kids Staff Luncheon
Saturday, December 7
9:00 a.m. Sanctuary Choir & Orchestra Rehearsal
Sunday, December 8
9:15 a.m. Sanctuary Choir
9:45 a.m. Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Service of Lessons and Carols
3:00 p.m. Children's Choir
4:00 p.m. Daisy Troop
4:00 p.m. Youth Choir
5:00 p.m. Youth Fellowship
Monday, December 9
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
11:00 a.m. Circle 4
11:30 a.m. AA
5:00 p.m. Dogwood Garden Club
7:00 p.m. Boy Scout District Roundtable
Tuesday, December 10
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
10:00 a.m. Adult Literacy Tutoring
3:00 p.m. Communion at Taylor Glen
7:00 p.m. Longest Night Service
7:00 p.m. Boy Scouts Troop 3
Wednesday, December 11
7:30 a.m. Men's Bible Study
9:00 a.m. First Kids Preschool
6:00 p.m. Wednesday night dinner
6:30 p.m. Children's Christmas Program
Church Report
November 26 - Guy Beaver Jr., Chip Clark Jr., Robert Johnson
November 27 - Vernon Byrd, Mary Cannon Dickens, Betsy Hobbie
November 28 - Daniel Steel
November 29 - Jeff Price, Trisha Austin, Adam Conversano, Brian Moore, Ethan Olson, Grace Olson
November 30 - Trisha Austin, Brian Moore, Ethan Olson, Grace Olson
December 1 - Betty Hill
December 2 - William Shelley, Jane Spainhour
December 4 - Emily Johnson, Jackson Williams
December 5 - Connie Bixler, Collier Leatherman, Doug Phillips
December 7 - Alice Grant, Carlos Lopez III
December 9 - Tony McBride Sr.
December 10 - Riley Olson
Associate Pastor 
for Care and Mission

Associate Pastor
for Christian Formation

Director of Music and Organist
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