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Enjoy the Season • 8 The Innkeeper's Daughter • 12 A Time to Wait • 18 DECEMBER 2009 First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs


Hello Great Saints from First Pres, The longer I live, the more I love the season of Advent. While most of the retail world has Christmas decorations up the minute Halloween is over, Christians see this season in an additional way. Advent is actually the beginning of the Christian year. Each Year we begin this journey with the long held hopes of Israel for a Savior. The Christian year continues through the well known seasons named Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. Each year we re-enact the Advent story as a way of remembering what God has done in our world. And it all begins with Advent —a time of hopes and mystery and building expectations. This year in Advent we will look at passages of hope from Isaiah. Much of the description of the Messiah comes out of this profound book of the Bible. December is also a season of giving. There are always many opportunities to give both inside and outside the church. Sara and I love “Something Significant for Christmas” as an opportunity to give special gifts in honor of people whom we love. And the “Crown the Year” offering will again happen in December as a way of helping to finish the 2009 giving to First Pres that we want to do and that needs to be done before year’s end. The church usually receives more than 20% of all that is given during the year in the month of December alone. Let me also give you an update on our 2010 Stewardship Emphasis. To date, from those who have made pledges, we have received wonderful support for our 2010 budget. However, a sizeable number of folks have not yet responded. To this point, some of those have been out of town. Some have delayed responding until they know more about their lives in 2010. Some have just forgotten to turn in their pledges. At this point our pledges for 2010 are at 82% of the dollar amount we received in pledges for 2009. That number does change daily as more pledges come in. As we move into the coming year, I do believe we strongly need the financial support of everyone who calls First Pres home. May God trigger our Willing Hearts and Hands. Throughout this edition of the First Pres Magazine, I hope you’ll take note of all that is happening around here and all the ways lives are being shaped for God’s glory. May the mystery of Advent and the Glory of Christmas meet you this year! Yours in Christ,

Jim Singleton, Senior Pastor First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs


DECEMBER 2009 contents A Place to Serve . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Amanda Brown Giving Gifts in Jesus‘ Name . . . . . . . . 5 Nancy Fox You're Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Joanna Watson Enjoy the Season of Goodness and Praise! . 8 Victoria Dzwons The Innkeeper's Daughter . . . . . . . . 12 Lois Keffer 8

in every issue First Pres Spotlight: Love for the Stranger Children’s Ministries . . . . . . . . . . Student Ministries . . . . . . . . . . . College/Young Adult Ministries . . . . . Events Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . .

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On the cover: First Pres Music Minister Jim DeJarnette leads the audience in singing Christmas carols at the Christmas Joy concert in 2008. Find out more about First Pres Christmas events on page 8. Photo by Alison Smith

Contributing Writers: Amanda Brown, Victoria Dzwons, Nancy Fox, Zola Griffin, Adam Holz, Lois Keffer, Joanna Watson Contributing Editors: Pam Bland, Susan Buenger, Joe Farrell, Mary Frieg, Lisa Hughes, Chris Sebby, Nate Stratman, Joy Thomas Photographers: Alison Smith All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, © 1984 International Bible Society First Pres Magazine, December 2009, Volume One, © First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, CO. Published by First Presbyterian Church, a non-profit organization. To contact First Pres Magazine: 719-884-6162 or 219 E. Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 809031392 or magazine@first-pres.org. Printed in the U.S.A.


A Place to Serve By Amy Brown s Christians embrace the joy of Christmas and Christ’s coming, we are called to spread and share His light and hope with those who are struggling…the hungry, the homeless, the hopeless. The cold weather and shorter days signify to many the coldness of the world. But we have opportunities to bring warmth through our love and service. Here are some upcoming ones: IHN – Interfaith Hospitality Network First Pres is blessed to again partner with IHN to provide a safe, homelike shelter within our church walls for families experiencing homelessness.  We will provide an evening meal, breakfast, and packable lunch items, as well as housing on the third floor of Hansen Hall.  Volunteers are needed to provide meals and serve as overnight, evening, and activity hosts.  This year, we also get to host families over New Year’s Eve and Day.   Salvation Army Bell Ringing The Salvation Army raises funds to help locally with a senior feeding program, youth activities, after-school programs, homeless services, low-income housing, and other programs in an effort to  deliver God’s message of love, hope, and salvation. First Pres will be ringing the bells at both doors of the 8th Street Wal-Mart on December 19 and December 21 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. both days.  Sign up for a 2-hour shift.   Longest Night Memorial and Prayer Vigil for the Homeless Last year, 24 homeless individuals died on the streets of Colorado Springs.  On the longest night of the year, December 21, we will join others in the community to eat at the soup canteen, located at Spruce and Colorado (near the VA Center and DHS), then walk silently in prayer to the Bijou House, and participate in a short ceremony, remembering those who have died and

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those who continue to suffer on the streets.  Experience the cold, the darkness, and have your heart broken anew for “the least of these.”   Christmas for All Springs Rescue Mission will provide a Christmas meal and the “Message of Christmas” on December 24, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. at the City Auditorium.  Serve others, be served, and share in Christ’s community. Amy Brown grew up in First Pres and is currently a senior attending Whitworth University in Spokane, WA.

Interfaith Hospitality Network November 29–December 6, and/or December 27–January 3 Salvation Army Bell Ringing December 19 & December 21, 9 a.m. –5 p.m. The Longest Night Prayer Walk & Vigil for the Homeless December 21, 5 p.m. Christmas for All, Springs Rescue Mission December 24, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.


Giving Gifts in Jesus’ Name

By Nancy Fox

The Something Significant for Christmas alternative giving catalog allows givers to join God in his work locally and around the world. Following are a few stories of the incredible impact of these gifts. Pick up a catalog from the display racks.

3 Gift #

$  1.50 for a Christmas Chick/Egypt

A Peek Inside: In a village along the Nile, a young couple struggled to raise three children because the husband was injured. A $300 Touch of Love loan enabled them to buy chickens and build a coop. They eat and sell the eggs and chicks and have paid back the loan. The repayment rate to Touch of Love is over 99% and the funds are again loaned to other families to help them become selfreliant. The blessing keeps going! Polly Munson “Our mission team in Egypt saw so much hopelessness! If the people could be helped to help themselves, it would build their dignity and show them how precious they are to God.” Anna Landolfi (9 years old) “I think giving chicks is fun because they’re cute and the kids can help!”

13 Gift #

$15 towards Theological Training for a Christian Leader/Mongolia

A Peek Inside: Gantumur Badrakh “We got an ‘A’ in Greek! I say ‘we’ because I couldn’t do it without your help! What is really important is how much of the knowledge becomes wisdom useful to the Lord back in Mongolia.”

Among Mongolia’s 40,000 young Christians, there are only a few pastors with a full seminary education. We are helping! Heather Bauman “We always do Something Significant for Christmas and usually match the gift to our family members’ interests. Our son Eric who is six did this one with his own money because… Mongolia has mountains!”

17 Gift #

 20 for a School $ Backpack with Supplies/Colorado Springs

A Peek Inside: What parent doesn’t have concern for their kids? Can I afford their school supplies? Are they healthy? At the Back to School Fair put on by Solid Rock Church with First Pres, backpacks filled with supplies are provided along with school and sports physicals, immunizations, and often assurance or advice. Dr. Doug Swanson “I think we relieved the guilt and fears of many parents.” Sherry Clarkin “We picked the school backpacks to give in honor of our grandkids because it was something they could relate to!” Nancy Fox is a Parish Associate and the Coordinator of Missions at First Pres.

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A snowy night, an unfamiliar church— what would the day bring? t had not been a promising Christmas Eve so far. The Jones family, new in town, was struggling to get their children ready for service, something they thought was very important. Michael, four, needed help with his shirt and boots, Angie, six, wanted help with her hair to get it “just right,” and the adults weren’t ready themselves. David, 11, wasn’t sure he wanted to go to church; why not just open presents or play instead? Finally, all were ready. They had previously visited some churches in the area, and had decided on one of the many services at First Presbyterian. The weather was not helping their situation at all. Conditions on the roads now were not good, and Mrs. Jones was anxious to get going. “Didn’t you hear in service that some of the services on Christmas Eve fill up fast? We should be leaving by now!” Mr. Jones was attempting to help Michael while adjusting his own tie, and simply said, “I know, honey.” Ten minutes later, they were in the car, and carefully navigating the roads downtown. Michael and Angie were getting fretful in the back, and David was half-ignoring, halfparticipating. “Oh, can we please have peace!” Mrs. Jones turned to the back of the minivan and looked at the children. Meanwhile, her husband is trying to maneuver into the parking garage, with which he is unfamiliar. It has started to snow hard again.

, You re Welcome

By Joanna Watson

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the same service, so I get to know people there, too. It’s all about plugging yourself in.” Mrs. Jones continued to listen to the two women’s conversation as they moved on to grandchildren, TV shows, previous places of residence and other general topics. When it was time to line up, the two had decided to sit together in the service. The visitor was no longer alone in that great mass of people. That’s the spirit of Christmas, she thought, God using the birth of His Son to bind people together. Suddenly she felt right at home herself, and as she gathered her family around her, felt that it was going to be a wonderful Christmas Eve after all.

Suddenly, in front of them, they see a man wearing bright neon-yellow reflective gear, smiling through the snow, welcoming them to the parking garage and pointing the way to an open spot. Gratefully, they pull in and tumble out, eager to get inside the warm church. When they emerged into the snow, all was again chaos, but another helpful volunteer directed them to the correct doors and wished them a Merry Christmas—only then did it seem like the mood had changed. They entered the warm Fellowship Hall and found snacks and warm drinks to soothe and amuse the children and hearten the adults. They had arrived in good time after all, and could relax and join in the conversations around them and meet new people. As the children munched and sipped, the adults sank gratefully onto chairs provided for them close to the door. Mrs. Jones, starting to relax, overheard a conversation several chairs over. It seemed that a woman had come alone, after many years of not attending First Presbyterian. “It just seemed so big,” she said to her neighbor, “I never felt like anyone really cared.” “That’s so sad,” the other woman replied. “Although I felt a little like that at first, I’ve gotten involved in great Sunday school classes over the years and really found friends as close as family. Plus I always go to

Joanna Watson is a member of First Pres and a full-time student (senior) at UCCS. She and her husband, Scott, have two boys, Jonathan and Caleb.

Christ mas Eve Tips:

• Arrive at least a half an hour early (services usually fill up quickly). • Enter through the Weber doors (east side of church). • Volunteers will show you to the appropriate waiting area, where you’ll receive your program and candle. • Take advantage of the warm drinks and cookies while you wait! • When the time comes, a leader will escort you out to the Sanctuary. • Have a Merry Christmas!

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Enjoy

it” crafts, complete with homemade cookies and plenty of holiday cheer. For reservation information, contact 884-6206. Advent Candle Lighting Service Another children’s favorite is our annual Advent Candle Lighting Service on December 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Our Route 56 children’s choir (5th and 6th grade) will perform an original musical production written by Lois Keffer and directed by Joy Thomas. Come enter into Sara’s adventures as she travels back in time to ancient Israel, meets the prophet Isaiah, and interprets Messianic prophecy. Admission is free!

By Victoria Dzwons

“…Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10, KJV) Let’s celebrate our Savior’s birth by experiencing the uplifting joy and power of the Holy Spirit in company with our brothers and sisters in Christ! First Presbyterian Church offers the community some wonderful Christmas events to encourage fellowship with our Lord and with one another. Simply Christmas Since Christmas is a time that especially stirs children’s imaginations, we are offering several gatherings for our young folks. Mighty Kids Simply Christmas (1:30-3:30 p.m.) and Simply Christmas (6:30-8:30 p.m.) are scheduled November 27. Mighty Kids is oriented to special needs children, involving a simpler version of Simply Christmas with a few less crafts. Both events are in the Aspen Room of Weber Street Center, and feature “make it/take 8 | www.first-pres.org | 12/09

Christmas Joy! Christmas Joy! will take place on December 13, with performances at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Center. Tickets are on sale through TicketsWest (online), the Pikes Peak box office, and at the first floor reception desk at First Pres. Phone orders (884-6144) begin November 19. Ticket prices are $12, $15, and $20. Groups of 20 or more and those 65 years of age and over receive a $1 per ticket discount. If you’ve never attended a Christmas Joy! concert, you’re in for a treat! The Sanctuary Choir and soloists, conducted by Jim DeJarnette and accompanied by a full orchestra, will


the Season

of Goodness and Praise!

delight your heart and spirit. There is a seasonal mix of classical, traditional, sacred, and big band jazz to please every musical inclination. The nationally acclaimed Pikes Peak Ringers, recent winners of a recording contract with cellist Yo Yo Ma, will perform “Dona Nobis Pacem,” under the direction of Kevin McChesney. We will also enjoy the Pikes Peak Singers from the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, directed by Lori Bammesberger. Once again, Ballet Emmanuel will bring a beautiful visual dimension to the concert. All-Church Christmas Party Our church pastors, the Rev. Jim Singleton and the Rev. Sara Singleton began a new tradition last year by inviting the church family to a festive, gala All-Church Christmas Party hosted by the Singletons and church staff. It was so well received we’ve decided to continue the tradition in 2009. An old-fashioned radio show with stories, live music and Lake Woebegone-type fun, Christmas on the Air, will “air” from 2–3 p.m. in the Sanctuary December 16. Afterward, everyone is invited to one of the most elegant, sumptuous and classy Christmas receptions you may attend this year. Truly, this is a Christmas party you won’t want to miss! For reservation information call 884-6167. Father/Son Christmas Brunch Another traditional favorite is the Grandfather/Father/Son Christmas Brunch held December 19 in the Fellowship Hall. Besides good food, fun and fellowship, Dr. Robert Cornuke of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute will speak on “The Search for the Ark of the Covenant, “The Ark and the Mercy Seat” and “The Search for the Mountains of Noah’s Ark.” These talks promise

to unearth a bit of knowledge! For reservation information call 884-6119. Christmas Eve Services Community-wide Christmas Eve Services will begin December 24 in the Sanctuary with a 10:30 a.m. children’s service followed by a 2, 3:30, 5, 7 and 8:30 p.m. candle-lighting services for the whole family. The 3:30 and 5 p.m. services are family-oriented and include children’s baptisms and sermons. The popular Celtic Candlelight Communion Service at 10:45 p.m. will feature music by Jim Ware on the hammer dulcimer and his musical family on guitar, keyboard, mandolin, violin, whistle and bodhran. Come early to make sure you will find a seat! Victoria Dzwons is a member of First Pres and a volunteer writer for First Pres Magazine.

The 10:30 a.m. Christmas Eve service will offer a unique opportunity for children to be part of the story of Jesus’ birth. Children may dress in simple costumes as someone who greeted Baby Jesus—an angel, shepherd, wise man, or animal. Bed sheets and bathrobes will work just fine, or even just a halo or crown will be perfect! As the nativity story is told, children will be invited to enter into the story— no rehearsal needed!

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FIRST PRES SPOTLIGHT

N E W T E S TA M E N T H O S P I TA L I T Y:

Love for the Stranger

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

“

Within the New Testament, the word for hospitality is the Greek word philoxenos, meaning love for the stranger. The hospitality ministry provides a welcoming and hospitable environment to all, with a special emphasis on first-time visitors. Beyond making visitors feel welcome, the hospitality team attempts to smoothly transition new people through a series of welcoming events that draw them into our fellowship. These events might include their first Web site visit, a hassle-free parking experience, hosts meeting them at the door, ushers welcoming them into worship, or friendly people in the pews. Hospitality also extends to a visit to Guest Central after the service for refreshments and a welcome gift, to brunch, and to follow-up phone calls and letters with invitations to join First Pres and to connect, to grow and serve. On Christmas Eve, it’s so important to show hospitality and love to every worshipper. One crucial element of hospitality is developing traffic flow systems that enable thousands of people to safely and efficiently enter and exit the worship services. This does not look like the regular Sunday morning routine, so First Pres members need to become informed and adjust accordingly. The orderly flow makes for a more worshipful and pleasant experience for all. Thank you to our congregation for welcoming the strangers and occasional visitors as we seek to draw all people to the Lord.

Regular Sundays Average 25-50 first-time visitors a week Weekly, First Pres volunteers cover these positions: 60 hosts, 120 food service workers, 45 parking attendants, 80 ushers, 30 greeters in Guest Central Advent Season Gradual increase in attendance, including more first-time visitors Nearly 1,000 additional people in worship the Sunday before Christmas Christmas Eve On average, more than 6,000 people attend services 35 additional all-day hospitality workers help on Christmas Eve 30 hospitality volunteers divide among the various services and a full host of ushers are active Volunteers start working before 10:30 a.m. and continue through to 11 p.m. Extra signage, parking and building access assistance, special printed info, cookies and punch to make Christmas Eve easy and worshipful for all 10 | www.first-pres.org | 12/09


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The

Innkeeper’s Daughter By Lois Keffer

A STORY FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES adassah sank into her bedroll and let out a deep breath. It had been a long day. Even now that the moon had risen, the inn had not settled into quiet. One couple was arguing in loud whispers. Snorts and snores echoed from one room, while a baby cried in another. A loud knock at the door startled Hadassah. Her father Elias stumbled to the door, grumbling. He barely cracked the door open. “No room,” he said in his grumpiest voice. “Please, sir, can you help us?” a man’s voice pleaded. “My wife is having a baby.” Having a baby? Hadassah scrambled to the door and peeked around her father. Sure enough, a young woman just a few years older than Hadassah was leaning against the house, struggling to catch her breath. Elias turned to Hadassah. What could they do? With visitors in town to pay taxes, every nook and cranny of the inn was full. “The stable?” Hadassah asked in a whisper. 12 | www.first-pres.org | 12/09

Elias nodded. “My daughter will take you up to our stable. It’s on the road above town. I’m sorry—that’s all I can offer.” Carrying a small oil lamp, Hadassah helped the young woman and her husband climb the steep, rocky hill that led to the cave. The man introduced himself as Joseph and his wife as Mary. Hadassah quickly swept a clean space by the cave wall and spread fresh straw on the floor, then covered it with her own shawl. Mary eased to the ground with a heavy sigh. Hadassah wiped the sweat from Mary’s forehead. “I’ll be back with water,” Hadassah promised, “and I’ll build you a fire.” Hadassah flew down the hill, glad for a bright moon. Reaching the courtyard of the inn, she hoisted a water jar on her shoulder, then hurried back up to the cave as fast as her trembling legs would carry her. Just as the first flames of the small fire she built licked orange


against the darkness, the wail of a newborn broke the stillness of the night. A soft wind suddenly blew from nowhere. The air seemed to shimmer and sway for just a moment. Looking around, Hadassah caught sight of the unusually bright star that hung low over the stable, then strained to catch the echo of a song so brilliant and joyful that it must have come from heaven itself. The little hairs on the back of Hadassah’s neck stood up. What was all this? Then the moment passed. Hadassah scolded herself for imagining such things and hurried into the cave to help Mary wrap the wee boy in soft cloth. Mary laid her hand on Hadassah’s arm. “How can we thank you for your kindness?” Hadassah just smiled and offered Mary a drink. “There, now, Mary,” she said, “look what a beautiful boy God has given you. Blessed be God who gives us life! Will you name him after his father?” Mary and Joseph smiled at each other. “His name is Jesus,” Joseph announced as he laid the baby in a feeding trough full of sweet hay. “He will save his people from their sins.” Hadassah sat back in surprise. But she was more surprised a moment later when several shepherds burst into the cave. When they saw the baby, they stepped backward, then dropped to their knees. “It’s just like the angel said it would be!” one whispered in awe. “Angel?” Hadassah asked. “Oh, yes!” another shepherd answered. “A angel dressed in glowing white appeared to us on the hillside. We were scared out of our wits!” A third shepherd broke in. “He told us that the Christ—the Messiah we’ve been longing for—would be born this night, and that we would find him wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” “And here he is!” cried the first shepherd. “Blessed be God who let us see this wondrous sight!”

Hadassah sat back on her heels and stared at the shepherds. Then she looked over at Mary who had happy tears streaming down her cheeks. Hadassah reached toward the baby, almost afraid to touch him. His tiny fingers grasped hers and held on tight. “This…this baby boy is our savior?” she whispered. She could see the truth shining in the eyes of those around her. “I…I must bring a gift!” When she rose, Mary stopped her with a gentle hand. “Hadassah,” she said. “You have welcomed him with kindness. You have honored him with faith. Be at peace. There are no greater gifts than what you have already given.” Lois Keffer is an award-winning author who plans never to grow up! She’s written over 30 books and especially enjoys writing our children’s Christmas musical each year.

Hadassah’s small oil lam p looked something like this. Like Ha dassah, can you offer a gift of kindness to so meone you don’t know? It might be as simple as giving an encouraging smile to tired parents shopping with cranky kids, or holding a door for someone who can’t mo ve very quickly. What will you do? Sh are ideas in your family, then be sure to tell about each time you deliver one of th ese very special gifts. You may be surprised to discover how one small act of kindness can change a person’s day!

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CHILDREN'S MINISTRIES

Celebrating Advent in Your Home Make an Advent Chain – Each day of December before Christmas, attach Bible verse links together to form a chain. You can print a copy of links to use and get detailed instructions from our website at first-pres.org/ adventchain. Family Christmas Cards – Try to find a card that will share how your family feels about the birth of Jesus. Think of a simple message for your cards. What would you most like to convey to your friends? Go through your card list together. Are there new friends that need to be added? Pray for each family on your list.

d in a hands-on setting for children in The Connection is a multi-dimensional Christian learning experience delivere grades K-4.

AK SNEE E P K

DECEMBER MEMORY VERSE: “I will praise God’s name in song; and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

how Christmas songs tell us of the In December, The Connection will focus on The Songs of Christmas. Kids will learn of Scripture to music. They’ll also words the putting by d expresse coming of Christ and the joy of His arrival. Often, this is many songwriters were different that fact The ed. compos and learn the stories of how some of these songs were written of different ways. They’ll also explore from others around them will help them see that they can praise God in a variety worship and remember all the events us help carols These carols. the traditions and meanings behind various Christmas news that Jesus Christ has come! good the and love s God’ of the Christmas story. Music is a beautiful way of sharing

Creation Station is a place where preschoo lers can begin to explore God’s Word thro ugh hands-on experiences that fit the unique needs and interests of children in this stage of development. We strive to be a model of Christ’s love by creating a nurturing environment where children can learn and grow as they begin the first steps of their faith journey.

SNEA PEEKK

DECEMBER MEMORY VERSE: “God loved us and sent his Son.” 1 John 4:10

Week-by-week, Creation Station will walk children through the story of Christmas, help ing them to discover why they can say, “I’m Glad Jesus is Born.” Children will learn how angels prepared both Mary and Joseph for the birth of Jesus. Next, they will accompany Mary and Joseph to Beth lehem, the city of David, where Jesus was born in a manger. Then they will learn how angels proclaimed the good news of the arrival of our Savior to shepherds tend ing their flocks in the fields. Finally, they will learn how wise men traveled a great distance and outwitted Herod to wors hip Jesus the King. 14 | www.first-pres.org | 12/09


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STUDENT MINISTRIES

Here is a personal confession of mine: “I LOATHE Shopping.” On Christmas Eve I often find myself sprinting around a mall looking for some gift that I don’t really like, and the person I’m buying it for will probably feel the same way.

By Nate Stratman

This Advent season the Student Ministry will teach a two-week series called the Advent Conspiracy, which focuses the ministry of “presence” in contrast to the giving of presents for Christmas. We team up with the missions department and encourage the students to purchase the incredible gifts from “Something Significant for Christmas” that support ministries in our backyard and across the globe. So here is a great suggestion to put an end to the shopping madness. In 2010, our church is supporting a large amount of students who will be serving on mission trips in Egypt, New Orleans, Kansas City and a family trip in our region. All of these students will be sending out support letters asking for partnership through prayer and/or financial support. What an incredible gift to give for Christmas! And to my teenage friends, I encourage you to consider asking for financial support for a mission trip instead of clothes or a gaming system this year.  If you want more information on how to give the gift of a mission experience, contact the Student Ministry office at 884-6220. Nate Stratman is Director of Student Ministries at First Pres.

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COLLEGE/YOUNG ADULT MINISTRIES

n May 25, 1977, George Lucas unleashed an assault on cinema that would change it forever: Star Wars. Shortly thereafter, toymaker Kenner recreated virtually every character and vehicle in the film. The crown jewel: Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. I wanted it. And I made sure, as only a 7-year-old can, that my grandmother knew I wanted it for Christmas. So she got it. Wrapped it. And slid it under her tree—in see-through wrapping paper … in October! Two months of exquisite longing tortured my little soul. Opening it— finally!—when Christmas arrived was rapturous. Little could I have known how that cycle of waiting and fulfillment, followed by more of the same, was just the beginning. Since then, I’ve shuffled through other seasons of unfulfilled desires. Many have taken place during my young adult years. Indeed, much of what we hope for in life gets concentrated in a few short (or long!) years early in our young-adult pilgrimage. We wait to be done with college. We wait for the right job. We wait for a spouse. Then kids. Then the desperate desire for those little ones to sleep through the night. Then a house big enough to hold us all. And the cycle continues. For many of us, young adulthood is defined by these cycles of waiting and hoping. We’ve barely reached one milestone when our desire morphs and we plunge into the next season of praying and longing. It can be a dizzying, disorienting time of hopes deferred. 18 | www.first-pres.org | 12/09

By Adam R. Holz Which brings me back to Christmas. Or, more specifically, Advent. I wonder if Advent—the season of expectation leading up to Christ’s birth—offers us a natural time to entrust these churning movements of our heart to God. After all, Advent is a season in which we ponder what God set into motion with the birth of a tiny babe, a little person who would change everything … but not quite yet. Advent is, by definition, a season of anticipation and expectation. And a season of waiting. As we move into Advent, what is your soul yearning for? God assures us that He knows these tender spots in our heart, and—amazingly—He waits for us to pour out the desires of our hearts to Him. For what it’s worth, I still don’t like waiting. Especially when I can see the proverbial Millennium Falcon under the tree. But I think it’s in these seasons that God does remarkable work, showing us things about ourselves and His character we might not have learned any other way. Likewise, Advent reminds us that God brings all things to fulfillment at the proper time … and that we can trust Him with the desires of our hearts. Adam R. Holz is senior associate editor at Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Online.


Events Calendar DECEMBER

week of 1–5

Wednesday, Dec. 2 Dinner 5 p.m. Candle Lighting Service &  Children’s Advent Musical 6:30 p.m. 

Women’s Lunchbreak 11:45 a.m.

week of 6–12

Sunday, Dec. 6 ESM Food Collections Second Week of Advent Services

Tuesday, Dec. 8 Engine Room Prayer Service 5:30 p.m.

week of 13–19

Sunday, Dec. 13 Third Week of Advent Services Christmas Joy Concert, PPC–2:30 & 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 All-Church Christmas Party, Sanctuary–2-3 p.m. FH–3-4 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 19 Salvation Army Bell Ringing 9a.m.-5 p.m. (sign-up 884-6108) Father/Son Christmas Brunch, FH – 9:30 a.m.

week of 20–26

Sunday, December 20 Fourth Week of Advent Services

Monday, Dec. 21 Longest Night Prayer Vigil for Homeless, Spruce & Colorado – 5 p.m. (info at 884-6108)

Thursday, Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Services (see ad on page 11)

Monday, Dec. 21 Salvation Army Bell Ringing 9a.m.-5 p.m. (sign-up 884-6108)

week of 27–30

Friday, Dec. 25 Christmas Day – Church Closed

Sunday, Dec. 27 Urbana Missions Conference Interfaith Hospitality Network (hosting families through Jan. 3, 2010)

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December 2009