MINISTER - FRAN HAYES

For many people, this is a stressful time. People around us are rushing around, frantically trying to get ready for Christmas by shopping, cleaning, decorating, and baking. In the background is the anxiety many people are feeling since the election.

During Advent, the church, through its liturgies and scripture and songs, invites us to slow down, to ponder what time it is in the big picture, to take time to look backward into history and to look forward in hope. It invites us to pay attention to the disconnect between God's vision of peace and justice and what we see in the world.

The season of Advent comes at a time when the world desperately needs a reason to be hopeful. We wait and hope for the love that comes to us at Christmas in the person of Jesus the Christ, who was born as a helpless baby in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, in a region that was occupied by the Roman Empire. In the midst of what we see around us, Advent invites us to find joy in the faith that our God is again doing something new. It invites us to journey into the poverty and brokenness and doubts of our world to discover the places where something new is being birthed.

Advent is about real hope, a hope that can give us resilience and courage to live in the shadow of dark and seemingly hopeless situations. This hope can help us to live into God's way of love, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing, working for God's justice and peace.

In the words of the “Canticle of the Turning:” My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, And the world is about to turn.
Come, Lord Jesus!

Peace – Shalom – Salam.

SCRIPTURE READINGS
(Based on Revised Common Lectionary)

December 4
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Epistle Lesson-Romans 15:4-13
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 3:1-12

December 11
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55
Epistle Lesson-James 5:7-10
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 11:2-11

December 18
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Epistle Lesson-Romans 1:1-7
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 1:18-25

December 24 (Christmas Eve)
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Epistle Lesson-Titus 2:11-14
Gospel Lesson-Luke 2:1-20

December 25 (Christmas Day)
Dawn: Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 62:6-12
Psalm 97
Epistle Lesson-Titus 3:4-7
Gospel Lesson-Luke 2:1-20
Day: Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98
Epistle Lesson-Hebrews 1:1-12
Gospel Lesson-John 1:1-14

January 1
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 63:7-9
Psalm 148
Epistle Lesson-Hebrews 2:10-18
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 2:13-23

January 8
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Epistle Lesson-Acts 10:34-43
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 3:15-17

January 15
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel Lesson-John 1:29-42

January 22
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 4:12-23

January 29
Hebrew Scripture-Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 5:1-12

PRAYER MINISTRY

Humility At Christmas

Years ago, I volunteered to help serve the annual community Christmas dinner. Among those waiting to be served, I met a recently widowed woman whose children were hundreds of miles away, several young adults living in rooms in a hotel and a woman physically abused by her daughter.

Then the program coordinator asked if I would pray before the meal. I wondered what would be appropriate for all of us. After some thought, I prayed a simple prayer of adoration and thanksgiving and ended, “…through Jesus Christ, whose birthday anniversary we celebrate today. Amen”

A most exuberant “Amen!” resounded throughout the hall. My heart was warmed and joyful. Here were the lonely, the poor, the abused and forgotten, God's people, enthusiastically expressing their thanks.

Like the shepherds who believed the message of Jesus' birth responded by going to worship Him and returned praising God, so these came to be nourished physically and spiritually and then to rejoice!
Author Unknown


Thought For The Day
God uses us to give gifts of love to those in need.
Author Unknown


Prayer
O come to us, Emmanuel, as to the humble shepherds. May our hearts receive Your gift of salvation. Amen.


Scripture Verse
God loved the world so much that he gave
his only Son, so that everyone who believes
in him may not die but have eternal life.
John 3:16

THE MEANING OF ADVENT

As Christians, we follow a different calendar. Today, the high points of the Christian year are Easter and Christmas, though throughout much of church history the three main events were Easter, Pentecost, and the feast of Epiphany. In the early centuries of the church, December 25 was designated as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Over time Christians came to see that Christmas needed a season of preparation. Throughout the medieval period and until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Advent was considered a season of penitence, like Lent. The mood was to be somber, with the emphasis on the coming judgment and our need for a savior, so the season color was purple, to symbolize penitence. When Martin Luther introduced the Advent wreath in the sixteenth century, the color for the candles was purple, except for the Third Sunday, when the church hears a message of joy from the scriptures and the candle is rose- colored. The liturgical renewal movement beginning in the middle of the 20th century worked to change the character of Advent to more of a season of anticipation and preparation, and the color was changed to blue.

WARM FUZZIES

Winter is here and as we search our closets for our hats and gloves, let us remember those who don't have any, or closets to store them. The Presbyterian Women will be collecting "Warm Fuzzies" and donating them to local Detroit shelters. Please bring your donations of hats, gloves and scarves (men's items are especially needed) and put them in the basket in the library on Sunday, December 4 and 11. Remember to leave the price tags on so we can determine the value of our donation. Thank you!

TAIZE WORSHIP
DECEMBER 6 @ 7:00 p.m. & JANUARY 3 @ 7:00 p.m.

Light, prayer and music are woven together in a contemplative prayer service. Short, simple songs, repeated again and again, help one enter into a meditative state. Thus, this meditative singing becomes a way of listening to God. All are invited, regardless of faith background and age, to come and renew your spirit. Following will be a time of prayer & spiritual conversation with God by sharing with each other what He is doing in our lives. Let's unbind our hearts and minds and envision the difference we can make in people's lives through Jesus! You are invited to dress comfortably and casually. Invite a friend!

POINSETTIA ORDERS

We will be adorning the sanctuary with red poinsettia plants. The price is $12.00/plant. The plants will be in the sanctuary on December 18 & 25 and may be taken home following worship on December 25. The deadline for ordering these beautiful plants is December 6. This is a great way to remember a loved one or show your gratitude and appreciation to someone. You may place your order by contacting the church office by phone or mail.

ADVENT TEA

What are you doing the evening of Wednesday, December 7? We have a suggestion! Why not join us in the Lounge for some Holiday Spirit? We will be singing carols and enjoying the sounds of the Cherry Hill Consort, the recorder ensemble that has been entertaining audiences in Michigan for some 20+ years. They have a wonderful repertoire of Baroque and medieval music. The sounds of which will indeed invoke memories of Christmas's past.

We will be topping off the evening with sweets and treats of the homemade and holiday variety. The best part is that this evening is open to you and your friends and free of charge! It is an Advent tradition of the Presbyterian Women of Littlefield to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Christ Child. So, gather your neighbors and family and plan to join us at 7:00 p.m. in the church Lounge on December 7 this year. A time of centering in on the real reason for the season!

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN

The Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of Detroit (PWPD) will gather on Wednesday, December 7, at Grosse Ile Church from 9:45 a.m. through lunch. During the program, we will meet Charles Dickens and enjoy Grosse Ile's Renaissance man portraying the legendary author of The Christmas Carol. Music by Island troubadour, Barry VanEngelen, playing and leading the singing of Christmas carols. Lunch will cost $8 and reservations should be made to May Eix (313-563-8738) by Friday, December 2.

Our annual Christmas Cookie Sale will be held after the worship service on Sunday, December 11. This is a great time to buy a variety of Holiday cookies to give to family and friends. Proceeds will support our PW missions.

The PW of Littlefield are sponsoring a potluck on Friday, January 27, at 6:00 p.m. We will meet in the Lounge for delicious food. Mark your calendars as everyone enjoys a potluck and fellowship!

THE PRESBYTERY OF DETROIT
MEN'S ADVENT COMMUNION
BREAKFAST CELEBRATION

Saturday, December 10

Come join men from across the Detroit Presbytery to create a network for good in the community. The keynote speaker this year is John George, Executive Director, Motor City Blight Busters. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. with communion, breakfast, and program starting at 8:00 a.m. This year's program is at First Presbyterian Church, 200 E. Main St., Northville, 48167. Tickets are $15 by advanced reservations only by December 1. For more details, please contact the church office.

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING
Sunday, December 18

“The Wondrous Gift Is Given”
www.pcusa.org/christmasjoy
For more than 70 years, Presbyterians have given generously at Christmas to support the unmet needs of families who have devoted their lives to the mission of the PC(USA). Today this Offering is shared equally by the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, which provides critical assistance to Presbyterian church workers and their families, and six Presbyterian- affiliated racial ethnic schools and colleges, which enable students to develop their gifts and find their calling. The Offering dates back to the 1930's, when the former Presbyterian church in the U.S.A. began an offering to supplement inadequate retirement income and provide supplemental medical insurance for former ministers, missionaries, church workers, and their families.

Please read the bulletin inserts during Advent, as these flyers provide us with the stories of individuals who received benefits from the Christmas Joy offering.

We will receive this special offering thru the end of the year. Just mark your contribution with “Christmas Joy” so it can be processed properly. Thank you for your generosity!

LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US!

If you or someone you know would like a ride to church for our candlelight Christmas Eve service, please call the church office. The Evangelism Committee will be happy to arrange for a member or friend of Littlefield to drive you to church. We want to make sure everyone is able to join us as we celebrate Christ's birth with our service of lessons and carols. To help make arrangements, please notify the church office by December 20. Thank you.

WORSHIP WITH US THIS ADVENT SEASON

WORSHIP during Advent is a time for us to prepare the way for Christ to come more fully into our hearts and lives. Be with us each Sunday of Advent at 10:30 a.m. as we light Advent candles and prepare for Christ to be born anew in our lives.

Christmas Eve
Candlelight Service
@ 7:30 p.m.

Christmas is always a special time in the life of the church. Christmas Eve service promises to be a moving and joyous celebration of the mystery and joy of Christ's birth, as we meditate on the scriptures, sing Christmas carols and hear inspiring music from the organ, adult choir, soloists, and musicians. Christmas is also one of the times of the year when people are most receptive to an invitation to come to worship. This is a beautiful service. We urge you to bring someone with you so they may hear the good news and the joyous message of God–with–us!

Join us Christmas Eve as we lift our voices in prayer and song; and light the candles to symbolize the light of Christ. Then let the light of Christ warm our hearts and illuminate our way as we go back into the world.

Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25
@ 10:30 a.m.
“Carols and Cocoa”

Join us for an informal, family friendly, brief service in the Lounge celebrating the birth of our savior in song and story. If you know someone who will be alone on Christmas Day, please invite them to come with you.
“O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL”

WHAT DOES JESUS WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?

When we celebrate a birthday, we are careful to give what the person really wants or needs. By helping to provide a goat for a family in Honduras, a decent home for a family in the Gulf Coast, or food for those who are victims of war or disaster, we can give Jesus a birthday gift he really wants.

Heifer International works with families and communities in the United States and all around the globe to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. With as little as $10 you can make a difference. Depending on how much you can afford, you can donate a trio of rabbits, a pig, sheep, goat, llama, water buffalo, or a heifer. You may browse the catalogs in the church library, or you may give online from the comfort of your home at www.heifer.org. To help children to understand more about the children whose lives are changed by Heifer Project, you could give them a lovely picture book, Beatrice's Goat or Faith the Cow. (Both are available at Amazon.com and elsewhere.)

Several nonprofit organizations work with artisans and small-scale farmers in developing regions around the globe to offer handcrafts and food items. You can do a search on the internet of “fair trade products” and several links will be given for you to review. Through your purchase of these fair- trade products, their lives improve, and benefits extend to their families and communities. So, fair-trade-purchased gifts give twice.

Pal Craftaid is a non-profit ministry of compassion, hope and healing for peace and justice in Palestine. It sells a beautiful assortment of carved olive wood and traditional counted cross stitch pieces. Profits are returned to Palestinian, Christian- managed organizations in Palestine. Check out the web page: www.palcraftaid.org.

Some have expressed a desire to help with disaster assistance. It could be a good way to honor Jesus at Christmas by supporting Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. At the website, you can read about all the locations and services that are being provided with the funds. You can give online at www.pda.pcusa.org or write a check to Littlefield with a memo: PDA.

WORSHIP AND CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

By the time you read this, we should have our new headset microphone for Pastor Fran to use in the sanctuary. Since the breakage of the previous one, we have borrowed one from HFC and we thank them for the loaner. Did you know that as a part of the sound system we record each Sunday's worship service on a CD? We are able to make CD's of the services available to anyone not able to come on a Sunday morning. Let your Deacon know if you would like to regularly receive CD's of the worship service. Also, Pastor Fran's sermons are posted on the Littlefield web page www.littlefieldchurch.org so you can listen to them again, or if you missed a service. Fran also posts written copies of her sermons on her blog, revfranmusings.blogspot.com/ and links them to the Littlefield Presbyterian Church Facebook page. Maybe some of your friends would enjoy listening to or reading Fran's sermons. Almost 100 people recently viewed Fran's post-election sermon from Sunday, November 13, on her blog.

Speaking of sound in the sanctuary, did you know that there are speakers in the Coffee Hour room that broadcast the service? If you feel the need to stretch your legs, or have wiggly or noisy children, one solution might be to step into the Coffee Hour room for a few minutes and listen to the service there. There is a volume dial for the speakers on the wall near the hallway door in the library, by the loveseat.

Due to the fact that Christmas Day and New Year's Day are both on Sundays this year, we will have the following schedule. The Christmas Day worship service, “Carols and Cocoa” will be at the regular time of 10:30 a.m., but will be a shortened, informal, family friendly service featuring carol singing and short readings by members of the congregation. It will be held in the Lounge with cocoa and bagels before the service. If you know of someone who may be alone on Christmas Day, please invite them to Littlefield! Our New Year's Day worship service will be back in the sanctuary with communion and a sermon by Caleb Jones, our former seminary intern, now an official Inquirer in the PC(USA), sponsored by our congregation. Please join us to hear Caleb's message for the New Year!

CLOSING THE BOOKS

All contributions for 2016 need to be in the office by Sunday, December 25, so they may be deposited by the end of the year. If you ordered flowers in 2016 and have not paid for them, it is very important to have that money in by the 25th also.

MEN'S STUDY GROUP

The Men's Study Group will not meet in December due to the holidays. They will meet again on Monday, January 23 at 6:30 p.m. The men will continue their study on “Islam and Christianity,” Session 6, Live as Holy People. All men are invited to attend. If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

EVANGELISM AND MEMBERSHIP

Our Engage! Book Group met on November 2 to discuss “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich, a Native American novelist. After a pizza and salad dinner, eight of us discussed the relationship between Native American reservations and the United States. We explored the legal challenges that were raised in the story and we discussed some aspects of Native American culture. The discussion was very timely in light of the Standing Rock tribe's on-going protest of the North Dakota pipeline. Our next book is “The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement” by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine highly recommends this book saying: “Rev. Barber's unquenchable fire for justice shines through every page of this remarkable book. I strongly recommend The Third Reconstruction, which shows how a moral, multiracial, and sacrificial movement can change the future of our democracy.” We will meet on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 to discuss this book. As in the past, we will meet in the lounge for a light dinner at 6:15 p.m. followed by discussion starting at 7:00 p.m. All are invited.

This Advent we are using the PC(USA)'s 2016 Advent Devotional: “Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace.” This devotional focuses “on the need for Christ's transformative hope amidst the themes of desolation and isolation found in immigrant detention and mass incarceration.” (quote taken from the PC(USA) Church Store). Advent is a time for yearning├│a looking forward in hope for the deliverance from bondage. We all experience spiritual bondage and yearn for the freedom to live and love in the Spirit. This year's Advent devotional puts us in touch with those who are experiencing physical bondage. May we be sensitive to their plight and active in their deliverance.

Our Taize service scheduled for February 7, 2017 will be followed by a labyrinth walk. Beth Delaney (who facilitated our Core Values session last May) is providing her portable 25-foot labyrinth which will be set up in the Fellowship Hall. Many of us have found the labyrinth to be a very calming and centering experience. The labyrinth walk will begin at 8:00 p.m. All are invited.

LITTLEFIELD FOOD BANK?

The Session has approved an inquiry into having a food program here at the church. Do you want to be a part of an exciting new program? There are lots of possibilities and many questions to be answered! Call the church office if you are interested in helping!

FLOWERS FOR 2017

It is the time of the year when we start signing up to give flowers to adorn the sanctuary each Sunday next year. The new flower chart will be ready beginning the second Sunday in December. If you would like to give flowers on any particular Sunday and are unable to get to church, please call the church office and we will write your name on the chart. The cost will be determined by the florist within the next month.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY

As winter approaches and we settle into our cozy evenings trying to stay warm, I can think of one good way to enjoy those evenings ~ knitting or crocheting a Prayer Shawl! Okay, so most of us are pretty busy even in our winter evenings, but this is just a reminder to let all know that we have yarn, patterns, needles and hooks available if you would like to participate in our Prayer Shawl Ministry. This congregation and friends have crafted hundreds of shawls to date and these have gone out to celebrate new marriages and new life; to console those who are grieving; and to support and encourage those who are in need of healing.

We meet in the Tozer Room at church on the fourth Thursday of the month from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. (Note the new time!) to pray, knit, crochet and visit. Some of our crafters simply work on their shawls from home and bring them into us to be blessed before being handed on. We will be happy to set you up with the necessary tools to begin and even give knitting or crocheting lessons!

If you would like to get started or need more information, please contact the church office. By the way, we will not meet in December because of the holidays!

CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT

Who we are:
We are a community of ordinary people
committed to growing together as disciples of Jesus Christ
through worship, fellowship, learning, prayer, and mission.

Why we exist:
To love God, one another, and all people.
To show God's love in our work for peace and justice.