MINISTER - FRAN HAYES

Throughout two thousand years of Christian worship, the Church has developed ways of keeping time. Some of these were adapted from the feasts and fasts that Jesus kept, as a faithful Jew. The pattern of the Christian year helps to keep us centered in Christ as we seek to proclaim the story of our faith, grow as Jesus' disciples, and carry out Christ's mission.

The Christian year begins with a focus on Christ's incarnation, with the season of Advent and Christmas. “Advent” means coming, which has a double meaning, as in Advent we celebrate Christ's coming into the world and look with longing and anticipation for Christ to come again. The season begins with an emphasis on the end times, as we hope and pray for the fulfillment of God's justice and the return of the Prince of Peace. As the season progresses, John the Baptist shows up urging us to “repent,” to turn our lives toward God and “prepare the way of the Lord.” In the final weeks of Advent, we practice expectant, hopeful waiting.

I am so grateful for the season of Advent. For many people, the weeks leading up to Christmas can be stressful, as they rush around, frantically trying to get ready for Christmas by shopping, cleaning, decorating, and baking. For some people, this is an anxious or fearful time. In the background is the anxiety that many people feel about things that are going on in the world. Some may be struggling with depression or loneliness, or maybe a vague sense of longing for things to be different. So, I love how 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 look backward into history and to look forward in hope to God's future. It invites us to pay attention to the disconnect between God's vision of peace and justice and what we see in the world, and to be attentive to signs of change and reasons to hope.

The season of Advent comes at a time when the world desperately needs a reason to hope. 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 the God who came to live among us, full of grace and truth, is continuing to do something new.

Advent hope can strengthen us to live courageously into God's way of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, working for God's justice and peace. I love the way one of my favorite Advent hymns, the “Canticle of the Turning,” puts it:

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.

Peace…Salam…Shalom.

SCRIPTURE READINGS

December 2
Hebrew Scripture-Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
Epistle Lesson-1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Gospel Lesson-Luke 21:35-36

December 9
Hebrew Scripture-Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79
Epistle Lesson-Philippians 1:3-11
Gospel Lesson-Luke 3:1-6

December 16
Hebrew Scripture-Zephaniah 3:14-20
Isaiah 12:2-6
Epistle Lesson-Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel Lesson-Luke 3:7-18

December 23
Hebrew Scripture-Micah 5:2-5a
Luke 1:47-55 or Psalm 80:1-7
Epistle Lesson-Hebrews 10:5-10
Gospel Lesson-Luke 1:39-55

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 30
Hebrew Scripture-1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Psalm 148
Epistle Lesson-Colossians 3:12-17
Gospel Lesson-Luke 2:41-52

January 6
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Epistle Lesson-Ephesians 3:1-12
Gospel Lesson-Matthew 2:1-12

January 13
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Epistle Lesson-Acts 8:14-17
Gospel Lesson-Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

January 20
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel Lesson-John 2:1-11

January 27
Hebrew Scripture-Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Gospel Lesson-Luke 4:14-21

PRAYER MINISTRY

Talking With God
Lord, even when I'm tired and have too much to do, give me your spirit of graciousness during the coming holiday season. Allow me to open my heart to all those I encounter and to treat each visitor to my home as an honored guest. Most of all, let me be hospitable without regard to whether the person will ever return the favor. I want to greet everyone as you would greet them, Lord – with compassion and an unconditional welcome.

Also, Lord, it gets crowded when everyone's home for the holidays – and there can be strife! It's easy for us to long for a quick return to our quieter day-to-day lives. Don't let our desire for peace and quiet rob us of the joy of spending time with loved ones, Lord! You've blessed us with quiet times and celebratory times, and we want to make the most of both.


Prayer
Lord, lead me by your Spirit today, so that the fruit of my character will bear witness to my genuine faith in you. Amen


Scripture
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2


Thought for the Month
A house overflowing with loved ones is a house overflowing with blessings.

HANGING OF THE GREENS
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1
At 9:00 a.m.

Ever wondered how the church is transformed each Christmas season? Come lend a helping hand and find out! The more people that come to help, the sooner everyone goes home to enjoy their day. An added bonus, you get to have some great fellowship and laughs!

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 2 and 9. Remember to leave the price tags on so we can determine the value of our donation. 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.
“O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL”

MARY CIRCLE December 3 @ 6:00 p.m. and
January 7 @ 7:30 p.m.

The December date is the Annual Secret Pal Supper. All are welcome even if you did not participate in the Secret Pal program. The January date will continue the study of God's Promise – I Am with You. This circle normally meets the 1st Monday of every month and shares a devotional, study and dessert. If you have an interest in this Women's Circle, please contact the church office. All women are welcome!

TAIZE WORSHIP DECEMBER 4 @ 7:00 p.m. &
JANUARY 1 @ 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!

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN
Wednesday, December 5

What happens every year in December? Christmas! Yes! No! I mean, of course, but what else happens every December? The Presbyterian Women hold an Advent Celebration! Of course. So, what is happening this year? Music! Devotions! Caroling! Holiday sweets and treats!

This year we will welcome Paul Demick of Marimba Music. Paul did not start out wanting to play the beautiful marimba, no. He began in elementary school with the clarinet. After a few too many squeaks and squawks and a good amount of frustration, 10-year-old Paul's mother allowed him to switch to percussion. Good choice! This earned him a music scholarship to Wayne State University. Paul is happy to play the marimba and to educate audiences about the instrument and the composers whose music he plays.

In addition to our musical guest we will have all of the above mentioned. The festivities begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Lounge. Admission is a heart ready to welcome Advent or a heart open to being readied for Advent. Come and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Bring your friends. Celebrate!

MEN: SAVE THE DATE Annual Presbyterian Men's
Communion Advent Breakfast
Saturday, December 8

Come join men from across the Detroit Presbytery to create a network for good in the community. The keynote speaker this year is John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press Senior Columnist. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. with communion, breakfast, and program starting at 8:00 a.m. This year's program is at Northbrook Presbyterian Church, 22055 W. Fourteen Mile, Beverly Hills, 48025. Tickets are $15 by advanced reservations only by December 1. For more details, please see the Mission Board across from the church office.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN

The Presbyterian Women of the Detroit Presbytery will gather at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor on Saturday, December 8, from 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. A brunch will be provided in the Social Hall at 9:30 a.m. Cost of the brunch is $8, and an entertaining Christmas program will follow. The Presbyterian Players of Farmington will present a play called “Christmas Unwrapped.” Please call the church office before November 30 to make reservations for the brunch.

Don't forget to buy your Christmas cookies in Fellowship Hall, after church, on December 9! Proceeds will go toward our mission project.

Mark Your Calendars:

Friday evening, January 11 – A potluck in the Lounge, followed by a slide presentation of a trip to Germany. Everyone is invited. Details to follow.

MISSION & OUTREACH TEAM

Upcoming Mission Activities: Alternative Christmas Giving Drive:
November 25 – December 16
Mission Outreach Day at Zaman
International: Saturday, December 8, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
McDonald School Sock Drive:
January 6 – January 27

Alternative Christmas Giving Drive:
This Christmas season our team is offering three opportunities for alternative giving. Locally, Dearborn's Blessings in a Backpack program needs more support. It costs roughly $20,000 to feed 200 kids for the school year. Your donations will be a gift to local Dearborn students in need. Checks can go directly to Christ Episcopal Church (Blessings in a Backpack in the memo) 120 N. Military Street, Dearborn, MI 48124.

Globally, there are many ways to make a difference. In Palestine, your $20 donation can plant an olive tree. Olive trees are the life blood of the Palestinian economy. They grow and produce for many years. However, for many years, the Israeli settlers have been taking over many olive groves and destroying the trees. Obviously, this has a very adverse reaction. The Keep Hope Alive Olive Tree Campaign of the YMCA/YWCA of Palestine has designated the First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo to be the conduit for sending contributions for olive trees for Palestine. Each tree costs $20. Should you wish to make a donation, please send a check to First Presbyterian Church (c/o of Laurie Buntain at 72 Kensington Road; San Anselmo, CA 94960) and write Acct. #227 – olive trees on the memo line. If you are honoring someone by giving a tree(s), please provide the name and mailing address of the honoree(s) so an official certificate from the YMCA/YWCA can be sent. Your donations toward olive trees will bring many blessings and will Keep Hope Alive. Thank you.

Heifer International is a third opportunity to help reduce hunger and poverty worldwide. Donations go toward livestock, farming supplies, education and other resources that teach sustainability and empower communities to be able to provide for themselves long-term. Heifer's mission is also to educate and realize women's empowerment and gender equity within communities and cultures. There are so many ways your donation can make a difference. Check out our display in the library or donate through Littlefield's personal giving page: fundraise.heifer.org/team/195623

Mission Outreach Day:
Please join us on Saturday, December 8, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. for a work day at Zaman International. They have plenty of organizing for us to do in their warehouse. If you've never seen how they operate, it's truly impressive. RSVP to the church office by Thursday, December 6. Zaman International is at 26091 Trowbridge, Inkster, MI 48141

McDonald School Sock Drive:
We probably slip on our socks and shoes each day without much thought. Did you know there are families in our Littlefield neighborhood who can't afford to buy their children socks? We can help. For the month of January 2019, we'll be hosting a sock drive for McDonald School. Please bring new socks for kids ages 5 to 12. They will be delivered to the school throughout the drive (January 6 – January 27).

Outdoor Food & Resource Pantry:
We won't know if we receive the pantry grant until January. If you have extra items to donate, please consider the following: shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent (small bottles), deodorant, diapers, baby wipes. As the cold months near, we are stocking more with toiletries than food items. Thank you! They are being used!

POINSETTIA ORDERS

We will be adorning the sanctuary with red poinsettia plants. The price is $13.00/plant. The plants will be in the sanctuary on December 23 & 24 and may be taken home following worship on December 24. The deadline for ordering these beautiful plants is December 11. 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 email.

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 21. Thank you.

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING

“Every generous act of giving is from above.” – James 1:17

The Christmas Joy Offering celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the truly “indescribable gift,” as well as the gifts of church leaders.

We give because God has freely given. We give to support our leaders-past, present, and future. The Board of Pensions has distributed over one million dollars from the 2017 offering for income supplements, housing supplements, and energy grants to over 900 households, for current and retired Presbyterian church workers in their times of need.

In addition, one million dollars in gifts is being used to provide education and leadership development skills at Presbyterian- related racial ethnic schools and colleges.

In gratitude to God for the gift of Jesus, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) invites us to join in this celebration of God's presence with us by supporting those that need help and hope.

This offering, which has been a Presbyterian commitment for over 140 years, will be collected at Littlefield on December 23.

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING

“The Perfect Gift”
www.pcusa.org/christmasjoy

Christmas Eve Service
Monday, December 24
at 7:30 p.m.

CLOSING THE BOOKS

All contributions for 2018 need to be in the office by Monday, December 24, so they may be deposited by the end of the year. If you ordered flowers in 2018 and have not paid for them, it is very important to have that money in by the 24th also.

Envelopes for 2019 will be available to pick up beginning Sunday, December 16. Any envelopes not picked up by the first of the year will be mailed out.

EVANGELISM AND MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE

Our next Engage! Book Group will meet on Wednesday, January 16. Before the discussion begins at 7:00 p.m., we will gather at 6:15 p.m. for a pizza and salad dinner. We will discuss Jesmyn Ward's Salvage The Bones. The author lived through Hurricane Katrina and in her novel she presents an African-American family from Mississippi as they prepare for and then endure the storm. Ron Charles of the Washington Post said: “I've just read [Salvage the Bones], and it'll be a long time before its magic wears off … [a] fiercely poetic novel … What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico … Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy … A palpable sense of desire and sorrow animates every page here … Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it.” The book is available in the Kindle version as well as print.

If you're a relative newcomer or anyone who isn't an official member of Littlefield, you are invited to join us on February 17 for a simple lunch and conversation in the Littlefield Lounge. It will be a time for us to get to know each other better, and a time for us to answer any questions you may have. People who have been members for a very long time need to hear new perspectives as we seek ways to welcome new people. We'll talk about worship and what kinds of learning, fellowship and service opportunities people are interested in. We'd also be happy to answer questions about why we do things in a particular way, what we believe, or any other questions you've been wanting to ask. If you would like to attend this event, please contact the church office or Pastor Fran.

CENTS-ABILITY OFFERING

Our next Cents-ability Offering will be Sunday, January 27. If you have been setting aside two cents for every meal since our last offering on September 23, each person will accumulate $7.56. This offering will be split between the Presbyterian Hunger Program where it will help feed those who often don't have three meals a day and the Blessings in a Backpack program.

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 28 at 6:30 p.m. The men will continue their study of Interrupting Silence, Chapter 3, Silence Kills. All men are invited for an evening of eating and study. If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

FLOWERS FOR 2019

It is the time of the year when we start signing up to give flowers to adorn the sanctuary each Sunday next year. If you would like to give flowers on any particular Sunday, please call the church office. The cost will be determined by the florist within the next month.

PASTOR TRANSITION

“Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11

When a pastor leaves a congregation, it can be an emotional time, when we give thanks for how we have learned and grown and served God together over the years, grieve losses we have shared together, and much more. But this time of transition can also be a time of great growth and strengthening, as the congregation is challenged to study and pray about their mission and sense of call. As part of this, the congregation will need to have a self-study team, that includes long-time members and newer people. This team will need to work on a number of important areas, so that Littlefield will have a well-informed discernment process.

The self-study team will review the congregation's resources, patterns of mission giving and work, and highlights of Littlefield's history. They will gather information about Littlefield's community: who are our neighbors, and what do they need? The congregational analysis will look at how the congregation is doing. A vision statement will ask what does the congregation look and act like. The mission aspect of the self-study will ask what God's purpose is for the congregation. In addition, the team will consider what kind of a leader is needed to lead the congregation in the next chapter of Littlefield's life. This all sounds like a lot of study and work, so I want to remind you that you've done work in many of these areas, and you can build on that. You can do this, with God's help.

The Session will be meeting December 11 with Sandra Karam, from the Presbytery Committee on Ministry, to initiate a process of working together through the transition time. Going forward, Session will appoint an interim pastoral search team to work with COM/Temporary Pastoral Relations.

If you'd like to know more about this process and how you might help, please talk with a Session member or me about it. In faith, hope, and love. – Pastor Fran Hayes

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.

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.