While Bishop Eaton
was still our synodical bishop she challenged
every congregation in Northeastern Ohio to participate
in a spiritual discernment process she dubbed
“On the Journey Forward.” Even though
Bishop Eaton is now serving as the Presiding Bishop
of the ELCA the Journey Forward continues.
First Church has
a Journey Forward team consisting of Ray Treudler,
Darden Blake, John Brinzo, Kurt Blankenship, Connie
Nielsen, and the pastors. We are part of a cluster
of nine congregations who will meet together regularly
to participate in this process. Our team will
also meet on its own, in between cluster meetings,
to work on a variety of assignments designed to
help us understand our identity and what God has
called us to do and be in the Strongsville community.
The Journey Forward
process involves four general phases. Discovery
is the data gathering phase, designed to give
us an accurate picture of our congregation and
community. Diagnosis is the analysis
phase where we will attempt to interpret the data
and what it reveals about our mission and ministry.
Decision is the planning phase
where we will design a mission plan with measurable
goals. Because we are working within a cluster
we may discover that a partnership with another
congregation in some particular area of ministry
may be beneficial. Do is the
implementation phase, and well … it’s
where we will actually start DOING something.
As this process
continues the congregation will be updated and,
at times, invited into the process to provide
valuable information and insight. In the meantime
the team invites the prayers of the congregation
for clear insight and understanding of God’s
intentions for us.
with us on Christmas Eve:
4pm – Contemporary Worship
(Lessons & Carols)
8pm – Candlelight & Communion
10pm – Candlelight & Communion
One service on December 29 at 10
was minding my own business, looking
over the railing down onto the Christmas
village in the center of the mall.
The department store Santa was chatting
with one of the “elves”
as the train chugged around its short
loop. “Jingle Bells” blared
continually over the PA system. A
gentleman I did not know sauntered
up to share the railing. He appeared
to be a bit older than I, his head
balding and his beard graying. “Couldn’t
they wait until after Thanksgiving?”
he lamented. (It was November 14.)
went on to reminisce about the “old
days” when his father used to
take him downtown on the rapid transit
at Christmas time. Their first stop
was Halle’s seventh floor to
visit Mr. Jingaling. From there they
walked to Higbee’s to see the
animated window displays. He complimented
me by saying that I looked
too young to remember the giant tree
at Sterling-Lindner. For a brief moment
I was transported back in time because
my mother made a similar trip with
me each December when I was a boy.
It was just part of what we did as
of us have Christmas traditions and
rituals that are repeated annually.
The purpose of these activities and
observances, I think anyway, is to
bring familiarity to the season. (It
must be Christmas because …
) Or, perhaps, build memories. (Remember
how we made that ornament in Sunday
school?) Or, create connections from
one generation to the next. (Let’s
bake those cookies using Grandma’s
been reading Rob Bell’s new
book, What We Talk About When We Talk
About God. In it he suggests that
while these rituals can certainly
be filled with meaning they can also
become “so familiar, so predictable,
so harmless, so benign” that
we can miss the “extremely radical
claim about the very nature of reality.”
What Bell is referring to is that
the divine and the human exist in
the same place, in the same body,
in this Jesus whose birth we celebrate.
Theologians call this mystery the
incarnation. The biblical writers
used the name Emmanuel which, in Hebrew,
means God with us.
claims (rightly, I believe) that the
Christmas story is subversive because
it gives us a picture of a God who
is not distant, detached, indifferent
or uninterested, but instead is present
among us in Jesus to teach us, help
us, suffer with us, and give us hope.
In Jesus we get a clear picture of
what God is like and what God intends
for us and for the whole creation.
the midst of your own seasonal rituals,
whatever they might be, take time
to immerse yourself in what Bell calls
the subversive side of Christmas.
Focus and reflect on what it means
that God is with YOU PERSONALLY in
Jesus Christ. Remember and give thanks
that God has come near to reveal the
good news that you are loved unconditionally.
These are radical ideas
that still have the power to turn
your life upside down, not to mention
the God who comes to us in Jesus fill
you with love and light, even, and
especially, in the midst of your holiday
and waiting with you,
you have a prayer request?
Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
concerns known, or Click
Here to submit one for inclusion
during our next service.
Your Talents with
do I get involved?
on the “Share Your Spiritual Gifts
Volunteer Form” link below if you
know the gifts you have been given, and
let us know how you would like to share
them with First Church this coming 2013-2014
on the “Discover Your Spiritual
Gifts” link below. The survey is
simply a list of questions that help identify
what gifts, skills and interests you have
been given. Once you submit the completed
survey, we will score it and email you
with the results. We will also include
a few suggestions regarding volunteer
opportunities that are a good fit for
your gifts. If you would like to share
your gifts, please take the “Share
Your Spiritual Gifts” survey and
we will get you connected!
regarding the surveys, or opportunities
to share your gifts with First Church,
can be directed to Connie at (440)238-7890
or send an email to email@example.com.
News, Photos, etc..
- Important Dates - Stuff.....
THANK YOU to my church
family – especially our Prayer Chain and JOY
Group – for your continued prayers for my
son-in-law, Ron Adams. How else could he have come
through his multiple surgeries and complicated medical
issues this past year?
He was recently told that he must have an above-knee
amputation, followed by about three months of therapy
in a nursing home. His surgery was done on October
4. He was released on October 6! His surgeon and
the entire staff at Southwest Hospital are amazed.
Ron’s insurance company denied admission for
therapy because his stump was so well healed –
no redness or noticeable swelling – that he
should go to outpatient therapy instead.
It sounded like Divine Intervention to me J and
it proves the POWER of PRAYER! We should not be
shocked. After all, Jesus said, “… ask
anything in my name and I will do it.” (John
I thank Him for listening and granting such a quick
click on a link below to view the current
newsletters published by First Lutheran Church.
community Food Bank is running low on food.
Donations may be dropped off in the shopping carts
located near the doors. Items needed most: canned
soup, canned tuna, canned vegetables, peanut butter,
SCS offerings thru the
end of the program year will go to Providence House,
one of the oldest child care organizations in the
country to house newborns to children age 10 for
an extended period of time. They are voluntarily
placed there when there is fear of abuse or neglect
within the family. The family also receives needed
help and support to change the home environment.
Watch for more details on this service project.
Prayer & Care Group prepares and sends
cards to those of us, young and old alike, who are
lonely, suffering from illness or injury, or those
with on-going issues. Join us the first Friday of
every month at 10 AM. Questions? Contact Sue Ludwig
(440.238.5164 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lutheran Busy Bags contain quiet items,
crayons, and books for children to use during the
service. They can be found under the table at the
back of the church. Just ask an usher if you would
like one of these bags for your little one.
Health Services/Children Who Witness Violence is
in need of men’s business clothes and shoes,
furniture, cleaning supplies, pots, pans, and casserole
dishes. If anyone has donations, please place them
in the Fellowship Hall entrance. Questions? Please
call Tammy (216.548.2761).
Street Ministry continues to collect
men’s socks for the homeless. Please place your
donation in the marked box by the Fellowship Hall
entrance. Questions? Contact Steve Gall (440.238.3019).
the Red, White, and Blue Team!
new Mission Ministry is being kicked
off to help military families within
our congregation and community that
have a parent or loved one currently
deployed overseas. We are looking for
volunteers to provide meals, home handyman,
and babysitting services for military
families that could use a little extra
help and support.
fulfill your patriotic duty while doing
the work our Lord has called us to do!
ELCA Malaria Campaign intends to contain
malaria on the African continent by 2015.
To help, make a donation using the special envelope
in the pews. Make checks payable to First Lutheran
Church, and place envelopes in the offering
plate. Our goal is to raise $5,100.
you have a prayer request? Please use the bulletin
board over the water fountain to make your prayer
get rid of your old cell phone? Recycle
the old one! Please drop off old cell phones
and used ink cartridges – boxes located
on the table under the youth bulletin board
by the Fellowship Hall entrance. Questions?
Contact Debbie Brighter (440.572.2627).
by the Welcome Center, in the
lobby, for additional information on our activities
your altar flowers to local nursing
homes or our own church shut-ins. If anyone
is interested in assisting with delivering these
flowers, please contact Penny Stupka (440/238-1667).
for a Reason - If you know any woman
currently undergoing Chemo, please pass the
word to her that there is a cleaning service
that provides FREE housecleaning – 1 time
per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.
All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor
fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning
for a Reason will have a participating maid
service in her zip code area arrange for the
Emergency Food Bank - The Food Bank
is open to Strongsville residents year-round:
Monday thru Friday, 9:30 – 11:30 AM and
including the 2nd Saturday of every month. Call
440/846-0197 for more information. Nonperishable
food items can be placed in the shopping carts
by the side and Fellowship Hall entrances. This
is taken to the Strongsville Food Bank.
Both pastors offer open office hours
for anyone who wants to stop by to share &
concerns. It is helpful to call in advance for
an appointment. Drop-in visitors are received
on a first come, first served basis. Pastor Chuck’s hours are 10
- noon on Tuesday.
Pastor Kathy’s hours are 10 – noon
parties, or just everyday living ... if you
shop at GFS - don’t
forget to mention First Lutheran when checking
out and help First earn credit to supply future
CWWV clients need
women’s size 16 jeans or pants and XL
solid color tops. Also, men’s size large
and size 18 boy’s shorts for a 15-yr-old.
Please place donations in the church office.
Questions? Please call Tammy Widdows (216.548.2761).
The PATH Program
(serving those living under bridges and in the
woods) needs canned food to hand out to people
they find. Please put your donations in the
shopping carts. Questions? Please contact Tammy
WOW will continue
to collect women’s full-size personal
hygiene items and diapers for Laura’s
Home. Donations may be placed in the container
on the Welcome Center.
Church has a program to provide CD recordings,
currently of the lesson readings, Gospel
reading, and sermon, for members who are
unable to attend regular services.
shut-in will be provided with a CD player,
on loan from the church, with which to listen
to the service recording mailed or delivered
to them each week. Plans are to expand the
recording capability to the entire service
in the future.
you know of any or our members, or nonmembers,
who may be interested in participating in
this program, please contact the church
office or click
now have a special page on this Web site
devoted to the prior sermons from each week
here to view the sermons you
following are church events and fellowship opportunities
at First Church. A complete listing of all of the
Church Events can be downloaded by clicking on the
"Weekly Revelations" located in the box
to the left.
are now for sale to adorn the sanctuary on Christmas
Eve. Forms are available in the lobby or Click
Here to download an order form.
8th is the last Sunday to purchase
poinsettias to adorn the sanctuary on Christmas
Eve. Forms are available in the lobby.
invited to make a difference in the life of a little
girl who is in first grade at Drake. One female
from our congregation can positively change this
child’s life. It will take only ONE hour a
week for about 24 weeks. If you can volunteer, please
contact KIDS HOPE USA Director, Gloria Reichert
is a Prelude?
The prelude in church
plays a crucial role in our worship experience.
The official definition of a “prelude”
is “an action or event serving as an introduction
to something more important.” A prelude is
something far more important than just some background
music as you find your way to a pew. It has a purpose!
The prelude sets up the entire worship service.
It puts us in the state of mind and prepares us
for the message that is about to come.
The service does not
start at our announcements, it starts at the prelude.
I encourage you to try and listen.
Let the music move you into a mindset ready to worship.
Use this time for meditation and prayer. If this
is a new idea for you, I encourage you to listen
and find how the music you are listening to makes
you feel. Let the prelude, a vital part of the service,
help you find a more meaningful and inspiring worship
experience for you.
Donald M VerKuilen III
Director of Music Ministries
offering envelopes are in the lobby!
Moving Beyond Our Shame
will be the topic of the Sunday Adult Class during
the month of December. This class will be taught
by Pastor Chuck and is based on the work of shame
researcher Dr. Brene Brown. Topics to be discussed
What is shame and where does
it come from?
Understanding our shame triggers.
Zooming out on our shame: Practicing
How reaching out to others
breaks down the culture of shame.
Are you interested
in learning how to play the Organ? Our
Music Director, Don VerKuilen is offering lessons
on the King of Instruments here at First Lutheran.
Contact Don for more details at email@example.com
or call at 920.209.0538.
and donuts are available in the Fellowship Hall
on Sunday mornings. This is a service
project of our Confirmation students and their
families. The donuts are purchased at a cost of
$.50 per donut.
All other items are donated. Please help us cover
the cost of the donuts.
year the Children’s Sharing Tree will have
76 tags for Strongsville children. These will be
$25 gift cards to either Kohl’s or Toys-R-Us.
To make it easier on you, the youth will be selling
the gift cards at a table in the lobby close to
the Sharing Tree. Take a tag, go visit the youth
table to order and pay for your gift card(s) and
we will do the rest. If you prefer to purchase your
gift card at another store, please be sure to return
it to the basket by the Sharing Tree by
Sunday, December 8 and attach the Sharing
Tree tag for identification.
will also be tags for Children Who Witness Violence
kids. Take a tag, purchase the gift ($25 value)
and return it to the Sharing Tree Sunday,
December 8 by 11 AM.
year we will also help make Christmas a little merrier
for Family Promise. This winter, families served
in our programs (past and present) can shop for
presents for their entire family, ensuring that
everyone has a gift to open on Christmas morning.
Being able to shop for gifts at no cost allows the
heads of households to maintain their monthly budgets
while continuing to look for, or maintain, housing
and employment during the holiday season. Please
see the list of gifts in the lobby. You can purchase
one and return it, unwrapped, to the collection
box by the Sharing Tree by Sunday, December
General Meeting – Sunday, December 8, 10 AM.
We will be voting on the Budget and Constitution.
(K-5th) – Gingerbread House – Sunday,
December 8, 12:30 – 2:30 PM. $5 (lunch
included). RSVP by December 4.
(6-8th) – Ornament/Christmas Card Making –
Sunday, December 8, 12:30 PM. $5 (lunch
Sign-ups on the Youth Bulletin Board by Fellowship
Group at Italian Village Restaurant (16605
Pearl Rd) Tuesday, December 10, 11 AM.
Please bring your men’s hats, gloves, scarves
& socks for the homeless. Call Shirley Mack
(440.238.1346) or Yvonne Buehner (440.846.8055)
for all Sunday school children –Christmas
Program rehearsals will be Wednesday, December
11, 6:30 – 7:30 PM, for all but Cherub
Choir participants, in the sanctuary, and Saturday,
December 14, 10 AM – 12 PM for all
participants. This last is a very important dress
rehearsal and set-up for our audio system. Any Sunday
school children/youth who are still interested in
being a part of our program are welcome to attend
these rehearsals. Contact Jen Paine (330.460.3018)
or Judy Peach (330.273.1773) with questions.
Cookies are needed for the reception
following the Christmas Program on December
15. If you can bake, please contact Barb
Krueger (440.238.9072 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Strongsville Food Bank will be
open Saturday, December 14, 9:30 –
11:30 AM. Picture ID and proof of Strongsville
School Christmas Program – Sunday, December
15 at the 11:15 AM service.
MISSION December 2013
Christmas Food Baskets
We will continue to collect cans
of food and other nonperishable food items throughout
December for the Christmas Food Baskets. The baskets
will be donated to individuals and families in need
within our community. We will also be accepting
monetary donations to help fill the baskets with
perishable items and provide a complete holiday
meal for those less fortunate. Envelopes marked
“Food Baskets” are available on the
NOTE DATE CHANGE:
Packing for the Christmas Food Baskets
will be on Monday, December 23 at 9:00 AM.
Volunteers will be needed.
with the men of New Covenant January 10/11, 2014.
The men of First Church have scheduled
a combined retreat with the men of New Covenant
Lutheran Church of East Cleveland to take place
at Camp Mowana on January 10/11, 2014. We will be
traveling down to Mowana the evening of Friday,
January 10 and returning the afternoon of Saturday,
January 11. We will be staying at the new Fleming
Falls Retreat Center. The total cost is $71.35,
which includes overnight lodging and meals. A
deposit of $18 per person is required
no later than Sunday, December 15. If you
are interested, please contact Bruce Holderead (email@example.com
or 440.655.1523). Please join us for this great
opportunity for fellowship and spiritual growth.
VerKuilen in Concert Sunday, December 15, 4:30 PM.
Great organ music for the holiday season …
something you won’t want to miss. Bring friends!
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