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. For some people, this is an anxious or fearful time. In the background is the anxiety many people are feeling about things that are going on in the world. Maybe some others are struggling with depression or loneliness or maybe a vague sense of longing for things to be different.

I am so grateful for the season of 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 and to be attentive to signs of change. That's why I love the words of Advent hymns. “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, born to set thy people free… “Comfort, Comfort Now My People, tell of peace, so says our God.”

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.

SCRIPTURE READINGS
(Based on Revised Common Lectionary)

December 3
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel Lesson-Mark 13:24-37

December 10
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Epistle Lesson-2 Peter 3:8-15a
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:1-8

December 17
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:46b-55
Epistle Lesson-1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel Lesson-John 1:6-8, 19-28

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 31
Hebrew Scripture-Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Epistle Lesson-Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel Lesson-Luke 2:22-40

January 7
Hebrew Scripture-Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Epistle Lesson-Acts 19:1-7
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:4-11

January 14
Hebrew Scripture-1 Samuel 3:1-20
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel Lesson-John 1:43-51

January 21
Hebrew Scripture-Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:14-20

January 28
Hebrew Scripture-Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111
Epistle Lesson-1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Gospel Lesson-Mark 1:21-28

PRAYER MINISTRY

REFLECTION
The shepherds got quite a shock that “silent night” as they tended sheep in the hills near Bethlehem. First, an angel gave them a birth announcement of epic proportions. Then, the whole sky lit up with a host of angels who delivered the angelic benediction, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Then suddenly, all was silent again. What was the first earthly sound those shepherds heard after this otherworldly encounter? Did a sheep bleat? Did a cricket chirp? What was it like to be there ñ to be one of the shepherds? What a night!
— A Woman's Daily Prayer Book


PRAYER
God, the events surrounding the birth of your son send shivers up my spine even though I've heard them year after year. Thank you for this time of year, when I can revel in all the wonder surrounding Jesus' arrival. Amen.


SCRIPTURE
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
— Luke 2:13–14


CONVERSATION WITH GOD
Lord, I'm looking forward to this New Year. It is full of promise and hope, though I know that challenges will surely come as well. I know you have all the courage, strength, faithfulness, and love I need to meet each moment. I just need to stay tethered to you in prayer listening for you to guide me. That's the key to a good day, a good year – a good life.

HANGING OF THE GREENS
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2 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 3 and 10. Remember to leave the price tags on so we can determine the value of our donation. Thank you!

MARY CIRCLE
December 4 @ 6:00 p.m. and
January 8 @ 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 the Cloud of Witnesses-Community of Christ in Hebrews, Lesson 4. 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 5 @ 7:00 p.m. and
JANUARY 2 @ 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

The Presbyterian Women of the Detroit Presbytery will meet on Wednesday, December 6, at the First Presbyterian Church ñ Farmington in Farmington Hills. Registration and coffee time will be at 9:15 a.m. Hymn singing and the PWPD meeting will continue at 9:45 am. The program will include special Christmas music and messages, plus a short play “The Mission” performed by the Presbyterian Players. Lunch will be provided after the program, and will cost $10.00. Please make reservations through the church office before Friday December 1st.

Our Annual Cookie Sale will be held on Sunday, December 10, in Fellowship Hall after the worship service. This is a great time to buy a variety of holiday cookies to give to friends and neighbors! Proceeds will support our PW missions.

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 17 & 24 and may be taken home following worship on December 24. 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 email.

THE PRESBYTERY OF DETROIT
MEN'S ADVENT COMMUNION
BREAKFAST CELEBRATION
Saturday, December 9

Come join men from across the Detroit Presbytery to create a network for good in the community. The keynote speaker this year is Chris Lambert, Executive Director, Life Remodeled. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. with communion, breakfast, and program starting at 8:00 a.m. This year's program is at Rosedale Gardens Church, 9601 Hubbard, Livonia, 48150. Tickets are $15 by advanced reservations only by December 1. For more details, please contact the church office.

FAITHFUL IMAGINATION, CONTINUED.

Elders, Deacons, committee and team members, and anyone who cares about the future of Littlefield Church are invited to join us on Saturday, December 9, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for a time of conversation and discernment.

In a series of gatherings over the past few years, we have discerned our mission statement and core values. The purpose of this gathering is to listen to various perspectives in the congregation, to have a conversation about possible futures for the Littlefield congregation, and to discern some priorities and goals, to help us to continue moving forward with faith and hope.

We will have an update on the congregation's finances. We will consider whether we are building on what is strong and unique about Littlefield and what we might need to let go. We'll listen to people's concerns, and try to view the future through eyes of faith.
“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

ADVENT TEA

The time draws near to Advent and that means the Presbyterian Women's Advent Tea here at Littlefield. Wednesday, December 13 at 7:00 p.m. you will want to be in our sanctuary to enjoy a wonderful evening of caroling, devotions and entertainment. All will be topped off with homemade holiday treats! Plan to save the date and bring your friends as the Presbyterian Women host our annual Advent Tea.

This year we are fortunate enough to have a group of young men from the Detroit School of Arts: Vision ñ DSA Male Ensemble under the leadership of Ms. Cheryl W. Valentine. This ensemble has been in existence for over 17 years. During this time the group has performed in local, national and international festivals. In 2012, the group had the opportunity to perform with the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club at their annual Brothers in Song concert. Come and learn more about this vibrant group of young men and their leader.

What is the price of admission, you ask? Just your presence! Everyone is welcome.

Our evening will begin with some caroling and end with refreshments. We guarantee you will find this an Advent event to stir your soul.

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.
“O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL”

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”
— 2 Corinthians 9:15

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 2016 offering for income supplements, housing supplements, and energy grants to over 600 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 24, 2017.
www.pcusa.org/christmasjoy

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 give online from the comfort of your home at www.heifer.org. To help children understand more about the how 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 search on the internet for “fair trade products” and several links will be found. 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. You can check out the web page: www.palcraftaid.org.

Some 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 pda.pcusa.org or write a check to Littlefield with a memo: PDA.

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.

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 22 at 6:30 p.m. The men will continue their study of Theology for Presbyterians, Session 2, God for Presbyterians. All men are invited for an evening of eating and study. If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

EVANGELISM AND MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE

Our next Engage! Book Group will be meeting on Wednesday February 7, 2018 to discuss Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor. We will gather at 6:15 p.m. for a pizza and salad dinner. The book discussion will begin at 7:00 p.m. Writing My Wrongs is available in Kindle as well as hard cover and paperback. In regard to this book, amazon.com states: “Writing My Wrongs is a page-turning portrait of life in the shadow of poverty, violence, and fear; an unforgettable story of redemption and a compelling witness to our country's need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.” Shake Senghor is a native Detroiter who grew up on the east side.

Come and join us on Sunday afternoon, February 11, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. as we visit The Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn. The museum has a special exhibit entitled “Them: Objects of Separation, Hatred and Violence.” As described by the museum: “This temporary exhibition explores artifacts and images from the early 20th century to present day that reflect and encourage separation, hate and violence. These items, even those sometimes excused as “harmless fun,” foster prejudice and discrimination. Created by the Jim Crow Museum for Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University and expanded in conjunction with AANM, this exhibition exposes the prevalence of stereotyping in our society and helps visitors resist these messages.” The museum is located on Michigan Avenue one block west of Schaefer Rd. As stated above, we will meet at the museum at 3:00 p.m. We will gather for dinner afterwards at a local restaurant.

FLOWERS FOR 2018

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 third 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.

To Our Friends at Littlefield Presbyterian Church:

Our Alcoholic Anonymous Group would like to say “Thank you” to the Pastor and staff for their support to our group. We would also like to express an open invitation to anyone you may know, who has an alcohol problem. We meet in the basement every Monday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.