Christmas at First Church!
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The Pilgrim - December 25, 2016


Sunday Celebration Notes

Celebrating God's Love Every Sunday at 10 am

Dear Church,

Here comes Christmas!

We have dwelt in the four weeks of Advent: November 27 when we celebrated Hope, December 4 when we prayed for peace, December 11 when we experienced Joy – and we certainly did experience Joy, both taking in new members and receiving the largest number of toy donations we have ever received to our Gifts to the Manger toy donation program … Hope, Peace, Joy, and yoday, the fourth and final Sunday of Advent culminates this Season of Love.

Those gifts are full of the glory of God. And the funny thing about Love is that it’s a little like those shiny gifts in the advertisements – we always think about how great it would be to get the fancy jewelry or the new power tools, but what makes us really feel great is to give gifts and see the shining faces of delighted people.

That’s also the funny thing about Love – receiving Love is awesome, but giving Love – well, that makes the angels sing. Because angels are all about giving glory, not getting it.
There’s a lot of shiny stuff out there. And a lot of it is really fun. But my Christmas wish for you is that you would have something shiny that never grows old, never gets dusty, never fails to boot up a new operating system. I wish that you would have the shine of Holy Love.

Merry Christmas, dear ones~

The Rev. Elena Larssen

No Pilgrim Next Week!

The next issue will come out on Wednesday, January 4.

In This Issue

Sunday Celebration Notes
Music on Sunday
Christian Education
Christmas Services
Office Schedule
Warm Streets Coat Drive
Drop-In Center News
Parish Concerns
Deadline: Tuesday at 1 pm

Heard's Words: Music on Sunday

As the song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” I’ve never actually left home, if you expand the definition of home to include the greater Long Beach area. I grew up in Torrance in the house still occupied by my parents. I’ve never been so far away for the holidays that I couldn’t be with my family. The same is true for Lisa. And now, after spending the last four months doing an internship in Washington, DC, Clayton has returned home for Christmas with us! I have finally experienced having to deal with LAX in the holiday season. The song also says, “Gee, the traffic is terrific.” A bit of an understatement!

Wherever you are, or whether or not you are with your family, there is always a feeling of coming home at Christmas. We return to the same songs and traditions year after year. We make the same cookies and hang the same decorations. We send cards to the same old friends, and use the same old Christmas coffee mugs. We love the holiday because it is so familiar. We come to church to sing the same carols and songs, and to hear the same story over and over. There may be differences in the details of course, but we can count on shepherds and angels, candles and one bright star, a newborn baby, and newborn hope wrapped in a comfy warm blanket. May you find yourself “home for the holidays” during this season of love!

Curtis Heard, Director of Music

In Sunday School

Theme: Joy to the World
Scripture: Psalm 98

Adult Education

Sundays at 8:30 am in the Klar Rooms, upstairs in Pilgrim Hall

Christmas Eve Services

6 pm Children's Pageant
9:30 pm Organ Recital, by Dr. Marc Dickey
10 pm Candlelight Service

Christmas Day Service

10 am Lessons and Carols

Office Closed December 26 and January 2

The church office will be closed on Monday, December 26, and Monday, January 2. Otherwise, we will be open on weekdays through the holiday season. Ruth Warkentin, the office manager, will be out of the office December 21-28, but Yvonne SaMarion will be in the office should you need assistance.

Warm Streets Coat Drive Update

By Alison Morales, Urban Community Outreach

Greetings, Church! Thank you for your generous donations of warm coats to Urban Community Outreach during the first two weeks of December. We are continuing our collections through the holiday season! Do you have extra warm coats taking up space in your closets at home? Urban Community Outreach is hoping you’ll help us gather warm coats and jackets for our weekly guests at the UCO Drop-in Center. You'll easily spot a UCO box on the Third Street landing. Please refrain from donating items other than coats in this box, or in the Third Street landing area, as we aren't set up for storage. We really appreciate your help. Together, we can help our beloved community keep warm this winter season!

Drop-In Center News

By Arlene Mercer, Executive Director

Christmas was in the air on Sunday, December 18, at UCO’s Drop-In Center! People can from far and wide to help with our festive Christmas celebration. Gracie, Leonard, and others came from YWCA with mountains of warm coats and jackets they had collected for our guests. Palos Verdes Kids for Kids also gave coats for the children through Case Manager Ann Lampe’s efforts. Paige Pelonis from City HeARTS brought Santa and did face painting and gift wrapping. Santa gave out the nice donated toys that came from all over … just a few from here and a few from there which all added up because people were all doing what they could do and the Lord blessed it, just like the miracle of the fishes. We had new blankets from the Multi-Service Center (MSC), 12 new sleeping bags from Mr. and Mrs. Panitz, some gifts for adults such as crossword books, lip gloss, and calendars.

Several groups came to volunteer, including 10 little Camp Fire Girls who made and gave out hygiene kits from a big black Santa-looking sack which looked like Santa had brought them himself! North High School students brought clothing and shoes and were very helpful. Even the Belmont Shore Boat Parade Dragon Team came and brought resources and gave of their time even though the holidays are so busy for them!

Free phones were given out and people were signed up for insurance. People were given money to do their children’s laundry, bus passes to get to interviews, money for apartment credit checks, gas money to get to work, rental assistance to prevent eviction, and motel stays for families working with us. Cal Heights United Methodist Church held their annual Bake Sale to raise funds for UCO.

On December 15, the night it rained so hard, we opened our Temporary Shelter with our partners Beacon for him, Long Beach Rescue Mission, and MSC. 76 people were sheltered and fed and three families put into motels and a file opened for them to assist them in the hard times they are experiencing. They were so grateful, but it wasn’t enough. We had to turn away four people as we were at capacity. Even with all we do, more families are sleeping in their cars and the streets this cold week because we just can’t afford to supply enough, and most agencies are out of money at year end so we can’t even refer enough people to get immediate help. Sunday was a busy and happy day and we found joy for all we could do. However my heart weighs heavy for all those we can’t help.

We’ll be working with Temple Israel for a nice Christmas dinner and continue giving out the resources that come in. If you have any gift you can give to join the blessed efforts of the community on behalf of those so in need just bring it on Sunday, or put monetary gifts in the mail, or go to our website.
Ho, ho, ho! Christmas elves are still at work!


January Birthdays

1       Charmaine Charles, Richard Berryman, Rene Quiroz
2       Debra Moore                
4       Steve Crow
5       Jim Segura
6       Catherine Hanna-Askin
9       James Penner, Matt Wilson, Audrey Arnaut
13     Chan Brainard             
14     Sam Johnson, Ella Gulius
16     Dayne Navarro, Tim O'Keefe
17     Michael Gardner, Chuck DeBruyn 
18     Frances Reed
19     Laura McCrary, Marion Nguli
20     Dan Mahoney
21     Harold Kameya, Deanna Melzian, Kirsten Pickus, Margaret Mendenhall
22     Joyce Cannon, Madison Solem-Kuehl
23     Cynde Soto, Tina Datsko, Nancy Harris, Hannah Pearce      
24     Louise Diefenbach      
25     Spicer Ramsay, Richard Castle, Mary Flynn
26     Chase Solem-Kuehl, Charleen Mullen
29     Jim Comoe
30     Wally Hoeger

January Anniversaries

Margaret and Ken Jones, 1/03/1997
Bret Witter and Anne Simoneau, 1/03/1987
Loren and Dean Solem-Kuehl, 1/04/1992
Ginger Heil and Larry Monahan, 1/05/2013
Terry O'Neill and Dan Mahoney, 1/10/1992
Julie Ford and Eillen Badilla, 1/14/2006
Sara and Ken Schoenfelder, 1/14/1984
Melody and Kevin O'Keefe, 1/26/1980

Parish Concerns

Your thoughts and prayers are requested for Alison Morales; Bill Verhaegen (Georgette de Bruyn’s cousin); Barbara Farrell and Mary Cronin (family members of Marion Hinze).

Names on the Parish Concerns lists appear in two consecutive editions of the newsletter. To share a Parish Concern or a Parish Joy, put a note on the board on the Third Street landing or contact Ruth Warkentin in the church office.

Pilgrim and Bulletin Deadline

The deadline for submitting items for inclusion in the Sunday service bulletin and for the newsletter is Tuesday at 1 p.m. The Pilgrim is emailed every Wednesday.

Online Calendar

Don't miss out! Check the online church calendar for details about all church events. You can use the online calendar to email invitations to friends to church events and to set up emailed reminders to yourself. Just click on any event to see more information.


To place an ad in this newsletter, please contact Ruth Warkentin in the church office.

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