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January 2018

First Chronicles
The Newsletter of the First Congregational Church of Evanston UCC

Following the Star to a New Land

The magi followed a star to Bethlehem to see Jesus. That Upcoming Events
sentence is packed with mystery, myth, hope, and insight
—I won’t venture to claim which is which. Like a star Sunday, January 7
in the sky, we follow signs and hints that lead us along a Sunday School Resumes, Church House
journey of faith. Maybe the sign is a happy coincidence 11:15 a.m., Sunday Forum: Immigration
or an unexplained healing, or the hint is a resolution to
a problem long thought unsolvable or peace in the midst Sunday, January 14
of grief. We follow these indications to conclude there is 11:15 a.m., Sunday Forum: Immigration
something greater than the laws of cause-and-effect that
impacts our lives in positive ways. Sunday, January 21
Tuning into these signs and hints necessitates open- 11:15 a.m., Sunday Forum: Immigration
ing ourselves to the mystery and the myth (or what I
like to call intrigue and greater truth). One tool we use Sunday, January 28
at the beginning of the year is a “Star Word” that you Youth Talk, Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall
choose randomly, from among 50 different words, at 11:15 a.m., Sunday Forum: Immigration
church on the first Sunday of January. The word might
be something like curiosity, joy, patience, or resilience. Its Save the Dates!
purpose is to provide a touch point throughout the year
for tuning into the signs and hints that we might follow Sunday, February 11
along the journey of faith. Going along this journey may Annual Congregational Meeting
not lead you to an actual new land, but it may bring you
closer to seeing Jesus in an unexpected place. Wednesday, February 14
This month we are joining with other congregations Ash Wednesday Service
in Evanston to learn about a population of individuals
who have followed a star of hope to the United States. Thursdays, February 22–March 29
The process of immigration is fraught with difficulty Lenten Study Series
and roadblocks, and also brings with it opportunity and
a future. Our Church Council and Board of Missions Sunday, March 4
invite us to engage in learning about immigration— Robinson Recital
the law, the experience, and the challenges—so we can
better decide how to be part of a supportive presence Sunday, April 22
to undocumented immigrants. Earth Day celebration in worship
Every Sunday in January, the season of Epiphany,
Jon Gilbert Martinez will lead a Sunday Forum about Friday–Sunday, June 22–24
some aspect of immigration, the new sanctuary move- All-Church Retreat at Tower Hill
ment, and resources for standing up to assist vulnerable
people in our community. This is also an important way
to express your support of Gilbert’s work in our church
as seminary intern.
We’re looking forward to seeing you throughout
January 2018!
Happy New Year!
Blessings, Rev. Ann
January Chancel Choir Anthems

January 7
Healey Willan, “What Is This Lovely Fragrance” Family Focus
Thank you to all who contributed gifts to Family Focus.
January 14 Thirty youth and teens received gifts for Christmas.
Eugene Butler, “O Lord, Thou Hast Searched Me” Family Focus is very grateful for our participation and
David Haas, “You Are Mine” generosity. JoAnn Avery, Family Focus Evanston’s senior
staff primary prevention program coordinator, expressed
January 21 her appreciation for the partnership between Family
Joy Patterson, “Jesus Calls Us” Focus and First Congregational Church.
John Ness Beck, “Consecration”
Next Youth Talk: January 28
January 28 On monthly Youth Talk Sundays, middle and high
Phillip Dietterich, “Come Down, O Love Divine” school youth sit together in the balcony during the
Phillip Stopford, “Teach Me, O Lord” service and then slip out after the sermon to gather in
Fellowship Hall downstairs. We’ll talk about topics that
are important to you, play the game “Elaborate,” and
discuss how we can apply ideas from Rev Ann’s sermon
to our own lives. There will be snacks—bring your friends!

Happy Birthday to everyone cele­brating

a birthday in January! Birthdays are
acknowledged at the Second Saturday
Brunch (second Saturday of each month).

John Bezaitis Joan Lindsey

Michael Colton John Metz
James Corrigan Miranda Metz
Elena Daniels Christopher Panek
Georgia Evans Evan Petrolle
Mary Greene Zoe Snider
Paige James Tom Stafford
Abigail Julcher Asher Stamell
Margaret Krause Catherine Watkins
Christine Cochran, Thekla Metz, and Heather Soto displaying Linda Krei
their handiwork at the December 2 wreath-making event
New Doors a moment to shift, a moment to enter a new space or
Watching First Congregational Church of Evanston’s a new way of being.
pageant come together in the final moments is always a I hope to see you often in this new year entering
highlight of the Christmas season for me. I love to see through the blue doors of our sanctuary and the doors
the youth shine as they act out the roles they’ve practiced of the Church House on the way to Sunday School. But
all through advent and open our eyes to a new perspec- Love doesn’t stop at the church’s front doors. We carry
tive on the Christmas story. This year’s pageant was no the greatest Love with us everywhere we go. Often the
exception. “No Room at the Inn” showed us how despite most important doors we open are the ones that let Love
our attempts to keep our doors shut, there is always out into the community. Wherever your journey takes
room to let Love enter. you this year, I hope you see there are new doors all
We now close the door on 2017 and stand in the around you, new ways every day to welcome Love into
entryway to 2018. We’re presented with opportunities to your heart and new ways to share it with the world.
open even more doors this year. Walking through a door I invite you to post this blessing (in frame below;
changes us. We remind children to take off muddy shoes from
as they come home, use “inside voices” as they enter /new-years-day-years-b-c-thursday-jan1.html) in
school from the playground, or be ready for a surprise your home and consider it in your heart this year.
when they open the tiny doors of their advent calendars. Happy New Year,
Open doors can also mean freedom. Doorways offer us Sarah Petersen, Director of Learning and Outreach

God of doors and homes, bless this home this year and every year.
Bless all who come and go through this door,
both those who live here and those who visit.
May all who enter through this door come in peace and bring joy.
May all who come to this door find welcome and love.
May the love and joy in this home overflow
and spread into the community and the world.
The youth showed us how to open our doors wide in this year’s Christmas Pageant,
“No Room at the Inn,” written by Andrew Biliter.