Astonishment of the Gospel
Maybe it is the gift when the year turns, but during Advent, I tend to reflect on what has happened in the past, pray for guidance and strength to face what life holds and give thanks to God for my wife, my family, my friends and you all.
I am still astonished that God has called me to minister with and among you. Here is my Advent/Christmastide offering to you from the Reichelderfer archives. From the Letter of Taizé- December 1981 (slightly emended) …….
“According to an old Christian prayer, on Christmas night, while the magi bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn child, the shepherds offer but one gift: their astonishment. The Gospel is sensitive to this reality of astonishment and surprise which surrounds Christ birth. At the Annunciation, hearing the words, “Rejoice, most favored one” (Luke 1:28), Saint Luke writes that Mary “was startled”. Her shock and wonder will be changed into joy; Mary will soon break forth in song but first the confirmation of another believer, Elizabeth, is needed: “Blessed is she who believed!” (Luke 1:45). Then Mary’s joy overflows: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exults in God my Savior.” Welcoming and confirming Mary, Elizabeth is surprised: “Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother should visit me?” (Luke 1:43) A fourth century Christian translates the first part of Elizabeth’s statement using these words: “What joy is given to me.”
Astonishment comes also to the shepherds. They had not expected a revelation from God. At the beginning of our age, they were often considered outsiders, without access to the knowledge of God. In the Gospel, they are the first to learn of Christ’s birth and its meaning. Their “great fear” (Luke 2:9) is the feeling of any who are surprised by the manifestation of God. They have not been prepared for this by their past or their way of life. But the angel says to them: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I announce to you good news of a great joy which will be for all people”. “With haste” (Luke 2:16) they make their way to Bethlehem and tell what God has made known to them; once again Saint Luke remarks: “All who heard were astonished.” (Luke 2:18) From fear, the shepherds pass through awe to joy: “They returned glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:20)
In nearly all these texts, astonishment precedes and, at times, accompanies the discovery of great joy- the acknowledging of God’s design of love for humanity. Through Mary, Elizabeth and the shepherds, it is as if the Gospel were giving us our first glimpse of the Church: a people astonished by God.
Saint Luke tells us that the joy which has entered the world at the birth of Christ is for all people. (Luke 2:10) Saint Matthew will also show that Christ is present to every human through the mystery we celebrate at Epiphany: the magi do not belong to the chosen people yet come to pay the Christ Child homage (Matthew2:1-12). Their arrival is consonant with the promise found in Psalm 98- “The ends of the earth see the salvation of our God.” Saint John will express this in his own way, “The Word was the real light, the light which comes into the world and shines in every person.” (John 1:9)
All have reason to be astonished at being called to live connected to Christ, to be reflections of Christ’s life, parables of sharing, workers of peace, bearers of reconciliation, because all know we lack the means to live a holy life. But God chose us and by offering our astonishment, we too will see our fears change into praise.”
Peace be with you all as we await how God will guide us into the future.
I can’t wait to see what will unfold.
Save the Date! ChristCare Small Group Leadership Training
We exist as a congregation to know Jesus Christ and to make Him known:
- To proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ so all may come to know and love Him;
- To nurture His people in joyful faith, fellowship, and commitment; and
- To demonstrate His way of love in service to the world.
We use the Connector to share news of the coming week and beyond, the activities that involve a wide range of ages and interests at FPC.
Video Devotional: Behold, I Am the Servant of the Lord
In this episode, we talk about the Virgin Mary’s reaction to the news that she was to bear a son, the Lord Jesus. See the place that we venerate as the location where the Angel Gabriel announced the extraordinary news that would change the world forever. Please “like” this video and subscribe so more people will see these devotional videos. Merry Christmas! Soli Deo Gloria!
News and Announcements
FPC welcomes Leah Durst-Lee, our new Volunteer Coordinator
FPC welcomes Leah Durst-Lee as volunteer coordinator. Leah has a background in helping to engage volunteers with churches and nonprofits in the U.S. and Mexico. She is an International Law and Human Rights graduate student who focuses on refugee and asylum seeker rights, and a contributing author at medium.com/migrantmatters. If not visiting her family in Madison, Leah is traveling the world with her husband Abe and rescue kitten Tica.
Affirming God’s Love
During the Children’s moment this week, the congregation made a tunnel and spoke God’s affirming love and joy over the children as they walked through. The kids were ELATED by the end of the tunnel.
Presbytery Per Capita Contribution: What Is It and How Does It Affect Me?
Every church member’s share of support for the Presbytery is called his or her Per Capita contribution. It is through this contribution that Presbyterians mutually share the costs of coming together to discern God’s leading for the church and in doing mission on a wider scale.
Each local Presbytery in turn sends allocated shares to the Synod (regional body) and General Assembly (national). This enables the far-reaching work of ministry, including PCUSA missions around the world, and here at home. All Presbytery budgets need your support to keep the mission of the greater church alive. First Presbyterian Waunakee was once a “mission supported church” supported by Presbytery Per Capita contributions. The fact is that our church might not be here today without our Presbytery’s support! John Knox Presbytery provided a great deal of support and guidance during our Interim Pastor search, and they will be very involved throughout the process to find and call our next Pastor.
How much is my Presbytery per capita contribution and where does it go?
The Presbytery per capita contribution for 2023 is $35.15 per member. Of that:
• $9.85 goes to the General Assembly – to cover the administrative costs and of Missions around the world,
• $5.50 goes to the Synod of Lakes and Prairies to cover administrative costs for education materials and workshops, and
• $19.80 goes to John Knox Presbytery to cover the administrative costs – some of which reach out to help struggling churches.
How do I contribute to the Presbytery per capita fund?
If you use offering envelopes, the first envelope in your envelope box is a blue envelope marked “Per Capita.” Please enclose your donation in that and drop it in the Offering box in the Narthex. You may also give online through our website (myfpc.org/donate), or mail a check to the church office (or place it in the Offering box) with a notation indicating it is for Per Capita.
It would be a blessing to many Presbyterians across the country and close to home, if each of us contributed our small share to the Presbytery per capita fund.
God’s blessings to you!
2023 Offering Envelopes
If you requested a box of 2023 offering envelopes, they are available to be picked up on a table in the Narthex near the Sanctuary entrance. If you would like a box of offering envelopes and don’t see one there for you, please fill out one of the forms on that table and place it in either the pledge or offering box, and I will prepare a box for you. You may also send an email to Sue Gade, Church Business Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a box.
FPC’s Wish List
Did you know that FPC has a Session-approved Wish List? It’s a list of things that the church needs that aren’t able to be funded through the church’s regular budget. If you are ever in a position where you would like to make a special donation of any amount, please peruse our Wish List by clicking here and consider helping to provide an item listed. Thank you!
We love our volunteers
A few of our wonderful volunteers came in to help fold and assemble hundreds of Christmas Bulletins this week.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Lake Geneva Youth Camp: February 3-5, 2023
All 7-12 grade students are invited to join us this weekend that is full of fun games, great music, relevant messages, thoughtful discussions, delicious food, and more!
Regular price is $125
Sign up by Dec. 31st for a special price of $100!
Guatemala Mission Trip: Building Hope and Changing Lives
Students currently in 8-12 grade are invited to join us for an amazing, fun, and life changing adventure.
- The trip dates will be June 11-17, 2023.
- The trip fee is only $850 per student!
- Don’t let finances stop you as we have tools to help make this experience possible.
- Friends are welcome!
With current registrations, there are only 6 student spots available – so don’t delay and sign up today!
In this week’s Agrace Newsletter, they featured our beloved Pat Ronspiez. If you are interested in reading the article it can be found by clicking here.
FPC families come together to enjoy pizza and a movie
A number of FPC families got together last Friday for Pizza and to enjoy “The Star”, a cute animated movie where a small but brave donkey and his animal friends become to unsung heroes of the first Christmas.
Christmas Books Now Available from the FPC Library
Come check out a book for the season. You’ll find the Christmas collection on a table in the Lobby. The rest of the FPC Library is also now available for your use. Enjoy browsing, check out a book, and/or write a review if you would like to promote a favorite book to others. Send queries or reviews to Alice Honeywell, email@example.com, or call her at 608-692-5496.
A paper catalog of our books is also available on the bookcase in the Gathering Place.
There are also some children’s and young adult books in the Gathering Place. Most children’s books are upstairs near the children’s classrooms. Check them out!
Once again we were able to send more than 50 dolls to the children of migrant workers, who are cared for by Sister Jean at the House on the Hill daycare / Head Start program in Goshen, NY. In order to continue this mission we need more dolls that we can clean and dress in new clothes for next year. Please place any unwanted or outgrown dolls that would be appropriate for young children in the bins in the Education Wing of the church. (No Barbies please!) Thank you so much!
Advent Bible Study
It is easy to get caught up in the glitz and frenzy in the run-up to Christmas. FPC is offering you an opportunity to “come away” for an hour to ponder and savor the ever-present presence and wonder of our God. What is the meaning of this Advent for you, for me, for our church?
(Honorably Retired) Pastor Susan and I will be co-leading an Adult Bible Study during the Season of Advent; Sundays at 9am downstairs in FPC’s Fellowship Hall on Dec. 18. Coffee and treats provided. All are welcome.
We will be using as our base the Daily Advent Devotional Book called The Promised One. Copies will be available. Yes, there will be coffee and treats as well.
More importantly, this will be a time to holistically grow our faith – enriching both our minds and our hearts.
We will listen to the promises of God, ponder what it means to follow the Prince of Peace, discover the Light in the midst of our darkening world and celebrate the One who comes.
As Jesus says, “Come and see.” Come as often as you are able. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Upcoming Music in Worship
December 18 – FPC Choir
December 25 – Ying Wang
January 1 – Ying Wang
Coming Events | Dec. 18, 2022 – Jan. 7, 2023
Sunday, December 18 – Network 56 Charity Fundraiser
Join us before or after the Nativity Service. All proceeds will be donated to the Dane County Humane Society!
You can support our cause in two ways:
1) Purchase a Fruit of the Spirit Bracelet for $10, supplies limited!
2) Donate items, see list below.
- Towels, wash clothes and hand towels
- Flat sheets and pillowcases
- Rugs smaller than 4’x6′
- Open or unopened bags of pet food
- Leftover medications that are not controlled substances
- Dog and cat toys
- Leashes, collars and harnesses
Items can be dropped off at the table during the Nativity Service. Thank you so much for all your support!
Sunday, December 18 at 4-5 PM – Children’s Nativity Service
All are welcome to attend and join us for treats afterwards!
Sunday, December 18 at 2:30 PM – Ying Wang’s Doctoral Piano Recital
Our gifted pianist, Ying Wang, will be giving his doctoral piano recital on Sunday, December 18 at 2:30 PM in the Collins Recital Hall at the Hamel Music Center on the UW-Madison campus at 740 University Avenue. We hope that some from FPC can support Ying on his special day and help show sincere appreciation for bringing his amazing gifts to our family of faith!
Sundays, December 18 at 9:00-9:50 AM – Adult Sunday School
Each Sunday of Advent in Fellowship Hall, Pastor Glen and Pastor Susan will lead an Adult Advent Study called “The Promised One.”
Monday, December 19 – The Light Team Christmas Celebration
The Light Team is comprised of women who want a chance to meet for fellowship and Bible study. We pray for each other and those in our church family and community. When possible, we extend ourselves in projects to help others. There is no homework and we include humor and laughter! We meet in the Gathering Place on Mondays at 1:00 – 2:30 PM. All are welcome to attend any or all of our sessions.
We will wrap up the year with Christmas celebration and fellowship on Monday, December 19.
Now until Monday, December 19 – Christmas Giving Tree
FPC’s Missions Team has raised several “Giving Trees” in the lobby this year in support of the following organizations: WEB (Waunakee Ecumenical Board), WNC (Waunakee Neighborhood Connection), Porchlight, SFTS, Patriot Riders, and Support Our Troops. Please check these trees for ways you can help brighten Christmas for these worthy groups and the people they serve. Please mark what your gift is for and send or bring checks, cash, gift cards, or gifts to the church (see individual trees for their preferred type of gifts) by Monday, December 19. Thank you in advance!
Wednesdays, December 21 at 8:30-10:00 AM – Women’s Community Bible Study
The Wednesday Morning Women’s Bible Study Group is made up of women from the surrounding community at large. All are welcome. This fall we are exploring “12 Women of the Bible.” Meet us on Wednesdays 8:30 -10:00 AM in the Conference Room, entering through the west side Education Wing doors. Contact Beth Stellmacher for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, December 24 at 4 PM – Family Christmas Eve Service
Saturday, December 24 at 7 PM – Candlelight Christmas Eve Service
Featuring the FPC Choir and Joyful Noise. Communion will be available in the Chapel after the service.
Sunday, December 25 at 10 AM – Christmas Morning Service
Please join us for a Christmas Morning service. Feel free to come in your pajamas and enjoy a chocolate bar treat while we celebrate Christ’s birth together!
December 26 – January 2 – FPC Office will be closed
Sundays at 9 AM – 4K thru 6th grade Sunday School
December 18, we will be learning about the Christmas Story and practicing for the Children’s Nativity Service. All are welcome, even those not participating in the Nativity Service!
Come join us to learn more and have some fun together!
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Sunday School on Sundays, December 25 or January 1, as our volunteers take some time to be with their families.
Sundays at 9 AM – Graceland Student Ministry
7th-12th Graders, join us each week for a time of connection, Bible discussion, and prayer.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Youth Sunday School on Sunday, December 25 or January 1.
Sundays – During Service – Kingdom Kids
During the worship service kids can leave the worship service after the Children’s Moment and need to be picked up in room 202 after the service is over.
We offer Kingdom Kids for 3-year olds – kindergarten. Kingdom Kids offers a fun, unique time for children to explore their faith and form positive relationships with peers.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Kingdom Kids on Sunday, December 25 or January 1 as our volunteers take some time to be with their families. There will still be a Children’s message during those services.
Wednesdays at 7:00-8:15 PM – Graceland Student Ministry
7th-12th Graders, join the fun upstairs in the Youth Room for a time of connection, games, message, meaningful small group discussion with students your same grade, and prayer.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Youth Group on Wednesdays, December 21 or 28.
Save the Date | More Info to come
Sunday, January 8 – Bethel Bible Series Bible Study
Two new opportunities are coming for Bethel Bible Series Bible Study at FPC: in-person starting on Sunday January 8th at 9 AM and online starting on Saturday, January 7. Please email Adult Nurture and Spiritual Growth Elder Scott Legwold at email@example.com to let us know if you would like to participate in either Bible Study. We are prepared to conduct the in person Bethel Bible Series Bible Study starting on January 8th at 9am in our classrooms at FPC. Thank you.
Sunday, January 8 at 11:30 AM-1:00 PM – Epiphany Potluck and Fun
FPC Children’s Ministry and MOPs are partnering to host an Epiphany Celebration – which occurs after the 12 days of Christmas. This “Three Kings Day” celebrates the “Wisemen” part of the Christmas story. We will have a potluck with Three Kings activities and the famous “Kings Cake.” If the miniature baby Jesus is in your piece, you win a prize! Join together for Food and Fun!
Wednesdays, January 25 – March 1 at 6:30-8:30 PM – ChristCare Small Group Leadership Training
FPC Waunakee is a congregation that reaches in and reaches out. We care for one another, help one another grow in faith, and equip one another for meaningful ministry. Then we carry the love we have received out into our world to bring Jesus’ care to people who are lonely and searching. We are Living Faith Together!
Healthy small groups are an excellent tool for those tasks. On January 25, our church will begin a six-week training for small group leaders. To sign up for this wonderful and enriching experience use the link below or contact Pastor Glen (firstname.lastname@example.org). We want to support and nurture healthy small groups here at FPC.
Saturday, January 28 at 8:30 AM–12:30 PM – Intro to Centering Prayer
Pastor Glen will host “Intro to Centering Prayer” in the Gathering Place. Follow-up meetings will be held from 6:30-8:00 PM on January 30, February 6, February 13 and February 21.
Sunday, March 19, 2023 at 2 PM – Organ Recital
Please mark your calendars! FPC will host an organ recital on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at 2 PM featuring highly regarded organist Dr. Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music at the Luther Memorial Church in Madison. The recital will be dedicated to the life and service of Pat Ronspiez. Pat served as our organist for 46 years. She also played piano and accordion.
Our church features an historic 1890 Schuelke organ built in Milwaukee and rebuilt by Wahl Organ Builders of Appleton in 1992.
A Chicago native, Schaeffer holds degrees from St. Olaf College, Yale University and a doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma. Andrew’s responsibilities include playing organ for Sunday services, directing the children, youth and adult choirs, various instrumental ensembles and overseeing the general music ministry of the congregation. He has been at Luther Memorial since 2018. Schaeffer is also editor-at-large of The Diapason, a nationally published organ and church music magazine.
Opportunities to Serve
Calling all Volunteers
Helping hands are needed to share bulletins and usher for the Christmas Eve 4pm, 7pm, and Christmas Day 10am services. If you are able and have some extra holiday joy to share, please sign up in the narthex or email email@example.com.
Help with the FPC Coffee Hour
Every Sunday after service FPC hosts a coffee hour for socializing and fellowship. Please consider volunteering for a shift or two, to help setup and/or take down the coffee supplies. Thank you!
Shelter From The Storm Ministries Needs Volunteers
Shelter From The Storm Ministries (SFTSM), located in Sun Prairie, is currently in need of crews that can clean rooms and prepare them for their next residents. Shelter from the Storm Ministries currently has three rooms vacant and is in the process of interviewing new families to move in and welcome. A crew of four (4) people volunteering to clean one room usually takes 2-4 hours. SFTSM is extremely flexible on dates/times. For any questions or to sign up, please contact Pastor Kent Van Horn from Shelter From The Storm Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (608) 535-0067.
Thank you! Your FPC Mission Team
Joyful Noise – “Make A Joyful Noise Unto The Lord!”
The Joyful Noise is our instrumental ensemble and is preparing for the Christmas Eve service at 7 PM. If you play a wind, percussion or string instrument, no matter what age or skill level, please consider playing with us! We rehearse every other Thursday from 7-8/8:30 in the Music Room on Thursday, December 22. Middle and high school students are eager and welcome to play with us!! Contact Sam Robinson at church via email: email@example.com.
Calling Vocalists and Instrumentalists (Piano, too!)
If you’d like to sing or play an instrument at a Sunday service, please contact Sam Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-949-9450. We have open dates on our music calendar for January through May. You are welcome to sing/play a special song or two, no matter what your skill level is. We have open dates when the Choir and Joyful Noise are not playing and would like to fill those with students and adults from our congregation whenever possible.
Stephen Ministry at FPC: Providing God’s Care to Hurting People
What is this ministry about?
Extensively trained and supervised Stephen Minister Caregivers provide high-quality, one-on-one confidential Christian care to anyone in need. They provide weekly visits and ongoing support as long as the care receiver needs. Should the care receiver have needs that are beyond the scope of a Stephen Minister Caregiver, they are referred to professional caregivers.
What kind of care is offered from a Stephen Minister?
- CRISIS CARE – For people experiencing change(s) that significantly challenge their ability to cope.
- FOLLOW-UP CARE – After the crisis event.
- CHRONIC CARE – For a person whose situation is unlikely to change.
- PREVENTIVE CARE – Providing care before a crisis occurs.
- SUPPORTIVE CARE – Care for the caregiver.
How can I find out more about this ministry?
Call the church office at 608-949-9445, or reach out to a pastor or deacon. Stephen Minister Caregivers don’t replace the care of pastors and deacons. They carry it a step further.
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Connect with the Connector!
In an effort to streamline the process for submitting requests for event announcements in the Connector or spoken during the worship service, Communications has developed this easy-to-use online form to share all of your important information.
Click the link below to check out the form and if you have any feedback or questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
The Connector is available in print at the back table in the Lobby for those who would like a printed copy.
The Connector comes out at 4 PM every Friday. The deadline for submissions is noon, the Wednesday prior.