What is it about the Advent Season that tugs at our heart?
I know that most of the world calls this time of year “the Christmas Season”,
yet we Christians know better. We know that on the first Sunday in Advent, (December 3) the church calendar flips, and we begin a “New Year”.
We are just so out of step with the commercialized, consumer-driven world.
Let’s admit it: we are an awkward people.
First, we celebrate New Year’s Day an entire month before January 1. And then, we (mostly) don’t sing Christmas carols until it is Christmas Day. No matter what the radio stations might play.
Further, during this Advent Season, unlike our consumer-driven world, we do not get amnesia about the darkness of our world: families being forced out of their hometowns, immigrants fleeing oppressive regimes, children being targeted and murdered. In fact, we embrace this dark story. Each year, during Advent and Christmastide, we remind ourselves of a family back then…. which connects us to what all too frequently happens now to families in our own time.
We Christians don’t flinch from this darkness; we don’t deny this darkness; in fact, despite what our world does, we hold this darkness close because that is exactly where God chose to be born, where God’s LIGHT flickered on and began to shine. It makes no sense, but…. That is what God did and does.
God allows us to see that God is not done with our world YET- that is what hope is; next, as we honestly confess the role we play in consenting, tolerating and promoting the darkness of our world, we unexpectedly are gripped by God’s forgiving peace; as we become more honest, we see through the false promises of happiness which allows us to be surprised by God’s joy; it is then that we have a greater capacity to accept God’s love for us.
No, our Christmas story is not all happiness and presents; It is filled with unexpected twists and turns, disquieting visits and disturbing dreams which give us hope, peace, joy and love- the true gifts of Christmas.
Ours is a journey of silent waiting. Knowing what has been; waiting what will come; we inhabit an in-between place. A place where we “wait awake” to the possibilities into which God is inviting us. This Advent, we acknowledge that God is preparing a place for us and preparing us for that place. Let us “wait awake” together and enjoy the true gifts of this Advent/Christmas season.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Video Devotional: All the Trees of the Forest Sing for Joy
Pastor Jeff talks about a walk in the woods to see a beautiful waterfall in this devotion inspired by Psalm 96. This devotion was originally presented to the 2023 Bethel Bible Series Online class. Next year’s online class begins on Zoom on Saturday morning January 6, 2024, at 8:30AM CDT. Contact Blessed@BethelSeries.org for more information or see below.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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.
News and Announcements
A Dream for a better Church
By: Barb Cash, Stewardship Elder
When I walked into church this time, I knew things weren’t right. Oh, I’d had the feeling before. For example, the fact that coffee hour has devolved into stale, left-over Halloween candy, a pot of hot water and a jar of instant coffee. Well, Miss Pollyanna thought, that way we could each make our coffee as strong or as weak as we wanted. And who doesn’t love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
Or the time before that, when the lights were off and some people were using the little white Christmas candles to see the hymnals, because the words weren’t on the screens. Another squirrel got into a transformer, I figured. That happens. I never imagined that we couldn’t pay our electric bill.
But on this Sunday morning, we were to hear the sermon from the PNC’s choice of pastors! How exciting, and the entire congregation was looking forward to it. But, uh… it didn’t start out well at all. He’s probably nervous, I thought. That happens. As he spoke, he seemed to have no enthusiasm, his message was mediocre, there was no eye contact…as a matter of fact, I don’t think he ever looked up from his notes. It was terribly painful for everyone in the sanctuary, and I felt awful for the members of the PNC.
“What in the world happened?” I whispered to the parishioner next to me. “Where did they get this guy?”
“Well,” my friend said, “there were some really good candidates, but, uh, you know, the money just wasn’t there. You know those advertisements you used to see in magazines, LEARN TAXIDERMY IN YOUR SPARE TIME? Well, they also put things like that on the covers of matchbooks. DIVINITY SCHOOL IN SIX WEEKS—CALL THIS NUMBER!”
That’s when I woke up. It had all been a dream—no, a nightmare! What a relief! Then, in a sudden panic, I wondered, had I remembered to make my pledge to FPC? I raced downstairs to see if the pledge card was still sitting on the kitchen counter. No, relief flooded me again. I had filled it out and sent it in.
Have you sent yours in? Don’t let this dream come true!
One Night in Bethlehem: Children’s Nativity Service
It’s that time of year to start thinking about the Children’s Nativity Service! There will be opportunities to dress up in costume, parts to sing, and kids can have a speaking part if they choose! We will have rehearsals during Sunday School:
9-9:50am on December 3, 10, 17
(It’s okay if they don’t make them all.)
Performance/Service is December 17
at 4:00 p.m.
We are Hiring!
Our long-time Church Business Administrator, Sue Gade, is retiring early 2024. We are currently looking for talented, faithful candidates as we look to fill this position. If you know someone skilled in bookkeeping and accounting, please share the link to our Job Opportunities webpage on the church website.
For questions, please reach out to Amy Nelsestuen,
Personnel Elder, at 608-347-3786.
Join the Chorus: Become Part of the FPC Choir!
The FPC Choir will soon start rehearsing for Advent and Christmas Eve! Anyone interested in joining us is more than welcome, and no experience is required, just a heart for singing! Contact Jamison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We look forward to having you!
FPC’s Missions Team “Giving Trees” are back!
FPC’s Missions Team “Giving Trees” are up. Look for them at the next few Sunday services on December 3 and 10, or stop by before December 4 for Patriot Guard Riders/Operation Christmas Angel or stop by before December 14 for Waunakee Neighborhood Connection and Shelter from the Storm Ministries. Check out other missions we are supporting, Porchlight Men’s Homeless Shelter and Support Our Troops (letters and cards to our service men/women overseas), whose gifts/donations will be collected until December 25th. Please contact Brice Kettner/Missions Elder with any questions: email@example.com or (608) 770-9877
Our Live Nativity Signup is now Open
Be a part of the wonder of the season at the FPC of Waunakee’s Live Nativity on December 16th! We’re looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our team. This beloved community event relies on the support of dedicated individuals like you. Whether you’re interested in donning a costume, helping with setup/takedown, or preparing or serving food to our hungry volunteers, your involvement will help make this year’s Live Nativity a truly special experience. Sign up now to be a part of this meaningful tradition and share the joy of the season with all of Waunakee. Let’s create cherished memories together!
FPC Nursery for Ages 2 and under
Nursery Age 2 and Under – Room 200
The Nursery is available on Sundays from 10:00 – 11:00 AM, is staffed by church volunteers who love children and want to share God’s love with them.
3-year-olds through Kindergarten will be dismissed after the Children’s message during Sunday service.
Sunday School – Aged 3 to 6th grade – 9AM-9:50AM
Join us at FPC of Waunakee for an incredible Sunday School experience! Our vibrant program caters to children aged 3 to 6th grade, offering engaging lessons, interactive activities, and a nurturing environment where young faith can thrive. Every Sunday, we’re dedicated to fostering faith, friendship, and fun in a way that leaves a lasting impact on your child’s spiritual journey. Don’t miss out on this enriching opportunity!
Network 56 – Grades 5-6
Network 56 is a group of 5th and 6th graders who hang out together to have fun, put faith to action by serving in the community, and grow healthy, encouraging friendships.
- All 5th and 6th grade students are welcome to attend Network 56 events at any time. Interested participants are notified in advance of each event.
- All events are chaperoned by parents. There is lots of fun and room for everyone to participate.
Graceland Student Ministry – Grades 7-12
FPC Student Ministry exists to help students KNOW God, GROW in relationship with Him and each other, and to GO serve others in Jesus’ name.
Students can expect a welcoming environment with caring adult leaders who are there to support and encourage them on their faith journey, regardless of if they are exploring their faith for the first time, a committed follower of Jesus, or anywhere between.
All students are welcome!
Sundays | 9:00–9:50am
In the upstairs youth room
7th-12th Graders, join us for a time of connection, Bible discussion, and prayer.
Wednesdays | 7:00-8:15pm
In the upstairs youth room
7th-12th Graders, join us for a time of connection, games, musical worship, meaningful messages and small group discussions, and prayer.
Music in Worship
December 3 – FPC Choir and Ying Wang, pianist
December 10 – Joyful Noise Brass and Ying Wang, pianist
December 17 – FPC Choir and Ying Wang, pianist
Coming Events | Dec. 3 – 23, 2023
Sundays, December 3-17 at 9am – Less Chaos, More Jesus
For the next three Sundays in December (3rd, 10th, 17th), Pastor Glen and Christa Schmeelk will be leading a discussion based on Walter Brueggemann’s book titled Sabbath as Resistance. We will explore what it means for us Christ Followers to move from a rest-less, anxiety prone existence to rest-filled moments of repair and renewal. We begin at 9am in Fellowship Hall. This is especially poignant during the frenzy of this “Holidaze” season.
So take a breather and let’s take some time to reflect together. Books are available, but not necessary, for the discussion.
Sunday, December 3 at 11am – Carols, cookies, & Coffee Tasting
During our normal coffee hour after service in the Lobby and Gathering Space, we will be sharing Christmas cookies, listening to some of our choir members sing carols, and for those who like coffee- please help us decide which coffee to purchase in the future (we will have a number to sample.) No need to RSVP to attend, but if you know you would like to bring cookies, please let us know:
Sunday, December 3 at 3pm – Theology on Tap at Octopi Brewing
Join us for a casual gathering that is centered around food/drinks, connection, and conversation on a deep faith topic. This month’s topic: “What drives us to say yes or no?” All Aged 21+ are welcome!
Contact Christa or Ezrah for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mondays thru Dec. 18 from 1PM-2:30PM – Light Team Meeting
Currently we are going through “Women of the Bible”
This group welcomes all ladies wishing to engage in fellowship and Christian study – with no homework!
Light Team will begin meeting at 1PM in the Gathering Place.
Email Lynda if you’d like to join Light Team at email@example.com
Monday, December 4 at 6:30PM – Centering Prayer
The Centering Prayer group will meet in the Chapel on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 PM for two 20 minute “sits”. For those who want to “learn by doing,” please come at 6 PM to get oriented. For questions, please contact Pastor Glen.
Wednesdays thru May 29 at 8:30AM – Women’s Bible Study
The Wednesday Morning Women’s Bible Study Group is made up of women from the surrounding community at large. All are welcome. 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.
Wednesday, December 6 at 11:30AM – New Horizons Christmas Carols & Potluck Lunch
New Horizons will be hosting Carols in the Chapel followed by a Potluck lunch in Fellowship Hall at 11:30AM on Wednesday, December 6th.
We hope to see everyone for the fun festivities!
Wednesdays at 7PM – Men’s Group
Join our Men’s Group on Wednesday evenings from 7-8pm in the Gathering Area at FPC (by the fire place.) We will be going through “Life Lessons from John” by Christian author Max Lucado. We are excited to foster meaningful connections and find some service projects to work on together.
Friday, December 8 at 6pm – Christmas Movie Night, Pizza, and Popcorn!
Families! You are invited to watch “The Star” Christmas movie with us in the Youth Room on December 8! Pizza starts at 6pm, the movie will start around 6:15pm. Come when you can! Friends are welcome, just add them to your rsvp number so we order enough pizza! PJ’s, blankets, and stuffed animals are welcome!
Friday, December 8 at 6pm – Caroling and Cocoa
Kindermusik will be hosting Christmas Caroling and Cocoa on Friday, December 8 at 6pm in Fellowship Hall.
Come one come all, to the “Decked Fellowship Hall!”
A surefire way to experience the true meaning of Christmas! Family and Friends remembering and celebrating Christ’s birth in song with cup of cocoa!
Saturday, December 9 at 10AM and Monday, December 11 at 6:30PM – Care for the Caregivers
Caregiving is full of stories and life experiences. Sometimes we need somebody to walk with us, someone who is experiencing the same path of caregiving. Where can one find a Christian place to tell those stories and life experiences? The Care for the Caregiver group at FPC.
The Care for Caregivers group is a small group that meets twice a month; one attends as they have time, feels the need to share, or help others walking this path. We meet in the Chapel monthly, once on the second Monday of the month at 6:30pm and once on the second Saturday of the month at 10:00am. The group is faith based and includes those who are caring or have cared for another – in person or from afar. The group is for more than the FPC family, the meeting is open to community members that are caregivers. The discussions held in the meetings are confidential so that people are able to speak freely.
Henri Nouwen wrote, “To care is the most human of all gestures; caring expresses and expands our compassion. Care draws us into profound mutuality, both in shared vulnerability and shared gifts.”
If you have questions, or if these dates and times won’t work for you, please contact Marcia Chase, email@example.com or call 849-5683 and leave a message during work hours.
Sunday, December 10 at 11am – Service for Healing and Wholeness
On Sunday December 10th, right after worship in the Chapel, Pastor Glen will be leading a service for Healing and Wholeness. During this holy time of the year, a lot of feelings- both tender and distressing- can bubble up. That is normal, inevitable, human. Since we are a community of healing, the questions we ask during this service are
- What is it that we bring for healing right now?
- Are there people or places we bring for healing?
So come and experience the God who loves us just as we are- broken and beautiful. Our God who comes to us now.
Sunday, December 10 at 11AM-1:30PM – Network 56 Pizza and Project
After Service on Sunday, December 10 until 1:30pm in the N56 Room! We will have a pizza lunch and continue working on our craft that we will be selling this year at the Children’s Nativity Service! All 5th and 6th graders are welcome!
Saturday, December 16 from 5pm-8pm – FPC Live Nativity
Join us for a heartwarming and enchanting experience as FPC of Waunakee presents its annual Live Nativity on December 16th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. Immerse yourself in the spirit of the season as our dedicated cast members bring the story of the Nativity to life, complete with live animals and festive carolers. This beloved community tradition promises an evening of wonder and joy, perfect for families, friends, and neighbors alike. Come together with us to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. We can’t wait to share this wondrous evening with you at our Live Nativity!
Sunday, December 17 at 4PM – One Night in Bethlehem Children’s Nativity Service
Wednesday, December 20 from 7-8:15PM – Youth Group Christmas Party
All middle and high school students are invited to join us in the FPC Youth Space for an eveniing of fun, food, and friends. Feel free to dress festively!
Save the Date | More Info to come
Sunday, December 24 – Christmas Eve Worship
FPC will host three worship services on Christmas Eve on Sunday, December 24.
10AM – Sunday Worship
4PM – Family Service
7PM – Candlelight Service
Sunday, January 7 at 11AM – Epiphany Brunch Potluck
Following worship on January 7, all are invited to join the 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 brunch potluck together with some Three Kings activities for kids and everyone can get a piece of the famous “Kings Cake” – if the baby Jesus is in your piece, you will get a prize! RSVP to let us know you are coming.
Opportunities to Serve
Last Wednesday of each month – 4-6pm – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Our FPC church has been given the opportunity to serve families at the Waunakee Food Pantry one time per month, starting in November. It will always be the last Wednesday of each month from 4-6:00pm. This is a great way to connect with fellow members, while serving families in the Waunakee area. If you are interested, please stop by the Mission table after church to learn more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connector is available in print at the Connection Corner 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.