As Way Opens

Christmas Mail
Ted Kooser

Cards in each mailbox, 

angel, manger, star and lamb, 

as the rural carrier, 

driving the snowy roads, 

hears from her bundles 

the plaintive bleating of sheep, 

the shuffle of sandals, 

the clopping of camels. 

At stop after stop, 

she opens the little tin door 

and places deep in the shadows 

the shepherds and wise men, 

the donkeys lank and weary, 

the cow who chews and muses. 

And from her Styrofoam cup, 

white as a star and perched 

on the dashboard, leading her 

ever into the distance, 

there is a hint of hazelnut, 

and then a touch of myrrh.

Bless us all this Christmas, as we open the tin boxes God puts before us each day, and then spill into them the part of God’s story we know ourselves – the experiences of the Holy we have each known, and, if we’re willing, can share.  What a blessing to those who discover and find the courage to open the letters of our lives, and find stories to strengthen their own.  May we be just as courageous in spilling the stories, the experiences, the ways that open in Spirit, to others.  God bless your Christmas, and God bless the Christmas Gift you bring to each person whose life you touch.


Joys & Concerns

The icy cold weather caused us to cancel Meeting for Worship this past Sunday, but Dan M., Beth H. and I purposely came to be sure to greet those who might not have gotten the word.  Sure enough, four people came to worship.  One was a regular attender.  Two were folks who have just recently begun coming to First Friends.  One was a woman who has long been interested in visiting First Friends and had decided to come that morning for the first time.  We welcomed them into the Parlor for a cup of coffee, conversation, and a time of silent expectant worship.  God’s Spirit was evident, the silence was deep and meaningful, and our sharing was vital.  Meeting had been cancelled, but God still met with us in worship at First Friends this past Sunday.                                                                Ruthie

United Christmas Service Project A Big Success ~ Thanks to everyone who contributed gifts towards the United Christmas Service project.  All tags were taken from the Christmas palm tree and gifts were delivered this past Sunday to 5 families.  The families were most appreciative of the gifts and thanked all of you for helping them at this time of the year.  You all helped to honor the true meaning of Christmas which is to celebrate the Light that came into the world and to help others experience this Light.  Joy to the World and Merry Christmas everyone!!!

From your First Friends Meeting Staff: Merry Christmas to You All!  May God bless your Christmas gatherings, your time with family and friends, and your sense of God’s presence as you consider Emmanuel’s coming to be ‘God with us’ this Christmas.  We are blessed to serve you in ministry, even as you serve the world.

                                           Ruthie, Beth, Shawn, Rebecca, Dan, Rocio, and Jose

Bonnie and Dan H. thank First Friends for the meals and visits they have had the last few weeks.  The food and the presence of friends is healing and so appreciated.  

Announcements, Reports, & Opportunities

Christmas Eve Service

5:30 pm at First Friends Meeting

“Finding the Christ Child”

The Christmas Story told in the Children’s Christmas Pageant

Jim & Leslie Kartholl, Duet

Our Children’s Choir – ‘Away in a Manger’

Our Year-End Christmas Offering

in support of the ministries of First Friends Meeting

Eric Baker, Solo

Meditation and Waiting Worship

Carrie Sample, Solo

Candlelight and Christmas Carols


Christmas Morning Worship

Sunday, December 25th at 10:15

Breakfast Brunch, Caroling, Christmas Sharing

and Waiting Worship in the Parlor


New Year’s Day Worship

Sunday, January 1 at 10:15

Led by Mary B., David B. & Ed M.


We have rescheduled our beloved children’s pageant to be included in our service this Christmas Eve at 5:30. Our children will depict and read the story of Jesus birth and we will sing hymns together.  Carrie S., Jim and Leslie K. and Eric B. will share songs with us and we will light candles together during this sacred evening. We hope you can join us for this special time.

Christmas morning we hope you will come and share a time of brunch, caroling and sharing in our parlor at 10:15 with Ruthie and Beth.  This will be a special Meeting for Worship for those that can attend.  

Please pick up your Poinsettias! If you’d like to take home your poinsettia(s), feel free to do so anytime this week. If you will be in attendance during our Christmas Eve service, you are also welcome to pick them up at that time! Thank you!

Just a reminder that the office will be closed on Monday, December 26 in observance of Christmas. It will also be closed on Monday, January 2 in observance of New Year’s Day. Happy Holidays!

Please note, there will be no Sunday School classes this Sunday, Dec 25 or on Sunday, Jan 1.

Please also note, there will be no Gentle Yoga this Friday, December 23. There will be a class next Friday, December 30 to help usher in the New Year.

Due to our cancellation of service last Sunday, we missed the opportunity to sell for donations to Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR), soup and cookies in a jar that our kids assembled.  However, you will have a chance to purchase these great Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve.  There is a table in the foyer with the decorative jars as well as coffee and chocolate and tea to sell to help support this organization.  Please bring your money and check book to the Christmas Eve service!

Have an old TV? Perhaps you’d like to donate it! Janice H. works at Hawthorne Community Center, and is seeking a donation of a large screen computer monitor or TV with HDMI hook-up to show educational videos in her adult ed classroom. She does not want anyone to go out a buy a monitor to donate. Perhaps you or someone you know is getting a new TV or monitor for Christmas and would be looking to get rid of their old one? If you’re able to help, please contact the office. Thank you!

The Pastoral Search Committee's work is underway! Since we did not have Meeting for Business this past week due to the weather, we decided not to delay posting the pastoral job description at You will notice that this description is almost identical to the one approved five years ago, but the Committee will consider further suggestions brought to it at our next Meeting for Business. Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this process.

The Pastoral Search Committee also invites you to contemplate and provide feedback on the following query this week: In your opinion, how can our new pastor best prepare and preach inspiring sermons?  Please provide your thoughts on the query (or any other feedback on the search process) to Dan Rains, who will be looking forward to hearing from you just outside the Meeting Room after Meeting for Worship this Sunday!

We need volunteers for the Mid North Food Pantry! ~ Due to the holidays, several of the “regulars” will not be able to volunteer at the food pantry on Wednesdays December 21, January 4 and January 18.  These are all days that First Friends regularly staffs the pantry. If you are in town and available during any of these dates, please consider volunteering. Let the office know if you are interested. Thank you for your assistance!

Christmas Dinner invitation: If you are planning to be in solitary splendor on Christmas afternoon, but would like to share Christmas dinner with someone, please consider coming to the home of Amy and Thad P. Come at noon, eat at 2:00. Please let the office know if you would like to come.

Oak Leaf: Meeting for Reading will meet Tuesday, December 27th hosted by Ann P. in her home.  Join us for dinner at 6:30 pm; afterward Sylvia A. will be leading the discussion of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.  We ask that you either bring an appetizer or dessert.  Please RSVP to the office by Monday.  (Next month:  The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen led by Rhonda Craver on January 31st at 7 pm in the parlor.)   

See below and mark your calendars for 2017 Oak Leaf Women’s Meeting for Reading:

January 31 ~ The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

February 28 ~ Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

March 28 ~ A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

April 25 ~ The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

May 30 ~ Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Asian

June 27 ~ A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

July 25 ~ Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland

August 29 ~ The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

September 26 ~ My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

October 24 ~ The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

November 28 ~ The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

December 26 ~ The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian