O Come, All Ye Faithful!

Advent and Christmas 2018




Opportunities to Give and Serve





The First Congregational Church

United Church of Christ

An Open and Affirming Congregation




“No matter who you are,

or​​ where you are on life’s journey,

You are welcome here.”





Worship & Programs




Sunday, December 9: Second Sunday in Advent​​ 


8:30 and 10:00am Worship -​​ Nursery & Sunday School 10am.

Sermon Title: ​​​​ Risky Love


5:00pm​​ Service of Lessons and Carols​​ - Sanctuary

A service with Bible lessons and music of the season, anthems by the Senior, Junior, & Handbell Choirs, soloists, instrumentalists. ​​ Childcare is available.


6:00-7:30pm Soup & Bread Supper​​ -Fellowship Hall. ​​ Hosted by Pilgrim Fellowship. ​​ Tickets sold at the door: $8 ages 13 & older; $4 ages 12 and under; Containers of soup to go: $8.



Monday, December 10:


6:30pm Christmas Party Confirmation 1 & 2​​ – Fellowship Hall



Tuesday, December 11:


5:30-6:30 Soup Supper for Boards, Committees, Council

6:30-7:30pm​​ Combined Committee/Board meeting

7:30-8:30pm Church Council- Fellowship Hall



Sunday, December 16: ​​ Third Sunday in Advent


8:30 & 10:00am Worship–,​​ Nursery and Church School at 10am.

Sermon Title: ​​ Living Joy


11:00am Pilgrim Fellowship Cookie Walk​​ in Fellowship Hall. $6/bag. ​​ Proceeds support the PF Service trips


7:00pm Pilgrim Fellowship/PF Alumni Gathering-​​ Fellowship Hall






Saturday,​​ December 22: ​​ 


9:00 – 11:00am Christmas Pageant Rehearsal -​​ Children interested in participating in the Pageant on Christmas Eve should plan to attend this rehearsal in the Sanctuary. ​​ Costumes will be given out before a quick rehearsal. ​​ All are welcome! ​​ Contact Becky Stambaugh (203-453-3324 or​​



Sunday, December 23: ​​ Fourth Sunday in Advent


10:00am Christmas Pageant Family Worship (no Sunday School)

A retelling of the Christmas Story by the youth and children; music by the Cherub &​​ Junior Choirs and instrumentalists. ​​ Nursery care available

Sermon Title: ​​ Hope In Christ


5:00-6:00pm Cider & Cookies​​ in the Brasher-Cunningham’s barn at 19 Church St Barn.



Monday, December 24: ​​ Christmas Eve


5:00pm Family Christmas Service​​ - Sanctuary


10:00pm Candlelight Communion Worship -​​ Sanctuary​​ 



Sunday, Dec. ​​ 30: ​​ First Sunday after Christmas


One Worship Service at 10:00am,​​ 

Nursery care, No Sunday School






1. December Food Collection on Sunday,​​ December 3 –​​ we collect non-perishable food items on the first Sunday of every month with the donations given on a rotating basis to the Guilford Food Bank, the Community Dining Room in Branford, or Christian Community Action. ​​ Congregants are invited to bring their donations to worship and place​​ them beneath or near the Communion Table. ​​ The December food collection will be taken to the Guilford Food Bank.


 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ continues

2.​​ Columbus House Dinner Thurs., Dec. 7th:​​ the first Thursday of the month First Church prepares & serves dinner to the clients at Columbus House in New Haven. If you would like to participate in this ministry of outreach, contact Nathalie Hegedus ( or Margaret Opatrny (​​ or 203-233-8276.)



3.​​ Our Christmas Tree​​ will be in the sanctuary on​​ Sunday,​​ December 9th​​ and will be decorated with​​ ornaments made by the Church School. ​​ Your​​ gifts of​​ hats,​​ gloves, mittens, & scarves​​ for clients of Community Partners in Action Resettlement Program​​ will be collected in the boxes under the tree​​ and will be distributed to those re-entering the community from prison.



4. Poinsettias​​ are given in memory, or in honor, of loved ones and decorate the Sanctuary during the Advent and Christmas seasons. ​​ The plants are then given to bring cheer to those who are home-bound, grieving or ill. ​​ $15 each. ​​ Please place your order in the Church Office by Monday, Dec. 3rd​​ using the form in the Narthex or the December newsletter,​​ The Landmark.​​ 



5. Confirmation Collection in December for Prison Ministry: ​​ Confirmands are collecting women’s socks at their​​ Christmas Party. ​​ 

Anyone who wishes to may contribute.




Our thanks to:

Tom Pinchbeck for the greens for our Advent wreath-making.






The Traditions of Advent


Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the​​ 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

No one is sure when Advent was first celebrated but it dates to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December leading up to Christmas.

Advent Candles

A Wreath Advent Crown


The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in​​ Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles​​ with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy.

While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath began in the time of the​​ Protestant reformer Martin Luther.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us:​​ Peace,​​ Love, Joy and Hope. Others consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation, while the second​​ symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world. The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds​​ us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.