Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19, 2021

This Sunday:

This Sunday, in indoor worship at COS, Rev. Karen Campbell will preach from Micah 5:2-5 in the standard English service. Rev. Andrew Mead will preach from Micah 5:2-5 in the Basic English Service in Room 5.

Sunday evening:

O Antiphons Advent worship service Sunday, December 19 at 6 pm. This Advent season, instead of a Lessons and Carols service, we plan to hold a service of reflection on the O Antiphons. The O Antiphons are ancient prayers that likely date to sixth-century Italy that were composed for use in evening prayer services on the last seven days of Advent. They are best known to us as the seven verses of the advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Our service will feature visual artwork created by COS artists and poetry or spoken reflections for each antiphon. The service will also include scripture, prayer, music, and time for silent meditation.

We invite you to sign up to attend the morning service. Please note on the sign up that masking is now required for those over 2 years old. The 10 am service will also be live via Zoom. Sign up for our Newsletter to receive the Zoom links.

Children’s Ministry News:

All Children are Invited to the Christmas Eve Service Rehearsal this Sunday, December 19 from 11:45-12:30pm! Whether or not you’ve signed your children up for the Christmas Eve Service or Musical Prelude, they are welcome to come on Sunday to choose a part and a costume to be part of this beloved tradition of sharing God’s big rescue story with the congregation! Our first rehearsal will be this Sunday from 11:45-12:30pm (in lieu of club ministries) and the final rehearsal will be right before the Christmas Eve service at 3:00pm on Dec. 24! Before rehearsal, please encourage your kids to eat a granola bars outside door M (at the end of the Artery near the restrooms) where a cart with snacks will be set up near the heater. Gluten and allergy free options will be available! Then we will move to the SES sanctuary and costume rooms behind the mailboxes to begin rehearsal. 

5:00pm Christmas Eve Service Details. Christmas Eve is a day filled with wonder at COS! If your children will be involved in the service or musical prelude, please bring them to church at 3:00pm for rehearsal. After practicing, there will be a short break for snacks (outdoors) before the musical prelude begins at 4:40pm. This final rehearsal is important for all musicians and participants with speaking or non-speaking roles to attend! Please check the full church calendar for details on the additional ways to celebrate Christmas together—including a short outdoor Christmas Day service featuring favorite Christmas carols with hot cocoa and cider available!  

Children’s Worship Programming on Sunday Dec. 26th and January 2nd. During the two Sundays after Christmas we’ll be offering a Christmas and Epiphany movie in the youth room rather than our full Little Lambs and Children’s Worship programs. We appreciate all the time and love the volunteer leaders of these programs give our children, so we hope they enjoy a joyful rest during Christmas and New Year’s! Your children will be dismissed from the service in the usual manner, and you’ll pick them up in the café after the service. There will be no after-church programming for children on these two Sundays.

Church News:

Last week’s offering and online giving:  $34,491

Current (Est) Giving for the month of November: $64,485

Monthly budgeted General Fund Giving is:  $118,873

GF Balance at November 30th $24,642

Thanksgiving Offering for Coit: $8,436.51

Simply Give Double Day Gift Card Purchases: $4,360

Gathering to Love; Gathering to Give: The COS pledge drive for 2022 is now at the pledging stage. So far, we have received 48 pledges totaling $356,170. We would like to complete the drive by the end of December, so please take a few minutes this week to complete your pledge. We are hoping for about 200 pledges totaling $1,000,000. Won’t you join us in this effort to serve faithfully and gratefully?

SAVE THE DATE: GPS Session: 11:30 am. Jan 23, with Peter and Annica Quakenbush on Green (or natural) Burial. What is it? What does it involve? Why would one consider this? What are the future implications? Join us, the Creation Care Team, for this presentation and discussion. If you have questions, contact Steve Mulder or Elaine Hoekstra.

COS Finances as of 12/1/21. You have noticed that during September to November that the general fund receipts are down significantly, roughly by $80,000 total. This has triggered some cuts in expenditures, based on the general fund dropping to about $25,000.

    Right now, actual payments on pledges for year 2021 are $157,000 below the pledged amount for 2021. December, however, is historically when we catch up!

    So…NOW—December—is that time to catch up. We as members of this body of Christ, a covenant community, are counting on all of us to help with that giving—those who pledged and equally importantly those who give outside of pledging.

    See the link below for giving. Or bring checks next week, or contact our faithful treasurer Angelica Zahrt for help Email Phone 616-956-7611 ext 29

    Thanks, from COS executive team, and the Finance Committee.

Online giving link

Friendship ESL at COS concluded the fall term on Thursday with “The Meaning of Christmas” and gift bags for each student and child. The staff of 28 tutors and child-care associates conducted 56 sessions, 197 classes, with 577 students (total attendance), following Covid-safety protocols. In addition to language, the staff conducted citizenship test preparation, assisted a Calvin student with research on ESL, and offered eager welcome to BES services and the weekly Bible study on Thursday mornings. The spring term opens January 4. Want to meet and help these friends from Somalia, Ethiopia, Liberia, the DRC, South Korea, China, and other nations? Contact Mark Fackler

COS is looking for at least 2 people to join the offering counters team! This is the easiest volunteer job COS has on offer. If we get enough people, each one of you will be asked for one hour – PER YEAR! Maybe an hour and a half.  Just a five-minute job at the end of the service, counting the checks, envelopes and cash that is brought in. If you are interested, please email Gatwiri Mwenda:

Simply Give Update: The collection from COS members amounted to $4360 for the Dec 11 Double Days!Our neighborhood partner St Nicholas collected $2700 for the Double Days too!We will let you know when we receive the total amount of Meijer cards. Thank you to Meijer for giving COS these annual campaigns!

NEEDED: a person to provide childcare in the COS nursery during JANUARY THURSDAY Bible studies, 9:30 – 11:00 am. This will be a paid job. Contact Mary Loeks.

Grand Rapids Chapter – Citizens’ Climate Lobby will have a two-book discussion series after the first of the year. The first will be the Mary Robinson book, Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future, and the second is a book by Jeremy Williams, Climate Change* is Racist-Race, Privilege and the Struggle for Climate Justice. Each book will be covered in two meetings the evenings of January 12 and 26 and Feb 9 and 23 -at 7 pm. Register via links: Climate Justice Book Discussion, Climate Change is Racist Discussion. COS member Tom McWhertor is one of the facilitators for the January discussions.

You’re invited to join the Wednesday morning prayer group at COS to pray for the church community. The group meets every Wednesday at 10 am in the COS library. All are welcome to join whenever possible.

Thanks to generous gifts from members of the congregation, the Refugee Support Team has been able to increase its budget above our requested General Fund allocation in the last year. Although a smaller number of volunteers has decreased the new refugee families we are able to sponsor, this money has allowed us to better support our refugee and immigrant friends, and to support others in our community who are doing good work.  We are pleased tell you that this month we are planning to:

> Provide $500 to Covenant Hope CRC of Battle Creek, in support of their new refugee and immigrant ministries.  This gift has resulted from a new partnership between COS and Covenant Hope due to some of our Congolese BES members moving to Battle Creek in the last couple of months. Nita VanderBerg was instrumental in making this connection and visited the church on a recent Sunday.  She reports that now our former BES members are worshipping regularly with the congregation, and Covenant Hope’s leadership is launching their own ministry with refugees and immigrants.

> Provide $1000 to Bethany Christian Services and $500 to Samaritas in support of resettlement of Afghans in West Michigan.  This is a large-scale project which will result in more than 400 people relocating to our area from war-torn Afghanistan; about half have already arrived.  While we are unable to sponsor any Afghan families at COS currently, we can participate through these gifts to our partners.

> Provide $400 for art supplies and materials for BES and other kids, who will receive them as part of the distribution of Christmas baskets.  

Praise God for his gifts to us, and thanks to all of you who have supported the refugee and immigrant ministries of COS in the past year.  May the Lord bless our efforts in 2022!

Scripture reading: As we continue into our season of Advent and move into the new calendar year, we invite more people to serve as Sunday morning scripture readers. If you would like to read scripture during a morning worship service, please sign up here. Or find the signup on the church website under the “worship” heading.