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find a wonder-full christmas with a more honest advent.

As much as we may love Christmas, all the lights, music, and shopping that come with the season often seem disconnected from the real world, from our real lives. This winter, author and artist Scott Erickson’s work, Honest Advent, will help guide us as we seek “something honest, something real, something with some human grit and a little less green and red in it.”

Christmas Eve

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 24
11:00AM | Worship with Candlelight and Holy Communion | Sanctuary
3:00PM | Worship with Focus on Families with Children | Sanctuary
6:00PM | Worship with Candlelight and Holy Communion | Sanctuary
8:00PM | Worship with Candlelight and Holy Communion | Sanctuary
11:00PM | Worship with Candlelight and Holy Communion | Sanctuary
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Looking for easy ways to connect to an honest Advent
and Christmas this year?

Christmas Eve Morning Service

Sunday, December 24 11:00AM | Sanctuary
While this worship service is at one of our regular Sunday morning times, it will be a traditional Christmas Eve Service with scripture, carols, and Holy Communion, and is ideal for those who wish to celebrate early and for those whose plans make it impossible to participate in our later services. Please note that though we usually livestream 11:00AM worship service on Sunday mornings, we will instead livestream the 6:00PM worship service on Christmas Eve. 

Christmas Eve Family Service

Sunday, December 24 3:00PM | Sanctuary
Designed with young families in mind, adults can experience all of the traditions of Christmas Eve worship and introduce their children to those same traditions in this brief 45-minute service. While worship will include the Nativity story, carols, Holy Communion, and a candlelit “Silent Night,” the atmosphere in the room is more casual and there is no expectation that participating children will be wiggle free or as silent as the infant Jesus.

Christmas Eve Evening Services

Sunday, December 24
6:00, 8:00, and 11:00PM  Sanctuary
These traditional services celebrate Christ’s birth with sacred music, carols, scripture, Holy Communion, and a candlelit “Silent Night.” The 6:00PM worship service will also be available via livestream, which can be found here. The music of the Christmas Festival Choir will add to the joyous atmosphere at the 6:00 and 8:00PM services.

New Year’s Eve Morning Worship

Sunday, December 31 | 11:00AM | Sanctuary
We will end the year with one Sunday morning service on this last day of the year. Take time to connect and reflect in prayer and worship as you share your hopes and intentions for 2024 with God and create space in this busy season to hear what God is calling you to do in this new year. 

Details About Christmas Worship Services

  • Our Sanctuary Building is undergoing a significant renovation so that it is ready for the next century of worshipers to find a spiritual home here. That’s a good thing! It also means that it is surrounded by scaffolding. The main entrance to the Sanctuary is on Lavaca Street beneath the scaffolding. Ushers will be available to help you find your way in if this is your first time at First Church. 
  • Parking is available on the surrounding city streets and in the parking garage located on the southwest corner of 13th St. and Lavaca St. across from the Family Life Center. There is also a parking lot adjacent to the church that provides easier access to the Sanctuary for those who have small children or mobility challenges. 
  • Please note that the 11:00AM worship service on Christmas Eve will not be livestreamed as it typically is on Sunday mornings. Instead, we will livestream the 6:00PM worship service on Christmas Eve.
  • While our staff and volunteers enjoy a much needed break, there will be no childcare and no Sunday School for children or youth on Sunday, December 24. Our Family Room is available on the second floor of the Sanctuary, and is a comfortable place to comfort a fussy baby, change a diaper, or let a toddler roam a little while still participating in worship.
  • We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, December 24!

Our Christmas Offering

Twice a week for over 20 years, First Church’s Great Hall has hummed to life in the early hours of the morning. Once volunteers arrive on Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 5:15AM, the smell of brewing coffee wafts down the staircase, greeting more than 100 unhoused neighbors who arrive for the Feed My People Breakfast, a program of the Foundation for the Homeless.

 

The Breakfast is more than just a meal. For our guests, it is a brief escape from dangers of unsheltered living and a chance for fellowship, coffee, and a hot meal of eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. Showers, clothing, and AA meetings are currently available, and we hope haircuts will be offered again soon. For the church, the Breakfast has expanded our understanding and care for our unhoused neighbors and continues to anchor and ground our weekly rhythm as a community of faith. It is a key way we use our building in support of our downtown neighborhood and a constant reminder that Jesus gathered with people from the margins of society, ate with them, loved them, and asked us to do the same.

 

While we raised funds last month for the special Christmas Eve Breakfast, we also underwrite many costs associated with hosting the Breakfast each week and purchase the food for each fourth Tuesday of the month. Your generosity this Christmas will help to defray the cost of the twice weekly Feed My People Breakfast, as we offer respite and care for our friends living on the streets all year long.

 

Your gifts, marked “Christmas Offering,” may be placed in the offering basket during worship, mailed to or brought by the church office, or made online at fumcaustin.org/giving and following the step-by-step instructions or using the button below. Please select “Easter & Christmas” from the drop-down menu.

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Special Events

Celebrate Christmas with unhoused neighbors.

Christmas Eve Breakfast for Our Unhoused Neighbors

Sunday, December 24
6:30-8:30AM
Family Life Center

Start your Christmas celebrations with the gift of serving others. This Christmas Eve, we are hosting our unhoused neighbors for breakfast. Our guests will enjoy coffee and Christmas music beginning at 6:30AM, with breakfast served at 7:00AM. Volunteers are also needed to prepare food and decorate on Saturday, December 23. Spaces fill fast, so sign up now!

New Series/New Year: Sacred Self-Care 

“We are not spirits that are simply housed in bodies. We are our bodies. There can be no spiritual life that does not engage the body.” 
—Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes
What if, instead of a disjointed “wish list” of new year’s resolutions, you could delve deep into the spirit to “discern your body’s Spirit-given wisdom about what you need to be well”? Beginning January 1, we will study Walker-Barnes’ new book, Sacred Self-Care, as a six-week daily guide to practices and reflections that integrate our spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and relational well-being. Buy the book now and join us as we explore these themes in worship and daily reading in the new year.

Epiphany Party

Sunday, January 7 | 10:00AM | FLC Great Hall
Jesus’ birth is just the beginning. Celebrate all 12 days of Christmas with an Epiphany Party. At Epiphany, we remember the visit of the Wise Men, the gifts they brought the infant Jesus, and the invitation we have to bring our own gifts to God’s work all year long. This is the faith formation event for children and youth this week and takes the place of Sunday School. No need to bring frankincense or myrrh to the party, but we are collecting diapers in all sizes (especially sizes 4-6) for the Austin Diaper Bank as a gift for infants and toddlers in our community. Bring your diapers, your whole family, and your party spirit as we decorate cupcakes.

For Our Neighbors, We Are Collecting…

Diaper Collection

Now-January 7 | Sanctuary and Family Life Center Foyers
Even though the baby Jesus in Christmas carols is so meek and mild that his parents can count on silent nights, we are celebrating the fully human baby that he was by collecting diapers for the Austin Diaper Bank from Advent through Epiphany. A clean diaper means a happy baby, and recent studies say that nearly fifty percent of families with young children struggle to afford this basic need. Bring diapers of any size (sizes 4-6 are most needed) throughout this season and help us ensure happy babies and more silent nights for families in Austin.

Assemble Manna Bags at Home

Make a difference over the holiday break by assembling manna bags! Manna bags include: bottle of water, Nutri Grain fruit bar, peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches, juice box, raisins, tuna or chicken lunch kit, socks, and an encouraging message such as “God loves you.” Completed bags may be dropped off at the Family Life Center. Email Pastor Cathy Stone with questions and to coordinate drop-off.