News And Updates

11-23-20 Update Letter #39 from Pastor Nate Phillips

by Pastor Nate Phillips on November 23, 2020

November 23, 2020
Dear Kirk family,
This week was our anniversary Sunday and, though we celebrated it completely online, we shared in an uplifting time of worship that included bagpipes and tartan! Remember, if you would like to order something in the Kirk tartan for future anniversaries, you can find it here - - simply choose an item (like a pocket square here - and then find “Kirk in the Hills” in the tartan options. Not every item allows for the Kirk in the Hills tartan, but many do!
My Kirk anniversary sermon, Eye Test, invited us to consider how well we see the work that God is doing in our midst - especially as we think about another year together as a church.
I asked,
“I’m not sure what you’ve overcome.  
But here you are.
Can you see how far you’ve come?
Can you see how far God has carried you in this life of yours?  
As we celebrate the 73rd anniversary of this church … can we see how far the Kirk’s come?
Can you see? 
Can we pass an eye test?
Can you see where God is in us … and where God might be taking us next?”
If you would like to dig deeper into the sermon, join us for the “talk back" tonight at 7 pm over zoom! It is always lively! Join here. Note: If you are prompted to enter a passcode, it’s “Kirk” with capital K.
The signs of God’s work are all around us, if we will only see.
Can we see God at work in our service challenge? Whether you're staying home and reading one of the books or making blankets, like Mary, Py, or Jean (below), or out in the field, like the Men of the Kirk at Focus Hope or the crew we had out at Lighthouse distributing Thanksgiving food boxes … we see God finding ways for us to serve others or build community awareness. Help us to reach our goal of 5,000 hours! 
How can you participate? Visit the Kirk website here ( for an opportunity catalogue. Or participate by just calling to check on someone, picking up groceries, or dropping off a Thanksgiving plate to someone all alone!. For those willing and able to go out, there are still Thanksgiving shifts available at both First Pres of Pontiac and Westminster. Remember to log your hours! Together we can accomplish our goal!
We continue to see God at work with our youth ministry program led by Pastor Kelsey. The High School group had a virtual Friendsgiving this week. They "shared" a meal and heard different stories about individuals' connection to food over the course of their lives. 
A few youth and their families participated in the Sleep Out to raise money and awareness for Covenant House - an agency that supports homeless youth. After sleeping in a sleeping bag outside, Melanie Costakes reflected on the experience: "The sleep out experience went well for me, I spent the beautiful night outside reading and reflecting on the cause and how blessed I am to have the choice to sleep outside and not have it be my only option. As the seasons change my heart goes out to all the people like you and I who are without shelter this winter. And it was a humbling and eye opening night where I felt lucky to be where I am.”
Can we see God at work with Accent Pontiac? After a successful series of Porch Lessons through the Summer and Fall, Accent Pontiac music programming is moving online. Through Accent Pontiac's partnership with the Pontiac School District, they will serve students with individual lessons and group classes on percussion, brass, and woodwind instruments. Accent Pontiac's final Fall outdoor jam session last week was an opportunity to safely gather as a community one last time before moving virtual, and to get all students signed up for online classes.
This week, you will receive a letter from me that outlines our Advent plans at the Kirk and we trust that we will see God working throughout. Since so much of our ability to meet “in person” is in flux, please do stay tuned to these weekly email updates and our BRAND NEW church website for announcements and changes. We are so proud of our new site (and grateful to Nancy Scully for her work in creating it!) and we hope you like it too. Visit and enjoy!
I am really looking forward to seeing how God will be at work this Advent season when our theme will be, “Those Who Dream” - our program is detailed below. Our “Those Who Dream” worship services throughout Advent will be online and beautiful. Christmas Eve will feature a complete online broadcast full of our favorite traditions - but we hold out hope that we will also have an “in person” (reserved seating, with masks and social distancing) option. In addition, Pastor Angela has created “Those Who Dream” Advent boxes for families - free for all to pick up in the church welcome vestibule.
Of special note is our December 6 evening event, “Angel Tree Lighting and Carols on the Carillon.” This event will begin at 7 p.m. and will be a “drive-in/ outside in-person” event. Come and enjoy everyone’s favorite carols and bring your “Angel Tree” gift to place underneath the outside Christmas trees on the night we light them up. Find out more about how to join the Angel Tree gift giving by clicking here ( Special details for this event are still in the works and it promises to be fun for young and old - you will not want to miss it!
As I sign off on this weekly letter, I do so with the trust that you will experience a blessed Thanksgiving week. We have a brief, but meaningful service that we hope you will enjoy on website and Facebook at noon on Thanksgiving Day. May that service, and the prayer below from our Sunday broadcast, be a small token of our hope that you will see the work of God in your Thanksgiving celebration.
Stay warm,
Pastor Nate
Upcoming Opportunities
A “Those Who Dream” Advent:
“Those Who Dream” Daily Advent Devotional 
Enjoy a daily advent devotional in your email and on social media from our members, partners, and friends. Hear interesting stories and reflections about the dreams we share about the coming of Jesus into the world!
Adult Advent Series: Dreaming of Advent Around the World
Have you ever wondered how people in different parts of the world celebrate Advent and Christmas? Have you ever wondered what their Christmas carol sounds like? Now is your chance to find out! Come and listen to our speakers from Iraq, South Africa, Israel and other places talk about Advent and listen to Christmas music they bring to us. Let’s dream of Advent in a different world this year. Join us on Zoom on Sundays (December 6, 13, 20) at 12:15 p.m.! Link here.
Family Advent Box for Dreamers
Let us help you celebrate Advent and Christmas as a family this year with a Family Advent Box! Inside the box, you will find family Advent devotional, Advent calendar, Christmas craft materials and so much more to make this Advent and Christmas very special. Pick up your box today! They will be available Monday-Friday 9-3 p.m. (except for Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday) and Saturday 10 a.m.-noon in the foyer of the Welcome Center starting on Thursday, November 19.
Advent sermon “Talk Back” via Zoom, Mondays at 7 p.m.
Join the pastors for a deeper dive on their “Those Who Dream” sermons and discover how the sermon came to be - and what they could have been! Link here.
Interfaith Advent by Candlelight, time and day TBD
Hope: a light in the darkness. A candlelight service of music, scripture and reflection on the meaning of Advent.
Angel Tree Lighting and Carols on the Carillon, December 6 at 7 p.m.
We hope you come to enjoy this special “drive-in/ outside in-person” event! Pack a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate and celebrate with favorite carols from our carillon, Angel tree gift giving, and the lighting of the Kirk Christmas trees. Find out more about how to join the angel tree gift giving by clicking here ( Special details for this event are still in the works and it promises to be fun for young and old - you will not want to miss it!
Holiday Brass online event, December 13
Details to follow.
Lessons and Carols online concert, December 20
Details to follow.
Service of Comfort and Hope, online on December 16 at 7 p.m.
There’s an Advent tradition within Western Christianity of inviting people to come together for the Longest Night, a night around the time of the winter solstice, when there are more hours of darkness than light. It’s a time to come together for prayers and laments, to mourn the losses and griefs of the year, to let the tears flow for the hurting places in our own lives, as well as for our country and our world. We worship trusting in this darkness, even now, seeds are growing, hope is being born, and new dreams are being dreamed.
“Do Not Be Afraid,” Virtual Christmas pageant, December 24
Enjoy a pre-recorded pageant featuring the children and youth of the Kirk! This virtual pageant is centered on the narratives surrounding Jesus’ birth from the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Christmas Eve Worship, “Dream Come True,” December 24
Broadcast and in-person worship (COVID permitting)
The Christmas story reminds us that we are all dreamers. Like those gathered around the manger, we come to this night each year with awe, wonder, and holy imagination for what is possible. Like Mary, we treasure God’s dream in our hearts and commit to keeping it alive. Like the holy family, we believe and trust in a God who comes to us in the vulnerability of a child.
This Christmas Eve will offer unique opportunities for worship. We are producing a pre-recorded Christmas Eve worship service and we hope you will take part! View the video to learn how you can be part of this year’s sharing of Christmas Eve candlelight.
Candle Lighting Video Example

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