DECEMBER 17, 2023

10:30 AM




"Joy to the World"

"My Soul Gives Glory to My God"

"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"

Sheet Music is here! Remember to click. Special Music links too!

"The Rose"

"Mary Did You Know"

We are so glad you are here!”

As we enter our church, as we live as members, as we experience important life-cycle events (falling in love, marrying, parenting, baptism, coming out, transitioning, etc.), words of welcome and support, understanding and love are what we all long for. This manifestation of God’s Extravagant Welcome and the justice and social witness that accompany it are the heart of what we hope to show our community and all who walk through the doors of Christ Congregational United Church of Christ.


December 15, 2023

Dear Congregation,

This Sunday the rose-pink candle of JOY will be lit on our Advent wreath

by Lorrie and Isabella LeGrand. This third Sunday of Advent is known as

Gaudete Sunday. This day takes its name from the Latin word Gaudete

“Rejoice”, the first word of the Gregorian chant introit of the Roman

Catholic Mass used on this day.

This introit may be translated from the Latin as: “Rejoice in the Lord

always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for

the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all

things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests

be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned

away the captivity of Jacob.” (Philippians 4:4-6, Psalm 84:1-2)

This kind of rejoicing has as its object God and is a spiritual joy. It is a

filling of our soul with joy that is in itself worship. We hear this rejoicing

in the words and music of Handel’s Messiah masterpiece which is

performed at this time of the year. JOY and REJOICING go together, for

joy comes from God. When we recognize that God is the source of all

the joy we experience in our human lives, we are moved to praise God

to praise God for the gift of JOY.

We may feel that it’s hard to rejoice this year as our hearts break at

news reports of death and destruction in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas

attack on Israel. The humanitarian crisis there affecting so many

civilians who are trapped in Gazais beyond horrific. We may feel it’s

hard to rejoice as the war in Ukraine caused by Russia’s aggression

continues on. We may feel its hard to rejoice for so many

reasons—personal health concern, grief over the passing of a loved

one, family worries, financial challenges… I could go on and on!

I don’t think it’s hard to understand why many people get depressed

over the holidays. Our challenge, and our privilege, is to focus on what

we can do to make a positive difference, and to bring joy to others.

Follow through with the UCC’s action items listed in our e-blast. Donate

to “Middle East Support”, give to CCC’s Outreach programs, help

demonstrate love, peace, hope, and joy in any opportunity you have to

interact with others. I believe you will find joy in doing what is God’s


I pray that each of you have much joy as you praise God for the beauty

and meaning of this Advent season, as we wait once again for the One

who is coming, has come, and will come again to make all things right,

Jesus the Christ. Rejoice in God always!

In Christ’s joy and love.

Pastor Candy

Showing some of the ornaments that were made last Sunday during Cocoa Filled Laughs.

From left to right: Rita Smith, Bianca Montenegro, Lovett, Lorrie LeGrand, Isabella LeGrand and Karen Kett.

Made by Rita Smith for Pastor Candy, adding a festive touch to her office!

We very much enjoyed Valentino Garcia and Shamming Song the special music during last Sunday's service.

We have a new stable for our nativity scene and figures are being added each week.


Pastor Candy would be happy to meet with you to talk about our Christian faith, your spiritual journey, and to discuss what church membership means. Please let her know if you're interested.


Sun. Dec. 17 | 10:30 am

Worship in the Sanctuary & Facebook Live

Mon. Dec. 18 | 6:30 pm

ZOOM Bible Study

Meeting ID: 856 1964 5746

Sun. Dec. 24 | 5:00 pm

Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship in the Sanctuary & Facebook Live

*No morning service*

The sympathy of the church is extended to Bennie and Helen Wiley and family. Bennie's mother, Sarah Wiley, 99, passed to life everlasting on 12-12-23.

Bianca's You Better Bee-lieve It Corner

Capturing the Spirit of Christmas! 

This Christmas, our outreach efforts continue as we extend a hand to those in need. We're honored to announce our support for three families from SOS, each receiving $100 to assist them during this holiday season. Additionally, we're thrilled to include Daniel's two Guardian Ad Litem boys in our giving, providing each with $75 in support and assistance to their families as well. We want to invite everyone to join us in spreading joy and making a difference. We'll be accepting donations until this Sunday the 17th to further amplify our impact and ensure that more families and children experience the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Your contributions, no matter how big or small, will truly make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve, as we come together to spread love and goodwill during this special time of the year.

JUST Pop Tops!


We are collecting pop tops for a special cause. These pop tops will be donated to support the Ronald McDonald Program, aiding children and families in need. Wondering how your pop tops can make a difference? According to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, these tabs are recycled for dollars that directly support the children and families they serve in their Houses. By contributing, you're playing a part in providing crucial assistance to those in our community who need it most. Let's make this season a time of joy, creativity, and giving!

Join us and be a part of this wonderful initiative—where every pop top collected brings smiles and support to those in our community who can use it most.

Lucille Campbell celebrating her 100th birthday with cake. She was visited by several members of the CCC.

Dear All,

Thank you for the gift cards that you provided us with. We so appreciate the support that you have given us.

Your thought, your prayers and actions make such a difference.


SOS Team

November 30, 2023

Dear Karen Kett and Christ Congregational,

First, we are writing to thank you again for your donation to the Children's Partnership School at Miami Southridge Senior High School. It has made such a significant impact on the lives of the children that we have the privilege of assisting. Donations like yours positively impact families that have been affected by poverty, recent immigration, homelessness, and domestic abuse. We specifically work with families who can use any resources to help them provide a better life for their children.

Thank you for your donation of food items and grocery gift cards for our students and families in need. Were it not for your generous donation, we would have had to spend $1050.00 to provide the students with these resources had it not been for the donation you provided. We are excited to have these much needed items in our food and clothing pantry. No substantial goods or services we provided to you in exchange for your contribution.

Our relationship with donors like you is incredibly important and we want to honor the spirit and intent of your gift in a way that allows us to use as many resources as possible for the children that need it. We hope you will understand how grateful we are, and we hope your family will continue to support CHS and the important work that we are doing.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at


Natalie Eguizabal

Community Partnership School Director for Children's Home

Find Us, Like us, Follow Us, and Share Us

on Social Media!

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Facebook: Christ Congregational United Church of Christ

Twitter/X: @CCC_UCC

TikTok: @CCC_UCC

YouTube: ChristCongregational-UCC

Instagram: @christcongregationalucc


Joan Hansen, Maggie McDowell, Carol McCreary, the family and friends of Mary Ellen Prather, Mary and Frank Tirb, Bradley Everhardt, Julio Balcells, Jessica Nodarse, Mark, Julie Henkel, Merly Alonso, Bianca and Nina Sarmento and the friends and family of J.J Newby Ketzle, Stone Coram and the family and friends of Brenda Best, Aberas Jober and Leslie Perichak, Paul LeGrand and Cathryn Tagmeyer, Briane Garrison and Theresa Grambell, Vincent Andrews and family, Rodger and Esther and Carol and sons, Brad and Amelia's cousin Dan, Ed Kretchmer, Judith Mekitemba. and Kathy Kirsch.

For Pastoral Care Needs, please call Pastor Candy directly at 925-640-9289 or you may call and leave a message with the Church Office, 305-235-9381.

Middle East Conflict

The war in Israel/Palestine declared on October 7, has claimed thousands of lives, and tens of thousands of people have been injured. Approximately one million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, still within Gaza, as there is nowhere to go. Half are in emergency shelters set up by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). It is increasingly difficult for Gazan Palestinians to find safe space, as even hospitals and a church have sustained damage, killing and injuring hundreds of people. Food, water, fuel, and electricity have been cut off, and supplies are running out. 

Convoys of trucks carrying humanitarian relief await the opportunity to bring much-needed relief into Gaza from Egypt, but the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been damaged by rocket strikes. Other entrances, controlled by Israel, remain closed and the threat of an Israeli ground invasion threatens more lives and livelihoods in the coming days and weeks.

With ecumenical partners, the UCC has offered a public witness that has been unequivocal:

— Condemnation of the violence of Hamas and Israel’s use of force against Palestinians in Gaza

— A call for a cease-fire

— The allowance of the provision of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and an end to collective punishment

— The guarantee of and respect for safe spaces for people to find shelter

— Support for robust diplomatic efforts to resolve the core issues

The UCC is learning from Palestinian Christian partners how they are attempting to respond to the needs of the people of Gaza, even amid steady bombardments.

— In times of calm, the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) operates medical clinics and trauma therapy classes in Gaza.

— Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, an Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem institution, normally offers a critical and courageous ministry of health care provision (often free of charge) in the most trying circumstances. It has sustained damage in two incidents in the first week and a half. Yet, staff remain committed to their calling to provide care and hope, “delivered in a spirit of love and service.” 

— Other partners, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the YMCA of East Jerusalem, and the YWCA of Palestine, are preparing to respond to the needs of Palestinians.

— These partners and others, bilaterally and through ACT Alliance, are preparing to address immediate and longer-term responses such as food and nutrition needs, physical and psychosocial health care, shelter and rehabilitation, and direct assistance.

Frequent updates are posted here.

“The work of our partners in Palestine, and specifically in Gaza, is inspiring, especially as they cope with conditions and access that are extremely limited. Having visited Gaza, I know the dedication and commitment of our partners’ staffs to serve the whole community and offer a witness of care and service. We mourn the loss of life and pray for the end to violence,” said Peter Makari, who currently serves as Transitional Executive for Wider Church Ministries, and Global Relations Minister for the Middle East and Europe in Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ. “We must walk in solidarity with them in this time of war, accompanying them now and in the future as the impact of this war will be lasting.”

Please advocate for a cease-fire, access for humanitarian assistance, and for the core issues to be addressed.

At the same time, we invite your financial support to undergird the work of our partners with whom we have had a long-standing relationship. Your gifts will make an impact and a difference on those suffering so greatly during these days of lamentation and suffering.

The two actions go hand-in-hand. Thank you for your generosity.

You can also mail a check made payable to the United Church of Christ, PO BOX 71957 Cleveland, OH 44194.

Please be sure to note “Middle East Support” in your check's memo section.


  • We are all still reeling from the reports of tragic loss of life and continued atrocities taking place in Israel and Gaza. As we mourn, and pray for those who have lost loved ones, we must call on policymakers to support a Just Peace.

Contact Your Legislators

  • Urge Congress to call on the administration to expedite protections and critical supports, including visa processing and access to resettlements, for Afghan refugees.

Act Now

  • Register to pray for Peace in the Middle East.

Register Here

  • Read the letter that was sent to congress.

Read letter

  • Contact your State Senators to urge them to defend our democracy by supporting the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Protect Voting Rights

Sunshine Connection
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Global Ministries offers a weekly prayer for one of our global mission partners. This week's prayer is with India. To read their mission moment, please click the Global Ministries IMAGE. Below is this week's prayer, united we pray.

Almighty God, we thank you for your call to be partners in your divine mission and coworkers in your reign of love, peace, and justice here on earth. We thank you for your promise of being with us always as we counter and confront the gods of the earth in their manifestations of Corruption, Communalism, Patriarchal Structures, and Casteism. We come before you with hearts filled with hope and gratitude, lifting up prayers for our beloved country, India. We thank you for the diverse tapestry of cultures, faiths, and people that make up this land of India. Lord, we pray for peace, unity, and prosperity to flourish in every corner of our nation.

We thank you for the faith in your son Jesus, who challenges us to stand in solidarity with the least, the homeless, the lost, the betrayed, the last, and those at the periphery in the church and society. We thank you for your spirit, which empowers us to embrace new ideas, visions, and dreams to become your prophetic voice in this world. We bring before you the grave issue of human trafficking, a scourge that plagues our society. We ask for your strength and wisdom to empower us in the fight against this heinous crime.

We thank you, Lord, for your commission to your church to pluck and break down, destroy, and overthrow structures that divide us in the name of region, language, color, gender, and hierarchies. Help us to partake in the reign of your kingdom where we overcome fear through our faith in you and strive to bring justice where there is injustice, peace where there is violence, freedom where there is bondage, and love where there is discrimination and exclusion. In the name of Christ, hear our prayers, O Lord our God.


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The Rev. Candace Thomas | Pastor

Graham Bryan | Moderator & President

Jay Harragin | Music Director

Tracy Williams | Editor