What was the best gift you ever got? What was the best gift you ever gave? Is there a special gift you are hoping for this year? Is there a gift you can’t wait to give? Christmas is all about giving. It was God who gave the most significant gift ever that first Christmas – the gift of Jesus. The Magi traveled over 500 miles to give their gifts to the new king of the Jews.
The heart of Christmas today is still found in giving, but not primarily in giving or getting the perfect, cool, well thought out Christmas presents. The best gift is when we give ourselves to others. Here are some options to give and serve this Christmas:
Wrap presents for Healthcare workers at TMC – Our healthcare workers are overworked right now. We can help them out! Tucson Medical Center has asked us to help wrap the presents of the healthcare workers who don’t have time to wrap them for Christmas. You can sign up for two-hour shifts (10 am – 12 pm) or (12 pm – 2 pm), Monday through Friday, December 14th-23rd. Sign up here!
Senior Santa – Here is an opportunity to bring a little joy to a senior this Christmas. This year has been especially hard on seniors, and Senior Santa provides Christmas gifts to low-income seniors in assisted living facilities. This year our Senior Santa program has moved online, and you can purchase a gift from Amazon, and it will be shipped directly to them. Sign up here!
Serving at our Christmas Services
We have opportunities to serve families at our Christmas services by helping out in our Kids Ministry or serving in our courtyard or cafe. Sign up here!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering will help build a church that will host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word. Your gift will help build two classrooms, bathrooms, and a water system that will serve over 300 under-resourced kids.
The cost of the facilities to start a Compassion center in Santa Rosa, Ecuador will be $75,000. You can give online and choose the Christmas Eve giving fund in the drop-down menu. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
Christmas Eve Services
We’ll have five in-person Christmas Eve services on December 23 @ 5 & 7 PM and December 24 @ 3, 5 & 7 PM. We are asking everyone to RSVP for the service you would like to attend, that way, you’ll be assured that the service you selected will have lots of space for physical distancing for you and your family. Don’t forget to invite your friends and family to join you. RSVP here. We’ll have Kids Ministry from birth to 5 years that you can RSVP for also.
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering this year will help build a church that will launch and then host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word.
This is the second church that we’ve helped build in Ecuador in partnership with Compassion (the first church is in Playas). We love the Compassion model: Compassion focuses exclusively on children and works only through the local church. Compassion keeps Jesus at the center of all they do as they provide kids with spiritual, physical, educational, and social development and care.
The Arco de Santa Rosa is a new church plant ministering to children and their families in Santa Rosa. The church is working in an under-resourced neighborhood that lacks safe water and sanitation. The new church has only one classroom to serve almost 300 children and has to improvise by using tents and a rotating schedule to accommodate all the children.
Pastor Miguel Alfonso (pictured below) is leading the church. He came to Christ through his daughter, who was a part of a Compassion program. He’s passionate about discipling the parents of the kids enrolled in the Compassion experience.
This new congregation, with Pantano’s help, will build two reinforced concrete classrooms, one large bathroom with eight toilets, eight sinks, and four urinals, and one cistern with an elevated tank and a water pump.
The cost of the facilities to launch a Compassion center will be $75,000. You can give online (choose the Christmas Eve offering option), or you’ll be able to give at our Christmas Eve services. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
Advent – Anticipating Christmas
The days are shorter, and the nights are longer, and 2020 for many of us, was a dark year. Many of us are in the darkness, in between where we’ve been and where we hope to be; this is also the meaning of advent. Advent is the space between the first coming of Christ and his second coming in glory. And while we walk in the dark winter, in between, we anticipate the way forward, finding hope, peace, joy, and love – the themes of our Advent series that starts Sunday (12/6).
Christmas Eve Services
We are planning on five in-person services on December 23 at 5 & 7 PM and December 24 at 3, 5 & 7 PM. We want to ensure that our services are not too full and provide appropriate physical distancing, so we ask everyone to RSVP. That way, you’ll be assured that the service you selected will have plenty of space for you and your family. If all our services reach our physical distancing capacities, we will add more services. We’ve reserved spaces for folks who show up and didn’t know they were supposed to RSVP. Thanks for helping all of us out. RSVP for Christmas Eve HERE. You can also RSVP for Kids Ministry, available for children birth to 5 years old.
Christmas is All About Giving
You can serve and meet our community’s needs (all year long) by participating in Loving My City. Here are a few opportunities:
The Department of Child Safety has asked us to help with furnishing two new family visitation rooms. You can help by purchasing items here: Loving My City – Department of Child Safety
Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, provides personalized Christmas gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated. For just $22, you can help a child know their mom or dad loves them by providing them a gift: Virtual Angel Tree – Pantano Christian Church
Enter Pantano’s Security Code: 8UB2X
Our Christmas Eve Offering will go to help build a church in Santa Rosa, Ecuador that will serve over 300 Compassion children. I’ll be sharing more details about this exciting project in my next blog.
We hope you take one or more opportunities to celebrate the Christmas season with Pantano!
We are well into our Christmas celebration at Pantano. We served over 1600 cups of hot cocoa during our first weekend of December Nights! We have one more weekend of December Nights – this Friday and Saturday, December 13th and 14th, from 6 to 9 PM. We are also looking forward to celebrating Christmas at our services on Christmas Eve. We’ll have some fun to kick things off, sing our favorite Christmas carols, hear a short message of hope, and of course, light our Christmas candles.
This is an amazing time to invite your loved ones—family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, whomever—to join you for this special day. We still have some invitation cards available at Guest Services.
We’ll have 5 identical one-hour services at 11 AM, and 1, 3, 5, and 7PM. Yes, we added an 11 AM service this year. If you can, I’d love for you to attend either the 11 AM or 7 PM service to make more room at the other services, which tend to fill up. Pantano Southeast will also be joining us this year at our East Campus!
These services are family-friendly. Kids will get a special treat as they arrive. There will be childcare for kids ages birth to five years old, if that would be of help to you. We can always use more volunteers to help with childcare (contact Shelly Vasey at 520.298.5395 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested).
For more details about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, check out ChristmasAtPantano.com.
As always, you don’t want to miss the amazing service we have planned. I hope to see you there!
Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed. It’s Christmas time! Here’s a bit of what Christmas looks like here at Pantano:
Christmas Teaching Series
The Christmas series for all of our campuses is called Unexpected: The Story of Christmas. The story of Christmas found in the gospel is unexpected. God had been silent for 400 years. The people of God felt forgotten and yet, in the quiet, dark countryside, God remembered and came to them. But it wasn’t what they expected. He came in the form of a baby; not to the king or powerful leaders, but to the lowly, the poor, the young and the old. We’ll look at five people’s response to their unexpected encounter with God as the original Christmas story unfolded. In this series, we’ll see how God showed up in unexpected places and ways – then and now.
We’ve decorated Pantano East and we’re ready for December Nights. This public family event happens Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights: The Road to Bethlehem, an amazing winter wonderland (my favorite), cookie decorating, family portraits, crafts, horse-drawn hayrides and carols ($6 per person), bingo, campfires and marshmallows, hot chocolate, live music and more.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
This year we’ll have 5 Christmas Eve services on Tuesday, December 24th at 11 AM, 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. Each service is an identical family-friendly one-hour service. We do have childcare for kids birth to five years old if that would be helpful to you.
Pantano Southeast will be joining us at the East Campus this year, so we added the 11 AM service to make room for all. If you can, please consider attending the 11 AM service to make room at each of our services.
For more details about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, check out ChristmasAtPantano.com. If you will be out of town or unable to join us, you can watch each service online at pantano.online. I hope to see you there!
Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing our December Nights or Christmas Eve services. Use these opportunities to invite folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite to join you this Christmas?
I want to wish you a very merry Christmas. In the midst of all the activity of this season, may we all remember that God came to us to be WITH us to show us how much he is FOR us and loves us. May we find gratitude in God taking the initiative to come to us to draw us back to him.
Serve Our City – Sunday, December 23rd
Remember, there are no regular Sunday services this coming Sunday, December 23rd. Rather, we are taking our church to our city. Most of the pre-planned service activities were filled by last Sunday but check the website here as some spots have opened up. Or, look for a person or family in your neighborhood or your circle of connections that you might serve; check our “Serve Your Neighborhood” option (here) to get some ideas and register. Be prayerful (ask God) and creative! Don’t just take the Sunday off; use the time to be WITH someone and show them you and God are FOR them.
Our basic serving times will be 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Don’t forget to wear your t-shirt and post your pictures with #serveourcity and #pantanochristian. Children’s programming is available on campus (BY RESERVATION ONLY) from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM for children birth through 4 years old. Children 5 and older should plan to join their families for appropriate projects as noted in descriptions. Please RSVP for children’s programming here.
Christmas Eve Services – Monday, December 24th
Our services are at 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. They are one-hour, family-friendly services. We’ll have songs we can sing as well as some special songs. I’ll share a short message. We’ll end with candle lighting. And, every year we add some sort of surprise! We’ll have children’s programming up to age 6 (no registration needed), if that is helpful for your family. It’s not too late to invite folks to join you. And as usual, we’ll have cookies and hot chocolate in the courtyard and photo booths in the lobby for family Christmas photos. Plus, it is the one time of the year you’ll see me in a tie!
Sunday, December 30th
I’m really excited about the message that Brian and Mandy Lucas will be sharing the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. They’ve developed an amazing teaching to help us look back to 2018 and look forward to 2019.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed so at Pantano we are officially entering our Christmas season! Here’s an overview of what we have planned for Christmas this year. This Sunday we’ll start our three-week Christmas series called Bring Christmas Home. And that just kicks things off!
December Nights are back and we’ve expanded it one night and added some new things to make it even better. The event is free (except for the hayrides and food for purchase). We are adding a new live “Road to Bethlehem” experience. And of course, you’ll be able to roast marshmallows, sing Christmas carols on a horse-drawn carriage, get your free family Christmas portrait (those are often such a pain to schedule…right?!), or join us for a snowball fight. There will be crafts, cookie decorating and a whole lot more including live entertainment.
This year we’ll have the event on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-8:30PM on December 7, 8 and 14, 15.
Go to mypantano.church to sign up to serve as we still need volunteers and/or some of the supplies so we can keep this a free event. And, you can sign up and pay for hayride tickets. Just click here for all things December Nights! Don’t forget to invite family and friends to join you!
Serve Our City – December 23rd
I’m so excited about how we are going to bring Christmas home to our city in a unique way this year; on Sunday, December 23rd, instead of having our usual church services on our campus, we are going to “be” the church by going out and serving our community and neighborhoods. We’ll be doing some work projects (cleaning, painting, etc.) at both the new Gospel Rescue Mission Center of Opportunity and GAP Ministries. We’ll also have a variety of other ways you, your family (and yes, kids too!) and friends or small group can serve. We’ll also have a few projects on our campus if you are unable to drive to another location. We’ll have special Serve Our City t-shirts for anyone who signs up. You can sign up at mypantano.church. We’ll be talking about this all of December and more information will be coming soon. Plan to use that Sunday morning to bring the spirit of Christmas to your community.
Christmas Eve Services – December 24th
As you’ve come to expect, we put on a terrific one-hour Christmas Eve service for the whole family with a short, clear gospel message, singing, and candle lighting. This year we’ll have 4 services at 1, 3, 5, and 7PM. We’ll have children’s programming available for children up to 6 years of age. Invite others to join you at this great event!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our annual Christmas Eve offering will go in its entirety to support the new Center of Opportunity (4550 S. Palo Verde – south of Ajo Way); it will be a full service, one-stop location for those who are homeless or in crisis. The organization has been given the old Holiday Inn conference center that has over 300 rooms and a lot of space for all the critical services necessary to help the homeless become self-sufficient. We are excited to actually serve there for our Serve Our City Sunday and provide funds to help them convert the rooms and spaces to serve the homeless in our city. You can give online or at the service.
We hope you are able to join us at one or all of our Christmas season events, as we “Bring Christmas Home” this December!