Good morning dear people of God. I pray you are taking time to rest and breathe in this holy season. I enjoyed a few minutes of yoga before going into work at the hospital this morning. It felt great to stretch, breathe and just be! Nothing too strenuous but lovely. Later this morning, a wonderful devotional by the Women of the ELCA (https://www.womenoftheelca.org/blog/daily-grace/settle-into-gods-rest) spoke of that same theme...
It's getting crazy right now, with Christmas next week, with the tornado victims having lost so much, with our friends and families battling illnesses and mourning their loved ones, with the days continuing to get shorter. Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself and others. Be mindful of all that is and all that is not...
And remember the exhortation given so often in our scriptures, DO NOT BE AFRAID. God, Emmanuel, is with us! Light a candle to remind yourself that THE LIGHT will never be overcome by the darkness! This week's Advent word is JOY and so I encourage you to look around and name all that brings YOU joy. Recall some of the Advent/Christmases past and what about those moments brought you joy?
In Bread and Belonging last night we shared some of our memories and I found that so many of my most meaningful moments were ones where the family was together reading from my mother's Advent Box, a gift from a grandparent spoke to me and continues to, a beloved tradition (like making Norwegian krumkake cookies) connected me with generations past and present. How about you? What is a favorite Christmas memory? What are some special foods you grew up with? What are your Christmas traditions? And with this busy season, how do you intentionally slow down and stay present?
Take some time to reflect and give thanks! And then read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and ask yourself WHO you relate to the most? That might be a new question for you but give it some thought. Have a blessed week and know you are loved, prayed for and that Emmanuel is present with and for you!
This week (other meetings/gatherings/work will be taking place as well but here are some things to note):
Prayer List: It is a privilege to pray for one another and to bring those who need healing to Jesus. Send prayer requests to Carol Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-477-7531.
"Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." ─ Psalms 5:1-3.
Let us be reassured as we pray, that God hears our prayers.
In prayer, we ask in His name: Comfort for those in mourning, including Leslie Modica on her sister's death; Joni Jones and family on the death of her nephew Mike; Jill Wilson on the death of her mother; Pastor Nicole Garcia on her mother's death; Carol Schulzkump's family on the death of her brother in law Rick Woodruff; Margaret Gumke's grandson Jacob Dalton upon the death of his father; and Doris Blalock's family upon the death of her uncle.
We thank God for the positive news of Mary's grandson Jack's health and Kimberly Hall's successful treatment! We pray for and surround with Gods' healing touch: all those impacted by the tornadoes that ripped across our country; as well as for Dale Krueger; Pastor Clay with emergency retinal surgery; Brent Kapling; Mike Blackmore; Bradley Tennery; Cora Warrick and son Tyler; Carol Schulzkump, and Carol's son Kris and daughter-in-law Ana (whose father is in ICU); JoAnn's sister, Beth; Steve Karspeck’s sister-in-law Deena Karpseck; Floyd Gumke; Wilmae & Sherry Gartside; Lisa Rygiel's parents; Kimberly Ehrman; Loren Eigenberg; the Sandstead family.
We surround with prayers those battling cancer, including Mary Danielson; Gary Miller; Marcie Guard; Lynn's brother, Kenny; Nancy Wilhelm (Ernie & Sharon family member); Linda Bounds; Norine's step daughter Sherry; Jo Moss' cousin Virginia; Kimber Begano; Dr. Mark Jacobson; Linda Theige's brother-in-law Pastor Bob; and Max Phillips. We also pray for those affected by COVID-19, including The Pearson family, the Ramirez family, Norine's daughter Thulei Bereford and family in South Africa; Phyllis Tamburelli; Natalie Lugan; and Sheryl Smith's Mom, Maureen Walker.
Our prayers continue for Wal Reat (missionary in Sudan whom we support financially through Global Missions); The Way ministry; ACTS ministry; and the prison congregation New Beginnings and Pastor Schjang.
Other announcements/dates to put on your calendar:
NOTES FROM OUR CONGREGATIONAL PRESIDENT:
Zion's Lutheran Church Council met on Sunday, Dec. 12. The secretary's report and all financial reports were approved as submitted. Income for the month of November was $11,194 which included $4,240 in donations for the Community Thanksgiving and 5 Loaves. Expenses were $8,250. Average attendance for in-person worship was 41 in November.
We continued our discussion regarding using the fellowship hall as an emergency warming center. After further discussion and changes, the agreement between Zion's and The Way Ministries to use the upper level of the fellowship hall in the event of a weather emergency was finalized. A vote was taken and passed unanimously. The agreement will be posted at the back of the sanctuary if you would like to read it.
Norine reported that there were approximately 550 meals served (take-out and delivery) at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The extra food was donated to the Soup Kitchen.
The jackets from the Coat Drive have been delivered.
The annual congregational meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6. If anyone would like to be nominated for a seat on the church council please let Julie, Lisa or Pastor Andrea know. The budget committee will meet on Jan. 4 to develop a proposal for 2022. Council has made a few changes to the By-Laws which primarily involve our various committees. These will be sent out for review prior to Jan. 6.
Julie Wersal, Council President
This Sunday, we light all four candles of the Advent wreath, and we read the story from Luke about Mary visiting Elizabeth. Christians believe that in baptism we too are filled with the Holy Spirit so that Christ will dwell in us. Throughout Advent we acclaim that God comes, in the past in the history of Israel and the incarnation of Jesus, in the present in the word and sacrament of each Sunday, and in the future at the end of all things. At the thanksgiving at table, we join with Mary to praise God for salvation.
The Readings in the Bible
Mary, Elizabeth, and all the baptized have been filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s promise comes especially to the downtrodden, the hungry, the lowly. We are thus called to stand with these people, as Elizabeth did, and be surprised to discover in them the presence of God.
The book of Micah represents the oracles spoken in the eighth century bce in the southern kingdom of Judah by a prophet who condemned the people for their unfaithfulness to the covenant and warned them of the political disaster which God might send as punishment. After the conquest of Canaan, the clan of Ephrathah settled Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem. The passage includes several important biblical themes: God honoring the lowliest; the messiah as descendent from David of Bethlehem; the king as a good shepherd; the worldwide rule of God’s coming one; and eventually the gift of peace. The passage from Micah is set next to the Advent story of the visitation because of its references to a pregnant woman, to Bethlehem, and to the coming one who will rule “to the ends of the earth.” Christians see this hope of Micah fulfilled in Jesus Christ.