December Bethlehem Star
From the Pastor’s Desk
Advent at Bethlehem
Advent, as a season, often gets overlooked in favor of getting ready for Christmas – it’s not a bad thing, I mean Christmas is pretty awesome. But sometimes it’s good to slow down a bit and take a moment and let Christmas sneak up on us (instead of steamrolling us!). So, this year, on the three Wednesday evenings in December we will have dinner and Holden Evening Prayer as a way of slowing down and letting Advent work on us.
Dinner will start at 5:30 pm.
Confirmation and Christmas program rehearsals (Ellen has that information to parents) will be from 6:00 to 7:00 pm
And Worship will start at 7:00 and last about 40 minutes.
We hope you’ll consider joining us for this time of worship and reflection.
But wait, that’s not all:
We have our ELCA Good Gifts Christmas tree up where you can buy helpful useful gifts for folks all over the world and give them on behalf of others, or just give them 😉!
We are helping the red kettle campaign on Saturday, December 2nd by ringing the bell at Fareway from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Sign up in Augustana Hall.
We will be Christmas caroling to our homebound on December 17th at 4:00 pm (meet at church to come carol!)
Our Children’s Christmas program and the Youth Advent Breakfast will be on Sunday, December 17th.
On Thursday, December 21st at 10:00 a.m. please join us for a Carol Sing at the Lutheran Home.
Christmas Eve this year is a Sunday, so we’ll have morning worship at 9:00 am and Christmas Eve worship at 5:30 and 10:30 pm.
May this season be a blessing to you as you prepare for Christmas!
Blessings, Pastor Anne
A Note from Church Council
What a wonderful time of year we are in now, the Advent season. It is a time to reflect back on the past year and get ready for the one to come.
One of the favorite banners of mine that hangs in church each Advent season, has four candles that have the four words that summarize God’s counsel to us during Advent. Watch, Prepare, Rejoice and Behold. I want to use these words to take a look at our congregation over the last 12 months.
Watch. Watch how our congregation has grown. Our Sunday worship has grown week to week over 34% compared to the previous 2 years. Watch as the sound of little ones who fill the back pews of the church and who are eager to run up front to sit with Pastor Anne for a few minutes during the children’s sermon. The parents who grew up as children worshiping here who have now decided to come back to Bethlehem and raise their own children in our church family.
Prepare. Prepare as Bethlehem is moving forward with strategic planning to find out where we want to be as a congregation in the next 5 to 10 years. How we can make sure we are able to share God’s good word with not only the members that have been here for generations, but those that may be here for the first time.
Rejoice. Rejoice in having found our new Pastor and the leadership and guidance she has given us throughout the first year. The energy and excitement she has for our congregation is amazing. From making sure everyone has a place at church to making sure with everyone’s busy schedules that they can all be involved. From moving meeting times of confirmation to making sure first communion works for the whole class and that it is all engaging. I believe after the last year we have to be very glad Pastor Anne accepted our call.
Behold. Behold that this is the day the Lord has made and that we are Bethlehem Lutheran Church. We are a wonderful congregation that does so much and has so much to offer. Each and every one of us should be proud to call it home. As we enter this season of Advent, I encourage you all to take some time to reflect on these words and let God fill you with his guidance and wisdom.
Happy Advent, Ben Olson
Annual Congregational Meeting
Bethlehem Lutheran Church annual congregational meeting was held on Sunday, November 19th. Chelsea Erhardt, Sondra Gates, and Gregg Sampson were elected to serve a three-year term on the church council. Marlys Crane, Jeff Henkle, Jan Bearbower, and Dennis Eden were elected to serve on the nominating committee for next year. The 2024 proposed budget was approved.
Poinsettia donation forms are available and must be turned into the church office by Sunday, December 17th.
Salvation Bell Ringing
Bethlehem Lutheran Church members will be ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the Vinton Fareway Store on Saturday, December 2nd from 9:00 am until 8:00 p.m. There is a sign-up sheet at the church or call the church office if you are interested in volunteering. This would qualify for Black & Gold hours.
Team Christian Life
The Advent and Christmas season is here. With that comes a few annual events that we want to have you add to your calendars.
On Sunday, December 17th Bethlehem Lutheran is offering you the opportunity to join in the Christmas caroling to our shut -in members. We will meet at the church at 4 p.m. and begin our caroling event. After caroling, we will return to the church for fellowship and food. Please consider joining in. This is a great way to get in the Christmas spirit and add to the joy of others who can’t be out and about during this holiday season.
We will deliver fruit/goodie plates to those homes where we do our Christmas caroling. We will assemble these plates on the morning of Sunday, December 17th after church during the fellowship hour. Some help will be needed with this.
Again this year, Bethlehem Lutheran will be participating in the ELCA Good Gifts Program. After making a donation, you may then take a corresponding ornament off the tree to take home with you or give to the person in whose honor you made the donation. The donations collected are then sent to the ELCA and the items you purchased are given to those around the world who need a little help in their daily lives. Please see the small Christmas tree on the table in Augustana Hall for more information regarding this project. This project will run from Sunday, November 26 through January 7, 2024.
Ellen Olson, Coordinator of Youth Ministries
On Tuesday, November 21, four students and three adults participated in a fall craft activity and played games at the Vinton Lutheran Home from 1:30-2:30 pm. This was an early out day for the students and a good time was had by all.
Sunday School Christmas Program
We are excited to announce plans for our upcoming Christmas program, “The ABC’s of Christmas.” The Christmas program will be presented on Sunday, December 17 during the 9 am worship service.
We are blessed to have a creative committee and lots of children, both young and older participating.
Practices are as follows:
Sunday, December 3 10 am – 10:45 am
Wednesday, December 6 6 pm – 6:45 pm
Sunday, December 10 10 am – 10:45 am
Wednesday, December 13 6 pm – 6:45 pm
Sunday, December 17 8:30 am – arrive for costumes
9 am – Program
10 am – Breakfast served by LYO
This Christmas season, our LYO youth will be serving breakfast (free will donation) on Sunday, December 17 after the Christmas program instead of the first Sunday of Advent. Please mark your calendars to stay as they always serve a delicious breakfast.
There will be no Sunday School classes on December 24 and December 31. We will resume classes on Sunday, January 7 with 10 am Opening in the sanctuary and a group activity.
Food for Thought
Meet on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m.
Book: “A Christmas Memory” by Richard Paul Evans
Restaurant: Bethlehem Inn Potluck
Christmas Eve Services
Christmas Eve Services have always been a special worship time at Bethlehem. Services will be held on December 24th at 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.