"Caught in grace, created for service, called into community"
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Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Pastor Sam Nelson
Associate Pastor
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1  
Quick Links

December 2020

News and Events
 From Pastor Sam
Greetings Dear People of Bethlehem,
It's hard to believe that we are entering into the final month of what has proven to be a far more tumultuous year than anyone anticipated. For much of 2019, there was a joke circulating on the internet where someone would ask, "What do you think you'll be doing this time next year?" To which the person would respond, "I don't know, I don't have 20-20 vision!" Safe to say I don't think any of us had 2020 vision!
December is usually a month where the church proclaims a counter-cultural message to the one that we see on TV, in online ads, and in stores everywhere. Advent is intended to be a season of preparation; a mini Lent. It is a period where we make straight the paths of the Lord in the world and in our hearts, where we make room for Jesus amidst the clutter of our lives. This clashes with the buy more, give more, consume more mentality of the Christmas giving season. Even though it is still early (with Thanksgiving still in the rearview, and its leftovers still in my refrigerator) things already feel different this year.
Don't get me wrong, there definitely still is a strong commercial push, that is in some ways stronger than ever before, what with Christmas displays showing up in stores right after Halloween. But intertwined with it all seems to be this spirit of altruism that has run as an undercurrent throughout this whole pandemic year. There seems to be a richness, a fullness to the festivity that has been lacking in previous years; a foundation of gratitude and thanks. A push to purchase things, not just so that you can have more stuff, but so that we can support small businesses and the workers they employ. A desire to give presents to our loved ones, not so that we can be seen as the perfect gift giver, but to show our love and care and appreciation for one another. A call to eat out (or carry out), not because it is the holidays and we need to consume beyond our means and eat decadently, but in order to support beloved local restaurants and their employees. An urgency to order gifts early, not because of some artificial sense of scarcity, or so that you can "win Christmas" by being done first, but in an attempt to alleviate, or at least limit, the toll that this holiday season will put on delivery persons who are already exhausted and overworked.
And while it may not be exactly in line with the usual Advent message of the church, it seems a fitting way to end this very unusual year. I see a redeeming of the Advent season, which seemed in many parts of the society to be a shallow and hollow thing, happening all around me. People are so in need of something to be joyful about, so desperate for some good news, that it seems only logical that it should come from the birth of the one who is the Good News.
Advent Blessings,
Pastor Sam
Calendar Note:
We will have a few different opportunities for worship on Christmas Eve this year. You are welcome to join us at 8:30 am online as we livestream our service on YouTube. That recording will be available to watch on demand as soon as it is finished, so fear not if that's a bit too early for you. We also will have 3 in-person outdoor worship services at 10 am, 6 pm, and 8 pm. Look for an email in the coming weeks for how to sign up for one of those services.

 Update on Worship 

There are three ways to worship at Bethlehem:
  • You may attend in person worship on the grass at 10AM.
-      In order to join us for in person worship you must sign up for either Dec. 6 and 13 in the "Grace" group or Dec. 20 and 27 in the "Hope" group. There will also be a separate signup for outdoor worship on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
-      The reopening team is keeping the capacity to 65 for each outdoor worship service.
-      Masks are required at all times. Bring a chair, umbrella or hat, communion, bulletin and a smile.
-      Click here for the new link in SignUpGenius and reserve your place today.
-      There is a "What to Expect in Worship" letter and an Inflight Worship Video on our new outdoor worship orientation page on our website to assist you as you prepare for outdoor worship.
  • You may join us for livestream worship at 8:30AM.
-      In order to join the livestream click on this link here.
-      The link will not appear until we go live at 8:25AM. Fear not, we will be there.
-      You may use the chat stream to talk with other worshipers in real time. This is really fun.
-      With the addition of new equipment, we have significantly increased the quality of the audio and video in the livestream in recent weeks. Thanks to all who made this possible.
  • You may watch worship on demand at any time you like.
-      The livestream is immediately uploaded to YouTube at the close of worship.
-      You can access the recorded worship on our YouTube channel.
-      Or it will be available to you on our worship page on our website by midday on Sunday.
In this unique world, we are so pleased to offer you several ways to join us for worship. Our deep thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly and continue to do so every week, to make worship possible in this time. The opportunities above represent countless volunteer hours and the expertise, gift and grace of so many people. Thanks to: our worship team, music team, audio team, video team, ushers, hosts, liturgical bouncers, set-up team, reopening team, protocol writing team and medical team. God bless you all.

 Educational Opportunities in December
A Listening Space 2.0 - This two-night continuing conversation concludes on  Dec. 1st at 7 pm and is being will be facilitated by Ron and Sue Dwyer-Voss.
The play Honky is a satirical comedy about five people attempting to navigate the dicey waters of race, rhetoric and basketball shoes. A performance of the play was taped at the San Diego Repertory Theatre staring our own Jamie Newcomb. We will give you access to watch the performance online, and ask that you do so in preparation for a zoom conversation of Dec. 10th at 7 pm with Jaime about the play. The play contains adult content.

Zoom links for these opportunities are provided through separate emails and can also be acquired by calling Judy in the church office.

 ELCA Advocacy 
The election is over. Now what?
In her blog post, From ELCAVotes to Disciples in a Democracy, ELCA Advocacy Director, The Rev. Amy E. Neumann, calls on us to "Ramp Up Our Witness: It is time for Lutherans to claim as a vocation in daily life their identity as disciples in a democracy. ELCAvotes has been a well-received initiative providing resources and community for Lutherans to be involved during the run up to elections and in voting rights work. The 2020 election shows us why seasonal engagement is not enough." Read the full post here.
Advocacy in Quarantine - Every Wednesday at 12:00pm
What's next for advocacy in California? The Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California hosts a ZOOM meeting each Wednesday at 12:00pm to provide an update on current legislative action and advocacy work. The meetings are 25 minutes long, and end with one or two suggested Action Items that will take you no more than 5 minutes to accomplish. More info LOPP-CA
ELCA Advocacy Updates

Follow us!
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: Facebook, Twitter
Bishop Andy Taylor: Facebook
For information or questions about Bethlehem's Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at blcadvocacy@gmail.com.

 Music Ministry 

December is a time for music and many exciting things are happening at Bethlehem!  We start the month with THE WINTER TALENT SHOW on December 6th featuring many talented members of our congregation. This hour long performance will be posted on the Bethlehem youtube channel that day for your viewing pleasure all month.  An afterglow party via  zoom will be held
Sunday afternoon , December 6  at 4 p.m. to congratulate all the participants!  Watch for the zoom link which will be posted on the day of the performance. 
On December 13th, the Children's choir will be featured in the Christmas drama "Called to Christmas" for the livestream service @ 8:30 a.m.  Created through zoom with children, young adults and seniors, this presentation captures the spirit of the Christmas season.  You will  get to sing-a-long with your favorite Christmas carols as the cast tells the story of that first Christmas. Don't miss this exciting show which is part of the recorded worship service!!
During Advent, congregational members will be sharing their Christmas memories at the Advent Wreath Lighting ceremony.  You will see videos and live presentations including a German angel wreath, Christmas quilt, ties, trains, special ornament, nativity set and recipe book.  
Each of the choirs have prepared special music videos that will be shown throughout the Advent/Christmas season.  We hope you enjoy the variety of music that the World Music Ensemble, Jubellation Ringers, Children's Choir, Children's Chimers and Good News Singers will share with you this month.  

 Prayer Shawl Ministry 

We met via Zoom in November to catch up with each other. In addition to 8 high school senior scarves, we have distributed a total of 25 prayer shawls this year. Last month we emptied our bin, and 16 shawls were distributed to vulnerable congregants and family members who may have been experiencing heightened anxiety and isolation during this pandemic.
Now that the nights are getting longer and colder, it's easier to sit and knit, so if you're a knitter or crocheter, keep making those shawls for us to share! 
If you or a loved one could benefit from receiving a shawl, please reach out to me, Janet Mastrogany at 619-980-8671. 

 Stephen Ministry

It's Advent!  A time when we look forward to the coming of Christmas and the birth of Christ. A time to remember the year that was and look forward to the new year. A time to take a break from our busy lives, revive traditions, and reconnect with family and friends.
But this year is different. We may dread the coming of Christmas. We cannot safely see all our family and friends. We worry about the loneliness of the coming holiday. We mourn the loss of traditions.
And yet, there is reason to celebrate! In lowering our expectations and commitments we are now less busy and find ourselves able to encounter this season at a less frenetic pace. We have time to reach out in new ways to friends and strangers. We have opportunity to create new and different traditions. We can celebrate that we have endured 2020 and look with hope to the new year and the coming of a vaccine.
If finding joy in Christmas is difficult for you this year, please know that the Stephen Ministers of Bethlehem are always here to listen and support you through this season. We have found creative ways to meet with care receivers through the pandemic. And, as always, all conversations as well as your participation are confidential.
If you would like to know more about what Stephen Ministry has to offer and how it could help you or a loved one please contact Pr Laura, Pr Sam, or one of our Stephen Leaders: Molly Hall, Laure Reynolds, or Suzi Westmoreland.

 Year-End Giving 

The people of Bethlehem have been tremendously generous this past year particularly in light of our tumultuous circumstances - THANK YOU. Past year-ends have seen surges of giving as we give thanks to God for his blessings.  Some thoughts on why this occurs:
  • As we reflect on the recent Thanksgiving season, we become more acutely aware of the gifts and grace that God has laid in our lives and are motivated to share that with others through Bethlehem.
  • Two practical matters:  for those of us who give using envelopes, there are special envelopes (Christmas, etc.) that invite us to celebrate the season through generosity (this can also be done through electronic giving, too!).  Also, December can be a time when family finances are reviewed which includes assessing the status of our annual Bethlehem pledge (i.e., Do we need to catch up? Can we do more?).
  • There may be no year in recent memory that we are SO GLAD is coming to an end!  Thankfulness can be expressed financially, as well as other ways.
Keep in mind that you might enjoy tax benefits by gifting appreciated securities like stock, mutual funds and ETFs.  You can coordinate such transfers through Judy Foland, our Church Administrator.
Though 2020 has been far from the year that any of us expected it would be, and so much about our daily lives has changed, the generosity of this congregation has remained a steadfast constant.  Our congregation is blessed by each and every one of you, and we thank you for your stewardship.

 Learn Americal Sign Language (ASL)  

If you have ever wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), now is your chance. We offer classes for high school to adult age learners:
Bethlehem ASL Classes: Currently every Thursday on Zoom
  • 5:30-6:00 pm: Pacific Introductory class using "Learn American Sign Language" by James W. Guido 
  • 6:00-7:00 pm: Pacific Review and Conversation Practice

 Opportunities to Engage 

Qigong/Tai chi:  The weekly Qigong/Tai chi practices at our church is available by Zoom.  You are able to join online from your computer on Wednesdays at 6 pm. Also, Chacha is having a Friday at 9 am practice by Zoom. These practices are moving meditation practices that focus on relaxation, breath, and visualization while carrying out gentle movements.  Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is necessary.  If you are interested in joining please e-mail Chacha at chachapinillap@gmail.com.  Please let her know which of the practices or if you would like to be invited to both practices. She will send an e-mail invitation with the zoom link.

 Pastor Sam's Sermon Blog

Did you miss one of Pastor Sam's sermons?  Want to double check if he actually said what you think he did?  Accidentally fall asleep and want to go back and read the section you missed?  Check out all of Pastor Sam's sermons on his blog at: https://sinningboldlywithsam.wordpress.com/"

 Global Mission "Global Links" E-Newsletter

Rooted and built in Jesus! This is the core of our work as the ELCA walks with more than 80 companion churches in other countries to participate in God's reconciling mission through proclamation and service. Participating in these relationships, ELCA members see how people's lives are touched by the gospel, how their lives are transformed and renewed, and how their communities live in hope. If you would like to receive the ELCA Global Mission e-newsletter "Global Links", please click on the following link to subscribe: https://community.elca.org/elca-email-subscriptions

 Bethlehem Cares Fund

Bethlehem Cares Fund: For members of Bethlehem, we have a fund to assist you with temporary financial needs such as medical, home, family or personal needs.Contact Pastor Laura, Pastor Sam, Rose Moldenhauer or Molly Hall. If you are able to contribute to the fund please mark your gift to BLC with the notation Bethlehem Cares.

 Newsletters Available on Our Website

Have you missed one of our monthly e-newsletters? Have you wished you could open up that newsletter again to get that bit of information you were looking for? Well, now you can. On our Newsletter Archive page there are links available to view current and past newsletters.


Bethlehem is now participating in the AmazonSmile program. This is a great way to easily benefit our congregation when you are shopping online.

Bethlehem will receive 0.5% of the price of eligible online purchases automatically when you use the smile.amazon.com website. See the website for more details.

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Yours in Christ

Bethlehem Lutheran Webmaster