Tuesday, December 18

A Blessed Christmas

Lord, Jesus Christ
Thank you for coming one holy night so many years ago.  Thank you for meeting us in a manger in love and humbleness.  Thank you for reaching out your hand to fill us with mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for sending us angels to announce your birth so that there would be no doubt as to your majesty and goodness.   Shine a light in our darkness.  Be born in our hearts today and everyday.  Come Lord Jesus.

We hope to see many of you here, along with family and friends, this Sunday at 11 AM for our annual Christmas pageant.  What a beautiful, fun, and moving way to tell the Christmas story.  We will begin 11:00 Worship with Christmas carols played by our orchestra of our children and youth, as well as quite a few adults who have dusted off their instruments for the occasion. We then will turn to the story of the incarnation with children and youth of all ages playing a role in this central story of our faith.     
   
Both our Christmas pageant and last weekend's amazing cantata are evidence of what I have come to love about the people and mission of St. Andrew's: a high value placed on bringing generations of people together in the name of Jesus (generations in our choirs are a great example), committed servants who understand their role and take ownership of it, a treasure of musical talent, the willingness to share that talent, and incredible generosity in supporting the ministries of this congregation and community.  I hope to see many of you at worship.  Looking ahead to Christmas Eve where I know that I will see many of you at more than one service:

 Christmas Eve

 4:00  PM - Family Worship
A more informal worship experience with familiar Christmas carols and St. Andrew's children participating in the leadership of worship.  This experience is great for families with younger children (including a glow stick "candlelighting"), those of you who need to get home to prepare dinner, parties, and family gatherings, and those of you who are young at heart who will have your hearts stirred as we bring the innocent and wise together to praise the new born king.
7:00 and 10:00 PM - Candlelight Communion
Traditional Christmas Eve worship with familiar carols, special music from our choirs, soloists, and instrumentalists, the proclamation of the birth of our Lord, the celebration of Communion, and gathering with lit candles for the singing of Silent Night.  This is a night of reunion for many St. Andrew's families and an opportunity to bring welcome and blessing to many guests, some who are coming through our doors for the very first time.  Be sure to invite family members, friends, co-workers, or neighbors to join you for worship.  Come join us as we give thanks to God for the greatest gift of all, the life of his Son among us.
 Please keep in mind that there will be Christmas music  prior to  each of these services.  Come a little early to secure the seating of your choice, especially @ 7 PM.

Sunday December 30 - Christmas Lessons & Carols - 10 AM
Celebrate Christ's birth in a simpler celebration around familiar readings and carols.  If we missed one of your favorites on Christmas Eve, there is a good chance that we will sing it on this day.
Our regular weekend schedule resumes on Saturday January 5 @ 5 PM and Sunday January 6  (Epiphany of  Our Lord) with worship at 8:15 and 11 AM, Christian Education at 9:30 AM.  
On behalf of our staff and Church Council, I wish all of you a truly blessed Christmas and a hope filled New Year.
Peace,

Pastor Mueller












Thursday, December 6

Christmas Cantata Coming Up

A word of thanks to everyone who worked behind the scenes on this year's Advent Family Night.  What an incredible evening for God's children of all ages.Thank you to everyone who shared in crafts, food, laughter, and love.  Thank you to everyone who pitched in cleaning up at the end of our night together.  And a very special thank you to our Director of Christian Education, Mrs. Nicole Kruvczuk and members of our Christian Education Committee for coordinating this wonderful event.  If you missed it, bummer!  There's always next year!

We hope to see many of you here, along with family and friends on Saturday December 15 at 5 PM  for our Annual Christmas Cantata.  Join us for a joy filled hour together featuring special music from the choirs of St. Andrew's (adults, children, bells, chimes, and brass), the Christmas story retold, and beloved hymns sung together.  This is a great way to get into the spirit of the season and an opportunity for those of you who will be traveling or have other commitments on Christmas Eve this year to celebrate with your faith community.  Bring family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for this special night together.

Blessings in this Advent season and in all of your Christmas preparations.
Peace,

Pastor Mueller








Wednesday, November 28

Toy Drive Underway

It's about that time of year again!  Time to find those bargains on toys or pack up those unused toys (in good condition) to share with a family in need.

We are collecting new and lightly used toys for distribution at Grace Lutheran Church in West Philadelphia.  This annual tradition of giving and receiving brings smiles to many faces.  Please drop off your toys in the narthex or St. Andrew's Hall by December 10th.   If the toy needs batteries, we would appreciate it if you could supply / install them as a special gift. We will also need a few hands on deck on Wednesday morning December 12th @ 9 AM to help load up the truck for delivery.  Blessings  to you in this season of giving!

Monday, November 26

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?


Dear Friends,

Below is an excerpt from an article I shared with some of you around Christmastime last year.  I think many families need this once more   So with thanks to Pastor David Lose, who serves at Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, I share with you this brief but important reminder.  Even if you are not a parent (or maybe you are a grandparent), feel  free to pass this along to someone who needs this word of grace.  Finally, thank you for what so many of you do to manage to raise children  to trust in Emmanuel, God in flesh with us, Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Whether your parenting a newborn, toddler, teen, or college-aged kid, all this gets amplified at Christmas time. So many opportunities, so many expectations. Way more, in fact, than any of us can handle.
So here's the deal: moms (and dads) everywhere: you don't have to be perfect. Because you know what? There is no perfect. And you know what else? You're doing enough. Really. More than that, you are enough. You just are.
Your job is to remind your kids you love them, do what you can to help them ring in the holidays with a modicum of joy and minimum of fisticuffs, and that's about it. Actually, that's not quite it — don't forget that you're invited to have a little fun as well. Because the thing is, God didn't come in Jesus to add stress to our lives. God came in Jesus to tell us that God loves us just as we are, not as the pictures on the parenting magazines tell us we should be.
This is hard to remember, but maybe if we remind each other of this once in a while over the next few weeks we can take a little bit of the individual and collective stress out of the holidays and sing "Joy to the World" like we really feel it."
Grace and peace,
Pastor Mueller

Monday, November 19

Thanksgiving Greetings

Dear Friends,

As many of us prepare for Thanksgiving Day and the weekend ahead, I want to wish you a truly blessed celebration.  Many of you will be gathering with loved ones and, while likely eating way too much food (Enjoy!),  offering thanks for God's abundant blessings.  May your joy be full and overflowing this Thursday and throughout the holiday season ahead.

However, let us also remember that there will be others for whom this festive season will not be experienced with the joy of abundance, nor surrounded by family and friends.  Many thanks to those of you who continue to reach out to bless the homeless and hungry of our communities at Thanksgiving and throughout the year to make a difference in lives that are hurting.

The weeks ahead can also be a time of great sorrow for those who are grieving the death of a loved one.  Take time to reach out to those experiencing loss, honoring boundaries and their desire to take a step back from festivities when needed, but reminding them that they are not alone.  

The Advent season in the life of the church is one of both contemplation and joy, sorrow and hope, darkness and light   as we wait with tenacity and hope for the coming of Christ in history, mystery, and majesty.

For those of you who are traveling this weekend, may your travels be safe. Blessings in this time of watching, waiting, and giving thanks.

(Remember that there is no Saturday worship this weekend.  We resume on Saturday December 1 at 5 PM)

Peace,

Pastor Mueller