Monthly Newsletter

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Dear friends,

We wait. We wait for things to get better—sickness and uncertainty and insecurity still stalk us.

Things will get better, And they will get worse again. That’s a given.

Our calling, our faith, tells us that the thing we can count on is Jesus’ presence in our lives, We are the people of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.

Forever. No matter what comes, no matter how hard it gets, we are held, kept, loved by God. That’s what we hold on to.

So, we wait for Jesus to come. We ask him to come. We expect him to come. We watch for him to come. His coming in our lives makes all the difference.

Things have changed in our lives, but we also, for the first time in three years, have a Jubilate Choir concert, celebrating the coming of Christ. We expect to gather for Christmastide worship without restrictions this year. We look forward in hope to what is to come.

So, come, Jesus, come, Emmanuel—God with us. We need you in all the times of our lives. While we wait, and in the moment, and in our hopes for the future. Just come, and fill us with your love.

Joyous Christmas, Blessed New Year

A fellow pilgrim on the journey with you,

Pr. Joel

Ring The Bells!

Welcome Christ! Welcome Christmas!

We’ll ring our handheld bells at 7pm worship Christmas Eve.

We’ll ring out our joy together, to welcome our Lord and welcome the joyous season. Sing for Joy!

Also, at 7pm Christmas Eve worship we sing and welcome the Christ child by candlelight.

It Is Christmas, Still, and God be with us in the New Year!

Our celebration continues on Saturday, December 31 with New Year’s Eve worship – Lessons & Carols – at 4pm . We ask to receive God’s blessings in the year to come.

The Star Still Shines

Christmas season worship continues Sunday, January I , 9am. Let our gladness have no end!

Christmas cleanup Wednesday, Jan. 4, 9am.

All the above worship services are to be livestreamed:

Go to the congregation’s Facebook page: St Matthew Lutheran Church, Bloomsburg

Parish Register

Deaths

Glenn R. Houck April 29, 1936 – November 1, 2022

Rest eternal grant him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. -Luke 2:13-14

If it is difficult for you to make it to Sunday worship and you’d like to have the office email you the weekly bulletin, please send us a message and we’ll add you to the list.

Music Ministry

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.. s”

The Advent Season is all about reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today. A great deal has changed throughout the years, and we continue to prepare the best that we can. It is a time for our faith communities and families to remember, through prayer, reflections, and music the true meaning of Jesus’ birth.

Please consider joining the choir or playing the bells for the holiday season or Christmas Eve. We need singers and ringers!!! See the bulletin for the rehearsal schedule, or join us prior to our regularly scheduled worship service.

The Jubilate Choir has returned after a 2-year hiatus from its annual Christmas Season and will be joined by a small, chamber orchestra. The concert will feature traditional Charismas favorites by Dan Forrest (“O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” ‘(Gloria in Excelsis Deo”), Shawn Kirchner (“Once in Royal David’s City,” “The Holly & the Ivy”), and Ryan Brandau (“Still, Still, Still/ Silent Night”) along with a special feature of Jennifer Thompson’s “Carol of the Bells” and more! This year’s program will include a one-time concert held on Sunday, December 11th at 3:00pm. Please join us in celebrating “Tidings of Christmas” as we bring the good news to our community once again!

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”‘

Yours In Christ

Alan

Social Ministry News – Christmas Projects

You may bring in items for the Community Blessing Box at any time, and put them in the container in the Gathering Area. Particularly useful this winter: knit caps and gloves.

Christmas gift items for the Children & Youth Christmas programs are due back at the church by Dec. 6. We’re marking the Christmas season in time of pandemic by sending Christmas greetings to homebound members. There is a list of homebound members in the Gathering Area, along with many donated cards. Pick up a list and take along. If you’re not coming in to the building, call or email and we’ll get a list to you.  Thanks for al/ who serve, and all who donate to the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard.

Congregation Council Highlights

(Nov. 8 mtg.)

Council approved the proposed 2023 Budget from the Budget Committee, (thanks to the committee for their diligent work) to present to the congregation for approval at the Congregation Meeting Nov. 20. The proposed budget of $230, 082 is a 2.1% increase over the 2022 budget. The increase comes in higher salaries for staff and allowance for higher utility costs.

The Property Committee continues to collect info on repairing the Market St steps— the projected cost continues to escalate.

In the Treasurer’s report, Brad Miller highlighted continued financial stability.

The line of credit loan for nave renovation is paid in full.

Social Ministry: Kathy continues to manage heavy usage of the Community Blessing Box. There was a generous response to the Panther Pack Challenge for the Food Cupboard in October. Gift tags for Columbia Co. Children & Youth Christmas campaign were all taken the first Sunday they were offered.

In December/January—Christmas at St. Matt—Join In! (in Person or online) Sunday, Dec. 4, 9am Worship 2nd Sunday of Advent

Tuesday, Dec. 6 (SL Nicholas’ DC) , 7pm – Healing as We Wait, Healing as We Hope in Advent

Sunday, Dec. 11, 9am Worship 3rd Sunday of Advent Sunday, Dec. 11, 3pm -Jubilate Choir Christmas Concert

Sunday, Dec. 18, 9am Worship 4th Sunday of Advent (following worship, decorate the church building for the Christmas season)

Saturday, Dec. 24, 7pm Worship The Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Eve

(we ring bells to welcome the Christ child, and sing by candlelight)

(worship live streamed on the congregation Facebook page)

(we won ‘t worship in the building Christmas Day)

Saturday, Dec. 31, 4pm Worship New Year’s Eve – Lessons & Carols marking the year past and hope for the New Year

Sunday, Jan. 1, 9am Worship The Name of Jesus, First Sunday of Christmas

Wednesday, Jan 4, 10am – Christmas cleanup

Church office closed Dec 26, Jan 2

As of the last week of October, the Renovation Loan for the nave renovation completed in February 2021 is paid in full.

Many thanks to all the faithful givers who helped pay down the $80,000 debt in such a short time.

Saturday, Dec. 24, 7pm Worship The Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Eve

(we ring bells to welcome the Christ child, and sing by candlelight)

(worship live streamed on the congregation Facebook page)

(we won ‘t worship in the building Christmas Day)

Saturday, Dec. 31, 4pm Worship New Year’s Eve – Lessons & Carols marking the year past and hope for the New Year

Sunday, Jan. 1, 9am Worship The Name of Jesus, First Sunday of Christmas

Wednesday, Jan 4, 10am – Christmas cleanup

Church office closed Dec 26, Jan 2

You might consider directing additional giving to the General Fund, which is down approximately $5,000 for the 2022 fiscal year. The Renovation Fund remains open to receive your gifts. (we anticipate taking on additional debt with the necessary repairs to the Market St. steps).

At the Nov 20 Congregation Meeting:

David Keller was elected to a (first) three-year term on Congregation Council, and

Kathy Stewart and John Fridman were elected to (second) three-year terms on Congregation Council.

Thanks to them for serving. Special thanks to John Kula, leaving Council after 6 years of service, including stints as Secretary and as Treasurer of the congregation.

The proposed 2023 Budget of $230, 082, a 2.1% increase over the 2022 Budget, was presented by Treasurer Brad Miller and recommended for adoption by Congregation Council, and passed unanimously.

Advent Project:

Sending Christmas cards to our homebound members. We’ll put out a list of members and addresses; send to any or all. It’s been a challenging time, separating us from one another.This project is one more way to say we haven’t forgotten about each other. We Give Thanks for Faithful Giving

Pastor’s Class

Pastor’s Class—Bible Study—gathers Thursdays at 10:30am. We’re continuing our reading of The Gospel of John. Join in. The conversation is always scintillating.

Cold weather is ahead

it is time to collect winter hats, gloves and scarves for children that we donate to Tapestry of Health in Bloomsburg! New, gently used and homemade items are greatly appreciated. Look for  the baskets in the Gathering Area in October and November.

The Tapestry of Health sites are community-based, non profit organizations that are direct service sites of the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania, Inc. (FHCCP). They serve I I counties in PA, and the new location in Bloomsburg is on Route I I next to Bloomin’ Bagels, across the road from the Weis Market.

Collectively, the Tapestry of Health WIC programs serve over 12,000 participants monthly providing:

Comprehensive nutrition screening

One-on-one counseling and educational services

Breastfeeding education and support

Supplemental food vouchers

We Give Thanks for Faithful Giving 

As of the last week of October, the Renovation Loan for the nave renovation completed in February 2021 is paid in full. Many thanks to all the faithful givers who helped pay down the $80,000 debt in such a short time.

You might consider directing additional giving to the General fund, which is down approximately $5,000 for the 2022 fiscal year.

The Renovation Fund remains open to receive your gifts (we anticipate  taking on additional debt with the necessary repairs to the Market St. steps).

Give a ride to worship

We’re renewing our list of folks who can provide a ride to worship for our members without transportation. If you can help out with this at any time, please contact the church office or speak to Pastor Joel.

Did you know that over $800 a month is given electronically by members of St. Matthew? Automated giving provides convenience for you and cash-flow consistency for St. Matthew. Getting started is easy. Authorization forms and additional information is available from the church office.

THRIVENt MEMBERS: Please remember that you must redirect your Thrivent Choice Dollars each year. If you do not redirect your Choice Dollars yearly, Thrivent will choose a charity to receive your Choice Dollars. Please consider redirecting your Choice Dollars to St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg. If you have any questions please contact Randy Ruckle or Elaine Stauffer. Many thanks to St Matt Thrivent members who direct their choice dollars giving to our mutual benefit!

Follow St. Matthew on Facebook!  Watch for live streamed worship, updates, info, and reminders.
Visit St. Matt’s web page…Check it out—www.stmatthewbloomsburg.org                                  

Fair Trade Project

Gift Ideas?

Christmas Gift opportunities: Sweeten your gift cards with a bar of Equal Exchange chocolate — gives substance to a small gift bag, and is easy to mail. Many varieties: mint crunch, orange infused, lemon ginger w/ black pepper, milk, very dark 71%, extra dark Panama 80%.

Also, many varieties of organic teas and 2 kinds of hot cocoa.

Full-flavored, fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal Exchange Co-op.

Plus, Organic Virgin Olive Oil and Dates from Palestine.

Available on the cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

Holiday baking supplies! Chocolate chips (55%), baking cocoa, almonds, pecans and cashews.

Fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal

Exchange coop. Available on the Fair Trade Project cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

New on the Fair Trade Cart—Mind, Body & Soul Coffee (whole bean).

Blend of medium and Vienna roasts—smooth & creamy with chocolate notes.

Wonderful News!

Equal Exchange has informed us that St Matt is again in the top 5% of sales for faith-based organizations in the country! At the same time, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services has designated St Matt a Top Generous Congregation in 2021.  Thank you for your commitment and generosity!                We serve in giving as we have been given many gifts.

Don’t Let The Food Cupboard Go Bare! 

Don’t Let The Food Cupboard Go Bare!

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors.

In December we’re collecting Hot Cereal, and it’s the quarterly collection of Diaper’s for Bundles of Blessing Diaper Ministry

In January we’re collecting Canned Soup.

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors. In May we’re collecting Pasta – Rice – Noodles and it’s the quarterly collection of Diapers for Bundles of Blessings.

You are the something that happened for many, many in our community who struggle with food insecurity. You made it possible for many to feel more secure in a very challenging year.  You don’t do it for the thanks, but we thank you all the same for being our partners in 2022!

The grateful volunteers of the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors.

Please save your cereal coupons and donate them to the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard all year round. They are a very important way for the Food Cupboard to save money on local cereal purchases. 

Place your manufacturer’s or store savings coupons in the box located near the Food Cupboard monthly offering table at St. Matthew. Instead of throwing out coupon flyers, please take a few minutes to cut out the “dollars off” for cereal only and bring them church. You will be surprised how they quickly add up to lots of savings for the Food Cupboard…cereal can be a very costly to keep on the Cupboard shelves!

Community Blessing Box Offerings

JESUS SAID, GO AND DO LIKEWISE LUKE 10:37

Community Blessing Box Offerings

As you consider offerings to the Community Blessing Box, here are some items we’ve found to be in great demand:

Food items

Individual size heat ‘n eats in flip-top cans

Snack crackers (Lance, Keebler, etc.)

Pop Tarts

Individual size cereals, apple sauce/fruit

Canned/packaged chicken/ham/tuna salad, spam, beef jerky

Spaghetti sauce (paired with boxed pasta)

Personal core items 

small) Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant

(small)(bottles) Laundry soap, fabric softener/dryer sheets 

Tablets & pens

Toilet paper

Socks

Wash cloths

Special thanks to Kathy Stewart for managing this vital ministry.

Food for Thought: (we Picked up some tips from another newsletter—to help you help others) So, I spent some time at a Food Bank today, and spoke to the people getting food. Here are some things I learned from those in need.

Boxed milk is a treasure, as kids need it for cereal which they also get a lot of.

Oil is a luxury but needed for rice a roni which they also get a lot of.

Spices or salt and pepper would be a real Christmas gift. 

Tea bags and coffee make them feel like you care.

Sugar and flour are treats.

Tuna and crackers make a good lunch. 

Dishwashing detergent is very expensive and is always appreciated Feminine hygiene products are a luxury and women will cry over that.\\ Everyone loves Stove Top stuffing. In all the years I have donated food at the holidays, I bought what I thought they wanted,  but have never asked. I am glad I did.

The WELCA Quilters are always in need of your donations of new or gently used sheets. Also, if anyone would like to visit us to see our operation or join our group, all are welcome. We meet the second and fourth Tuesdays from 8 am to noon to make quilts for Hospice patients, Camp Courage and Nurse-Family babies.

No phone orders, please. Extra order forms are available in the office.