Christmas week worship information

Good day siblings in Christ!

Here is all of our information for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the First Sunday after Christmas services. The only time Zoom will be used is Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m.; other services will be on Facebook or YouTube.

Our pre-recorded Christmas Eve service will be available starting at 3:00 p.m. and will have different readers and Christmas hymns. You may view it any time after 3:00 p.m. on either Facebook or YouTube. There will also be a live service at 7:00 p.m., which will be just like our Sunday morning service with just me and Phill.

For Christmas Day, our youth have put together a short online Christmas pageant for you to enjoy as a present to the congregation. It is a very cute video and only 9 minutes long. You may view it on Facebook or YouTube at 10:00 a.m. or any time after that. You can find the script here so you may follow along.

The first Sunday after Christmas will be a lessons and carols service put together by the Metro NY Synod staff. I had a chance to preview it and will let you know there is a beautiful liturgical ballet at the beginning of the worship. The dance lasts until the 11:11 mark in the video. I wasn’t sure if the congregation was used to liturgical dance, so I wanted to let you know it is coming and in case you were wondering if this was the only thing happening in the video. There is a traditional service which follows the dance. This service may be viewed at these links on either Facebook or YouTube.

The office is still under construction, so if you need something this next week, please email or call me directly or email or call Melanie directly. We cannot always get to the office answering machine. It is coming together and should be finished shortly.

This has been a tough year, but we can make the best of Christmas no matter where we are. Thank you for your continued support of Our Saviour. I really do miss you all and I look forward to the day we can all see one another again.

Pastor Johnson

Christmas services

December 16, 2020

Dear members and friends of Our Saviour,

This is a difficult announcement to make, as it will be the first time in 20 years of ministry that I have needed to make it. Last night the worship team made a recommendation to Council that Christmas Eve services should be presented digitally this year. This recommendation has passed the Council this morning. It has been a stressful decision and it wasn’t an easy one to make.

The factors which went into the decision were the rising Covid numbers in Croton and the surrounding areas, the size of our physical worship space and the number of people we could safely seat, a letter from the Bishop requesting congregations refrain from having in person services, and a concern for our members health and safety. Again it was not easy, but it was unanimously accepted. I am heartbroken over it, as I know how much these services mean to our members and friends. Christmas Eve is my favorite service of the year, so it is a big loss to me as well.

With that, here is how Christmas Eve will look this year. We have created a pre-recorded service which will premiere on Facebook and YouTube at 3:00 p.m. We made it early, for families to use any time they would want to gather for worship. It has a number of our members reading parts of the service and has all of the Christmas hymns you would want to hear.

A separate live service will begin at 7:00 p.m. This will look like a typical Sunday morning service, in that Phil will play our music and I will lead the liturgy. This will be presented on Zoom and Facebook first and then later uploaded to YouTube. This gives a chance for friends and family to see one another and worship together.

On Christmas Day, we will present a special pageant by our youth. It will premiere at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas Day on Facebook and YouTube. This may be subject to change, and I will notify the congregation if this video isn’t finished in time. The teachers have been hard at work with our youth and it has been fun to watch the play come together.

The Sunday after Christmas, we will not have a regular worship, but will point everyone toward our Synod’s special service for the day. Details will be forthcoming. The service will be presented on Facebook and YouTube.

Thank you for being so patient with us during this time. This is not the ideal, but I am grateful that technology allows us to still connect with one another through this ordeal. I still have hope that this will be the only Christmas we will have to do this, as vaccinations have begun this week. Thank you for your continued love for this congregation.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Justin Johnson

Baby layettes for Lutheran World Relief

December 10, 2020

Good day siblings in Christ!

This was a surprisingly busy week, so I am getting this letter out a little late. The good news is that reconstruction of my office has begun to repair the water damage after a falling tree damaged the roof this summer. A big thank you to Lee Ann and our council for getting everything going. Our Christmas Eve service has all but two parts recorded, so it is time to start putting that together next week. Our worship team will be deciding next week what to do about Christmas Eve services, but I note that all pastors received a letter from the Bishop this week asking churches not to have in-person Christmas Eve services. We will use this as the beginning in our decision-making process.

Baby Layettes for Lutheran World Relief

We have started collecting baby items for baby care kits (layettes) for Lutheran World Relief. Traditionally, we place these items under our church Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. This year, we suggest that you place your baby items under your own tree at home and then bring them to the church in January as you are able. There is a box at the back of the sanctuary where you may place your gifts.

What goes into a layette? We need (in sizes 6 – 24 months) cotton T-shirts, gowns or sleepers (no feet so they can be worn longer); cotton or flannel receiving blankets (36”- 52” square) or knit with light weight yarn; flat cloth diapers; diaper pins; jackets, sweatshirts, or sweaters with a hood or hat; socks; hand towels (dark color); and 3 or 4 oz. bar soap in original wrapping.

LWR specifies that neutral colors are best (no pink) without any religious, camouflage, military, or flag insignia. Onesies with snaps can be cut and hemmed to make a T- shirt (our sewing group will do this), top/pants sets can be substituted for sleepers. New items only.

You can provide a complete layette or a single item. More information on what makes a complete layette is at https://lwr.org/kits/baby-care-kits/instructions. After Christmas, we will apply for a Thrivent grant to buy additional items to complete the kits. If you would like to donate instead of shop, please make your check out to Our Saviour Lutheran Church and write in the memo line “LWR Baby Layettes”. If you have questions, you may contact Karen Polacek or Frya Barnes.

Thank you!

Be love,
Pastor Johnson

Advent: Writing the Gospel of Mark

December 2, 2020

Good day siblings in Christ!

We are in the midst of Advent and the time of waiting. I enjoy having a small devotional practice during Advent and this year, I partnered with Rev. Jenny at St. Augustine’s and came up with a practice to write the Gospel of Mark. The idea is to write, by hand, the Gospel of Mark from Advent through Epiphany. Mark will be our focus Gospel for the year and writing something by hand brings a different feel to it. Pick your favorite translation and go for it. I meant to suggest this last Sunday, but we are only 4 days behind and there is time to catch up (or begin it this Sunday). It is just a small devotional practice to help get into the mood of Advent.

Announcements
  1. From Karen K.: I’m part of an interfaith Croton group called Empowering Women. We have been sponsoring a refugee family from Venezuela for some time. Their apartment in Croton was no longer available so they had to move to Thornwood. However, other family members are still in Croton, so the mom and two kids would like to find a home in Croton again. If anyone knows of an affordable apartment in Croton, please let Karen or Pastor know.
     
  2. The prayer list is making a return at next Sunday’s service, but it has not been updated since March. If there is anyone you would like to add, please let Melanie know.

Be love,
Pastor Johnson