In This Issue

From Pastor Laura

December Worship Schedule

Music Ministry

Christmas Bazaar

Giving Tree

ELCA Advocacy

Interfaith Shelter


Stephen Ministry

Stewardship Stream

Volunteers Needed

Engagement Opportunities

COVID Vaccine Help

Pastor Sam's Sermon Blog

Global Mission "Global Links"

Bethlehem Cares Fund

Newsletter Archives


Contact Us

Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Pastor Sam Nelson
Associate Pastor
Ext 30
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1 

Quick Links

Church Calendar

News & Events

Children's Ministry



Pacifica Synod News


Healthy Day Partners


ELCA Global Links

December 2022

News and Events

Dear people of Bethlehem,


Blessed Advent to you all. The prophet Isaiah says, "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse." Advent is the time of our hope and expectation. It is the waiting season. Waiting for light to shatter darkness. I can recall the expectation of childhood. Every light, on every house was a symbol that we were one day closer, one moment nearer to Christmas. At night, I would curl up on the couch in the living room, near where our Christmas tree stood, and marvel at the twinkling lights in the darkened room. Each seemed to me the promise of what was coming. My childhood was sometimes complicated, and close to the tree, my young heart found her peace. The hope was palpable. Fully grown now, the same symbols still capture my imagination. They still conjure up hope for me. 


Advent feels like a particular gift this year, because of its gentle hope. We are in need of good news. We are in need of peace on earth. We are in need of peace in our own hearts. The rush to Christmas is not what is needed this year. We are in need of the gentle, slow pace of hope slowly rising. In Isaiah’s day, as the people of Israel were suffering, the words of the prophet did not promise light that would shatter every darkness. No, when the cedars are cut down and every bough is cut off, the prophet promises only this, "A shoot shall come from the stump of Jesse." I wonder, is that enough? Don’t we need the whole forest? Don’t we need to shatter every present darkness? I’m not sure that we do, and I am equally certain that it is not possible. From our God, there comes a different kind of promise — one that begins with a small child in a manger. 


I love the honesty of it all. Not everything will be set right tomorrow, but as theologian Barbara Lundblad says, "What if we believe this fragile sign is God’s beginning?" What if we believe the tender shoot is enough, the child is enough, the promise is enough, the hope is enough. Perhaps then, we can attend to the small seedling of hope in our hearts. That place where our faith lives, that place where hope may break through our hurt and touch our hearts. We need not await the full forest. God did not wait. God came on a single night, into one stable, with a single star in the night sky. And that, was all the world needed. That, is all you and I still need. 


May you be blessed with every joy and grace this Christmas, every small miracle and every flickering light of hope. May the gentle blessing of this Christmas find you and fill you with peace.


God bless you, and Merry Christmas to you all,

Pastor Laura    

December Worship Schedule

Sunday Morning Worship:

  • December 4, 10, 18 - 9 AM and 10:30 AM
  • December 25 and January 1 - 10 AM only (No Learning Circles)

Worship usually takes place in the sanctuary for both services, and there is the option to sit outside in the eco-narthex as well. The livestream usually takes place during the 10:30 AM or as indicated.

Learning Circles take place during the 10:30 AM worship service. We have classes for ages 4 thru 6th grade and nursery services available, too!

December Worship Save the Dates:


  • December 4 – "A Christmas Carol" performance
  • December 14 - "Comfort at Christmas" - Wednesday evening service at 7 pm
  • December 24, Christmas Eve - Candlelit services - 10 AM, 7 & 9 PM

Children's Service - 4:30 PM

Music Ministry


Christmas Concert - The Choirs of Bethlehem present their annual Christmas Concert "A World of Christmas" on Sunday, December 4 at 4 pm. The concert will feature carols from various countries performed by the Good News Singers, JuBellation Ringers, World Music Ensemble, Chimers, and Children's Choir. A free will offering will be taken for the music department . The concert will also be livestreamed for your home viewing.  A link will be posted on the church website that weekend. 


Christmas Caroling- December 18 - Everyone is invited to go Christmas caroling to members of our congregation on December 18 at 1:00 pm. We go to a few facilities and to the homes of our members.        

Song sheets will be provided for the singers. 


Schedule of Sunday morning performing ensembles

  • December 4 - World Music Ensemble
  • December 11 - Laura Thibault and Sheldon Rosenbaum
  • December 18 - Ella Weed and Eden LaClair
  • December 24 - 10:00 am - Gloria Xefos/ Mona Goetsch

  4:30 pm - Chris Mathews, Eden LaClair 

7:00 pm - Children's Choir

9:00 pm - Good News Singers 

  • December 25 - 10:00 am - Laura Thibault and Sheldon Rosenbaum 

Christmas Bazaar

Calling all makers, bakers and crafters! - Start your creative juices - will you share your talents and make something to donate for the Christmas Bazaar on December 4? We are looking for arts and crafts, woodworking, pottery, baked goods, jams or preserves, whatever you create!

To help us plan for the bazaar, please follow the link below and let us know of your interest. (Please note, we are looking for an expression of interest, not an obligation.)

Sign up for Bazaar

Something New at the Bazaar: Mrs. Claus’s Closet! - Check out the donated items such as candles, candle holders, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, collectibles, small household items, special dishes, stationary, flower pots, vases, fancy food (shelf stable). During the bazaar, people can leave a monetary donation of their choice in exchange for any items in Mrs. Claus' Closet.

Questions? Contact Laure Reynolds

Giving Tree

It is Secret Santa time again. We have three ways you can help this year:

  • We are asking for monetary donations to help Es Por Los Ninos (Its For The Children). This is an organization who help families with HIV/AIDS in Tijuana. They are in need of Baby Formula. Mothers with HIV/AIDS must feed their babies formula to prevent them from contracting AIDS.
  • For the local Secret Santa Project, we are asking for $25 Gift Cards for Target, Walmart, and the 99cent Store. You may also give any denomination of any grocery store gift cards.
  • If you would like to Help with the Teen Shelter in San Diego, we are again asking for Black or Navy Blue backpacks and L or XL Black or Navy Blue Hooded Sweatshirts and a deck of cards. The Teen Shelter could also use Men’s Crew Length socks.

You can donate to Es Por Los Ninos or Secret Santa by going the website and clicking on the contribute page. If you would like to write a check to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the memo, please write Es Por Los Ninos or Secret Santa in the Memo. Gift cards and clothing items can be dropped of at church on Sunday morning or during the week. All donated items and gift cards should be returned to the church by Thursday, December 15.


If you have any questions, please call (760) 942-1482.

Thank you for your Many Years of Support, Cheryl Monreal

ELCA Advocacy

Lunch and Learn with Bishop Dave Nagler on Anti-Racism - Our synod is on a journey of learning, repenting, and repairing our relationship with our siblings of color. The sin of racism must be understood before it can be addressed. These “zoom lunches” are designed to be spaces of learning together. We will pray, watch a short video, talk together about how it applies to our lives, and commit to the work together. All are invited! Join us beginning Monday, December 5. Details here.


Your Comments Requested on the ELCA Social Message on Earth’s Climate Crisis - The draft social message on Earth’s Climate Crisis is now available for public feedback. Read the social message draft here and then use this survey to share your input by Friday, December 2, 2022. The draft will be edited, guided by the feedback, and presented to the ELCA Church Council to be voted on this coming spring.


Social messages are ELCA teaching documents that address a focused social topic. Drawing from existing social teaching, they provide theological rationale and social analysis to foster discernment and engagement on a relatively narrow social issue. This project was authorized in light of the grim contemporary situation affecting our global home and the need for fresh action on the part of this church. It draws its framing themes from several social statements, particularly Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice.


“Advocacy in Quarantine” - Our weekly information sessions have finished for 2022 and will resume with the new legislative session in January 2023.


ELCA Advocacy Monthly Updates

United Nations and State Edition

Advocacy Connections

Follow us!

LOPP- CA:  Facebook, Twitter

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: Facebook, Twitter

Pacifica Synod: Facebook, Twitter

ELCA Advocacy: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

ELCA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram


For information or questions about Bethlehem’s Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at [email protected].

Interfaith Shelter Network

Interfaith Shelter Network is coming back to in-person housing at congregations this winter. 


Bethlehem Lutheran will be partnering with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church February 5 - 19  to host the shelter. We are still working out the details about who and where, but stay tuned for more information and ways in which you can help.


Additionally, the Interfaith Shelter Network is starting an Advocate Companion Project to further assist its clients. The program uses trained advocates to partner with the Case Managers/Social Workers to act as companions for individuals/households in the shelter(s). The advocate meets with clients once a week and follows the client from shelter to shelter and ultimately to housing. It is a volunteer position which requires a number of training sessions and a six month minimum commitment. The goal is to provide the maximum amount of support for the client.


If you are interested or want more information about the program please contact: Abby Shrestha, Shelter and Housing Program Manager, Interfaith Shelter Network at 619-702-5339 or [email protected].

Stephen Ministry

Holiday Stress? - For many of us this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time of both joy and apprehension. We look forward to the return of favorite traditions, foods, and music, but we worry about completing all our preparations in time. We cherish the chance to spend time with family but worry about the person who is disruptive or for the one who is missing. We look forward to the coming of the Christ child, but are apprehensive for the accompanying stress of the season.

This Advent season give yourself permission to take a break from the stress. Bake one less batch of cookies and take a walk or sit in the garden instead. Spend less time shopping and more time reading. Do less decorating and more celebrating. Focus less on loved ones who are gone, and more on those who are here. 

If you are having difficulty making it through the holiday season, consider reaching out to Stephen Ministry. Our Stephen Ministers are compassionate and welcoming individuals who are happy to take time to visit with you. If you would like to know more about Stephen Ministry, please reach out to Pr Laura, Pr Sam, or one of our Stephen Leaders, Molly Hall, Laure Reynolds, or Suzi Westmoreland.

Stewardship Stream

"…and there, ahead of them, went the star that [the wise men] had seen at its rising, until it stopped over place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."


What a wonderful stewardship example – offering gifts out of JOY in response to God’s love made manifest among us!


Thank you for opening your treasure chests to benefit Bethlehem’s missions this past year. May you experience the abundant JOY that is the Christmas season!

Volunteers Needed for Sat. Breakfast at St. Andrews

Volunteers Needed! Saturday Breakfast at St. Andrews - Our mission to feed the hungry a hot breakfast each Saturday is starting back up again, and the kitchen at St. Andrew’s is now open for business. Bethlehem will be preparing breakfast on the 4th Saturday of each month. We need 6 volunteers to crack and scramble 6 doz. eggs, cook 60 hash browns, 13 lbs. of bacon, make 80 pancakes and serve up plates with a smile! Click below to volunteer!

Sign up to Volunteer

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 [email protected]. 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. 

Scraps and Prayers - This ministry sews quilts for people in need of comfort and care. We meet each Wednesday morning from 9am-11am in the Multi-Use Room. We need your help sewing and tying quilts. No experience necessary! Stop by for an hour or stay for the whole morning; we'd love to share our scraps and prayers with you. For more information, contact Bobby Allen at [email protected] or Laure Reynolds at [email protected].

COVID Vaccine Help

If you need help navigating the Covid-19 vaccine sign up process, we are here to help. Our Stephen Ministry/Parish Nurse team can assist with:

  • Finding out your eligibility to receive a vaccine.
  • Helping you find a vaccination site and make an appointment.
  • Assisting with transportation to the site.

Please call the church office, (760) 753-1026, and we will get you the help you need.

 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:

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:

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 website. See the website for more details.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church