I do hope this reading finds you joyous, peaceful, tranquil and totally ready for a season stringing together many incredibly meaningful, richly blessing, not-even-a-little-stressful, celebrations this Christmas. 
And in case it doesn’t, or not really, read on. This Advent might be for you.

We come into this month with so many expectations. We want the magic. We want the joy. We want the glee to surround and encompass all we do. And then it doesn’t, or not really, or not all the way, we are let down. Instead we get just glimpses of pure loveliness, and they take us entirely by surprise. Like seeing glittering new fallen snow lit up by morning sunshine—but then remembering its you who must shovel it. Or hearing your child or grandchild in a fit of giggles—but then struck by the mess they are leaving behind. Or singing “Silent Night” in candlelight on Christmas Eve—but then remembering the person who used to sit next to you in the pew isn’t there this year.
Christmas never comes to us perfect. Advent doesn’t either.

This Advent, we would like to invite you to two preaching series carefully crafted for both moods of the season—the hopeful fulfillment and the realistic expectations. We think the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of God-with-us, has something to say to both.
On Sundays join us for a series we are calling, “Beyond the Manger.” We will track the story of Jesus’ birth into this flawed and fallen world through hearing the first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. You see, while you’ve heard the Gospel of Luke tell the Christmas story, you probably haven’t listened too carefully to the story from Matthew—it’s different in some crucial ways. Hear the story new as we talk about the political realities and uncertainties Jesus was born into, and ones his birth challenged directly. Hear about the mystery of dreams and how God leads us even through uncertainty. Hear about how God shines light into even the greatest darkness, so even folks who are trapped in fear, feel moved by hope. Matthew’s Gospel is gritty, its real, and its full of the promises of the goodness of God in the midst of all of life’s hard. 

On Wednesdays, join us at Vinje for a seeking question: “Where are you Christmas?” Have you ever asked this, or felt like you lost it somehow? If you are having difficulties finding that peace, the joy or the love of God in your life or in your world, or if you are just in need a gentle reassurance, join us in the stillness of worship to be reminded.
Come tired, come weary; come rested or fulfilled. Come with wonder or with your skepticism. Come with your grief and your deepest ache. Come with your greatest joy. Bring a friend. Join us this Advent however you are. Know that Emmanuel, God with us, welcomes you, loves you and is ready to encounter you, just as you are.

Be well,
Pastor Erika
With a story as treasured as the Christmas Story, it’s hard to imagine hearing this tale of God becoming human in the baby Jesus in any other way. We imagine the story in porcelain-perfect nativity scenes, with singing angels and galloping shepherds but what if there’s more to the story? The Gospel of Matthew tells a different tale. Matthew tells about a mysterious “God with us” through tracing his ancestry through unusual grandmothers, through the dreams of an unconventional father, through court and political intrigue, and through travelling mystics following a star expecting a king but finding a Savior.  Join us this Advent as we look beyond the manger. 
December 4 Beyond the Manger: Joseph
December 11 Beyond the Manger: Herod
December 18 Beyond the Manger: Magi
Every year we find ourselves in a Christmas season filled with joyful memories, nostalgia, and hectic schedules. Will we ever live up to the standards of the past? Where do we find the real meaning of Christmas? How can we pause and appreciate Christmas for what it is meant to be? Join us in preparing for Christmas at our special midweek Advent services in the weeks ahead.
December 7 Where do I find peace?
December 14 Wednesday Live! & Loving Arms Christmas
December 21 Where do I find joy?
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we want to share the joys of the season with others in the community. This year contributions to the Light of Christmas funds will once again be used to purchase gifts and necessities for our neighbors in need. We will also be collecting donations for our holiday décor (poinsettias, trees, wreaths, etc). Forms can be found on the welcome desk and contributions can placed in the offering plate, mailed or delivered to the church office by December 8th. Also, if you know of someone with specific needs in our community please contact Melissa Hansen.
We’ve created a bulletin board on which to share your family’s Christmas greeting with your Vinje family! We’d love to include your family’s Christmas card on the bulletin board in the entry way! If you’d like, please bring one with you and put it on the bulletin board to share (pins are already waiting for you on the board). Thanks!
Over 60 volunteers served 500 pounds of lutefisk (and hundreds of meatballs and more!) to 526 people! It was a fantastic evening full of great conversation, lots of wonderful food and lots of smiles, hugs and laughter. So fun to see that the lutefisk-eating tradition is still alive and well! Looks like we might need to up the lutefisk order for next year’s meal! 
By Director of Music, Karen Wojahn
Participants will include the Vinje Choir, Nova Voices, Shalom Singers, JuBELLation Handbell Choir, and the Wednesday Live! students.
Vinje Quilters will not meet in December, January or February. Stay tuned for dates. See you all in March. 
Did you know..?
The Greatest Lake
Earth’s greatest lake in terms of surface area, Lake Superior astoundingly contains 10 percent of the planet’s freshwater and half of the total volume of the Great Lakes. National Geographic Magazine recently called the Great Lakes North America’s most precious resource. Due to its relatively sparsely populated perimeter, Superior has missed out on much of the pollution plaguing the other Great Lakes, but it is experiencing the highest rate of warming of the lakes. This warming, evidenced by the recent emergence of harmful blue- green Cyanobacteria bloom, is a threat to its beleaguered cold-water fishery.

In other news...
  • There are a few Vinje red shopping bags left in the office.
  • Thanks for taking home all the potatoes and squash from the raised vegetable beds.

The Creation Care Committee wishes all our Vinje members a Blessed Christmas.
This month pastor Andrés asked Lorna Bahl to share some of her most cherished Christmas memories and how they are related to Vinje.

I have been writing Christmas memories for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The excitement of the season, especially for a child, seems so long to wait.
My memories as a child were all the preparations my parents did to make Christmas special for us. The baking, cooking, gift buying and wrapping, decorating the house, the list goes on and on.

On Christmas Eve, my dad would take my sisters and me to our neighbors with gifts of fruit, candy, and grain shovels for the men. We even delivered three little pigs held by us to a dear neighbor. At each house we would sing Christmas carols.

Our little country church was all decked out for Christmas with the biggest and tallest Christmas tree ever. It was magical to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. We sang all our familiar Christmas carols and Silent Night was my favorite.

Today my fondest memory is having my family gather and all going to church at Vinje. It’s so peaceful to sit in a pew and enjoy the service. The quietness as the parishioners light their candles and the sanctuary lights dim while we sing my favorite carol, Silent Night.
The memories of long time ago bring tears to my eyes as I reflect on Christmas as a child. Communing on Christmas with my Vinje family fills my heart with happiness and reminds me of all my blessings. Merry Christmas!
At their meeting on November 28th, the Vinje Council…
  • Approved columbarium policies.
  • Approved the use of endowment dollars for an evaluation of the roof.
  • Approved job description for organist/choir director.
  • Heard from Pastor Dane about the positive response to the stewardship campaign based on pledges received so far.
  • Approved the creation and new members of for a Loving Arms Board (Shelly Bormann, Christina Boike, Lucy Brink, Crystal Lenz, Lynn Stier).
Policies have been adopted by the Council and work is being done for the site design with plans of installation in 2023. A final cost per niche has not been set yet. If you are considering year-end contributions, you may wish to consider a donation to the columbarium project. Questions? Project team members will be available during coffee hour on Sunday, December 18th and following the Wednesday night service on January 18th.
Make a one-time contribution or set up reoccurring giving here. Need help? Call the church office!
RADIO Listen on Sundays at 9:30 am on KWLM, 1340 AM.
INTERNET Watch anytime! (go to YouTube and search Vinje Willmar). 
TV Watch local access channel, 180 Sundays at 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm and Tuesdays at 8 am and 5 pm.