Staying Connected
Greetings all.

It is now the week of Christmas. It's crazy how quickly this whole month of December has gone by. Time sure does seem to fly by sometimes. As I write this Monday morning there's now snow on the ground so it's possible it may end up not being a white Christmas, but hey it's been a weird year so we'll see what ends up happening this week.
 
This morning I was looking at a devotion that was sent to me last week. The devotion was about joy. In the devotional, it talked about how Joy doesn't just happen but it's an act of love. I love how they talked about how joy and love are directly related. This year during advent, I have got to look at the four themes of it in a much more direct way then I ever have before. Being able to write lessons and provide activities was one way to dig deeper in it for me. Being immersed in it really helped me through the craziness that these whole last 9 months have been during the pandemic while leading up to Christmas.
 
A podcast just started up a couple weeks ago and it's by the lead singer of one of my favorite Christian Bands. His name is Mike Donehey and he started a podcast entitled Chasing Beauty. It's about finding God in unexpected ways. There has been two episodes so far and the first one talked about the blessings that have come out of the band he was in breaking up. The second one that came out last Thursday was about the best Christmas he ever had as a kid was the Christmas that they didn't get any presents. I think one thing I've learned through the whole pandemic is that there are still so many things to find joy in despite how so many things can seem so awful around us. Looking for that joy and the love that manifests its way out of that joy is an amazing thing when you see it. For those that are still struggling to see that I pray for the hope and peace that this joy and love will shine through.


Peace

Ben Geer
Family Advent Activities
I hope families have been finding time to do some of the activities with our "Advent Family Virtual Event" I've gotten some pictures of things families are doing with it and I love seeing them. I'd love to see any pictures you have of your family doing the activities or even your families advent candle set up.
Caroling in the Spirit
We were blessed by a perfect evening for caroling last night. A small group of us gathered and walked around Washington Park. Some of the songs we sang together were Deck the Halls, Silent Night, Joy to the World, Frosty the Snowman and We Wish you a Merry Christmas. It was a very festive evening.
Christmas Eve Service
We are sad we can't gather together in the sanctuary this Christmas Eve but happy we can still give you a chance to enjoy some of the great music that comes with the service than you can watch over and over again in the comfort for own homes with your family. Our Christmas Eve service now on YouTube and Facebook so you can watch with your families whenever you have time or are gathered together. We will also be having watch parties on Facebook Christmas Eve at 4:00pm and 8:00pm when you can still gather virtually with your Grace family.
Feeding Connections
We are Feeding Connections this Sunday December 27.
We're still looking for a few folks that can help deliver and serve the meal there. 2-3 more people would be ideal. Reach out to Ben directly or you can sign up using the link below to help out. Thanks.
Feeding Connections is a newish ministry that we will be starting up this year. I say newish because we've done it before when we've hosted the shelter here at Grace. The shelter now has their new home at First Presbyterian Church. The Shelter right now can hold 30 guest each night and Grace is going to feed them starting with the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. A special thank you to Barb Heller and Penny Banwart who are helping coordinate this effort. We still need many help to make this happen. We are looking for teams of 2-3 people that will help prepare the meal on the Sundays we will be serving. We then need a team of 3-4 people that would deliver and serve the meal at the shelter that night. Meals should be ready to go to the shelter by 5:45 and meals are served at the shelter by 6:30. To sign up to help and to get more details about preparing meals and serving can be found by clicking the link below. You can also reach our directly to Ben (dsg@gracemankato.org) for more information.
There are other opportunities to be able to serve at Connections. Below is a link to their sign up to be able to be greeters at the shelter. If your family would also like to take on a meal on your own to make and serve there are opportunities to sign up and do that.
Amazon Smile
Many of us will be spending quite a bit more with online shopping this year. Amazon Smile is a great program that is run through Amazon that offer a way to give while also spending the money you were already going to anyways.

When not supporting and of the great local businesses (that have online shopping options or curbside pickup) and you happen to be shopping on Amazon we encourage folks to check this out. When shopping through a web browser you can follow the link below and it's easy to set up. It's also super easy to get set up on a mobile device through the Amazon App. When signed into your account in the app in settings there is a section called "Programs and Features" in that sections you can click on AmazonSmile. I that section you can select your charity. You can search Grace Lutheran Church Mankato or type 41-6006451.

When you #StartWithaSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Grace Lutheran Church. Bookmark the link   http://smile.amazon.com/ch/41-6006451  and support us every time you shop.

You still get the same prices and you can still use your Prime account, but when you start by using this link above, Amazon will donate a portion of the price back to Grace.

Thanks for supporting Grace in this new and easy way!
2021 Adult Boundary Waters Trip
It is not even the end of 2020 and I'm already thinking about the summer of 2021. Some of us have probably been thinking about next summer for a while now. We are planning a fun opportunity for adults next summer whom what to have a bit of adventure as part of it. Last year the youth got their turn and this next year it is time for the adults to take a trip into the Boundary Waters (BWCA). I wanted to be get this announcement out early so people could have a bit of a chance to think about it. I would like to have a good idea of numbers thought by the end of January so we can secure permits for the trip. If you sign up early, I'd love some help looking into where to paddle in at. We're looking at going in on the Grand Marais side of the BWCA.
 
Dates for the trip are Friday July 9th through Wednesday July 14th. The plan would be to leave around mid-day on the 9th drive all the way to Grand Marais and stay there before paddling in to the BWCA Saturday. We spend four days and three nights paddling, fishing, having devotional time and anything else you may want to do up there. Tuesday the 13th we would paddle out of the BWCA sometime that day and then stay another night in Grand Marais before heading home.
 
We are excited about the possibilities of this trip and know it will be a great time. Even if I cannot guarantee no rain. Once we have, groups of folks interested we'll have a meeting to discuss more details about the trip. Even if you are just interested, click the link below to sign up. No commitment needed at this time and cost for trip is yet to be determined but will be very affordable.

Need Help w/ Zoom?
With Covid numbers going up we know many families are probably going to be looking at getting together differently for the holidays. Not being able to see family could be a tough thing. We would like to try and make that a bit easier on you if you're thinking about using Zoom to see each other.

If you have been waiting to try to use Zoom because it can be a bit confusing at time we invite you to get a hold of Ben here at Grace. Ben is far from an expert with all that zoom can do but can defiantly help enough to get things set up on your device and test things out to see how they work. You can call the office to get a hold of Ben or send an email at DSG@gracemankato.org to set up a time.
Snack Drive for
MY Place
Our Snack drive for connections is still going on. We've received some snacks that have been dropped off in the nursery. There is still room for many more. We'll collect snacks for another couple weeks before taking them all there. Stop on in anytime during the week to drop off a box or two or three of snacks.
 
MY Place (formally known as the Boys and Girls Club of Mankato) will now be hosting around 40 kids all day while schools are moving to distanced learning. They will be providing these youths (Kindergarten – 9th Graders) with three meals a day. Many of the kids that will be going to MY Place are at risk youth, so having a place where they can get these meals is so important. Another thing they will provide the kids with are snacks throughout the day. That is where Grace can come in and help. We will be holding a snack drive for a few weeks here at Grace. You can bring in boxes of snacks and place them in the Nursery during the day. 
 
Let's pack the nursery with snacks to help feed these kids!!!
Children
While we are not yet meeting in person for children PreK - 6th Grade we do want to make weekly lessons available online. You can access the weekly lessons we would be doing by clicking the links below. There are great activities that can be done as a family together.
Confirmation
Right now as schools have moved to distance learning we have decided that the safest and most effective way to continue to meet with our confirmation students will be to temporarily move the the program virtual. We will be using zoom to connect with the students just as we did last spring. As soon as it is safe to once again meet in person, we'll be excited to have the youth back here at Grace Wednesday nights.

For more details about events or would like to get involved please reach out to Ben or Pastor John and we will be sure to get you in the loop on everything you need to know.

December/January Confirmation Schedule
  • December 23 and 30th - No Confirmation Winter Break
  • January 6th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • January 13th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • January 20th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • January 27th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
High School
High School Youth Group will be taking a quick pause while schools have moved to distance learning. Keep watch for information for when we resume meeting on a regular basis.
If anybody has questions about youth and family ministry opportunities or would like to help leading any activities please reach out to Ben. You can call directly any time at 507-524-3254 or send an email to DSG@gracemankato.org
Zoom Thursday Night
Bible Study
Parables
"The Greatest Stories Ever Told"


We will be resuming Bible Study
Thursday January 7th

All Are Welcome!
As a community of Christ, we share in each other's joys and pains. Before we dive into the word each week we share our joys and pains with each other using the Rose Analogy.

  • We look for the Rose in our lives - A highlight, success, small win or something positive that is happening.

  • We look for a Thorn in our lives - A challenge you are experiencing or something you can use more support with.

  • And we look for the Bud in our lives - A new Idea that has bloomed or something you are looking forward to knowing more about or experiencing

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Thursday Bible Study

Zoom Meeting ID 857 5766 8823

Time 8:00 pm Thursday
Every week will have the same meeting ID
Mark your Calendars
December 24, 2020-No Bible Study
December 31, 2020-No Bible Study
January 7, 2020-The Wise & Foolish Virgins Matthew 24: 36 -25: 13
January 14, 2020-Parable of the Talents Matthew 24: 14-30
January 21st-The Pharisee & the Tax Collector Luke 18: 9-14
January 28, 2020-Parable of the Rich Fool Luke 12: 13-21
February 4 2020-No Bible Study
February 11, 2020-The Rich Man & Lazarus Luke 16: 19-31
In-Person Bible Study
If you are still interested in join in for this study, we could have a virtual options to still be able to meet in the group. Space is limited in the church. This study will be starting at the start of 2021.
Worshiping Together Virtually
We hope since March you have been able to continue to find a way to worship with us all at Grace. With the many platforms out there we hope you have been able to find one or a few that has been able to bring you comfort during these tough times.

Our Facebook live stream is now up and running and we believe we have worked out all the kinks with it.

If you do not have Facebook the worships will still be available on KTOE Sunday mornings at 10:00 and the rebroadcast on KTV. We will also continue to share the link to where they can be found on YouTube. Our goal is that everyone will still have an opportunity to worship with Grace.
December 20, 2020 Worship
Christ in our Home
Devotional
Many of you may be unable to get a copy of Christ In Our Home from the church as you normally would.

During this time we are making it available to you digitally, paper copies are still available at Grace and can be picked up. If you stop to pick one up please do wear a mask while in the church building.
Serving the Community

Echo Food Shelf - Echo is still looking for volunteers to commit to one 2-4 hour shift/week. You can email echofoodshelf@yahoo.com to get involved.

CADA House - Committee Against Domestic Abuse, Inc. (CADA) is a nonprofit victim advocacy and emergency shelter organization based in Mankato, Minnesota. CADA’s mission is to provide safety and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence through education, advocacy, and shelter.
You can check out the latest Newsletter for CADA by Clicking HERE
Fair Trade Coffee
Missing fellowship after service and the delicious fair trade coffee? All fair trade/organic coffee is now $7 a bag, including our fellowship blend. It's a course ground blend perfect for French press!  

Your choice of Sisters' Blend, Love Buzz, Breakfast Blend, Mind Body and Soul, And Fellowship Blend now only $7 a bag.  

Stop by the church office to get yours today!
Did you Fair Trade is so much more than Coffee??? There's tea, chocolate and even olive oil all available here at the church. Next time you're at Grace check it out!
Find more information about Mankato Fair Trade Products and their Mission by clicking the link below

10,000 Villages Kiosk
2020 presents us with a challenging holiday shopping season. Due to the pandemic, 10,000 Villages Mountain Lake will not have the kiosk in the River Hills Mall. However, you can still support the store in Mountain Lake by ordering at www.tenthousandvillages.com and selecting the store when you view your shopping cart. 

For detailed instructions, please download this PDF
Pray Together
Lord God,

Thank you for the love that You showed us with the gift of Jesus. A love that can be unmatched but we try to pass that love onto others through all we do.
Amen
Check out these Video!
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by the Piano Guys
Emmanuel by Love & the Outcome
Contact Us
Pastor
Rev. John Odegard - pastor@gracemankato.org

Director of Spiritual Growth

Parish Administrator
Rich Krause - parish@gracemankato.org

Office Specialist
Joan Hertel - office@gracemankato.org

Interim Organist and Music Director
Chuck Hoogland - music@gracemankato.org

Worship and Media Technology Coordinator

Maintenance and Grounds
Jordin Johnson - grounds@gracemankato.org

Is there news you're wanting to have included in future staying connected newsletters? Reach out to Ben with the details and he'll be sure to included in an upcoming newsletter. New newsletters are emailed out every Monday and can also be found on Facebook or the Webpage under the At Home Resources tab.