I'll Have a Blue Christmas...
Sometimes the lyrics from “Blue Christmas”, famously performed by Elvis Presley, ring truer than the typical Christmas carols playing on the radio, or sung in church this month. While for many, Advent and Christmas bring a season of joy and celebration, not everyone feels the same cheerful delight for this time of year. Sorrows like grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, loss and stress can all feel magnified during this time of the year.

The Blue Christmas Service at Grace Lutheran Church in Chesapeake is there for people who are struggling with the joys of the holiday to receive comfort and healing, “This is a place to come and be honest about how you’re feeling,” explained Pastor Leslie Scanlon of Grace, Chesapeake, who has held Blue Christmas services at the congregation since 2015. The service includes the reading of Scripture, singing hymns, and prayers stations.
The prayers stations offer a variety of ways to pray and reflect during the service, providing prayer stones, adult coloring sheets for meditative prayer, opportunity to write confidential prayer slips, to indicate on a map where prayer is being focused, as well as well as to light candles in memory of someone who has died or in prayer for someone who is struggling.
“The service makes visible the silent hurt that is present in all of our congregations. It’s very easy to unintentionally brush under the rug, especially at this time of year,” said Pastor Leslie. One of the most meaningful stations provided during the service is the anointing station. At this station, Pastor Leslie invites those present to take a seat across from her, asking if there’s anything specific she can pray for with them. She also anoints them with a blessing, telling them they are a beloved child of God.

Pastor Leslie emphasizes that the Blue Christmas service also serves as an opportunity for support systems to those who are enduring challenging times to be present in prayer, “This service stands as a tangible, physical reminder that we are all gathered around praying for one another,” she said.
For Grace, Chesapeake this is a particularly meaningful service to pray for one another, as the congregation has an ongoing ministry that holds one another in prayer throughout the year, “during this time of year we can get so busy and forget how this season affects others. It’s important to make space where it’s okay to feel hurt, and not forced to be happy,” said Pastor Leslie.
This year, the service is being held at Grace Lutheran on December 21st. The timing of the service is purposeful, as the 21st is the winter solstice and darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. On this darkest day of the year, the congregation and surrounding community at Grace are invited to come with honest yearnings, seeking the return of light and hope.
All who might be helped by such a service are invited to attend at Grace Lutheran Church in Chesapeake on The Longest Night, Thursday, December 21 at 7:00 PM .

A similar service, Blessed are Those Who Mourn: a Christmas Evening Prayer of Remembrance and Hope , is also being held at First Lutheran Church in Norfolk this Sunday, December 17 at 4:00 PM .
Deck the Halls!
2017 Virginia Synod Christmas Decoration Contest
Submissions are now open for the 2017 Virginia Synod Christmas Decoration Contest! Congregations and individuals are both welcome to enter their decorations in one of three categories: Chrismons tree, Christmas tree, or Advent wreath for this year's contest!

To enter send the best photo of your decoration to Emily Pilat at pilat@vasynod.org from now until Wednesday December 20th.

With your entry photo please include the following information:
  • Your full name
  • Your congregation name and location
  • The category for which you are entering (Chrismons tree, Christmas tree, or Advent wreath)

Only one entry per individual or congregation (ie. if you submit a photo of your congregation's Chrismons tree, a submission of your congregation's advent wreath will not be counted as an entry)!

On December 22nd one randomly selected winner for each category will be announced in that week's edition of the Weekly Update. All three winners will receive a special prize!

If you have any questions about the 2017 Christmas Decoration Contest, please contact Emily Pilat at pilat@vasynod.org Best of luck to all who enter, and happy decorating!
Do You have an announcement, upcoming event or news story idea? Send it to Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org  and make sure to follow our
ForwardingFaith Congregational Training!
Does your congregation want to take part in the ForwardingFaith Campaign? Is your stewardship team looking for a training event, but doesn't know where to go? As part of the Forwarding Faith Campaign, we are offering 2-hour training sessions throughout the Virginia Synod to teach your stewardship team how to conduct a special gift appeal.

A part of this training provides materials and information on how to conduct the Forwarding Faith campaign in your congregation, but you can use everything you learn during the training session to conduct an appeal for a new air conditioning unit, parking lot paving, roof, outreach opportunity, or whatever your ministry needs to fund!

For more information and to RSVP, click here
Winter Celebration 2018
Winter Celebration  is our annual weekend retreat for youth in grades 9 through 12 and their adult advisers.  We have Large Group gatherings that consist of singing, energy, comedy, worship and a presentation on our event theme. After each Large Group gathering each person is part of a Small Group made up of youth and a couple adult leaders where participants will get to know other Lutheran youth from Virginia and discuss life, faith and other topics that arise throughout the weekend. 

For more information and to register for Winter Celebration Week 1, click here
For Winter Celebration Week 2, click here
Caroline Furnace Winter Family Camp
Caroline Furnace invite you to join them for two days of camp fun in the winter December 28-29, 2018.

For more information, and to register, click here.
Caroline Furnace camper registration is open for 2018!
Ephesians 2:8 is our theme verse for the summer. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."

At Caroline Furnace, our campers combine faith with daily life on our 257 acre camp, surrounded by George Washington National Forest and nestled between the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River. Campers experience daily worship and Bible study, plus a large range of activities. Campers may swim, canoe, fish, creekwalk, play small and large group games, challenge themselves on our low ropes course, hike, cook over a campfire, create crafts, learn archery, gain culinary skills, or explore the iron furnace ruins on camp property. Each week, Chaplains from supporting congregations join us in leading the campers in morning worship, Bible study, and campfire and evening devotion.
To view the complete summer schedule for 2018, and for more information, click here.
Caroline Furnace BeerReformation Retreat
Caroline Furnace invites you to join them for a weekend (or a day) of faith, education, fun and fellowship! Celebrate our rich Christian heritage, the history and art of brewing and the beautiful surroundings of the Shenandoah Valley January 19-21, 2018.

Activities include sharing your favorite brew, learning the art of food and beer pairings, discussion on the science of brewing since the 15th century, and visiting a local craft brewery. We will also enjoy the opportunity to share our faith stories with a prayer hike, worship and compline time.

Load up your sleeping bag, hiking shoes, and your favorite six pack for a winter weekend getaway! Register online today! The weekend schedule and other details will be sent out before the event.

For more information, and to register, click here.
Caroline Furnace Wild Women Series: Wine Retreat
Caroline Furnace invite you to join them for a weekend (or a day) of faith, education, fun and fellowship January 26-28, 2018.

Activities include a visit to local wineries, a study of Jesus’s first miracle, and getting creative with some wine-themed crafts. Relax, recharge and enjoy community with us at Buttonwood Lodge.

For more information, and to register, click here.
Spiritual Direction Certification Program
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary at Lenoir-Rhyne University
The Academy of Faith and Leadership (AFL) at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) exists to help equip both lay and clergy alike for their lifelong work as ministers of the gospel. This year we are happy to announce our new Spiritual Direction Certification Program here on the campus of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary:

Holy Listening – We believe holy listening is at the core of spiritual direction. It’s listening to one another, and most attentively to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The real and most genuine spiritual director is always the Holy Spirit.
Everyone is Welcome to Apply – Our primary purpose is to train people who feel called to be such spiritual friends, spiritual companions; however, those who are interested in deepening their own spiritual practices are also welcome.
Within the Christian Tradition – Ours is an experience in spiritual direction grounded in Trinitarian faith. However, we recognize that there is deep spiritual wisdom that can be found in other faith traditions. We will draw on those traditions and will integrate them from a Christian perspective.

Our next cycle of new participants begins with an intensive January 17 – 20, 2018. The application deadline is December 22.
To learn more and to register for this opportunity, click here.
Job Opportunities
Chaplain, Virginia Lutheran Homes
The Chaplain is responsible for providing spiritual care, short-term counselling, worship leadership, education and other religious support to residents, families and staff at all Virginia Lutheran Homes facilities.
For a complete job description,  click he re.

For anyone interested in applying for this position, they can contact the Becky Walls at the Virginia Synod Office at 540-389-1000 or they can email at  walls@vasynod.org .
Executive Director, Rural Family Development
This position is responsible for providing leadership and management to implement the Head Start Program for Caroline County in concert with the mission and vision of the Virginia Council of Churches/Rural Family Development through the utilization of Federal funding, State and agency policies and procedures.

For a complete job description, click here.

For anyone interested in applying for this position, they can contact the Virginia Council of Churches at 804-321-3300 ext. 100 or they can email Crystal Greenerl at greenerl@vacouncilofchurches.org
Organist, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Petersburg
Seeking part-time organist/choir director for one Sunday morning service, one adult choir rehearsal, and special services during Lent, Holy Week, and Christmas. Candidates should be familiar with the traditional liturgical service as practiced in a Eucharistically-centered sung service and experienced in a variety of musical styles. Salary range is negotiable with 2 weeks paid vacation. Opportunities for wedding and funerals are compensated separately. The primary instrument is a two manual Rodgers organ with spinet pianos in the sanctuary and the chapel. For information about the church and congregation please visit the church website at www.lcor.net

Interested candidates should contact Marva Farrington, Worship Committee Chair, at marva_farrington@yahoo.com. The position will become available in January 2018.
Director of Music, Grace & Glory Lutheran Church in Palmyra
Are you someone who is an accomplished keyboardist/pianist and looking for a part-time position (approx. 20 hrs/wk)? Have you been involved in a choir and have the ability to direct a choir? Grace and Glory has the perfect position for you! We are currently seeking someone with your abilities to serve as our Dir. of Music for our congregation. Our worship services are held Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am. If you would enjoy working with a vibrant, growing congregation sharing your gift of music, we would really enjoy speaking with you. Please email  gglcelca@embarqmail.com . It would be helpful to include both a cover letter and resume when inquiring and/or applying. We would be pleased to share a Job Description which is flexible depending upon the successful candidate’s musical gifts. EOE.

Grace & Glory is a vibrant, growing congregation in beautiful Central Virginia. We are active in the community and welcome all to join us as "Caring Christians sharing God's message of Grace." To learn more about us and our mission, please visit our website at  www.graceandglory.church.
Director of Youth and Family Ministry, St. Mark Lutheran Church in Charlottesville
The Director of Youth and Family Ministry works with the Pastor(s), staff, lay leaders and others to support the spiritual health of the congregation and specifically the youth, primarily middle and high school age. Provides a connection between the St. Mark family and the growing number of youth. The lead Pastor is the immediate supervisor of the Director of Youth and Family Ministry. To view the full listing and apply,  click here .
All job postings can also be found online at  www.vasynod.org/job-opportunities. If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org