Where will you find peace this holiday season?

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Coordinator

Crisp air, falling leaves, apple cider…if you haven’t noticed it’s definitely autumn!

I’m probably not alone in thinking that the holiday season can be quite stressful. The last weekend in October, we held an event at St. John’s called “Self Care – In Real Life.” Our speaker, Anna Rendell, walked us through some ideas to care for ourselves every day and especially during the holidays.

Here are some that stuck out to me:

  • When you take out things to decorate if you aren’t in love with it anymore and it doesn’t bring you happiness get rid of it. Donate items that you don’t use anymore and help another family to create new holiday memories!
  • You don’t have to do everything. Do things that are meaningful to you and your family.

Trying to make the “perfect Pinterest Christmas” won’t always bring you joy, it might just drive you nuts. (I took a little liberty with that one!)
Overall, make sure the things you do this holiday season bring you life!!

During Advent, we’ll be hosting a book study called Advent Conspiracy: Making Christmas Meaningful (Again). We’ll be re-focusing on what the season is truly about. For many of us, there is a struggle to find the connection between our Christmas to-do lists and the story of Jesus’ birth. An overwhelming stress has overtaken worship and celebration. This time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest is often the hardest. Somehow, this had become the new normal. It is our hope that you might create new patterns of celebrating the season! You can join us on Sundays during Advent starting on December 2 at 9:10 am in the Youth Room.

Lastly, this month we celebrated 3-year-olds as they received a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will all receive prayers every month from December to October 2019. Prayer Pillows were given out on November 4 and 7 at all services. Keep these young ones in your prayers as we support them in learning the power of prayer in their lives.

St. John’s Lessons and Carols: December 9

St. John’s will be alive with the wonderful music of a service of Lessons and Carols Sunday, December 9 at the 8:00 am and 10:15 am services. This is the 26th year musicians of St. John’s have shared advent and Christmas music with the congregation.

Mary Schneekloth

The musicians are very excited to welcome Mary Schneekloth, a professional harpist, to our services this year. Mary will perform as a soloist and collaborate with the Senior Choir on three selections. The beautiful, unique sound of the harp will fill our sanctuary with joyous and reflective music. Liz Harwood, K-M Middle School instrumental music teacher and St. John’s member will also enhance the program with her outstanding oboe playing. Mary and Liz will play a beautiful setting of “O Come, O Come Immanuel.” Liz will also join the choir on two pieces, “Celtic Advent Carol” and the French carol “He is Born” arranged for choir, oboe, harp and percussion.

This joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth. Please invite your friends to join us.

Full list of Advent and Christmas services at

Time for worship this season

As we read through Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, our Advent devotional this year, we are reminded to slow down and reflect to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Here are some of the ways you can focus on Christ this Advent and Christmas:

  • Unwrapping the Names of Jesus Advent Devotions
    Now through Dec. 24
    This book is available in the Narthex – please take one for your family! And follow along with us on Facebook as we have daily prompts and ideas.
  • Lessons & Carols
    Dec. 10 | 8:00 am & 10:15 am
    Dec. 13 | 6:30 pm (shortened version)
    This joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth. More…
  • Grief Support Gathering
    Dec. 14 | 11:00 am
    Anyone who has lost a loved one is invited to celebrate your memories at a dinner and program on Thursday, December 14 at 11 am in the Fellowship Hall. A grief support counselor from Season’s Hospice will be our guest speaker. Bring a dish to share as you are able. Please RSVP by December 10 to the office (507-634-7110). Come to receive comfort and peace.
  • Children’s Christmas Program
    Dec. 17 | 10:15 am
  • Senior Community Worship
    Dec. 21 | 2:00 pm
    Senior Christmas Worship will be held December 21 at 2:00 pm. Refreshments will be served in the Fellowship Hall following the service. All are welcome.
  • 4th Sunday in Advent
    Dec. 24 | 9:00 am
    Christmas Eve happens to fall on the 4th Sunday of Advent. We will still worship Sunday morning, but at one service at 9:00 am instead of our regular 8:00 and 10:15 am times.
  • Christmas Eve
    Dec. 24 | 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:30 pm
  • Christmas Day
    Dec. 25 | 9:00 am

Advent & Christmas Special Events

  • Lessons & Carols
    Dec. 10 | 8:00 am & 10:15 am
  • Grief Support Gathering
    Dec. 14 | 11:00 am
  • Children’s Christmas Program
    Dec. 17 | 10:15 am
  • Senior Community Worship
    Dec. 21 | 2:00 pm
  • 4th Sunday in Advent
    Dec. 24 | 9:00 am
  • Christmas Eve
    Dec. 24 | 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:30 pm
  • Christmas Day
    Dec. 25 | 9:00 am

Find a full schedule of events at


  • Dec. 27 – NO worship
  • Jan. 31- worship at 9:00 am

Well Trained & Alert

Pastor John Allen
Interim Pastor

For twenty-three years, beginning in 1990, I served as a chaplain in the Montana Air National Guard. The first two years of service were during the “Cold War.” The perceived threat, in those days, was that the Warsaw Pact countries, led by the Soviet Union, would attack one or more NATO countries, allied with the US. World War III would presumably start with a swift Warsaw Pact invasion of West Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Belgium, to deny a landing point for NATO allies. This conventional warfare was expected to be short lived, for neither side wanted to be the last to deploy the inevitable nuclear weapons.

As a squadron of fighter jets, our basic mission was to “Survive, Fight, Win.” Surviving a direct nuclear strike, for obvious reasons never came up in our training. We, who were, “non-essential,” to the fight spent the better part of most exercises sheltering against radioactive fallout. We sat, and sat — reading books, watching movies, and struggling to imagine that anything like this could ever happen. Such a war could scarcely be imagined. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War was declared to be over, and talk was of a “peace dividend.” How would we spend all of the money we would save, by not preparing for war? Now we had only to worry about “rogue nations,” and terrorist groups. In 1993 there was an unsuccessful attempt to bring down the World Trade Center with a truck bomb. We felt relieved at the relatively few casualties, and the minor damage done to the building, but we were warned to be alert.

Then came September 11, 2001, as another “day that will live in infamy.” Now, we lined up the troops for a no-kidding war. It was my job to brief the troops and their families on the cultural and religious differences between the US and the Middle East, and praying for their safe return. I remember thinking, with a lump in my throat, as families were divided in tearful goodbyes, “So this is what we have been training for all of these years. I pray we have trained them well.”

The key words for Advent season, will be, “Stay Awake, Watch, and Pray”…”So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:7). “Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly, and what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake” (Mark 13:35-37).

Have a blessed Advent season and a merry Christmas.

We are not alone

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

I remember one Advent when I was around 13 years old, I heard the song “Breath of Heaven” for the first time. The song is the story of Jesus’ mother, Mary. It is a plea for God to be with her as she nears the birth of her child and she is frightened by all that the future holds. I remember thinking the burden she felt must have been enormous. The line that has always struck me hardest is, “Must I walk this path alone?” I have heard this sentiment from many people and have even heard it swirling around my own mind more often than I would like. Fear and doubt can take us over. So many people around us just don’t seem to get it. Must I walk this path alone? Inevitably , when I have these thoughts God finds a way to break into my life. He sends people to be with me during life’s burdens.

Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting in anticipation for the birth of the Savior. In life, whether we are waiting for a joyous event, like the birth of a baby, or waiting for something difficult, like treatment for an illness, waiting is the hardest part. Burdens get heavier in the waiting, if we let them. As we travel through this time of Advent I would encourage you to look around and see if you can pinpoint the people who are walking with you on the path. Is there someone you hadn’t noticed before? Where is God showing up? Is it a family member? Maybe, you are showing up as God’s hands and feet to someone else. In a world where, at least lately for me, the burdens seem so heavy and it feels that I am alone, a change of perspective is needed. At Jesus’ birth the words of the prophet Isaiah are remembered and he is called Emmanuel, which means God is with us. When we worry, when we doubt, when we feel that we are walking the path alone God is with us. When we are filled with joy and excitement God is with us. Breathe that in and remember in the bustle of this busy season that God is with us and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Service of Lessons & Carols

The music ensembles of St. John’s will present a service of Lessons and Carols Sunday, December 10 at the 8:00 am and 10:15 am services. A shortened service will also be presented the following Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 pm. This is the twenty-fifth year the musicians of St. John’s have shared advent and Christmas music with the congregation. String players from the congregation and flutist Sarah Vinzant, from Kasson-Mantorville Schools, will join the ensembles this year.

A service highlight is four short movements from a Christmas Cantata entitled “For Us a Child is Born” for choir, bass soloist, and instruments. This piece was originally thought to be composed by J.S. Bach. Scholars now attribute it Johann Kuhnau, Bach’s predecessor at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

This joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth. Please invite your friends to join us.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

We are sharing the book Unwrapping the Names of Jesus for our Advent devotional. You are encouraged to join with us in dwelling more with Jesus. Copies are available in the Narthex (one per family). And follow along with our Facebook event for prompts and ideas each day.

Thank you for helping with the transition activity

Jen Smith

Temple Talk by Jen Smith

This week we lit an advent candle of Hope. We are hopeful for so many things in our lives as individuals, Christians and as members of St. Johns. The transition team has spent several hours reflecting on the data we collected from over 300 individuals through our game board activity. We appreciate the time you each took to partake in helping us realize the hope we have as a congregation of St. Johns.

As in Advent, we are patient in knowing careful reflection, prayer and listening will lead us in the right direction. I am confident that the enthusiasm, criticisms and dedication of all of you will help us as the transition team define who we are and how we continue to move forward. This is evident in the words and ideas that have been shared. We continue to discuss all that has been gathered both formally and informally and cannot wait to share with you what we have found. At the very basic level what we have seen so far is that we are a congregation ready to engage in forward progress. We ask for your prayers as we translate the words, ideas and suggestions you have shared.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

Service of Lessons & Carols on December 11

The music ensembles of St. John’s Lutheran Church will present a service of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 11 at the 8:00 am and 10:15 am services. This is the twenty-fourth year the musicians of St. John’s have prepared a program for the community. Participating in the service will be the Senior Choir, Senior Bells, Children’s Chimes, and Blended Team & Adult JAM . String players from the congregation will join the ensembles this year.  The joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth.  All are welcome at this celebratory service.

Special Advent & Christmas Worship

Join us for these special worship opportunities this month!

Lessons & Carols Services – Dec 11 8:00 am & 10:15 am

Senior Christmas Worship with Communion & Luncheon – Dec 15 11:00 am

Children’s Christmas Program – Dec 18 10:15 am

Christmas Eve Worship – Dec 24 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 10:00 pm

Christmas Day Worship – Dec 25 10:15 am

New Year’s Day Worship – Jan 1 10:15 am

More details and additional events at

Take time to focus on Joy this Advent

LindsayCowell2Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

As we approach Christmas we celebrate the season of Advent. We wait in anticipation for the coming of our Savior. Joyfulness is usually the order of the day as we prepare for family and friends to celebrate with us. Often we can get caught up in the preparations, rather than putting our energy into being present with those we care about. A couple of years ago I participated online in the Occupy Advent project. It is an online movement that calls people to reflect on the season through intentional conversation and taking time to notice small moments in your day. The students in my youth group at the time took part in a photo challenge on Instagram as well. I remember this time well as it was about a month before Oliver was born. During that life-changing time taking time to slow down reminded me that God was with me in all things and at all times.

We are living in a world with so much turmoil, hate, and misunderstanding. In these difficult times, more than ever, we need to take time to stop and consider what it means for God to be among us. Immanuel, God with us. I would invite you to take a day for yourself or a day and volunteer to help others. Pick up one of the Advent devotionals we have available at St. John’s. Go for a walk or drive to look at the holiday lights with a loved one. Use this time to be reminded that no matter how busy you are or how scary the world might seem at times that God is with us. God sent his only Son to be born of a woman and live among his people. That same Son is still with us today and we celebrate that as we prepare for the Christmas season. A blessed Advent to you all.

The Advent Conspiracy – a 5 week Bible study 

advent-conspiracy-logo-smSundays, 9:10 – 10 AM
Beginning November 13 in the Fireside Room (not meeting the 27)

Did you know we spend over $450 billion on Christmas every year?  In this study we’ll be learning about ways we can turn from our consumerist culture and be compassionate by spending less, giving more, loving all, and worshipping fully this holiday season.

Sign up at, at the Welcome Center, or in the office.  Cost is $10


by Kay Hodge

The women of St. John’s will be busy ladies for the next two months. On November 13 Shirley Gangstad will be delivering our message as we celebrate THANK OFFERING Sunday. The women will be bold participants of the service that Sunday. We bring our offerings of thanks for the past year, offerings financial and for the food shelf. Any woman or child who would like to be a part of this service, please join us as we bring those offerings forward. We will provide envelopes for the financial offerings and also have some small grocery bags for our little women to carry to the front of the church.

December brings us to the Christmas Luncheon on December 10 where we celebrate Advent together with a room full of women served a lunch by the men of St. John’s. Be on the watch for the details of this event.