The Pastor's Ponderings is a weekly note from one of the pastors that is sent to the congregation. If you would like to be included in the list of email subscribers to the Ponderings, you can subscribe here. Current subscribers wishing to unsubscribe can do that here as well.

Christmas giving

Dear Glen Mar friends,

At Glen Mar, we give away half our Christmas Eve offering, because Christmas is not our birthday, but a chance to give a gift to our community in Jesus' name. This year, Leadership Board affirmed that we will give our offering to two places.

First, we will feed the hungry by contributing the cost of the meals for the 100,000 meals that we will assemble during our MLK Day of Service. These meals will feed hungry people locally and overseas, and will support that important community event.

Second, we bless schools - we will use our offering to "pay it forward" to some community schools that are especially in need of a blessing. We will give each school a grant of several hundred to $1000, or more depending on the amount we collect. I've encouraged each school to use this Christmas gift from us in whatever way they choose but in a way that blesses their families, perhaps something that would be hard to afford without us. These schools were selected based on need - and I know a school you love is probably not on the list. But this is a good beginning - and will help Glen Mar solidify our presence in the neighborhood in Jesus' name.

  1. Stevens Forest Elementary
  2. Swansfield Elementary
  3. Phelps Luck Elementary
  4. Oakland Mills Middle
  5. Guilford Elementary
  6. Our college and career prep program in Baltimore

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Come to Christmas Eve and give a little extra to honor Jesus, the Birthday Boy. Bring friends. We will have a Facebook event link soon you can share, and a way to give your offering if you are traveling for Christmas Eve.

What a great way to share the love of Jesus with people in need! These schools have promised to report back about how they used our gifts - and many have invited us to come present the gift!

See you in church this week - Saturday at 5 for our hope and healing service and Sunday at 9 and 11 (note time change, this weekend only) for our Christmas Cantata! Another gift to be shared in this season of peace, hope, love and joy.

Pastor Mandy

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The road to Bethlehem

Dear Glen Mar friends,

As soon as I finish with this Pondering, I will go to the "costume room" for my fittings for Walk to Bethlehem. This gift to the community last year welcomed 1500 guests and featured over 300 volunteers. For many this has become a "family tradition." I want to thank each of you who have volunteered in setup or who will help this weekend, at the event itself or maybe as part of the "cleanup crew." This event was born when we had been in prayer about how to give a gift to the community - a gift that would proclaim Jesus and his Lordship and make the gift of Jesus (the best gift of all) more real for a world that needs Jesus so badly.

I love that this event features so many followers of Jesus who are ready to work together to be the body of Christ - that means cooperation and helping instead of contentiousness. It means a true spirit of welcome for those who will come this weekend. Would you join me in praying for those whom God will send? People from all generations, some who will hear "the story" for the first time? Will you join me in prayer for the teams of people diligently serving? Will you lift up our music ministry as they prepare a cantata and for our worship teams as Advent is upon us?

I know the Holy Spirit is present and will be present in the life of Glen Mar in the coming weeks. I'm grateful for your openness to the Spirit's presence and leading and for the radical welcome I know each of you will offer all our guests between now and the New Year.

I hope you'll make your presence in worship a priority this Advent season. This weekend, we'll be singing about and learning about and giving thanks for the HOPE that Jesus offers...a hope we cannot manufacture or quench - a hope that does not disappoint - because it is rooted in who Jesus is, and the gift Jesus is.

See you on the road to Bethlehem,
Pastor Mandy

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Dear Glen Mar friends,

Advent is a season of 4 weeks, including 4 Sundays, that starts on December 1. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, which means "coming". This season calls us to prepare for all the ways Christ comes to us: We once again prepare to celebrate his BIRTH, an event that happened in the past; We celebrate the way Christ comes to us in the present in the WORD and the HOLY SPIRIT; and we anticipate Christ's future RETURN in final victory.

As we move from Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas toys, let us take some time to prepare our hearts for all the ways Christ comes to us. In need of some suggestions?

  1. You and your family may want to make an Advent wreath and take some time as a family to do a devotion, light a candle, say a prayer or sing a song together. Each person could share a joy or concern from the day or a way they experienced God's love.
  2. Silent Night, Holy Night....Try setting aside time for silent meditation, not focusing on "saying the right words" but on just being in God's presence with an open heart. It's the perfect prescription for the Hectic Holiday Blues.
  3. Give....There are lots of ways to give of your time and resources to those in need. We have lots of opportunities at church every year to bless others out of our abundance. And it can be something as simple as a check or some change, or it could be the beginning of a relationship, a visit to a nursing home. It's a way to proclaim that in a world that looks dark sometimes, Jesus is the Light of the World and the darkness has not overcome it! Walk to Bethlehem, Wish Upon a Star, the Day Resource many ways to serve the Birthday Boy this year!
  4. Love....Start new traditions that don't have to do with material things. Have a few more meals with friends and family, make a meal at the Day Resource Center or send a note or make a visit to folks you know are lonely, grieving or hurting. Maybe the family could make some extra Christmas cookies to share with a shut-in or a friend in need of some love.
  5. Reconcile....Send a letter or card to someone with whom you have a broken relationship or a person who's a long-lost friend as a first step to reconciliation.

We prepare to celebrate the Advent of the light of the world. As we clean our houses and buy our gifts, let us take time to make a place in our hearts for the God who wants to make every heart God's home and let us reflect the light of God's love this whole month of Advent.

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What are you grateful for?

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Psychologists these days are embracing "gratitude" as a secret ingredient for happiness. Many journals and planners have spots for entering "3 things you're grateful for" as part of what helps our minds be in a positive place for the day, or as a practice at the end of the day.

People of faith have always known the value of gratitude. The Psalms are filled with exhortations to give thanks to the Lord (for He is good, his steadfast love endures forever - Psalm 136:1). Paul exhorts followers of Christ to pray without ceasing and to rejoice in the Lord always (and again I say, rejoice!).

Thanksgiving is coming - and as we gather with family and friends and food (and football), what are YOU grateful to God for? Head over to our Facebook page and share YOUR blessings so that we can join you in prayers of thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for new members at Glen Mar, for the joys of worship with you, for a new Habitat build, for my Walk to Bethlehem opportunity for service (hint, I get to hug Lydia a lot on Friday). I'm thankful for our church community that holds one another in prayer. I'm thankful for Welcome Center Hosts and for Hospitality Hosts, for ushers and trustees, for folks who said "YES" to serving in the coming year.

I'm thankful for the gift of being your pastor. I hope you'll join us this weekend to give thanks, and to celebrate the reign of Christ. You won't want to miss it!

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy

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A Little Homesick?

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Our son is a freshman in college now, and we recently visited just to see how he is and take the boy out to dinner. (Olive Garden, pretty sure he ate everything they sell there). We went because it's been a while since we've seen him and also because it's cold and dark and in that in between time between midterms and finals, a time where he seems to have many projects and papers due. It's a time I recall from college as "Hang On, Thanksgiving is Coming." He seems a little homesick, so we sped to the rescue with pasta and a pair of gloves and some corny family jokes around the table. He said, "I love this school, but it sure is good to see you."

I don't know if it's the time change or the weather change, or something about Holiday Dread (The Vague Sense that It's Just around the Corner But Too Soon to Start Celebrating), but I think many people have a hard time with the sudden cold darkness that is mid-November. I think maybe Nathan is not the only one who could use a little pick-me-up.

And...we have some great opportunities to share the light and love of Jesus, and the fellowship of the church coming up. There are folks going through all sorts of "finals" and "projects" and feeling a little "homesick." Glen Mar is here for those people - Glen Mar is here for YOU.

From our singles ministry (great events coming up!), to our Hope and Healing service (Dec. 14) and our cantata (Dec. 15), to our Advent worship services, and of course Walk to Bethlehem, we have so many ways to combat the "It's Dark, and I Am Cold" that is this part of the season.

One of the best gifts you can give your neighbors (or yourself) would be to invite them to any of our Glen Mar ministries or worship services. In the cold and dark of winter, the light of Christ shines a little brighter....for anyone who's a little "'homesick" this season, we will "leave the light on for you."

And...if you are looking for a group to do an Advent study with, let Pastor Anna know, and we'll give you some options. : )

This weekend, we'll renew our baptismal vows and talk about fountains of living water, and maybe a few leaky buckets won't want to miss it.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy

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Glen Mar Church is still closed to the public. However, Glen Mar ELC has reopened. Online worship will continue on Sundays at 10 AM. Click for more information