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Rev. Stacy Lauer-Scovanner



Pastor Stacy and Family

Rev. Stacy Lauer-Scovanner was born in Gibsonburg, Ohio. She attended Capital University, Bexley Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She was awarded a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, and was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has worked as a licensed social worker before serving five years as Pastor at Bethany Lutheran and Reformation Lutheran churches in Toledo, Ohio. She accepted a Letter of Call to Saint John's in September of 2016. Pastor Stacy is married to Ryan Scovanner. They have two children.


Finding the Right Lutheran College

Blessed Advent to you!

How are you preparing for the birth of the Christ child? Advent offers us a reminder of the importance of taking time to read Scripture and pray. In worship, we sing songs of preparation, we hear the Good News, we light the advent wreath, we receive the gift of Jesus’ body and blood in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Throughout this season, we hear of broken relationships being restored, and we are invited to repair those in our lives that have been damaged.

Each year as we approach the birth of our Savior, one of my spiritual practices is to spend additional time immersed in Scripture. As part of that, I consider the thoughts and feelings of the main characters in our Christmas story. This year, I once again wonder about their faithful response of “yes”.

  • First, we see Joseph as an angel appears to him in a dream. Did he have fear, joy, or hope as he stayed with Mary when the world told him not to? It couldn’t have been easy with society and the world going against him. And still, he follows the Spirit. Joseph says yes.
  • I listen to the story of Mary and ponder the many emotions she must have felt when she realized that she was to have a child, when she was young and not yet married. Confusion? Excitement? Fear? Does she realize that this child will grow to become the Savior of the WORLD but that he will need to give his life? I would be completely terrified. This is a dangerous task for her, but she says yes.
  • The shepherds and wise people are easy to forget, but also important in our story as Christians. They are everyday people, from two completely different parts of society, going about their ordinary lives just as we often do. The shepherds, outcasts in society, see a vision and follow it—they are chosen to be among the first to witness the Christ child. And the wise people are called by the powerful king to go and find this baby. But instead of reporting back to the king as their lives would have demanded, they gave Mary treasures and gifts for Jesus and advice to keep him safe. What did they feel? Fear? Joy? Despite any skepticism or disruption to their schedules or fear for their lives, still they said yes.
  • And then here we are. We, too, are part of this story as we prepare our hearts during this Advent season. How are we called to participate? What do we feel? Hope? Joy? Love? Peace? Doubt? Anger? Excitement? And will we, like the others, have the courage and faith to say yes to where the Holy Spirit leads us?

It is my hope for you that this Advent season is full of joy, love, excitement, and preparations for the Christ child to live in your hearts. Let us also say yes to whatever our Lord has in store for us, as we realize his love and know his healing presence.

Walking with you in Christ,
Pastor Stacy

Faith Lens

December 10, 2017–Do They Know It’s Christmastime?

Posted on December 5, 2017 by faithlens

Jay McDivitt, Waukesha, WI

Warm-up Question

What’s your favorite Christmas song, and why?

Do They Know It’s Christmastime? (Do We?)

This time of year, it’s hard to avoid hearing Christmas music. One song in steady rotation is the 1980s classic, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Originally produced to bring awareness to famine in parts of Africa, it’s a feel-good favorite that connects Christmastime to a concern for those who are hungry. From the Salvation Army bell-ringers to your congregation’s efforts to be generous this time of year, caring for those who are poor at Christmas is a common theme. With a Savior born in a barn to bring good news to the poor, it’s not a bad idea. Yet, some of the lyrics are worth a second glance:

“And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.”

Is it possible that even among the most famine-stricken and war-torn places in the world, there is still Christmas joy? Is it possible to be joy-full even when life is sorrow-full? Is it possible that Jesus and his crew might know something about that?

“Well tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.”

Is there another way for comfortable Christians to be thankful for what we have that doesn’t also involve thanking God that suffering is happening somewhere else, to other people, and not to us?

“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime.”

That might be true (though not entirely). Not because it never snows on the African continent—it does, although less so each year with a warming climate. It’s most mostly because of geography; the places where it snows in Africa are in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s summertime on December 25.

“The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.”

What if all Christians, no matter where they lived, believed that the grace of waking up and breathing in the freedom of being loved and claimed by God is the greatest gift of all? What if there are Christians in Africa who understand this more deeply than some of us could ever imagine?

“Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”

Geography again: “Africa” stretches from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east, from a stone’s throw from Spain (Morocco) and Italy (Tunisia) in the north to Cape Town in South Africa. The USA fits three times inside Africa with room to spare. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (fifth if you count Australia). The continent—especially including Madagascar—is abundant with rivers and rainforests and biodiversity that science cannot yet fully appreciate.

“Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?”

Considering that five of the twenty countries where Christianity enjoys the fastest growth—along with three of the top ten countries with the largest number of Christians—are in Africa, there are millions of folks there who have at least heard that it’s almost Christmastime. Even if many (though by no means all) of them are dealing with war, plague, drought, or famine, they’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ in many and various ways—with or without snow.

As Christians in North America shop ‘til they drop in these last few days before Christmas, this song may lead us not only to be generous, but also to wonder: Do we know it’s Christmastime? And what, exactly, does that mean?

Thought Questions

  • Some of this might sound fussy or hyper-critical. How important is it to think critically about the music we listen to, especially when it comes to how we think about other people and other places in the world? The song encourages us to “feed the world” and raises a concern for the poor among folks who can be generous. Isn’t that a good thing?
  • When you imagine celebrating Christmas while also being hungry or poor, what thoughts, feelings, and images come to mind? Have you ever known people to be joyful even under difficult circumstances?
  • How much do you know about the continent of Africa? Where did you learn about it? Of all the places in the world, whose histories and geographies do you learn the most about in school? Why do you think that is?
  • Are there any other Christmas songs you can think of that sound a little weird or problematic if you really start to think about the lyrics?

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

With all the glitz and glamour of our cultural Christmas, it’s hard to remember that the first Christmas was not a tinsel-strewn affair. Jesus arrived on the scene during a time of widespread oppression and fear, among people who teetered on the edge of hunger and poverty, debt and slavery. Mark’s gospel doesn’t tell us about Jesus’ birth; he begins, rather, with the weirdly-dressed John the Baptist preaching repentance and renewal in the wilderness, inviting people to get down in the water and see the world differently. Only with fresh eyes will we be able to see what God is up to in Jesus—the Son of God who is Good News.

And it starts in the wilderness. Mark’s gospel quotes the other reading for this week from the prophet Isaiah. It’s a message of both upheaval and hope—of the new life that comes from carving out a new path. It’s also a lesson in the importance of grammar—namely, punctuation.

Mark’s gospel says this:

“[T]he voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Mark 1:3)

But Isaiah said this:

“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3)

See the difference? Mark gives us a messenger from out in the wilderness—as if John comes from some weird other place (hence the clothes) to bring a message to the people about getting their house in order.

Isaiah sends everyone out to the wilderness to see the good thing God is doing out there. Or, more accurately, Isaiah knows that his listeners are already in the wilderness, and—contrary to expectations—that is precisely where God is doing a new thing. God has not abandoned God’s people—despite how desperate their plight. Rather, God is in the wilderness, making a way out of no-way, carving out a smooth path for the people of God to walk through the desert in style, all the way home.

If this is what it means to see God coming into the world—what Christmas is actually all about—then the “snow in Africa” song has it entirely wrong, far beyond its woeful misunderstanding of geography: It is precisely the places of famine and fear where Christmas happens first and foremost. “Christmastime” is a wilderness thing.

And John’s message—despite Mark’s misplaced quotation marks—is as important now as it was then: If you want to know what Christ’s coming means, you may need to strip down a bit, get down into the water, walk into the wild, and see the world from the bottom up. “Repent” isn’t a moral thing; it doesn’t mean, “Be a better person!” It’s about perspective: Turn around. Turn your head. See the world differently.

Which might just mean: Look to Africa, not to “help,” but to see how much “they” know exactly what “Christmastime” means, and how much we might have yet to learn.

Discussion Questions

  • Look again at the quotes from Mark’s gospel and the prophet Isaiah. What’s the difference? What difference does it make?
  • What does “repent” mean to you? How have you heard it as a moral thing? What might it mean to understand repentance as seeing the world differently?
  • It’s not really Christmas yet (but who could ever tell?). Advent is a time for preparation. If Advent is about preparing to see the world differently, what is one person, place, or thing that God might be inviting you to see differently this year? What would it mean to see Jesus—as Good News—in an unexpected place?

Activity Suggestions

Explore the African continent using Google, Wikipedia, etc. Learn three facts about Africa that you honestly didn’t know before. Explore https://africa.lutheranworld.org/ to learn more about Lutherans across Africa. Check out https://www.one.org/us/2012/12/17/how-africa-celebrates-christmas-2/ for some great images about Christmas celebrations in Africa. Make a poster or slide show or some way of sharing with your congregation a little bit about what you learned about Africa, African Christmas traditions, and/or African Lutherans.

Closing Prayer

God, surprise us with your light and life in unexpected places. Help us to learn from friends and neighbors around the world what it means to worship you in the best and the worst of times. Give us new eyes to see you bringing joy to all people, everywhere, even and especially in places where life can be difficult or dangerous. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


The Love of Christ Through Action
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Faith Life Team
Leader, Paula Hoffman

The focus of the Faith Life team is to provide service opportunities for the members of St. John's. The team remembers our youth on their birthdays with a gift card. They sponsor our Supper Club, movie nights, serve dinners at CROSSROADS homeless shelter, twice a year place flags to honor our country's fallen at Ohio Veterans Home, sack lunches for Care and Share, and Giving Tree projects for our local domestic violence shelter. Each year new ideas.

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Worship Team
Leader, Sandy Thompson

The focus of the Worship Team is to assist the Pastor and the Music Director in planning of weekly worship services and to support them in new expressions of worship. The team meets monthly to share worship ideas, secure lay worship leaders, and maintain a calendar for Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Christmas, and Christmas Eve.

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Property Team
Leader, Jeff Justi

The focus of the Property team is to assist the trustees and to help with the many issues regarding church property, cemetery, and parsonage issues. The team is responsible for maintaining our buildings and facilities, and tracking the church's equipment and maintenance needs,

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Giving Garden Team
Leader, Jeff Justi

The focus of the Giving Garden Team is to provide fresh vegetables to those in need of food support through local food ministries. This has become a joint effort of FLAMe our Firelands Network of Lutheran Churches.

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Finance Team
Leader, Peg Kingsley

The focus of the Finance Team is to ensure financial accountability and transparency, and engage in the annual budgeting process which includes faithful handling of weekly offerings and monitoring of expenses.

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Good News + Amen
Leader, Barry Laird

The Good News + Amen team is leading our congregation in a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and extending the invitation to join God at work in the world. St. John's reaches out to both our church and our community. Through prayer and servanthood, people are lifted in prayer and supported in so many ways as shut-ins or in a nursing home.

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Helping Hands Team
Leader, Paula Hoffman

We care for families in our congregation and community that are in special need, as at the time of a loved one's death. A luncheon is prepared for the family and friends. This loving ministry extends that grace of God that this congregation has discovered in our extended family of the world.

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Youth Team
Leader, Pastor Stacy

We are starting a youth team! If you are interested in family gatherings, youth events, Bible studies, and prayer, please let Pastor Stacy know. There will be few meetings, but hopefully numerous events. Please call or text Pastor Stacy at 419-680-0358. 

Support

Enriching the Life of Seniors


Genacross Lutheran Services-Sandusky Campus↗

The Place to Make Home



Located in Erie County, our Sandusky Campus is dedicated to providing the highest quality care and services to people of all faiths. Our caring, dedicated staff creates a welcoming and homelike environment, with medical expertise and compassionate care that will exceed expectations. The Sandusky Campus features some of the largest private rooms in the Sandusky area, a chapel for worship, a spacious dining room, paved walking paths, and beautiful garden sitting areas. In additions to caring for the physical needs of residents through skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, we aim to enrich their daily lives with a variety of activities including, church services for many denominations, group activities and outings, one-on-one interactions, and parties to celebrate holidays and other special occasions. When you come to the Sandusky Campus for care, you become part of our family


There are no limits to caring


Crossroads↗

Essential Services for Homeless Individuals



Crossroads offers case management, support services, and supportive housing for homeless individuals and families. this facility is located in Sandusky, Ohio. Crossroads is an 18 - 30 bed, 30 - day homeless shelter (extensions can be granted) that also provides transitional housing up to 2 years. It serves anyone from anywhere except convicted arsonists and sex offenders.


Restoring the Community One Relationship at a Time


Nehemiah Center↗

Excited to see God move through this place and have His will be done!



Nehemiah Partners of Sandusky's mission is to encourage, empower, and educate young people to pursue the fullness of their God-given potential through a holistic programming approach. Since 2007 the Welcome to Nehemiah Partners have offered educational and faith services, age-appropriate activities, mentoring, and guidance aimed at spiritual, physical, and relational well being of the individual.


Working to Meet your Needs


Ability Works, Inc.↗

Our commitment is to services for those with developmental disabilities and to our corporate customers.



Ability Works serves two different audiences, with a strong commitment to both. Our corporate customers can choose from a broad range of products and services which is ever-evolving to meet their needs. Currently these include our sign shop, customized production, and subcontracting of employees. On the other hand, we also provide to those in our community with developmental disabilities. Our offerings include employment opportunities, an extended employment workshop, training, counseling and other services customized to their specific needs. We do all this while maintaining the necessary reasonable accommodations to individuals in accordance with the ADA guidelines.

 


152 Years  :  Rejoice, Renew, Reach Out  :  1865-2017

Saint John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Union Corners
106 Scheid Road, Sandusky Ohio 44870 : 419-625-2192
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