Christmas Eve Hospitality

Christmas Eve is our most attended worship service of the year.  One of the most important things we can do is to show hospitality and welcome to everyone that comes through our doors to worship the Christ child.

We invite you to greet everyone that you come in contact with, not just the people you know.  While we are sure our ushers will do a great job of welcoming people on Christmas Eve, your welcoming others matters.  All Christians have a calling to be hospitable to others as Jesus has welcomed us.

Here are six things to expect on Christmas Eve as it relates to hospitality:

  1. Expect for things to be crowded. If past trends hold true, we will have lots of people here, especially at the earlier worship services.  That’s a wonderful thing!  But it also means that you could very well need to scoot down a seat or two to help make sure everyone fits into the Family Life Center.  With our limited parking because of construction, it might mean that you have a little bit more of a walk than a normal Sunday morning.   Look at it as the wonderful thing that it is!  God is bringing together all of these people to worship Jesus.
  1. Expect for lots of children to be in worship. Some of those children might be squirmy and move around.  Welcome them!  Remember, Jesus holds children up as model citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, so their presence here is a very good thing!
  1. Expect to see people that you don’t normally see. Some people talk disparagingly about people and families that are present only for Christmas and Easter.  Don’t ever chide anyone for coming to worship.  Let them know that you’re glad they’re here and that they’re always welcome here.  God might just use your warm welcome to bring them back to more frequent worship attendance.
  1. Expect to sit near someone who isn’t familiar with our worship service. If they are looking lost, gently ask if you can help them find where we are in the bulletin.  The pastors will announce that all are welcome to the Lord’s Table, but there might be some hesitancy when it comes to that, so you might have to let them know that when we say all are welcome, we really mean all!
  1. Expect to help people find important places like the nursery and restrooms. If you see someone that looks lost, ask if there’s something you can help them with.  If you don’t know, ask an usher or someone else that might know.
  1. Expect people to ask about our construction. Let them know what an adventure this past year has been.  Like any construction project, there have been some surprises, but we are all excited to get back into the sanctuary this coming summer.

Advent Building Update

There’s a lot happening on the building front, so here goes!!!

1. If you were up here on Tuesday morning, you know that there were lots of trucks and people in the parking lot in front of Church #3. That’s because they were busy paving the parking lot! They also paved part of the lower parking lot next to Cemetery #2.

Before we start using the parking lot in front of Church #3, we need to practice a few more days of the Advent discipline of patience. We will NOT be able to use that parking lot until next week. We will make sure to tell you when it’s ok to start parking there.

2. The landscapers have been busy around the parking lot area planting trees, plants, and grass. It looks great.

3. The interior of the sanctuary is coming along nicely. Here’s a picture of what has been done.

A few details:
-The stained glass window is still being reworked and will be installed at a later date.
-The area with all the pieces of wood is where the pastors and musicians will go. The choirs and praise team go towards the back wall on risers, while the irregular shaped front is where the altar, pulpit, and other church furnishings will go.
-There is new lighting in the sanctuary. Each of these pendants uses approximately 90% less light than what we had in the sanctuary, puts out no heat, and will last 20 years before they will need to be changed.
-There is also track lighting that will be used to accent the music and chancel areas.
-The sacristy has been redesigned. The door to it is on the left side of the picture.
-The large open areas to the left and right of the large stained glass window are for the new pipe organ.

Here’s a time lapse video of the last month or so.

4. New lighting has been installed in the narthex area. Each of these lights are much more energy efficient than the old fixtures and will save us money in the long run. Here’s a picture.
A few details:
-The wall is flattened and there is less glass than before the remodel. Both of these changes will improve acoustics in the sanctuary.
-We are currently working on plans to broadcast the worship service in the narthex using a closed circuit system, so people that are in the narthex will be able to see and hear the worship service.

5. The office area is close to being finished. The staff plans on moving back into their offices after the first of the year. When we have an official clearance to move back, we’ll let you know because we’ll need some help with the moving.

6. Since we are doing remodeling, we have to meet current building codes. This means that we had to make some necessary changes to our restrooms to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
7. The Building Team is currently getting bids to complete a part of the education building. Because of this congregation’s generosity and because of our contractor’s wise stewardship, we believe we have enough to enclose the gazebo and complete three offices. Our contractor and architects are working hard to determine if that is the case. Having these offices will provide us with 4 additional classroom spaces in the FLC and will give us a beautiful entrance on the 1604 side.

Onward with the adventure!!

Pastor Russell

A picture of the sanctuary from the balcony, December 2016.

2017 Stewardship

2016 has been a year of Celebrating Generosity!  We give God thanks for the many ways in which you have been so generous in making ministry happen at Zion Lutheran Church.

The month of October has been focused on our financial stewardship at Zion.  We’ve shared a series of videos in worship about how our financial offerings have made a difference.  Here are some of the videos:


We’ve also sent out some letters to the congregation.  Here they are:

Stewardship Letter 1

Stewardship Letter 2


2017 Pledge Card

It’s now time for you to prayerfully consider how you can use your resources to serve God’s mission at Zion Lutheran Church.  Because God has given us so much, we respond with joy and thanksgiving with all we have.  Your annual giving to the General Fund empowers God’s word at Zion.  We ask that everyone return a commitment card, even if you can only make a limited financial commitment at this time.  You can always increase or decrease your commitment if your situation changes.  If you have questions about this card, please call the Church Office at 210-688-3090.

Medical Mission Trip

One of our outreach ministries at Zion is with a girls home in Rural Southwestern Honduras called Project Talitha Cumi.  Zion has been working with them for some years and will be returning there November 5-12.

This trip will be a medical resupply of the Project Talitha Cumi clinic, which we have stocked the last two years through congregation support.  The mission team will also see 200-300 patients from surrounding villages, which have little access to medical treatments.  Dr. Kathy Grove and Todd Grove will lead the team, which includes Jim Meadows, Paul Goldenbaum, and Ryan Grove.

We are in need of your medical supply donations.  The team is asking for the following items:

-Ibuprofen – 200 mg
-Acetaminophen – 500 mg
-Hydro-cortisone cream
-Muscle rub cream
-Petroleum jelly – small bottles
-Adult multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Children multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Prenatal multi-vitamins – drug store quality
-Triple antibiotic ointment

A helpful hint from the team:  You can purchase most of these items at the Dollar Tree in Helotes $1 each.  For vitamins, please use a drug store.  You can also make a cash donation so that the team can go and purchase these supplies.

This Week at Zion…

Here’s a visual update on what’s been happening since we last posted:


Limestone is going back up!!  This is from the south side of the sanctuary (closest to Cemetery 2.)  Right now the stone masons are currently working on the south and west sides (the side facing Leslie Road).


The south parking lot exit from Leslie Road is open.  While the upper parking lots remains closed, the lower parking lot near Cemetery 2 is open.


This is a picture of workers installing the fire sprinkler system in the sanctuary that we are now required to have.



A few things to notice about this shot of the sanctuary from the balcony:

-At the bottom of the picture is the new location of the sound booth.  One of the acoustical issues we had was that the sound booth was in a difficult place to judge the acoustics of the room.  This change in location will help the sound team with figuring out how much to amplify the room.

-The large stained glass window is still being worked on and will be reinstalled at a later date.

-You can begin to see how the shape of the room will be different when we get back into the sanctuary.  This will also help improve the acoustics of the sanctuary.

-The trapezoids on both sides of the sanctuary will be built up over the next several months.  That will be where the pipes for our new pipe organ will be residing.



We heard several comments about the cemeteries being in need of mowing.   Since several of you asked what was going on, we thought we’d let you know.

If you live in the San Antonio area, you might know that we’ve had nearly double the rain we usually have.  That’s been great for recharging the Edwards Aquifer but it also means that grass grows pretty quickly.  We noticed that the cemetery was in need of mowing and we called the company that we contract with and they have been very busy cutting the grass of quickly growing properties across the city.  The rain caused them to be backed up with all their other work, followed by the Labor Day Holiday, it took a little bit of time to get done.  They weren’t able to come out any earlier than our normal scheduled time, but they did come out on time.


God’s Work at Zion

One of the joys of being a pastor is seeing signs of God’s goodness in lots of different places.  I thought I’d share some signs of God’s Spirit stirring here at Zion over the last few weeks.

-We’ve met our challenge grant!!  As was announced in worship last week, we had a family step forward with a generous gift to challenge the people of Zion to help meet some major unexpected expenses with our building.  We were able to collect over $156,000 (with more pledged on the way!) in a little over a month.  $150,000 of that will be matched through the challenge grant.  It looks like by the time the rest of the pledges come in, we will have collected around $325,000.  Thanks be to God!!!

-Last Sunday children in grades 2-5 assembled 210 school kits for children throughout the world in need.  Their kits, along with other congregations, will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.

-Our Sunday School is off to a great start.  Our education director, Karen Stein, is working with the teachers who help form faith in the lives of the littlest disciples.

-Our Blessed Change ministry sent $319 to our partners at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio in honor of our former vicar, Pastor Emily Ebert, who was recently ordained and called to serve a congregation in the Buffalo, NY area.

-This Saturday we have a group of 28 people heading downtown to help feed the homeless with Taking it to the Streets.  They will cook the food here at Zion and then feed anyone that is hungry.  Thanks to Tim Tiemann for heading up this important ministry!

-Next weekend we have a group of people going to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.  We’re working with other Lutheran congregations in the area on this house.  We also have a group of volunteers that are feeding the crew on Saturday.

-We will have the bloodmobile here on Sunday.

-Third Graders are receiving Bibles this Sunday, September 11, as a way of Zion fulling baptismal promises to them. Three year olds have been given Story Bibles in their classroom as a way to introduce the Bible to them. They hear stories from these Bibles in their classroom.

-Our youth minister, Travis Baker, is having a confirmation ministry kick off this Sunday.  We give God thanks for the adults that spend their Sunday evenings with these youth as they go through this important part of their faith journey.

-Our musical groups have started back after a summer break.  We thank God for the people that use their musical gifts to praise the Risen Christ in worship!  It’s not too late to jump into one of our music groups.  For more info, contact Rob Mikulski.

-We recently commissioned a new Stephen Leader for our Stephen Ministry.  Several people in our congregation are considering becoming a Stephen Minister.  If you’d like to have more information about this ministry, contact Pastor Russell.

We are a blessed church!  God is doing some great things through this congregation.

In thankfulness for our partnership,

Pastor Russell

Sept. 1 Building Update

Here’s a visual update on what’s happening with some of our construction.


Corner Stone

The limestone is starting to go back up!  We had to remove the cornerstone on Church #3 to make the necessary repairs.  It is installed and you can see the first pieces of limestone to the left and right of it.  Yay!!

Sanctuary Interior

Work continues on the sanctuary.  This is a picture from under the large stained glass in the sanctuary looking towards the balcony.  Notice how the back wall has changed significantly.  The holes in the wall are where the glass will be.  Also, notice that the back wall of the sanctuary, which was not straight, has now been straightened out.  This will add some additional seating on the main floor of the sanctuary.



Here’s a picture of the wall between the narthex and the sanctuary.  On the left side of the picture are the center doors into the sanctuary.


Here’s a picture of the narthex from the admin wing of Church #3.  You’ll notice that the wall is flat and has less glass in it.  This will help with the acoustics in the sanctuary.  I really like the niches that will be at the end of each side of the narthex.


Fire Sprinkler 1

One of the things we are required to do is install a fire sprinkler system throughout the whole building.  Here are the pipes for the sanctuary.  Our contractor had them painted to match the wood ceiling in the sanctuary so it will blend in with the building as much as possible.


Fire Sprinkler 2

Here’s another shot of the fire sprinkler in the nursery.  It’s the black pipe running through the picture.  The fire line will be covered by the ceiling tiles (except for the sprinkler head) in the rest of the building, so there was no need to paint those.

As a gentle reminder, this area is still strictly off limits during construction.  We know that a lot of you want to get into the space and see it, but it’s just not safe for us to get in there right now.

If you have any questions, you are certainly welcome to ask either of the Pastors or Don Josephson, our building team chair.

Pastor Russell

Stephen Ministry

Today’s blog is by Dave Newman, one our Stephen Leaders.

Zion IS a Stephen Ministry Church

In 1993, Zion became a Stephen Ministry Church. The original prayer was for an ongoing ministry that could prepare lay members to better care for their hurting peers. Through the years, Stephen Ministry has done that…and much more! Stephen Ministry has helped grow disciples.

God calls us all to be disciples…in some cases Stephen Ministers. Since 1993, 48 of us have responded to that call here at Zion. Through training and supervision, we grow together into a Stephen Minster community. Just as Jesus modeled when nurturing his original disciples, discipleship happens through relationships…seldom alone.

As we grow, we realize that our inner spirituality is to be balanced with a concern for others. Jesus taught his disciples time and again to “love thy neighbor”. We estimate that through the years, over 150 hurting people have been gifted with over 5000 hours of distinctively Christian, entirely confidential care from Zion Stephen Ministers.

Commitment to Christ builds discipleship. Though regular Sunday worship, twice-a-month supervision and continuing education, and weekly visits with care-receivers, Stephen Minsters are kept grounded in the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and our mission to bring Christ’s love to those hurting. Discipleship is our response to God’s love.

We pray you take a moment to listen…God is calling you to be a disciple. If you would like to respond by becoming a Stephen Minister, find us at our table in FLC, Room 101 September 4 and September 11.

Thank You for your prayers of support for Zion’s Stephen Ministers and their current care-receivers.

Dave Newman
a Zion Stephen Leader

Teaching the Faith

Today’s blog is written by our Director of Christian Education, Karen Stein.

Teach Faith Formation Classes (aka Sunday School) – Who Me?

What, you want me to teach Sunday school? I am not cool enough or young enough for kids to relate to me. I am too young and am not wise enough to teach kids effectively. I can’t keep kids entertained and I know our church surely doesn’t have enough money in the budget to produce an awesome multimedia presentation each week. So see I can’t teach!

But WAIT, maybe it is okay if you don’t have to have all those “things” to be a good teacher. Children are looking for someone who cares, knows their name, encourages them and makes them feel like they are important. They also need someone who is reliable. Above all, children need someone who loves God, is willing to tell them about him and share his love with them.
Yes, it does take commitment on your part to teach but with prayer, practice and some planning you can do it. You will plant seeds of faith and make a difference in children’s lives.

Teachers are still needed for Kindergarten, Second Grade and Fourth Grade. Questions or you want more information? Call (688-3090), e-mail ( or text (210-367-4449).

Preparing for Worship

As you prepare for worship tomorrow morning, we thought we’d share with you a little bit about our bulletin cover.  It’s a beautiful picture from the Hubble Telescope in a distant galaxy called NGC 1569.

This particular galaxy is interesting because it’s “busting at the seams with stars” and keeps producing stars at an astonishing speed.  So, why did we pick this picture?
In our first reading this Sunday, Abraham is talking with God and is wondering how he and his elderly wife, Sarah, will have descendants.  God tells Abraham to count the stars in the sky, if he can.  Of course, Abraham can’t and he gets God’s point that one day there will be lots of Abraham’s sons and daughters.  Because of Jesus, God raises up children of Abraham in the church.
In Abraham’s day, there was no Hubble Telescope for humans to explore the vastness of the cosmos.  So as we hear these words on Sunday, we hope you’ll think about how the stars in the universe continue to grow, just as Abraham’s descendants do.