Blog: A Green Christmas is about more than the tree

By Desiree Di Mauro

While it’s great to be environmentally conscious when choosing a Christmas tree, it is also important to extend that awareness to all of our holiday preparations. In a continuing effort to help us all be better stewards of God’s gift of nature, Emmanuel’s Creation Care Committee has a few additional tips to help guide you through the holiday season:


Most of us come from a proud line of Christmas card senders and Christmas letter writers. So how can we green up this annual tradition?

Send cards and letters online. Friends and family can read about your adventures in the past year, and then save, print or delete.

If you still want to send cards, try an eco-friendly card company that uses soy inks and recycled paper. Send cards that support a green organization (such as National Wildlife Association or World Wildlife Fund), or another organization you support (such as Heifer International or Church World Service).


There are fun green gifts that don’t lead to forced smiles and insincere thank yous!

Honorary gifts are great, especially for adults. Gifts of Hope are always available at Emmanuel, and we’ve also sponsored the activities of Heifer International – who wouldn’t want a beehive in his or her stocking?

Symbolically adopt an animal. Many organizations will send you a plush toy, certificate of adoption, poster or photograph. Young children get a toy, and wildlife organizations get badly need financial support. Check out the websites of the National Zoo, National Wildlife Federation and World Wildlife Fund.

Buy bikes for the family. By giving bikes to not just the kids, but also the adults in the family, you’ll be encouraging the option of green transportation for local trips. Plus, you might lose a few of those Christmas cookie pounds!

Invest in new non-Teflon coated cookware. Have you wanted to upgrade your cooking utensils? By trading up for pots and pans that aren’t coated in Teflon, you’ll be reducing your family’s exposure to many harmful chemicals.

Gift gardening equipment. Got an avid gardener in the family, or do you want to become one? Christmas is the perfect time to set someone up for a successful butterfly or vegetable garden in 2015. Garden tools, seed, composting equipment, even rain barrels are gifts that your family can enjoy throughout the year. Bird feeders and birdbaths are a nice addition to any garden. If you want to go all out, how about beekeeping equipment?

Support life-long learning. Gift certificates for classes are a waste-free gift that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Be it cooking, archery, knitting, photography or architecture classes – you know they’ll love it! You can even get gift certificates for lectures at the National Geographic.

Buy a gift that encourages outdoor exploration. How about a gift that will inspire someone to enjoy the great outdoors? Camping equipment was my most recent birthday gift! Not into camping? Then how about binoculars or a field guide for an aspiring bird or butterfly watcher, or a camera for the budding nature photographer?

Hopefully, this list gives you a little food for thought as you head into this beautiful Christmas season. Here’s to a blessed, white, and GREEN Christmas!


Remember the Environment this Holiday Season

By Desiree Di Mauro

As the Advent season and Christmas roll closer, many of us are dreaming about a white Christmas, but what about a GREEN Christmas?  Keeping in mind our desire to take good care of nature’s gifts that God has provided, Emmanuel’s Creation Care Committee has a few tips to help you be more environmentally conscious this season:

Recycle the wrapping paper. Even the Grinch knew that taking the wrappings might put a damper on things as he left Who-ville:  “He packed up his sled.  Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tags…The trimmings! The trappings!” But then again, according to Earth911’s website, wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S. None of us wants to be a Grinch, so how can we green up the wrappings?

If you want to wrap gifts in wrapping paper, why not try recycled paper?  And follow your mom and grandma’s lead – reuse that wrapping paper!

  • You can always wrap gifts in tissue paper (I use the tissue paper that’s stuck into dry cleaned clothes), fabric, or even the comics.
  • Reusable gift bags can be used year after year (I have some bags that have been through at least 5 Christmases).

Consider a real tree. Okay, it’s an age-old debate, should we use a real tree or artificial one? What about a tree in a pot to plant later? Here is some information to help you make an informed decision:

  • Most artificial trees are made of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable metal and PVC. When you throw them away, they’ll sit in a landfill for many generations to come.  Since my family keeps their artificial trees for decades (my mother has had her artificial tree for nearly 50 years), I’m not losing sleep over this.
  • According to Earth911, a U.S. based toilet bowl brush manufacturer, the Addis Brush Company, created an artificial tree from brush bristles in the 1930s, acting as a prototype for modern artificial trees.  I’ll remember that tidbit, as I relax next to my beautiful fake tree that I enjoy year after year.
  • Over 30 million real trees are sold in the U.S. each year, and 93% of those trees are recycled into mulch. However, unless they are grown organically, these trees have pesticides and fertilizers. If you go this route, just say no to plastic mesh wrapping!
  • Real, live potted trees are the most eco-friendly option. You can keep the tree in your house for about a week or two, and then plant outdoors after the holidays.

If after reading this information, you still think an artificial tree works best for you, take a look at for recommendations on brands to try.

NEXT UP: How to Make Greeting Cards and Gifts More Green

Celebrate Advent at Emmanuel

2014 Advent and Holiday Worship Service Schedule

Sunday, November 30:

  • Advent begins
  • The “Hope” candle is lit at all worship services.

Monday, December 1:

Emmanuel will participate in Vienna’s “Church Street Stroll.” The event begins at 6:00 p.m., with Revelation, Emmanuel’s contemporary Christian band, expected to perform on the Showmobile Stage at 7:20 p.m.

Wednesday, December 3:

  • 6:30 p.m.—Jaime Schermer (harp) and Gail Hambleton (flute) of the Pax Dei Trio will play sacred and secular holiday favorites in the Centrum.
  • 7:00 p.m.—Holden Evening Prayer with the Sanctuary Choir in the Centrum

Sunday, December 7:

  • Second Sunday of Advent
  • The “Peace” candle is lit at all worship services.

Wednesday, December 10:

  • 6:30 p.m.—Madison High School Madrigal Singers perform a selection of sacred and secular seasonal songs in the Centrum.
  • 7:00 p.m.—Holden Evening Prayer with ELC’s Bluegrass Band in the Centrum

Sunday, December 14:

  • Third Sunday of Advent
  • The “Joy” candle is lit at all worship services.

Wednesday, December 17:

  • 6:30 p.m.—Children from Emmanuel’s TNT Drama Program present “Honk! The Hairy Angels Sing” Puppet Show in the Centrum
  • 7:00 p.m.—Holden Evening Prayer with Revelation in the Centrum

Sunday, December 21:

  • Fourth Sunday of Advent
  • The “Love” candle is lit at all worship services.
  • 6:00 p.m.—Blue Christmas/Longest Night Service

Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24:

  • 4:00 p.m.—A worship service with for families with small children (with Communion)
  • 6:00 p.m.—A candlelight worship service for families with children featuring music from the TNT choirs (with Communion)
  • 8:00 p.m.—A candlelight worship service featuring music by Revelation, Emmanuel’s contemporary Christian band (with Communion)
  • 10:00 p.m.—A candlelight worship service featuring Emmanuel’s Sanctuary Choir performing musical selections from the Oxford Service of Lessons and Carols (with Communion)

Sunday, December 28:

  • Lessons and Carols at 8:45 and 11:15 a.m. (NOTE: The music will differ from the 10:00 Christmas Eve worship service.)

Fall 2014 Care for the Soul Series

Join us this fall as we learn more about how to understand and integrate our motivations, emotions, desires and behaviors under God’s direction. Improving self-awareness and God-awareness heightens our understanding and allows us to deepen our personal relationship with Christ and others.

The series, which is open to the community, will meet at Emmanuel from 9:30 a.m.– 11:00 a.m. on the following dates:

    • September 11, 2014 – “Cultivating Compassion”
    • October 9, 2014 – “Is there a Purpose for Suffering?”
    • November 13, 2014 – “Healing Power of Forgiveness”
    • December 11, 2014 – “Letting Go: The Illusion of Control”

Ellen Murphy, LCSW, of St. Mark Counseling Center in Vienna is the facilitator. She works with individuals, adolescents, adults, couples and families using a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to help them grow and persevere through life’s struggles.

Registration is required by the Monday prior to each session. The fee is $25 per session, and a portion of each fee will support NOVACO/Shelter House–an agency that helps to support families fleeing domestic violence.

Get more details here: ELC Care for the Soul Series


Our August 2014 Haiti trip was highlighted in the Fairfax Times

People & Places Fairfax Times, September 4,2014 by Lorin Buck, Staff Writer Today’s column is a departure from the norm, as I take an opportunity to offer a firsthand account of the global reach of a few local volunteers. At the end of August, I had the privilege of accompanying a small group of Fairfax County educators to Haiti. There they led a three-day professional development workshop for 16 preschool and elementary teachers at the Village of Hope School in rural Ganthiers. The group included three teachers, a former principal, our group leader and me — a less-than-fluid francophone, who hoped to help our non-French speakers communicate. We flew to Port-au-Prince on Aug. 23, under the auspices of a program sponsored by Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna. Read more.

Monthly Newsletters – “The Evangel” + Calendar + Youth

To view our monthly calendar of events for December, click CALENDAR

To view our monthly newsletter for December, click EVANGEL.

To view our separate youth newsletter for December, click YOUTH EVANGEL


Sunday Worship Folder

Each week, the Worship Folder used during our worship services will be posted. It contains information about Sunday’s services, upcoming events and the ministries of Emmanuel at work in the community and the world. Click current copy for the latest edition.

Worship Opportunities

Sunday Worship Services

Worship with Contemporary Christian Music At 8:45 a.m.

New and old favorites led by our band - Revelation - and a wonderful storytelling time for children. The liturgy features a traditional Lutheran focus of Word and Sacrament.

Education Hour For All Ages At 10:00 a.m.

Traditional Worship At 11:15 a.m.

This traditional Lutheran worship uses liturgy and hymns from the Evangelical Lutheran worship book. Worship music is led by organ, piano, and choirs. A storytelling time for children is included. 

Sunday Evening Worship At 6:00 p.m.

Incorporating all the elements of the Lutheran tradition – Word and Sacrament – this additional worship opportunity may be just the right option for your busy Sunday schedule. 

Holy Communion is celebrated at every service

A professionally staffed Nursery is available throughout the morning for children 5 and under.

Support ELC Missions

Simply Giving is an easy way to insure that your support of the ministries of Emmanuel are funded consistently throughout the year. No need to worry about a missed week or month due to vacation, other travel, sports activities, etc. Just complete the attached form and return along with a voided check to the church office. Your faithful giving will provide the many ministries and activities of the church both here and around the world with the financial support they need. Please click here to download the application.

Stewardship is not all about calculations, portions or percentages. It is not only about dollars. Each of us has been blessed with different gifts. The ministries and events at Emmanuel could not run without your faithful and generous donations of time and talents. Please register your interests in supporting our ministries by volunteering here. This link will take you to our automated volunteer database where you can select from an array of opportunites that fit your gifts and time. Thank you!