Pastor's Update Archive: 2015

  Pastor's Update Archive: 2015  
January 2015
"Where are you?"

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9) 

Where are you?” The LORD God called to Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman. It wasn’t because the LORD God didn’t know where they were. He knows all things. Nothing escapes his notice. Rather, he called to them so they would know where they were. He had created them sinless like him. He had created them to enjoy a relationship with him that would be their highest delight.

But they had sinned by disobeying him. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie of Satan. So they cowered in fear as they heard God approaching and foolishly tried to hide from him. They knew that, because of their sin, their kind and generous Father had now become their Judge.

In love, the LORD God came and called Adam and Eve so they would know where they were. Though still in Eden, they were no longer in paradise. They were now far from God, living in sin and fear and death. But he also came and called them to tell them that he would rescue them and restore them to a right relationship with him. He would send the Seed of the woman, a descendant of Eve, to take away their sin, remove their fear, and restore their life with him.

In love, the LORD God still comes and calls us sinners today. Through his Word, the Holy Bible, he comes and calls us so we know where we are—far away from him in our natural condition of sin and shame and fear and death. But through his Word, he also tells us that he has kept his promise to send the Seed of the woman, who crushed the power of sin and Satan forever. He sent his Son, Christ Jesus, from heaven to earth, to bridge the distance between the holy God and sinful human beings and draw us back to him.

Where are you? Through Christ alone, God gives us a wonderful, hope-filled answer to that old question. In Christ, God has reconciled us to himself, restoring us to a right relationship with him. In Christ, we don’t need to run from God in fear. Rather, in Christ we not only want to—but are able to—eagerly run to the LORD God daily for the forgiveness we need, the fellowship with him we desire, and the faith that looks forward to a forever with him in paradise.

In this new year, may we make it our goal to continually rejoice in that restored relationship. May we likewise resolve to allow that relationship to move and empower us to love, serve, and obey God. And may we continue to pursue those things that support and help us hold that blessed relationship close.

February 2015
"A Loving Savior's Tears"

“As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate.”  Matthew 23:37-38

On the Mount of Olives, halfway down the path that leads into the Kidron Valley, stands a Franciscan church called the “Dominus Flevit Church.”(“The Lord wept”) It marks the traditional spot where Jesus viewed the grand city of Jerusalem--and cried. Sorrow gripped the heart of grace that wants all people to be saved…and bitter tears of compassion flowed from his loving eyes.

As he approached that historic mount, perhaps Jesus thought back to father Abraham, raising his sacrificial knife over his precious son’s body in blind obedience to the only One who can always be trusted.

Maybe Jesus remembered the glorious temple that Solomon dedicated on that same rock, the house of the LORD back when he still was welcome among and worshiped by his people.

Maybe Jesus was simply seeing all the people there who should have and could have known God’s glorious gift…but they were not willing. They’d rather stake their claim on their own bloodline than on the atoning blood of the Lamb.

No matter what memory came to his mind, one simple, ancient question brought the Savior to tears: “Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ez.33:10) Here he was--God’s Anointed One who had come to shed his soul-cleansing blood…and they were more intent on celebrating his death than cherishing him as their Life.

Can you relate to the tears that moistened Jesus’ cheeks? Do you have loved ones who are “not willing” because their lives are too full to find a place for Jesus; too busy to find time for the Truth and the Life? Have you watched your own children become strangers in God’s house because someone has convinced them that Jesus doesn’t matter much today? Have you silently echoed a lament similar to the Savior’s, longing for them to know the only One who can bring them peace?

If you can relate, first stop to give thanks to Jesus. There is no one among us who deserves the love that Jesus showed as he continued riding into the City to die. Yet die he did. While we were still sinners. For us. God’s grace-based desire to reclaim us brought him to that city…uninvited, unwelcome, yet unyielding. The longing in the heart of the Savior would not be satisfied until Justice was. It would cost him his own life. He was willing. And by giving his life into death, he brought us from death into life!

And what about those loved ones who weigh heavily on our hearts? Please understand that the Lord’s compassionate heart of grace reaches out to them with eager invitation. Go to the Lord’s throne on their behalf in prayer. It’s OK. He invited you. Pour out the longings of your heart to him. He loves your loved ones even more than you do. Plus he loves it when we cast our cares upon him! And while you have his ear, ask him to send someone--anyone--maybe even you--to speak the Word that calls your beloved wanderer to repentance and faith. And one last request you might offer: ask Jesus to grant you the peace of knowing that all things that are out of your hands are safely in his.

Sadly, there are those who forfeit the Grace of God in Jesus (remember his tears?) That’s the heartbreaking reality about this present, corrupted Jerusalem in which we live. But soon we will approach THE Holy City. The New Jerusalem. We’ll enter at the invitation of the King. We’ll be welcomed by our Father who has been planning for our arrival since before he first said, “Let there be light.” The only tears we’ll ever know there are the ones that spill out from an overabundance of joy.

All this love and hope flows from the heart of Jesus! Thank you, Jesus, for letting us see your tears. They remind us that ours are not out of place. Thank you even more, dear Savior, that you brought peace to this vale of tears and promised us a place in the joy of heaven!

March 2015
"God's Garbage Dump"

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Garbage. Throw it out. Get rid of it. It seems simple enough, but disposing of garbage is not all that easy. Once we carry our trash to the curb, we can forget it. The truck collects it, and it's gone. Right? 

Not so. Ask anybody who lives near a landfill. Ask the people worried about pure ground water or heavy metal contamination. Sin is like that. Last week's sins are gone, forgotten. Buried under the weight of a thousand duties, deadlines and distractions, they are things of the past. They are removed from our lives, gone, trashed. Right? 

Not so. Ask the victims of abuse. Ask those whose marriages and lives have been fractured by infidelity. Ask the people who can't sleep because of tortured consciences. Ask God. We can change the name of a garbage dump. We can call it a landfill site or reclamation park, but that doesn't change its contents. We can change our viewpoint about sin, too. We can give it a sweet-sounding name, but that doesn't change its odor. We can try to forget about it, but that doesn't make it disappear. And there are consequences to sin, perhaps daily. Perhaps many years from now. Perhaps eternal ones.

By God's grace, there is also a solution to the life-threatening problem of sin. Long ago, God realized that something needed to be done about the mounds of sin each of us accumulate every week. Sweeping sin under the carpet, as if it is a little dust, doesn't work. It must be carried away and disposed of permanently. This requires superhuman effort. It takes the wisdom, power and love of God himself.

Fortunately, God made the effort. He sent his Son to overcome sin and its eternal consequences. Through his word he provides a daily pick up. In addition, he promises a perfectly clean home in heaven. The best part of it is that the service is free. Yes, God offers these and many other blessings to all people. He doesn't want to dump us along with our sin. That's a message too good to ignore. Come and celebrate it during our special Lent services.

April 2015
"A Brush with Greatness? No, Better than That..."

Have you ever had a brush with greatness? Last week my wife and youngest daughter went to a Scotty McCreery concert (he was the 2011 “American Idol” winner). Shortly before the show started, a young security guard whispered to my daughter, “If you want to meet Scotty personally, go backstage right now through that door.” My daughter did as instructed, and intercepted Mr. McCreery as he was heading for the stage. He took my daughter’s hand, and he walked and talked with her for a few moments, then went onstage. My daughter was beyond elated. It was a momentary “brush with greatness” for her.

Have you had a brush with greatness, perhaps encountering a celebrity in an elevator, at the airport, in a store, or at a restaurant? There’s something exciting about being near someone of celebrity status. In the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem there is the “chair of Moses” from the original synagogue in Korazin, which is intact after two millennia. In this chair a visiting rabbi would sit before sharing the word. It is very possible that the Rabbi from nearby Capernaum would have sat in that very chair. Get it? Jesus probably sat in that stone chair! What an awesome feeling to see a place where Jesus, the Lord of all, actually sat. He was there!

Let me remind you of something even more amazing than being in a place where Jesus actually was. How about the truth that we are going to a place where Jesus actually is? Try to fathom that truth! 

As Christians who again at this time celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we are reminded that Jesus was here among us for a purpose—to give his life as a ransom payment for us. FOR US. The victory won, we now share in the real truth that Jesus is with us in this life—we are his chosen people. And as his people, purchased by his grace, he promises that he will take us to be where he is, to live with him forever. Face to face. In person. No mere “brushes with greatness” but in the flesh and always. 

Remember how Job spoke as he tried to fathom the truth that God’s people will live with him in person? Job said, “How my heart yearns within me.” That yearning is a part of the Christian’s faith and life. As we see sin morph into various tragedies all around us, we yearn for a better world. As we fall short of our own expectations for what we want to be, we yearn for escape from this wretched condition of sin. As we peer into the mirror of God’s perfect law, we yearn for mercy from the Holy One. 

One amazing reality of Easter is that God meets every yearning with glorious fulfillment! Like refreshing water that quenches thirst, the Good News that JESUS WAS HERE quenches our yearning for peace while fueling our yearning for life with him in paradise. Living with Jesus in his presence is not some utopian fantasy. It is a sure promise from God made possible by the Easter resurrection. The day is coming! 

My Christian friends, never lose sight of the glory ahead! There is no earthly pursuit that could ever pay off as big, no temporary happiness that could ever replace eternal joy, no “brush with greatness” that is anywhere near as exciting as living in glory around the throne of God! Jesus will be there. In Person.

May 2015
"Jesus Calms our Fears"

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”... Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. — Luke 5:8,10,11

Maybe it was a huge thunderstorm or the power of crashing waves that first made you realize how powerful God is and how weak you are. Or maybe you looked up into the nighttime sky and, seeing all of those stars, were reminded of how big God is and how small you are. When we see the awesome wonders of God in this world, sometimes we feel the same way Peter did. Sometimes we conclude that we need to distance ourselves from God because of our sin. He is perfect and we are not. The Bible tells us that God has every right to punish us for all of eternity because of our sin. All of this strikes fear in our hearts. 

Jesus’ powerful miracles had this same effect on people. But at the same time, his miracles draw our attention to an important fact about our powerful God: he is here to save us. Jesus calms our fears. 

Simon Peter and his friends were fishermen when they first knew Jesus. After a long night of catching nothing, they were ready to call it quits. But Jesus told them to put out their nets in the deep water. It was now the hottest and brightest part of the day. A catch of fish seemed even less likely at this point. 

The miraculous catch Jesus gave them ripped their nets and caused their boats to sink! Immediately, Peter realized that this wasn’t just another teacher, but the Son of God. When Peter saw God’s power that day, he was filled with fear. More than ever, he felt the big difference between God and himself. He was a sinner and God was not. He was entirely at God’s mercy. 

Jesus told Peter, “Do not be afraid...” As God’s Son, he wasn’t there to harm Peter. He was there to save him, and that is just what he did when he died on the cross and rose again. Jesus’ words calm our fears as sinners before a holy God. Now, we don’t need to cry, “Away from me, Lord, for I am a sinner!” Instead, in the peace of his forgiveness, we can take the time to set down the nets of our daily work and follow him to something greater in his Word. Our grateful response to God’s love moves us to serve and obey him, and seek his kingdom interests. It moves us to want to be fishers of men, continually looking for those opportunities to share our Savior with others—that Savior who calms our fears and gives us the gift of heaven. 

June 2015
"Trust a Loving, Powerful Savior"

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Luke 7:6,7)

It was an unlikely scene. A man of rank, a Roman centurion—a captain of 100 soldiers—sends an urgent message for help to a lowly Jewish rabbi named Jesus. The captain’s valued servant was on his deathbed. The physicians had exhausted their remedies. Time was running out. Jesus was his only hope.

This wasn’t a last-ditch cry of desperation, though. It was a prayer of trust. The centurion had heard about—maybe even witnessed—some of Jesus’ miracles. He was convinced that Jesus had the power to do anything. The Lord only needed to say the word, and the centurion’s servant would be healed. And that’s just what Jesus did.

Jesus still has the power to do anything. He cares about what we’re going through. He’s the only one who can really help. But like the centurion, we must admit that we are not worthy of his attention. God is holy. We are not holy. We fail him. We fail others. Why should he bother? Why should he love us?

Every miracle showed God’s good intentions toward the unworthy. Each one was saying, “God loves you!” By delivering people from impossible problems, Jesus proved his power over the far greater problems of death and hell. Jesus exchanged his life for ours and paid the horrific penalty for every sin when he died on the cross. “God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that  in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Corinthians 5:21). Through Jesus, God declares us “not guilty.”

What are you facing today? Whatever it is, you matter deeply to Jesus. Rest assured that he has both the power and the desire to help. He has the wisdom and love to give us exactly what we need.  He needs only to say the word. With his Word Jesus also works the greatest miracle of all. He gives us the faith to trust in him. A faith that not only trusts that God will help us, but that his solution to our dilemmas are always the best way, even if we don’t see it or understand it.  And, above all, he gives us faith to trust in him for that which we need more than anything—forgiveness and saving.  Join us this Sunday as Jesus comes to us in his Word. He makes us sure of his forgiveness. He gives us the confidence to trust him for everything.

July 2015
"A Lesson from the One Who 'Had it All'"

“Meaningless, meaningless,” says the teacher, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:2,14). 

There once was a man who had it all. All—might be—an understatement. When it came to wealth…extreme! He could have had anything. No expense was too great. No luxury unattainable. When it came to his work…exceptional! His résumé included building a temple, a royal palace, several cities, and strong diplomatic relationships with enemy nations. When it came to women…excessive! His wives numbered more than 700. When it came to wisdom…extraordinary! People the world over, came to seek his council. His Proverbs are revered still today. 

If ever a man lived who could say, “I have it all,” it was King Solomon. However, after years of drinking deeply from the well of human experience, Solomon came to a startling conclusion. Everything he had, all he had done, all the wealth he had accumulated, all the women he had wed, all the wisdom he had shared, could be summed up with a single word— MEANINGLESS. 

So many people continue searching for that “one thing” that will bring happiness, contentment, and bring fulfillment to life. Unfortunately, sometimes we are tempted to think that way, too. And so, like Solomon in his weakness, we chase after wealth, try to find fulfillment in “things”, feed our addictions to pleasure or substance, and in various ways try to find that “thing” we are looking for in what the world offers. 

What will it take for you come to the same conclusion that Solomon did? 

Saint Augustine prayed, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” 

We possess a deep longing that cannot be satisfied until it is satisfied in God…alone. Wise King Solomon realized this and it led him to view life from two perspectives. First he viewed the world without God. For those who do not fear the Lord, who persist in sin, and do not believe in Jesus as Savior, everything done in life “under the sun” is as meaningless as chasing after one’s breath on a cold winter’s day. 

Second he looked at life with God. For those who fear the Lord, who see their sin, and believe in Jesus as Savior, there is true meaning for this life and confident hope for the next as “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). There is happiness and contentment and fulfillment as we see our existence as God sees it.

August 2015
"Can God Help Me Find Happiness?"

We need to begin by asking, “What do we mean by happiness?” For a child, happiness might mean getting Christmas presents every morning and cake and ice cream for every meal.  After a few days, though, it would stop being fun.  Many adults think that money will make them happy. But we have seen many rich people who are unhappy and even depressed. Others might think that drugs and alcohol make them happy.  But the “high” soon wears off. Finding happiness in the things and people of this world is an exercise in frustration.

The Bible uses the word “blessed” to describe happiness. The blessings of God give us true happiness. The most important of God’s blessings is Jesus, whom he sent into this world. Jesus took the blame for everything we ever did wrong. That’s why he died on the cross – not because he did anything wrong, but because we did. Jesus has paid for our sins, and that means we are saved from God’s judgment of eternal death by believing in him. That makes us happy. Jesus blesses us with salvation.

No matter how long we live, we are all destined to die. But when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, he broke the hold of death. Even though we will one day die, by trusting in Jesus we have the sure hope that we will also come back to life and live forever in heaven.  That makes us happy. Jesus blesses us with eternal life.

God even uses the tough times in life for our good—to teach us more about his love and strengthen our trust in him. No matter how tough life is for us, no matter how much pain we endure, no matter how poor we are, no one and nothing can take away what Jesus did for us.  Our sins are forgiven by God, and through faith in Jesus eternal life in heaven is waiting for us. That makes us happy. Sometimes we smile through tears, but we can still smile.

Can God help us find happiness? He has already given it to us through Jesus! May our lives reflect that gratitude and happiness that we have because of him.

September 2015
"Take Courage - No Matter What the Storm"

“Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”  — Mark 6:48-51

It’s not that hard to put ourselves in the disciples’ place as they strained at the oars fighting against the wind, is it? They had been rowing hard since evening, and now it was in the morning hours just before sunrise. Their muscles were aching. They must have been exhausted, but they still hadn’t managed to get across the lake. All that work with so little to show for it. 

Here we are at the end of summer. For many of us, summers bring a little bit of rest and relaxation. It’s time for vacations and family, home projects, and summer fun. But now that’s over. Back to school and back to deadlines. How often doesn’t it feel like we too are just straining against the oars, getting nowhere because the wind is against us? We finish our daily lists of things to do, only to discover a whole new list for tomorrow. We finish one assignment and the teacher gives us another. We strain at the oars with the wind against us. 

Now, we’ll never know how long the disciples in that boat could have kept rowing or if they would have reached their destination on their own. They didn’t have to. Jesus saw them hopelessly working and getting nowhere. He walked right across the water, comforted their fears, stepped into the boat, and the wind completely faded away. Jesus had the power to do the impossible and help his friends. And Jesus promises to be there for us. When we find life hard, when we are struggling against those oars and we are physically and emotionally drained, we can go to him in prayer, knowing that he will hear those prayers and answer them in the best way, at the best time. No storm is too small—or perhaps, more importantly, too big—for Jesus to quiet.

It kind of reminds us of our faith lives, doesn’t it? So often we find ourselves in the middle of life’s storms, trying to “get things right”, and always being knocked back by temptation, sin, guilt, and our own failings and weaknesses. Then Jesus comes to us through Word and Sacrament, and calms our fears with the assurance that our sins have all been forgiven. What we could never do by ourselves—make our sin go away—Jesus has done through his perfect life and sacrificial death. And the storms of guilt and shame caused by sin simply faded away.

God’s love and forgiveness are amazing! We may fight against the wind every day at work, at school, or face stormy times in our lives, but we know that with God we’re going to come out alright. We can be confident of that, because this almighty God who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us, has promised that he will cause everything to turn out for our good. And this is true especially in regard to our souls. No matter what the situation, take courage, and don’t be afraid, for the Great storm-stiller is always here to help.

October 2015
"A Savior Who Gives Sight to the Blind"

The crowd rebuked the two blind men and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”... Jesus had compassion on them and  touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. — (Matt. 20:31,34)

They were sitting by the side of the road, these two blind men. They probably had families, but they could never see their loved ones’ faces. They heard children laughing, but could not watch them at play. They felt the gentle warmth of the setting sun, but could not take in its breathtaking colors. More than anything else, they wanted to see. Today, someone was passing by—someone they thought could help them. A chance like this may not ever come again! They cried out eagerly: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”  But the heartless crowd around them scolded “Be quiet!”

We are all like these two blind men. We endure afflictions that make our lives harder, whether it is conflict in a relationship, troubles at work, a health problem, or a flaw in our personality that we wish we could get rid of. Our nagging burdens never seem to leave us alone. And people add salt to our wounds. They speak harsh and even cruel words. Their indifference to our situation or to our feelings hurts. Even the dearest people in our lives do not always understand the personal struggles we endure. So we can feel like we’re all alone. 

Then, out of the darkness of our sufferings, comes a gentle touch. It’s the touch of Jesus, a touch of compassion. For he too has cried and sighed in this world. He knows what we are going through. But this is no mere touch of sympathy. This is a touch that heals. He simply touched the eyes of those two blind men, and they could instantly see. A miracle!

Likewise, Jesus touches us with God’s truth. He helps us see that our daily afflictions come from our root affliction—that we are sinners living in a sinful world. We are sinners estranged from our God; sinners blinded to the way of being acceptable to God. By the power of his Word, Jesus removes spiritual blindness. He opens our eyes to understand the purpose of his coming and dying on the cross. He opens our eyes to understand that his perfect life is ours, and his sacrificial death and payment for all sins is ours, too. He opens our eyes to see that now our sin with its guilt and shame is gone, thus totally and forever restoring our relationship with God. He opens our eyes to see that his resurrection is proof-positive of all of this. He opens our eyes to see that death is but a sleep, and heaven is our certain hope. Above all of this, he opens our eyes to trust that, if he loved us enough to suffer and die for us and secure our eternal salvation, he will always love us enough in this life to also be our ever-present helper, guide, and deliverer.  

“Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”  You and I understand why they now followed Jesus, for we have experienced a similar blindness-to-sight miracle in our lives. So, with wide open eyes of faith, we gladly follow him, confident that Jesus will carry us through good times and bad and finally bring us by his grace into God’s eternal heaven.

November 2015
"Thanking God for 'Disease Deliverance'"

It’s that “extra-thankful” time of year again. On Thanksgiving Day, many in our country take a step back from their normal routines to ask, “Why should I be thankful?” Pause today to ponder this ... Have you ever thanked God that you do not have leprosy? 

Common in Jesus’ day, leprosy was a terrible affliction. It was painful—your fingers and skin would begin to decay even though you were still alive. It was emotional—who wants to be known as “dead man walking?” It was lonely—lepers could only live with other lepers miles away from everyone else. No hugging your kids. No kissing your spouse. No walking through your front door. No turkey dinner with your family—not on Thanksgiving Day or any day. 

Leprosy was a terrible affliction. The losses it caused were staggering. One day, 10 lepers stood at a distance from Jesus (they had to stand at a distance from everyone) and in loud voices, asked him for mercy. Jesus simply told them to show themselves to the priests. If someone ever was healed of leprosy, you couldn’t just stroll back into town and say, “I don’t have leprosy anymore!” Who would believe you? First, you had to show yourself to the priests. They would officially pronounce you to be clean, and then you could go back to your family. As they started to walk, they were still lepers ... but along the way they were cleansed by the miraculous power of Jesus! 

Nine of the lepers kept walking—too many things to do now since they were healed. However, one decided that resuming normal life could wait a couple more hours. He came back to thank Jesus. He threw himself at the Lord’s feet and praised him in a loud voice. 

Imagine the joyful tears falling from his eyes! Jesus has cleansed us of a far greater disease than physical leprosy. The Bible teaches: “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:9). Jesus has taken away our sin. We are no longer isolated from God; rather, we can live joyfully with him in peace. We have good reason to take a break from normal life to thank Jesus deeply, thoughtfully, gladly. Among all the blessings that God gives us in life, the most important is Jesus, our merciful and miraculous Savior!

December 2015
"The Word Became Flesh"

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” - John 1:14

The smell of pine in your living room, the glow of colorful lights from the Christmas tree, gifts wrapped in shiny paper with decorative bows on top, and the sound of Christmas carols in the background. The Christmas season often brings a cheeriness and an excitement that isn’t there the rest of the year. As the Christmas carol goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But why? Why do people get so excited about the Christmas season? 

Unfortunately, we often get excited about the small trivial things related to the Christmas holiday like shopping, gifts, and family get-togethers, but lose sight of the real reason to celebrate: “the Word became flesh.” Here in this short verse we have the greatest miracle of all time. The Word, that is, the Son of God, took on human flesh and was born in a manger that first Christmas night. The Creator of all things came to live among his creatures here on earth. 

How can that be? It is beyond our human ability to understand how God could take on human flesh and be both God and man at the same time. But that is what God tells us in his Word, and we believe it by faith. 

Just as hard to understand is the reason why Jesus was born into our world. Jesus came to this earth because he loves us. In spite of all the terrible things we have done and continue to do every day, Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. Jesus was born on this earth so that he could die. “The Word became flesh” to suffer and die on the cross in our place, so that all who believe in Jesus as their Savior will be saved from eternal death. Talk about a great Christmas present! We deserved eternal death in hell because of our sin, but Jesus suffered our hell for us so that we can enjoy eternal life in heaven. That is why the Christmas season is filled with so much joy. At Christmas time we celebrate the greatest miracle of all—God becoming a man to save us from the guilt of our sins and to freely give us life with God forever. 

What better way to celebrate this miracle than in God’s house! We invite you to come to church this Christmas season to celebrate the miraculous birth of our Savior. We have many opportunities to do that, in both our special Advent services and in our various Christmas worship services. Come and hear about how much God loves you. Come and raise your voice in thanks and praise, as your response to the greatest miracle of all time: the Word becoming flesh, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.