Oh boy…my least favorite day is coming up tomorrow. Oh well…I have one more opportunity to proclaim the Christmas Gospel this morning before the post-Christmas blues hit.
Last night (Christmas Eve) was wonderful. We were greeted with a couple inches of that beautiful white stuff; a sanctuary full of family and friends; wonderful music from our organist and my wife’s family on brass along with a confirmation student of mine. We had the privilege of former students reading scripture along with two of my release time kids and two of my confirmation students. I also got finish leading worship while holding my little girl (who celebrated her first Christmas). And all of this while worshiping our awesome God who came to us at Christmas time in Jesus Christ.
A wonderful night!
Now I am preparing to head out to my country congregation (Belmont Lutheran Church) to lead Christmas Day worship. And that will be wonderful in it’s own unique way.
Looking back on all the preparations, family time, worship, etc, I just don’t understand how someone could possibly look forward to Christmas being done. I will welcome the rest but I will be anxious for next year. In the meantime receive this Christmas blessings from me to you as you worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ:
May the joy of the Christ-child fill your hearts.
May the joy of the shepherds lead you out to glorify and praise the Lord.
May you ponder with Mary all the things that God has done.
May you have the tenacity of the Magi to follow Jesus each and every day.
And may you bask in the awesome love of God.
Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The pastor -|—
I love Christmas, but recently I heard a pastor say something that saddened me:
“The only thing I love as much as Christmas is the day after Christmas.”
I didn’t quite know what to say to that because I knew what they meant; they were looking forward to Christmas being over
Christmas is indeed busy. There’s lot’s of extra things to do on top of what we already need to do. Yesterday morning, for example, I thought I had the Christmas Eve service all planned last week. I gave the musicians the bulletin outline so they could practice the music, but then my secretary pointed out a mistake I made ~ I put a carol in there twice. So I had to make some changes and contact the musicians. And this is all while I am trying to get my newsletter article done, do sermon prep, make a delivery to the nursing home and run a couple other errands. And then the phone was ringing and I had to try very hard to be patient with people (because it is not their fault that everything was piling up on me).
Christmas can cause a lot of headaches and stress and sleepless night for a pastor but you know something…
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
For me Christmas is a golden opportunity to preach the Gospel to people who normally don’t come to worship. It’s my chance to slap people across the face with the Good News of the Christ-child being born for all people. It’s the perfect time to tell people that Christmas is not a secular holiday but rather a celebration of perfect love coming down to us. As one of my 4th grade girls said in release time just recently:
“If Jesus wasn’t born then he wouldn’t have died on the cross for our sins and therefore we wouldn’t go to heaven.”
Amen! That’s the Good News of Christmas.
Next to Easter, Christmas is my favorite day of the year and my least favorite day is the day after Christmas because it means I have 364 days to wait to do this again.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
The pastor -|—
Loving and Holy God…
I confess to you that I am afraid. Afraid of:
~ all I have to do this week.
~ falling short of your’s and people’s expectations.
~ forgetting something important.
~ becoming impatient.
~ losing sight of you because of the demands placed on me.
Holy, God, there is much to fear in this world but I find comfort in the fact that you don’t turn away from us because we fear, but you confront our fears with your awesome Good News.
~ Joseph was afraid to take Mary as his wife but you turned his fear into a godly fear.
~ Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel’s greeting but your turned her fear into a godly fear.
~ The shepherds were afraid at the appearing of the angel in that night sky but you turned their fear into a godly fear.
In the same way, Oh God, turn my fear into a godly fear that I my glorify your Holy name and lead others to do the same. May my fear of you drive me to run into your loving arms and soak in your amazing love for me. May my fear of you be the source of my proclamation of the Gospel. And lastly, may my fear of you dispel my worldly fears that Satan uses to drive me away from you.
Loving God, you are awesome and amazing and wonderful and worthy of all praise and worship. May your children run to you and fall into your arms. Through Jesus Christ our risen Lord and Savior I pray…
The pastor -|—
Holy God, Advent is a season of preparation (like I need to tell you that), but I feel so unprepared.
There are so many people that need to hear the Good News of the Christ child.
There are so many hurts that need your healing touch.
There are so many lonely people that need to know your presence.
There are so many misdirected people following secular holiday idols.
I think of all of this and feel overwhelmed and therefore I feel so unprepared to meet the demands of ministry. So I lay it out on the line for you this morning:
~ I fall back; trusting that your Holy Spirit will catch me.
~ I let go; trusting that your Holy Spirit will guide me.
~ I will wait; trusting that you will do something absolutely amazing.
So maybe it is a good thing that I feel unprepared because that leaves room for you to do something through me. So I lift up to you those who don’t know Jesus, those who are hurting, those who are lonely and those who are misdirected. Prepare me to minister to them; that they may know the true joy that is Jesus Christ our Savior born to us.
And may I continue to feel unprepared.
The pastor -|—
Don’t judge me when you see me seemingly doing nothing:
~ Sometimes I just need to sit and reflect.
~ Sometimes I just need to savor the Word just read.
~ Sometimes I just need to talk to my Savior.
~ Sometimes I just need to slowly sip my coffee.
~ Sometimes I just need to daydream about the ministry before me.
~ Sometimes I just need to mull over a conversation.
Sometimes I look lazy, sometimes I look lost but whatever the case don’t judge me because it’s in those times I can be the most productive. Many people don’t understand how a pastor works because how a pastor works can be so different from how we saw our parents work. But a pastor’s work can be just as taxing thus the different kind of work we sometimes engage in.
Today I sat in the corner at my favorite coffee shop for an hour or so; holding my Google tablet, sipping coffee and nibbling on a cookie.
And that was work.
My finger nails didn’t get dirty and I don’t have sore muscles as you know them but the pastor does feel the effects of ministry thus my coffee shop work.
And as I walked back to my office; breathing in the cool winter air, I felt refreshed and ready to do some more “traditional” work; work that doesn’t draw the ire of some.
But now you may say, “Work? You’re writing a blog post. How is that work?” To answer that fully I would have to write another blog post but I’m not going to do that. So what I will say in response will have to suffice for now:
Sometimes I just have to write…
And that is work of a different kind; one that exercises the mind. But now I’m off and ready to go; thankful for the “work” I did today. May God be praised in all I do and say; and not just sometimes but always.
The pastor -|—
Holy and awesome God, you have called me to preach your Word to your people. And this is an awesome calling; one that causes me to pause and wonder if I am being faithful. So God, I ask that you may stir my heart that I may know your Spirit and therefore turn over the controls. For if this task were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin.
But this calling to preach your Word is not limited to Sunday morning. And it’s not even limited to me as a pastor. You have called all your people to preach your Word to everyone. So in that light I ask that you may bless the children this morning as they preach your Word through their Christmas program.
But also, bless each and everyone one of us as we head out into the world so that we may not fail to preach, but boldly share our faith whether called to be a pastor or not. For through faith in Jesus Christ, all believers are received into the priesthood of all believers and therefore we are called to preach. Stir our hearts continually so that we may give you glory, continually.
Loving and worthy God, we are here ~ stir, stir, stir…
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
The pastor -|—
Serving as a pastor is a calling of the Holy Spirit, but it is not a calling that is any more important than any other calling people receive. As a pastor I am called to the ministry of Word and sacrament. I preach, lead worship, teach, visit the sick and I am the spiritual leader of this flock that God has called me to care for (among many other responsibilities). It’s a vocation that not everyone can do but that’s O.K. Scripture teaches us that people are given different gifts for the building up of the Church.
With that said, I want to highlight a group of ministers that too often go unnoticed and under appreciated (unless they do something “wrong”). These are the people that serve behind the scenes but also are the ones that can receive some of the harshest criticisms. And unjustly I might add.
~ serve in the kitchen; hosting host funerals and church potlucks.
~ get up extra early in the morning to make sure the sidewalks are clear of snow. ~ come in at night to vacuum and clean toilets.
~ type up the Sunday bulletin and monthly newsletter.
~ change a flickering florescent tube.
~ set up communion for worship.
And there is a whole host of other things these people do.
Sometimes the person sitting in the pew doesn’t know who these “people” are. All they know is that what needs to be done gets done…and it had better be done and done right. I can handle the criticism I receive because this congregation has called me and pays me to be their pastor. But the ones who serve behind the scenes often do so without pay and do so expecting nothing in return. So when these silent ministers receive criticism for “not serving well enough” it is often hurtful.
Instead of taking these people for granted, let’s say “Thank you”. If you don’t know who does one of those many things that just gets done, find out and thank that person. But know this ~ these people, working behind the scenes, are often people not looking for thanks but if they get it they will gratefully receive it with a smile and go about their ministry. They may be behind the scenes because they don’t like attention or because they are just doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done.
These under appreciated people need to be appreciated more because can you imagine if these people in your congregation didn’t do those behind the scenes jobs? Can you imagine if that someone didn’t shovel the sidewalk? Can you imagine that someone not cleaning the toilets? Can you imagine that someone not setting up for communion?
Those people you don’t see are also called to ministry. My calling is to preach, teach, lead worship, etc. But others are called to scoop snow, clean toilets and serve in the kitchen. Let’s seek these under appreciated people out and thank them for serving God the way they have been called.
The pastor -|—