Category Archives: Christmas

A Christmas reflection and blessing

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 -|—

My least favorite day

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)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The pastor -|—

Unprepared: A prayer

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.

Amen!

The pastor -|—

Sometimes…

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 -|—

About one thing

Happy 1st Sunday of Advent!!!

May your preparations this Christmas season bring you joy as we anxiously await the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May we not get caught up in the secular definitions of this season.
May we not lose sight of the meaning of this season.
May we not get caught up in the marketing hype of this season.

Christmas is about one thing and one thing only…
a baby
Jesus Christ
our Lord

Let’s prepare and celebrate rightly to the glory of God our Father…

Loving God, we praise for this gift of life, Jesus Christ our Lord.  We praise you that you came to us in such a humble way in order to show us your amazing love to a sinful people.  We praise you that we can have a sure and certain hope through faith in Jesus.  May our preparations this Advent season bring you glory and may we take advantage of every opportunity to proclaim the real meaning of this season. In Jesus name, AMEN!

Merry Advent :-)

The Pastor -|—

Merry Christmas…still

Happy 3rd day of Christmas everyone.

In case you forgot…Christmas liturgically lasts 12 days.  It’s not a one day celebration and then we move on.  Actually…the joy of Christmas is something we should celebrate year-round.  I’m not suggesting that you keep your Christmas tree up all year and not change out the Christmas music from your multi-disk CD player.  What I am suggesting is that we remember all year round why Jesus was born for us. It is way to easy to pull down the decorations and move on after the accepted amount of time to have decorations up has passed. You see…the promise of Christmas is not just a one point in time kind of thing.  The promise of Christmas is a light that shines in our dark world 24/7; 365 days a year.  That is something worth celebrating all the time.

Saying “Merry Christmas” to a store clerk in February might produce a strange look but sharing the joy of Christ shouldn’t (but still might). So “Merry Christmas” to you this day and everyday as we bask in the glow of God’s love.

The pastor -|—

Merry Christmas

Manger

This is such an exciting time of the year.  I love the worship services and the Christmas preaching.  I love the family gatherings and the yummy food.  I love the Christmas cheer and even the ugly Christmas sweaters. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

This past week I have been feeling anything but 100%. A nasty head cold (with a 101.6 temp a week ago yesterday) made Christmas preparations difficult.  My wife got my yuck on Wednesday and is still recovering. But through it all sermons got written, worships got planned and God was glorified.  Satan did his best to try to derail me but as I wrote about earlier, it was a nice shot but not nearly good enough.  Christmas Eve worship was a blast and I can hardly wait to get out to Belmont to lead Christmas Day worship.

So from me and my wife to you and your family, we hope and pray you have a wonderful Christmas as we give thanks and praise to our great God for the gift of Jesus Christ.  May the Light of the world bring you peace not just today but throughout the whole year.  Let us set aside our differences and seek to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Let us re-prioritize our worship that God through Jesus Christ is the focus and not something/someone of this world.  Let us find strength and hope in the promise of Jesus’ return as we seek to take advantage of every opportunity to share the Good News with all.

God bless and have a very Merry Christmas!

The pastor -|—

What to give Jesus

Happy Advent 4 (almost Christmas)!

The Mayans were wrong; and we’re still here (is anyone actually shocked?) And now we get to prepare for a grand celebration as we continue to wait for Jesus.  But don’t worry; you don’t have to run around scrambling to find that perfect gift.  You don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out what to give the King of the universe for his birthday.  After all…what do you give someone who has everything?  You give him the one thing that we can give and the one thing that he desires the most.

Our worship

That’s what Jesus wants…our worship.  And not just on Sunday mornings (or at Christmas and Easter or other times we find ourselves in a church building) but God wants our worship everyday, 24/7, 365 (or 366) days a year.  Our worship is all that is desired.

It may not seem like much but God is pleased when we give him everything that we are; when we come before him with our songs of praise and thanks; when we lifts our hearts up to him.  For you see…worship is a response of faith; it flows out of your love for God.  And if we are worshiping God with all our being…well…God is excited.

Too many people, though, think that worship is about being entertained…it’s not.  It’s about giving ourselves to God.  And if we are refreshed or encouraged then great…praise be to God.  For anything we get out of worship is a gift from God to be used for his glory; to lead us back to worship.  So in the end, worship is not about how we benefit but rather what we can give back to God.  If you have the mentality that worship is all about you then you’re being selfish.  It’s like going to a Christmas celebration with the sole expectation of bringing a great haul of gifts home.

This Christmas give back to Jesus the very thing he desires from you…your worship.  Praise HIM with all that you are.  Thank HIM for all that he has given you.  And worship HIM always and forever.

Merry Christmas and Amen!

The pastor -|—

The lighter side of Christmas

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There are really no words to explain this picture.  Sometimes you just have to lighten up and have some fun. But replacing Joseph and Mary with Martin and Katie Luther bobble head dolls might be going a little too far though :)

Have a very fun and merry Christmas!

The pastor -|—

It’s all about Jesus

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
[Matthew 1:18-21]

Here’s another remind for you ~ It’s all about Jesus.

And how can we dare say it’s about anything or anyone else?  I mean…he will save his people from their sins.  There you have it.  It’s pretty straight forward.  Forgiveness of sins…which means everlasting life.

Wow…that’s pretty awesome.

When Zechariah was met by the angel Gabriel and told of the wonderful news that he and his wife, Elizabeth (who was well beyond normal child-bearing years), was going to have a child, Zechariah was hesitant.

Give me proof.

The angel was a little miffed and said that he stands in the presence of God and shouldn’t have to give Zechariah proof.  Therefore Zechariah is struck silent until their baby (John the Baptist) was born.  Then Zechariah sang the praises of God.  Better late than never, but either way, God came through because our awesome and grace-filled God is faithful.

“he (Jesus) will save his people from their sins.”

You want proof?  Look to the cross:

cross-carrying-e1299578788837

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus DID save his people from their sins.

There you have it ~ It’s all about Jesus.  Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—