Joy Followed By Joy
Dear Members and Friends of CLC,
May this most blessed season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany fill you with joy and gladness because God has intervened into the wretched affairs of men with life and salvation. He has put death to flight and gives us the remission of our sins, life and salvation, and "this life is in his Son." (1 John 5:12)
If we have taken full advantage of Advent, which is now in its waning hours, we have come to a new realization of the darkness and peril of our sins, and our hopeless condition apart from the the Savior who was born into this world on Christmas. We have learned once again of the necessity of repudiating and renouncing our sins; and turning to the Lord for salvation.
As the Blessed Virgin Mary would be but another pious woman apart from the God she bore in her womb (Theotokos), even so we without the Christ she bore. But with Christ in her she is "blessed among women"; and with Christ in us, and we in Christ by baptism we, too, are Blessed! That is the thing you want to be! Blessed, fortunate and happy as an heir of the Most High God. No earthly offering of happiness will do. However glitzy it may appear it is deceptive and very temporary. This is the joy you want. This is the happiness you need! God be praised it is yours because as we sing in the children's hymn "I am his and he is mine."
At the close of Divine Service this Sunday Advent is over for us and the joy begins.
It will start with decorating God's house for the glorious season (immediately following the Service, with a light lunch).
Then at 7PM on Monday we celebrate Christmas Eve with candle light and carols.
Then on Tuesday at 10:30 AM we will celebrate the Christ Mass (that is what the word Christmas means). It is the church's chief Service for the celebration of the Lord's incarnation. The Lord's putting on of human flesh to show his love and solidarity with those made of human flesh. But above all he "was made man" to cleanse human flesh of sin by pouring his own holiness into it; and by offering himself as the sacrifice that cleanses the world of its greatest problem: sin! All other problems we have derive from it. But when the root is cut out, "rooted out" as it were, then its poisonous fruit can grow no more; and only goodness is left.
Remember that Christmas is celebrated for 12 full days!
And so celebrate, rejoice, relax if you can and be happy whatever other sorrows plague you because they will, in the words of the Spiritual, "soon be over."
The Light is come!
Christ is born, glorify him!
Christ comes from heaven, go forth to meet him!
Christ is on earth, exult!
Following this season of utter joy the church celebrates Epiphany beginning on Sunday January 6, 2019, or as it is sometimes called: Little Christmas. Said another way: joy followed by more joy! It is the season when we concentrate on the manifestation of the gift given the world on Christmas with the birth of our Savior.
As if this were not enough beginning on Wednesday January 16th CLC will begin regular Wednesday evening Services. This has been long in coming and will provide new opportunities to worship in this post Christian world of ours. The Service will be held in the chapel each Wednesday at 7 PM - another time for God's people to "rejoice in the Lord always." (Phil. 4:4)
2019 holds a number of other good things for us, in addition to 4 (four) opportunties to study and worship. In February and May we will have special event speakers for our parish, and surrounding parishes as well. By these we can grow in grace and knowledge, and once again connect with our fellow Lutherans of other parishes.
And in June we will, for the 4th time, have Dr. William Weinrich give a 2 day seminar on the Gospel of John for area pastors: because pastor's also still need to learn, and be blessed by God's Word.
Yes, it will be a full year of gifts, all proceeding from the "gift of God" given on Christmas.
And so Good News is on the horizon. Rejoice in the Lord always!