Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A new Church Year is before us and with it holds the prospect of immense spiritual growth in our life of Christian discipleship. Throughout Advent the liturgies, prayers, hymns, and scriptures reflectively move us toward the manger of Bethlehem; where we behold God Himself incarnate! As we progress through the holiday season, our calendars bulge with event on top of event. We are bombarded with the latest “whatever” that needs to be under the Christmas tree. We race to the point of exhaustion to get it all accomplished. But what have we really achieved when Christmas arrives? Have we truly been drawn to the manger to behold for ourselves God’s gift to us? Is there more or less room in our lives for God as a result of this Christmas season? Throughout the ages, the Christian Church has been encouraged to reverently approach the manger of Bethlehem. Those who beheld the Christ-child were never to be the same again. As we read the beautiful gospel accounts of our Lord’s ministry upon this earth; we see men and women just like us who experienced the One full of grace and truth. This grace changed lives and redirected priorities.
I beg of you to treasure this time of the Church Year. During Advent, we prepare ourselves to humbly approach the manger of Bethlehem. The Word of God meets us in life and asks some challenging questions. Where does God fit into our lives? If we continue following our current path in life; where will we end up? Do we see God as a part of our vocations and how are we making sense out of our one life on earth? Are we neglecting or replacing God with something of this earth that cannot ultimately satisfy us?
Luther composed a beautiful prayer for Christmas that I encourage us all to pray on a daily basis:
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
During this most sacred time in the year, may God enter our hearts and give to us a beautiful peace, assurance, and hope rooted in His never-ending faithfulness to His people.
A blessed Christmas to each of you,
Pastor Michael McFarland