December 24, 2016 AD
December 24, 2016 AD
December 24, 2015 AD
Old Testament: Isaiah 9:2-7
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From ancient times the first day of November has been kept as All Saints Day, the festival when the Church here on earth remembers all those who now rest in Christ’s nearer presence. Here at Our Saviour we always especially remember those members of our congregation who have fallen asleep in the Lord since the last All Saints Day: this year Dr. Joseph Jones and Doris Goods. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon them.
God’s saving purpose is misunderstood if its goal is described as isolated individuals ﬁnally at one with Him. No, His saving purpose is that all who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus will together be with Him and with one another in that kingdom of love and joy which has no end. As we say in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe…in the communion of saints.” In last year’s November newsletter I shared with you a few words of Pastor Wilhelm Löhe (1811-1872), one of the great Fathers of the Lutheran Church in the nineteenth century. Here is the entire excerpt from his writings:
There is one eternal Church, part to be found here and part to be found in eternity. Here it becomes smaller and smaller, but there it becomes ever larger, for the yearning, struggling band is always being gathered to its people. When I was young I thirsted for an eternal fellowship. Now I know an eternal fellowship which becomes more and more close and binding— the holy Church! From it death shall not separate me, but death will for the first time bring me to complete enjoyment of love and fellowship.
Or, as we shall sing in a fine hymn of Charles Wesley (1707-1788) this coming Sunday:
The saints on earth and those above
But one communion make;
Joined to their Lord in bonds of love,
All of His grace partake.
One family, we dwell in Him,
One Church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
November 26th is Thanksgiving Day. We usually have Matins at 10 o’clock in the morning, but after careful thought and discussion the Church Council has recommended that we try celebrating our national Day of Thanksgiving with worship the evening before. Although Thanksgiving is not, strictly speaking, a festival of the Church Year, it remains our country’s national day of Thanksgiving. When I was a boy the churches were filled— but that was a long time ago! I am personally of the conviction that the neglect of worship at this national festival is yet another deplorable sign of lethargy, indifference, and the growing secularism which tries to sweep all before it. I hope that Divine Service on the Eve will make it possible for more people to attend. The hymns sung on the day are wonderful hymns, not to be missed: “Now Thank We All Our God,” “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” etc. It has been said that “thinking people are thankful people.” When we think of God’s undeserved blessings showered on our nation— despite our many sins as individuals and as a nation!— we will wish to give thanks to the Lord “whose mercy endureth forever.”
I should also mention that the Church Council has recommended that the Festival Divine Service of Christmas Eve be held at 9:00 PM rather than at 10:30 PM. More and more churches seem to be having their Christmas Eve worship somewhat earlier in the evening. I mention this change now so that you can plan your Christmas Eve in such a way that you will not miss the celebration of the Savior’s birth for your salvation.
Looking back over the past month, we certainly had a wonderful Family Day here on October 11th. I think that the attendance was better than it has been in several years, and we were blessed with a ﬁne sermon by our friend, Pastor Elliott Robertson, of Martini Church. I wish to thank Louise Purviance for taking charge of the delightful luncheon which followed and also everyone who helped in any way to make our Family Day such a success.
The handsome red cope worn on Reformation Day is a gift from Vicar Trent and Maritza Demarest. The cope is a vestment which has continued to be used by the Lutheran bishops in Scandinavia since the time of the Reformation, and it has been restored in many parts of the Lutheran Church. If you have not yet done so, do look at our Church’s website. Vicar Trent has done a splendid job of putting it together and he continues to keep it up to date. Although I have not asked him to do this, he places a recording of my sermons on our website every week. Some of our members who are no longer able to come to church have said how much they appreciate this.
I cannot close without also thanking Steve Knox for all his work in connection with the installation of the new boiler which is now finally in place, up, and running! Please keep me in your prayers. You are daily in mine.
As an expression of our care and concern for those in need we will be collecting non-perishable food items for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for families in the Waverly Elementary/Middle School Community. On October 6th we delivered six boxes of food to the CARES food pantry; that delivery depleted supply. Our focus now is to collected holiday foods (boxed mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, string beans, sweet corn, macaroni, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, boxed cake mix, etc). With the help of a $250 donation from Thrivent and a gift card pledge from Giant Foods, we expect to provide dinners, including turkeys, for approximately ten families, for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. Many thanks for sharing your gifts of food.
— Quilla Downs