In less than a month we will again celebrate Christmas. Here at Our Saviour the Holy Night Communion will be celebrated at 9:00 PM on Christmas Eve. After much thought and discussion, the Church Council decided to recommend and the Voters Meeting agreed that we have this Festival Divine Service somewhat earlier than in the past. There is a perception that people are less willing for various reasons to come out late at night. Be all that as it may, it goes without saying that every Christian will wish to be present in the Lord’s House on Christmas. The shepherds found the Christ Child in the manger, we find Him in the holy Sacrament of His body and blood.
The Church will be decorated for Christmas following the Divine Service on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 20th. “Many hands make light work.” The previous Sunday, December 13th, is the deadline for ordering poinsettias in memory or in honor of loved ones. Names and ten dollars for each plant should be given to Judy Volkman.
But before we come to Christmas we have the Advent season of preparation for the Feast. These four weeks before Christmas are not yet Christmas— despite what the world may say or do! During Advent Saint John the Baptist is after Christ Himself the one dominating figure of the season, and John is the great preacher of repentance. Although it is true that, as Dr. Luther said, “the Christian’s whole life should be one of repentance,” Advent and Lent are times for intensiﬁed focus on this theme. In order to repent we need to recognize our sins. So let me as your pastor urge you during these Advent weeks to examine your conscience in the light of God’s holy Word. There are any number of ways to do this. You might carefully read the Ten Commandments and their meanings in Luther’s Small Catechism or you might consider Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as found in chapters five through seven of Saint Matthew’s Gospel or Saint Paul’s catalogue of the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:19-23. And then reﬂect on your own life in the light of all this. If you feel that you need help in doing this, I am always ready to be of assistance.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that, although the Lutheran Church does not require private confession before the pastor, private confession is taught both in the Augsburg Confession— the principle statement of the doctrine of the Lutheran Church— and in Luther’s Small Catechism which also provides a form for such confession and absolution. Those who use this means of grace testify to the great comfort provided when, having confessed their sins, they receive individual absolution. The pastor who hears such confessions can never under any circumstances divulge what he has heard to anyone, he may not even subsequently mention it to the penitent whose confession he has heard. And if you ask why, the answer is this: confession is made not to the pastor but to God; the pastor is simply a witness to such confession and then grants absolution and counsel. It goes without saying that I am always ready to hear confessions and answer questions about this means of grace. In any event, do use these Advent weeks to examine your conscience not least in preparation for your Christmas Communion.
In the past few weeks two long-time members of our congregation have been called out of this world to Christ’s nearer presence. On Saturday, November 21st, Earline Pride fell asleep in the Lord; the following day Elaine Albert peacefully died. On Saturday, December 12th, there will be a Memorial Service for Earline at 11 o’clock followed by a repast. On Saturday, December 19th, there will be a Memorial Service for Miss Albert at 10 o’clock. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon them and may our heavenly Father comfort all who mourn with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
On the Second Sunday in Advent, December 6th, Paul and Mary Techau will be received as members of Our Saviour. They formerly were members of Immanuel Church in Alexandria whose pastor, Christopher Esget, preached for my installation as Pastor of Our Saviour. We welcome them and ask God’s blessing on their life here at Our Saviour.
This newsletter always provides me with an opportunity to say thank you. So I especially want to thank Anthony Baylor who organized the clean-up and planting day on Saturday, November 14th and to all who participated. I think all of us who joined in the clean-up and planting of bulbs thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. In the spring everyone will take delight in seeing the beautiful tulips in bloom.
On New Year’s Eve we will as usual have Divine Service at 7:30 PM Wednesday, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. There will be a Festival Divine Service at 7:30 PM. All the congregations of our Circuit have been invited to join us. It will be a joyous celebration in which we will sing such familiar carols as “The First Nowell,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “What Child is This?” and also such beloved hymns as “As with Gladness Men of Old.” The celebration of Epiphany provides a joyous conclusion to our Christmas celebration.
God bless you in these Advent days and bring you to a happy Christmas! Affectionately in our Lord,
A Generous Donation
This past month Our Saviour received a very generous donation from a former member. This came in the form of a Thrivent Choice designation for over $1200. Thrivent is a fraternal insurance organization and they give back to the community. The Thrivent Choice program lets eligible members recommend where one of Thrivent’s charitable funds goes by designating Choice dollars. If you have life insurance or an annuity through Thrivent you may qualify to designate funds to Our Saviour. Go to http://www.thrivent.com/thriventchoice. Several members have already designated funds through Thrivent Choice. You can join them and access funds for Our Saviour.
– Judy Volkman
Thanksgiving and Christmas Baskets
This past Thursday we provided complete Thanksgiving dinners to eleven families in our community. Because of an outpouring of generosity, our food drive was a success. Additionally, we have nearly enough fixings to supply our Christmas baskets. Thanks to Judy Volkrnan, a $250 grant from Thrivent was used to purchase ten turkeys. The 33rd Street Giant Supermarket donated a $25 gift card which was spent at the store. Looking towards Christmas, we have a pledge of ﬁve turkeys already. Additional turkey donations would be welcome. We thank our church family for gifts of food, of cash, and for the gift of time.
On Monday, November 23rd, we delivered the food boxes to Waverly Elementary/Middle School. With the help of additional hands, the packaging, the labeling, and the delivery went smoothly. A special thanks to Pastor McClean and to Eugene James who brought his grandson, to William Hawkins and Ron Lang. By the end of the school day, all of the families had picked up their baskets from the Church. We would like to provide for an equal number of families this Christmas. We believe it is possible.
Lastly, we responded to GEDCO’s requesty for a donation of food for their annual Thanksgiving Eve dinner for the residents of Harford House and Mica House. Under the umbrella of Our Saviour Lutheran Church we supplied four bags of dinner rolls and two pies.
– Quilla Downs