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born of a woman, born under the law,
in order to redeem those who were under the law,
 so that we might receive adoption as children…
So you are no longer a slave but a child,
and if a child then also an heir, through God. –St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 4:4-5,7

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
O Little Town of Bethlehem by Philip Brooks  LBW #41

Dear Friends of the Messiah,

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS?  That question may bring a wave of excited anticipation or a tidal wave of dread.  Some dread the Christmas season because it is a marathon of frantic preparation work and/or it dredges up memories of Christmases past that left wounds.  For others, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” as Andy Williams sings.  So…

HOW CAN PREPARATIONS FOR CHRISTMAS BE JOYFUL THIS YEAR?  Perhaps we should all start out with this prayer: “Lord, what can I do this year so my preparations are centered on You?  As You have given me hope, grant me the joy of giving hope to others on their journeys through this season with us.”  (This is a big prayer, but I think I can help.)  I believe God has resources for us if we will pause to consider “How God Gets Ready for Christmas.”  That will be the theme of our Wednesday Advent services on December 4, 11, and 18 at 12:00 noon and 7:00 p.m.

HOW GOD GETS READY FOR CHRISTMAS is a wondrous epic–beyond our imaginations, yet the Bible tells the story.  It is an adventure with prophets, kings, women and men, young and old, poverty and riches, birth and rebirth, filled with shocking twists and turns.  Above all, God is the Director of this greatest story ever told.  This old, old story is a Christmas gift from God for you and me as we search for hope and peace in this world.  (Think we have a lot to do to get ready for Christmas?  Think of what God did and is still doing.)

THANK GOD WE DON’T NEED TO SAVE THE WORLD!  That is God’s work, and this is the story of how God is doing it.  God is very, very different from us, yet we are God’s beloved children, created in the image of our heavenly Father.  Our identity as God’s children is a gift to cherish in every season.

WHAT A GREAT WAY TO BEGIN ADVENT: On Sunday, December 1, we will celebrate Baptism for baby Abigail at the 11:00 a.m. service.  New life!  Our Lord keeps giving it, and it is God’s gift for you, too.

O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel!

Pastor Scott Peterson

Post originally appeared in the December 2019 “Messiah Messenger”. Portions of the text were edited to protect the privacy of our members.