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Every day Jesus was teaching in the Temple, and at night
He would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives
(Luke 21:37)

Dear Friends of the Coming Messiah,

Lutherans are different, especially this time of year.

In late fall, Norwegian farmers would put away their tools in the waning light of the season.  It was time to clean and repair their wagons and farm implements in preparation for the spring.  Families would take a wheel off a wagon and bring it inside, then decorate the wheel with evergreens and candles.  This was a way of marking time and also an invitation to slow down to think. 

The liturgical color for Advent in the Lutheran church is purple/violet.  

The beautiful “cartwheel” in the Sanctuary with five candles during December is MLC’s Advent wreath.  It stands as an invitation to slow down to think about this life and the life to come.  That is not easy to do when the culture around us is frantically charging through the season.

Advent Means “Coming Toward.”  It is a season of preparations.  What are we going toward?  What are we preparing for?  The world shouts, “Christmas!”  For Lutherans, it is not that simple.  We start by listening to words from Jesus about coming toward His coming again.  This next coming will be in power and judgment.

 Jesus Christ on Mt. of Olives  GIOVANNI (Joseph Untersberger)

In the last week of His earthly life, it sounds like Jesus camped out under the stars for several nights atop the Mount of Olives.  As He awaited his arrest and crucifixion, He was probably contemplating life—his own and the lives of his followers.  One of those days, He preached, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and the stars, and on earth distress among the nations confused by the roaring of seas and waves” (Luke 21:25).

If we like our Christmas with lots of tinsel and sugar, these words of Jesus may sound unsettling or just plain harsh.  Who has time to think about the kingdom when there is so much to do?  Yet Jesus admonishes us, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:34-35).  Every Advent we pray/sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,” but what will happen if Jesus does that this year?

“Now when these things take place, stand up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”  Is that good news for you and me?  Or are we like a character in one of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories who says, “A man with a good car ain’t got no need of redemption?” 

We are invited to remove a wheel or tire.  Advent is an invitation to stand on tiptoe, alert and watchful.  Advent invites us to honestly consider our place in the world, our attachments, and where our true investments reside.  Such reflections do not need to be grim.  They might strengthen our faith so that when our time comes, we can say without fear, “It is well, it is well with my soul” (LBW #346).

Lutherans are different, especially this time of year. 

Advent hope,

How might you and I try to “remove a tire” this Advent and prepare the way of the Lord?

Pastor Scott Peterson

We welcome all at Messiah Lutheran Church! 
Sunday Services of Worship are at 8:30 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. 
Wed. Advent Services continue through Dec. 19 at Noon and 7 p.m.  Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship is Monday, Dec. 24, at 5 & 7 p.m.

Rev. Scott Peterson is the Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church.  The above article appeared in the December, 2018 “Messiah Messenger”  Monthly Newsletter