Pastor David Nehrenz
FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
Dear Saints in our Lord Jesus,
Another new Christian Church Year will begin on The First Sunday in Advent, Dec. 3. The Festival season is upon us with Advent, Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany. Let us rejoice and be glad!
The theme for our Advent Wednesday Vespers Services is “O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide” LSB Hymn 355. John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus the Christ by crying out with a thrilling voice!
As Malachi the prophet writes in (Mal. 3:1-4) “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but through the means of grace He comes to us. He comes to forgive our sins and to give us eternal life! Jesus comes to us as the Gospel is preached, when we are baptized, when we are absolved, and when we commune at the Lord’s Table.
God, through His Son the babe of Mary, by the Spirit who lives in our hearts, has come to us! May our daily lives revolve around the cyclical flow of the Church Year and not be tossed around by the swift tides of modern fads and fake celebrations.
That flow of the new Church Year for this festival season is:
ADVENT Season – Dec. 3 through Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve)
“Prophecies about Christ’s Coming”
CHRISTMAS Season – Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) through Jan. 6 (the 12 Days of Christmas) -“Jesus Comes – A Babe Born for the Jews”
EPIPHANY Season – begins on Jan. 6 – Epiphany – “Jesus Comes – A Star for the Gentile Magi”
(We will celebrate it on Saturday, Jan. 6)
The Light for the Jews and for us Gentile nations has come. Let heaven and earth rejoice!
In our Advent King, Christmas Savior and Epiphany Light – Jesus,
NOTE: 1. Plan to attend all of our festival services: The three Wednesday evening Advent Vespers services, the two children’s Christmas worship programs, the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, the Christmas Eve Communion Service, the Christmas Day Communion Service, New Year’s Eve Communion Service and the Epiphany of our Lord Communion Service. Have this month’s church calendar on your refrigerator and make note of the dates and times. Come also to the Divine Services every Sunday and receive God’s gracious gifts with joy and exaltation!
During Advent, use the Lutheran Hour Ministries Advent Devotional booklet with the theme: “What Child is This?” as we prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of the Incarnation.
The message of Advent and Christmas is that God became a person. His given name is Jesus, which is the name Yeshua or Joshua, and means “the Lord saves.” Jesus is our only Savior from sin, death and hell. He gives us righteousness, life and heaven.
Vicar James Bruss
From Vicar James Bruss No. 34
Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding! “Christ is near,” we hear it say. “Cast away the works of darkness, All you children of the day!” ~ LSB 345
The new Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent—this year on December 3. That the Church year and the calendar year do not coincide reminds us that though we Christians are in the world, we are not of the world. The Church year provides a rhythm to our lives that sets us apart from the world around us, even as we live in that world.
To the world, Advent is a time for gift shopping, workplace holiday parties, and general revelry—a time to worship God’s creation at the expense of the Creator Himself. Here, too, the Church distinguishes herself. For Christians, Advent is a time of introspection, expectation, and preparation for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas and the crucified Christ at His Second Coming.
In more ways than one, Advent is like Lent—each a season of penitence. The feasts of Christmas’s 12 days must wait just as the season of Easter with its feasting comes only after the abstentions of Lent. These penitential seasons each precede Feasts that give the other meaning. Christmas celebrates the incarnation of our God; Easter the resurrection of the crucified Incarnate God. At Christmas Christ took on our flesh; on Easter morning He conquered death, the fate of all human flesh. Without Christmas, Easter is not possible. Without Easter, Christmas lacks purpose.
It is therefore fitting that we prepare for Christmas (and Easter) by repenting of our sinfulness, which is the reason Christ came into this world and suffered on the cross.
But even in these times of penitence, when we consider all we have done to warrant our own eternal condemnation and the suffering Christ took on for us, the grace of the Gospel shines. In the middle of each season—Advent and Lent—we pause and celebrate our imminent salvation.
In Advent, the Third Sunday is traditionally called Gaudete, which is Latin for “Rejoice!” (Its Lenten counterpart is Laetare, a subject for another day.) On this Third Sunday in Advent, we suspend the penitential nature of Advent and light a rose-colored candle to signify the brightness of the day. We rejoice with John the Baptist that one greater than he has arrived (John 1:19-28). Remember, it was John who leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb when Mary, bearing the Incarnate Christ, greeted her (Luke 1:39-41). It was John’s first—and perhaps most eloquent—sermon. Without words, he rejoiced at the coming of the Word.
Later, when John began his ministry proper, he prepared the way of the Lord and called Israel to repent, just as our Advent observations prepare us for our Lord’s coming and call us to repentance. But on that one Sunday, in the middle of Advent, we rejoice with prenatal John that our Savior has already come. Gaudete!