|Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!" The store displays, light displays, Christmas music, decorations, advertisements, shorter days, and winter-like weather, etc. serve to remind us that Christmas Day will soon be here and, that we have so many days to get ready.
While, no man knows the day or the hour when our Lord will return (see Matthew 24:36), scripture does give us some signs to look for which serve to remind us that Judgment Day will soon be here, and that we have so many days to get ready!!!
The most important of those signs is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10). The time between Our Savior's birth and His return is when God is calling all people to be saved. As the end of the world draws closer, each day the Lord gives us is one more day to serve him to be a part of the great effort to proclaim the Gospel.
Other signs that serve to remind us of Our Lord's Coming include wars, earthquakes, famines, and widespread disease. These signs serve to remind us, as Christians, that this world is not our home. They are to be regarded as "birth pains" of a new and better world to come. To look up for our redemption draws nigh (see Luke 21:28).
In addition, the Gospel message assures of our forgiveness of sins through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. Rather than dread the Day of Judgment, we can look forward to Our Lord's return. We are reminded of our Lord's Coming in the Lord's Table ("for as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes"). And daily when we make the sign of the cross in remembrance of our Baptism, we are reminded that we've been born again through the water and the Spirit, and that heaven is our real home.
In addition, each day we grow older is a reminder that of our own personal Day of Judgment, should our Lord tarry. And as Hebrews 9:27 tells us, "….people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." As Moses writes in Psalm 90:10, "The length of our days is seventy years --- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away."
Unlike Christmas Day, we don't have an exact countdown as to when our Lord will return. But, we would be foolish not to be prepared. As Jesus emphasized in his parable of the wise and foolish virgins (see Matthew 25:1-13), we are to keep watch, because we do not know the day or the hour. Thus, as we await our Lord return, we are to keep our spiritual lamps lit, as we replenish them again and again with the anointing of the Holy Spirit working through God's Word and Sacraments. Along with that, we continually repent of our sins and receive God's forgiveness in Christ, so that we can be ready for our Lords' return, any time!
We may not know all the detail about the end of the world, but we do not need to be anxious about them. Because of Christ's death and resurrection, we have the full and free forgiveness of our sins. Hence, we are able to look forward to Christ's return with confidence, hope and joy, as people who have been made ready for His return! And so, we respond to the words of our Lord, "Yes, I am coming soon!" by saying, "Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!" (see Revelation 22:20)
May this Advent/Christmas Season serve to remind you of the blessed three Advents of our Lord: 1) His Advent in Bethlehem, as the promised Messiah; 2) His Advent into our lives, when saving faith was worked in our hearts through the Holy Spirit working through God's Word; 3) And His coming Advent when He returns again to this earth, to take us to our heavenly home!
For Surely God is with us, as our Immanuel!
December 1st First Sunday in Advent, Divine Worship Setting II, 9:30 a.m.
December 4th, Mid-Week Advent Service ("The Promised Messiah – Son of Abraham"), Vespers, 7:00 p.m.
December 7th, Saturday Evening Worship, 6:00 p.m.
December 8th, Second Sunday in Advent, Divine Worship Setting III, 9:30 a.m.
December 11th, Mid-Week Advent Service ("The Promised Messiah – Son of David"), Vespers, 7:00 p.m.
December 15th, Advent Lessons and Carols, 9:30 a.m.
December 18th, Mid-Week Advent Service ("The Promised Messiah – Son of Man and Son of God"), Vespers, 7:00 p.m.
December 22nd, The Messiah Sunday School Christmas Program, 9:30 a.m.
December 24th, Christmas Eve Services, 7:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m. (Candlelight with Holy Communion)
December 25th, Christmas Day, 9:30 a.m. (with Holy Communion)
December 29th, Christmas Lessons and Carols, 9:30 a.m.
This year's mid-week Advent theme is "The Promised Messiah", based upon the Family Tree of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. The following will be the focus of our Mid-Week Advent Services: The Promised Messiah-Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1-6a), The Promised Messiah-Son of David (Matthew 1:6b-11), and The Promised Messiah-Son of Man and Son of God (Matthew 1:12-16). Join us as we prepare our hearts for the Advent of the Messiah, singing, "Oh, Come Oh, Come Immanuel!" Sunday Morning Bible Study
Join us Sunday mornings after worship, as we continued our fascinating study of Revelation. You are guaranteed to be blessed in doing so! "Blessed are you who read and you who hear this prophecy as you keep what is written here – because the time is near" (Revelation 1:3 AAT).
I think that I shall never see
A Church that's all it ought to be.
A Church that has no empty pews.
Whose Pastor never has the blues.
A Church whose Deacons always Deke
And none is proud but all are meek
Where gossips never peddle lies
Or make complaints or criticize
Where all are always sweet and kind
And all to other's faults are blind
Such perfect churches there may be
But none of them are known to me
But still we'll work, and pray and plan
To make our Church the best we can!
God hates gossip. Talk to people, not about them!
The person who gossips has the devil on his tongue, and the person who listens to gossip has the devil in his ear.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
An explanation from Luther's Small Catechism:
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
As Further explained from Luther's Large Catechism: "Now we have the sum and general understanding of this commandment: Let no one do any harm to his neighbor with the tongue, whether friend or foe. Do not speak evil of him, no matter whether it is true or false, unless it is done by commandment or for his reformation. Let everyone use his tongue and make it serve for the best of everyone else, to cover up his neighbor's sins and infirmities (1 Peter 4:8), excuse them, conceal and garnish them with his own reputation. The chief reason for this should be the one that Christ declares in the Gospel, where He includes all commandments about our neighbor, "whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" (Matthew 7:12) (from the Large Catechism within the Book of Concord, paragraph 286).
Merry Christmas to the Friends and Members of Messiah Lutheran Church!
Wherever you may be during this Advent/Christmas season, we pray that you will be reminded of just how much God loves you in Christ Jesus! As you open up your presents, may you be reminded of the greatest gift of all, Your Savior, and join with the angels in shouting, "Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth!"
Blessings to you and your family this Christmas and in the New Year ahead!
Pastor Wendt and MiRan
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