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Christmas bells and music

The Wonders of Christmas. . .

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!

This is a very familiar text for us. These words fill us with wonder every year and have inspired countless hymns, songs, movies and plays.  One of our favorite family traditions during December is to watch Christmas movies. We love the classics: Charlie Brown, The Grinch, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story. The list goes on and on.  We gather around, family and friends, enjoying eggnog, hot cocoa, and other special Christmas treats and laugh out loud at the mishaps of the Griswold family, quote Charlie Brown, and cheer words of encouragement to George Bailey. These movies bring us together.  In all these movies Christmas never goes as planned and often is a complete disaster. Although these movies feature a dramatic and comedic flare, just like our real lives we experience struggles, challenges, and things rarely, if ever, go exactly as planned. Another relatable and genuine aspect of these movies is that regardless of what happens during the preparation time in December, Christmas always happens, and people learn that Christmas means more than presents and bright lights. In these holiday favorites, Christmas may be a complete disaster for the characters: lights that don’t light, a sad tree that just needs a little love, an empty pantry with not even a crumb left for a mouse, but we know Christmas will still happen.  The Whos will still gather in the Whoville square, hold hands, and sing Christmas carols. Love will still be felt. Christ will still be born and will forever mean “God is with us.”

Jesus’s birth was also full of mishaps and drama: an unwed teen mother, a last minute trip, a dirty stable, and flight to Egypt.  Nothing stopped Jesus from being born, because nothing can stop God from entering into our world.  God’s love is strong and overcomes all the obstacles we create around it. On Christmas day we celebrate God incarnate in the baby Jesus.

God’s Blessings to all of you during this wondrous, meaningful, dramatic and faithful season.

Yours in Christ~ Pastor Erik

 

 

give

She gave out of all she had. . .

Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

                Jesus’ words have constantly and consistently been a problem and an inconvenience to the elite/wealthy members of society ever since he spoke them. The Gospels are filled with stories showing Jesus comforting the conflicted and conflicting the comfortable. Jesus brilliantly sees through and beyond the surface and recognizes the actual intentions and character of rich and poor alike. Do we follow Jesus example? Do we hold people accountable to their actions that denigrate and oppress the voiceless? Do we hold ourselves accountable for participating in systems of greed and oppression?

For the past several weeks I’ve found myself thinking back to a day in early October when I was in Honduras. We were in the 15-passenger van travelling to El Buen Pastor Lutheran (Good Shepherd Lutheran) for worship on a Sunday morning. During the drive I notice several huge factories on the outskirts of town. Each factory contained 10,000 workers devoted to making name brand shoes and clothes. The workers earn 8 dollars per full day of work. Next to the factories were several 2 to 3 million dollar homes with big fences and heavily armed security guards patrolling the properties. It is not secret to anyone that the people who own those homes are connected with gangs, narco-trafficking, and/or corrupted government. Seeing such stark examples of elite/poor, greedy/humble, oppressor/oppressed I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words. I do feel some comfort knowing that some day Jesus will right all these wrongs and bring into the fullness of Kingdom, but I am also impatient and upset that people are suffering now. But I am also encouraged that Jesus invites me and you into God’s powerful mission of sharing God’s love and peace with all. My wise Grandmother used to tell me that if I don’t like something instead of whining and complaining I should do something constructive to help change it.

Blessings~ Pr. Erik

Christmas Candlelight

Advent and Christ’s Arrival

 

  Luke 21:25-36

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Blessed Advent everyone!

The future coming of Jesus Christ with glory and majesty is a big part of this weeks reading. We are at the first Sunday of the liturgical year, but our reading today builds upon and continues themes from previous weeks. Recently, we observed All Saints Day which focused on drawing all people, with special recognition of those who have recently passed away, into the body of the resurrected and ascended Christ. Promises made by God and promises kept by God are themes to diligently remember. We’ve also been talking about Apocalyptic texts which reassures the promises that God has made to God’s people in spite of the tragedy and oppression that the community faces. Last week was Christ the King Sunday which centers on one of Christ’s roles/offices which is King. Themes of Christ’s kingship extend into Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

Sunday’s gospel reading is located near the end of Luke’s gospel. Jesus tells his followers to be alert because redemption is drawing near are also words that we (people living in 2018) should also take to heart. Paying attention and being alert to the needs of our neighbors are super important. Being alert to what and where God is calling us to live our lives is our purpose. In short, Advent is a time to prepare for Christ’s arrival, and we prepare not by simply waiting, but by actively engaging in the world that God love so much.

With faith, hope, and love~ Pastor Erik

 

Rooted in Faith + Growing in Christ + Reaching to Serve

 

Christmas Rejoice

UPCOMING: Fun Events & Bible Study Times

News,  events & Christmas services:

 

Christmas Wreaths: You can make an order at the church on Sundays, or in the office Monday – Thursday, by Dec. 2nd. They will be distributed on Sunday, Dec. 9th. The cost is $20 and the proceeds will go to Youth Ministry.

  • Dec. 2nd, WELCA Bake Sale in the Fellowship Hall.  Also, in the evening, there will be a Lessons & Caroles Fest @ Gehtsemane 6pm.
  • Dec. 4th, Tuesday, Traditional Lutefisk & Meatball Dinner at Gethsemane, 3-7pm!
  • Dec. 7th  7pm, Choralaires Concert @OSLC, and they will be at Gethsemane Dec. 14th, 7pm.
  • Dec. 9th will be our Youth Christmas Program.
  • Dec. 12th Christmas Caroling – meet here at 5:45pm! All are invited~
  • Dec. 14th – Choralaires Concert @ Gethsemane, 7pm.
  • Dec. 20th there will be a Blue Christmas Service here @ 5pm.
  • Dec. 23rd there will be a Christmas Music Extravaganza during our regular worship time @ 9:30am.
  • Our Christmas Eve Service will be at 4:00pm. There will be services at Gethsemane at 3:30, 5:30, 10pm.
  • Messiah Lutheran’s Christmas Day Service will be at 10am.
Advent Candles in the snow with evergreen branches red berries and a snowy forest in the background. Christmas Eve all five candles lighted.  The Prophecy, love,   rose or joy,  peace, and central white "purity"   candles are lit.

Youth Announcements – Winter is upon us!

Happy Holidays!


I am incredibly excited to start the season of advent with you all! The month of November was busy for our youth, and December is going to be even more eventful! Again, our Sunday school will be putting on the Christmas program on December 9th! It will be wonderful telling of Jesus’ birth—performed by all members of our program with some songs mixed in! Our children have been working diligently over the past few weeks, and are excited to show our Congregation! After our program we will spend the last few Sundays of the Advent season going over details in the Christmas story, as well as creating all sorts of crafts!

Confirmation students are in for a change with the season as well! Starting on December 5th Our Savior’s will be hosting Confirmation classes! We have had a wonderful time at Messiah, but I’m excited to bring the joy of our fellowship to our building! We had 13 youth attend the Middle School Youth Gathering at Cragun’s a few weeks ago! We had a blessed time worshipping with youth across our synod, and had a blast with all the fun activities the LYO board had planned for us! On December 12th we will have our Christmas and caroling event, which will include all of our Confirmation students going to Assisted Living Facilities to spread the Christmas cheer that is starting to build up in our hearts! Drivers are still needed for this event to help transport students to each place! Once we have sung our last carol we will come back to Our Savior’s to celebrate in fellowship with Hot Cocoa and snacks!

Our Confirmation program also hosts a meal on Wednesdays before class in which all are welcome to attend, this also means we need volunteers to help with these meals! If you have any interest please reach out to me.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Ben

Confirmation classes will start meeting at OSLC in December on Wednesdays at 6:30pm as usual!

 

 

christmas and thanksgiving

Giving Thanks. . .

 

2 Corinthians 9:11

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Psalm 107:8-9

8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Happy Thanksgiving! This week I especially pray for you and all people to experience on overflow of generosity- both generosity from and generosity toward.  I pray for you to have a generous portion of kindness, compassion, quality time, rest and relaxation, love, peace, and good food. Our national day of Thanksgiving is centered on giving thanks to God for all the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Just as God has acted generously towards each of us in our lives and faith, let us reflect God’s generous character to our families and neighbors.

God Bless you~ Pr. Erik

group prayer artistic layer

All people. . .

Mark 9:38-40

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.  40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

 There are an estimated 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. That is a lot! The majority of the 40,000 are small splinter groups from mainline denominations or they are unaffiliated stand-alone congregations. For me, it is interesting to think about how one Bible is the authority of so many different groups. Different groups mean different theological interpretations, different points of emphasis, and different ways of worship. A look at the nightly news and basic study of history shows that people often look towards other denominations with suspicion and even aggression. World history headlines from the past two thousand years show that these differences have directly led to, or at least played a role in major wars resulting in countless tragedies. This reading from Mark 9 firmly directs us to reexamine how we interact with and treat people from other Christian traditions. Simply stated, Jesus tells us that different is ok. The name of Jesus is what truly matters, and the name of Jesus is what transcends cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences in order to bring all people together.

This week, I invite everyone to have a conversation with someone from a different Christian tradition to share something about church or worship style and to also learn something new about another group.

A few years ago I heard an excellent sermon which used the phrase, “remember, different people are not a failed attempt at being you. All people are unique expressions of being children of God.”

With grace~ Pastor Erik

Bible study 3

Bible Study Times

We have various Bible Studies that are ongoing @ OSLC. You can check out one of these listed below, or stop by the office for a little more info about the topics being studied or who to get in contact with if you would like to try one out.

  • Mondays @ 2pm: The Rouchleau Women’s Study meet at Rouchleau apartments.
  •  Tuesdays @ 9:30am & 1pm at OSLC:  The WELCA Circles meet @ OSLC.
  • Wednesdays at 7:30am: The Men’s  Breakfast & Study Group meets at Perkins in Mt. Iron.
  • Wednesdays @ 2pm: OSLC Bible Study is in the Fireside or youth room meets and is open to everyone!
  • Thursdays at 3pm: The Ladies Study @ Adventures Restaurant meets.

Men in Missions

Men in Missions – This group of men meets once a month to learn about service projects in the church and beyond that they can become involved in. It is part mentor-ship and part service, resulting in service to others.

 

WELCA

“WELCA”  Women of the ELCA – We are a group of ladies that love to share our interests and ideas about life with each other, and share the love of Christ with the outside world around us. Our circle groups are involved with many service projects,  such as, creating newborn kits, school backpack kits, camperships for youth at Camp Vermilion, quilting, prayer shawls, hospital care kits, etc. If you attend the church, you are considered a member, and can join in the meetings and devotion times whenever you are able, and take part in whatever projects you feel called to do. We invite you to join us and share your ideas!

If you need a few resources to get you through the week, click on these links here for devotionals and information to lift your spirits!

daily grace devos

https://www.womenoftheelca.org/blog/category/daily-grace

 

 

 

https://www.gathermagazine.org/articles/latest-articles/gather welca publication pict

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.boldcafe.org/bold cafe