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The Bible is a book of Advents

Christian faith is getting worn down in Western culture because it has become the norm to separate God and spiritual forces from the world of senses. Religion is becoming compartmentalized to Sunday and church events. The relevance of faith to daily life is getting strained, and people are getting crushed by the modern pressure toward secularization.

The season of Advent is a time for us to remember that Jesus’ arrival into the world is the central theme of all Scripture. From the Old Testament to the New Testament to the present to the end times there is one unified Christian theology. There will be moments when we experience vast differences in how we see the world compared to how people in the biblical times saw the world. Even today people will live under different circumstances and experience daily life in very different ways. Advent is a church season when we rejoice that in all places and in all times God finds a way to bend our lives toward seeing him at work. With expectancy and readiness, we look for God.

Even while people live under the crush of secularization and struggle to imagine God is at work, we look with hope for meaning and purpose in our days. When you understand the Bible as a book of Advents, of arrivals, of God coming into the world, then you gain a greater sense of how God is still at work in this world delivering hope and promise into our days. This Advent season our midweek services, on December 1, 8, and 15 will take place at 4pm and 6:30pm. There will be a brief communion service offered after the 6:30pm Vespers prayer services. The midweek Vesper services will look at the many ways that God arrives in the Bible to deliver hope and promise into the world. As we rejoice with God’s activity in the Bible, we will be equipped to see God still works to deliver hope.

On December 1, we will rejoice at the different impossible birth stories in the Bible that show us that God works in the impossible moments to deliver a living hope. On December 8, we will see the impossible places where God was unexpected. We will rejoice that God arrives in the wilderness and reveals that God can come to the places abandoned of hope. On December 15, we will hope with certainty that God works through people to deliver his love into a world becoming dominated by hate. We will be equipped to see how God works through his servants to deliver love through the weak and struggling in this world.

Advent is a season that prepares us in body and soul to receive the arrival of God. Advent is a season that look forward to the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Advent is also a season that prepares us for the birth of faith in the lives of people who do not yet know God. Use this December as a time to break away from the crushing pressure to place God in a box that remains unopened and unused. Make your family rituals filled with opportunities to witness Jesus’ love arriving in this world. Open your heart and your life to witness Jesus at work in your daily life. You and I can marvel in moments of humility that Jesus was born to such a time as these days when sin and struggle make it hard to imagine God can be here among us sinners.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

End of the Church Year

The liturgical church year comes to a close in November. The church for centuries has kept track of days and seasons and commemorating special occasions with a calendar. The church year is structured around the acts of salvation that God delivers into this world for us in Christ Jesus. The Sundays and seasons of the church year help us journey on a path that shows us Jesus Christ at work in this world building the kingdom of God.
Advent, the beginning of the church year will be celebrated this year on November 28. Advent marks the beginning of the journey we take each year. We begin the church year with anticipation that Christ is coming into the world. We celebrate that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and came into the world in our own human nature to redeem us sinners. Advent is also a time to celebrate all the ways that he comes to us again. Our journey through the church year follows the footsteps of Jesus as he is born, appears to the nations, is crucified, and rises again. After the season of Easter, we celebrate the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. With the resurrection of Jesus and the promised presence of the Spirit, we spend most of the rest of the church year reflecting on the mission of the church and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
The church year journey reminds us who God is for us and who we are for our neighbor. We are reminded that God is with us in Christ Jesus. We are encouraged that the Spirit works through the gospel to call, gather, and enlighten us in the faith. We celebrate that God invites us to be a part of his mission to restore his creation. Through everything that happens in the church year and in our own lives we rejoice that Christ is our Lord and Savior.
The church year ends in November with reminders that this world will face judgment. The trumpet will blast. Christ will return with all authority in heaven and earth to judge the living and the dead. We will face judgment day with confidence in Christ. He is our resurrection. The scripture readings at the end of the church year are filled with honesty that the world coming to an end will be frightening. The honesty of fright is matched with the confidence that we will not face the end times alone. Our Lord is victorious over sin, death, and the devil. Christ’s love holds us more securely than any of the forces of evil that try to pull us away from God. Rejoice in Christ. The end is near, and yet our savior is always closer than the end times.
Posted by Evan Gaertner

Persisting in the Truth

Persisting in the Truth

In 1517, Martin Luther argued against the practice of buying or earning forgiveness. Salvation is a gift from God, and we receive the benefit of this gift through faith. This university professor from a small town in Germany sparked a reform in the church. He did not seek to cause a split in the church, but a return to the foundation of the Christian faith being established on the truth of the Word of the Lord. Luther recognized that the Word of the Lord had been silenced in the church. Where the Word of the Lord is muted, false and misleading doctrines are introduced. So that we might be kept on the right path of divine truth, we keep God’s Word ever before our eyes and upon our hearts. Biblical literacy is vital for the health of the church. Remain in the Word.

The enemy of the human race, the devil himself, continues to endeavor to scatter seeds of false doctrine and disunity. Every generation of faithful people in the church must learn to address harmful and aggravating divisions in church with the promises of God revealed in Holy Scriptures. When bonds of Christian love and unity are broken, there will inevitably be a time of accusation and disappointment. Slander becomes freely spoken. People cover up their own errors. Straying consciences are turned away from trusting in the Gospel and look for comfort in the beguiling fruit of pride. The devil will work to keep our eyes away from God. No matter how deeply intwined sin becomes in our lives, God remains our refuge and strength. God helps us in our times of trouble. The mighty fortress of our God is found in the Word. God promises to be present for you in this age of confusion. The Holy Spirit delivers us into clarity through the Scriptures.

With divine assistance, we remain and persist in the unwavering truth of the gospel of our Lord. When earth gives way and our footing in this world becomes uncertain, the Lord is with us. The answer to religious controversies that take place in this generation is the same answer that other generations have had to rely upon during their moments of struggle. On the basis of God’s Word we expose and reject false teaching. We confess the truth. We rely upon God’s grace to preserve us. 

The Lutheran church is a community of believers that gather around the promise that God is revealed for our salvation in Jesus Christ. We cannot believe in our Lord Jesus Christ through our own reason and strength. The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, and enlightens us to the true saving faith through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We trust in Jesus to be our redeemer from sin, death, and the devil. It is not our intention to cause any hardship or oppression for anyone holding to different views. Our disposition and intention remain directed toward being a people of faith, hope, and love. No one should feel they need to buy or earn their way into our community. Our community is a body of believers united in the repentance of sin and the promise of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

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