Monday, October 16, 2006

Between Wittenberg and Bethlehem: Living the Christian Faith from Reformation Day to Christmas Day

"Can it be November already?" I was just getting into the habit of seeing "September" on calendars and writing "October" on the date line of my personal checks. Can it be just one month away from the last month of the calendar year and the first month of a new Church Year: December?

The ramping up of all things busy is now officially under way. Thanksgiving is coming. Christmas is coming. New Year's Day is coming. And that means get busy. Get busy with writing Christmas cards and making eggnog. Get busy with decorating the house and the church. Get busy with deciding which day will we visit each relative's home and which day they will visit ours.

It's one thing to take a look at our schedules between October 31st and December 25th, but what about our spiritual life for these several weeks? Have we allowed the Gospel re-discovered in the Reformation, the Gospel born as a man in a manger to give us the direction and strength and perspective and trust we need to meet the feverishly busy days that lie ahead for us and our families and our church family?

If there was ever a time of the year in which we need God's saving, uplifting action in our lives, it is between Reformation Day and Christmas Day, that time of the year that it is so easy for us to scurry around so frantically we either (a) forget what all our busyness is all about, (b) allow the frantic nature of the world to crowd out our appointments with the Word of God taught, preached and confessed (or maybe a mixture of both).

One of the remedies for the rat race that calls to each of us between October 31st and December 25th is one prescribed by the Christian Church for generations and generations: the observance of the final Sundays of the Church year and the observance of the season of Advent. Both herald "the coming," the coming of our Lord to do his saving and defending and judging work. Once in humility, again in unstoppable power.

Redeemer Lutheran Church and School have made provisions for such a time as this. We will gather around a new hymnal and a new pew Bible, each more clearly announcing Christ and his gifts with water, bread and wine. Thanksgiving Day Eve and Thanksgiving Day services will give each of us an opportunity to stop and hear the soft yet steady voice of God reminding us for yet another year that he is the source of all good and perfect gifts. We as a congregation will then say "farewell" to the Church Year that began last December as we celebrate "The Sunday of the Fulfillment," a day that points to Christ and his final coming to end all suffering and hopelessness and persecution of his dear children on the Last Day.

And then there's Advent, one of the most peculiar yet necessary seasons of the Church Year. A season of stark simplicity, a season of purple and blue and preparation for the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, as well as special Wednesday services preceded with fellowship and the traditional soup suppers.

God in Christ through the Holy Spirit wishes to bless us all in the coming weeks and months ahead. To that end, take time to be where he promises to be present to bless and forgive and strengthen: where his Word and Sacraments are celebrated -- especially in the midst of the busyness of this time of year.

See you at services.