FROM PASTOR TIM:
We’re off and running with the Christmas season, and I for one am grateful for this beautiful season to reflect on the Incarnation; God taking on human flesh to dwell with us. You can hear the word “carne” in Incarnation. Carne usually means flesh or meat. God became flesh, incarnate, in the form of baby Jesus.
And the world has never been the same.
I pray you will indeed take time during Advent, which means “coming” to prepare your own flesh to truly experience the truest gift of God; Jesus’s coming to earth.
I learned something new this past Sunday night that will help me in my own preparation and might help you as well. Karen Broekhuis, Kathryn, our girls and I all went to Riverside Terrace to lead a service for the elderly patrons. We had 20 people singing hymns, praying, studying Scripture and hearing the Gospel.
Afterwards, our custom is to greet each person there. One woman told me that her former pastor said a great way to celebrate Advent was, to read one chapter a day from the Gospel of Luke beginning on December 1st until Christmas Eve.
Well. Guess how many chapters there are in Luke? Exactly 24. In all of my years of studying and preaching Scripture I had never heard of that practice, and, I have never figured that out. What a great way to take in Advent!
So, today is December 4 and it’s not too late to catch up in reading Luke so as to be on chapter 5 tomorrow. Do you want to join me in reading through Luke?
As I mentioned on Sunday, we also have a wonderful daily devotion designed for Advent with 24 brief and powerful readings. It’s not too late to pick it up, catch up on your readings and then have that book for every Advent going forward.
On a personal note, I have shaken hands with one President of the U.S., and that was George H.W. Bush (the 41st President and father of George W. Bush #43). It was a brief handshake at the train depot in Burlington, WI during his final weeks campaigning for President in 1991. He eventually lost to Bill Clinton. But he looked me right in the eye and spoke to me briefly as though I was his equal.
As most of you know by now, former President Bush died this past Friday. He was the President when I served in Desert Shield/Storm and was incredibly respected by all of us. By all accounts he was a class act, decent and dignified. Losing his voice and character is a genuine loss to our country. We need more like him.
While his casket was being taken into the Capitol Rotunda to lie in state, two hymns could be heard: “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “A Mighty Fortress.” I hope those two songs, likely chosen by him in advance, indicate his deepest beliefs in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We have much to be thankful for in this country, and so much more as we think of the death of our Savior who lived among us.
Blessed Advent to you all!
Pastor Tim Johnson