How are you preparing for Christmas?
Of those who observe Advent as a season separate from Christmas, many prepare by repentance, good works, and meditation on the coming of Christ. But, as Pastor Lamb said in today’s sermon, what if we were to see John the Baptist’s face when we looked in the mirror? Not the locust-eating, scruffy-clothes wearing prophet, but a man determined to make sure others were ready for the coming of Jesus Christ to the world. Are we helping others to know of the love of Jesus, his redemptive power and salvation from sin? Isn’t that how we should get ready for Jesus’ arrival? Share the Good News!
Mary’s Song—God’s Gift to the World This Advent and Christmas
You are invited to prayerfully ponder one story—the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus—and how her song inspires faithful discipleship.
There once was a young woman named Mary who found favor with God. The angel Gabriel was sent by God to deliver a message to this favored one:
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you…Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. “(Luke 1:28, 30-33 NRSV)
Her cousin Elizabeth confirmed the truth, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:42, 45 NRSV
Mary’s Song—The Magnificat
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55 NRSV
What does All Saints’ Day mean to Lutherans? At St. James and in many Lutheran churches, All Saints’ Day is celebrated the Sunday after Reformation is celebrated (the date for Reformation is October 31, so Reformation Sunday is celebrated on or before 31 October).
In our congregation and most congregations, the festival is marked as an time to remember the dead. The names of those who have died from the St. James congregation within the last year are read during worship. While our dead are solemnly remembered during worship on All Saints’ Sunday, the festival is ultimately a celebration of Christ’s victory over death. While the harsh realities of death are acknowledged, hope in the Resurrection and our place in the “communion of saints” should always take center stage.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14)