Christmas Changes Everything!

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Matthew 2:20 - EHV)

There are a few events in our lives that change who we are and what we think is important. How many of you can remember where you were or what you were doing when you heard that the Twin Towers in New York had been attacked? I can still remember standing in school watching it on TV, because it was happening just as the school day was beginning. Maybe for some of you, it was when you first heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed, or others might remember the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Events like these are ingrained in our memory, because they are events that changed everything.

There is another event that changed everything. It was an event that we weren’t even present for. It happened over 2000 years ago. It was the birth of the Savior of the world. The day that this event happened, the world changed and so did the lives of everyone who heard about Jesus or met him or most importantly were led to believe in him. The truth is that Christmas Changes Everything!

The shepherds give us a wonderful example of this change. After hearing about the baby Jesus, they ran into Bethlehem and found the baby and their hearts were changed forever. After seeing Jesus, they ran throughout Bethlehem telling everyone they could find about this life-changing event. But what happened next shows us a true changeIt tells us, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” They returned back to their flocks and their hearts were filled with the desire to praise and glorify their God for all that they had seen and heard. I don’t think that the shepherds got a lot of sleep that night and don’t think that they cared.

How do you think that they glorified and praised God? Maybe it was with songs of praise as you heard them singing out in the fields around Bethlehem. Maybe it was just the words that they spoke to each other about how wonderful their night was from the angel’s announcement, to the host of angels singing in the sky, to the finding of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus lying in a manger. Whatever form of glorifying and praising that went on doesn’t really matter. The most important part is that they did glorify and praise God.

As we quickly approach another Christmas and the crush of Christmas present buying and other forms of Christmas stress are about to swamp us under, what would they write about us after we celebrate another Christmas? Will it be written that as we return home and to your places of work following this Christmas that we are glorifying and praising God for all that we heard and saw this Christmas? Will it be evident to all that our hearts and lives have been changed by this Christmas message or has the praising and glorifying of God for Christmas taken a back seat to Christmas burnout?

This doesn’t mean that we are sitting in our living rooms singing hymns of praise all day long. Praising and glorifying can take on many different forms. It can be as simple as coming to Church as often as possible to hear more and more about the Jesus our Savior. It can mean that we are more kind and compassionate in your everyday activities, because God’s love fills our hearts. Let everything you do glorify and praise God.

 There are those few moments in life that are life-changing. I pray that as we make our way to the manger this Christmas and as we look into that manger that we are led to see the most life-changing event in the history of this world – the birth of our Savior. I pray that this special day will continue to bring about major changes in our hearts and our lives, as God leads us to see again and again what a special gift we have been given in the form of God’s Son born in a little stable to be our Savior from sin. Christmas truly does change everything!

Pastor Mark Gartner

 Church News

Midweek Advent Services

Today is our last Advent mid-week services at 10:30 am 6:30 pm. This year’s theme is: The Prophet Isaiah’s Names of the Promised Messiah. Today we will look at the name "Messiah". We pray that you will be able to join us for these services as we prepare our hearts and minds for Christ’s coming.

Advent Devotions

Click the link below for the 2019 edition of the Martin Luther College Advent Devotions. These devotions, written by MLC professors, make a great addition to your daily meditation on God’s Word. You can either download a PDF document, or sign up to have them sent straight to your email’s inbox.

Advent and Christmas Services and Practices

As we approach December please keep the following worship services and events along with their times in your mind that you can join us in worshiping our coming Savior!

Midweek Advent Services

December 18 at 10:30am and 6:30pm

Children’s Christmas Practices

December 21 at 8:00 am

Children’s Christmas Service

December 22 at 9:30am and 11:00am.

Regular Worship Service at 8:00 and Monday at 6:30

Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship

December 24 at 3:00pm, 5:00pm, and 7:00pm

Christmas Day Worship with Holy Communion

December 25 at 9:00am

New Year’s Eve Worship with Holy Communion

December 31 at 6:30pm

Bible Classes

On Sunday mornings, Pastor Gartner is leading a study on the practice of Stewardship—how God wants us to use all the gifts that he has graciously given to us—whether it’s the use of our time, our talents, our treasures, our bodies, his great creation, etc. Plan on joining us for this study on Sunday mornings at 9:15am. NOTE: We will not be meeting on December 22 and 29. We will resume again on January 5th.

On Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings Pastor Frey is studying the letters of John the Apostle. In his first letter John expertly weaves doctrine with practice—a practical letter filled with passages on the love and mercy of Christ. Please plan on joining us as we study these interesting letters to God’s people. NOTE: We will not meet the next 2 weeks because of Christmas and the New Year. Classes will resume on January 6th and 7th.

NOTE: We do have audio recordings and the Lesson Sheets of these Bible Classes. If you have been unable to attend and would like these sent to you, please email Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.

Dartball Fun Day

St. John’s dartball team invites all members to join them for a dartball fun day on Sunday, January 5, 2020 in the lower level. A pot-luck meal with hot ham sandwiches at 12:00 pm (noon) will begin the fun day. Playing dartball will follow the meal. Come; bring a dish to pass. Enjoy some fellowship with other St. John members and learn more about dartball. A sign-up sheet is in the narthex.