“Keep Watch For Our Savior’s Return”

So be alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
(Matthew 24:42)

Back a few years ago, there was a cute commercial from Hallmark where a little girl was counting down the days to Christmas. She kept telling her family members how long until Christmas. First she said, “It is 22 days, 3 hours, 10 minutes and 10 seconds until Christmas.” Later she said, “It is 10 days, 12 hours, 45 minutes and 15 seconds until Christmas.” She does this numerous times, almost to the point of being annoying, as it is noticeably getting closer and closer to Christmas. This girl was so excited – almost to the state of bursting with excitement as she counted down the days to Christmas. You might ask, “How did she know how long until Christmas? Hallmark was selling a “Countdown to Christmas -- Hallmark Keepsake Magic Ornament.” This ornament could be set to begin the countdown to Christmas as early as October 1st and then it counted down the days, hours, minutes and even seconds until Christmas. There was no way that this little girl was going to miss Christmas.

While Hallmark’s ornament and this little girl's actions might seem excessive, and I know that it would personally drive me crazy if my kids had one of these, I think that we can all learn something from her. Our Savior has promised us “He will come again.” He has also forewarned us, “Be alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” But do we really take what he says seriously?

This little girl teaches us a valuable lesson. In the same way she focused all of her time and energy on counting down the days until Christmas, we need to focus all of our time and energy on being ready for Jesus’ arrival. Nothing should be able to distract us from being ready to welcome him. But if we are honest with ourselves, this is not always the case. We let the world distract us. We allow our problems to shift our focus. We can even see how we have permitted Satan to make us lose our concentration. No wonder we often times find ourselves unprepared as we wait for our Savior to return.

Our Savior is coming, and he is coming for us. This is his promise. We need to be ready for that day. We need to keep watch so we will be ready to greet him. This calls for watchfulness on our part. First, we need to resist all the distractions that are all around us. Then we need to focus on the words and promises of our Savior found in God’s Word, because it is here that we find everything we need to prepare ourselves.

Jesus wants us to keep watch for his return. On that day he will bring us into his heavenly kingdom. This is a day for which we should long for and want to be prepared for, because it will be a day of great joy and blessing. Even though God hasn’t given us a little countdown clock ornament to count down the days until his return, he has given us his certain promise found in his holy Word which promises that he will return. Just as the little girl couldn’t wait for Christmas to come, may we have the same anticipation as we wait for our Savior’s return. We want to be ready. We want to welcome Jesus as our Lord and as our Savior. We want to keep watch. Have A Blessed and Watchful Advent Season!

— Pastor Gartner


Church News

Mid-Week Advent Services

Our Advent mid-week services will be on December 5, 12, 19 at 10:30 am and 7:00 pm. Plan to attend these mid-week services during Advent.

To help us focus this Advent season, the professors at MLC have written devotions for each day of December to help us see who Jesus really is. These devotions are titled, "Names of Jesus". May the Lord bless us as we eagerly await the coming of our Lord and Savior. To access the devotions click the link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1282i0pasalebu2/Advent%20Devotions-2018.pdf?dl=0

Guest Preacher/Bible Study  

Sunday, December 9 we will have a guest preacher and Bible Study leader. The Synod’s Friendly Counselor for South Asia will lead us through his sermon and in his Bible Class to see the work being done in this part of the world. All are encouraged to join us for both Worship and Bible Study. We will be collecting a special offering for the work in these countries on both December 2nd and 9th.

Adopt-A-Family 

Our congregation will be adopting families for Christmas from our congregation. If you would like to give a monetary gift, the money will be used to purchase appropriate gifts. Please give any money to Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner by Monday, December 3.

Children's Christmas Service

The Children’s Christmas service will be on Sunday, December 16 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.  All the children (3K-8th grade) from St. John can participate. The practices will be on Saturdays, December 1, 8, and 15 from 8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Our regular worship services will be held at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 16 and at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, December 17.

Christmas For Kids

Our Christmas for Kids event will be held after the second children’s Christmas practice on Saturday, December 8. All children and families are invited to this event from 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. The true meaning of Christmas will be taught, snacks will be served, and cookies will be decorated. If you are willing to help, please sign-up in the narthex.

Christmas Caroling

We will be caroling to shut-ins on Saturday, December 8. The Pioneers will go caroling with the congregation. We will meet at church at 1:00 p.m. Please sign up in the entryway.

Christmas Decorating

We will be decorating the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 8 at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome.