Archive for December, 2018

1st Sunday in Advent

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Then the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory.  When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near. Jesus is coming

Being prepared is really important. Whether talking about preparing for an exam, a trip overseas or a dinner party. The 19th-century explorer, Sir John Franklin, led an expedition that tried to reach the North Pole. Consider how prepared he was for that journey:

“Each sailing vessel carried an auxiliary steam engine and a 12-day supply of coal for the entire projected 2 or 3 year voyage. Instead of additional coal…each ship made room for a 1,200-volume library, a hand-organ playing 50 tunes, china place settings for officers and men, cut-glass wine goblets, and sterling silver cutlery. The expedition carried no special clothing for the Arctic, only the uniforms of Her Majesty’s Navy.” (1)

Imagine heading into the frigid wastelands of the North Pole with supplies like that! These explorers were totally unprepared for what they were about to face.

Today is the beginning of the Advent season, a time of anticipation, a time of getting ready for the arrival of someone important. Jesus will come back again, as out text reminds us – “the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory”.

The Advent season reminds us through the words of Jesus and people like John the Baptist, Paul and the Old Testament prophets that we should always be prepared for Jesus’ return because we don’t know exactly when this will take place. His reappearance will catch many people unprepared just as a thief comes during the night when the owners of the house are sleeping and unprepared for his unexpected arrival.

There was once a spider who lived in a cornfield. He was a big spider and he had spun a beautiful web between the corn stalks. He got fat eating all the bugs that would get caught in his web. He liked his home and planned to stay there for the rest of his life.

One day the spider caught a little bug in his web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said,
“If you let me go I will tell you something important that will save your life.”

The spider paused for a moment and listened because he was amused.
“You better get out of this cornfield,” the little bug said, “The harvest is coming!”

The spider smiled and said, “What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story.”

But the little bug said, “Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will be knocked down and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay here.”

The spider said, “I don’t believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can you prove this?”

The little bug continued, “Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves this field was created by an intelligent designer.”

The spider laughed and mockingly said, “This field has evolved and has nothing to do with a creator. Corn always grows that way.”

The bug went on to explain, “Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon.”

The spider grinned and said to the little bug, “I don’t believe you,” and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch.

A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told him. He thought to himself, “A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life and nothing has ever disturbed me. I have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I’ll be here for the rest of my life, because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made.”

The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear and there was no wind at all. That afternoon as the spider was about to take a nap, he noticed some thick dusty clouds moving toward him. He could hear the roar of a great engine and he said to himself, “I wonder what that could be?”

Jesus knew that when the he came a second time there would be many people who would say, “I wonder what that could be?” and so he went to a lot of effort to tell us that he will return and that we need to always be ready.

He tells the story about a man who goes on a trip and leaves one of his workers in charge of his property and house. Before he goes, he gives the worker a list of jobs he expected to be completed while he is away. After the owner leaves the worker doesn’t worry too much about the jobs he had to do. The owner won’t be back for ages; there will have plenty of time to do those jobs just before the owner returns so he had a good time partying and having a great time. The owner came back suddenly and caught the man he had left in charge unfaithful and unprepared (Matt 24:45-51). Jesus concludes,
“Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming—it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch!”

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he has left us in charge and gave us instructions what we are to do while he is away.
Go, make disciples… baptise…
love one another…
pray for one another…
do this often as you drink in remembrance of me….
trust and believe in me…
worship, pray, teach, listen to my Word,
live as God’s people.
He will come again and he wants us to be always ready for his return. There is no room for bludging and leaving things to the last minute. He will come back and he wants to find us carrying out his instructions and be prepared for the day when he “will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory”.

Jesus leaves us in no doubt whatsoever that the day will come when the history of this world as we know it, will be drawn to a close. The last page of the world’s history will contain a description of what took place when Jesus returned. “There will be the shout of command, the archangel’s voice, the sound of God’s trumpet, and the Lord himself will come down from heaven” (1 Thess 4:16).
When this happens people will cower in fear.
Everyone will run this way and that to escape.
Everyone will faint from terror,
everyone except people of faith.
According to Jesus, people of faith need not panic when they see this happening. Jesus says, “When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near.”

How can I say that we do not need to panic and be terrified like the rest of the world when Jesus comes as judge? After all, aren’t we sinners, people who have disobeyed God? Haven’t we been loveless? Haven’t we been too eager to offer excuses rather than live as one of God’s people? On what basis can it be said that we have nothing to fear on the day Jesus returns?

There are two ways to view Christ’s return. Firstly, people can ignore their sin and the fact that Jesus will come again. When the end looms near, they will have every reason to panic. They will realise that they will soon face an audit of their lives and how they have regarded God. They will panic because they know they will fail the test.

On the other hand, people who face judgement acknowledging their sinfulness, receiving God’s forgiveness, don’t have to panic when they face the end. If all your wrongs have been removed, wiped out, eliminated, by the forgiveness that Jesus won for you by dying on the cross, then there won’t be anything left to judge on judgement day. Paul puts it like this, “You will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ” (Phil 1:10). For Christians the return of Jesus is not something to fear. In fact, when everyone else around you is overcome by panic, you can stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Our baptism assures us that we have nothing to fear when Christ returns. Not many of us can remember the day we were baptised but that doesn’t reduce its significance or power one bit. In baptism, we are united with Jesus Christ in such a way that the power of sin to condemn is destroyed. We receive Christ’s forgiveness, and are given the promise that we shall live with God forever in heaven. From the day of our baptism on and throughout our lives, we acknowledge our sins against God, family members, friends and even total strangers and we claim the promise of forgiveness which God gives us in baptism.

Daily our sins are judged;
daily we are forgiven;
daily we are made new and clean.
Therefore, we need not fear the end of the world, because our sin has been dealt with at the baptismal font. While the rest of the world is cowering in fear, Christians stand erect with uplifted heads because they have been made pure and blameless by the blood of Jesus.

When you get right down to it, baptism is not a very spectacular thing,. It involves standing at the font while some ordinary water is applied to your head and some ancient words are spoken. There is no dove hovering overhead. No booming voice of God declaring that you a holy son or daughter. There is nothing to cause the congregation to ooh and ah. There is no angelic choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus”. There is only the Word of God in and with the water – very ordinary water from the tap and a few simple words.

Jesus Christ was born in a dark, lonely stable amid lowly animals, not in the crowd-filled streets near a shopping mall amid fireworks and thundering music. Those who came and looked into the manger saw just another tiny Jewish baby, born to very poor parents, in a small county town, in very turbulent times. This first advent of Jesus into our world was indeed very ordinary and humble, but we know what great blessings the tiny baby in the manger brought to our world.

When we were born again in baptism at a quiet font with ordinary water and simple words, look what power that humble ceremony has brought to us. And when Christ comes again, we will stand up and raise our heads in great hope and expectation, because we do not have to be afraid of Jesus’ return, our life to come is secure.

As we progress through the Advent season, let’s join with the church of all ages and say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Come into hearts as the Christ-child. Come on the Last Day. Come with your grace into our lives. “Come, Lord Jesus! Come!”

(1) Quoted from Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

3rd Sunday in Advent

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Philippians 4:4
16/12/2018

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!

Rejoice! This building was built 40yrs ago for God’s people and dedicated to the glory of Jesus Christ, not only that, but also His people have been here all those 40yrs. And Thank God for that! We are celebrating 40yrs of God’s grace to His people from this building by His marvellous Words and His mysterious Sacraments. That is a wonderful thing, but what about know? What is God doing here, will this building be here in another 40yrs? What has happened to all those people who grew up here, were baptised here in this building? Where is the future of this building and what is the future of our congregation?

This congregation, St Mark’s, this parish is not growing. It’s seen times when there were many more people here than there are now, some have died in Christ and now know that hope which we all have as followers of Christ, some have moved for work or family to other congregations in our LCA, some have given up on the faith and others have left for other reasons. This congregation is struggling, and some might say it is even dying.

Maybe you too are feeling that struggle in your own life and are looking for answers. Where can we look to for help? To Jesus Christ and God our Heavenly Father through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Here in His Word we hear from Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Another person just like anyone of us, saved by Christ, but also struggling with sin and the evil of this world. Now he wants to see the Philippians, but as this letter is written, he can’t; Paul is in prison in Rome where he would eventually be killed (Philippians 1:7-14). He struggled much in his life after seeing Jesus, rejected by the Jews, his people, beaten, imprisoned, stoned even. He was struggling, coming closer and closer to death. But he does not despair.

He knows something. He knows what Jesus has done for him and for you. That He has come down to our level to take care of everything that ultimately threatens us, to take your sin away, to give you life vastly stronger than death, to free you from Satan his lies and accusations, and to restore your relationship with God Almighty your heavenly Father in Christ. Paul also knew that all the things he could do, all the good, are as nothing compared to the brilliant, wonderful and utterly amazing knowledge of Jesus Christ the Lord (Philippians 3:7-8). Compared to all those things that God has given us through Jesus and for the sake of His ministry, His suffering, death and resurrection. That we are now righteous and holy, not of ourselves but of God, that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul knew the power of the resurrection, life eternal, forgiveness and freedom in Christ, and also he shared Jesus Christ’s suffering in this world. Paul knew that God Almighty was by his side and throughout everything that happened to him, he let his requests be made known to God by prayer with thanksgiving. He held fast to the joy we all have in Christ Jesus.

Our present sufferings are nothing compared to the joy of Jesus that will be revealed in us in the end (Romans 8:18-24). That joy and peace that we celebrate with the first coming of Jesus as a baby, that wonder that Mary knew when the shepherds came praising God in her child, then the wise men with their gifts, that experience that many of you have had perhaps through answered prayer or studying and thinking on the scriptures, even receiving forgiveness at the absolution or through Christ’s body and blood. Thank God that we can experience His love and mercy today. But even those wonderful and comforting times are just a foretaste of the things to come. And thank God that He has given us such a marvellous hope.

Your heavenly Father, God Almighty, has promised you that He can and will raise you from death into new eternal life in Jesus. Thank the Lord. He has given and sustained this congregation through the years with this building. Again thank the Lord of Heaven. When you are struggling He hears your cries for help, He will not abandon you but He will get you through. Thanks be to God. For all that He has done for you, give Him thanks. But not only that, continue to give thanks to Him and to rely on Him in the good times and the bad, because He loves you and will continue to walk alongside you. And don’t just thank Him for the good things that happen to you, thank Him and rejoice in everything just like Paul, be content (Philippians 4:11-13). Thank Him for the suffering you experience in this life, in it you are following Jesus; and thank Him for all the challenges and difficulties, they are more opportunities to rely on God’s strength and shine Christ’s light into this weary world. You have all that you need in Christ already, you are forgiven, you have eternal life, you are free from the power of sin and death. Thank God.

This isn’t a command, as if you must say ‘thank God’ 10 times a day and then you will get blessings and salvation. But rather I’m encouraging you and reminding you with Jesus’s words through Paul, that there is nothing to worry about, you don’t need to be pulled in all sorts of directions, to be anxious (Philippians 4:6). Paul is giving you some great wisdom here, to recognise that you have all you need, that God Almighty, your Heavenly Father, has given it to you; just like Christ giving you His body and blood through the pastor and the bread and wine. And this doesn’t mean that we just give up on life because we have all we need, rather in our thanksgiving we can respond to God’s love, and do what is pure, honourable, just, lovely, commendable and excellent (Philippians 4:8-10). Rejoice in the Lord always, as Paul writes earlier, to say the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you (Philippians 3:1). Rejoice that you have your congregation, Rejoice that you live where you do, Rejoice that you have family, Rejoice that you know the people you do, yes even that person, Rejoice that you are in pain, Rejoice that this world is against you, even sometimes your own body, Rejoice that you have all these opportunities to practise what you believe, to rely on God’s strength and not your own. And Rejoice that Jesus saves and sustains you, that in the end in Christ we will be free from all the evil and sin and corruption, and with thanksgiving continually ask Him for help. I know I need it, and I know He will give it. Amen

Rev. Joseph Graham

2nd Sunday of Advent

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

Malachi 3:3

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold or silver so they may approach The LORD and offer in righteousness.

            Here we are in Advent, lighting candles and in part remembering that Jesus is the light of the world and we don’t light candles to keep them hidden. The candle gives light and a little warmth especially when it is dark and cold at night, candles are good things to have in blackouts. But, as many of you may have found out, perhaps from showing others how tough you were and holding your hand in the flame gathering soot, candles burn. That hurts, and we don’t like it.

Fire, the flame of the candle, the stove or the bushfire. These can be good and life sustaining, or they can burn and destroy anything that is flammable. A dangerous but beneficial thing that God has created. And here we hear that His messenger is like the fire that melts and purifies gold and silver, removing the dross and rubbish from the precious metal. Though instead of purifying precious metals, this messenger is prophesied to purify and refine the sons of Levi, the priestly tribe in Israel, to make them righteous and to restore the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the place they were called to be, by God’s side.

But who is Malachi speaking of? Who is this messenger? Well, is a bit of a funny question because in this short section we have two messengers, the first who would prepare the way and the second messenger of the covenant. The first messenger we can read about in the first chapter of Mark and we also hear this prophecy quoted in Matthew 11 and Luke chapter 7 (Mark 1:2; Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:27). That messenger is John the Baptist, who preached that all needed to turn from evil and turn back to the one true Lord God. The second messenger, the one of the covenant, would then be Jesus Christ Himself. It is He who brings us the New Covenant in His blood through Holy Communion and tells us of the complete promises of God, eternal life and forgiveness for those who trust Him (Luke 22:20; John 3: 16-21). And then, it is Jesus who is like a refiner’s fire and a cleaner’s bleach.

Jesus came, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the Word of God. He came and building on John’s preparation, proclaimed ‘repent and believe the good news!’ Turn away from your dark way of living and turn to the light of Christ.

But this isn’t an easy thing to do, to reject those desires that come from within ourselves, to reject the independence, selfishness and pride in yourself glorified by our culture, instead relying on God and doing all things for His glory not our own. Being a Christian, it seems in this day and age, means that society sees us as fools, weak, stupid and even hateful. We who want the absolute best for all the people God created are almost routinely called bigots for trying to spread that ‘wicked’ truth of God’s forgiveness, peace, hope and love for all. And though this is not easy, these people can only destroy our bodies, not our souls. And as Jesus tells us we should rather fear the one who destroys both body and soul, God Almighty. This is the truly difficult challenge, God’s truthful Word tells all people that everyone of us rejects God’s authority, His love and His help. It might be as simple as eating that chocolate you promised to your child so that you can pleasure yourself, as obvious as insisting that the church carpet remains the same to honour yourself, or as grievous as wishing death on someone who you’ve grown to hate. Many of the ways we reject God, we don’t even notice we’re doing it and if all the things you’ve done were tallied up, Godly on one side and questionable on the other, and not just what you’ve done, but also what you’ve said, what you’ve thought and even what you’ve had a passing desire to do; if all this was tallied up and God, who knows the truth, is to judge your life, how sure are you that you’ve been perfect? That is why Jesus is like a dangerous and harmful fire and why Malachi says, ‘who can endure the day He comes?’

However, the fire of Jesus only destroys evil and lies. He will purify the priesthood so that they will approach God Almighty’s throne without terror. Zechariah says, He will refine them by fire and they will be His people and they will call Him the Lord our God (Zechariah 13:9). And Peter writes that you are the royal priesthood, the holy nation; once you were not but now you are God’s people and receive His great mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10). Jesus came to bring you relief, not terror, forgiveness not condemnation and eternal life not death. And it is in Jesus by the Holy Spirit that we are being purified and made holy. It is not a painless thing as we live with God Himself and also alongside sin, we feel that guilt, harm even disgust or hatred at our own sinful and selfish actions and desires. That is God’s holy light burning away our sin and evil. But also we know that when we die and see Jesus as He truly is, or when Jesus finally reveals Himself to all, the light of Christ will destroy all our sinfulness and we will be free to live in peace with God for all eternity.

And that peace which passes all our understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham

First Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Text: Luke 21:27,28,36

Then the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory.  When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near.

Jesus is coming

Being prepared is really important. Whether talking about preparing for an exam, a trip overseas or a dinner party. The 19th-century explorer, Sir John Franklin, led an expedition that tried to reach the North Pole. Consider how prepared he was for that journey:

“Each sailing vessel carried an auxiliary steam engine and a 12-day supply of coal for the entire projected 2 or 3 year voyage. Instead of additional coal…each ship made room for a 1,200-volume library, a hand-organ playing 50 tunes, china place settings for officers and men, cut-glass wine goblets, and sterling silver cutlery. The expedition carried no special clothing for the Arctic, only the uniforms of Her Majesty’s Navy.” (1)

Imagine heading into the frigid wastelands of the North Pole with supplies like that! These explorers were totally unprepared for what they were about to face.

Today is the beginning of the Advent season, a time of anticipation, a time of getting ready for the arrival of someone important. Jesus will come back again, as out text reminds us – “the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory”.

The Advent season reminds us through the words of Jesus and people like John the Baptist, Paul and the Old Testament prophets that we should always be prepared for Jesus’ return because we don’t know exactly when this will take place. His reappearance will catch many people unprepared just as a thief comes during the night when the owners of the house are sleeping and unprepared for his unexpected arrival.

There was once a spider who lived in a cornfield. He was a big spider and he had spun a beautiful web between the corn stalks. He got fat eating all the bugs that would get caught in his web. He liked his home and planned to stay there for the rest of his life.

One day the spider caught a little bug in his web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said,
“If you let me go I will tell you something important that will save your life.”

The spider paused for a moment and listened because he was amused.
“You better get out of this cornfield,” the little bug said, “The harvest is coming!”

The spider smiled and said, “What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story.”

But the little bug said, “Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will be knocked down and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay here.”

The spider said, “I don’t believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can you prove this?”

The little bug continued, “Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves this field was created by an intelligent designer.”

The spider laughed and mockingly said, “This field has evolved and has nothing to do with a creator. Corn always grows that way.”

The bug went on to explain, “Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon.”

The spider grinned and said to the little bug, “I don’t believe you,” and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch.

A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told him. He thought to himself, “A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life and nothing has ever disturbed me. I have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I’ll be here for the rest of my life, because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made.”

The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear and there was no wind at all. That afternoon as the spider was about to take a nap, he noticed some thick dusty clouds moving toward him. He could hear the roar of a great engine and he said to himself, “I wonder what that could be?”

Jesus knew that when the he came a second time there would be many people who would say, “I wonder what that could be?” and so he went to a lot of effort to tell us that he will return and that we need to always be ready.

He tells the story about a man who goes on a trip and leaves one of his workers in charge of his property and house. Before he goes, he gives the worker a list of jobs he expected to be completed while he is away. After the owner leaves the worker doesn’t worry too much about the jobs he had to do. The owner won’t be back for ages; there will have plenty of time to do those jobs just before the owner returns so he had a good time partying and having a great time. The owner came back suddenly and caught the man he had left in charge unfaithful and unprepared (Matt 24:45-51). Jesus concludes,
“Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming—it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch!”

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he has left us in charge and gave us instructions what we are to do while he is away.
Go, make disciples… baptise…
love one another…
pray for one another…
do this often as you drink in remembrance of me….
trust and believe in me…
worship, pray, teach, listen to my Word,
live as God’s people.
He will come again and he wants us to be always ready for his return. There is no room for bludging and leaving things to the last minute. He will come back and he wants to find us carrying out his instructions and be prepared for the day when he “will appear, coming in a cloud with great power and glory”.

Jesus leaves us in no doubt whatsoever that the day will come when the history of this world as we know it, will be drawn to a close. The last page of the world’s history will contain a description of what took place when Jesus returned. “There will be the shout of command, the archangel’s voice, the sound of God’s trumpet, and the Lord himself will come down from heaven” (1 Thess 4:16).
When this happens people will cower in fear.
Everyone will run this way and that to escape.
Everyone will faint from terror,
everyone except people of faith.
According to Jesus, people of faith need not panic when they see this happening. Jesus says, “When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near.”

How can I say that we do not need to panic and be terrified like the rest of the world when Jesus comes as judge? After all, aren’t we sinners, people who have disobeyed God? Haven’t we been loveless? Haven’t we been too eager to offer excuses rather than live as one of God’s people? On what basis can it be said that we have nothing to fear on the day Jesus returns?

There are two ways to view Christ’s return. Firstly, people can ignore their sin and the fact that Jesus will come again. When the end looms near, they will have every reason to panic. They will realise that they will soon face an audit of their lives and how they have regarded God. They will panic because they know they will fail the test.

On the other hand, people who face judgement acknowledging their sinfulness, receiving God’s forgiveness, don’t have to panic when they face the end. If all your wrongs have been removed, wiped out, eliminated, by the forgiveness that Jesus won for you by dying on the cross, then there won’t be anything left to judge on judgement day. Paul puts it like this, “You will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ” (Phil 1:10). For Christians the return of Jesus is not something to fear. In fact, when everyone else around you is overcome by panic, you can stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Our baptism assures us that we have nothing to fear when Christ returns. Not many of us can remember the day we were baptised but that doesn’t reduce its significance or power one bit. In baptism, we are united with Jesus Christ in such a way that the power of sin to condemn is destroyed. We receive Christ’s forgiveness, and are given the promise that we shall live with God forever in heaven. From the day of our baptism on and throughout our lives, we acknowledge our sins against God, family members, friends and even total strangers and we claim the promise of forgiveness which God gives us in baptism.

Daily our sins are judged;
daily we are forgiven;
daily we are made new and clean.
Therefore, we need not fear the end of the world, because our sin has been dealt with at the baptismal font. While the rest of the world is cowering in fear, Christians stand erect with uplifted heads because they have been made pure and blameless by the blood of Jesus.

When you get right down to it, baptism is not a very spectacular thing,. It involves standing at the font while some ordinary water is applied to your head and some ancient words are spoken. There is no dove hovering overhead. No booming voice of God declaring that you a holy son or daughter. There is nothing to cause the congregation to ooh and ah. There is no angelic choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus”. There is only the Word of God in and with the water – very ordinary water from the tap and a few simple words.

Jesus Christ was born in a dark, lonely stable amid lowly animals, not in the crowd-filled streets near a shopping mall amid fireworks and thundering music. Those who came and looked into the manger saw just another tiny Jewish baby, born to very poor parents, in a small county town, in very turbulent times. This first advent of Jesus into our world was indeed very ordinary and humble, but we know what great blessings the tiny baby in the manger brought to our world.

When we were born again in baptism at a quiet font with ordinary water and simple words, look what power that humble ceremony has brought to us. And when Christ comes again, we will stand up and raise our heads in great hope and expectation, because we do not have to be afraid of Jesus’ return, our life to come is secure.

As we progress through the Advent season, let’s join with the church of all ages and say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Come into hearts as the Christ-child. Come on the Last Day. Come with your grace into our lives. “Come, Lord Jesus! Come!”

(1) Quoted from Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy