• Excerpt from December, 2020 "The Mountain Top Messenger" newsletter...

    Welcome to Advent! As we start out another church year, we look to the close of another calendar year and wonder what lies ahead. It has been a most interesting year...
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December 2020 "The Mountain Top Messenger" Newsletter
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Welcome to Advent! As we start out another church year, we look to the close of another calendar year and wonder what lies ahead. It has been a most interesting year. In last month's newsletter I spoke of how this past year kind of blindsided us all and how so much of our normal-day-to-day lives changed. Truthfully even with all the talk of a vaccine and its effectiveness and distribution I don't believe the early part of 2021 is going to be much different. As I was preparing for a quiet unassociated Thanksgiving dinner and looking at a similar Christmas, I realized how quickly we change and adapt and how things take on a new sense of normalcy. Several months ago, there seemed to be more resistance to the mask wearing and the distancing, now, not so much, the person without the mask has become the exception instead of the norm. People aren't so quick to offer a handshake or hug. And it seems to me that the world has become a little colder because of it. Now mind you, I am not saying that we should run out and start handshaking and hugging in rebellion, but what I am thinking is that we need to break that ice in some way or another. We need to recognize each other, the virtual high five, the invisible handshake, something more than the eyes down, isolation head nod. It seems that as we distance socially, we are also distancing emotionally. I have spoken to an ever-increasing number of people who while they still make it out in the world to shop and perhaps partake in an occasional meal are feeling isolated, alone, and perhaps even a bit abandon. I also talk to people who are feeling overwhelmed by all the change and the new accepted norms. The moms and dads who now beside parenting and providing for their families are now home schooling, and trying to balance between making a living and trying to make sure their children are getting the education they need to grow and become productive in this world. The other thing that I am seeing is that while in this time of change we should be looking to our faith for support and strength, I'm not sure that is happening. I think we need to really work at being like Jeremiah and say "O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble.” (Jeremiah 16:19a). At a time when it seems we are tasked with taking more and more on ourselves we have to share our burdens with the Lord. We need to reach out, to share our struggles, our needs, our hurts, with the Lord. The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 46; "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." Now to this point, the mountains have not been moved into the heart of the sea, its waters aren't roaring and foaming yet, the mountains aren't trembling. However, in our individual corners of the world it may seem like it. When we feel that way, when we are feeling overwhelmed we need to do a couple things, first and foremost we must remember the words of verse 7 of that same Psalm; "The Lord of hosts is with us." You are not alone, we are not alone, Jesus himself tells us in the last line of the last verse of the last chapter of Matthew; "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." You are not alone, so you must never be afraid to reach out, reach out to the Lord, reach out to your church family, reach out to your pastor, your family, your friends. There are times in all our lives when we need help, sometimes it's as simple as a cup of coffee and an ear, other times it can be more, but you must never feel like you are alone. One thing this pandemic has done is separate us from our time in church, our time together with our church family, time to share with those of like mind and beliefs. We must find ways to fill in those lost times, watch our services online if you are able. Watch services on TV such as the LCMS service on Sunday mornings. Talk with those of your church family. Call your Pastor, heaven knows he like to talk, and he tries to be a good listener as well. If you need or would like, he will come see you, share the Lord's Supper with you, and try his best to encourage you. Over the last month or so, we have focused on the end of time, of Jesus triumphant return. Jesus himself told us in His own words that we would face tribulation, He never said the life of a Christian would be easy, in fact He told us the opposite. He also reassures us that He is with us and will be with us until His return. While it is going to be different this year, let us do our best to lift up each other's spirits as we prepare to celebrate His first Advent as we await His second Advent. Sing praises to the infant king, to God come to earth as a little child to save us all from this fallen, sinful world. I am looking forward to Christmas lights, Christmas hymns and carols, to the decorated church, the lighting of the Advent wreath, and the coming Advent of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I close, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the arrival of Jesus, and I close with these words spoken by Jesus for us all. "Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:32-33)

My friends the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10b-11)

In His service,

Pastor Rick