Saturday, December 31, 2011

What You Can Count On In The New Year

As we stand on the edge of another new year there is the welcome anticipation of what the next 365 days will bring. There is, at the same time, a certain hesitancy. We know that 2012 might bring pleasant surprises, but it could also mean massive upheavals in our lives that change us permanently. The future is uncertain and while we would like to think we are in control of what happens to us, we all have an unsettling instinct that no matter how hard we might try, such is not the case.

Instead of jumping feet first into the coming year, pause for a bit and come before the Lord. Join us Sunday morning for our 10:00 am worship service and start the year reminding yourself of what you can count on in 2012. Changes will inevitably shake up your world, but the rock solid truth that God is committed to you for all of eternity is the foundation on which you can build an unshakeable life regardless of what might confront you. Three thousand years ago a believer wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1-2)” God has not changed over the last three millennia. He is your refuge and strength today, throughout the next year and forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas: A Day Worth Celebrating!

We determine the chronology of world history by the event of Christmas. And that is fitting, for as one man said, "Christmas is the day that divides the history of the human race." God's entrance into human life means there are solutions in spite of so many problems, there is healing in the midst of so much pain and there is hope in the face of ever present death. Christmas is the proof that God is for human beings! And if God is for us, who can be against us?

No matter what you have going on during the next couple of days, nothing can make your Christmas celebrations more joyful than worshiping Jesus Christ, the One who gives Christmas its meaning. On Christmas Eve at 7:00 pm the children will present a beautiful program named "Jesus is the Light". We will sing the familiar hymns, hear the ancient Christmas story and remember what it all means to us. On Christmas Day we'll will begin our worship at 10:00 am and read through the Christmas account as it is found in the Gospel of Luke. Afterward, we'll enjoy a potluck Christmas dinner together. Christmas is worth celebrating. We hope you celebrate with us!

Friday, December 9, 2011

You Can't Find the Joy of Christmas at the Mall

This Sunday marks the beginning of the third week of Advent which means we'll be lighting the lone pink candle on our Advent wreath. The three purple candles urge us to develop a spirit of repentance during this time before Christmas as we recognize that Jesus came to die on a cross because of our sins. The pink candle, however, represents the joy we have as a result of Christ's forgiveness. And so our theme during this third week of Advent is joy!

Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time of year. And for many, it is. But we also know that for many, Christmas is one of the hardest seasons of the year to endure. Instead of being uplifted by all the merriness, people are plunged into the depths of depression because they somehow or someway feel left out of the celebrations. What an ironic tragedy! What a misunderstanding of Christmas! It was for the hopeless and the helpless that the very first Christmas took place. The joy of Christmas is not having parties or family reunions, but the eternity changing announcement of the angels, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

The joy of Christmas isn't in our circumstances but in God's reaction to our circumstances. The joy people look for in gift-giving and celebrations is more of an emotional happiness. The rock solid joy of Christmas isn't something you can get at the mall. It isn't even something you can get from being with other people. The joy of Christmas comes directly as a gift from God. And the only way a person can receive it is by experiencing a sense of destitution before the God who made us. Only then can we appreciate what God accomplished through Christmas. And that is the door to a joy that does not depend on what is happening in our lives. For that joy is based on another incredible angelic announcement, "He is not here, he has risen!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Preparing For Christmas: Pepper Spray or Penitence?

It's been all over the news this last week. In Los Angeles a woman used pepper spray at a Walmart to ward off other shoppers who were hawking the half priced XBox 360 she came to purchase. Reporters say the woman had her children along as she executed her shopping strategy. One wonders what they will do when they become old enough to attend Black Friday sales by themselves? Will protective eye gear and gas masks become standard equipment for pre-Christmas shoppers?

A quick search on portrays Black Friday at Walmarts throughout the country as a continuous night of mayhem. In Texas a woman, surrounded by dozens of other frenzied consumers, fell into a gigantic box as she tried to grab an armful of $1.28 towels. People were almost crushed in Little Rock, AK as rabid shoppers literally clawed at each other to come away with a $2 waffle maker. Such shopping intensity gives a new meaning to the words, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"!

The contrast between what goes on in stores and in Christian churches during the weeks before Christmas couldn't be more different. According to Christian tradition, Advent* is meant to be a season of solemn self-reflection and serious evaluation of the direction our lives are taking. The color of the season is purple which represents the need for penitence on our part. Penitence is the recognition of our sin and the need for Christ's coming to this earth to win forgiveness for us. One wonders how a time for penitence morphed into an excuse for using pepper spray to buy a XBox 360?

Which term best describes your Christmas preparations: pepper spray or penitence?

Join us this Sunday (December 4) at 10:00 am for some truly Christ centered Christmas preparations.

*The word Advent means "coming" and refers to the four weeks before Christmas when Christians prepare to celebrate Christ's first coming 2000 years ago and look forward to his second coming on Judgment Day.

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

My photo
Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.