December 2018   
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This Week's Events
DEC

10

MON
DEC

11

TUE
DEC

12

WED
Serving at Good Samaritan Shelter
Gloria Dei's night at the shelter is the 2nd Wednesday of each month. See sign up sheet in Narthex area. Have food at church by 5 pm.
Celebration Choir Rehearsal
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Confirmation Class
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
NO Confirmation Class on Wednesday, November 21st
DEC

13

THU
WORSHIP TEAM PRACTICE
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
BELL CHOIR PRACTICE
6:15 PM to 7:15 PM
DEC

15

SAT
Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup
10:00 AM
Date and time are subject to change. Check your newsletter calendar and church bulletins.
Bible Search
A Message from the Pastor
Pastor

Greg Kintzi

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Discovering Joy in the Midst of Fear
An Advent Message of Hope

“Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory
of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold,
I bring you tidings of great joy which will be for all the people’.”

- Luke 2:9-10

 

          “Fear Not.” The biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth contain a number of instances when the central characters – Joseph, Zechariah, Mary, the shepherds – are startled by the sudden appearances of God’s messenger but receive this word of comfort. It must have been both frightening and disconcerting to have to have a face to face with an angelic being. Nevertheless, how these people of faith responded to these encounters can teach us much about how God cares for us and accompanies us when we are dealing with our own daily disruptions and challenges.

         Fear is one of those primal emotions that can take control of our lives at times of crisis or catastrophe and we have seen plenty examples of this phenomena recently – out of control wild-fires, mass shootings, the polarization of our country, and the anxiety of an unknown future. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, all our plans and hopes for the future are wiped out or put in serious jeopardy. Fear forces us to respond, to adapt to new situations and realities.

         At such times, our responses can lead us down one of two paths. Fear can take control of our actions, paralyzing us or prompting us to make decisions and to act in way that we normally would find unthinkable. As individuals, we may become bitter, sarcastic, withdrawn, and lash out at our friends. As society, fear becomes a means of submission and control: we become willing to sacrifice our rights and rights of others to keep the peace and preserve the status quo. Yet, it need not be that way. Not only is fear a normal, healthy emotion but it can also be empowering. When connected to God’s faithfulness in the past, present, and future fear can also lead us to a place of deeper trust in God.

         Dr. Daniel Paul Matthews, rector of Trinity Church, delivered a message on Christmas Eve, 2001, at St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City. This was in the year that the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists on 9-11. St. Paul’s is very close to Ground Zero. And yet, in that message Dr. Matthew’s paints a picture of how the miracle of the incarnation addresses real human fears. Here is what he said:

         Pretend something like this happened for a moment: The angel Gabriel got back to heaven and rushed up to God and said, “I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news.”

            And God said, “Well, give me the good news first.”

            “The good news is,” said the angel, “mission accomplished. I’ve visited those people you told me to visit. I told them what you told me to tell them. And it’s all accomplished.”

            God said, “So what’s the bad news?”

            “The bad news,” the angel said, “is that those people down there on earth are terrified of you. Every time I visited someone I had to start off with ‘fear not.’ Because they got so frightened that you were coming close.”

            God said to the angel, “That’s the reason I have to carry out the plan I’ve made.”

            “You see,” he said to the angel, “I need to go to earth because my people are so frightened. They are so full of fear that I’ve got to bring the message that they no longer need to be afraid.”

            The angel said, “And how are you going to do that, since they’re so fearful?”

            God said, “There’s one place on earth that people are not afraid: that one remaining place is a little baby. My people on earth are not afraid of a baby. When a baby is born they rejoice and give thanks without fear because that’s the only place left in their lives where they’re not afraid. So I will go to earth. I will become a little baby, and they will receive me with no fear at all, because that’s the one place my people have no fear.

         In the incarnation God acted in the only way God could act without overwhelming us and taking away our freedom to respond to His love. God became a tiny babe. He took on flesh so that we might know that we are not alone in our struggles and in our hardships. The good news of Advent and Christmas is that God is with us in a way that absolutely changes everything, and that is cause for joy even when the world around us looks frightening and out of control.

         I like the way Martin Luther describes what happened on the night of Jesus birth: “Jesus came as the Joy-bringer. The joy we see in the happiest child is but a fraction of the joy that resides in the heart of God.

         “The Gospel is a joyful message about Christ our Savior. Whoever preaches correctly preaches the gospel and nothing but joy. How can our hearts have a greater joy than knowing the Christ is given to us to be our own? The angel doesn’t merely say ‘Christ was born,’ but also indicates that his birth is for us by saying, ‘your Savior.’

         “So the nature of the gospel isn’t just teaching the story and the life of Christ but also personalizing it and offering it to all who believe. No matter how badly it’s preached, my heart hears the gospel with joy. It penetrates all the way through and sounds wonderful.”

         So “Fear Not!” Even though at times it looks like the world is coming apart at the seams, we have no reason to think that God has abandoned us. The very Word of God has pitched his tent in our midst. He has joined us in the adventure of being human so that we will never have to face life’s obstacles alone. That is something to celebrate and give thanks for even when we are not sure what challenges tomorrow will bring.

Your Fellow Pilgrim on the Journey

Pastor Greg Kintzi