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Pastor's Update 


January, 2019

Dear Members and Friends of Grace,

Have you heard? “Merry Christmas” has been replaced! No, this is not another rant about the “Happy Holidays” greeting and the absence of the words, “Merry Christmas.” Rather it is an acknowledgement that the days have passed when we were dreaming of a White Christmas, and we have allowed the red glow of Rudolph’s nose to dim, and the phrase, “Happy New Year” has now become all the rage. And it will remain so as long as the new year feels new to us. That might be only for one or two days; it might last for a couple of weeks. So for what it’s worth, “Happy New Year!”
Actually, I am glad to say to you, “Happy New Year,” just as I was glad to say so recently, “Merry Christmas.” I am glad to say such things because I am praying that the “Merry” and the “Happy” are grounded in the truths of God that are able to bring merry and happy days to our lives. This year again at Christmas we had the amazing privilege of looking into the manger scene and remembering that the eternal Son of God took on human flesh and blood. And God’s Word reminded us, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). When the calendar rolled past Christmas, so that we now look ahead to a new year, we have the amazing privilege of knowing that the “Merry” of Christmas is carried on, uninterrupted, to the new year that lies before us. The grace of God goes with us as we remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The “Happy” of the New Year is offered to us in the certainty that God has reconciled us to himself by the life and death of Jesus, our Lord, and that “nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39).
Of course, we know that with most of our “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” greetings our thoughts and wishes are a generally limited to a common friendliness or the wish for peace, prosperity or happiness in our earthly lives. And we know, living in an imperfect and sinful world, that all kinds of incidents, accidents and misfortunes are bound to come our way to grind us into the ground or otherwise short-circuit our merry and happy lives. There is already plenty that carries over from the previous year that haunts and hurts, that stifles our hopes and burdens our minds. Many of us might think that words like merry and happy are the last words that would come to mind in describing what our lives have been or what they might ever be.
But the grace of God teaches us to look to real, powerful actions of God that have revealed his eternal love to us. Whether your cup seems empty or full, God wishes to fill your heart in a way that will make it overflow. And in the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ that is what I wish for you, each according to your needs.  God is surely able to fill them according to His wisdom and love.  So it is more than a wish, it is my prayer under the grace of God:  Happy New Year!
                    Pastor Hartwig

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