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Pastor's Update 


December, 2018

Dear Members and Friends of Grace,

Christmas season is in full swing. Corner lots are filled with Christmas trees for sale, Colorful lights are appearing in every neighborhood. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but the merchandising world will continue to tempt us with deals too good to pass up, right up until December 25. How much have things changed since you were a child?
We like to romanticize about the quiet Christmases of years gone by. Did you actually go on sleigh rides? They can be found today as well. Did you actually go Christmas carolling? It is not unheard of today. Was it possible to lose sight of Jesus amid all of the shopping and busy-ness and Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman?
Many will answer, “No. We never lost sight of Jesus.” If only the whole world could say the same! Of course, it is not an absolute statement. When we are Christmas shopping we have to concentrate on the task at hand, and Jesus might not cross our minds for a while. It is the same while making Christmas cookies. But to remember that Jesus always belongs at the center of Christmas makes our memories more than romanticizing. To notice the great extent to which God himself is excluded from the typical American Christmas today saddens us.
If you put up a Christmas tree this year I am sure you will take a step back. You will step back to see if the star or the angel on top is straight, you will want to see if there are any empty spots where ornaments need to be filled in, or dark spots where the lights did not reach.
We need to remember to step back at times during this month of December, to make sure that we have everything straight. When we are caught up in the glitz of the world’s “Jesusless” Christmas, we need to step back and see how he fills in the empty spots. When the bright lights of Christmas leave us feeling dark inside, we need to step back from it all and let the light that filled the night when Christ was born reach into the darkness of our hearts. When Jesus shines brightly with his humble birth and his loving mission of salvation for our souls, the empty spots can be filled and the darkness flees. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord!”
An important way to step back from the world’s Christmas is to gather with your fellow Christians. We know this Christmas time as the “Advent Season.” Our Advent and Christmas services complement our regular Sunday services, as we gather around the real center of the season and His Word, to be refreshed, to be filled, and to be enlightened.
With Christ to fill your hearts and lives, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.
                    Pastor Hartwig

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