Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

Dear Friends and Family of First Lutheran,

For many, Christmas – or any of the numerous holidays that surround it – is about “presents.”  Ever since early November we’ve been bombarded with commercials showing cars with big red ribbons, jewelry with little ribbons, houses wrapped in lights. The list goes on. The idea behind wrapping is for the gift to be a surprise when you open it. However, I know some people who already know what their gifts are because they buy their own gifts, wrap them, and then act like they’re surprised when they open them, “Oh you shouldn’t have!” Know anyone like that? I’ll admit it, I did this once. It wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.

I understand the gift giving tradition. It’s a great way to show our love and appreciation for those we love. In a small way, these gifts can be thought of as symbols of another gift we all received that was wrapped up for us 2000 years ago. Luke tells us, “Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7) God’s gift to us, Jesus, whose name means “God Saves” was wrapped up for us by His mother. But, unlike most gifts we unwrap each Christmas, this gift is continually given to and unwrapped for us as we worship Him by singing His praises, hearing His Word proclaimed, and receiving His grace and peace in our Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and Holy Communion. 

These gifts nourish our faith continually helping us live our lives in the here and now as God’s children. God desires we continually unwrap His gifts of mercy and grace because He has even better gifts waiting for us one day. He will send His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ again. When that day comes, He’ll bring us into His presence in His new creation. This gift will keep on giving … we’ll receive the love of God and the peace of Christ over and over for all eternity.

                                                                                        Merry Christmas to All,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim