A Very Merry Christmas

December 26, 2016

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. – Romans 1:1-6

It doesn’t seem to be a hot topic now, at least not as hot as it was in the past. Or maybe it’s just not getting the attention it once did. It’s the debate of the greetings “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.” Rather than spending time on this debate, we are better off spending a few minutes thinking about why we can say “Merry Christmas” and have it mean more than another superficial holiday greeting.

Why can we wish others a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!”? Focus again on what Paul says. It is not about the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring. It is about the centuries before Christmas when all through the Scriptures God’s prophets were revealing a promise, the gospel, the good news, regarding God’s Son.

It is not about whether we have been naughty or nice. (We are all naughty – corrupt by nature and sinful even now.) It is about Jesus Christ our Lord, who became true man – a descendant of David – and as true God gave his perfect life in payment for sin. His resurrection from the dead assures us of victory over sin, death, and the devil.

“Merry Christmas” is not about a wish list that may or may not be satisfied by gifts under a tree. It is about the grace and peace that are ours through God-given faith. It is about belonging to Jesus Christ.

For us, the greeting “Merry Christmas” is about a promise kept – God’s promise and God’s keeping.

May you be blessed in God’s keeping by the promise he kept of sending his Son to be our Savior. Merry Christmas!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me a Christmas blessed by the gift of your Son, and make me a blessing to others as I share with them your promise kept in him. Amen.

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Christmas Day

December 25, 2016

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

December 24, 2016

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

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Christmas Eve Children’s Program

December 24, 2016

Order of Service Printed in The Bulletin


Advent Service IV

December 21, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

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E-stewardship!

December 19, 2016

New to the home page: a “Donate” button. It’s a convenient way for anyone to support Ebenezer’s ministry with a PayPal account or credit card.

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The Key to Happiness

December 19, 2016

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:4-5

Paul wrote these words from jail. He’d been put there for preaching Christ. Did Paul’s prison food taste good? Did they give him a room with a view? Not likely. But Paul didn’t ask for pity. He didn’t complain. He wrote to his Christian friends and said, “Rejoice!”

Rejoice?! With very little effort, you and I can think of reasons to complain about our life. There’s so much pain, anger, and trouble in our world. Even our loved ones hurt us sometimes. And when you try to stand firm, when you try to be a wall against the hurricane effects of sin swirling in your direction, you rediscover the horrible truth that the weakness, the sin, is swirling around in you, too.

Paul says, “The Lord is near.” In other words, Jesus is coming soon. If Jesus who knows our every thought and every intention were to suddenly return visibly today and we were to stand in his presence, would we be encouraged? Or would we instead become suddenly aware of how selfishly and how meaninglessly we’ve so often lived our lives? The Lord is near?! Our sin makes those words sound like a warning siren!

But Paul doesn’t see it that way at all. He links the Lord’s return with rejoicing. Why? Because Paul knows who the Lord is, and he knows what the Lord has done. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has taken the punishment and guilt of all sin and carried it to the cross. By his death and resurrection he has established peace between us and God, now and forever. He has taken your sin away, too! Peace is yours.

If you try to find joy in the circumstances of your life, you’ll always come up short. The key to real joy and contentment is found in Jesus Christ alone. Whether you are rich or poor, sick or healthy, young or old, you can rejoice because the Lord is near and because “the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Prayer: Dear Savior Jesus, give me true joy as I wait for your return in glory. Amen.