From the Pastor . . .

What Do You Want for Christmas?

Tis the season to ask that question! It is a question I get asked. And sometimes I have an answer, and sometimes I don't.

But one thing I do know: what Jesus wants for Christmas. You. That's why there is a Christmas after all. The Son of God came in the flesh to give Himself to you and to give Himself for you. That you would be His own. To purchase you not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death (Small Catechism). And He comes with gifts for you - His forgiveness, life, and salvation. That you have the joy of His gifts not just one day a year, but every day.

And as you have probably experienced, a gift carefully chosen and joyfully received gives joy not only to the receiver but also to the giver. So it is with Jesus and His gifts for you. When you receive His gifts with joy, you give Him joy.

So this Christmas, take time out to receive the gifts that Jesus comes to give to you. We have a Divine Service on both Christmas Eve (where we hear the Christmas story from St. Luke) and Christmas Day (where we hear the Christmas story from St. John). If you are travelling, investigate churches near where you will be to attend and receive the gifts. (And if you need help doing so, I will gladly help you!) We have three Advent Midweek services to help you pause and take some time out to focus on God's Word and prepare during this busy pre-Christmas season. (These are offered on Wednesday nights and Thursdays at noon - see page in this newsletter.)

For remember: there is only one thing Jesus wants for Christmas. You! Maybe attending services will cost you some time, maybe you will have to rearrange your schedule a bit. But the gifts you receive in doing so will last for eternity and give you joy. And this too: peace. Peace with God in the forgiveness of your sins. Peace when you are troubled, for you have a loving Father in heaven and a Saviour who came to help you. Peace in the midst of death, knowing that your Saviour has conquered death for you. And peace in your heart, for you are a dearly loved child of God.

A lot of Christmas cards you will receive this year (although they're getting less and less, aren't they?) will wish for peace on earth. That's exactly the gift Jesus has come to bring! That's what the angels told the shepherd. But peace on earth is not worldly peace - but the peace of God on earth. The peace of forgiveness in the midst of sin, of life in the midst of death, of hope in the midst of uncertainty, struggle, and doubt. And what Jesus wants for Christmas is for you to have this. To have Him.

So a Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all, whether you are home or away. Until we all are home for Christmas, in our heavenly Father's home, in joy and peace and life eternal.

His servant and yours,

          Pastor Douthwaite

Saint Athanasius Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod
Church Location: 114 Kingsley Road SW, Vienna, VA  22180
Mailing Address: 3057 Nutley Street Suite 822, Fairfax, VA  22031
703-455-4003                       Rev. James Douthwaite, Pastor