From the Pastor . . .

Three Times the Joy

Happy Advent!

Yes, that's what I said. Don't forget that part of preparing for Christmas includes the season of Advent. This is the time in the Church Year that we remember not only that God came to us as the babe of Bethlehem, but also how He comes to us now in His Word and Sacrament, and that He has promised that He is coming again at the End of Time. And Advent teaches us that the best way to remember the first, celebrate the second, and prepare for the last, is by repentance - confessing our sinfulness and then rejoicing in His gifts of forgiveness and life. So that we can truly say to one another . . .

Merry Christmas!

For a proper remembrance of Advent makes our Christmas joy even deeper. Don't let Christmas ruin your Advent, so that when Christmas comes it is not the end of your celebration, but just the beginning! For the world, Christmas Day is the end, the culmination; but for us, Christmas Day is just the first of the twelve days of Christmas - twelve days of rejoicing in the birth of our Saviour. Twelve days until . . .

Happy Epiphany!

Epiphany is sometimes called "the Christmas of the Gentiles" for on that day we remember when the Gentile Wise Men came to see and worship Jesus. At Christmas, we rejoice that God became a man, and at Epiphany, we rejoice that this man (though still a child) is God! That is what brought such great joy to the Wise Men, and still to us today.

But like Advent and Christmas, Epiphany is not just a day but also a season, and during the Epiphany season we rejoice in many other special times in Jesus' life, showing us that this man is the Immanuel - God with us. The season begins with the Wise Men, continues with Jesus' baptism, and then always ends with His transfiguration. Glory upon glory! And we too, like the Wise Men, fall down and worship Him. For that is true wisdom, indeed!

So at this time of the year, for us there is three times the joy! Three seasons to rejoice in all that our Lord has done for us, though we deserve none of it. All mercy, all love, all grace.

And with such joy, I think it is quite appropriate that right in the midst of the Epiphany season every year is the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. If you've never been, you should go! It's on a Friday this year (January 22nd), so why not plan to take the day off from work, give yourself a long weekend, and join thousands of others to speak for the sanctity of life. Because when you go, you know what you'll find among the thousands of people there? Anger? No. Rage? No. Yelling protest? No! You'll find joy! Thousands of people rejoicing in the gift of life that God gives us and that He has redeemed, and rejoicing in the privilege of being able to speak for that life.

So while you may not be able to be like the Wise Men and visit the infant Jesus, you can visit Washington and help infants who are still in danger . . . like Jesus was. And in doing so, you'll be like the Wise Men, for as Jesus said, when you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matthew 25). And you might just be surprised at the joy you have in doing so. Three times the joy!

His servant and yours,

Pastor Douthwaite

Missouri Synod
114 Kingsley Road SW, Vienna, VA  22180
Rev. James Douthwaite, Pastor
Saint Athanasius Lutheran Church