[The following is an excerpt from our monthly newsletter The Seed of Life.]
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
My beloved family in the light of Christ,
There’s a fable that reminds me of the text above from Hebrews. A small village hired a builder to construct a new sanctuary. Once construction was finished the families toured the new church and they were very impressed. Yet, there was one peculiar thing. Everything was where it should be; the font, the altar, the lectern, the pulpit, the organ, et cetera, but where were the lights? The windows didn’t allow in enough light and what of evening services? The people gathered outside to thank and then question the builder. As they filed out the builder handed a large lantern to each family.
He explained, “You may have questions about lighting your house of worship. Each family of this village has received a lantern and above the pews are hooks for your lanterns. When you are here your lantern will illuminate this place. When you leave you are to take it home. When you are not here this place will be just a little dimmer for it. Your presence in the Divine Service is needful for many reasons, but one is that your family in Christ needs your light.”
When we confess “I believe in the Holy Christian Church and the Communion of Saints…” we are saying several things. One thing we are saying is that we believe that God has made us into a family by the grace of His Son. Families need one another. Especially around this festive season we notice when someone is missing at family gatherings. Grandpa’s seat is empty this year because he’s in the hospital. Brother was snowed in and isn’t there to cut through the tense moments with his sense of humor. Their absence makes the celebration seem a little dimmer than years past.
As the builder in the story said there are many reasons that our presence at Divine Service is needful. We all need the forgiveness Jesus gives us each Sunday. We all need the Word of God. We also need one another. Rev. Bill Weedon puts it this way: “When you choose to skip on Sunday, when you don’t come together with your church family to join in offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and to receive the gifts your Lord has for you, it’s not just you that misses out. Your extended family – the Church – misses out. They are diminished by your decision to absent yourself. The singing is that much quieter. The “amens” that much softer. The spot where you usually sit and stand reminds us all of your absence.”
Advent begins on December 2nd. Commonly read during this season is the cry of Isaiah, “O that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Isaiah 64) The prophet struggled with what he felt was the absence of God in a world that is dark with sin and evil. Advent remembers that God did not leave us alone, but instead “The true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1) We have the light of Christ’s forgiveness and grace. We share in that light every time we gather. We have some extra opportunities this month to gather on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. Won’t you come with your “lantern” to receive the light of Christ with your family? If you’ve been absent for a while your family misses you. Won’t you come so that our amens to our Lord may be that much louder? I pray all of you will have a blessed Advent season and look forward to seeing all of you very soon.
In Christ’s Service,