Do-Not-Be-Afraid New Year
Do not be afraid.
When Gabriel appears to Mary with shocking, life changing news of her wondrous, impossible pregnancy, the angel looks into Mary’s troubled face and says: Do not be afraid.
When Joseph is devastated upon finding out that Mary will give birth to a child he knows is not his, he decides to choose divorce over stoning, an angel counsels him: Do not be afraid.
When the shepherds are out in the cold, night fields --- shepherds who are not even considered worthy of being counted in the empire’s census, when these no-count shepherds are terrified upon seeing the sky break open in otherworldly song, the angel speaks to them: Do not be afraid.
Do not be afraid rings the Christmas proclamation. Whatever can this mean when there are so many reasons to be afraid?
What if the cancer returns?
What if the diagnosis means…….?
What if my loved one loses sobriety? ---- or never embraces it?
What if our congregation cannot meet its financial needs? --- loses heart?
What if the loss (of loved one, our plans, our way for doing things) overwhelms?
What if we lack the will to get global warming under control?
What if dark division rips the community we share?
We all have the “what ifs” that stir up anxiety and fear.
Still, let’s imagine some different “what ifs?” What if the message of the angels and shepherds and stars of Christmas offer real hope in the face of real fears? What if Jesus is “God-with-us” and “God-for-us” in all times and places? What if the presence of a vulnerable baby is the very love that enters our cold world and harsh hearts, causing us to celebrate generosity? What if the manger birth moves us to believe that in weakness we will find strength? What if we discover how the light shines, even in the valley of the shadow? And, what if we find that it is love that cradles us, even if it feels as prickly as manger straw?
And, what if, we live in the hope and the joy of a “Do-not-be-afraid” new year?
+ Pastor Steve
It was enough for me to struggle in my study with Hebrew, if only to discover that Jesus’ name means “The Lord makes room.” I shared my discovery with “our homeless friends” in a recent morning devotion. It is not uncommon for someone to interrupt, if not challenge me during these devotions. “If that is true,” exclaimed one of our worshippers, “that changes everything!”
Yes, it does. This is why Luke, the gospel writer, plays with that name in telling Jesus’s story. He says they laid Jesus in a manger, because there was “no place for them in the inn.” The baby Jesus grows up to befriend any and all with no place, making a place for them at his table. Everyone has a place with Jesus.
Once Jesus visited the home of Zaccheus, a man without any friends. He was a sinner, a tax collector. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus announced. He was playing with the name salvation, which was also Jesus’ name. “Today the Lord makes a place at your house, Zacchaeus!”
As we enter this holy season, we are named as God’s beloved, baptized as we are in Jesus’ name. There is no place we can be but that God, the Lord, makes room for us.
Wherever your place, that is God’s place, too. This is our Christmas joy of Jesus, Emmanuel, the Word-made-flesh, who dwells among us in grace and truth.
And, that, dear friends, changes everything.
Pastor Steve Klemz
Taken from the 2018 Stewardship Report handed out on Oct 28th and available now online:
Connecting Through Grace
Thank you! You are a gracious and grace-filled community. This stewardship report flows from your generosity, creating new ministries and ways for us to be a people connecting through grace.
Thanks be to God for the gift of this community. It is our most precious gift, overflowing from God’s heart, shaping and calling us to be a community of grace. How do we see the Spirit connecting us through grace?
Look deep into the cup where love is poured, ‘”for you.” Feel joy celebrated and, when one is in sorrow, we all taste salt. See our fun and fellowship; sacrifice and service; conversations and consolations. Let the music and worship wash over you. In all these connections there is grace, connecting us with the very life of God.
Because of your financial gifts, we have explored new ways to be people of grace. More than prayers for the care of creation, we have made the commitment to reduce our carbon footprint through building renovation. We are connecting more and more children with God’s grace through our VBS outreach and choir days. We are a community of compassion, connecting with refugees at the border, where Cristo Rey Lutheran receives our gifts as Milagro de la Frontera (Miracle at the Border).
What if a stranger should drop in and ask about “this community of grace, this connecting through grace, —— what does it look like?” We can sweep our hand over every aspect of our life together and truly say, “It looks like this.”
To download the entire Stewardship Report, click the link below.
Pastor Steve Klemz
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
CONNECTING THROUGH GRACE
We are a Reconciling in Christ community. All are welcome!
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1070 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
8:15 am Awakening Worship
9:15 am Sunday School
10:30 am Traditional Worship