Merry Christmas from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m the senior pastor at St. Paul, Lee Harder. Our prayer for you at this glorious time of year is for a blessed Christmas.
We celebrate the Word of God from Scripture at St. Paul. Every week our worship celebrations at 8:30 AM (traditional) and 10:45 AM (contemporary) rejoice in God’s message of hope. In between, we offer Christian education for the whole family. Please consider making us your spiritual home.
This week I pray for all to come to know the love of God in the Babe born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ. May you join with shepherds and wise men at a manger and worship the Son of God and our Savior.
Merry Christmas and a Blessed Happy New Year!
Yours in Christ,
Greetings from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. The people of this family of believers wish you a joyous Christmas as we celebrate the coming of God’s Son into the world. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, sharing some time with you every week that might offer to you some pause for thought about our place in this world as people of faith. If you don’t know Jesus, maybe these moments might introduce you.
I’d like a moment to invite you to join us this Christmas Eve for worship as we celebrate the coming of Christ. At 5:00 PM, we have our Family Nativity Service with carols and prayers, our Lord’s Supper and a candlelight litany all tied together in God’s Word of salvation in the birth of Jesus. Then at 9:00 PM, we have a full Candlelight Service with a focus on a much loved hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night.” I think you’ll be surprised where it takes us and it won’t be silent, I guarantee. Please feel free to come and join us.
With Christmas only a little more than a week away, you might know my Blog/Vlog is about Christmas. Believe it or not, I have no intention of running down the barrage of commercialism assaulting the season. Nor will I remark on the questionable decorations that some appoint as appropriate for the season. Nope! I want to share a few thoughts about family and friends.
I had my last chapel session with the children of our Christian Day School this past Tuesday. Naturally we talked about Christmas. With their help (which seemed more challenging than normal because either they all had on a sugar rush or the excitement of Christmas was weighing heavily on them), we identified all the key parts of the Christmas story — the Bible one not the TV one. I was overjoyed when they started with Jesus instead of Santa Claus (he didn’t even get mentioned) and moved on to all the rest — Mary and Joseph, shepherds (lambs were included) and angels (at least a ga-zillion of them), a star and wise men (no magi, but a few kings).
Then I told them there was one important person missing that they forgot to mention. You wouldn’t believe some of the answers I got. I finally pointed to the kids and said, “YOU!” Christmas needs you. It wouldn’t be complete without you. After all, God came into this world because of His love for you, for me, and for all people everywhere. He is terribly disappointed if you or I or any of us aren’t there.
Our presence is of such great importance because after the work of saving us from sin, death and the power of the devil, God has charged us with the responsibility of sharing His message of hope and life, light and love with the world. For 2,000 years the birth of the Christ child has been proclaimed and witnessed, treasured and shared with countless people. Many have come to believe in Him. Others still refuse because they can’t or won’t, but the Word of God’s salvation in Jesus persists. It will not be silenced as long as we who believe are a part of Christmas.
So, don’t worry about getting caught up in the trappings of the holiday season as long as we remember the holiday we are celebrating is Christmas. Nothing can compare to it and nothing stands greater. Enjoy your presents in the giving and the receiving, oooh and aaah at the blinking lights decked in silver and gold, and indulge yourself, a little, in the fruit of the season.
However, please remember to share yourself in this world among those who need to hear of God’s love and mercy, His overflowing grace. God has given a gift to you in His Son. Make yourself a gift to give to others by serving a heaping portion of God’s love so they may come to know Jesus, too.
And those are my thoughts. Merry Christmas!
Lee Harder, senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas greeting you after a few weeks apart. I haven’t been idle, at least not in the traditional sense, I assure you. All of us have celebrated Thanksgiving and I hope you had the opportunity to give thanks to God, as well as have time to share with family and friends. Since then, I also managed to spend some time in the hospital having heart surgery (procedure) and an additional splint put in the lower part of my heart. It was preventative to avoid having a problem as opposed to getting one after a serious problem occurred. So, all is well and I figured I should get back to work.
The holidays and the celebration of Christ’s birth aren’t far away. It’s Advent and a time of preparing and getting ready. Trouble is, it seems everyone is in such a rush to get to Christmas that we forget to really celebrate it by getting ready for it.
December, the days prior to the twenty-fifth, are a count down to Christmas like on the old fashioned Advent calendars. Filled with twenty-five doors, the child slowly opens one door at a time, one each day, counting down to Christmas. The door once opened reveals a verse of Scripture, a picture displaying the joy of the season, or maybe with the right grandparents, a chocolate treat (Karen and I ARE those grandparents). In worship, we light one of the four Advent candles on the Advent wreath each week. No matter how we count the days out, we get more excited and anxious the closer we get to THE day — Christmas.
Lately, with all the parties and sales, the exchanges and events, by the time Christmas is really here our enthusiasm is about spent. I mean really, they started showing Christmas programing on TV weeks ago already. The stores had Christmas stuff out right next to the Halloween candy and costumes. Christmas music has filled the ether even before Thanksgiving (that’s in November with Christmas at the end of December in case you forgot). What’s sad is that a day or two after the twenty-fifth the music will fall silent, the celebrating be reduced to torn wrapping paper and returned presents, and the stores displaying the latest in swim wear. The feeling of peace on earth, good will to all overshadowed by the usual business of “if it feels good, just do it” mode of living.
I distinctly recall the church calendar and the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in complete agreement that Christmas isn’t just one day but a season of celebration of at least twelve days in length which begins ON the twenty-fifth, not concludes.
My suggestion for these days before Christmas, you know the season of Advent, is to slow down — a little. To borrow from one of Advent’s themes, “Watch” “Be Ready” for the Savior is coming. I wouldn’t want you to miss Him because you were distracted by something less important or spent all your energy on a party before the guest of honor arrives.
Have a blessed Advent season as we get ready for Christ’s coming. Don’t worry. He’ll get here. Let’s just make sure WE ARE READY!
And those are my thoughts.
Pastor Lee R. Harder