December 2020

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Letter from Pastor, Newsletter, & Calendar

Our Savior Has Come Into Our Days!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:1-12 (KJV) 

As I write this article, it is not even Thanksgiving yet. Nonetheless there are numerous, urgent, calls from many public officials that you and I and our fellow citizens should perhaps just stay home and “hunker down” this upcoming holiday season instead of getting together with loved ones to celebrate Christmas. They are insisting that the danger from spreading the Covid-19 virus is just too great. In fact, some are even preaching to us that if we truly love our neighbors as Christ taught us, we would gladly distance ourselves from every one so as to slow the spread of this pandemic and not bring death to our neighbors.

Sounds pretty ominous doesn’t it? First of all, it is important for us to separate fact from fiction. Covid-19 is a most serious virus. It has infected millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. Yes, many have become seriously ill and many thousands have died. However, for proper perspective it must be noted that Covid is not the automatic death sentence that much of the media has often painted it out to be. The CDC’s own statistics are showing that less than 1% of those who have contracted the virus have died and over 75% of those infected have had mild to no symptoms whatsoever. On top of this, the vast majority of persons who have died with Covid have also had other lethal health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. Which condition actually contributed the most to their death? It seems to be of little concern to many of the experts. Covid is simply being listed as the cause on the death certificates. 

Now, of course, we would all agree that one death is one too many. Yet, it is of paramount importance in order to rightly judge the severity of this pandemic to consider also that the mortality rate for persons who have contracted some of the seasonal flus is just as high if not higher than that of Covid-19. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that of those who contract heart disease or many forms of cancer 10 – 50% of them die. Yet, we do not hear the same call to avoid worship or the celebration of holidays in light of these serious pandemics.

Secondly, and in my mind, most importantly, what better time than right in the midst of such pandemic bad news to celebrate and focus on the “Good news of great joy that shall be to all people.” It is not only the illness and deaths that has besieged us. It is also all of the other horrible ramifications that have made this pandemic a living hell for many: the lock-downs, quarantines, disruption of our children’s education, isolation from family and friends, and even job and income losses. Our world right now needs to hear just as much as ever that “a Savior has been born for you!” 

This Good News is not just to be the substance of children’s bedtime stories. It is the assurance that God Himself has come in our own flesh to redeem us from all that plagues us; sin, sickness, estrangement from God and each other, even death and judgment under the wrath of God. The Son of God did not come into our world in some pristine, problem-free, place or time. He came right into people’s lives when they were living under the dominance and heavy-handed rule of Caesar, spiritually dying under the oppression of the false and deceiving religious teachers of Israel, as well as suffering the consequences of the sordidness of their own sin-filled lives. 

This is why the Glad tidings the angels had to share that first Christmas were of such import and joy for the shepherds, for Mary and Joseph, and for you and me in the trials and tribulations of our world today. Born of Mary for each and every one of us is Christ the LORD, God, Himself, come to save us. He is appropriately named Jesus; that is, The LORD saves. Jesus Himself has said of His coming, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Indeed, the Son of God came to be born of Mary precisely so that He could become man and could then in our own flesh redeem us all with His own precious blood from sin and its every consequence. Jesus has assured us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

Such Good News is our Christmas joy and our daily comfort! No circumstances good or evil shall alter it, eliminate it or diminish it. How then can we not rejoice in it, share it, and proclaim it both in our corporate assemblies and in our own private lives?

The peace, joy and hope of Jesus Christ, Son of Mary and Son of God, be with you all these dark days and every day!

Pastor Schreibeis