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From the Pastor's desk......                                                                      




Rounded Rectangle: Newsletter                                  December                      2012
St. James Lutheran

000 Dear Friends,

The Gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Advent contains these rather ominous, almost frightening, words of Jesus: "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Jesusí words here echo the sense of desperation, fear and confusion that people have felt in all generations Ė not only in the time of Jesus but in our time as well. What any of us might feel in the midst of personal difficulties or tragedy or suffering! But then, after these dark words of fear and foreboding, Jesus says this: "Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." His simple message is: when things are most desperate, trust God. Your redemption is near, God is near and Godís promise is sure. Godís gift to you is hope! It is this gift of Hope that lies at the very heart of Advent. As we gather for worship throughout Advent we come from a multitude of circumstances and situations. Some of us may be experiencing life circumstances that bring us to despair . . . We may have health issues, money issues, relationship issues . Text Box: St James Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mannheim, is a Christian Community where people encounter, experience, celebrate, share and proclaim the Grace of God.
. . Some may be feeling overwhelmed by a world, seemingly run amuck with wars and rumours of war . . . Some may have spiritual issues Ė struggling with a sense of Godís absence rather than Godís presence in our lives and with questions of life and meaning that we cannot seem to fully answer . . . and so on . . . Jesus says, remember, in the midst of all of that, Godís gift to us is hope. "Stand up and raise your heads, your redemption is near." To quote St. Paul: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed!" Struck down but not destroyed . . . because we have hope Ė hope, that Paul says, "does not disappoint." Because the source of our hope is God. And the substance of our hope is God Ė a God of love and grace: "Therefore, [Paul says in the Book of Romans] since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. . . . and hope does not disappoint us, because Godís love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.Ē