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Letter from Pastor
Sermon Notes

From the Pastor

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother held her Baby
In a manger for His bed;
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

Not in that poor, lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
Shall we see Him, but in heaven, 
Set at God’s right hand on high.
Then like stars His children, crowned,
All in white, His praise will sound!
(LSB #376, v. 1 and 5)

Ten years ago this December 26, my mother died. As you can imagine, it was hard for my family (and me) — death is hard enough, but to have it come the day after Christmas can be difficult to process. How do you reconcile the joy of Christmas with the sorrow of death? And yet, strangely enough, as the hymn quoted above says, there is/was a paradoxical peace with the timing.

After all, death comes only because of sin. If there were no sin, then there would be no death. My mother, as much as I love her, was a sinner. But Jesus was born to satisfy sin’s curse. To crush Satan’s head and power. To end death. This little One was born to live and die in our place. To keep the commandments and to suffer our hellish punishment. And He has done just that! That is why Christmas is so joyful — because we know where it leads. Bethlehem’s manger leads to Calvary’s cross and Easter’s empty tomb. THAT is what makes Christmas so joyful. Even when we are perhaps not “feeling” it for whatever reason (like death or depression or some other painful thing). Your Savior has come! How can that NOT fill you with joy?

And, as that last verse above reminds us, because of Jesus we have heaven. My mother is there (and now my dad too). My father-in-law. And so many others. Many of whom I have buried at our churches here at Crookston and Eldred. Those saints shine like the stars because Jesus was born, because He lived and died for them, and because He rose triumphant for them. And us. THAT is the greatest gift imaginable. And it is yours. So, don’t let the devil steal your Christmas joy. That Christmas Gift has your name written on it! In Christ, rejoice and be merry!

Pastor Bohler
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