Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Your Pastor

December 23, 2016

Good Afternoon Church,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of host will do this.[1]

I pray that you are standing in awe of the miracle in the manger as you consider the amazing grace and awesome wonder of the incarnation of the Messiah.[2] The birth of Christ and all that it means is truly good news of great joy for all people[3]because it was not simply a baby that was born, but the Savior of man, promised long ago, had finally come to redeem His people from Satan, sin, and the grave.[4] What a blessing it was to contemplate the incarnation of Christ’s deity this past Sunday and to be amazed at how divinity and humanity was wrapped in undeniable humility[5] that coalesced in a cattle stall in Bethlehem.[6] May the sacrificial and sovereign love of God so overwhelm all of us that we stand perplexed at such intimate providence and say with Mary, how can this be?[7]

I look forward to continuing our Christmas celebration this weekend as we gather Saturday night for a special candlelight service. At that service we will journey together through the story of Christmas that began before creation and went through the cradle in order to fulfill the plan of the cross. Sunday morning, we will regather as a church family for a wonderful time celebrating the joy of Christmas which will also include a special sermon just for the children. I know it is a busy time of year, but I pray these opportunities will be a blessing to you as you seek to faithfully fight the many distractions that follow this holiday by contemplating and exalting the Christ of Christmas. Since the church office will be shut down next week (Dec 26th-30th), I also want to encourage you that I am planning a special sermon for that following Sunday, January 1st, as we consider both the trajectory of our culture and our church in 2017. Since this will be my last letter for this year, I want to share a few thoughts of thanks from my heart for all that God has done for us, in us, and through us this past year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Your Pastor

 

First, let me start by saying what a privilege it has been to be your under-shepherd this year, and I continue to be overwhelmed by God’s undeserved grace where He mercifully allows me the honor to serve in His Church. Ministry is a mercy given to all of us,[8] and we must never get over the fact that God does not need any of us,[9] but in His grace He chooses to use all those He has saved[10] which is an amazing gift,[11] calling,[12] and joy of our salvation![13] I do not deserve to be your pastor, yet because of God’s kindness it has been a wonderful delight to serve in this capacity this past year. Will you continue to pray for me as I continue to depend wholly on God’s sustaining grace in fulfilling my calling to faithfully feed you God’s Word?

Second, I want to praise God for how He has personally and powerfully cared for our church this past year. The first year for a new pastor is always a dangerous one for multiple reasons, and this year has not been without its potential divisive difficulties, but God has been faithful to protect us and even grow us spiritually throughout every season. Moreover, He has allowed us to begin deepening our commitment to World evangelism by personally evaluating, encouraging, and elevating the ministry connections we have with our missionaries. The missionary trips taken by Tom Fox and myself were clearly one of the greatest blessings for me personally this year. Additionally, one of my main goals for this past year was to work hard in establishing the preaching of the Word as a main priority in order that Christ might be exalted through the passionate and personal exposition of the Scriptures. While I have a long way to go in my understanding of and ability to declare the Word, I am humbled by God’s kindness in guiding us through an amazing journey deep into the book of Colossians. I give God all praise for the power of His Word and for the many life-changing lessons we learned from that series, as well as the ones we are learning from our current series through Ruth.

Lastly, I want to praise God for those of you who faithfully and sacrificially serve our Lord through the many different ministries both here at church as well as those that happen informally outside of this building. One of the main goals in salvation, purposes for living, and aspects of sanctification is service in and to the Body of Christ. Some of you understand that truth and have been a true blessing to many this year, and I give God glory for your hard and often unseen sacrifice to Him. Thank you to those who serve so faithfully in the nursery and children’s classes, on the worship team, as ushers, greeters, hall monitors, decorators, encouragers, teachers, men’s and women’s ministry teams, organizers of the different fellowship gatherings we are blessed to enjoy, deacons, elders, and the understanding wives that support the men on both of those boards. However, sadly, some of you reading this letter are not involved at a sacrificial and ministry level, and I pray that will change in 2017 because service in and to the church and growth in Christ are inseparably linked.

Like you, I have so many undeserved blessings for which to thank our faithful Father, that words often do not seem like enough to give Him for all that He has and continues to give me. Thus, I look forward in the year ahead to giving my Lord more than words as I seek to pour out my whole life for Him in the delightful and often difficult duty of faithfully following Him as I sacrificially serve His Church. I pray that as you enjoy this holiday season with your family, that you will personally consider the great opportunity that stands before you in the year ahead to heighten your worship of God through deepening your walk with Christ and broadening your service to others. I praise God for all He has done in this first year as your pastor, and I look forward to all that He will do in the second year as we whole-heartedly seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ together!

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Matt

 

[1] Isa 9:6-7

[2] Mt 1:20-23

[3] Lk 2:8-14

[4] Lk 1:67-79; 2:29-32

[5] Phil 2:6-8

[6] Micah 5:2

[7] Lk 1:34

[8] 2 Cor 4:1

[9] Jn 1:1-4; 5:26; Acts 17:24-25; Rom 11:33-36; Isa 40:28, 66:1-2; Ps 50:8-14

[10] 1 Cor 1:27-31; Jn 15:16

[11] 1 Pet 4:10

[12] Rom 12:1-13

[13] Eph 2:10

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