Beloved Concordia Family,
I hope you are able to enjoy all of the anticipation and excitement of this Christmas season. It is a wonderful time of the year. However, we all know that for many, Christmas is a time of real sadness and struggle. The world is a brutal place; pain and grief, disappointment and heartache, loneliness and longing are hard realities for many of us. Would you keep your eyes (and hearts) open for those who are hurting and remember them with kindness? Even an encouraging word can help to ease the struggle.
If you are able to invite friends and loved ones to worship with us during the Christmas holiday, I wanted to provide you with a list of our Christmas services with a brief explanation of each.
Christmas Eve – Tuesday, Dec. 24
Family Worship @ 3pm
This simple, brief service usually lasts about 35-40 minutes. It includes Christmas carols and very little liturgy, but NO sermon. The heart of the service is a children’s message where all the children are invited to join me near the stable for an “extended” object lesson. I LOVE this service. The excitement of 300-600 kids is palpable and delightful! You don’t have to be a family or even a kid to join us for this service!
Christmas Pageant “The Story of Christmas” @ 5 & 7pm
This wonderful service is amazing in that it is written, produced, and performed COMPLETELY by Concordia folks. It is a wonderful Gospel presentation that displays the amazing talents of our brothers and sisters. This is a terrific service to invite friends and loved ones to attend … especially if they don’t care for more traditional services. Many of the usual “worship service” parts and pieces are gone, but the message is rock solid and crystal clear! Tip: The 5 PM service is usually “standing room only” and you should plan to arrive a bit early (like 4:30 PM), if you want seating for a group. The 7 PM service (while fairly full) is a bit less crowded and may allow you more flexibility for seating if you are arriving at the time of the service.
Candlelight Service @ 9 & 11pm
This is a wonderful service. Candles adorn the altar area and provide a beautiful glow to enhance the Christmas decorations. The music features Christmas carols. In addition to our gifted musicians, we also bring in a terrific string trio to add that “special” touch. Both of our candlelight series offer Holy Communion. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, this service is an oasis of peaceful, joyful celebration.
Christmas Day – Wednesday, Dec. 25
Christmas Festival Worship – 10am
I love Christmas morning and I especially love the privilege of gathering with my beloved Concordia family on Christmas morning, after a VERY busy Christmas Eve, to celebrate God’s gift of love to us and our world. This service also features the carols of Christmas accompanied by a brass group. I always preach an entirely different message on Christmas morning than I share on Christmas Eve (in case you were wondering). This service is a full-blown worship celebration with Holy Communion.
STARS Youth Retreat
Calling ALL High School students …
It is easy to get caught up in all of the plans, parties, shopping, finals, etc. and forget that there are some AWESOME things coming up in January 2014! One of the VERY best is our STARS Youth Retreat, January 17-20. This is a PERFECT way to begin the New Year with a stronger faith and some great new relationships. If you have questions, please contact Julie Tucker (JulieT@Concordia.cc) or Pastor Ben (BenS@Concordia.cc).
“Christmas in Reverse … Reversing Disbelief”
Joseph could not believe it! His beloved, betrothed Mary was pregnant … but not by him! To make matters worse, she claimed that God had visited her and announced to her that she would be the mother of the world’s Savior. This must have been pretty hard to believe! It takes an angelic announcement from Gabriel to overcome Joseph’s incredulity. What do you have a hard time believing? God can provide us what we need to strengthen our faith in Him!
Series Theme Verse: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. (Ezekiel 21:26b)
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)
Your pastor loves you!