meet our pastor



welcome message

recommended links

concordia lutheran school

Social Conversation


Mt Calvary Evangelical Lutheran ChurchLike

We preach the historic Faith, we celebrate using the Church's classic forms of worship, and we show the love of Christ that has redeemed us.

userimgThis is our newsletter article for December.... Waiting and Longing: the Nature of Advent….. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:24-25 As you get this, the “official” calendar of the church has turned us to Advent. And this is one of those seasons when the Church (following salutary custom) seems most out of step with the world around us. For no matter what else may be said about the annual “battle over Christmas,” we live in a culture that is still haunted by the celebration and joy of Christmas. The great glad tidings the angels once announced to startled shepherds still echoes across time – even in garish light displays, shopping mall decorations, and innocuous greetings (“happy holidays….” – which isn’t quite as neutral as some think, for “holiday” comes from holy day….). So what are we up to in this Advent-tide, this season of subdued joy in which we hold back on the full-throated celebration of Christmas until we arrive at the actual day (and the next eleven)? We are reminding ourselves of the fact that faith and hope are intimately connected, and that with hope, there is waiting, patience, and longing given us as a gentle discipline to soften our hearts and re-shape our minds. You know that God’s people of the Old Testament had to wait literally thousands of years for the birth of the Messiah – no instant gratification for them, no “claim it and gain it now” thinking. They lived with hope and with the longing for the day of redemption, and accepted that it would come at God’s time. So too we live in a time when we are called to wait – to be patience – for the Day of Christ’s return. And as we reflect on “waiting” for Christmas, we can reflect on waiting for Jesus’ return too. First: even though Christmas Day 2015 isn’t here yet, we know it’s coming (barring the return of Christ….). And because of that – because it’s going to be here regardless of whether we have everything ready, regardless of whether we have all our thoughts and feelings sorted out, regardless of this world’s perturbations – there is a calm we can have as we pass through these next few weeks. It doesn’t matter whether all the shopping gets done – Christmas and its joy will still be here. It doesn’t matter what happens at school…. Christmas is still coming. And so too with Christ’s Return in Glory: it’s going to happen when it is going to happen – and it is certain, and nothing that happens to us will change it or the gifts it brings – which means we can relax – a calm certainty is given us as we wait. We know that all shall be well. Second: seeing that we can neither speed Christmas up or slow it down, we might as well do what we are given to do in the present hour, attend to our callings, and wait patiently. What is the point of impatience? What does it gain? Indeed, we can even endure the grumpiness of others in this time of waiting when we are assured that they can’t stop Christmas either. And so too with waiting for Jesus to return: we are given a patient endurance for these days because we are certain of what we hope for and already see by the promise of its light. Third: we also long for Christmas. Just because it is certain, doesn’t mean that we don’t (or shouldn’t) look forward to it and wish that it were here already. And so too with Christ’s return. In fact, one of the Christmas hymns I like quite a lot ends with these verses: Oh love of the Father Oh gentleness of the Son Deeply were we stained Through our sins But Thou for us hast gained The joys of heaven Oh that we were there Oh that we were there Where are joys If that they be not there? There are angels singing New songs There the bells are ringing In the King's court Oh that we were there Oh that we were there Oh that we were there... Oh that we were there…. That sums up the longing of Advent, of Christmas – and of a life shaped by the hope of what is promised us in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We are all familiar with “longing.” A person with a chronic illness longs for health. A person in a far away and strange place longs for home. A person feeling alone in the world longs for companionship. Longing is a passion that grips us in a way deeper than either a want or a desire. For wants and desires can come and go, they change with time, and sometimes change depending on the latest commercial we’ve seen. But a longing is something more substantial....a longing remains over time, it does not change until the very conditions that gave it birth have changed. A longing is a persistent part of one’s life, it shapes our hopes and dreams, our actions and thoughts. Longings can be gentle or fierce...but they are always there....and, we are apt to feel incomplete without that for which we long. A longing gives rise to that odd feeling that part of one’s self is missing. We are familiar with longings. But here’s the problem. We often long for the wrong things. Ever since that terrible day in the Garden of Eden when our first parents, Adam and Eve, longed to be something other than what God had created them to be, we have inherited a fault-line across our very hearts. We remain creatures of the true God, that’s for sure....but we are born longing for things that we are not promised by God, we are born longing for a life that is independent of Him, we are born with a corrupt will that seeks to build itself up and fill in its empty spots with anything but God. And even after we are born again as children of our Heavenly Father through the waters of baptism, even after the image of God begins to be restored in us by faith in Christ Jesus, we remain inclined to confuse the longings of our old hearts with the new longings the Spirit brings into our hearts through the Word. We see this most clearly when we find people seeking from Christ something other than what He was sent to bring or promised to give. He is come as the Savior from sin and death, yet time and time again, He is reduced to being only a Friend, or an Example, or a Teacher, or a Guide. And it’s not that He isn’t those things as well....but apart from understanding Him as Savior first and foremost, the old heart, longing for its freedom from God, turns Christ into the heavenly giver of what we want and long for, rather than receiving Him as the Bringer of all that God has promised and promises. And so too with us. None of us would dare to say that we don’t long for salvation, but as often as not, what our main understanding of being “saved” counts for is more the product of the flesh’s longings than God’s promises. For this reason, it is fitting that as we prepare for Christmas, the celebration of the promised Messiah’s birth among us, that we learn once again to wait, to hope, and to look for the grace that we have been granted in Christ. To that end, the lessons and hymns of Advent (some of my personal favorites) will guide and shape us – so that we are ever and always filled with a quiet joy, an indomitable gladness, and a longing for our true home.