Volume 25, Issue 2 — Winter 2023 - 01/23/2023
After all the excitement of the Christmas season, January and February can bring the doldrums – unless you are a child who enjoys snowstorms and the fun that they promise! But, for the rest of us, there are cold days to endure... the promise of having to clear your car of snow and ice, and then also the driveway... long, dark nights (although, at least the daylight hours are now increasing!)... and, for most of us, few vacation days to enjoy. Let’s just endure and get through winter!
In the Church, however, we have exciting things to focus upon and celebrate. The season of Epiphany begins on January 6 with the remembrance of the visit of the Magi. Then, on Sunday the 8th, we focus upon Jesus’ baptism. He is baptized by John, along with the rest of the people. And so, we learn that Jesus joins us in baptism, and joins us in His baptism! How exciting to hear on that day Paul’s words in Rom. 6: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his... So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” On the following Sunday’s we hear of Christ’s calling of His first disciples, the beginning of His ministry of teaching and healing, and then we spend several weeks on the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus proclaims blessed in Him even the poorest in spirit among us, and then proceeds to carefully teach us God’s Law and His fulfillment of it. In Jesus we are given a wonderful identity as God’s children and wonderful guidance for our lives. We are truly blessed! How great it is to be able to be in church to hear this and receive, not simply of our Savior and His blessings, but to receive our Savior Himself! He pronounces forgiveness for our every sin through the absolution proclaimed by the Pastor He has sent... His very voice rings out in the readings from Matthew... He speaks to us through the Pastor’s sermon, applying His Word to our lives... and He gives us His very body and blood. Keep this in mind and have this focus, and you will never feel the doldrums in church!
We also have significant events to focus upon, and some to celebrate, this winter. The last week of January is National Lutheran Schools Week. We have four schools in our District: Trinity Christian School in Keene, NH; Immanuel Lutheran School and Preschool in Bristol, CT; Immanuel Lutheran School in Danbury, CT; and First Lutheran School in Holyoke, MA. I will be joining the staff and students at First Lutheran in Holyoke on January 25 to lead their morning chapel. I encourage you to first, and above all, lift up our schools in prayer; and then, to see how you can help our schools with your time and your financial support. Like our churches, they are bringing the Gospel of Christ to students and families and are working to anchor them in the wonderful identity we have in Christ as God’s children and His wonderful guidance for our lives. Thanks be to God for their ministry!
January also brings before us Life Sunday, which this year is celebrated on January 22. We live in a culture that increasingly promotes death as a solution to unwanted and unexpected pregnancy, terminal illness, and the weariness with living. We, however, know God as the Lord and Giver of life – and above all, eternal life – in Jesus! Let us rejoice in Him and joyously hold forth the hope and life we have in Him – in these winter months, and always!!
Pastor Bob Beinke, DP