Wednesday, December 21, 2016

That's Why I say Merry Christmas!

"I love Christmas, but I hate the stress."  That was what one person recently said to me as she stopped for a moment to say hello in my office.  

Sadly, Christmas often stresses us out because it heightens our relentless pursuit of perfection.  We work hard to find the perfect gifts and wrap them with the perfect paper.  We endlessly stress out to get the perfect foods for the party.  We worry about getting the perfect family picture taken and getting the perfect Christmas cards out on time!  Why all the stress about perfection when the only perfection we need comes from that baby who was announced to imperfect people?

The night that Jesus was born, the angels were sent by God to announce Jesus' birth to shepherds in fields nearby.  Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I wonder why God sent angels to shepherds.  Stop and think about it: angels are bright and shiny.  Angels are perfect.  Angels can't say the wrong thing.  Wouldn't it have been better for God to send angels to everyone to announce Jesus' birth, instead of shepherds?  But no, God sent them to shepherds.  People who were ordinary, dusty and dirty, and no doubt smelled a little bit...have you ever smelled a sheep?

Why would God send bright and perfect messengers to dirty and imperfect ones?  Isn't it because the perfect object of their message, Jesus, came to save those who are imperfect?  That's right.  The angels said, "Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you.  He is the Messiah, the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

The reason Jesus was born and lived perfectly 33 years on this earth and then died and rose again is simply stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him (Jesus), who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  That's what makes Christmas worth celebrating.  That baby grew up to be my Savior, and yours.  He took my sin upon himself when He died and He gave me His perfection.  I'm righteous, in other words, right with God, in spite of all of my imperfections, because of what Jesus did for me.  And He did the same for you.  That's why I say, "Merry Christmas!"

You're invited to join us this weekend as we celebrate the timeless love of our Savior and what He did to save us.

Worship times on Saturday, December 24: 5:00pm and 7:00pm at our De Pere site (2066 Lawrence Dr, De Pere)

Worship times on Sunday, December 25: 9:00am at our De Pere site 9:00am at our Green Bay site (1167 Kenwood St, Green Bay - 2 blocks north of Lambeau Field on Oneida St.)

Merry Christmas from our St. Mark family to yours!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You'll never fully understand...

         You cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. (Ecclesiastes 11:5b)

This was the striking verse of the day recommended on my phone this week. I was taken back by its beautiful simplicity. Solomon in all his splendor and wisdom and life experience came to this conclusion.

This verse is a reminder:

  • When things go wrong, it is okay to not know why. We're not God.
  • No matter how much we know, or discover, or invent, or create - we have limits. We're not God.
  • We can't and won't fully understand God. We're not God.
These conclusions, I suppose can be frustrating, scary, or disheartening to some. And yet, as I ponder Christmas this month I'm encouraged. He who is and works beyond our understanding became one of us so that we would understand that he completely knows and loves us. He knows what it is to be a toddler, he knows what it is to get hurt, he knows what it is to be tempted, he knows how much our sins hurt us. Perhaps the most unfathomable thing about God is how he, after becoming one of us gave his life on a cross for us. 

We may not understand the work of God but I'm thankful we can see and know his love through the Christmas story.

Blessed Christmas,

Pastor Eric Hansen