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The Pastor’s Piece – December 18, 2022

The Pastor’s Piece

FCFI

December 18, 2022

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope your Christmas is great and memorable. 

What would a perfect day look like? This past Sunday turned out to be a pretty great day in my life. It started at about 6:45 a.m. when I arrived at church. Several of us get together every Sunday morning about that time as we prepare for our Sunday services. One gentleman in particular, arrives 15 minutes before any of us, and unlocks the doors, turns all the lights on, gets the coffee pots fired up, and sets the thermostats. Another arrives a few minutes later with dozens and dozens of donuts for the congregation. Four or five others come a few minutes after that and we stand around and drink coffee and talk about how our weeks went. It’s a very meaningful time in our day and I look forward to it every Sunday. Usually, just before 7:30 people start arriving for church. They’ll come into the Fellowship Hall and grab a donut and cup of coffee and head off to claim their seat. From that moment on, the morning is a whirlwind.

Around 7:55 a group of four or five men assemble in the boiler room on the lower level and we pray together for the services, the kids, and all the other people who will be attending that morning. Services start promptly at 8:00.

After church is over, many of us hang around and visit, sometimes for several hours. On this Sunday, there was a family that had requested a visit from me in the afternoon. I don’t usually do visitation on Sunday afternoon, but there were extenuating circumstances so after church I traveled to their home. I sat in the living room with them while they poured out their grief and heartache. Life is difficult for them and they’ve tried a lot of remedies but nothing works. We talked for a few hours and I offered sympathy, Biblical counsel, and prayer. Yes, it was rather sad what they are going through, but the good news is that God is greater and through our conversation their spirits were lifted and their hope renewed. So it was good.

By now it was getting close to dinner time so we decided we’d have roasted chicken for dinner from the store. I went to Sullivan’s Grocery Store in Lena and looked over what they had to offer, chose a chicken, picked out a couple other items and proceeded to the checkout. On the way I stopped and asked a lady working there a question on where I could find something. Before she answered my question, she had one for me: “Are you the Pastor from Martintown?” she wanted to know.  “That’s me,” I said. She said: “I’ve never been to your church, but I read you in the paper every week. Don’t ever stop writing.” She was a blessing.

Then, as I approached the cash register, I saw three little girls from our church waiting in line with their mother. When the girls saw me, they all simultaneously shouted: “Pastor Kevin!!” and ran toward me with their arms wide open and gave me a gigantic hug – times three. That was precious.

Then, while I waited in line and chatted with them a bit, another gentleman from our church came in the front door of the store. He saw us standing there chatting and came over to get in on the action. We had a nice conversation and then we all parted company and went our separate ways. 

But the story doesn’t end there. After arriving home, I changed out of my church clothes while my wife put our dinner together. Just then I heard a commotion out in the front yard. I looked out the window and there was a family of eight from our church, standing on our lawn, singing Christmas carols to my wife and me. They sang in beautiful harmony, I might add. Each one singing their specific part. Afterward, they came inside and we visited for a short while, then they went on their way taking Christmas cheer to other families. And that was the end of my perfect day. 

No one ever captured the essence of why God sent His Son better than C. S. Lewis: “The Son of God became a son of man so that the sons of man might become the sons of God.” He came to where we were so that He might lift us up to where He is. He doesn’t say, “Climb up here.” No! He comes down to where we are and lifts us up to where He is. This is the miracle of the gospel.

Here’s a little story – Our almost 2-year-old granddaughter – when she’s playing, she says: “C’mere Gampa, sit down” (pats the floor). She doesn’t want to sit at my desk or at the table or even on my lap. She wants me to get down into her world – where her action is and she shows me what she’s doing.  

God doesn’t make us climb up to where He is, He comes to where we are.  Have you ever thanked God for sending Christ to the earth? Are you glad that He came? Have you ever considered where you would be if He had not come? Between now and Christmas morning take a few minutes to think about how your life would be different if Christ had not come.

In just a few days Christmas will arrive and families will gather to open their gifts. God has a Christmas gift for you – wrapped not in bright paper and with fancy ribbon – but in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. It is the gift of His Son. It is for you. The gift is still there. It must be personally received. You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look in the Father’s face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift. Have you done that?

Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin)