Christmas Greetings to all, and a blessed New Year!
What kind of plans have you made for celebrating Christmas? Generally, I know where I will be. Christmas commitments have kept us home to celebrate our Savior’s birth, often in multiple services of worship for almost all of the last 35 Christmas seasons. Generally, the final flurry of holiday services, with a special message for each, have led up to family efforts to keep dad awake as we opened gifts following Christmas dinner. (Yes, we made everyone wait till after the rounds of worship were over and the most important celebrations of the season were complete before gathering around the tree and opening gifts.) . . . This year will be a bit different for us. For the first time in many years we are not yet sure where we will celebrate the services of our Savior’s birth. While our Mount Calvary family is celebrating Jesus’ Birthday in familiar ways here at home, Lori and I will travel out of state to celebrate with our daughters and their families, and to mark 45 years of marriage on December 29th! Back at home, my good friend Reverend Richard Robinson will lead worship here at Mount Calvary on December 23rd, the 4th Sunday in Advent, December 24, at our 11 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship, and December 30th, on the Sunday after Christmas.
While we are looking forward to our travels and celebrations with family, we will miss the special music and festivities of the season at home. I look forward each year to greeting those friends and family each of you brings to the services of these holy days and I hope you will share with them my disappointment at missing the opportunity to share Christmas greetings with them this year. Please welcome and share my appreciation with my friend, Pastor Robinson, as he serves in my place, so we can travel. I will also miss the last of the Monday evening Children’s programs upon which Elizabeth has worked so hard, I want to thank her and those who have helped her in advance for all their work to share God’s gracious gift of our Savior with the Children of our Community. I am happy to say that I will be here for the December 15th event Carol Vietzke and her committee are working so hard to put together as another opportunity to share the message of God’s greatest Christmas gift, HIS Son, to save us all from our sins. I want to thank Carol and those who have worked with her as well. The season of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, is always so busy, it is a sign of your dedication to our Savior that so many of you set aside so much of your limited time to share God’s gift of Jesus with others.
As I write this note it is hard to believe that it is already the third anniversary of our arrival at Mount Calvary! I don’t know how it can be, but it seems at the same time as though it has been both much shorter and much longer. Time moves fast when you are busy, as we have been with the Lord’s business. God has gifted us with great opportunities to reach out to our community with HIS love through Camp Restore Detroit’s (CRD) ministry. God has also introduced us to many new brothers and sisters in Christ (both Lutherans and others) with hearts to assist us in this new outreach endeavor. One of our new friends, Mark Kaline, has been working hard to help us acquire the White House (no, not the one in D.C., the one next to our playground), to house offices and new outreach efforts sponsored by Mount Calvary and CRD. Before year’s end we should hold title to the White House, the lot next door, and 2 lots on the corner of Seymour and Chalmers (expanding our planned community garden area). In addition to child and adult classes, I suspect the space will be especially helpful in pursuing the opportunity recently presented to us to host an outreach effort to our addicted and sexually trafficked neighbors living on the streets of our community. Another friend, Debra Ellinger, who leads Ellie’s House ministry to reach out to the sexually trafficked has agreed to work with us as has Rev. Malcolm Griswold, a young pastor working to begin a new Baptist church near us. Please pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we explore how we might work together in a God-pleasing way and reach out to our neighbors without overextending our financial, spatial, and especially our human resources.
So many gifts of God to celebrate! Still, the entire catalog of God’s other gifts cannot begin to compare to the One most gracious gift of Jesus we celebrate December 25th! May your celebrations be filled with Joy in the assurance of God’s grace as you mark the birth of our Savior!
About The Author
Since 2015, Pastor John Carrier has been Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church's pastor in Detroit, Michigan. He is also the Director for Camp Restore Detroit. Mt. Calvary has a bi-monthly newsletter, which opens with words from Pastor Carrier, called "From The Pastor's Desk..."