“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” -2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)

Happy Epiphany! Yes, yet another installment in our Christmas Cycle. Epiphany (the coming of the three Kings) reminds us that the Light that came, is here, and is coming into the world, Jesus, is not just a casual event but an event that changes everything. And it requires a response from us. Not to be saved, Jesus did that on the cross and adopted you into the Father’s family by the Spirit at your baptism. No, the response is not to be saved (not to go to heaven) but to respond to what God has done in saving you. Martin Luther explained it this way—if you had been in a terrible accident and were on the verge of death and could not do anything to save yourself, how would you react if someone then saved you, especially if that someone could have just walked on by or stopped and stared and if that someone was hurt in the process of saving you? Would you be bitter, upset, or angry? Would you be full of guilt and shame? Or would you be full of gratitude and joy? What loyalty or trust would you place in that person that saved you? What if you asked how you could best honor them and the person said to you—“Help others?” Well that is exactly the situation we are in. That Christ who came to earth in flesh and died for us has rescued us from a death that we were powerless to avoid. Jesus has saved you and tells us to now do the same. Do you trust Him, show gratitude to Him, and dedicate your life to helping others? That is the Christian life of gratitude.

They found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger… And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. –Luke 2: 16,19

Ever notice how truly quiet and still it gets when it is snowing—it’s like the blanket of snow wraps everything in it and brings stillness. I often think of how calming it is, how beautiful it is, and how warm it is to snuggle in a blanket in front of a fire watching the snow fall, or being in a forest with a gentle snow falling. Of course then my mind wanders to those traveling, to my kids driving in the snow, to me shoveling us out in the morning, to Heather and I anxiously waiting until everybody is also snug in a blanket off the roads. The world interferes. The comfort and stillness, the newness of the snow becomes worry and frustration and busy.

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. Everyone with me sends you greetings.  Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. -Titus 3: 14-15

My article this month is short. I was asked recently by a community person if we are active in helping the world or not. I said that we were and they asked me to prove it. I said I could tell stories, but they wanted numbers. So I will provide just a few numbers from this year and you provide the stories. And if, as this person suspected, we have no impact here or anywhere I suggest we heed the call of Paul to Titus in our scripture above. And if we do have an impact, let us not rest on our laurels but continue in the work of the Lord. These numbers are only ones I know of because they were reported to me or I was involved in giving the help. Through small things God makes big things happen!

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