Welcome, and thank you for visiting St. Matthew Lutheran Church online. We hope that our website highlights our worship, fellowship and service opportunities available. Please feel free to read more about our church on this site, or come in for a visit. We would love to greet you and share with you our love for Jesus Christ and for you, our neighbor.
Lullaby for the Christ-child
First published in 1539 in Germany, the Christmas hymn “From Heaven Above” recounts the angels’ message to the shepherds and then the spiritual journey of the baptized Christian to Jesus’ manger-bed.
Try singing verses 8, 9 and 13 (translated by Catherine Winkworth) as a tender lullaby of praise, a song of love and a prayer to the newborn Savior. If the original tune is unfamiliar, use “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” or “Just As I Am.”
Welcome to earth, thou noble Guest,
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
Thou com’st to share my misery;
What thanks shall I return to thee?
Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How weak art thou, how poor and small,
That thou dost choose thine infant bed
Where humble cattle lately fed!
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for thee.
The spirit of giving
A highly educated Southern woman named Lottie Moon headed to China in 1873 after rejecting a marriage proposal. She served as a missionary there for almost 40 years, enduring tough conditions and meager resources. Through detailed letters home, Moon conveyed the “desperate need” for more workers.
To honor Moon, in 1918 the Southern Baptist Convention renamed its annual missions collection for her. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering commemorates the dedicated missionary who once asked: “Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?”
The promise of the future
A nursing home resident who longed for fresh Georgia peaches discovered a pit overlooked in his serving of canned fruit. In an old coffee can, he planted the stone, which sprouted! The man gave the small tree to friends to plant. Years later, the peaches were so abundant the neighbors had to give some away.
Lila Docken Bauman recounts this story for the Christian Century, saying the man who took that gamble “did not live to see [it] grow into the tree that ultimately produced this harvest. But when he looked at that pit years ago he saw the promise of fresh fruit. … ‘Who despises the day of small things?’ asks the prophet Zechariah. It’s in those small things that the promise of the future rests.”
Just so, some 2,000 years ago, in a small baby born in a tiny town — both seemingly inconsequential — rested “the promise of the future” — the salvation of the whole world.
Services are held in the main Church:
Sunday School/Bible Study at 9:15 in the fellowship hall.
Sunday Morning Worship 10:30 am.
Wednesday evening worship 6:00 pm.
Wednesday night service is 7:00 PM during Lent and Advent seasons. A light meal will be served before each service during the holidays.
Any additional services will be announced on our notice board and on our website.
Advent, which marks the beginning of the church year, is “the first gleam of Christmas,” writes W.E. Sangster. “It heralds the entrance of the Divine into human history; it is heaven descending to earth; it is a great event casting its brilliance before it.” Sangster adds: “It is as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced the coming of the King. ‘Get ready,’ he seems to say. ‘Get ready. He is coming!’”
• First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019
• Second Sunday of Advent, December 8, 2019
• Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2019
• First day of winter, December 21, 2019
• Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22, 2019
• Christmas Eve, December 24, 2019
• Christmas Day, December 25, 2019
• New Year’s Eve/Watch Night, December 31, 2019
Holly was first used by pagans to decorate for the festival of Saturnalia. When Christians began celebrating Christmas in honor of Christ, they adapted that decorating practice to reflect Jesus’ life and death. Holly’s pointed leaves symbolize the crown of thorns and its red berries symbolize Christ’s blood shed on the cross. Because holly thrives and its berries retain their brilliance even in harsh winter conditions, non-Christians saw it as a symbol of eternity — which is fitting for Christians as well.
The great date debate
In Lessons of Christmas (Xulon Press), Daniel Armah notes that ancient scholars expressed more than 130 opinions about Jesus’ actual birthdate, covering every month of the year. “Even with a debatable date,” he concludes, “the blessing of Christmas is obvious.”
Likewise, our Christmas celebrations aren’t diminished by the possible timing of Jesus’ birthday with secular festivals. “If December 25th was chosen to rival other pagan worship activities … for want of a real date,” Armah writes, “then that decision has been successful. Indeed those ancient pagan festivals have all been swallowed up, and Christianity has been growing since.”
Small packages, great things
The motto for Hershey’s Kisses used to be “Big things come in small packages!” That also could be a motto for Bethlehem, for Baby Jesus and, indeed, for us. It’s an important message to remember when we fear we’re too weak to fix the world’s problems, too small to fight the gigantic terror that threatens a loved one or too lacking in abilities we see in others.
“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah,” God declares through the prophet Micah (5:2, NRSV), “from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel.” Bethlehem was a mere village. God’s ruler for Israel started as an infant. His birthplace was a small stable, not a palace or temple. But size isn’t everything. Big — that is, great — things can come in small packages. And thanks to the tiny baby who grew up to share immeasurably huge love with the world, God can do great things through you, too!.
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