From the Pastor’s Heart

“Arise and shine, your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

For centuries, astronomers have plotted the courses of the stars in order to keep track of time and the passing of the seasons. Navigators of ships used the stars to help guide them to their destination. And long ago, ancient cultures shared stories of mythical characters whose constellations may be seen as people gazed at the night time sky. Much has been learned by tracking the many points of light that pierce the darkness of night.

Following the birth of our Lord Jesus, there were others who also looked to the stars, one star in particular. The Magi from the East followed this star which led them to Bethlehem. By marking the exact time when they first saw the star and following its light westward, the wise men were led on a journey upon which they encountered Christ. Once they reached their destination, God revealed to the them the one born as his own redeeming light. It is in this epiphany that Jesus is revealed to the world as God’s ultimate outpouring of love.

The celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord is the proclamation that long before we could have ever stumbled our way out of darkness, God’s light has come to us. Through our Baptism, God makes us children of the light. In our thankful response to God’s grace, we carry the light of Christ into the world so that others can experience the fulfillment and wonder of God’s promise of a Savior. It is through loving God above all else and serving our neighbor in the name of Christ, that we let our light shine. Our Lord calls each and every one of us to serve as a beacon leading others to the truth of the gospel, just as that single star led the Magi so many years ago.

As we begin a new year in ministry, I would invite all of our church family members to consider the ways in which you proclaim the gospel and share God’s love. We have the opportunity to engage is so many missions of the NALC and within our mission district. Here in Chapin, we can feed the hungry, give aid to the poor, provide shelter and welcome those who have no place for worship. St. Jacob’s is uniquely positioned to serve our neighbors in town, and the many who live in developing communities all around us.

We also have the opportunity to serve Christ through our service to others around our country and world. I am so pleased that many of our church family members have embraced the mission work of Pastor Stephane Kalonji and I in the Congo. Several other congregation have also joined St. Jacob’s in supporting this important mission. Through your efforts and generosity, pastors have Bibles from which to teach and preach, many hungry children are fed, and a community of God’s people have a relationship of faith and love with a congregation who will pray for them and minister to them in times of trial. Jesus calls us all to follow his example of love and service for the sake of the least among us. I would also invite those who have not considered attending Sunday school and one of our weekly Bible studies to give it a try. As Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, daily reading of Holy Scripture is essential and weekly gathering for worship and learning is most beneficial for those growing in faith and hope. There is no better time to begin such practice than during Epiphany, the season of light.

Since the birth of Christ, the time of our lives is no longer marked by plotting stars and our destination is no longer found by tracking celestial bodies. Our time and our destination are caught up in Jesus Christ. To use a metaphor, the books of Holy Scripture serve as the stars of our celestial journey and Christ our compass. Led by God’s Holy Spirit, we travel through life’s journey always remembering to let our light shine before others, so that all may see that in Christ the light of the world has come.

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila