Greetings to you in the name of Christ! The process has begun to name me as your interim pastor, until such time as you call your next pastor. I am available for pastoral care. Please contact Melanie in the church office or contact me directly. I look forward to serving with you in the coming months.

       We begin our church year with the season of Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Christ. In particular on the first Sunday of Advent we prepare for his Second Coming at the end of time. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus speaks of these signs that will precede his coming: signs in the sun, moon, and stars, distress among nations, people afraid of what is coming on the world.

       Many of these signs can be seen just about any time. But it does not have to be a national or world disaster to fill people with fear. It is easy to become afraid when it feels like your whole world is collapsing around you. It may be job concerns or money worries, family or spouse troubles, the death of a loved one or close friend, or any significant loss in your life.

       Jesus tells us that these signs mean that he is “coming in a cloud” (that is, he is coming as the very presence of God), our redemption is drawing near, and the kingdom of God is near. This is Good News! Jesus is the very presence of God, coming to gather the lost, forgive sin, and defeat all hos-tile forces. In him the kingdom of God is here!

       Troubles and trials will come and go, but the words of Jesus, God’s Word, will not pass away. So Jesus tells us not to let the worries of this life weigh us down. Not only does he have the last word at the end of time, but his words now convey the grace of God that nourishes us and gives us new life and hope. In fact, we can anticipate his Second Coming with joy because it will confirm what Jesus has been saying all along, words we have heard with the water, bread, and wine: “I love you and forgive you. You are mine, and no one can separate you from me. I am with you always.”

May Christ’s Word assure you of his loving presence as you wait for his return!

Pastor Jim Strasen