Many Activities, One Message

Church and school calendars for the month of December are crammed full with all sorts of activities. The slots include everything from choir concerts to collections of food and clothing for families in need. The activities are varied and so are those involved. Ushering teams have special meetings. Offering counters recruit additional help. Extra hands are needed for children’s programs. Extra voices are sought for special choir performances. Even trombonists are put to work during December.

For nearly three hundred congregations and more than a hundred educational ministries, many hands, feet, voices and hearts are involved. Not all of the congregations and schools have the same activities or the same gifts. However, there is one thread that ties all of those activities and people together. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Every choir anthem and every outreach event seeks to proclaim that same message. As a young pastor, I remember preaching to those who had come to our church’s food pantry just before Christmas. (The service was held before food pantry opened.) Not everyone was appreciative of the delay, but the birth of Jesus is the reason behind everything we do.

Take a moment and look at your congregation’s calendar. Then, give thanks to God for all of the hearts and hands that are busy making all of those things happen. May each of those events be a response to God’s gift of a Savior and proclaim that message for all who attend.

Lastly, may we never be led to thinking that all of those events become more important than the singular event of the birth of the Son of God. That trumps all the other events because in these services we hear the angels’ message and we receive Christ’s gift of Himself. It does not matter whether your church sets up extra chairs or not. It does not matter if your church has a trombonist or not. We come to hear the Gospel proclaimed that for us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord in word and song. May God bless all of our congregations as we celebrate Jesus’ birth once again this year!

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was born in Birmingham, Ala., and graduated from Concordia, Seward, Neb., in 1992. He holds both a Master of Divinity Degree (1996) and Doctorate of Ministry (2011) from Concordia Seminary. Hagan served as Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Concordia, Mo. (2002-2015) and was previously an Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Ind. (1996-2002). He has been President of The Missouri District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod since June 2015. Hagan also served as Interim Director, LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission (2011-12), on numerous District Boards both in Missouri and Indiana, and during multiple Synodical Conventions as a delegate and on Floor Committees. He is married to Jill and they have two children.