By Pastor Mike Ashman  Zion Lutheran Church – Jubilee
Rural La Porte City

Dear Friends,
This year winter came early and often. We have had snow. We have cold. We have had wind. When we put all three together, we have had a rough few days. Schools have been delayed. Accidents have closed highways. I have had to find my snow shovel a lot sooner than I have since I have left the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the meantime, we church folk have made the transition from Thanksgiving to Advent. Gone are the cornucopias filled with the harvest from garden and field. The left-over turkey soup has been eaten for the last three lunches along with cold turkey sandwiches garnished with a cranberry relish. Gold and orange have been replaced by blue and white. Thankfulness has been replaced by expectation.

Every Sunday, we light another candle as a way of signifying that we are nearing Christmas. But nothing can replace the feeling of expectation as a young couple awaits a child. A dear friend has welcomed a newborn child in the home, and a young couple have been transformed into a family. Their lives will be forever changed – with lives filled with love, joy and laughter along with heart aches, tears and sadness. Their lives will be full.

My wish for you this holiday season is not to rediscover the magic of the season, but rather the sense of wonder and amazement – the difference a child can make in the life of a family – or even more so a community. Witness a grumpy old man transformed in a schoolboy playing with a young child. Witness the devotion of a new mother as a totally dependent child awaits TLC.

My hope is you are able to experience these same qualities in your life of faith. No longer expect the same old worn out gestures. Allow a child to bring laughter into your heart; be transformed by the renewal of the Spirit. May your lives be full – joy, tears, laughter, sobs… but most of all, may your life be filled with love.