Luke tells us that Mary went “with haste” to visit Elizabeth; she was in a hurry to get there. And no wonder, because Mary knew that Elizabeth and Zechariah were the two people in the world guaranteed to believe in the miracle that was happening to her. They would understand that Mary’s coming baby was God’s miracle; they had their own miracle baby on the way. They would gladly take her in and care for her while she experienced those first few months of pregnancy herself—days of joy and anxiety, tiredness and morning sickness.

Elizabeth’s house would be a home away from home—a place where Mary could relax and be comfortable. We all need that kind of a place, don’t we? We need a place we can go where we don’t have to worry about judgement or condemnation or shame. We need a refuge: a place where we can feel safe and loved.

God’s good news for us is that we have exactly that—a home away from home, a place—no, even better, a Person! —who welcomes us and cares for us as His own children. “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble,” says the psalmist (Psalm 46:1). God made Himself our refuge when He entered this world as our Savior, Jesus Christ. He lay down His own life to rescue us from evil, and rose from the dead as the One with power over everything, including all our fears. And to all of us who are ashamed, frightened, fearing judgment, He says, “Come to Me. Whoever comes to Me I will never cast out … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise them up on the last day” (see John 6:37-39).

THE PRAYER:  Dear Lord Jesus, You have called me to You. Let me stay with You forever, trusting You with all my heart. Amen.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our efforts to provide items for Christmas gift bags for students from Wachter Middle School.  Shepherd youth will pack the Christmas bags next Sunday, December 16, following a light lunch at noon.

Christmas Caroling for SOTV shut-ins will take place Sunday, December 16.  We will gather at 2:30 pm at the church and enjoy refreshments together back at the church following our caroling.

The Children’s Christmas service will take place on Wednesday, December 19, 6:30 PM.  There will be no Catechism Instruction on December 19.

The next Hangout will take place on Tuesday, December 18, 6:00 pm at the home of Pastor and Denise Wolfgram, 4601 Rolling Ridge Road.  We will have a white elephant exchange for Christmas.  Please bring a gift that has a value of no more than $5.00.

Messiah Lutheran Church will have their Classical Christmas Concert tomorrow, December 16, at 4:00 PM.  You are invited to enjoy their beautiful music as we celebrate the Savior’s birth.

Newsletter articles for January, 2019, are due January 2nd.  The January Newsletter will be distributed on January 6.

There will be no mid-week worship on Wednesday, December 26.  Pastor Wolfgram will be out of the office December 26-28.