Advent is a time to start over

bible-cradle

“Scripture is the manger in which the Christ lies. As a mother goes to a cradle to find her baby so the Christian goes to the Bible to find Jesus.  Don’t let us inspect the cradle and forget to worship the baby.” – Martin Luther

Dear friends,

Last Spring Glory started the Reformation Bible Reading Challenge. About 45 people pledged to read Scripture every day for at least five minutes until the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. Well, how is it going? I suspect that more than a few of us had trouble with this discipline, perhaps even quit altogether. I did call it a challenge for a reason! Bible reading is challenging. But let me encourage you not to give up. Or to take up the challenge again as we enter a new church year with Advent and as we start a new calendar year.

When you think about it, reading the Bible is like any other discipline. Only by trying, failing, and trying again, do you improve. As your “coach” I will do my best to guide you in your endeavors. Let me begin by telling you what an amazing reward awaits those who read the Scriptures faithfully. Here are several quotes to motivate you:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came in being.” – John 1:1-3

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:101-3

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving see to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:8-11

“The Word of God when religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select just a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than the whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” – A.W. Tozier

“The more you read the Bible, the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished by it.” – Charles Spurgeon

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Jesus.” – St. Jerome

“Listen less to your own thoughts and more to God’s thoughts.” – François Fénelon

As we approach Christmas and the manger of Jesus, let’s be reminded of the image Luther gave us about the Bible as the manger in which Jesus Christ is lying. Let’s become students, disciples, of the Lord. Let’s get to know Jesus again. Let’s commit to growing into whole Christians. Some of you may be well along the way of being students of the Bible and disciples of Jesus. Great! If you are looking to deepen your understanding and discipline, here is a website that I found to be very helpful: thebiblechallenge.org. It has a daily reading plan and many good introductions and explanations to the biblical books. Another useful site is the centerforbiblicalstudies.org. As you will notice, we are not the only church taking the challenge!

This will take discipline. It will be challenging. It will take time. We will stumble, but we will not fail, if we decide to get up again. In the coming weeks I will connect you to more resources to help you take up the challenge again. Please stay tuned!

Let me also take the opportunity to wish you all a very blessed Advent and Christmas. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is new every day; the love of God, which gave us the Son; and the communion of the Holy Spirit, which conceived Jesus in Mary, be with you during this holy time and throughout the new year.

Pastor Markus

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My name is Markus Wilhelm. I`m a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and serve Glory Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park. I was asked a few months ago what, in a sentence, my greatest hope is for our congregation. I spontaneously answered, I hope we will become well acquainted with the Bible. I grew up eight kilometers from Wittenberg, where Martin Luther worked most of his life. My family emigrated to Canada in 1979, ten years before the Iron Curtain fell. Theology runs in the family, going back several generations on both my father's and my mother's side. After attending college in Canada, I studied theology in Tuebingen, and was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in 1992. I have served in congregations in British Columbia and Alberta.

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