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December 2015


Dear Partners in Ministry,


As the world seems to be changing right before our very eyes, may we never forget the God-given pillars that hold us secure.


“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13


Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action.  When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves.  (Study note, 1 Cor. 13:13 NIV Life Application Bible)


Faith and Love we hear about frequently but what of Hope?


Hope is the cornerstone of who we are as God’s people, because it acknowledges His involvement in our lives - and is the primary trait that sets Christ’s followers apart from the world.  Hope takes us beyond ourselves.  It arises not from the situation in which we find ourselves, but rather from something outside of our circumstances - and all too frequently, out of our control.  It is the dim light that shines through the darkness of despair.  Hope is based, not on what I can do, but rather on what another is doing, or has done, on my behalf. 


Currently, across our world, nation, families and the church, there is an insidious malaise which tilts us in the direction of depression and worry, instead of faith and hope.  Global fears about terrorism, bombings, wars, earthquakes, the illness of a loved one, hurricanes, natural disasters, healthcare, finances and/or the future, in general, seep their way into the very fabric of our being, subtly challenging and, possibly without our awareness, eroding our faith.  Our natural tendency is to turn inward, trying to defend and hang onto the tangible things we think we can control, instead of constantly releasing our fear and reminding ourselves and those around us that, regardless of what we can SEE, God is STILL in control.  Recently, as I was sitting in a surgical waiting room with one of our senior citizens, as his wife was being prepped for surgery, it reminded me of a story about my dad.  In 2005, as my dad turned 85, he had a serious operation repairing an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  The morning of the surgery, as he was lying on the gurney preparing to be taken into surgery, he said to us, “Don’t worry, I am in good hands.  I guess we will see whether or not the Lord is ready for me.”  Following the surgery, which lasted nearly twice as long as was previously scheduled, the doctor called from the operating room to report the unusual size (which required a 10 inch long stint and a reduction in diameter of that major artery from 3 inches to 1 inch), BUT that he was O.K.  That evening, after he was moved to his room and told to lay still for 12 hours, he said to me with a twinkle in his eye, “I wonder what the Lord has planned for me, now that I have started my second retirement?” which lasted until he was called home nine years later.


The lessons for “All Saints Sunday”, November 1, 2015, focused on the fact that God will wipe away all tears as we celebrate the victory Christ won for all the faithful.  And, as Easter people, we have something to anticipate – Resurrection- eternity with our Lord. 


Advent is the beginning of the time of anticipation, expectation and hope.  A baby in the manger, the “Savior is born”, who is Christ the Lord.  What happens if we, as believers this holiday season, forget that the “Best is Yet to Come”.  We must not allow ourselves to get lost in the busyness and despair that can be daily life.  When we do, we lose the vision of Hope that God has a great plan for our tomorrow.  This Advent, let’s be intentional about focusing on Hope.  Regardless of how things feel or seem in the moment, let our HOPE be that God has a plan for you, for me, for this world.  He is so serious about His plan, that He sent His Only Son to earth, to be born a baby in a manger. 


As we enter into this Advent season, let us take a moment and celebrate together the Christ that has come for us today.  There is no better time to be the saints God claims us to be, inviting others into the hope that we have, as we prepare to celebrate the Christ child.  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”


I wonder what God has planned for us, as we once again begin preparations (Advent) for Christ’s coming to us anew.


In Christ Service,


Pastor John




Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773