December 2020
From the Pastor

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We have lived through a year that none of us will forget.  From the spread of Covid-19 to the close of a divisive political season, we all look for that place where we can retreat.  I have been very intentional about some of my reading the past few months.  I love to read and to hear about various Christmas stories and legends.  It fascinates me how someone can take something seemingly so simple and weave a whole story around it.

This last week, someone shared with me a legend that I had not ever heard.  It is the legend of the Christmas spider. The legend states that when Mary and Joseph left Bethlehem to escape to Egypt to keep baby Jesus safe when Herod was after them, a spider overheard Joseph praying to God to keep them safe.  As they traveled, Herod's soldiers came after them.

Mary and Joseph soon became exhausted traveling with an infant and trying to outrun Herod's soldiers and looked for a safe place to hide. They found an empty cave where they huddled in fear and prayed. A spider who lived in the cave overheard their prayers. He wanted to help but wasn't sure how. Then it suddenly hit him - he could cover the entrance of the cave with a spider web.

The spider quickly proceeded to spin and spin a great beautiful web that covered the whole entrance to the cave. He had just finished the web when they heard voices approaching outside. Mary and Joseph held their breath. The spider waited with great anticipation.

When the soldiers got to the cave, they looked at the giant spider web and turned away because they said no one would have been able to enter the cave without having broken through the web. The soldiers moved on, and baby Jesus was spared.

One of the reasons I like to hear new Christmas legends is because they cause me to pause and to think.  I know the Christmas story inside and out, but does that lead me to take it for granted?  Do I sometimes forget about the real meaning?  Do I get so wrapped up in all the extra worship services and exhausted from all the extra activities that my attitude goes south (I truly hope not, but...)?  When I read and hear new legends about this very familiar story, I am grateful for the opportunity to pause and to reflect and to remember the real reason we celebrate this holy day.

Welcome to the new church year.  It is my prayer that life will return to some semblance of normalcy for you.  May your Christmas be filled with stories and celebrations and remembrances about the meaning of the Christmas season.   Meet you at the manger!

Servants together,

+ Pr. Paul +

p.s. Did you know?  In keeping with the legend theme - Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

p.s.s. – Did you know that Luther said. . . . ???  'What man, if he were God, would humble himself to lie in the feedbox of a donkey or to hang upon a cross?'