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Global Mission Update: Comfort and Joy (December 2012)
Growing up in Iowa on the banks of the Missouri River, I especially remember the Christmases of my youth with fondness. Dad, Mom, my brother and sister and I would head to Christmas church services. I loved going and singing the Christmas hymns and special music.
Seated there in church, I knew Jesus loved me. I knew my parents and family loved me. Only after I began to look back from a distance of both time and miles did I begin to understand what great “comfort and joy” there is in a Christian family and community as well.
The greatest “comfort and joy” for us as Christians at this time of year continues to be the Good News — the lifesaving Gospel message of the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem’s manger. This Gospel is "the power of God for salvation for all who believe" (Rom. 1:16). None of our programs is as powerful as one person, one pastor – even one child – speaking the Word of the Gospel: “Jesus died for you.” That is the power of the Word that opens ears and opens hearts to salvation.
That Gospel – full of forgiveness, life and salvation – that is our fundamental message. Assisting people with love and mercy, through the myriad activities of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod around the world, and sharing this message of Law and Gospel is the heart of Lutheran mission because repentance and forgiveness are the heart of Jesus’ mission. They are the heart of the Gospel.
This Gospel goes. We go. We go to our churches, we go to our neighbors, we go to our communities, we go to our state and we go to our regions. We go where the Gospel is not heard, we go where it has been heard and people are strengthened by the Word. We go internationally. We go to our partners. We go into the darkest places. We go into the worst places. We go.
Without the blessed light of Jesus and His community of believers, the world is dark and cold. With Jesus and His love for both body and soul, there is light, life, and, yes, joy in the darkness. Your Synod seeks out the darkest, coldest places in the warm and blessed name of Jesus.
So many have needed Christ’s help, and He has used your gifts of “comfort and joy” to care for them. I am reminded of the words of the blessed Martin Luther:
“For who can harm or injure a man who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth, and all the angels and the saints will cry to God when the smallest suffering befalls him?”
Through your gifts, the pain of those who suffer has been eased and Christ’s words of comfort have been shared worldwide. I want to thank you for all you are doing for your dear Synod. Your prayers and your continued gifts for all the ministries of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod are deeply appreciated.
There are many opportunities before us through our global efforts of the Witness, Mercy and Life Together work of our national and international mission offices. You can help with your gift to “where needed most” through the Global Mission Fund that supports our work as a part of the body of Christ. I am so thankful for the gifts that you provide for the opportunity of the moment.
Therefore, I boldly ask you to consider a gift of $50, $100 or more if you are able. Know that whatever blessing from the Lord you share is a blessing that will be multiplied as people all over the world are given the love and mercy of Jesus, the Holy Child of Bethlehem.
Again, thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your gifts. Please send your gift for the work of your beloved Synod right now or before year’s end.
Have a joyous Christmas celebration and blessed New Year.
In Christ’s mercy,
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod
“Let’s go!” (Mark 1:38).
PS: You can help by sharing the ministry opportunities of the global ministries of the LCMS with the members of your congregation – tell your pastor!