St. John 2016 Christmas Letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ at St. John,
Greetings in the Name of Jesus, our Reigning and Coming King!
First, I may need to introduce myself. If we have not yet had opportunity to meet, my name is Rev. Troy Countryman. I was installed as Senior Pastor here at St. John Lutheran Church and School on Sunday, December 11. If we’ve met, thank you for welcoming me and my family so kindly and lovingly. My wife, Andrea, and our three children, Piper, Oliver, and Drew, rejoice that our Heavenly Father has placed us here with you to be a part of a new church family at St. John Lutheran Church and School.
While it’s true that I’m brand new as a pastor here at St. John, the simple and true story of salvation found in Jesus alone is timeless. We’ve been hearing, telling, and living that story for 165 years here on the Southeast side of Indianapolis.
Even though in many ways life has changed significantly since the 1850s, the need to hear and tell of the Good News of the Gospel has not changed. Again this year, we gather as a family of believers at St. John to proclaim and celebrate that the babe born in the little town of Bethlehem is our Lord, Immanuel – God with us. Not only did He come down to save His people from their sin 2,000 years ago, He still comes today, and He promises to return.
This year I was blessed to preach for the first time at St. John as part of the 1st-5th grade school worship services on December 14. What a wonderful first service at St. John to hear my “little brothers and sisters in Christ” share the Good News of a Savior! The title of the service was “Words of Christmas.” Specifically, we celebrated Hope, Joy, Peace, and Praise. Ultimately, those four words point to the One Who is the Word made flesh.
Hope: Until Jesus returns, the temptation to anchor our hope on anything but Jesus will always be there. The Colts, even in their best season will let us down. Governments and political leaders are fickle. Even our own immediate family members betray us. As the Scriptures promise, Jesus is the One who gives us hope “that does not put to shame.” (Romans 5:5)
Joy: Our voices will again swell as one as we proclaim “Joy to the World!” We have a fountain of Joy whose source is never exhausted. We rejoice with the angels and all creation that God has graciously come down to us. Regardless of the struggle or tribulation, Jesus gives us a joy that the world cannot take away.
Peace: I look forward to the intimacy of another candlelit rendition of Silent Night. We will sing of heavenly peace and offer the sweet prayer: “Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray.” God shows His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. This Jesus, whose name means “the Lord saves,” came to save His people from their sins. He came to restore us in relationship to God and one another. Because of Jesus, we ultimately have peace with God.
Praise: Because of God has showered us with grace upon grace, we give praise where praise is due. We offer praise in worship. We offer praise through our acts of love and service. We respond with praise and thanksgiving by giving back to God the gifts that He has already given to us so that others might be blessed.
As has been customary during recent Christmas letters we are enclosing an envelope for a special Christmas gift. (Alternatively, you may give online here.) If you are inclined and the Lord has gifted you, please prayerfully consider a monetary gift to help us continue and expand the opportunities for ministry here at St. John Lutheran Church and School.
Most importantly, I can hardly wait to gather with you, my new church family at St. John, this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as we sing the song of Love that God has placed into our hearts by faith.
In the Hope and Joy of the Prince of Peace!