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FROM THE PASTOR - January 2013

posted Dec 28, 2012, 3:29 PM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Elmwood Family,


We just returned to Minnesota after a quick Christmas visit with our daughter and son in law.  Southern Wisconsin is still buried from the pre-Christmas blizzard.  It was beautiful looking out over the hills, woods, and farmland.  It was a winter wonderland straight off of a Christmas card.  However, less than a month ago
I was in the Holy Land and let me tell you, Bethlehem does  NOT look like Wisconsin in December.  The Judean wilderness is dry and barren looking.  I couldn’t see from the road any vegetation, but the flocks of sheep, goats and, yes, camels, certainly must be finding something to nibble on.  The wide open space of Wisconsin farm country is such a dramatic contrast to the crowded streets and alley-ways of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Even though we returned to Minnesota only a few days before Christmas I couldn’t go without a Christmas tree.  We said we weren’t going to get all the decorations out this year.  We would keep it simple.  But in the end I dashed out and got a tree and had it soaking in the tree stand in less than an hour. Even though jet-lag was causing chaos, Kai still managed to get the presents wrapped and several kinds of cookies baked.  Cultural traditions run deep within us.  What happens when these are removed or radically changed?


While in Amman, Jordan we spent a week ministering to refugees from Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.  They couldn’t be “home for Christmas”.  It is possible that they will never go “home” again.  Their stories were heart wrenching.  Many of those who were part of Grace Church had left everything for the sake of their Christian faith.  Some were given a month to leave their homeland or be shot.  Others were told reject Christ, embrace Islam, and you can stay.  They let it all go for the sake of their Christian faith.  Now they wait in Amman for the United Nations to send them somewhere else in the world so they can start a new life in a strange land.  Jesus did that for us.  He left His Father’s throne and came to this sin-ridden planet because of His great love for us (see Philippians 2: 1-11).


As we enter the new year may we be filled with the same depth of conviction and courage as our Christian Arab brothers and sisters.  May we be willing to count it all a loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ.  Let us trust Jesus to lovingly guide us without fear, knowing that He who gave up all for us is with us will wonderfully guide Elmwood throughout the days ahead. 


Happy New Year, let’s live it radically for Jesus,

Pastor Fred