First, a blessed Christmas to each of you.
I want to share something that I experienced Christmas Eve. While just a simple flashback, it became a profound moment for me of history repeating itself.
That was the word that started it all.
I struggled to pronounce that name, almost 40 years ago. That Christmas Eve, my family and two other families at my home congregation, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Des Peres, MO, were tasked with leading the family service. My job, and I remember it clearly, was to read the Gospel Lesson: Luke 2. My parents had given me a copy of the Bible - "The Children's Bible" - as a gift and I was to read the account of the birth of Jesus from it. I practiced and practiced in preparation for the big day. But Quirinius - the governor of Syria - his name was a tough one. I kept stumbling over it. I don't remember if I was successful reading that name on Christmas Eve, but I remember the struggle.
But that was 40 years ago. And now, on this Christmas Eve in the Year of our Lord 2016, I was in front of another congregation, Hope Lutheran Church in Friendswood, TX - the congregation for which I serve as pastor. I was reading the account of the birth of Jesus once more - at a Christmas Eve family service. As I read the word "Quirinius" in verse 2, I suddenly remembered, and I was that little boy all over again, trying to read the sacred words of Luke 2 among the gathered people of God.
History repeated itself.
And history does repeat itself, every time the words of the story of Christ are read, that history comes to life once again within the hearts and minds of those who struggle to follow in the path of their Lord. That's what happens when His Word is read and proclaimed, Christ happens again and again - history repeats itself.
I pray that history continues to repeat itself - Christ coming to you again and again as you hear His Word, participate in His Sacraments, experience His love and mercy through the love and mercy of fellow believers.
Have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year.