Grace By Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Norfolk

‘A Highway For Our God’

God sent John the Baptist: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” saying “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

It’s not an earthly highway that needs renovation. It’s not earthly terrain that needs landscaping, but rather, the terrain of our sinful hearts. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”

There are obstacles that need to be removed. A mountain of pride doesn’t leave any room for the Savior to come into our hearts. The Pharisee in the temple thought he was better than others and prayed, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” Yet, Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Sin does not prevent someone from entering heaven.

Rather, it’s that self-righteousness that refuses to acknowledge sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

Jesus is the only hope of mankind. He took upon himself the guilt from everyone twisting God’s commandments to suit their own desires. On the cross, Jesus faced the punishment that all our sins deserved.

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And, “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

— The Rev. Wyatt Rosebrock

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Norfolk

Today Isaiah prophesies that a young woman will bear a son and name him Emmanuel. The gospel is Matthew’s account of the annunciation and birth of the one named Emmanuel, God-with-us.

During these final days of Advent, we pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” a beloved hymn based on the O Antiphons, ancient prayers appointed for the seven days preceding Christmas. On this final Sunday of Advent, we prepare to celebrate the birth of the one born to save us from the power of sin and death.

— Randy Rasmussen, pastor

Norfolk Church of Christ, Norfolk

‘Jesus'

I was reminded today how incredible it is that all of eternity and deity is brought into our finite and temporal world. Jesus becomes flesh, and it happens so seamlessly, so effortlessly, that it has been taken for granted by us.

Sunday we will have a guest speaker, one of our own: Evan Cribben. He’ll be talking about the Spirit of Jesus and what it means for us to become spiritual.

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2.

Sunday night worship will include looking at this description of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: “And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

Do you realize that those four descriptions encapsulate everything we need? Sunday night, we will explore in detail these aspects of Jesus. To which facet are you drawn? Which answers the need of your heart?

— Jeff Schipper, minister

First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk

‘The Not So Silent Night’

 This Sunday, the youth of First Presbyterian Church will be presenting “The Not So Silent Night,” a fanciful and delightful telling of the story of the night of Jesus’ birth.

The idea is that the shepherds, who have just seen angels and the newborn Savior, go out to tell the Good News about Jesus’ birth to anyone who will hear it. But they make so much noise that they end up having to go to court to defend themselves.

The following Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. we will have our traditional Christmas Eve service with candlelight, seasonal music and a message based on Luke 2:1-20.

You are cordially invited to attend either or both services. Merry Christmas!

— The Rev. Brian Johnson

In other news

Rats can drive cars. Not your car or my car. (Their legs really wouldn’t reach the pedals, after all.) Rather, researchers have created tiny cars just for their lab rats and certain experiments and have taught the little critters how to drive.