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On the bookcase in my office is taped a piece of six year old scratch paper with a quote from Renee the second year she served as treasurer of Grace. “We can never adequately plan for how good God is to us,” she said. That January, our revenue exceeded our expenses for the first time in such a long time that no one could remember the last time we had balanced the books at Grace. I recall the moment I skimmed the year-end financials just sent to us by our then-bookkeeper Louise. As one of the fiscally responsible agents of Grace Lutheran Church, I honestly open financial statements with a certain amount of dread. But my expectations were dashed when, at the bottom of the page, the number appeared not in a parenthesis meaning in the red, in the negative, but right there by itself indicating we were in the black. I got up from my desk and rushed to asked Stephanie sitting at her desk in the outer office: Is this right? I think we balanced the budget! This is actually a miracle!
Contrary to popular understanding, prophets of the Old Testament tell the truth, not the future, the truth. And they tell the truth not just according to them but the truth according to God. Being a prophet is a hard job because, generally, people are not fond of the truth according to God. And for that reason, prophets of the Old Testament try to get out of the prophet gig.
On Friday, 18 January 2019, Grace’s own Marlene Haller was presented with the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Award for her outstanding contribution to the Phoenix community through her volunteer efforts.
As we expectantly wait for Christmas, one persona dominates the church world, another persona our culture at large. These two prominent figures both speak of how we should act, what we should do—and the consequences if we do not. The persona of our culture at large? Who can we find everywhere at malls and on cards and sung about in songs during the month of December? Santa Claus.
How about the persona of the church world? Who is it who dominates our Advent stories? Right. John the Baptist.