Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Dear Members and Friends,

​We had our weekly chapel service in the church this morning. I told our students that our church was very confused today. There were Christmas wreaths on the front doors and blue Advent paraments on the altar with angel wings forming a Christmas tree. The aisle candlesticks had Fall leaves and the banners reflected our need to give thanks. The hymn boards read, “Christ the King.” Was our chapel a Christmas chapel, a Thanksgiving chapel, or a Christ the King chapel? Maybe, Pastor Paul could combine all three.

I began by asking about the life of a king. I was told that a king lives in a palace and wears a long, beautiful robe. His job is to rule his kingdom, make all the laws and control everything. A king is powerful and has many servants taking care of him. I then asked about the life of Jesus. I was told that Jesus was born in a smelly place for animals and placed in a feeding thing. He grew up in a small house in a small town, but then when he got older, he had no place to live at all. His clothing was nothing out of the ordinary. He had no real job, and he didn’t make any money. He wasn’t in control of anything, and he talked about serving others, not having servants for himself. We determined that Jesus did not have any of the characteristics of a king. Yet, the hymn boards read, “Christ the King.”

Our Bible passage talked about a time when the sheep would be separated from the goats. The king would sit upon his throne and judge the people. Some would be blessed and inherit God’s kingdom, but some would be excluded. In this upside-down kingdom, the criteria for being included involved feeding the king when he was hungry, giving him something to drink when he was thirsty, welcoming him when he was a stranger, clothing him and caring for him when he was sick or in prison. The sheep turned to the king and asked when they did this. The king’s response, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”

I reminded our students about last week’s chapel when we covered the front of the church with food items for the local food pantry. I asked, “Did anyone feed Jesus last week?” Only one student said, “Yes.” She got it right. Our children and all of us need to see the face of Jesus in every person we serve. Yes, we fed Jesus last week.

This month we celebrate the humble birth of a baby in Bethlehem. This baby will live, die, rise from the dead, and sit on his heavenly throne. In this strange kingdom, those people are blessed who care for the weakest and most vulnerable, and the king sacrificed his life to save his people. Simply amazing and unbelievable, but thanks be to God!

In the Lord's service,

Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Pastor Paul's December Message
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)