Hebrews 12

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When Mary and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem, there would be a sense of shame they left back home, as they are not married and Mary is pregnant. Actually Mary may have been as young as 14, with Joseph, we assume is an older man.

They know there is no shame, however, as Jesus is conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. And an angel told Mary this is God’s plan, and the same angel tells Joseph not to worry, but take Mary as his bride. Both Mary and Joseph are faithful to God, in spite of the apparent shame it will bring.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, it is possible they got married right away with all the priests there for the passover, but we don’t know this for sure. Either way, Jesus enters into our world in a cloud of shame.

Now consider when Jesus is crucified, there is a sense of shame again, as dying on the cross is considered a shaming death. A shadow of shame both at his birth and at his death, even though none of this shame is his fault.

Jesus takes this shame that’s not his fault, so that we can be saved from our sin, which is our fault.

At Christmas, we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for breaking into our world. He lives a life we are called to model, teaches us wisdom we are called to follow, and he dies for us, a death we are called to trust brings us new life through him.

Thank you Jesus.


What is your favorite part of Christmas?


Luke 2

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

One more thing the angel mentioned is Jesus will be found wrapped in strips of cloth, laying in the manger. This is how babies bodies are kept warm at the time. Well, when Jesus is crucified they wrap him again with strips of cloths, but when he is born again at his resurrection, the disciples look inside of the tomb and there are strips of cloth lying there without a body. This is the first evidence for them that Jesus is risen.

Wrapped in strips of cloth at his birth, unwrapped at his new birth. Yes, the tomb becomes a womb.

And speaking of wombs, we think of Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Jerusalem when she is in the late term of her pregnancy. Usually people would just walk when they traveled, but, even though the Christmas story doesn’t say, we can reasonably assume Mary was riding a donkey.

So, Jesus rides into Jerusalem in the womb of Mary to be born. On Palm Sunday, Jesus will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey again, but this time to die. He will not stay dead, however, and is raised from the dead, a new birth, coming out of the womb that is a tomb, reborn King of the Universe.


Have you ever ridden a donkey or seen someone on a donkey? How did this strike you?


We continue celebrating Christmas and the new year with worship@ 10 a.m. The baby Jesus is born and like your own birth, challenges follow, beginning with an escape to Egypt!

Come and join your friends as we celebrate the new year together…


2017 100 Year Anniversary of LIFEhouse Church!

Each month through April we will have a special worship service to coincide with a 25 year period in the life of our congregation.
Our first event is:
Zelzah Norsk Evangelisk Luthers Kirke Sunday!
Sunday, January 8@ 10 a.m.
Commemorating the first 25 years, 1917-42, including worship elements from that time! There will be light refreshments and an historical artifacts exhibit afterwards.
Don’t forget to save the weekend of April 29-30 for our main celebration!

Mark 16

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Jesus, the savior of the world is born in a cave and placed in a stone fee box, just outside of Jerusalem.

Years later, when Jesus is crucified, he is put in a cave and placed on a slab by a stone box, just outside Jerusalem. I took a picture of a tomb dated from the first century just outside Jerusalem. Notice tombs are carved out into caves.

Those stone boxes there that look like feed troughs? Those are boxes where the bones of a dead person are placed after one year when the body has decomposed. The tombs are caves the whole family would be buried in, and then placed in those stone boxes, ossuaries they are called.

So, the Savior is born in a cave and put in a feed box. Then when Jesus is resurrected, he is the first born of the new creation, and he comes out of the cave. There will be no need to place his bones in the box in the tomb because the tomb has become the womb for the newborn King.

Oh, and we are also reminded of the angel at Christmas telling the shepherds they will find Jesus in a feed box, in other words, in a cave. Then when Jesus raises from the dead, an angel tells Mary Magdalene Jesus is not in the cave, he is risen.

In the cave. Out of the cave.


What is significant to you that Jesus is born the way he is?


Luke 2

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Speaking of the shepherds, how did they know where to find Jesus? The angel tells them, You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

What is a manger? It is a stone feed trough used for animals. We saw real mangers from the time of Jesus when we visited Israel. Since I saw a real manger, I still know wooden mangers are here to stay. But there’s nothing like the original.

Last Christmas I talked about this and my friend from church secretly made me a replica stone feed box manger and gave it to me for my birthday!

Anyway, we picture Jesus in the manger, but where is the manger located?

The Bible doesn’t say, only mentions the feed trough. Animals in Bible times either slept in the home along with people or outside in caves. Caves were convenient and made it possible to keep them safe by penning them off. There is no such thing as wooden stables or barns in first century Israel. But, again I still like wooden stable looking buildings in Christmas manger scenes. But, knowing Jesus is born in a cave is another important contrast God gives us.


Does it matter if we authentically represent things from the Bible like a stone feed trough? How about images of Jesus?

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The events of Christmas are contrasted to the death and resurrection of Jesus…All in God’s plan

Thanks to He Qi (heqiart.com) for the art used in this message


Exodus 3

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”

There is the connection between the birth of Jesus and his resurrection, which the Bible says is a new birth. Jesus is called the “firstborn of the new creation.” Christmas is a study in contrasts between Christmas and the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Let’s take a look.

In Exodus 3, the angel of the lord tells Moses, a shepherd, that God is delivering his people, the Hebrews, out of slavery into the promised land.

At Christmas, the angel of the Lord tells the shepherds,  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

So, a shepherd receives the news that the Jewish people will be saved

and at Christmas, shepherds receive the news that all people will be saved.

While we are on the shepherds, why are they in the hills outside of Jerusalem?

December 25 was chosen as the date for Christmas in the 4th century. Prior to that there wasn’t a particular day celebrated. so why December 25th? Well there were two extremely popular Roman festivals at this time, so when the Romans became Christian by the 4th century, it would be an easy transition to transform those celebrations to Christmas.

So, when was Jesus really born? We don’t know the date for sure. But it may have been at Passover time in the spring. This is the major Jewish festival of the year when all the rooms in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, including Bethlehem, would be booked. In other words, no room in the inns. Estimates vary from several hundred thousand people to as many as 2 million visiting Jerusalem at the time.

The main ritual during passover is slaughtering the passover lambs. They needed 250,000 during the time of the festival according to ancient sources. That’s a lot of sheep and would explain the hills outside of Jerusalem being full of sheep and shepherd.

So, we have the passover lambs being slaughtered as a sign of God forgiving the sins of the Jews for another year. Fast forward to Good Friday while those passover lambs are being slaughtered, the lamb of God is being crucified on the cross forgiving the sins of all people for all time. No more sacrifices are necessary.


What Christmas customs do celebrate from different cultures?

5pm in the sanctuary! There will be no service on Christmas Sunday, but we will be having our annual Christmas feast for those in need at 2pm, Christmas day-to-day in Natterstad Hall

If you would like to help serve, please arrive at 1p Christmas day. Bring clothing and new socks.

We might have additional food needs. See the sign-up board at the Christmas Eve service!

Merry Christmas!

1 Corinthians 14

Let love be your greatest aim.
In our society today, Christmas is just about the last hold out for a glimpse of the world as it could be. People tend to be a bit more gracious and kind. It is as if we are influenced by a spirit of what we know life could be. At its best, Christmas gently reminds us that power comes through something besides wealth or might or popularity. A baby laying in a feed trough in a cave, born in obscurity, points to a God who is full of surprises. 
The biggest surprise of all is that the creator of the universe wants to be our loving Father and takes us into his family just as we are. How surprising is it that God knows us individually, just as well as he knows himself.
Yes, God is thinking about you constantly. But, he isn’t wracking his brain trying to figure out what to get you for Christmas. He is thinking about ways he can shine brighter in your life. He knows if you give him any crack of opening, he will overpower you with his love. He will bowl you over with how much he adores you. 
Love doesn’t mean we get whatever we want. Unless what we want is what God wants for us. Then there is nothing in heaven or earth that can stop us from getting exactly what we want. 
Think of it this way. As we are becoming the kind of people who can love, we are becoming the kind of people who automatically do what is right without thinking about it. Then, when we join together with each other and live this way, the world around us becomes more of what God wants. Together, we become, Immanuel, God with us, for the world. We become love. 


What does God want to do through you this Christmas?