It is with great joy and deep gratitude that the Pohlman family says to Immanuel Bible Church, “Merry Christmas!” This is the second Christmas I’ve had the privilege of serving as your senior pastor, and this Advent season has been sweeter than the last. Why is this?
The reason, at least in part, has to do with something for which there are no shortcuts: our growth in grace together as a church. Indeed, by God’s grace we are stronger in our partnership in the gospel at the close of 2011 than 2010. But it took a year to get here.
This is not unlike finishing a PhD program. A PhD is awarded to the plodder that keeps his or her head down and plows toward the goal. Writing a dissertation takes time — time that includes much prayer, work, and support by many people. We reached our goal this year in no small part because of your prayers and support in all its forms. Thank you, Immanuel Bible Church, for sharing this joy with us!
Lord willing, we will have another year together to grow in God’s marvelous grace. To this end I’m praying for Immanuel in the same way the apostle Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).
The things Paul prays for are priceless gifts given to us in the gospel. Who among us this Christmas would not delight in being more “rooted in love,” “strengthened in power,” and “established in the faith”? Of course, Paul’s prayer takes time to be realized. Being “filled with all the fullness of God” is not something you can cram for like a final exam.
These blessings are given to the joyful plodder.
As I close this Christmas card to you I’m reminded of one of our family’s favorite hymns, O Holy Night. In particular, the third stanza:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
These words capture the heart of Christmas. By God’s grace, this song will be ours not only this Christmas, but for all eternity.
The Pohlman Family