Good Friday morning ... It may not seem like it at first ... but this is a Christmas message ... so READ ON. There are occasions when something very special happens ... but we are not close enough to get a picture. That happend to me the very first time I saw a lion in the wilds of Africa. It was in the famed Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania. There under a whistling thorn tree, the golden coat of a lion lay as if on fire in the morning sun ... as still as a rock ... as if it imagined as long as it lay still it was unseen. In truth, it was largely unseen ... except for the trained, vigilant eye of our guide who spotted the cat and quietly pointed her out. Behind her was a solitary thorn tree, black and bony in the sunlight, and from a crotch in a high branch, turning gently in the slight breeze, was the torn hide of a gazelle hung by the neck, its hollow form matted with caked blood. In the silence of the plain, the power of the golden-coated lion was clearly understood and at the moment no one dared question that power. Out of respect for that fearsome authority, we quietly moved on without getting close enough for a picture. Leaving that scene without getting closer bothered me at first ... but then our guide reminded me: "You have the picture in your mind. That is enough!" And he was right. I saw what few have ever seen and will never forget it. I sensed a power that few have ever sensed and I will never forget that either. I came as close as possible and can only dream of coming closer. Perhaps you have had a similar expereince ... getting so close ... but not close enough for a picture. Another scene comes to mind these short days before Christmas. It, too, is a scene of midmorning quietness, one which might have been quickly overlooked if a guide had not pointed it out. In fact, many have missed this scene, too harried to take the time or too consumed to acknowledge even a slight attraction and so have had no interest at all in drawing close enough to get a better look or to snap a picture. The scene is that of a lion and a lamb ... a scene first depicted by the prophet Isaiah ... and then embellished by John in the "Revelation of Jesus Christ." The image has become popular as a Christmas card scene over the years: Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb. In fact, Jesus IS the Lion ... for He is the great Lion of the tribe of Judah, the kingly ruler, the Lord of all beasts. And Jesus IS also the Lamb ... the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is a part of His role as the Prince of Peace that we envision Jesus not only being the lion and the lamb ... but enabling the lion and the lamb to lie down together. Only the One who is as strong and fierce as the lion can command the respect of that powerful creature and win him over. Only the One who is as gentle and innocent as the lamb can entice its trembling legs to stay put and stand beside him. Jesus is a picture of the weak and the strong, an image of the innocence of doves and the wisdom of serpents, a portrait of intimacy and authority wrapped up in one. And it was this Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed for our sake and for our salvation. But that sacrificial Lamb roared back to life as the Lion of God, stronger than ever, more powerful than sin, death or the devil! The scene of this image took place 2000 years ago right before the world's very eyes ... but few were close enough for a picture. And yet, we have the story, described in black and white by revelation of the Holy Spirit, conveying the powerful love of God for a broken and shattered world. So I ask you this Christmas to draw near ... as close as you can get ... for you are invited to this scene and you are welcome to view it for as long as you care. In fact, plan on staying a while to absorb the grace intended for all those who come to worship the Lion and the Lamb. And leave your camera at home, for once you have the picture in your mind, that is enough! You will never forget it and perhaps you will dream, as I do, of one day coming closer ... not for a picture ... but for an audience with the King Himself! With only three days remaining before we celebrate Christ's birth, be sure to take some time each day to meditate on this one fact: Jesus ... the King ... was born for me!!! "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have etrnal life." May you come to Him in faith and receive the joy of being in His forgiving presence! Have a great weekend ... and a truly joyous Christmas! PR

Service Times

8:30 AM - Traditional Worship Service

9:40 AM - Sunday School & Bible Study Classes for all ages

11:00 AM - Contemporary Worship Service

Holy Communion is celebrated at both services on the first and third Sundays of each month.


Grace Lutheran Church & School

12200 McCormick Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 928-9136