Focusing on tradition

Matthew Brackman, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, right, said his sermon would focus on traditions from both the Old and New Testaments, as well as new traditions.

KEVIN M. COX/The Daily News

It’s a Christmas custom here to yield this space on the last Saturday before Christmas each year for area ministers to preview the sermons they’ll give concerning the Nativity.

The Rev. C. Wayne Clement, pastor of both Texas City’s Memorial Lutheran Church and Santa Fe’s St. John’s Lutheran Church, offered his thoughts about Christ’s birth.

“I am blessed to be part of a church that prioritizes children’s ministries,” he said. “I enjoy the hugs, the smiles and hearing my name screamed across the parking lot. The words from the 9th chapter of Isaiah, ‘for a child has been born for us, a son given to us,’ remind us of how God came to earth some 2.000 years ago as a vulnerable, defenseless child and talk about a hope that encourages us on life’s journey filled with all of its enlightenment, challenges, and even confrontations.”

The Rev. Chester J. Makowski, pastor of Galveston’s St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church, will encourage parishioners not to overlook the potential embodied in small things.

“We supersize our fries, burgers and drinks,” he said. “We have TVs that are 60 inches wide. We shop in mega malls. In the midst of this, many times we overlook small things and their potential. But in scripture, we discover that God works with small beginnings and impossible situations like a very young Jewish girl from a small village in a remote corner of a great empire or shepherds who are on the bottom rung of society or a tiny, helpless, speechless babe, lying in a manger. If God used all of them for His great work, it is likely that God is able to use us, as inadequate, unwise and often lacking in faith, as we are.”

The Rev. Matthew Brackman of Texas City’s Peace Lutheran Church will enjoy a unique vantage point as his church will celebrate this year in the recreated Bethlehem set that fills the gym each year as part of the church’s public Journey to Bethlehem walk-through event.

“In this Old Testament setting, which is also the birthplace of the New Testament, we will remember how the old and new are connected,” he said. “Our Lord was born to fulfill the Old Testament and bring about the New Testament. We’ll talk about how the traditions and values handed down to us are of great value and how new traditions and changes are a blessing as well.”

The Rev. E.J. Stein who leads Galveston’s Holy Family Parish will share his sense of wonder with the Catholic worshippers he addresses.

“The more I gaze upon the Christmas manger scene and reflect upon the Christmas story, the more I am moved about the way God — almighty, eternal, limitless, not bound by time or space — chose to present himself among the human race as a tiny, vulnerable infant. Could it be at Christmas that God is revealing such love for the human race, such faith in our ability to respond to his love, that he really trusts us to take care of him as he continually desires to come to a renewed birth in all of our lives?”

The Rev. Deb Grant of Dickinson’s Faith Lutheran Church will share a perspective that she found while gazing up, not from Manger Square, but from the deck of a container ship as it thrummed across the Pacific Ocean. In the stillness and natural darkness, she heard the stars.

“They spoke in ways that I never thought they could,” she said. “I didn’t understand the star language very well because I was more schooled at navigating a remote control or a smart phone than identifying the constellations. But it reminded me that on that first Christmas night, there was a star that spoke to the ones who understood the language and translated it for the rest of us: There is a God. This God is bigger than we can imagine. This God arranged stars and speaks to us still in a voice we understand — a human cry.”

Merry Christmas from Our Faith.

The Rev. Mark Marmon, vicar of Hitchcock’s All Saint’s Episcopal Church, will focus on the lights that are abundant this time of year.

“Why is there so much illumination during the holiday season?” he asked. “Why would we put lights on our trees, houses and even cars and trucks? The significance of this illumination is that the light has now come: The light of the world, the light of all hope, joy and peace. That light, that child is Christ, the Lord.”

Rick Cousins can be reached at

Next week

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