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Rev. Elden Kohn’s (’13) formation experience makes special impact on congregation’s Christmas celebration

After serving stints both as a missionary and a teacher, Elden Kohn began his Concordia Seminary education in fall 2009.

Following graduation from the Seminary in May 2013, he accepted his first call to serve as sole pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Macon, Mo. He and his wife, Molly, and their three children, Matthias, Eleanor and Nehemiah, have enjoyed settling in Macon and getting to know the wonderful family of believers among whom God has placed them.

While many aspects of Seminary helped prepare Kohn to lead God’s people in Macon, his fieldwork experience at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Olivette, Mo., proved especially beneficial. “While doing fieldwork at Immanuel, our family really enjoyed the special family Christmas service held there on Christmas Eve,” he said. “This service focused on a prominent Old Testament prophecy (e.g., Micah 5:2-5, Is. 9:2-7) and included a reading of the Luke 2 account interspersed with song. In fact, well-known Christmas hymns were the main focus of the service, inviting even the youngest to sing and participate. A special children’s message also took the place of a traditional sermon, getting the little ones involved in an extra special way. We loved it!”

Gearing up for his first Christmas at Zion in 2013, Kohn remembered the approach at Immanuel and asked his former mentor if he would be willing to share bulletins from past services. With a little tweaking and personalization to fit the context in Macon, this format has been well-received and thoroughly enjoyed by families for more than four years, Kohn said.

At Zion’s family service, Kohn selects a short book each year that retells the Christmas story. During the service, children are invited forward with their parents to receive a copy of the book and join in reading aloud the story of Jesus’ birth together — for each other and for the congregation. This gives parents and children an intimate and memorable experience with the Christmas story, helps model devotional reading and sends families home with a Scripture-based devotional resource. Carefully chosen stories also provide a theme and structure for the service, often offering language that can be repeated as liturgy to reinforce how God has kept His promise in Christ. A memorable Christmas celebration, indeed!

This year, Zion will be using the book, The Christmas Journey, which is available through Lutheran Hour Ministries at www.lhm.org/kids [1], for its Christmas family service.

Zion also is using music to express its gratitude to the Lord “for enriching our personal devotional lives, and for sharing the Good News of what Christ has done for us with others in a way that can connect to their unique experiences and challenges.” Songs can be downloaded for free on the church’s website [2] after selecting “Faith Sung.”

Kohn hopes others will find the songs beneficial for all three purposes and encourages others to share them with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.

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