Christmas is special day for Christians
Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Hudson has been led by Rev. Fred Kogler since 2007 and he, like virtually all Christians, sees Christmas as a very holy day.
"Christmas signifies and represents the birth of Christ," Kogler said. "All of our outreach -- worship, Sunday school, confirmation, pre-school -- holds to the historical account that the Bible is God's word.
"Jesus is the second person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and was incarnate in a virgin birth. He was sent to our world to die for our sins."
Kogler calls Christmas part of a three-prong approach to Christianity.
"There is the birth (Christmas), resurrection (Easter) and ascension," Kogler said. "The ascension is not as well-known because it has not been commercialized."
He said that Christ came to our world at Christmas, died and was resurrected for our sins at Easter and returned to His proper position at the ascension -- at the right hand of God the Father.
He said the story of Christianity is best summed up in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
"It is important that modern-day Christians distinguish between cultural customs and what Christianity teaches," Kogler said. "Many people can enjoy some of the customs and they incorporate them into the celebrations, but don't be confused by what's reality."
He said Christmas is pivotal to our world.
"It is important to remember that it is God who loves us, forgives us and sent His son to ensure our eternal destiny."
Emmanuel Lutheran, 712 Grandview Drive (church faces Vine Street), has been part of the Hudson Community for 36 years. The relatively small congregation of just over 100 active members is part of the Wisconsin Synod. According to the synod's website, the synod has 1,279 churches throughout the country and 389,545 baptized members. The synod has a German background.
The local church also is home of the Joyful Noise pre-school, headed by certified teacher Ann Winkler. The school has 25 children ages 3, 4 and 5. Teacher aides are Rebecca Huth and Ross Collins.
Despite being a small congregation, Emmanuel Lutheran has all the modern workings of a larger congregation including an internationally recognized website (www.emmanuelhudson.org), blogs, e-mail services and more. The church also offers hard copies of information for non-computer users.
Kogler said the church also offers online classes through Google+.
"Instead of coming to church for class, participants can complete interactive courses at the student's pace, from their own computer," Kogler said.
He's also proud of the fact that if no one can answer the phone at church, the call rolls over to his personal cell phone.
"That's real accountability," Kogler said.
The church also has an association with St. Croix Lutheran High School in the Twin Cities for families who may want their teens to attend a private school.
The church has a candlelight Christmas Eve service scheduled Saturday night at 7 p.m. and a Christmas Day service at 9 a.m. that features Christmas songs.
"We're proud of the fact that we have two service times. Any service during the day is at 9 a.m.; any night service is at 7 p.m." Kogler said.
Rev. Kogler grew up in the North St. Paul area and attended North St. Paul High School. He attended Northwestern College in Watertown and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon. He has a master's degree in theology and divinity and also a master's in social Gerontology (study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging).
His first church was in Elmwood and he started St. Mark's Church in Eau Claire. He also served as a campus pastor at UW-Eau Claire. The bulk of his ministerial career, however, was the 30 years he spent at Emmanuel Lutheran Church and School in West St. Paul. He also holds a real estate license and was once a professor at Bethel College in St. Paul.
"I like our Hudson congregation because we are like a family model," Kogler said. "We have a good representation of grandparents, moms and dads and kids."