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Reflections from Pastor Jennifer
No longer do we live under the Law. There were historical reasons for all the 613 laws that were given to Moses. As believers in Christ, we live under the grace and teachings that Jesus provided. This does not mean, however, that we are free from responsibility. We are responsible first to God. We must love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This means that our feelings, thoughts, and actions should reflect our love for God. We are then responsible to others. Our "freedom" should never be intentionally offensive. We are all part of the body, so we belong to one another. Finally, we are responsible to ourselves. As the Temple of God, we should use our bodies to give honor and worship to God. If you are struggling with any desire, this is normal. You are human. And the beautiful thing about God is that He loves us in and through our struggles. He does not reject us when we fail - His grace is sufficient to help us.
Church Christmas Party
Join the fun and fellowship on Wednesday, December 13th! The church Christmas party will be at 6:30 in the fellowship hall. This annual event includes great food, games, Christmas songs, and plenty of entertainment. Make plans to attend.
Three spots are still available for anyone (13+) who would like to attend the Operation Christmas Child shoebox processing event. This will be on Saturday, December 16th from 10am to 2pm. A waiver must be filled out prior to attendance, so please let me know if you need one.
Community Christmas Event
Instead of Christmas Eve Sunday morning service, we will be enjoying a community event on Saturday night, December 23rd. This is a free event, snacks and warm beverages will be provided. Bring a chair, a blanket, and all your friends and family to a Christmas movie under the stars. Concessions begin at 6, movie to begin approximately 6:30.
5th Sunday Breakfast
Spend the last Sunday of the month and the year having a delicious breakfast! Breakfast and a time of devotion will begin at 10am in the fellowship hall. Take this opportunity to invite family and friends to attend.
January Focus: Fasting
Remember that January offers and opportunity for reset. We set our hearts to fast in the month of January. A 21 day fast is suggested, but you are welcome to do any length that the Holy Spirit would lead you to do. A full fast (only water), partial fast (eliminating certain foods), intermittent fasting (fasting certain meals), or fasting another important thing (caffeine, social media, tv, etc.) may be something you choose. Remember that, while other benefits will occur, this fast is for the purpose of drawing close to God.
What is Advent? It's a time when we observe His first coming while we also look forward to His second coming. Each of the four weeks leading up to Advent is focused on a different theme: hope, peace, joy, and love, respectively.
A TINY HOPE
In Luke 1:18, the angel appeared to Jesus’ uncle Zechariah, and told him to get ready for something wonderful to happen. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth longed for a baby, but had given up hope.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What hope have you given up on? What disappointments have you faced this year?
When the angel promised they would have a son, Zechariah’s response was “How can this be?”
The flame of hope had died, and left a cold, ashy, grey skepticism in Zechariah’s heart.
It leaves us wondering how to rekindle a tiny hope when it has been snuffed out by disappointment.
Let’s read on in Zechariah’s story.
In Luke 1:78-79, Zechariah is a different man. He is singing of great expectations for his newborn baby boy, John. He can tell that something else is about to happen, that the birth of his son is simply a spark that comes before a fire. The morning light is about to break upon them. Something brilliant is about to happen. The Light of the World is coming!
What changed Zechariah’s heart from skepticism to singing?
After Zechariah’s initial response to the angel’s announcement, he was struck mute and had to live in silence. For his wife’s entire pregnancy, Zechariah couldn’t speak. How did the silence help him to see things differently? God silenced his doubts and his questions, and instead he simply watched his wife’s belly grow month by month as God fulfilled his promise in front of Zechariah’s eyes.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What might you notice if you were silent?
Practice some silence now. Put a two minute timer on your phone, close your eyes, and just sit in silence.
Breathe in and out slowly, noticing your breath. And if you feel your thoughts wandering, ask God the simple question: “What do you want me to notice?”
Perhaps this Advent season, God wants to reignite hope in your heart. Make some space for silence each day, whether it’s following this Bible reading plan, going for a short walk on your own in stressful moments, or prayerfully meditating in silence on the promises of God. Let hope arise as you clear out the clutter of your questions and simply sit with God in the silence of His love.