Reflections from Pastor Jennifer
Enjoy these last few days of 2022. I encourage you to reflect on God's faithfulness through this year. Perhaps this year has brought a new job, promotion, or retirement. Chances are you received good news, took a great trip, or began a new project. Maybe you have experienced changes you never could have anticipated. In each change, God is with us. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. No matter what changes occur, that is a promise we can count on.
January 1, 2023 will be the first First Sunday Meal of the year! Dr. Tatum will bring the Word and the communal meal will follow. Bring food and friends with you!
Any warm items (scarves, gloves, and hats) are suggested for the month of January. If you have a shoebox or cash to contribute, that is much appreciated as well.
January 2, 2023 will begin our church-wide fast. You are strongly encouraged to join. God responds when we demonstrate our seriousness about hearing from Him.
What type of fast has God chosen?
"Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?"
God instructed Isaiah to condemn the type of fasting that the children of Israel were attempting. They made a show of seeking the Lord. The people would come to pray for direction and instruction, but it was the time in between temple visits that was the problem.
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high."
It seems as though they were trying to separate their "church lives" from their daily lives. Instead of being sincere and humble before the Lord, His people would leave His house only to exploit the less fortunate, break the Sabbath, and engage in idle conversations.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
God is very clear what He expects when His people are fasting. This is not simply a time for self reflection. It is a time to loose chains, to share with those in need, and to spend time with family. When we fast, it is certainly a time for exercising faith for our requests. But is is also a time to put feet on our prayers - because faith without works is dead.
"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."
This is God's promised response when His people fast correctly. He will be ready to give guidance, growth, and restoration. Begin now asking the Lord to help you to fast correctly - in a way that pleases Him. Not merely to join in with the congregation, but to truly receive the answers to your prayers.