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Reflections from Pastor Jennifer
Check your heart. Is yours a heart of worship and praise? Are you willing to pour out your entire self? Are you striving? Is your mind so consumed by all that you have to accomplish that you don't have much time for worship? Could it be that (if you really examined your heart) you are feeling self-righteous? Maybe you are comparing your level of praise to someone else's.
Living a life of praise is a spiritual discipline. It is not always easy to give thanks in all things. It will require us to retrain our minds and resist the urge to dwell on the negative. Let praise be your first reaction.
Church Christmas Party
This Wednesday, December 13 is the church Christmas party. Meet in the fellowship hall at 6:30 with party food and party attitude. We will enjoy food, games, and fellowship. Invite friends and family to this great event.
Two spots are still available if you would like to go to the Samaritan's Purse facility. We will be volunteering this Saturday, December 16 from 10-2 in Charlotte. We will plan to meet first at the church by 8:45am in order to ride together to the facility.
Help for the Homeless
On Tuesday, December 19, we will participate with Watchmen of the Streets to give Christmas stockings and sing carols for the homeless in uptown Charlotte. We will depart from the church no later than 5pm in order to be in Charlotte by 5:45pm. If you are not able to go this time, there is also a date scheduled in January. You can help by bringing under clothes, coats, and blankets for this event.
Community Christmas Event
You are invited to a free movie event on Saturday, December 23. Free concessions will begin at 6pm. The movie will begin at 6:30. The event will be held at CCOG (19525 Oak St. Cornelius). This is an outdoor event, so bring a chair and blanket (the event will be held indoors in the event of rain). Invite everyone you know.
5th Sunday Breakfast
On Sunday, December 31, our service will be held in the fellowship hall. Breakfast will be served at 10am, followed by a time of devotion. This is a great time of fellowship, so bring guests with you to celebrate New Year's Eve.
January Focus: Fasting
As we move from eating season to fasting season, please begin to pray about what you should fast. If you are unable to fast food for medical reasons, you can still participate by giving up a food item, caffeine, desserts, or even non-food items (such as tv, spending money, etc.).
A Thrill of Joy - Anticipating Joy
I often wrestle with the idea that you don’t have to be happy to be joyful. Sometimes I think that the words have become synonyms through history - happy equals joy. But when I look at scripture I see that actually joy and pain run parallel to each other. There are so many stories in the Bible that speak of people experiencing great pain, yet they are filled with greater joy.
I love what David writes in Psalm 30 verse 5, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” In fact, if you read Psalm 30 in its entirety, David speaks about God working out pain to bring joy. What a great encouragement this is!
As we enter into the festive season everything around us is lights, carols, and Christmas lunch plans. But Christmas also brings with it school holidays and family dynamics. God sees it all, and He sees you... He is the bringer of comfort and joy.
Think of how chaotic the birth of Jesus must have been - animals grunting and snorting, Mary and Joseph afraid and alone in a dusty stable. There was anxiety BUT there was anticipation too. You see Jesus’ birth brought with it a multitude of promises, and one of those was that we would experience great joy in His presence. Throughout the narrative of Jesus’ life we see joy; He brings joy, He speaks joy - “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” - John 15:11.
So as we await Christmas, in amongst the chaos and pain, we make space to anticipate His marvelous works… and in that anticipation we are filled with joy.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Is there an area of your life that you see both pain and joy in? Take a moment to give thanks to God for His faithfulness in these areas.