reflections from an elder - january 20th
Pastor Will’s second message is going to focus on the theme of Hope, and that got me to thinking about how casually we sometimes use that word. “I hope it doesn’t rain today.” Or, “I sure hope that test isn’t too hard.” Or maybe, “I hope the sermon doesn’t go too long this morning.” But the word hope means a whole lot more.
When the word cancer becomes a part of a family’s life, they do a lot of hoping. At times, it may be a real struggle not to lose hope. For some families, maybe the trial is something different, a struggling relationship, losing a job, the death of a close friend, but the hoping and praying that occurs is still very real. The greatest comfort in these kinds of earthly trials is knowing that our real hope, our ultimate hope, is not found within ourselves, but in the Lord. “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Ps. 147:11) And, Hebrews 6:19 tells us that this kind of hope is “an anchor for the soul.” Believe me, in the stormy waves of our world, we need that anchor.
However, our hope in the Lord doesn’t necessarily make the trial go away, but it should give us a greater strength to endure it. The familiar line from Isaiah 40 reminds us that “those who have hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles.”
So, as you lift up your prayers to our heavenly Father, lift them up with that kind of hope, a hope that trusts in a God who truly loves us, who sent his Son into this broken world to bear all of our burdens, to save us from all of our sins, and to give us an eternal hope, for now in this life, but also with Him in Glory. Don’t lose hope!
Christmas is just a few days away...
Christmas is just a few days away, and we are probably all very excited about the gifts we will be able to share with our friends and family. And for the record, I do still enjoy that practice myself. We often hear the admonishment (especially among Christians) that its “not about the gifts!”
And yet it is - at least at some level.
Gift-giving at Christmas is a great joy - especially when it is done in the right spirit. I love thinking about ways I can bless my friends and family with a thoughtful gift to express my love and appreciation for them. AND, yes, its also nice to be on the receiving end as well. I love everything about it. Life can get so busy at times. It’s nice to have the excuse of stopping long enough to think about the ways we can bless our loved ones with a thoughtful expression of our appreciation.
What I can also heartily affirm is that Christmas isn’t ONLY about the gifts. It is obviously and most importantly about the Christ child - the greatest gift ever given. And I do love that celebration the most. We are going to be able to celebrate that together as a church family on Christmas Eve.
And I am very excited about our Christmas Eve service this year. We have some special creative elements that I hope will make the time together especially meaningful.
With that in mind, I hope you will be mindful of an invitation that you might extend to a neighbor, colleague, or family member that might need a special reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. After welcoming a new slate of new members this past weekend, we have been reminded (all over again) of the power of a strategic invite. Please take a courageous step and ask a friend to join you.
Lord, do your prep work!
The service is scheduled for Monday, December 23, at 7:00pm. My family and I look forward to being with you.