Greetings all !
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend. You were thought of and prayed for while I was away with my older children in South Carolina. There’s so much going on in our church family right now — some significant health needs, the arrival of new babies, growing relationships in our Sticky Groups, and a busy season of serving and celebrating the Lord. Thanks for your prayers for me as a part of my family traveled. Thanks for your well-wishes as we met little Hudson, my first grandchild, for the very first time.
A curious part about being away from home on Thanksgiving – and, for the first time in several years, not having the preoccupation of an illness in the family — was that I had forgotten how Thanksgiving just crashes right into Christmas. A couple of things, in particular, caught my attention :
The furious blitz of advertising on radio and television attempting to get people out of their houses and into the stores on Thanksgiving night and “Black Friday.” Ironically, the message at the church we attended last Sunday was from Philippians 4, including these statements made by the Apostle Paul : “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. … In every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil 4:11,12).
The pastor asked the question, “Do we know how to be content in abundance ?” Answer (for most of us) : No. Most of us walked away from a Thanksgiving table that had groaned under the weight of the feast piled upon it, but we were not, even then, fully content. Isn’t it curious that we don’t find lasting contentment in abundance. The purpose of every commercial this Christmas season will be to produce within us some sense of discontentment with what we have. Lasting contentment is found in the Lord.
The number of radio stations we listened to in the car that were already playing Christmas music (but most of it not very good). After hearing, in the period of four days, numerous versions of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Holly Jolly Christmas,” sung by Perry Como, The Carpenters, and Alvin & The Chipmunks, you begin to wonder … Is this what it’s all about ? Mistletoe, snowmen, decorations, reindeer ? Really ?
Part of the purpose of our Christmas Eve celebration this year at Emmanuel is to give you an opportunity on that day to slow down and focus on the real impact for you, your family, and the world of God’s coming to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ.
On the 24th we will take time at the church to read through the entire Gospel of Luke as a way of honoring the Lord’s life.
I believe there might be nothing more important you could do that day than to come (with your family) and allow the reality of the life of Christ to soak into your spirit. I believe it will impact in a positive way your approach to the remainder of your family and personal activities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Plus, it’s a non-threatening event to which you can invite a neighbor or friend who is unacquainted with Emmanuel or with the Gospel. The church will be open all day in an open-house type of atmosphere while we read the Gospel of Luke in three separate sections.
We need your involvement in those readings ! Would you sign up at the church for a chapter, part of a chapter, or a couple chapters to read aloud for those at the church that day ? Anyone who is able to read out loud in a clear voice is welcome to sign up ! We will read and worship according to this schedule :
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Luke 1-8
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Luke 9-16
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Luke 17-24
I believe your personal preparation of the chapter you will read will be a rich blessing to you in this Christmas season. To rehearse a certain passage of Scripture over and over several times over the course of a number of days drives the significance of the passage home in a way we aren’t used to experiencing !
Hope you’ll sign up at the church and plan on being with us December 24 — less than three weeks away ! Sign up to bring cookies too as an extra way of blessing others !
We are pleased that God adds to our church family. Lucas and Andrea Schneider, Mike Cantrell, and Matt and Katie Heaney recently completed the process for becoming voting members at Emmanuel, and we are looking forward to receiving them “officially” into the church in that capacity. They have all – along with their families – already been a special blessing to our congregation.
In light of the commitment being made by these new members, I thought it would be good to remind ourselves of the expectations and commitments we have as members of the Emmanuel church family.
(These commitments were covered recently in our “Discovering Christ & the Church Family 101 course.”)
Two Overriding Purposes at Emmanuel :
To grow individually and collectively into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
To share the good news of Jesus with our community.
Five Expectations of members at Emmanuel :
To be a follower of Jesus Christ.
To worship, when possible, with the Emmanuel people.
To give financially to support the ministries and staff of Emmanuel.
To seek opportunities to serve the needs of the Emmanuel body and the community.
To share the good news of Jesus with the community.
Commitments we make to God and to each other at Emmanuel :
To act in love toward other members.
To refuse to gossip.
To follow leaders in the church.
To pray for the growth of the church.
To invite the unchurched to attend.
To warmly welcome those who visit.
To discover our gifts and talents.
To be equipped to serve.
To develop a servant’s heart.
To attend faithfully.
To live a godly life.
To give regularly.
How are we doing on our purposes and commitments to this local church ? Do we have a common understanding of the privilege and calling we share as members of Emmanuel ?
How’s your commitment level right now – first of all, to the Lord ; then, to His family ? Thanks for making Emmanuel a unique and great place to belong !
I came across this little quote recently while going through some things of mine. I don’t remember where it came from or why I have it. It’s from Alan Redpath, “The Rest of Victory.” I hope it’s an encouragement to you in whatever situation you are going through today.
Hope to see you Sunday ! Our final Discovering Spiritual Maturity 201 course for adults will take place at 9:00 ; worship at 10:15, including the final message from the book of Daniel !
There is nothing … no circumstance, no trouble, no testing … that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God, and past Christ, right through to me.
If it has gone that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment.
But as I refuse to become panicky … as I lift up my eyes to Him … and accept it as coming from the Throne of God, for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart,
no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever dismay me, no circumstance will cause me to fret … for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is.