Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,
What a powerful series on peace we had in November! Our congregation was moved, convicted, and consoled by the Spirit of God in learning what peace (shalom) really is, and challenged to seek out and live-in to that peace that surpasses all understanding. As pastor, I am always amazed how the Lord shows up and showers us with opportunities to learn more about Christ and in turn see Christ in ourselves. Understanding the peace that our Savior gives is critical to us who try to follow Christ in spirit and in truth. Indeed, November was a month unlike any other in recent history. Now more than ever we need to perpetually vigilant to agitate for and to institute peace within ourselves and extending that peace to others!
I am very pleased with our new social media campaigns. As you know, we have joined Instagram and Twitter. Every Monday and Tuesday we send out salient points and quotes of my sermon to all our social media outlets. This has driven clicks to our website and new followers via Twitter and Instagram. In short, we are spreading the Good News of Christ to people far and wide! To God be the Glory!
As the Advent and Christmas season are upon us, I want to encourage us to be mindful about not just the true meaning of Christmas, but more importantly the context of the season and how that should influence us today. This month, rather than simply tell of the classic scriptures that surround John and Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth, and Zechariah, I should like to look at the fringe of our Advent season texts. The texts that we may skip over to get to the scriptures we know. I invite you, your family, and your friends (maybe even two people you don’t like) to come to our church this month and worship with us and come hear the texts that we gloss over but really can speak deep truths to us in this season.
As we move forward to the end of this year and begin a new year, please be mindful of yourselves and others. This time of year, for many, is not the joyous time that commercials and movies portray. So many are battling depression, stress, anxieties, and take to ill-fated means to cope. Truly, it can be devastating to be alone in this time. Not to mention, that sometimes our families and underlying issues within our family, can make being together in this season tough in surprising and hidden ways. Let us not be ashamed or embarrassed to see professional counselors and therapist in this time. Let us endeavor to create welcoming spaces for everyone this season.
To that end, let me invite you all to our Christmas Luncheon after Sunday service, December 18th, 2016 downstairs in our fellowship space Doane Hall. Come, meet new people, be around old and new friends, and share in the joy and hope of the season!
It is my hope that this season we will all try to practice these helpful exercises: Be courageous in instituting self-care this season. Take special care to pray and listen to God. Try to be patient with people. And employ empathy for others. May God bless you and keep you as we celebrate the fulfilling of prophecy, even the birth of Christ!
Oh and since I am the pastor, I want to say Happy Birthday to my parents, Deacon & Deaconess Earl & Sandra Thorpe!
Rev. Earl Thorpe