Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family and Friends,
Let me first thank my colleague and friend Rabbi Steve Goodman and his members from the Garden City Jewish Center for blessing us with a wonderful sermon and tremendous fellowship. Rabbi Goodman preached a profound message for our church and country on the blessing of a pluralistic America. The need for communities and communities of faith to come together and fellowship is a necessary one that will build strong bonds and unity for social change. I look forward to continuing the fellowship with many of our Garden City congregations and beyond in the New Year. Thank you again Rabbi Goodman!
As we celebrate the advent season and celebrate the coming of our Christ, I want us as a church family to really focus on what Christ’s coming means for us as Christians. As I preached recently, many of us have fallen in love with the ideology of Christmas. We love the idea of Christmas more than we love Christ and the meaning of Christ’s interaction with this world.
Indeed secular substitutes have co-opted Christmas. We regale in the notion of reindeer, Santa, and receiving gifts, and worshipping the god of want. Yet we forget the message of the prophets and disciples who spoke of the coming of the Messiah to establish God’s righteousness, justice, peace on earth, and provisions for all of our needs.
In this season of celebration of Christ’s coming, I want us to remember that Christmas is not about the gift of presents, rather the gift of presence. If Christ lives in you, show forth the gift of love, compassion, and advocacy for all, and particularly those that are in need, just like Jesus did. Then we will truly be celebrating the Christ in Christmas!
I would like to challenge all who receive this Garden Time to help support our church in our mission to be an impactful Christian community: Open to all to experience God’s Grace and share God’s Love through empowering evangelism, dedicated pastoral care, sound Christian education, and faithful social concern. Church-in-the-Garden needs your financial help to ensure that we can provide security cameras to protect our church facility and our valuable equipment. Your end of the year donations will also help us enhance our music and media ministry so that we may be able to bring to all our worship in real-time and in multiple outlets. Your generous gifts will help us stay on strong financial footing so that we can continue to develop and deliver ministries that engage the greater community with much needed services and outreach. Please consider making a year-end gift to our church. You can support our church directly on our website: http://www.churchinthegarden.org/support/
Lastly, I am grateful for a truly blessed year. As a church we have had a wonderful year with increases in attendance, first-time guests, and the growth of our music ministry. While it has not been easy, we have marched forward with God’s grace and mercy leading and guiding us. We continue to preach to all the Good News of Jesus Christ without fear or favor. We continue to love ourselves and one another in the light of God. We continue to learn to live out our calling as Christ’s followers. And we are committed to being more Christ like day by day. I am thankful for this charge to pastor this congregation. I am praying that as we celebrate the coming of Christ to humanity we realize the precious gift of the presence of the living God within all of us. A blessed Christmas to all who believe in Christ, and Happy Holidays to all of our brothers and sisters of different faiths!
Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.