Front and Centre
A time to give thanks, and look to the future
Have you given thanks today? While requests and petitions might roll off the tongue when we pray, we worship a God who wants us to give thanks. Paul encourages us to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thess 5:18). I’m sure there were times he was locked up in prison feeling miserable, yet he was able to focus on God’s faithfulness, His promises and look forward with hope to a future in Christ. It is no surprise that Paul exhorts us to ‘set your minds on things above’ and ‘be thankful’ (Col 3:2,15). A focus on God and His promises is an important pre-requisite for giving thanks in all circumstances, not just when we are feeling good.
Why does God want us to give thanks? Is it just another task or obligation we should add to our list, and then become demoralised when we don’t complete it?
Does God need our adulation or thanksgiving for His own reassurance? We know God isn’t like that. Could it be that God wants us to give thanks because it’s good for us?
Certainly a thankful, positive attitude, in all circumstances, does wonders for our wellbeing. If we let God shape our attitudes, it may help us become resilient in any circumstance.
We should give thanks to God because He gives good gifts to His children. By giving thanks to God we’re reminding ourselves who God is – a good God who loves us, cares for us and provides for us. We are also reminding ourselves who we are – God’s children who are loved and cared for. Reflecting on God’s provision in our lives by giving thanks is an important act in confirming our faith.
I can’t see why an attitude of thankfulness, and the practice of thanksgiving, should be confined to our relationship with God. Someone who takes a moment to say, ‘thank you’, or offer words of acknowledgement or recognition is always appreciated. We know the impact this has on us and we have the opportunity or responsibility to share this with others. This is such a simple but effective way we can be ‘Good News’ to those around us.
This week we conclude our season of thanksgiving, where we intentionally reflect together and give thanks to God for all He’s doing. This Sunday, as in previous years, we can give thanks via a freewill thanksgiving offering. We have much for which to give thanks as we come to the end of a challenging year. I hope you will be strengthened and encouraged as we journey together in the lead up to Advent.
Grace and Peace
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Front and Centre
Christmas is a beautiful time to remember how thankful and grateful we are. It is a great time of celebration as we prepare to celebrate both the birth of Jesus, and the truth that he will come again. A time when families get together. As a result of that however for a number of people Christmas can be a difficult time. There are families who have lost loved ones during the year. In the year following the loss of a loved ones there are a number of firsts. The first birthday, or Mothers or Father’s Day, or Christmas are all times where we feel more keenly the loss of those we love. The Service of Solace that we offer is a way of helping people acknowledge loss at this time. It is not just if something has happened this year, there are people who like to come every year and remember and honour those they love. This year COVID has changed many lives and families and for most of us our family gatherings will be different. Those with families overseas are learning to skype and connect electronically. It’s not the same but it a way of connecting. COVID has other effects. Some people have lost employment and though government assistance has helped many families are struggling financially and our Community Helping Hand is one way that we seek to assist people. Your continuing support financially or with time and skills enables this ministry to continue and people’s lives to be changed for the better. Thank you to Ros and Helen and the team. Through the hampers of hope and joy we have been able to reach to needy families who are a part of Community Helping hand or have sought assistance from our local school chaplains. Thank you again to Ross and the team who have facilitated this. There are many local families who will have a better Christmas because of the work that people from Emmanuel do. Thank you to Judy and her team who have sought to make life a better place for the people of Noro in Solomon Islands. We can rightly be proud of what we do but also be aware that there is still much need out there. Take some time this Christmas to pray for those who are in need. For those refugees and those seeking asylum, for those in quarantine waiting for permission to go home, for those who live rough on the streets. Though we cannot meet everyone’s needs we need to start somewhere and make a difference? Thank you to those members of our congregation who do just that. In this Advent/ Christmas season think about how you can enrich and bless the life of at least one other person. Share with them the truth of Emmanuel, meaning God with us this Christmas.
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Front and Center
Hello and Happy Advent to you all. Yes, Advent. No, not quite Christmas.
This Sunday 29 November marks the start of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas during which time we pause to prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas and Jesus.
I am sure that many of you have family traditions that you keep at this time of the year. Maybe you use an advent calendar filled with chocolate, or Lego, or scripture verses that you like to read each day. Maybe your traditions have more to do with decorating and putting up a tree and lights, driving around the streets to look at lights displays, shopping for food and gifts or maybe it’s about spending time with friends and family.
In the Pinkerton house, we have a few, and in the last week the kids (of all ages) have been excitedly preparing the house for the coming season. We own at least 5 different Advent calendars, a few trees and way too many Christmas decorations. This year though we aren’t putting all of them up. Instead, we’ll be following along the Advent Video Challenge.
Based on an idea from another ministry colleague, this year we’ve created an Advent Video Challenge that we’d love for you to complete it with us.
The Challenge is easy:
Watch a video (that will be posted daily on the church website, Facebook and YouTube channel),
Talk about the video (using the discussion questions as a starter), and
Complete a daily challenge.
In addition, you might also like to:
Share the video with your own friends and family (via whatever medium you’d like… Facebook, messenger, email etc.)
All of the videos, questions, challenge details and resources to help you complete them will be available on our app and website www.emmanueluca.org.au/dig-in-at-home and we’d also love to see photos and hear stories of how you’re going with the video challenge. Please share these with us via the Facebook posts or email to email@example.com.
We’ve also created a physical Advent Video Challenge Resource Pack which contains some of the materials for the challenges that can be used to decorate and prepare your home for the season. This week we’ve already distributed these to our Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade, Playgroup and Tiny Town Families, and there will be more available after worship on Sunday for anyone who wants one.
Speaking about Sunday, this week we’ll be joined by our Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade families at our 9:30 service. They’ve been busy preparing some of the parts of the service and we look forward to celebrating and worshipping with them on Sunday.
If you’re planning to attend worship on Sunday, you’ll notice that the set up will be a bit different. So that we can fit extra people in worship, while maintaining safe physical distancing, we’ll be leading from the foyer with chairs facing inwards from the Auditorium and Hall. Please be patient with us as we trial this alternate seating and test the technology.
As we move into this season of Advent I pray that God will richly bless you and your family during this time as you pause, reflect and soak in the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that He has for you this season, and all the year through.
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Front and Centre
We are in the midst of our period of 15 days of thanksgiving: a time when we intentionally, as a church, focus on being thankful to God for what he has done, is doing, and is going to do. One of the expressions of thankfulness will be a thanksgiving offering on the 22nd of November which can be sent either online or in person. Another expression of thankfulness is the reflection that is offered through the 15 days of thankfulness calendar. Throughout the calendar, not only are there Bible verses to reflect upon, but also activities of thankfulness.
Do you find thankfulness contagious? Do you find that thankfulness encourages more thankfulness?
The other day, I was really encouraged to think about this when I received a phone call from someone who was being thankful. It made me think about who I wanted to thank. It helped me remember how good it is to be part of a community where thankfulness is part of the culture. I believe a culture of thankfulness is important because it encourages us on the journey of discipleship. Thankfulness and thanksgiving is not limited to the 15 days, we have the opportunity, and capacity to be thankful daily. However, I think sometimes we get caught up in getting to school, getting the job/s done, or just plain stuck in a rut and forget to be thankful. As we continue to grow a culture of thankfulness, a culture where we thank God and each other, we are growing an environment where thankfulness is part of who we are and what we do.In all of our thankfulness, we can be encouraging others to consider being thankful as well. This can be people within the Emmanuel community, or people in our wider community. It might be in our homes, or perhaps with our friends. As we “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) may the light of thankfulness that we shine, encourage others to share their lights of thankfulness as well.
Grace and Peace
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