This Sunday we entered Advent, a season of the church consisting of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This historical four-week observance is described as “a time of expectant waiting and preparation” leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas Day.
During Advent, Bible readings emphasize preparing for the Second Coming of Christ, when Jesus will come again as Judge, while celebrating and remembering Christ’s first coming, when He came as our Savior.
This past Sunday we lit the first of four candles, a purple one, also called “the prophet’s candle,” which reminds us to have hope in God. The remaining candles are lit each Sunday as follows:
Second Sunday of Advent: Love (purple). This candle reminds us of the love of God that caused Him to send His Son to earth for our forgiveness.
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy (rose or pink). This candle reminds us to rejoice in the salvation we have received from God.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Peace (purple). Finally, this candle emphasizes the peace we have found in Christ through His sacrifice.
If your church doesn’t use an Advent wreath, don’t worry about it! It isn’t required by any means. The wreath is just one more way to help us prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas and to be ready for His coming again one day for each of us and for His bride, the Church.
The Community Thanksgiving Service last Tuesday (November 23) was great. The people of Hulston New Hope provided great worship and special music and wonderful refreshments, and Pastor McMasters brought the message, using the acronym THANKS. We are truly blessed to have a community where we can gather together, across denominational lines, and worship as the Church God has called us to be—one in the Spirit.
He’s Been Faithful
Sitting around the table, passing the potatoes and green beans, picking out pieces of sliced turkey, and scooping up gobs of stuffing, I remembered once again how very much God has blessed me. Our table was filled with good food and our furnace was working well as the freezing rain and then snow fell outside.
I stopped to look at each of my kids. I suppose I take them for granted sometimes. This was brought home to me when they lost one of their best friends to a heart problem. Again, I was reminded how blessed I am when I talked to a few parents whose teenagers had gotten into trouble. Lord, please help me to see the blessings in my children while I can and to remember to let them know how much I love them.
I looked over at my mother-in-law and thought about how much she has done for us in the past 26 years, but especially after she moved down here to live with us 20 years ago. Many women have said to me, “I don’t know how you could live with your mother-in-law. I could never do it.” I suppose that is true for others, but mine was always an important part of our home. When I was unable to have children, she partnered with me in caring for the house and always gave Donald and I our privacy. Most of all, she was here for my children when they came along. Mom read to the kids, played with them, and much to my chagrin, cleaned up after them. In the past six to seven years, however, Mom has been deteriorating because of Alzheimer’s. We clean up after her now, and yet, even when I am frustrated, I try to remember the woman who helped us and supported us. God, help me to remember how she has blessed me and to be a blessing to her, even when she doesn’t know who I am.
Then there was Ed, who came to our family through Mom. They have been friends for 20 years, and in that time he has been like a father to us. He has fixed pipes, changed spigots, mowed the lawn, cut down a tree damaged by the ice storm, and so much more. The time may be coming when Ed will move back to Western Kansas, but he will always be a part of our family. God, please help me cherish the people you have placed in my life, those who show your love by their compassion and help.
Finally, I looked at my husband Donald. Even after 26 years we are still learning about one another. I thought about how many times I have made lists of the things that make me angry and how few times I have listed the kind and loving things he does for me. I thought about the times I have accused him of being stubborn, when, in fact, I was probably more stubborn than he. God, help me to be more positive, to seek out the good in our life together, and to see the blessings you have placed in our lives.
Yes, friends, God is faithful. Even in our darkest moments we can look around and find the jewel in the rough, the silver lining around the dark storm cloud. However, even when we cannot see that silver lining or that jewel immediately, we have the assurance that God is watching over us and will show us the way, helping us to see the blessings that are placed in our path.
On Wednesday evening, when I attempted to make my first-ever pumpkin pies from scratch, I decided to not just cut up the bigger of the two pumpkins. I wanted to do something special with it. After a few minutes I started cutting, and I came up with the lantern you see here. It read: THANKFUL. I am thankful, sometimes not enough, but God is faithful and knows my heart. Even when I am unfaithful, unforgiving, and inconsistent, God is faithful and pours out his mercy and grace on all of us.
Take an inventory of your blessings this week. Instead of categorizing all the faults around you, make a list of the good things people have done for you, and forgive as you have been forgiven.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
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