This coming Sunday, November 25th, is the last Sunday of the Christian year! A new Christian year begins on December 2nd, the first Sunday in the season of Advent. The Christian liturgical cycle divides a calendar year into a series of seasons – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary Time. These seasons are based, not upon predictable changes in the weather, but upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Just as each season in the world of nature has a distinct quality, each season in the Church liturgical cycle has a distinct mood and spiritual nuance. By regularly remembering and re-experiencing the key aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus, we are refreshed, deepened and reconfirmed in our own faith and depth of understanding. And because we are not the same person with the same understandings from year to year, our experience of the Church Seasons is similarly different and deeper each year. By God’s grace, through our celebration of the Christian year we are being shaped into the pattern of Christ. May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Our scripture for this week is one of my favorites, Philippians 4:6-13. I invite you to read it and ponder it daily from now until Thanksgiving Day. While working on the bulletin and message for this coming Sunday, I came across the above picture that contains the saying, “Gratitude, the key to a happy life!” I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Could it really be true? Is gratitude the key to a happy life? Could it be that a grateful life is also a happy life? Think about that.
This coming Sunday we will ponder the apostle Paul’s encouraging words in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 concerning God’s abundant blessings which enable us to share freely with others. We are challenged to sow abundantly so we may reap bountifully. There is great joy in being able to give. There is great meaning in living a generous life.
In Christ’s love, Ernie
We will dedicate our pledges for 2019 on Sunday, November 18th, but Judy McNabo, our pledge clerk is happy to receive your pledge at any time (the sooner, the better)!
This coming All Saints Sunday, November 4th, we will remember loved ones in the St Andrew’s church family who have passed on and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. My brief message will be on the third word that describes what we are about as a congregation – the word “celebrate.” Our scripture is from Luke 15, the familiar story of the Prodigal Son, especially v. 23 “let us eat and celebrate,” and v.32 “we had to celebrate and rejoice.”
Then following our worship service in the sanctuary we will gather in the Celebration Center for a delicious stewardship luncheon during which I will lead us in a discussion of how we hope to live out the mission of St Andrew’s in the coming year. You should have received an invitation and brochure in the mail this week. If not, at pdf is attached and we will have plenty of extras available. Please come! I hope to see all of you there as we seek ways to live into God’s dream for St. Andrew’s.
This Sunday, October 28th, we will gather at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary for prayer and singing a few songs, then we will “rise against hunger” and all go to the Celebration Center to pack 10,000 meals to feed hungry children around the world! This is a wonderful event where we can make a difference in our world.
Then on Sunday, November 4th, following our worship service in the sanctuary we will again gather in the Celebration Center for a delicious stewardship luncheon during which I will lead us in a discussion of how we hope to live out the mission of St Andrew’s in the coming year. You should receive an invitation and brochure in the mail soon. I hope to see all of you there.
The second of the three words we are using to describe what we do at St Andrew’s is SERVE. We serve God by serving others. We respond to God’s love for all by freely sharing it through life enhancing words and actions. As God has blessed and gifted us, both as individuals and as a community, we are called to “pay it forward” through gracious acts of hospitality, compassion and service. Though the way may be hard at times and sometime we may grow weary, yet there is meaning and joy in living this way, for we are participating in God’s great love. We are walking in Christ’s way.
This Sunday we begin a three week sermon series using three simple words to sum up what we do as a congregation. We Seek, Serve, and Celebrate. The adaptive change team and the session agreed that these three words describe well what we are about as a church. In a couple weeks you will receive a brochure for this year’s stewardship campaign which also uses these words to solicit your support. Included with the brochure will be an invitation to the special first annual stewardship luncheon we will be having on Sunday, Nov. 4, after worship. I hope to see you all there. This Sunday our first word is SEEK. In preparation I invite you to read Isaiah 55:6-9, Matthew 7:7-8, and Philippians 3:10-14, and think about what it means to seek, and what it is we are seeking.
The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday when we gather around the Lord’s Table mindful that St Andrew’s is just one small part of a world wide Body of Christ. To express our connection to our brothers and sisters around the world, the worship committee invites you to wear clothing from another part of the world and/or to bring a type of bread enjoyed by another culture for the communion table. In my message, I will lead us to reflect on our newly adopted mission statement, which states our reason for existing: “To receive and share God’s love for all.” So simple, and yet so profound, and challenging to live out. But it is our deepest calling. Think about that.
Carol and I are overjoyed to announce the birth of our grandson, Elijah Carl Alexander Hess, born on my birthday, September 17, at 7:02 a.m. in Fresno, CA. He was 7 lbs 10 oz, 20 inches long at birth. Baby and mother are doing fine. Having our second grandchild led me to ponder once again our Christian calling to welcome and nurture children, not just our own, but all children. In Mark 9:37 and 10:13-16 Jesus shocks his disciples by his welcoming attitude toward children. More than that, he uses children as examples to teach his grown disciples about the life of discipleship. You may not realize what a shocking and totally unexpected thing this was in the ancient world. What is it about children that makes them exemplars for how to enter the Kingdom of God? How can we welcome all children in Jesus’ name? Let’s think about this together this Sunday.
My wife Carol and I are currently on standby alert, awaiting with eager expectation the birth of our first grandson. With the support of the worship and personnel committees I have arranged to take the next few Sundays off to enable us to be there to offer encouragement and support to my son Nate and his wife Elaine in Clovis after Eli is born. Various members of St Andrew’s have stepped up and volunteered to give the message on the Sundays I am away. This coming Sunday, elder Warren TenBrook will give a message titled “Following Paths, Breaking Barriers.” His scripture texts are 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 11-13 and Romans 14:1-20.
Please pray for a successful labor and healthy birth.