From the Pastor… January 2022
Another year has come and gone. Seems like when I was younger, I wanted time to fly by so that I could be old enough to drive…or vote…or drink. But the older I get; the more precious time has become to me, and I really wish that things would slow down. Yet here we are again ringing in another New Year. And if you are like 41% of the population, you will be setting goals for this coming year and calling them New Years resolutions.
Every year I am guilty of setting huge goals at the beginning of the year, but lately I have recognized that the goals I am setting do not match my true priorities in life. What I mean is — If growing in faith is truly my #1 priority in life, shouldn’t it top my list of New Year’s resolutions too?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight or lowering the amount of debt we have. A goal of increasing church attendance is wonderful…but what about my personal faith? What about YOUR faith?
So, in addition to setting a goal to drop those holiday pounds – here are some ideas to consider making your New Years resolution to gain some spiritual muscle.
- Read your Bible 20 minutes a day…EVERY DAY.
Reading the Bible consistently may not sound like a very glamorous or interesting New Year’s Resolution at first but let me tell you — it really does make a difference!
- Go to church every week…without fail.
Is going to church really necessary? I think it really is. And New Year’s is the perfect time to get back in the habit if it’s been a while. (Or if you’ve fallen into the bad habit of skipping sometimes on days when you don’t “feel like it.”)
- Set aside 10 minutes each day to pray.
Carving out 10 minutes of quiet time in prayer doesn’t have to be difficult.
For example, you could:
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier
- Pray in the shower
- Pray during your morning or evening commute
- Pray on your lunch break
- Pray while making dinner
- Pray before you go to sleep every night
The possibilities are endless!
- Join a Bible study or small group
Our church currently offers a women’s small group and a mixed Bible Study on Sunday mornings at 9am before service starts. Not only is this a great way to dig into the Bible for greater insights, but you can find some great community and accountability this way as well, which are also super important.
- Ask/Invite a friend to church
Do you have any friends, family or co-workers that don’t attend a church? Maybe this year is the year you finally get brave enough to invite them to church with you. The worst they can say is no, right?
- Begin volunteering
Have a little extra time on your hands right now? Why not try volunteering? Not sure where to start? Try one of the following…
- Resale Shop
- Food Pantry
- Children’s Backpack Ministry
- Serve on a church committee
- Forgive past grudges
The Bible makes it abundantly clear — if you are a Christian, you are expected to forgive those who have hurt you. Note: This doesn’t mean what they did is okay or that you need to allow them the ability to do it again, but you do need to get rid of any grudges or unforgiveness you may be harboring in your heart.
- Break an addiction
Do you have any addictions in your life right now? It doesn’t have to be a drug addiction or drinking problem. It could be something as seemingly small as being too attached to your phone, too attached to cookies for comfort, or too attached to social media.
Galatians 5:1 tells us “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
What do you need freedom from today?
- Find a mentor or accountability partner
It’s one thing to say you’re going to make a change in your life — it’s another to find someone to keep you accountable to actually make that change. If you’re feeling stuck — or just serious about changing — find a mentor or accountability partner to help hold you accountable.
- Do random acts of kindness
This is a fun one — and it’s actually really easy to do if you’re willing to get creative! Choose a set number to do every week or month, and get your family involved if you can. It will be well worth it!
Whatever goals you set or resolutions you plan, I pray that this New Year will bring good things – happiness, health, joy, and love. And don’t forget that God loves you…and I love you…and there is nothing you can do about it.
Can you believe it is December already? The season of Advent is in full swing – the church is decorated – and there is still a bit of shock that Christmas will be here soon. Sure, the world has been giving Christmas hints for months now, but it still seems to surprise us every year.
The fine people that make up our church have been invited to participate in the worship services by reading and lighting the Advent candles. Often time, we don’t understand the “why’s” of what we do, so here is some information about Advent and the Advent wreath.
The word advent, from Latin, means “the coming.” For centuries, Advent has been a time of spiritual reflection as well as cheer and anticipation. Even as the Christmas season has become more secular-with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more-Advent still brings joy and the observance of ancient customs. Christian families find quiet moments at home and in church, lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and children can use Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.
Advent has probably been observed since the fourth century. Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism.
During the Middle Ages, Advent became associated with preparation for the Second Coming. In early days Advent lasted from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting.
Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life. The candlelight gave comfort at this darkest time of the year, as people looked forward to the longer days of spring.
An advent wreath traditionally contains four candles-three purple and one rose. Purple dyes were so rare and costly that they were associated with royalty; the Roman Catholic Church has long used this color around Christmas and Easter to honor Jesus. The three purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, peace, and love. These candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The rose candle, which symbolizes joy, is usually lit on the third Sunday.
Sometimes a fifth candle is placed inside the Advent wreath. This candle is lit on Christmas Day. It is white, the color associated with angels and the birth of Jesus.
Because Advent wreaths are an informal celebration, not all are the same. Instead of purple candles, some people use blue, which recalls the color of the night sky before daylight returns. Others use all white candles.
Thank you all so much for your support and faithfulness to your church over the past year. I know it hasn’t been easy. May your Christmas be blessed and full of love and laughter.
Remember – God loves you, and I love you – and there is nothing you can do about it.
Hope – Peace – Love – Joy
Pastor Toby Guill