This past Victoria Day weekend, was the first holiday weekend since family day in February. The weather was decent and people were out and about celebrating with fireworks. It is so wonderful to be home with family and friends and take the time to relax and catch up with one another and do some around the house chores.
The long weekend is like the gateway to summer. The hot weather we are experiencing lately has made us a little uncomfortable, but also excited about the upcoming holidays where most people have a chance to slow down and take time to celebrate life.
When you come to think of it, life is beautiful. Life is a gift for which we give our God thanks. In a recent worship service we talked about how in fact, everything we have in life is a gift. Certainly, we can fill up a page with everything which is not so good in life (we too often go there first - bad habit). On the other hand, when we focus on the goodness and ponder the absolute miracle of life, our tendency is to respond with gratitude to our loving God.. Then in spite of the challenges and storms in life, we can rest in the joy of the one who provides and will continue to provide good things in life and for eternity.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (New International Version)." James 1: 17
We are in Easter tide - the time period between the resurrection (when Jesus rose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday) and Pentecost (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit). During this period, we celebrate the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the resurrection, we know that Jesus in his deep love, defeated death and any evil that leads to death. The joy of that victory is experienced when we personally receive this gift of Christ's victory and give thanks each day for his amazing love.
What is joy? Is joy just a happy response to good times and fun? The joy of the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated on Easter Sunday, and we certainly feel that joy on Easter weekend! However, Jesus wants that joy to be with us at all times-- even in times of pain and hardship. For the follower of Jesus, joy is not just a fleeting response to good experiences and accomplishments. With the power of the Holy Spirit, Joy is something that we cultivate and nurture together through the joy of worship, in meeting together, and through helping and encouraging others. Jesus laid the foundation for human joy at Easter. Lets build on it together into Easter tide and throughout the year!
The Joy of the Lord is our Strength! Blessings. Pastor Ed
What will the year bring? With that question comes excitement about the new opportunities before us as we start the new year. At the same time we too often tend to look at the challenges and worries we carry over from the previous year (in this case 2017) and wonder if they will ever go away or even get worse.At times like this, we remember the words of our Lord Jesus as recorded in the Bible in the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verse 31 and following:
31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
In other words,I believe Jesus is saying here thatSeeking God's Kingdom and God's righteousness (following the way of our loving God and doing the right thing) will not only distract us away from our worries, but the things we worry about will no longer matter or matter much less. Immediately after Jesus gives the instruction to 'seek God's Kingdom and God's righteousness', he says, 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Jesus is saying in effect to take life a day at a time and you will be able to handle it.
In 2018, let us pray for one another and help each other focus on the possibilities and the opportunities the Holy Spirit is prompting us to see. Let us rest in Jesus who encourages us to cast our burdens on him, so that we can be free to rest in him with each new day.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
This year my family and I already have it done before the 23rd of December! We have purchased our Christmas tree! Usually we wait until everyone is home for the Christmas break (around the 23rd), we go out amid the frantic traffic and sometimes snowy weather and try to find a lot that still has some Christmas trees. We finally find a tree and quickly get it home to decorate it while other preparations still need to be done and time is running out.
This year we decided to change ‘our tradition’ from a frantic ‘let’s get it done’ approach to a more relaxed approach where we have lots of time to choose the tree, and create a special time where we could trim the trunk and branches where necessary, decorate it and share the memories of years past. I have to say that I ‘pushed back’ a little to the change, but when we were doing it, I was convinced that this change was good. It was relaxed - not stressful. I was better able to reflect on the experience and reflect on the gift of the Christ child to the world. My experience was that thanksgiving replaced anxiety.
We too often hear that people are stressed out at Christmas because of all the busyness, the expectations of others, and the focus on consumerism. Jesus, on the other hand, came to bring peace to the world and to our everyday lives. This advent/Christmas season consider making changes to decrease the anxiety and increase your thanks for the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ your Saviour. You will notice the difference.