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.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Autumn is a wonderful season of the year. We have enjoyed such beautiful warm weather this fall. Some of us had made it to the beach in October! It is so relaxing and a joyful experience to be outdoors with one another. As you walk outside, you could say that you are in God’s cathedral. The beautiful trees, the fall colours, the smells - all add to the worship experience we have in God’s wonderful creation. When my wife Jackie and I go walking along the road, or riding our bikes through the trails in London, we comment on the beauty of the trees; the smells; the sun pouring in and the wonderful shadows it causes in the latter part of the day. You may be carrying heavy burdens and feel down and become easily distracted away from the beauty all around you. At times like this, we need someone to share the beauty with us about God’s creation! Though we may not feel like praising, a conversation about the gift of God’s creation, temporarily puts our minds off of the things that are bothering us (if only for a short while) and on to God the creator who also loves you so much that he sent Jesus to show you the way to live and to be your Saviour! Let’s make it a habit to talk with one another about the joy we experience in God and in God’s awesome Creation. What did you see today in God’s beautiful Cathedral?
We welcome you to Oakridge Presbyterian Church! We are a warm, welcoming congregation. If you are searching for a church home, you are encouraged to come and worship with us and become part of our church family. We are engaged in various ministries in and outside of the congregation. Please feel free to call or email if you have any questions or comments. God Bless you.