Hope is Found in Christ Alone

December 1, 2021

Leadership Notes


How was your Thanksgiving? I love everything about Thanksgiving week/weekend. We start cooking on Wednesday. The turkey is in the brining bucket. Things that can be made a day in advance are in the fridge waiting to be warmed on Thursday. This cuts down on the hectic nature of the actual day. On Thursday, the bird is in the oven {500° for 30 minutes, then 325 till done}, the stuffing is in the slow cooker, the table is set, and then it's relax until around 5:00, when we eat. It's a beautiful day with those you love.


This year, Lori and I went shopping on Friday. It was delightful. Crowds were manageable, supply chain issues had not affected what we wanted to buy, and California Pizza Kitchen for lunch was a nice break from the feasting a day earlier. It was leftover city on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This is such a joyful holiday.


Now, don't misunderstand. I know that circumstances can be rough for people almost any time of the year. Hardship doesn't take time off for holidays. I've experienced that in my own family. I'm sure most of us have seen challenging times during the holidays. But the joy is always there. Because the joy is rooted in hope. And hope is found in Christ and Christ alone. No matter what we experience or go through in life, we know that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin and he was resurrected to show us God's plan for our eternal lives. As 1 Peter 1:3-4 reminds us, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." At Thanksgiving we celebrate what it means to be alive in Christ.


Nothing can get in the way of giving thanks. Nothing…not even a new variant {which I call a "scariant"}. Is it just me, or does it seem that "new variant fear" is wearing thin on many Americans? As I shared in worship on Sunday morning, nothing is going to keep us from worshiping together. Be assured that there is no turning back from where we are as a worshiping community of faith. No turning back…retreat…or compromise.


Regardless of emerging or evolving facts, Covenant Church will continue to move forward - careful, cautious, and unafraid. We will continue to livestream worship. And we will respect decisions people make for themselves and their families.


How does the hope we have in Jesus Christ…rooted in forgiveness and God's gift of eternal life…how does our hope in Christ inform our response to difficulties and challenges of all kinds? Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in Germany during the height of a plague in the early 1600s, was conducting dozens of funerals in a day. In the midst of all that, he wrote the beautiful hymn of thanksgiving, "Now Thank We All Our God." That's the transformational nature of the gospel working in a man's life:


O may this bounteous God

through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts

and blessed peace to cheer us;

And keep us in His grace,

and guide us when perplexed;

And free us from all ills,

in this world and the next!


May we never heed the voices of fear, authoritarianism, conformity, or compliance. As a wise person once said, "When times are bad, God is still good." Now thank we all our God, indeed!


This December, there's no better time to reflect on the five gifts of Christmas:


1. HOPE

2. PEACE

3. JOY

4. LOVE

5. CHRIST


As a community of faith, whether online or in person, we will worship the One and Only God who saves. This is the time to either keep our eyes focused on Jesus, or refocus our eyes on Jesus:


Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his

mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came

together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And

her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to

shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these

things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream,

saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your

wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She

will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save

his people from their sins."


- Matthew 1:18-21


We need nothing more nor nothing less than this promise to live joyfully and fearlessly regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. No turning back…no turning back!


And now your Moment of Spurgeon:


It is no small comfort to know that... we have a high priest who can be

touched with the feelings of our infirmities; that we are not alone treading

a thorny path where his feet have never trodden, but we can plainly see

the blood marks of the feet of the Man of Sorrows.


With Much Love and Affection,

Richard

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