Happy Thanksgiving, FCC! I am deeply thankful for you, for your love for God and one another. I am grateful to be one of your pastors, and thankful that my family belongs to FCC. Rich blessings on your celebrations tomorrow.
What do you have that you did not receive?
1 Corinthians 4.7
I know a man who has lived with an inoperable and incurable cancer. When first diagnosed, he was given months to live. By God's grace, he has lived years. Today he is on hospice and is slowly getting weaker. No one but God knows how long he has left. It could be days, weeks or months, but I think he has run out of years.
Over the years, we have met periodically to share our stories, encourage one another, wrestle with problems and frustrations, joke with each other, and challenge each other. From the beginning of our relationship, he has repeatedly articulated to me an important phrase: "I am so blessed, Timmy, so blessed." Though my friend has endured frustrations, chronic pain, disappointments and a sick body, he has lived with a deep sense of gratitude because he knows his life is a gift.
One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving Day is that we have an annual reminder of God's unending grace. Everything we have is a gift. All that we enjoy, every beat of our hearts, every morsel of food, every breath we inhale, every person we encounter—everything is a gift from God. He is not obligated to give us what we have, but does it out of a generous and gracious heart.
May God grant us the humility and the faith to see that all we have, we have received. And may this sense of God's grace toward us give us a deep thanksgiving to God, who is the giver of all good things.
This Sunday, we begin our Advent Series called, Joy: Glory of the Unseen God. I am both excited and intimidated by this series. I am excited, because I am learning much about the human heart, my heart, and the God of Joy. I hope to experience increasing joy with you all as we go through this series together. But I am also intimidated by this topic. I am intimidated because our hearts our complex, and because we tend to focus on pleasure and passing happiness, rather than search out Joy. I know this series won't do justice to the topic of joy, and honestly, I haven't entered into this series feeling much joy. But I am hungry to learn and to share what I am learning.
I highly recommend you invite friends and neighbors to this series. We will be seeking out what joy is, how we cultivate it in our lives, how to sustain it in difficulty, and answering why joy is essential for life. From what I can tell, joy is a shy experience. We can't force ourselves to have joy, and once we take notice of the experience of joy in our hearts, joy vanishes. So, though we will focus on joy in this series, the way to cultivate joy is not so much to focus on joy, but on other important attributes. If we are to have joy, then we must have hope. So this Sunday we will begin our series by learning about “Hopeful Joy” from a great Christmas text, Isaiah 9.1-7.
We have two books for Advent available to purchase for $10 each in the resource area near the cafe:
Thank you, Faith Community, for praying as the elders and I have been working through the budget process this fall. Please pick up a copy of the 2018 budget proposal to see what’s planned for next year.
HEART FOR THE VALLEY is a student-led service event that seeks to provide a Christmas meal for those in need during the holidays, as well as giving extra food to stock their cupboards. Students will be packing and delivering meals on Wednesday, December 20. A $60 donation will provide a meal and additional pantry items for one family. Please DONATE online at fcchudson.com/hftv before November 30th! Thank you!