Advent Sunday! Happy New Year!
Written by Fr. Joshua Ajayi - St. Anselm Anglican - Lakewood, OH
Today is Advent Sunday, the beginning of the Christian year or Calendar. It is not out of place as Christians to wish one another happy new year today.
The season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading to Christmas. It is a solemn season and as such Gloria in excelsis may be omitted during Holy Eucharist.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Advent has come to Mark the coming of Jesus first as a child born in a manger and his second coming as the judge. The entire World awaits the coming of Jesus not as a Messiah again but the harvester of the world.
This Year 2021 has been very challenging globally with the adverse effects of the strange pandemic that has thus killed millions of people and stirred acidic hunger. This calls for sober reflection and total submission to God as the controller of the Universe. Prayer of mercy upon the Nations of the World is most crucial to heal and restore.
Going forward therefore, it is expedient for us to re-examine ourselves whether we are still in the faith or already drifted. At the coming of Jesus every secret thing shall come into light. Let us therefore prepare through sincere repentance of our sins and readiness to practice holiness in words, thoughts and deeds.
Remember, your position and title in the Church and in the Nation cannot save you, only sincere obedience to God and His words.
The Church must therefore grow above deadly politics of chasing away the Holy Ghost and ruling with human wisdom. The Church must preach Christ and not self. Those who carry the sword of authority must be just and labour hard to unite the Church with special attention to the prayer of Jesus “that they may all be one” (John 17:21)
The collect of today admonishes us to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. It is an expected time of a new beginning for the Church and the Nation. Let us therefore lay a new foundation of holiness, love, peace and unity.
Let me leave you with this rhetorical question. Will you be ready when Jesus shall come?
Happy New Year!
Happy new month in advance!
Faith, Hope, Love
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before; (Ref. Jer. 31:33-34) “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then he adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” (Heb. 10: 15-18)
In chapter 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author explains to these who have for centuries lived under the law of Moses, believing that by keeping this law, they would be saved. They also knew that in the weakness of men, there would be failures. No one could keep all facets of the law, therefore it was necessary to make regular sacrifices, an offering of the blood of an animal, to free them from the consequence of their sin.
So here, In Hebrews 10, we are reminded of the prophetic word from Jeremiah and are told how Jesus solved their problem. “No longer,” they are told, “will you need to make these animal sacrifices, for One who is greater than any other on earth, Jesus the Son of God, has given of himself to be sacrificed for us. He has taken away our sin, once and for all.”
Now, it is important that we understand, the words, “I will remember no more,” does not mean to forget, but that the Lord has chosen not to hold the sin against us any longer. It also does not mean that our sin will be freed from all earthly consequences. There are civil laws which may deal out punishment and there are relationships which will need to be reconciled. But it is a salvation issue; as God has forgiven our sin, He has chosen not to count them against us in the day of judgment.
Following this word, the author of Hebrews explains the necessity that we hold firm to what he refers to as “The Confession of our Hope.” (verse 23) Just what does this mean? In Hebrews 10:19-25 the author marries together the three great virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.” (The Day refers to the day of Christ’s return)
Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 12:9) it is the means and power by which we have hope in His promises. Hope, being the outgrowth of faith, cements our love for God and through Him, our love for one another. “And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Faith enables us to come to God, but love teaches us and enables us to imitate Christ. This fulfills our purpose as children of God, established from the beginning, having been made in His image. God is love; therefore, being in His image requires that we love Him and all he has created.
Our culture has fallen far short in this commandment of love. Evidence of our culture demonstrates that we have directed our love toward ourselves and for the idols of material possessions. None of this is ordained by God and can have no other outcome but estrangement from Him. So, with the assuredness that the day of His return is closer today than it was yesterday, hear this final word from Hebrews 10, verses 35-39:
“Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has so great a reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
“For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him,” (ref. Luke 18:8, Hab, 2:3-4, Rom 1:17)
“But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
Written by Cameron Miller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artist - Natalie K. Ziemba
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalm 91:7 (NIV)
Nearly ten years ago, I left Fort Wayne, Indiana and headed to Flagstaff, Arizona. I felt like God was telling me it would be my time of wandering in the wilderness, and that turned out to be true. My fiancée moved to live near me and we got married, but still we were stuck in a place neither of us wanted to live. We tried for the longest time to find our way back, but every plan we made fell apart. I was mad at myself for not being able to figure out a strategy to make this all work. I was mad at my wife for things not working on her end. But mostly, I was mad at God for not moving in the way I thought He should. He was giving us a vision of what the next part of our life was going to be like, and it was something that couldn’t be accomplished where we were at. He’d have to move in our lives to get things done. And yet it didn’t look like He was.
Then, one day, my mother-in-law talked to us about moving back, and something stirred in our spirits. We had no job lined up, no plan, but if God was in it then we were more than ready to go. But was God in it? We didn’t have the money to make the move, we didn’t have jobs lined up or a place to stay, and the workload would put a mountain of stress on us. In faith, we decided to start taking the preliminary steps and see what happened. And what happened was a series of miracles.
We received inheritance money from our grandparents. But we didn’t want to rely on that because we felt God had other plans for it. So we’d need some extra income to stockpile cash before the move. Then I got a job preparing for the 2020 census. This solved our financial worries but introduced a new one: once I started this job, my wife and I would be spending every waking hour either working or watching our son, with no time to rest or spend time together, let alone pack for the trip. About the only way it was going to work out was if God brought the whole world to a stop so we could get stuff done.
And then the pandemic hit.
It should have been a disaster. We should have been overworked, stressed beyond the breaking point, brought to financial ruin, and in a complete mess. Instead, it was one of the best times of our lives. The Census Bureau called to tell me that going door-to-door didn’t make sense in the middle of a pandemic. They would continue to pay me, but I would not be allowed to work. My wife had a large amount of sick time saved up, but she didn’t feel good about pretending to be sick when she wasn’t. However, the library suddenly curtailed operations and said that anyone who wanted to take sick time off to care for family members could do so. So she cut her work week back to eight hours and was still getting a full paycheck. We were in the best financial shape of our lives despite putting in maybe a ten-hour work week between us. While other people had to tighten their belts to make it, we were so overwhelmed by God’s provision that we increased our charitable giving and spent more at local businesses that were suffering. All the while we were able to make preparations for moving at our leisure.
My dad had passed away, and my mom was looking to live closer to family. When she heard we were considering moving, she travelled to Fort Wayne to get a feel for the real estate market. She ended up buying a house before we had even made our final decision to move, and she was living there before we arrived. Meanwhile, my in-laws invited us to stay at their house for a few months so we could look for jobs and a house.
Even still, in the middle of a pandemic, where people’s lives were being torn apart, it could easily have ended in disaster. Instead, God was with us every step of the way. Within a couple months of moving back to Fort Wayne, we had deeper and stronger relationships than we ever had in Flagstaff. There were still a few hiccups. The job search took longer than we expected. And searching for a house in the middle of the Great Housing Shortage of 2021 was, well, let’s just say I’m glad God brought us a house we love because I never want to repeat that mess. While we were living with my in-laws, my wife and I took them out to eat to celebrate the one-year anniversary of them letting us stay at their house for three months. But in the end, we went through the storm of moving without jobs in the middle of a pandemic and God carried us through by His miraculous grace.
God revealed to me with utmost clarity that He truly is who He said He is in the Bible. I’d like to say I’ve fully learned that, but I still struggle. I still have challenges I’ve yet to overcome and dreams that I’m still waiting on God to fulfill. So I keep coming back to this story, reminding myself that God has a plan for everything I will ever encounter, and He will carry me through. He’s already proved it; I just have to keep believing it.
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