We continue to thank God for the faithful presence of his church in Zimbabwe and the continued missionary efforts of Pastor Thomas Hodzi. Download his most recent newsletter to better understand how we can continue to pray and support them.
As you are well aware, the Christmas season is now upon us. In writing that, I recognize that this can mean different things to different people. Some of us come from homes where traditions run strong and the Christmas season is full of meaningful and vibrant celebration. For others, this season has its share of difficulties marked by a genuine attempt to keep Jesus at the center. Regardless of your household's particular approach, or the changes this past year has brought, there is one hope and expectation that unites all Christians everywhere - the joyful proclamation that Christ has come and the anticipation of his return.
For nearly two-thousand years, Christians have set aside the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve to celebrate Advent. It is an intentional time of reflecting and meditating on the storyline of God’s redemptive plan and his promises to save and restore. While there is no biblical command to observe Advent, it has become a tradition within the church, helping to serve as an intentional time of preparation for Christmas. There are certain practices feed our faith, fill us with hope, and cause us to rejoice in God and Advent is one of those traditions.
Advent should renew in us the hopeful expectation for the saving and renewing work that God is doing. This includes Jesus’ 1st coming that we celebrate through his humble arrival in a manger. It also includes his sacrificial death upon a cross and his resurrection from death. Advent also takes into consideration Jesus’ 2nd coming in which he will return to establish his kingdom on earth, ruling as King of his creation.
My goal in these next four weeks is that our church would be renewed in our faith and filled with joyful expectation and hope in our God, centered upon the wonderful good news that "Christ has come!" Over the following 4 Sundays, we will be spending time in the book of 1 John as we consider the various reasons John gives as to why Christ has come (see the preaching schedule below).
Would you join with me in praying that God would be particularly gracious to our church, that as we intentionally pause to consider the coming of Christ, we would find our own lives filled with faith, hope, and love? Additionally, if there is a friend or neighbor you have been praying for and talking with about your own hope in the gospel, why not invite them to attend a Sunday service with you?
Above all, I consider it a joy to serve as your pastor as we seek Christ together.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Pastor Thomas Hodzi is a missionary we currently support who is serving in Zimbabwe, Africa. Please download and read through the most recent newsletter which provides family and ministry updates, prayer requests and a bit of a snapshot of life in Zimbabwe.
Church, as hard as may seem to believe, in just a few short weeks, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. I don't know about you, but I am glad we live in a country that has made it a habit of setting aside one day a year, dedicated to giving thanks. As Christians, we have more reason than any to give thanks, and as your pastor, I have great reason to do so! In reading through Paul's second letter to Timothy I was reminded of this, and it sums up much of what I want to say to you in this monthly letter:
2 Timothy 1:3 (ESV) — I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
I Thank God For You
Firstly, I want you to know that I thank God for you. I thank God for the way in which your faith, hope, and love serve as an encouragement to me as I see God faithfully working in our church. I thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit within your lives, forming a deeper love for the Scriptures and one another. I thank God for your presence and gifting which he himself has arranged within Redeemer as he has chosen.
I Am Praying For You
Second, I want you to know that I am praying for you. One of the advantages of pastoring a smaller church is that it makes it easier for my prayers for the church to be personal rather than general. Praying through our membership list and calling to mind those that regularly attend, is not list of vague requests, but calling to mind specific faces. Within this, I want you to know I am praying that your faith in Christ would continue to grow stronger, that you would bear fruit, and that this fruit would glorify God. I pray continually that Jesus would become more and more glorious to you and that the wonder of the gospel of grace would raise your affections for Christ. I pray that you would be kept by Jesus' power from the evil one, who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Above all, I pray that God would be glorified in and through you.
Let Us Give Thanks Together
Therefore, I write to you, asking you to join with me in giving thanks. Call to mind the various ways God is showing himself faithful in the midst of your unfaithfulness. Give thanks for his mercy that is great than your sin. Give him thanks for his provision of daily bread as well as eternal life. Join with me in giving thanks for his faithfulness to Redeemer Church and the gospel witness within the churches within our community. Give him thanks for his incredible kindness shown to us in Jesus Christ.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,