GCI Update

Advent

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Why is Advent so important? Because the coming of Jesus is important.

More than 2,000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed a young lady named Mary, Father God’s timing was perfect to send his only begotten Son into the world. The 40+ Old Testament prophecies pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah and the setting of the stage. The messaging had been so well laid out that the jealous King Herod was aware, and even wise men (Magi) from the east came to honor this newborn king.

Unfortunately, most of Israel missed the coming of the Messiah and the significance. They were pre-occupied by their religious traditions, steeped in their works and personal righteousness, and under the heavy-handed rule and occupation of the Romans. Their only perceived need of deliverance was from the tyranny of Rome. They were looking for a warring hero king to raise a sword against Rome, not a rabbi who would challenge them over their religion and willingly subject himself to death on a Roman cross.

We are highly blessed and favored to live on the other side of the cross. We get to see how radical and life-changing the plan of God really is. We get to see how the Messiah wasn’t about conquering armies and nations— he was about conquering sin and death. Instead of raising a sword against the perceived enemy, he went to the cross and died in their place so that they too can have a place in his eternal kingdom. King Jesus is about forgiveness, redemption, and love for all his created children.

Why do we need four weeks of celebration and symbolism leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth? If you are like me, I can get easily distracted and skim through life. The things that really matter, and the things that have substance deserve our full attention and our lingering. As an example, I just returned from my youngest son’s wedding. Instead of this being an afternoon ceremony, making a toast, eating cake, and going home, it was a four-day event with scattered activities from going to the courthouse to get a license, the two merging families having time together, hanging out with the bridal party, an extended rehearsal brunch, an entire day of the groomsmen and bridesmaids being with the bride and groom leading up to the ceremony, to a dinner and dance for the ages. It was more like a wedding feast that we read about in the New Testament. Events worth celebrating warrant the dedication of time, attention and our full undivided presence. Advent, with its emphasis on hope, peace, joy and love all culminating in the person of Jesus is a season to immerse our time, thoughts and energy.

The coming of Jesus is important – in fact, there is nothing more important than Jesus coming into your life and into the life of our church. Let’s not make the mistakes of the Jewish nation some 2,000 years ago and allow the noise, difficulties, and tyranny of the present age to become so loud and real that we miss seeing Jesus. Let’s not miss seeing that he is our hope, peace, and joy and that it is his love that changes everything – redeeming oppressed and oppressor alike.

I invite our Hope Avenue champions and teams to access the preparation materials that are provided through Equipper to make this Advent season an event of events and a celebration where all worshippers who gather with us will know, and know that they know, that Jesus has come!

Celebrating Jesus,
Greg Williams

 

Home Office Staff Work Project

Connie White, Charlotte Rakestraw and Robert Meade tend to the front of the facility.

The Home Office staff took a break from regular duties the morning of Friday, October 15, to keep the facility looking great! Everyone helped for a couple of hours to clean up trash around the property, plant flowers around the entrance, paint handrails along the roadside, trim trees beside the parking lot, and other general clean-up.

The crew at lunch after a satisfying job done.

After the work party, we shared lunch together around the dining table. Thank you to the amazing Home Office staff who collaborated to keep the Home Office beautiful and to save money so more can be used for the gospel!

Mat Morgan, CFO

Fun ‘N Fall in Big Sandy

What a full weekend of fun, fellowship, and worship at Grace Communion! Saturday featured our popular Fun ‘N Fall carnival, part of the Big Sandy Fall Heritage Festival. Families (200-300 people) enjoyed all the wonderful games, train rides and food that afternoon. Especially popular for all ages was the Gellyball arena (like paintball, but cleaner!) Thanks to our Love Avenue Champion Rick Peterson and all his volunteers for the best Fun ‘N Fall ever!

On Sunday, we gathered to thank and praise God in song and through his word. George and Sarah Strub led our song worship. One song was a prayer that we would be God’s instruments of peace, including this verse: “Lord, make us instruments of your peace, Where there is hatred, let your love increase, Lord, make us instruments of your peace, Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease, When we are your instruments of peace.” What a calling!

Our message was given by David Ferguson, “Where You Go I Will Go,” about being the people of God.  The story of Ruth was used to show us that God calls people from all kinds of backgrounds to be his people and to be conduits of his blessing and compassion. Ruth was a foreigner, not a Jew, but she left her culture and her gods to go with her Jewish mother-in-law to Bethlehem.  She told Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). Her devotion to Naomi and the one true God led to her becoming the great-grandmother of David, and an ancestor of Jesus!

God can and will call and use individuals from all backgrounds to accomplish his will. No matter what we have done in the past, we can choose to follow Jesus where he leads. Like Ruth following Naomi, we can follow Jesus to find true life. As Peter said in John 6:68 “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” After services we enjoyed that life together, sharing a potluck meal. Praise God for all his goodness!

By Jerome Ellard
Pastor, Grace Communion Big Sandy

Devotional – In a Moment of Time

Do you ever get flashbacks from your past?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the past. My wife, Averil, was on the Wawa Ontario Facebook page and someone posted a photo of the 1964 grade 1 class at Sir James Dunn elementary school.

Apparently, someone found it in a shed and posted it on Facebook to see if anyone could identify the students in the photo. I instantly recognized many in the photo as I was one of those students (third row from the bottom, third person from the left).

Talk about a flashback!

As more and more Facebook users look at that photo, more people are being identified and if the person has their own Facebook page, it is interesting to see where they ended up now that they are in their 60s.

Looking at that photo is like seeing those 6-year-olds frozen in time.

But time goes on, doesn’t it? It never stays still.

I was reminded of this fact when I read this passage from Hebrews:

“Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever” (Hebrews 7:23-24).

While the high priests of Jewish fame could not continue to represent the people because they were trapped in time and own their mortality, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is able to make intercession for us for all time.

As one who depends on him, I find encouragement from this truth, especially when time is such an enemy in our lives.

Prayer: Jesus, give us a glimpse of your reality and give us an ability to rejoice that you are Lord even of time. 

 

 

By Bill Hall
National Director, GCI Canada