“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing” is the beginning of the first verse of that great Thanksgiving hymn of old, “We Gather Together.” November is our month to focus on giving thanks to the faithfulness of our God and it is especially appropriate this year with all that has transpired.
With all the negativity in our news and social media, I hope that we can have a month of refreshing focus on being filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for despite COVID-19, the Derecho, ethnic unrest, the weeks leading up the election and the people in our church who are suffering with different illnesses and the Corona virus. As I have been saying on numerous occasions, the Bible says that faith overcomes our fears. While we live in uncertain times, we know who our God is, who we are in Christ and our hope is in heaven while we are citizens here on earth. We continue to be salt and light to an ever-darkening world that so desperately needs Jesus.
It is with that backdrop that we come to November 1st and have one person, each week, from our church family share their story of thankfulness to God. While the holidays will be very different and glossed over by the secular media and society due to the pandemic, we as believers need to gather and share our praises with one another in community. God desires as much as we can to meet in person. So, for those who are healthy and willing to come in person to a service, we will celebrate God’s goodness on Sunday – November 22nd at 6:00 pm with a praise service full of music and testimonies from God’s people. We will enjoy pie, ice cream, coffee and socially distanced fellowship after the service. This service along with all of our Sunday worship services will be streamed online for those who need to stay home but can participate in this way.
Austin Fink and I have been working on our plans for Christmas at PVBC. We hope the season will be special. Our Christmas season last year was marred by a week of unrest leading to a protest in early December that left us hurting as a church family through the rest of the Christmas season. Despite the pandemic this year, we are planning to make this Christmas season a time of deep reflection as we unfold the Christmas story from God’s Word. The sermon times will look at the Christmas story from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, the Angels and the Wise Men. We will focus on Jesus being the Light of the World who has come to earth on Christmas Eve. I am looking forward to great special music, possibly a skit and our times around the Advent wreath each Sunday in December. It is a time for our church family to focus on traditions and our families during this time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior – Jesus Christ.
I have been praying through the month of October and planning with Austin that our time together in November and December will be a deeper and more intimate focus on our Heavenly Father and our relationship with Him as we avoid the distractions of this world going on all around us.
On November 1st, we will take time in our service to pray for the persecuted believers living in harm’s way around the world. We encourage everyone to stop by the Operation Christmas Child table in the lobby to pick up boxes to fill for needy kids around the world. Our goal is 100 boxes this year. The deadline to bring them to the church is November 15th.
We will have a special Christmas Night of Worship on December 6th at 6 pm. with people bringing Christmas cookies and enjoying coffee and hot chocolate after we share songs of Christmas together with Austin Fink and the worship team.
Our holiday celebration will culminate with our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 pm on December 24th, 2020. That is a precious time for our church family to gather and for many begin their family Christmas celebrations together. It is probably my favorite service of the year next to our Thanksgiving Praise service.
I hope that through all that is going on, you will keep the main thing the main thing through November as we develop an attitude of gratitude and through the Advent season as we move away from the commercialization of the season and return to the beauty and simplicity of all that Christmas means to us as Christ followers.
Here is hoping that you and your family will have a Blessed Thanksgiving and a Christ Honoring Christmas as we finish out the year of 2020. I am faithfully,
Yours and His, Pastor Ed Hedding