Advent is Here!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Today is the start of the Christian season of Advent, officially the Christian New Year.  Advent simply means “coming” and refers to the 4-week period prior to Christmas.  During Advent we prepare for the coming of Jesus the Christ into our world, first as the baby of Bethlehem - the veiled Messiah - and then his second coming as the clearly visible Lord of heaven and earth.

The coming of Jesus is the clearest expression of the mission of God.  The coming of Jesus was God’s rescue plan to restore his kingdom, his rule and leadership on earth, which Adam and Eve rejected by their distrust and disobedience.  Every person, ever since, has continued to do the same.

Through first calling the people of Israel to live out his rule, God’s rescue plan was fulfilled in the coming of God incarnate – Jesus of Nazareth - God who became one of us!  God shared our human life in his only son Jesus the Christ, who embodied and expressed God’s mission.  This is the ultimate evidence of how much God loves us and wants to live in relationship with us.

And God calls us to continue his mission - to embody and express his leadership in our world, to show his love to those who don’t yet know him, to work for peace and justice and right living, to care for God’s creation, to share the good news of Jesus’ rescue plan.

One immediate way to do this is through our annual Christmas Appeal.

In the midst of our Christmas giving and receiving, our elders invite you to give a Christmas gift to aid God’s mission.  This year our elders decided to support the Beit Immanuel Congregation in Tel Aviv Israel and the 2014 Bicentenary of the Gospel Hope Project in NZ.  See the enclosed Christmas Appeal Flyer.

We encourage you to give a significant cash gift – something like you spend on a gift for one you love.  Please talk about it as a family.  This could be the most significant Christmas gift that you give this year.  Please return your gift to St Albans in the enclosed envelope.

Last year we gave $6,000 to the Christmas Appeal - can we do that again this Christmas?  Please reflect upon how thankful you are that Jesus came into our world and into your life – and how much you want others to know the love and hope that Jesus brings.

A New Youth Pastor:  We have advertised on the YouthTRAIN and national Presbyterian Church websites for a youth pastor with a closing date of December 13th.  After discussions with Jeff and the youth leaders, we have also asked Alison Angel and Ian Barnes to work for 10 hours per week each, alongside our Youth Intern Jasmin Vanderwerff, until we appoint a new youth pastor.  Jasmin will begin a Bachelor of Ministries Youth Internship with Presbyterian Youth Ministries and Laidlaw College next year.  This will involve 30 hours per week study by distance and ten hours per week youth ministry.  St Albans will pay her Internship training expenses of $6,500 per year.