November 22,  2017

A Harvest of Blessings 
by Seve Breazier 
Pender United Church

This is the time of year when every farmer is out standing in his field! Most of the time, he's riding in a combine or a grain truck, but at least for some of the time, he's standing in his field. Harvest is upon us. It is a time to reap what has been sown, and it can't wait! As Jesus said in the gospel of John, the fields are "white for harvest." That means the grain had matured to the point where it needed to be harvested immediately or it would be lost! Jesus wasn't talking about grain of course. He was talking about people who needed to hear the gospel, who were desperate to know about God's saving love and to find entry to the Kingdom of God. There was no time to lose, and Jesus didn't want anyone to be "lost" or any life to go to waste

This is also the time of year when thanksgiving practically forces itself upon us. It's not just the holiday that we celebrate here in the USA, with turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. It's the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for all the blessings of life and for God's faithfulness to the pledge & promise of love we have been given in Christ.  The abundance of the harvest reminds us of the abundance of blessings we enjoy all the time. Beautiful fall days add to our appreciation of all the goodness of God that surrounds us constantly. It would have been so easy for God to make the leaves so that they turned from green to brown, or black, but no, God had to throw in these dramatic displays of yellow, orange,and red, ... just to dazzle us with this amazing touch of beauty! Maybe God did that just to get our attention. I really appreciate it!

This season of Harvest and thanksgiving always stirs something inside me. It helps me remember the ever-flowing river of blessings that comes to us all throughout the year. I'm grateful for the beans and corn, and I'm grateful for much, much more than that. God has been providing for us all along the way! We are gifted with life itself -- the opportunity to live and breathe and experience all the experiences of life. Joys and sorry, companionship and community, challenges and accomplishments, people to know and love, songs to sing and babies to bless -- all we know in life is a gift from God.

I feel like I am doubly blessed. In fact, I think I know the secret to doubling your blessings, day by day! It is a simple matter of learning to pay attention to God's presence and activity in your life and in the world around you. If you don't pay attention to what God is doing, you will still experience an overflowing of multitude of blessings, but you won't know it. Much of the blessing will be lost on you simply because you are not looking for it, and you will miss the full impact of what it could mean to you. However, if you are paying attention to God, and if you make a point of noticing the many ways God is blessing you every day, then you will both be  blessed, and know that you are blessed! Along with God's blessing comes a wave of appreciation, and the blessing of knowing that you are loved by God! It is a simple, but awesome thing, to pray daily for "bread" and to find food on your table, day after day! The food for your body then is also food for your soul, and while you are feeding your body, you are also experiencing the blessing of feeding your heart and feeding your relationship with God. Maybe that's "triple blessed!"

This harvest season, I'm not looking for corn & beans in my field, but I have a million other things to be thankful for. God has planted love in my life, and I am indeed reaping a bountiful harvest of blessings upon blessings. I pray that God blesses you also with a grateful heart!
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Being Thankful, Even When it's Difficult

by  Rev. Gregg Gahan
Craig - Alder  Grove Parish

As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope everyone has had the opportunity to reflect on what we're thankful for. Remember, we as Christians have more to be thankful for that anyone else. We should be thanking God for sending us Jesus to this world. It is because Jesus came to earth that we can rest assured of our daily guidance today, and even better, our eternal home awaiting us in heaven. 

Yet at the same time, it can be difficult to focus on what's really important. In today's culture, it seems as if there's always a reason for someone to criticize someone else. And if there isn't many people will make one up! 

Or what about that time you were unfairly treated by someone you once trusted? ...or the time something unspeakable happened and you realized your life would never be the same? ...or the time you realized you'd never see your loved one again?

In such times, it's easy to get down, but I encourage all of you to show an attitude of thankfulness, grace and love. 

Colossians 3:15-16 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

We should remember that God gives us peace in the midst of a chaotic world. If we truthfully let peace rule in our hearts in spite of whatever circumstances may be weighing us down, we can begin to be thankful in all circumstances -- including those we're not really inclined to be thankful for.

Be thankful for the many blessings that God has given you, for his provision, his protection, and the many second chances he's given all of us on a regular basis.

And in times of difficulty, be thankful that God is still in control, even if it doesn't appear that way. After all, this world isn't our home. Our home is in heaven.

What Are You Putting Out Into The World?

by Rev. Leanne Masters
Southern Heights Presbyterian Church

One of the things that is at the core of the choices that I try to make in my life is the belief that what you put out in to the world is returned to you. If you spew hate and anger, it spreads like a virus into the world, and you end up living in a world of hate and anger. If you expend love and peace, joy and grace in to the world, it multiplies and grows in the hearts and lives around you, and you receive it back in abundance. 

So, when we live our lives in accordance with the way that God calls us and Jesus teaches us, we are living our faith out into the world, proclaiming the Gospel with every fiber of our being, and building the Kingdom of God. It is returned to us in the form of living into the kingdom, and we receive it back in our lives as we become recipients of a world that is being ever formed and shaped into the way that God intends it to be.

This extends not just to our actions, but to how we choose to use the gifts that we are given in this world. If we use our God given gifts for our own personal gain and glory, we may achieve those things in the short term, but what is ultimately returned to us is and emptiness that is devoid of the joy of those God given gifts. 

If, on the other hand, we use the gifts and the blessings that we are given to be a blessing to others, to live out the calling of God and the teachings of Christ, the gifts and blessings of God are returned to us as the flow through us and through others throughout the world.

I not only believe this to be true, but believe that I have experienced this in my own life. The times that I have been fearful and acted in a way that keeps those gifts close to my own self, or used them for my own wants and desires, I find that I have felt empty, unfulfilled and a bit joyless. But the times that I have been willing to acknowledge that those gifts are not my own, but are meant to flow, not out of, but through me, from God into the world, for God's purpose in the world...well those times, I have been fulfilled and filled with Joy, and I find that I am happier with what I receive in return than what I may have chose to do with those gifts for my own self.

I believe this to be true with all of our gifts. Our gifts of Time, Talent, and Treasure are all something that we are given to flow through us into the world to fulfill God's purpose. And as we do so, they flow back into us and then out again in an ever-flowing stream of blessings.

Those gifts and blessings may not return to us in ways that we expect, anticipate, or even hope for, but they come to us in ways that continue to to strengthen us, bless us, and equip us for working towards and living into the Kingdom of God. What a joy that is!

Sisters and Brothers, may you ever experience the flowing of God's blessings in and out of your life, and may it fill you with Joy and Peace.
Keep Thinking...
"We are nothing with all our gifts be they ever so great, except God assist us." -Martin Luther
Blessing Opportunity     ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

The Christmas Joy Offering is one way we can celebrate and honor the gift of Jesus, by faithfully supporting church workers in times of critical need and also the education and development of the future racial ethnic leadership of our church

Donations can be made through your Congregation, the Presbytery office, or online at the link below!

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