From the Pastor’s Pen
from Pastor Kevin White
November 27, 2019
As I write this article, the “Harvest Home" Thanksgiving dinner here at KCC is in our
rear-view mirror. I’m grateful for everyone who made it special! I just finished speaking at the Watkins Care Center Chapel Service on the celebration of Thanksgiving--it’s that time of year again! Pumpkins are put away, Christmas décor is beginning to fill the stores, and there’s one more big Holiday to celebrate before Black Friday and the Christmas jingles hit the airwaves – Thanksgiving.
As Christians we know, we are supposed to “give thanks is all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “give thanks to God for everything” (Ephesians 5:20), but I have a sneaky suspicion that many of us are not celebrating this holiday season like we want to be celebrating
. During the past year, either we—or our friends—have suffered loss of some kind. It may be the loss of a family member, the loss of our health, the loss of a job, or any number of other losses that have caused us to experience the grief of pain and loss. Life is hard, draining at times, and pain does not take a break when the holidays get here. Sometimes pain is more exposed around the holidays. Sometimes the holidays can expose our longings and laments and it makes it difficult to know how to celebrate with a troubled heart.
I remember the loss of our oldest son thirty years ago! Timothy Jon White was born January 15, 1983 and died from a rare form of cancer on May 9, 1989. One of the ways that God provided for Bonnie and me to deal with the overwhelming grief was a grief support group called, “Growing Through Loss.” It was hosted by an area local church every other week. One of the more memorable sessions was in early November called, “Holiday Heartaches.” The speaker from “Compassionate Friends” spoke truth to our hearts about the “empty chair” we would experience during the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas would be different, he said, and he addressed the need to think about your traditions. Prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to cope with the pain of grief and loss this holiday season.
As you may or may not know, Dingman’s funeral home will host a “Holiday Remembrance Program” at their Annandale location on Sunday, December 1, at 3:00 PM. This is a very meaningful service to help provide a way for people who have lost a loved one during the past year to do some "Grief Work” as they remember their loved one. (I have been asked again to come and speak about “Holiday Heartache’s and the 'Empty Chair.'”)
So, how can we “give thanks” when we don’t feel very thankful? We must remember what God has done! As we study scripture, we can see a God who invites us to remember. We are to remember the things God has done for us in the past! We hold on to these in the present and into our future, especially when our circumstances make it difficult to remember the goodness of God. God knows the highs and lows that hit our life, and so He invites us to remember His faithfulness throughout the ages.
Remembering the goodness of God in the past, will help us in seasons where it’s harder to see Him . “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:11)
We can also remind God of His promises! This one can feel a little odd! After all, God is all-knowing and doesn’t need us to remind Him of things. And yet, God invites us to remind Him. In the same way a child might say to a parent, “remember what you said… you’d take me to see the movie if I cleaned my room?” God invites us into a reminding-prayer relationship with Him. This type of reminding is not for God’s sake, but usually for ours! It is good for us to remember God’s promises. It is good for us to stay in communication with God when life has not gone the way we expected it to.
This practice of remembering and reminding God are found in both the Old in New Testaments. Jesus even asks us to remember Him as we take communion (1 Corinthians 11:24). One of our key distinctives as a church is partaking of communion every week. We are reminded of God no matter what has gone on during the week, and we are reminded to bring our burdens to Christ and to give our pain and prayers to God.
This practice of “remembrance” can often lead our hearts to thanksgiving for our past, strength for today and hope for our future. While God will never forget or abandon us, at times we will feel forgotten. It’s not that God is distant; it’s just that sometimes He feels distant. It’s not that God is preoccupied; it’s just that our struggles make us feel like we’re facing the world alone. Sometimes we need a little extra reminder around the holidays!
In our Community Group, we recently completed a study on Ezra and Nehemiah. Nehemiah remembered God: “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.” (Nehemiah 4:14).And, Nehemiah reminded God: “Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.” (Nehemiah 5:19)
Remembering and reminding are tools of our faith that we can apply to each and every season of life! Know that when life is painful, it will not always stay that way. Let’s remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past and have hope that we will again see it in the future.
I hope you will plan to join us this advent season as we consider the theme: “What’s in a Name?” We will use Isaiah 9:6 as our overarching theme: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The series will culminate with our 5:00pm Christmas Eve Worship Service where we will focus on the birth of Jesus Christ: “…And His name shall be called Jesus.” (Luke 1:31)
December 1 “Wonderful Counselor”
December 8 “Mighty God”
December 15 “Everlasting Father” (includes the Children's SS Christmas Program)
December 22 “Prince of Peace”
December 24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion @ 5:00 PM.
Praying that you will have a blessed Christmas season, as we give praise and worship to our Savior and King!