As I wrote this article on Thursday I was apprehensive and optimistic, more optimistic than apprehensive, for our fourth Christmas outreach which concluded last night. Here is a little insight into our long range planning and how I, as your Pastor, balance goals with the capabilities of our fellowship. Our long-term plan was to have four “Christmas Café” outreaches and then on the fifth year do something a little more low-key. Then we would re-evaluate how to sequence our yearly Christmas outreaches moving forward. Janet and I understand the “Christmas Café” is a large undertaking for a smaller congregation but we believe in our church members’ abilities and availability; most of all we believe God helps us when we step out in faith to reach out to our community. So I am optimistically saying our Hawthorne Family Christmas yesterday was a blessing and success! Not knowing how many people will attend and reminding all of us that success should not be measured only by the number of people in the chairs. More importantly is the number of lives which are impacted by our gathering and that should always be our number one goal. Especially with a focus theme of “Gather,” we should want to celebrate with those who choose to be part of our circle of love. For those who were not able to attend last night, we gathered around the Christmas tree, we gathered around the fireplace, we gathered around the table, we gathered around the piano, and we gathered around the manger.
As we continue to share on the theme of “gather” over the month of December different subjects will be discussed as it relates to gathering. When I think of those who gather (from an eternal perspective) there should be a sacredness when we gather; we are entering into the presence of God corporately. I also see how we solve problems when we gather. When God came near to us (Jesus) it solved a huge problem! Part of our spiritual journey is to be the answer to someone else’s situation. I am honestly thinking about a new theme-saying for 2019, here it is……“Solve the Problem!” Nobody likes a complainer and many of us spend more time talking about the problem than solving it! If God is for us, who can be against us? Another significant aspect of gathering is the opportunity to share. This means we gather and find encouragement from one another. We are also signifying to the world the importance of the body of Christ coming together on a regular basis. Even a simple gathering to share a meal is very important. A couple more thoughts, as we gather we are strengthened; it helps sustain us through the journey of life. Lastly, as we gather we offer up our supplies whether it is our time, talent, or treasures!
Let me repeat, I am very excited for all who will be participating during Advent by sharing a message on “gather” – myself, Pastor Ben, Pastor David, Jonathan Rairdon, and one other. Mark your calendar and plan on coming to every gathering. Remember Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” These words speak volumes to me as to the importance of gathering. There is divine power in gathering together. We have all heard the saying “strength in numbers”. Scriptures record multiple times where it was the gathering of like-minded individuals who did great things for the kingdom of God. The walls of Jericho fell when the people worked together. And just opposite, the walls of the holy city were rebuilt during the time of Nehemiah. Four men who worked together to lower the lame man near Jesus saw a great miracle. What can we do when we gather?