A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Celebrating the season

There are several special events coming up in the life of our church in the coming weeks that I want to highlight for you. The first is this Sunday, October 30; we will be having a special Waffle Breakfast at 10 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall, so regardless of which worship service you attend, you can enjoy this festive time of wonderful food, fellowship, and conversation with one another. Harvest festivals are one of the oldest human celebrations, giving thanks for the blessings of sustenance and community, and it is in that spirit that we will gather on Sunday.

On November 6, we will observe All Saints’ Day as a congregation. Pastor JC AustinAll Saints’ Day is actually on November 1 every year, and goes back centuries as a Christian observance that remembers, honors, and celebrates all those who have died in the faith, and particularly over the last year. In the Reformed theological tradition, of which Presbyterians are a part, “saints” are not a small group of particularly laudable spiritual heroes, as in some other Christian traditions.

Rather, a saint is any baptized Christian who has completed their baptism and been joined to Christ from death to eternal life. It is, in a sense, a corollary to the idea of the priesthood of all believers through our baptisms. So we will have a special observance during Communion as part of both worship services that day.

And later in November, we will have two distinct opportunities for services of thanksgiving. The first will be on Sunday, November 13, at 4 p.m., with the Bethlehem Interfaith Group’s annual multifaith Thanksgiving Service. This year, it will be held at Congregation Brith Sholom, on the corner of Macada and Jacksonville Roads.

In a time of so much division and polarization in our society, this is a wonderful opportunity to come together with our neighbors of different faiths and focus on giving thanks for all the things that we hold in common which unite us: gratitude for the blessings we have received, and concern for those who are vulnerable or in need.

Then, on Wednesday, November 23 at 7 p.m., we will hold our own Thanksgiving Eve Service in the Sanctuary. This service is a delightful time to come together as a church community and give thanks for the good things in our individual lives, in our church, and in our community and world. One of the highlights is the messages of gratitude that are offered by several church members, who reflect on what they are thankful to God for in their lives in particular. It is a highlight of the church year in many ways, so if you have not yet been a part of it, I encourage you to do so.

As you can see, there are a wonderful set of opportunities to worship God and be in community with one another between now and the beginning of Advent. I look forward to being together with you this fall!

Grace and peace,