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Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Pastoral Letter


Christmas Pastoral Letter

A child is born to us!
    A son is given to us!
    And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
    “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
    “Prince of Peace.”

From Cedric:

These words from the prophet Isaiah sum up my wish for you for Christmas 2012 and the new year that awaits us all in 2013:

May the Christ child who was born in Bethlehem, the Christ man who lived in Galilee, and the Christ King who sits at the right hand of our Father in Heaven, be born in us afresh, even now. 

He is born in us when, by faith, we simply believe that He actually can be and desires to be, born in us. He grows in us, when, by decision we let Him and His way be our ruler.....the one who rules, who reigns, over our lives. He becomes our wonderful counselor, when we let His Word, by His Spirit, counsel us. When, by faith we make this decision, we can experience Him as mighty God, eternal Father and Prince of Peace. And if I know nothing else about 2013 I know this.....we need a mighty God, an eternal Father, and a Prince of Peace if we are going to make any Kingdom progress into the new year.

I pray that we at Alberton Methodist Church may all have such faith and make such decisions as we journey together.

For Ryan, Lindrique, Dandre and Zehan:

A warm, warm welcome to AMC. Isaiah's words A child is born to us have a very special meaning for the Killian family and for the AMC family, because, to us (the Killian's and AMC) a child is going to be born. Lindrique, we wish you well over your pregnancy and look forward to having a baby in the manse again. I'm not sure when last a child was born into one of our manses, but we look forward to her or his arrival in our midst. The season of Advent has once again reminded us of the important role that waiting plays in our Kingdom life.

From Advent to Christmas to Epiphany, the seasons continue:

In my Advent pastoral letter I reminded us that Advent is the season of waiting. Now, it is the season of Christmas, which is a season of peace. During this season of peace we welcome God into our hearts, not as some distant king or moral watchdog, but as an intimate companion from heaven, ready to join us on our journey, ready to be Immanuel, God with us. Christmas is followed by the season of Epiphany, when we marvel at the revelation of God to the world in Jesus Christ. During this season, which lasts until Lent (Ash Wednesday is 13 February in 2013. In my Lent Pastoral Letter I will explain how Easter is determined each year), we are reminded that the man born to be king will rule not by force but by love, reigning not from a throne but from a cross. Gold for a king, frankincense for a priest and myrrh for the one who was to die: the gifts of the wise men foretell that he will be the true king, perfect high priest and supreme savior. Epiphany is the season of revelation. I hope that in your waiting, you may experience peace and revelation, for I have learnt that it is peace and revelation that help us to wait.

So what can we do to open up the doors to peace and revelation:

The answer to this, as to many questions, lies in our Scriptures. Therefore the first thing I want to encourage us all to do is to have a renewed commitment to reading our Bibles. To encourage us in this, Vernon is including a Bible reading schedule in his Daily Devotional Calendar which will guide us through the Bible in a year. This plan has an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a Psalm and one Proverb each day. It takes about 15 minutes to read and in one year, you read through the Bible. Imagine how we will grow, as individuals and as a community, if 10, or 20, or 50, or 100, or 1000 of us at AMC commit ourselves to more Bible reading.......the doors to peace and revelation will certainly open in new ways for us.

But you might feel you need more:

All our Cell groups, Bible study groups, Fellowship groups and special courses (Griefshare, Step-parenting Course, Marriage courses, Divorce Care etc) will resume in 2013. Please contact the church office for more info. Despite all our groups, the question that you may still be asking is this: "Do you have a practical plan that will help me grow in faithfulness and holiness? I have heard you say that I need to grow in spirituality, but do you have practical help for me? I really do want to be like Christ but can you tell me precisely how to go about it? Don't be vague with me - give me something that is concrete!"

Depending on your particular journey with Christ we are offering 3 such "plans" for you to choose from in 2012.

The first is Disciple:

Disciple has transformed the lives of individuals in this congregation and across the world. It has drawn people closer to God, deepened their discipleship and opens their eyes into the way that God is leading them. In 2013 we are running Disciple 1. Disciple moves through the biblical story from creation in Genesis to the New Jerusalem in Revelation. There are theme words and verses, key characters, events and topics which fix the sequence of the biblical story in the minds of the participants. Disciple is studied in a group of up to ten, with two group leaders. It meets weekly over a year (with space for holidays etc). Each group meeting begins with a time of devotion and a short DVD presentation, before questions and activities applying the Bible reading to the context of the participants' daily lives. Disciple will run on Monday evenings, repeated on Tuesday mornings, and starts on 14 January 2013.

Our second offering in terms of a "practical plan to grow spiritually" is the Alpha Course, an excellent course for people new to the Christian faith, or who you want to introduce to the Christian faith.
 If you have a friend, family member, fellow office worker who you would like to introduce to the faith, this course is for you and for them. Please see the attached leaflet for more info, click on it to enlarge.

 This course will run in the second school term for 10 weeks. I am really excited that we will actually be running 3 Alpha courses, a Youth Alpha and Adult Alpha simultaneously (so families can attend together), as well as a School Alpha which our Youth Pastor has been given permission to run at Alberton High School.


Our third offering is the Renovare Course:

Renovare comes from the Latin which means "To make new Spiritually". Following Jesus is what Renovare is all about. Each one of us will follow him in different ways but each one of us must have a practical plan for following Him. If you do not have a plan you will not stop sinning. If you do not have a plan you will not do good. If you do not have a plan you will continue to stay as you are for the rest of your life. Renovare seeks to answer the Question: "Do you have an effective practical plan which will help me to live a transformed life?" This course will run from 17 January for 8 weeks.

So, in conclusion:
A child is born to us!
    A son is given to us!
    And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
    “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
    “Prince of Peace.”

These words from the prophet Isaiah sum up my wish for you for Christmas 2012 and the new year that awaits us all in 2013:

May the Christ child who was born in Bethlehem, the Christ man who lived in Galilee, and the Christ King who sits at the right hand of our Father in Heaven, be born in us afresh, even now. 

Much love,

Cedric.

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