Pastoral Letter 42

Dear Members of St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, Friends and Adherents,

Grace and peace to you all.

After enjoying our Carols Service last Sunday and prepare to celebrate Christmas after a challenging year, an outbreak in the Northern Beaches with several cases has emerged. This could be just an instance and not a second wave, but it still causes us to worry and take precautions.

Health authorities are on alert and even advising those who live in the area to stay home at least for the next three days until they pinpoint the source and take necessary actions. This could and will affect what we have been doing for the last several weeks. After an email exchange with the Church Council Members and the Elders and considering the advice given to us, we have decided that we should tread with caution as we have done all along and keep the church closed on Sunday and hopefully re-open for Christmas Eve at 7:30 pm and have our service on the lawn if weather permits, followed by supper (coffee, tea, juice, mince pies and biscuits) and Christmas Day, but no Morning Tea.

So, sadly we will not have the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Love, but please join the other members tomorrow morning in worship, following the Order of Service, which is attached and sing along the Hymns. Please light a candle and pray for Northern Beaches, for the sick, vulnerable, the poor, the needy and those who are in pain. Please listen and enjoy the addition hymn/song “Magnificent Love” to brighten our day.

I still believe that we are nearing the end of the dark tunnel of the pandemic. We hope and pray that soon the vaccine will be available and life slowly goes back to normal. 

The Exodus Foundation gift and food donations were collected on Monday 14 December. Michael, the collection and distribution manager, expressed his thanks and appreciation for our donations and commented that what we have provided is much needed, especially this year and in the Christmas season.

In the meantime, please continue to pray, remembering those who need our care, support and love.

Here are some prayer points for this week:

1. Pray for our Service tomorrow as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Services.

2. Pray for the recent outbreak in the Northern Beaches as people are panicking and rushing to the supermarkets.

3. Pray for Armenia and Artsakh. Though the conflict has stopped, there are many unresolved issues.

4. Pray for world peace and ask for God’s blessings.

Krikor

LOVE – This Is Love

1 John 4:7-21

Today everyone is looking for love. We hear about it in the music we listen to, the movies we see, the books we read. Everyone loves a good love story.

Remember the movie “Titanic”? or “Love Story”? or “Gone with the wind”? And many more examples.

We all need love, as the famous Beatles song says, “All you need is love”.

What they should have sung about was, “All you need is God’s Love!” God is Love and that’s truly what the whole world needs. And especially today with so much hatred and unrest in the world.

1st John 4:7-10

God’s love is an unconditional Love. It comes from God and is the only thing that can fill the void in our lives. It’s not an on-demand item; you can’t earn it, buy it, or win it. It is given to us freely.

He doesn’t love us because of who we are, but because of who He is.

From our perspective we think that He should love us because we have done something for Him. We think we are some special person who deserves His love.

We think we are so special, that God should love us. As if God does not have any choice, but to love us and always do good for us, even if we do not behave and do wrong things and sin.

But who can love us when we are like that?

Nobody, except for God, because His Love isn’t based on our actions or deeds!

God loves us, because of who He is and not because of who we are!

His Love for us is based on Him alone and has nothing to do with us!

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, our conversion/repentance or God’s love for us?

God loved us, long before we ever loved Him and nothing can ever change His mind about loving us, He is the only constant. He never changes!

God hates sin but loves the sinner! He knows everything about us, the past, the present and the future – and He still loves us. That fact alone is more than enough reason for His Grace to be called Amazing!

That’s why there is complete rest in God’s love, we don’t have to act, or pretend to be something, or someone everyone will like.

When it comes to God, we can be ourselves and He will still Love us, just the way we are!

It’s not about right living; it’s all about right believing!

There are millions of people who have never experienced the Love of God, but they don‘t know that they are loved by their creator and that God is patiently waiting to pour His Love out on them, the moment they become aware of His Love!

It’s like having access to a bank account you never have to check the balance on, you will always have plenty, more than enough to do whatever you want to do, anytime you want to do it, but yet, you’re living in poverty, because you don’t even know it!

It’s up to us to let them know about the abundance of God’s Love that He has for them.

The world around us, will never know the Love of God, unless we share it with them!

It’s not enough that we know. God expects us to bear fruit!

The world needs to know the amazing truth about God’s Love.

*Even if we have nothing to offer Him!

*Even if we’ve never done anything to deserve it!

*Even if we feel like we’ve ruined every opportunity, we will receive it and are not even worthy of it!

It doesn’t matter. God still takes great pleasure in us, and we are His creation, His masterpiece.

That’s how much value God puts on one person’s worth.

He is willing to give everything He has and He already did, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We will probably never realize the true extent of His love for us, until we get to heaven one day.

When they asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, it was all about love

Mark 12:29-31. “The most important one”, Jesus answered, “is this, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’The second is this, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

How will we win our friends, family and neighbours to the Lord?

With the Love of the Lord being displayed in our lives, shining through into their lives!

‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Doesn’t force itself on others.

Always looks for the best.

Never looks back but keeps going to the end.

1st John 4:17-19 “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear; because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us”.

He not only loved us enough to send His Son to us to redeem us but loved us enough to give us access to everything Jesus has as well, when we established a relationship with Him!

This is Love – the Love of God.

The everlasting love expressed through the One who was born in Bethlehem.

As we come to the end of the Advent Season this year and within few days celebrate the glorious birth of Jesu Christ, our Lord and Saviour, let us feel the joy which is the result of our hope for peace that God gives and all because of His great, unconditional, unreserved, ever-growing, steadfast, unwavering and incomprehensible LOVE.

God is Love.

He acts in love.

He comes in Love.

He speaks in Love.

He gives His Love.

He forgives with love.

He saves with Love.

He covers and protects us with His Love.

He goes with us in Love.

He promises to Love.

He is Love.

This is His Love.

Amen!