We praise our Lord for his unstoppable mission of grace.
Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give glory (Psalm 115:1).
On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln invited people “in every part of the United States” to observe “the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving to our Father.” In doing so, he established a long-standing precedent. To this day, the President issues a yearly proclamation that sets aside a day in November for “all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer thanks to God for our many blessings” (President Trump, 2019).
Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation was written in the third year of the Civil War, a difficult time for anyone – especially a leader – to give thanks. Nevertheless, Lincoln encouraged people to look beyond the hostilities and discern “the watchful providence of Almighty God” in things like mild weather and an abundant harvest.
There is one line that deserves special attention. Lincoln asked that Americans include in their thanksgivings “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” What does he mean by that? Does “perverseness” refer to slavery and its evils? If so, why did Lincoln ask for repentance from the citizens of the Union? After all, he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation earlier that year. Was he instead speaking to the citizens of the Confederacy as if they were still part of the Union? Was he acknowledging the Union’s own forms of “disobedience?”
I’ll let historians settle these questions. But the connection between repentance and thanksgiving is spiritually valuable. From the days of the Pilgrims on through the colonies and into the first 80 years of the nation, state and local calendars regularly included days of thanksgiving. And “fasting and humiliation” were considered necessary preludes to them!
We need that wisdom today, a day in which it is easy to believe, “these things are the works of our hands!” They are not. Instead, they are works of Almighty God. As in the past, so today, thanksgiving forms best when it is offered after humble prayer, and repentance. So, in preparation for Thanksgiving 2019, your leaders have set aside the week of November 17-23 as a Week of Fasting, Repentance, and Prayer. Details can be found in the bulletin and in next week’s Pastor to People. I hope you will participate.
Week of Fasting, Repentance, and Prayer: November 17- 23
As a church, we are embracing well the pastoral succession before us. The opportunities for gospel advance, both in how we travel our succession journey together and where we wind up, are many. But God’s kingdom works through prayer. And so, your leaders have designated the week of November 17-23 as a time of fasting, repentance, and focused prayer. God will move as we call out to him. And, as you will learn in today's Pastor to People, there is a historic and biblical connection between repentance and the Thanksgiving holiday. So please plan on participating robustly in this Week of Fasting, Repentance, and Prayer. Here is the schedule:
· Monday 11/18- Friday 11/22 Quiet Prayer in the Sanctuary. The church office door will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those who want to pray in the sanctuary.
· Monday 11/18 12 Hours of Prayer. 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Individuals, teams and small groups are invited to sign up for 15 minutes time slots. We want to fill all the slots, but it is okay to double up. Sign up for as many slots as you want through https://tinyurl.com/12hoursofprayer
· Tuesday 11/19 and Wednesday 11/20 Dial-in Prayer Meeting with a Pastor. 12 p.m.-1 p.m. Details will be given soon.
· Wednesday 11/20 Day of Fasting. Fasting is encouraged throughout the week but Wednesday will be focused on it.
· Wednesday 11/20 A Church Prayer Meeting will be held 7:00 p.m. -8:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Please feel free to come and go as you need to.
· Friday 11/22 12 Hours of Prayer. 12 noon-12 midnight. Individuals, teams and small groups are invited to sign up for 15 minutes time slots. We want to fill all the slots, but it is okay to double up. Sign up for as many slots as you want through https://tinyurl.com/12hoursofprayer
· Saturday 11/23 Day of Thanksgiving Prayer. Individuals and families are asked to give thanks for what God has done in Christ, through the Church, through our church and for what he has done and is doing in and through individual lives.
Sundays at 6:30: Sunday evening, November 17, Pastor Matt along with at least one special guest will be teaching the second of five “Sundays at 6:30”—times of extended biblical teaching and interaction around important cultural issues of our day. The working title for the evening is The Gospel and Social Righteousness. For future planning, the other dates for upcoming Sundays at 6:30 p.m. are: 1/12/20, 3/15/20, and 5/3/20.
Prayer & Praise Service: “Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good.” We will gather in the sanctuary for a one-hour service on November 24 at 5:30 p.m. Its purpose is for God’s people to offer thanks to God together. We’ll sing and hear testimonies from one another of how good God has been.
Crock-Pot Potluck Dinner: A potluck dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m. in Harris Hall, allowing us unhurried time to enjoy rich fellowship and good food. Make your favorite crock-pot dish (serves 10-12 people) or bring a dessert or side dish to share. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Hope to see you there!
Thanksgiving Baskets: Our annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive will benefit Transformation Church's outreach program and families in our own neighborhood who could use a little extra love this year. Pick up a flyer at the Welcome Desk for details. This is a great project for small groups or families to do together! Baskets are due back by Sunday, November 17. RSVP with how many baskets you plan to prepare. Please email Lara Holt at email@example.com.
Extended Family: On November 13, Extended Family is blessed to have Marilyn Z. Wargo, author of her new book Gardening Angel, The Life and Legacy of Lucile Silvester, as our guest speaker. Marilyn will share her precious relationship with Lucile and how she impacted her life. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. in the Library. Bring a friend.
Stone Hill Serves: This class is a follow up to Stone Hill Believes and Stone Hill Cares. This class will meet on November 17 at 9:30 a.m. in the Prayer Chapel. Stone Hill Serves is designed for us to examine our spiritual gifts, survey ministry opportunities, and find a place to serve here in Stone Hill.
Philippines Trip Report: Nathan and Gloria Cruzado will share about their ministry trip to the Philippines this last summer. Nathan says, "it was a blessed time and the harvest is indeed plentiful." Come learn more on Sunday, November 17 at 11:10 a.m. in the Adult Ed room.
Haiti Trip 2020: Ready for a meaningful adventure? Go to Haiti and make a difference in the lives of others! Trip dates are March 14-21, 2020. Apply online today! Stop by the Missions Corner today for more info.
AWANA Store: Gently used items are needed for the upcoming AWANA Store for December and May. If you have items our AWANA clubbers would enjoy, or might make good (Christmas) gifts for family and friends, please bring your donations to the Children's Welcome Desk by December 8.
Stone Hill Families and "Adopted" University Students: Meet today right after the 9:30 a.m. service in the Library. We have room for more, so if you are a student or family interested in connecting, come by and talk to Laura Megill.