After gaining a bit of pounds from Halloween celebrations and candy, quickly had to get ready for Thanksgiving and after gaining more pounds, suddenly we move right into Christmas! Already? Wow, that’s fast, isn’t it?
This time of the year moves so darn fast. And for some of us it is exciting, stressful (not in a bad way), busy, and festive! This time of the year from October with Halloween all the way to Christmas and New Years is a time that we surround ourselves with our family. Fun.
But this is not the reality for some people. Some people that you see in church, run into while shopping, or in the gym. For some people, this isn’t fun, and this time of the year can be hard… very hard. Because these are people who may not have family around. In our midst we have people who have lost their spouse, and this time of the year can be rough.
Now I am not trying to kill your joy and ruin your holiday spirits. But sometimes a reminder and an awareness about the people around us can be part of the holiday spirit. And right now, we are just in the beginning of celebrating Christmas. Some of us have already decorated the house and some of us have already done some holiday shopping or started baking some yummy treats. And again, some of you may be just waiting for this time of the year to pass on by as quickly as possible.
But for all of us, this time of the beginning of Christmas season marks to beginning of the Christian theme of Hope. We have begun the advent year and this upcoming Sunday we start week one, which is to embody hope.
Hope is about the anticipation of Jesus Christ coming to be born, Emmanuel, Christ with us, Christ to bring the message of God’s love to us all. Hope. Hope is coming to be with us. Hope is embodied not because of the Christmas decorations, the buying of gifts, but it is about wishing that the days to come will give us a sense of freedom. Hope is about freedom. Freedom from stress, hardship, and heartache. Hope is that whatever is causing you stress, hardship, or heartache will somehow find peace in these things, not necessarily the abolishment of these things. Basically, in anything that happens in life, good or bad, we hope to find peace, we hope that our tomorrows are better than our yesterdays.
So put your hope in God. What causes you stress, hardship, and heartache will not just disappear, but it will be always with you, and that is not always a bad thing… it is just a reality. So, in those things that make our life difficult we give is to God and find our freedom. We trust in God to be our anchor and guide is our messy lives.
Life is never going to be perfect, but if we trust in God, put our hope in God, then we do not have to worry about anything, or dread that unknown, stress, hardship, or heartache. If we truly believe that God will always take care of us, then we have nothing to worry about, nothing to fear. Hope is in God, who gives us freedom and peace.
Notice anything different? Look closely and there is something on the pews that we never had before! That is right! The pew cushions have finally arrived! Now your bottoms can find comfort and peace in our new addition tour beautiful church!
These cushions are beautiful! They match our sanctuary well and really do feel nice. They are a little stiff and you might notice that it doesn’t quite lay in the grooves of the pews well, but I was told that through time and use they will fit perfectly.
I am so happy that we got these pew cushions I am also told that they are very easy to clean and maintain. The company came on Monday evening around 6:15pm to deliver and install all the pew cushions.
So, I encourage all people to come to worship and see for yourself, and much needed upgrade to God’s house! I want to say special thank you to all the deacons and elders putting this all together. Also special thanks to Rob and Judy Halbritter for researching and finding the right company for the church.
It feels nice to get something for the church, especially as we are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was peaceful and that we all found something we can be thankful for. God bless you all!
Well, it’s not a completely empty nest. I mean Norah, Ben, Eunkyung, and Suzie are still here, but now the house is just quiet. My life is quiet, and still…. Which isn’t a bad thing… it’s peaceful, but just feels empty now.
Eunkyung’s sister’s family just moved away to San Jose, CA to settle down. Which is amazing and I am so proud of them! But for the last 2 months, they were living with us as Eunwoo (the husband) was frantically finding a decent job. For two months they stayed with us, in this nice home in Altoona, PA. We wondered when they arrived if the living space in our home was going to be cramped, stressful, and hard to manage. But we were wrong. The space was cozy, but not crammed, the living was filled but not stressful, and the house was more than enough for all of us. As a matter of fact, the house felt alive for 2 months like a never-ending joyous party.
Noise filled the rooms, kids playing, the dog running up and down the stairs, activities, games, and great cherished moments. For 2 months they stayed with us and every day there was work to be done. In this short amount of time, they got their social security cards, got their two boys into the Altoona Area School District, got the boys settled in their studies, got their drivers licenses, and bought their first car. We went to Gettysburg for veteran’s day, traveled to State College, Pittsburgh, ate at amazing local eateries such as Tom and Joes and other fine places. We celebrated Suzie turning 1 years old. They celebrate Halloween for the first time buy going Trick or Treating and an early Thanksgiving with the proper sides and big juicy Turkey. Did cabin shenanigans at Canoe Creek State Park, went fishing at Glendale. A lot of things got done and accomplished in these shorty 2 months and there was never a dull moment.
While they stayed with us, they made an impact on church life as well. Eunwoo sang in the choir, the boys (Juhyeong and Sihyeong) went to Sunday School faithfully. Eunwoo also fixed up many things around the church property as well. The whole family also participated in all the church fellowship events. They just gave the church just a little bit of flavor, reminding us of all that as Christians we are the salt of the world, and they were the salt in the church and in our lives.
But now they have left to go to San Jose, CA. They will be missed and now, I feel empty, but also delighted. I know that God will bless Eunwoo, Jieun, Juhyeong, and Sihyeong. I know that God will be with them to watch over them and guide them. Now they will make their American Dream happen on their own! Once again, we miss you and love you guys a ton! Godspeed!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
The past three days I have been in Bedford for a Synod Assembly meeting. It was incredible, encouraging, and thoughtful. In the assembly on Tuesday morning, Maureen Wright the Executive Presbyter of West Virginia, gave the devotional and she used Joshua 1:6-9 as the inspiration. It was very well done and helped me really get motivated to do ministry.
Don’t you think this is something we should remind ourselves of every day? We should! Such a great bible verse that fills us with hope, peace, strength, and self-assurance! This is what we need to live by!
Because no matter what, we are reminded that God is with us wherever we go.
Honestly, this is a verse that I tell my children all the time. I do not know how much they understand this, but I hope that maybe one day, it will enlighten them and then they can do their best to live as the bible verse suggests.
Be strong and courageous. I think too often we allow other people, other entities like the media, internet, criticism, skepticism, cynicism control how we feel and tell us who we are. I think there is just way too many voices telling us our value and that our dependence on value is based on people of these entities’ voices.
These voices can be discouraging to hear and can devastate our self-esteem. But we must be reminded what is said in Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.”
Do not be terrified or discouraged. Do not let anyone destroy your happiness, your dream, your ideas. Do not be afraid of criticism or mean hearted people. Always remember your value is not dependent on these voices (entities) that we may encounter. They do not have a hold over us.
Remember that God is with you wherever you go. The future is unknown and to be honest we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring. We do not know what will happen. But whether does happen and wherever we need to go or do, have confidence because God is with you always.
This week and the days that follow into next week…. Remind yourself this bible verse in Joshua 1:9. When you feel like the day is too much to handle, think about God’s word in Joshua. When you feel overwhelmed by life. God is with you and read Joshua 1:9 and find peace.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).