I had a moment in last Sunday’s thanksgiving service when I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to Jesus for our church family. While not everyone could be with us in person, those who came represented the countless acts of service across 2022. As I attempted to list the many areas where people served during the year, people placed a candle in a model of our calling to be a City on a Hill. The visual collection of many individual acts of service, created a river of light that has emanated from The Grove in 2022. We might sometimes feel we play a very small part, but each part is joined to the body of Christ, God’s chosen way to reveal Jesus’ love and glory to the communities of this world.
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven(Matthew 5:16)
Last Sunday I had the most incredible conversation with someone that powerfully revealed how Jesus is changing lives through his church. A young adult man attended the service, which was his first time in church ever. I asked him why he came, and he told me he lives in Upper Kedron, and in October this year he felt awakened to search about Jesus. He didn’t have a Christian upbringing, knew very little, but searched online, listened to sermons, and watched church services including ours. Through this he understood the gospel and paused to receive Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. I was blown away by this, and full of praise to God. I must admit, it’s a first for me that someone is awakened to Jesus in our community, and two months later attends their first ever church service already a Christian!
I said to this young man, “you know for 15 years we have been praying that Jesus awakens people in our community to the gospel”. His reply was gold. “Well keeping praying that; it’s working!” There we have it church family, from the very mouth of someone freshly awakened – “keep praying that”. I am sure God wanted us to hear this story at the end of 2022 to know that all the service, sacrifice and prayers prayed are so worth it. Like that lyric in the song Waymaker, even when you don’t see it he’s working. Of course he is, and of course he will.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
It’s time to be full of thanks and to celebrate King Jesus this Christmas. Its time to have a rest and recover our strength. Then in 2023, I believe we can be expectant about an awakening that is coming. What we heard about in one life, I am convinced will be multiplied in many lives. The Holy Spirit is stirring, and hearts are opening. The harvest is plentiful, and we pray next year the workers will be plentiful too. After all, there is great joy in bringing in a harvest after years of sowing seed.
Leanne and I are so thankful for the privilege it is to have served Jesus with you this year. We praise God for a church family that has encouraged us, and prayed for us, and recently called us again for a fourth term. We don’t deserve the grace we are given, yet sharing this grace is what we are in this calling for. The undeserved, unmerited amazing grace won by Jesus and given to all who would receive it. We are so thankful for the expression of this grace among us, seen in the love and unity that is so special, and that results in a welcoming community to all who God brings along.
Thankyou for your service, generosity, perseverance, humility, and love that covers over a multitude of sins. Thankyou for coming and worshipping; for showing up again and again so that others see familiar faces to connect with. Thankyou for growing in faith, and time in God’s word, and for seeking to become more like Jesus in mind, heart and attitude. Thankyou for praying at home, and for those who have gathered in our prayer meetings. I have attended the same Wednesday morning prayer meeting for almost 16 years now, and I am convinced it is the number one reason I am still leading today. Praying with others gives me so much strength and keeps my hope alive.
I want to say a special thankyou to our amazing staff, who pour out their lives week after week from such genuine love for Jesus and his church. They are an absolute joy to work with, and serve God’s people alongside through the joys and challenges of ministry. I am also thankful for our church council who also lead and discern Jesus voice with humility and great wisdom from God. A group of men and women, whose desire is to glorify Jesus, and to obey his word above all things.
Leanne and I wish you all a merry Christmas, and pray that God gives you the deepest of rest and refreshment. May he strengthen all who need it, and answer your prayers for restoration and help. We love you our church family. God bless you.
Marty and Leanne