Our first “Reset Sunday” is coming up this week! As we explained at worship, our hope is that we’ll all be able to take this opportunity to reset our selves and our community, start the promise of restoration from a wearying year, and redirect our intentions to live fully for Jesus, the One who loves us, in all the different aspects of our life. We pray that your upcoming Sabbath days will be a time that you’ll set apart, to honor it and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
On Sunday, we spent some time coming up with a plan that would schedule our reset Sundays. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, or if you’d like to further plan the one you worked, here are a few reflection questions:
When, where, and how do you feel connected to God?
When do you feel free?
What obstacles stand in the way of you unplugging from your work?
What helps you strengthen your body? Your mind? Your spirit?
How do you feel connected to the Anchor City community? How can you connect to the larger community?
Plan a day that will be restful and meaningful. Will you sleep in? Eat something good? Go somewhere new?
4 things that will be helpful for you to incorporate on this day:
A way for you to feel connected to God
A way for you to feel connected to others
Unplugging from work
A traditional spiritual element: Prayer, Bible, Music
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.
The Israelites come to the prophet Samuel in fear because the Philistines have risen up to attack them. Samuel prays on Israel’s behalf and the Israelites are victorious.
In verse 12, Samuel then sets up a stone and calls it “Eben-Ezer” which means, “stone of help” saying “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
Throughout the Old Testament we see at different moments where the people use a stone to mark a time to remember something (see Joshua 4). If you’re outside, or you have one in the house, find a rock to mark as your stone of remembrance for this year (if not a rock, perhaps another object to mark as an “object of remembrance”).
This past year has been a year of struggle but, hopefully, also a year of growth. As you look back on the year, consider the following questions:
Where were the times you grew in your awareness of God’s presence?
When were the times that you struggled the most? When were your greatest moments of growth?
When are the times that you look back and can say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us”?
As we look ahead to the New Year, consider setting up the stone (or object) of remembrance somewhere where you can be reminded of how God was with you in 2020. Spend some time in prayer and meditation, asking God to give you a Word of Hope and Remembrance for 2021. If you are with others, share in your household and pray together.
Close with this prayer, written by Jill Duffield:
God of our past, present and future, as the calendar turns and we greet another year, we ask not so much for answers to those questions that perplex us, but for confidence in your never-failing care for us.
As we reflect on the year we leave behind, we begin with gratitude for the moments and the milestones in which we experienced your presence. As we look to the year ahead, we start with hope for a kinder, more just, lavishly loving world. Through all the years, we depend on the abundance of your grace, the generosity of your mercy and the unwavering promise of your compassion.
Aid us, Almighty God, when we fail to be the people you create and call us to be. Comfort us, Abba, when we face times of sadness, loss and grief. Admonition us, Lord of all, when we neglect the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Guide us, Triune God, all the days of this new year, and indeed, every day of our lives until that time when we see you face to face. Amen.
Here is the beautiful prayer our brother Sejun lifted up during our worship gathering on 13 December 2020. We invite you to read and to make it your ongoing prayer during this Advent season as well.
Heavenly Father, The year 2020 has been a very challenging year and many of us will never forget. Help us remember that the good news of Jesus’ birth has the power to bring us great joy this Christmas season.
We thank you for sending us Your Son, So that He can become our Saviour, So that He can bring peace in the hearts of those that believe, and joy to those that find their hope in Him.
We rejoice knowing that You love us, And that You will always be with us. Help us share the joy that we receive from You to those around us. We pray for the people of this nation and this world, That You will open up their hearts, and that many will find joy through You in these hard times.
As we look forward to a brighter 2021, we pray for the completion of many safe COVID-19 vaccines, And Your continued protection upon our healthcare workers and frontline workers until the vaccine is widely available. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Here is the beautiful prayer our sister Yang lifted up during our worship gathering on 6 December 2020. We invite you to read and to make it your ongoing prayer during this Advent season as well.
Heavenly Father, hallowed be Your name! As we await Your Son’s return, we pray to receive Your Holy Spirit. May the Spirit guide our thoughts, guide our hearts, guide our words, and guide our ways, Every moment of the day.
We also seek Your Shalom during the troubled times, like the sheep seeking for the green pastures, like the fish seeking for the crystal streams. We want to be the peacemakers you desire, and be proudly called Children of God.
As Your peacemakers We pray for the people who are sick, hungry, or cold, who are sad, angry, or lonely. We pray they will accept Your Son, the Prince of Peace. Your Spirit will be upon them, so they will seek Shalom, not the worldly comforts. May You lead us all onto the righteous pass.
As this troubled year seems never ends, and we don’t know what the days ahead hold. We have faith in the One who does! We will proclaim Your name, we will hold steadfast, Until the day Your Kingdom comes and Your Will is done on earth. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. The word “advent” means “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. We celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, “God With Us” and, at the same time, eagerly await the day he arrives again — to redeem, restore, and renew all things.
This is what the Book of Common Worship says about Advent:
In Advent we expectantly wait for the One who has already come. We anticipate the promised justice of God’s new world, yet we praise God who raised the “righteous branch” to rule with justice and righteousness. We hope for the restoration of the afflicted, the tormented, and the grieving, yet we delight that healing has come in Christ. We long for the beating of swords into plowshares, yet we rejoice that the Prince of Peace has appeared. We yearn for the barren deserts of our inner cities to flourish, yet we laud the desert Rose that has bloomed. We dream of the land where lions and lambs live in harmony, yet we acclaim the child born to lead us into the promised land.
The PC(USA) Directory for worship says, “As God created and appointed days, God created a rhythm of time and appointed seasons for worship.” Advent is a gift — a time for us to slow down, breathe, worship, and hope again.
Advent at Home
As we continue to shelter in place, this season of Advent takes on even deeper meaning as we wait in hopeful expectation for Jesus to renew all things. The following resources are included in your Advent care packages, but we’re including them here as well in case you’d like an electronic copy.
Anchor City is proud to continue to be a part of the Advent Conspiracy movement. Here’s what Advent Conspiracy is all about (from their website):
Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.
You can watch the video below to catch a glimpse of what it means to be a part of a different story this Christmas, one that celebrates our King and brings hope to the watching world.
Advent Conspiracy Offering
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22nd, we will have our Advent Conspiracy offering. This year, through our offering, we are thankful to support: