Together for Joy

-Pastor Miriam Smith

When good things happen to me, I often feel at a loss for words. I think most of us know the beauty of being able to thank someone for their kindness (and the graciousness of being thanked in turn). That kind of connection is powerful between friends and family—how much more so when we are able to thank God! This month is a time for celebration and excited preparation for all of the good things to come in 2022! We are blessed and God has done marvelous things right here at Central. We have an opportunity each day to live out our gratitude, to join with creation in rejoicing in what God is doing even now—even in our midst. This year we are calling our Stewardship Campaign “Together for Joy.” Over the next weeks, be watching your mailboxes for more reminders of what God has 

made possible this year, and join me in praying for our church as we discern our giving for the next year. 
This month is going to just fly by—I can feel it already. We have our annual Charge Conference on November 28, which is also the first Sunday of Advent that we will celebrate with a Hanging of the Greens Service, as well as our Commitment Sunday for the coming year. That’s going to be an exciting Sunday! You won’t want to miss the joyful celebration! 
To get us there, many people will be working diligently to prepare for all of the different aspects of our church’s life together that will be lifted up that day. The Nominations Committee will be prayerfully discerning who to ask to serve on the church’s Council and committees for the coming year. (If you are feeling called to serve somewhere in particular, please let me know!) The Worship and Music Teams will be getting parts assigned an

d music prepared for an exciting worship service. The staff and others on the Program Ministry teams will be working on budgets and plans for ministry in 2022. All of this is possible only because of what God is doing in our midst here at Central. 
This year it has been a true joy to be together with you all and see God at work through the church. I was reading the Stewardship letter I sent out last year, and I was struck by how much has changed since then. We are meeting back in worship regularly while also streaming the service online, groups have resumed meeting in the church, programs that were paused have resumed their ministry, and new expressions of care and service have shown up. In all of the committees as they tend to the affairs of our church, in the Bible studies that have continued and just begun, and in the welcome extended to visitors, God’s work is easy to see. Lives have changed. Hope has been renewed. When we stop and look back at what we’ve come through together, with God’s help, the words of  Psalm 98 resonate in a new way for me: “Sing to God a new song, for God has done marvelous things. Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy.”
Let’s join together (for joy!) in thanking God with our whole lives this month. Won’t you join us? 
P.S. I want to go ahead and let you know we are planning for the rest of the Advent season. I’ll be working with the book Christmas Is Not Your Birthday by Mike Slaughter, and you and your small groups or family are invited to join me in studying it together. There is curriculum under the title Different Kind of Christmas that you are welcome to use as we journey through Advent. Be looking for more information about an Advent study for adults later this month and let me know if you have any questions. 
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