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27 & 28 November 2021 (Pastoral Page) FOLLOWING JESUS

By Mr Timothy Lee

2021 has been a year marked by many changes, both ups and downs: phases of alerts, followed by stabilization, changes to groups of fives to twos, and then back again. I believe it has been a challenging year for many of us, myself included. I thought that things were getting back to normal in the first half of the year. But in May, the situation changed, and we were back to full online meetings and worship services, followed by different periods of restrictions.

How have you been amidst all the hectic start-stop changes? I found it quite tough mentally. There was a period where I was stuck in the house. My routine would be breakfast in the kitchen, then at the desk in the study, lunch back in the kitchen, and then again in the study. Finally, rounding off with dinner, study, and the bedroom. This repeats, starting again the next day, with my children coming by my side every few minutes with different questions, which range from, simple mathematical sums to “why did the chicken cross the road.” Does this sound familiar to you? It was truly exhausting. But I am thankful that this year’s pulpit/bible study series, - the call to return, rebuild and reconsecrate to the Lord - has been a constant reminder to continue to put my trust in Him, no matter the situation.

One of the hopes of the sermon series, is that it would coincide with a return to the physical premise of the church. We had high hopes at the end of 2020 that, things would gradually return to normal by 2021. This did not materialize, and our services were still disrupted by the restrictions and the rise in cases. Nonetheless, that did not deviate from the central theme, which is for us to constantly return, rebuild and reconsecrate spiritually in the Lord.

Before Covid, attending church every Sunday was a regular feature for our family. For the past 22 months, I think we did not attend physical church together as a family as much as compared with pre-COVID days. Hence, I am thankful for the online and hybrid services which had allowed our speakers to preach through the five post-exilic books. The sermons make me realize that God is always faithful. Even when Israelites faced challenges and were far from God, He is still there, constantly loving and drawing them back to him. One of the struggles we have is regular family devotions. We were in the habit of doing family devotions and prayers together for the first half of the year, but with the physical and mental toil, our devotions and prayers also became irregular affairs. So, I am grateful that this series keeps reminding me to pray and read the Bible with my kids more regularly.

I am also thankful for being part of the church community; the fellowship, support, and bible study in CG, as well as the Kids For Christ program which my children find joy in attending, had helped us to press on. So, I urge you, regardless of the restrictions in place, do continue to be connected to the church community.

This weekend marks the start of Advent, the first season of the Church year, that last for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”, which is a translation of the Greek word Parousia. It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christmas and the second coming of Jesus Christ. During this season, we will be doing a soft launch of our 2022 Pulpit series on the book of Luke, in which the first two chapters lay out the parallel births of Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist.

Despite all the challenges that we are facing, He is still calling us to draw near to Him, especially in tough times like these. In 2022, the theme of the pulpit series will be “Following Jesus.” Next year, there will still be many unknowns, but he is our Alpha, and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Let this Advent season mark a beginning for ourselves as we transit into 2022. Whatever befalls, let’s follow Jesus intently, who is our Lord and Savior.

"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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