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Dear friends in Christ,

Greetings to you all in the loving name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.!!!!

As we are all aware, we are gradually approaching the last days of 2020. Let’s thankfully remember God’s grace that guided us through the difficult days of 2020.Though I am writing this message in October, I know that it will reach your hands at the threshold of the month of November. The month of November is ecclesiastically very much important. Down through the centuries, it is customary for the Christian Church to reminisce all the ‘Martyrs of the church’ who had sacrificed their life on the altar of Christian Faith on 1st November and we observe the day as “All Saints Day”. It is on 2nd November that is “All Soul’s Day”, that we commemorate all our ancestors who have entered in to eternal rest. The first Sunday of November is being observed as “World Sunday School Day” by the protestant churches all over the world. As far as our church is concerned, first Sunday of November is very much important because, every year, it is on this day that we celebrate our ‘Harvest Festival and Annual Thanksgiving Service’. In short the month of November, is a time of fasts and feasts for Christians in general, and for Immanuel Church in particular. In every Festival of the church, whether it is Harvest festival or any other festival, we must have three dimensional activities. They are (1) Remembrance:In the Christian perspective, the beginning of every celebration is the remembrance of the life and work of those who walked before us and how God guided them by showering His grace and Mercy upon them. (2) Worship: Giving thanks to God for all the magnificent and miraculous works God has done for them and through them for the whole community (3) Celebration: Celebration is an extension of worship, in which People share their joy, blessings, resources and rejoice in the presence of God, especially by sharing varieties of food. Our fellowships are a part of these celebrations. Truly these celebrations are the unifying factors that unite us as one faith community and one people. Without these celebrations, our lives and our faith would have been lifeless and meaningless; that’s why the psalmist says in psalm 85 verse 6 “Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you.” As we are preparing to celebrate our Harvest Festival on the First Sunday of November, I would like to share with you a few thoughts about HARVEST FESTIVAL:

IT IS A FESTIVAL OF REMINISCENCE:  The Biblical foundation of our Harvest Festival can be found in Deuteronomy chapter 26.Very often it is said that Deuteronomy chapter 26 is the Creed or faith affirmation of the Jewish community. In this creed they recall the life of their forefathers under the captivity of Egypt, how they suffered oppression and persecution and cried out to the Lord their God Almighty.  It tells how God interfered in their lives and delivered them from the bondage of Egypt with His outstretched and mighty hand and brought them to the Land of Milk and Honey. As we are preparing to celebrate this year’s Harvest Festival, let’s have retrospection and see how God guided and protected us during the last one year under the shadow of His Golden wings.

IT IS A FESTIVAL OF THANKSGIVING: ‘Worship’ in one sense is Thanksgiving. We cannot help but be grateful to God when we find answers to three pertinent questions regarding our existence, which are (1) who were our forefathers? (2) How they lived in the Land (3) What differences God has brought about in our lives? Jewish community always asked these questions themselves and worshipped God for all the blessings God had given to them. In every festival they thankfully remembered all the mighty works God had done for them and they witnessed it to the next generations and worshipped God. As we are preparing for our Harvest Festival and Annual thanksgiving service, let’s worship God with all our heart, with all our strength and with all our resources.

IT IS A FESTIVAL OF CELEBRATION: The soul of the Harvest Festival and Thanksgiving service is sharing of God’s blessings with others. ‘Sharing’ is God’s statutes to God’s people. “Then you, together with Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and your house” (Deutro: 26:11). God willing, we will come together on 1stNov, 2020 for our Harvest Festival and Annual Thanksgiving service. As we come together, let’s share our joy and our blessings with our fellow Christians, and worship God gratefully and meaningfully.

All shall give as they are able, according to the blessings of the Lord your God that He has given you.

SHALOM

Rev. John Joseph
Vicar & Chairman
CSI Immanuel Cathedral
Ernakulam

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