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Dear COA Family,

Last week I wrote about the dangers of observing Halloween in the way that it is celebrated today. The reason for that is its increasing normalisation and even celebration of the occult.

Yet not all celebrations of secular festivals are harmful. One beneficial festival is Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving took place on 4 Dec, 1619 in the US when 38 English settlers landed in the state of Virginia. This day of landing was to be “yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God”. Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the 4th Thursday of the month of November. On that day, it is common for Americans to share a family meal and attend church services.

While we may not celebrate Thanksgiving like the Americans do, yet it is always good to gather together to give thanks for all the blessings we have experienced throughout the year. And there are many things to be thankful for. Here are some of them:

1. We thank God for leading us through the pandemic to a state of health and normalcy. Church services and fellowship meetings are now allowed in unrestricted numbers. Never again should we take our ability to gather for granted!

2. We thank God for the being able to celebrate our 70th Anniversary so meaningfully through the services, gratitude challenge, prayer walk and thanksgiving dinner. There were so many of our ex-members and friends who have joined us as well. We thank God for the renewal of ties. We especially thank God for the anniversary committee who has led us through the celebrations.

3. We thank God for all of the cell and ministry leaders who have served so faithfully and sacrificially through this time. We don’t take their efforts for granted but want to highlight and recognise them for their labour of love. We pray for the Lord’s continued blessings upon their lives as they give.

Thanksgiving helps us too because it changes our perspective for the better. We see the cup of our lives as half full instead of half empty. We live in appreciation of our blessings instead of bitterness at our perceived deprivation or lack. Our 1 Corinthians sermon series has been helping us to gain a new perspective so that we can be transformed to be like Christ (Rom 12:2).

So “rejoice always, keep praying and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you” (1 Thess 5:16-18). We will be joyful, content and people filled with God’s peace as we learn to give thanks always.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Revd Ian