Dear Sisters and Brothers

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of us.

Julie and I have a reason to be very thankful, last month we became grandparents for the first time. Our grandson’s name is Judah and both Mum, Dad and baby are doing well. The name Judah means ‘to give thanks or praise’. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and although he had a rather chequered history his descendants include King David, Solomon and of course Jesus himself who is called ‘the lion of the tribe of Judah’ Rev 5:5.

While Julie and I are busy enjoying being grandparents and feeling very thankful to God, we also are aware that many good and faithful people struggle to find reasons to be cheerful, life can be unpredictable and seemingly random at the best of times. Even for praying Christian people life doesn’t always go according to what we believed was ‘God’s plan’ for our lives.

‘My socks may not match but my feet are always warm’- Maureen McCullough.

This quote may seem a little twee or inappropriate to someone experiencing a horrible situation but I believe it does demonstrate that there is an attitude in life we can adopt which allows us to appreciate the good things we have in life. Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica to ‘give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you’ (1 Thess5:18). Paul isn’t saying we should give thanks for everything but to give thanks in every circumstance, we clearly don’t give thanks to God for situations which are bad however we can give thanks to God in all circumstances, we can thank him for his mercy, grace and faithfulness. An attitude of gratitude is not always easy but it is something we can become methodical about, something we can practice.

When John Wesley was a young man at Oxford University he came across a poor man who only owned one set of clothes and didn’t even own a bed but this man was unusually happy and full of gratitude for God, Wesley asked him sarcastically ‘And what else do you thank God for?’ The man replied “I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!” Wesley was deeply moved by this and recognised this man knew the true meaning of gratitude.

Soon we will begin to prepare for advent and Christmas, may we enter that time with a thankful heart celebrating what God has given us, rather than what we don’t have.

God bless you all

Mark Chester

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