For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you..
Isaiah 60:1, 2
It is here once again my friends. It is Advent! The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
This Advent, some of us in the USA are still reflecting on the outcome of the recently-held elections. For millions of people who live in this country as well as outside, the results were not expected, but be that as it may, this nation will, unless there are some unforeseen circumstances, hold the inauguration of President-Elect Donald J Trump as the Commander-In-Chief of these United States come January 20. Let us be in prayer as a nation for him as well as for those across all sectors of government who will work with him. Let us also be reminded that now, even more than before, is the time to hold all elected officials accountable, including the President-elect. May we never forget that all our leaders were voted into positions of power to serve all the people of this great nation.
This year has been a rough one for a lot of folks. The Summer of 2016 will not be forgotten by the Jenkins family. My father-in-law Hugh Ferguson, who had only recently migrated to the USA, suddenly became gravely ill in April and after a brief hospitalization by June 4, he transitioned from this life. There was a funeral service at Ebenezer, thanks to the Trustees, Stewards, officers and members as well as the ministers of music, who helped tremendously. This was painful and very much unexpected. Soon thereafter we traveled to Jamaica for another funeral service, which most of our family attended. While we were there, we learned about the passing of Sister Phoebe Richards, past President of the Trustee Board, and staunch member and supporter of the church. Her life was celebrated in a grand manner befitting the service she rendered to Ebenezer. A week after that service, my wife’s Aunt passed in Florida. My wife and I along with other family members went to the funeral service. We traveled first to Tampa where we visited her sister who was ill, overnighted there, and the next day drove to Oviedo Florida to attend the funeral service of her aunt Elmina Clarke.
A week after that service in Florida, my wife, Edward Jnr and I, along with other members from Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, and Ebenezer, traveled to Jacmel, Haiti for our 2016 Missionary Trip. The team consisted of 23 persons which included 6 members from Bedford Central Presbyterian Church and 17 from Ebenezer. It was a busy week of learning, fellowship, and ministry to the children and youth of Haiti, especially. I preached twice on Sunday morning of August 21 at their worship services. Bedford Central and Ebenezer youth participated in the worship services as well. We fed the children daily, painted some furniture mainly for the children’s school, participated in Vacation Bible School at a new mission of Restoration Ministries called Demontreul. Dr Karlene Barrett, a long-time friend who came with us on the trip, facilitated these sessions and Jestina Walters and Bedford Central Youth also helped with activities for the youth.
One day, rain felt so heavily we thought there was no way anyone would turn up for Vacation Bible School at Demontreul. Sure enough, Pastor LaFleur received a call that that there were about 60 or more teenagers waiting patiently for us. We had to move quickly, get ourselves together, get into the pickup truck (“Tap Tap”) carefully guarding the pots with the hot food, utensils, drinks, etc, and make our way 30 minutes away. There were at least 80 youth by the time we got there in that mission which was a simple open structure with zinc for covering held up with posts, with the youth seated on benches from Jacmel. After the session by Dr Barrett, we all helped to serve lunch to all, including our team. Those who came on our Missionary Trip as well as those who came before, will not forget our experiences. Thanks to the members, families, the church for all your efforts in making it possible for us to be of service to God’s people.
Ebenezer, the Jenkins family would like to express our deepest thanks to the entire church for your kindness throughout the year. You have been extremely supportive of us and we are forever grateful to all of you. We love you genuinely. We look forward to Christmas, with hope, despite what the future might hold. We believe that God is always with us and we move forward as always, leaning on His everlasting arms.
We wish you all a merry Christmas, a prosperous New Year and a Happy Kwanzaa. May God strengthen, equip and undergird you, may He extend your territory, and make all of us a blessing in 2017 and further. Remember this: God blesses you so that you can be a Blessing.
With profound love, appreciation and respect,
Rev Edward L Jenkins and Family